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Japanese weaponry

Firing a ‘knee’ mortar.

When it came to weapons production, the Imperial Japanese Army’s requirements often came in second to the needs of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Army was an infantry-heavy organization that lacked much in the way of the modern heavy weaponry other armies enjoyed. 

To help compensate for the lack of heavy weapons, the Imperial Japanese Army worked hard to develop large numbers of what were probably the best light infantrymen in the world at the time. Their creed stressed relentless offensive action seeking a quick decision and emphasizing spiritual factors including zealous dedication and fighting spirit. Night attacks were a true specialty, and their weaponry reflected their light and fast doctrine.

To offset their frequent lack of artillery, the Japanese augmented their firepower through the extensive use of mortars, the best and most cost-effective substitute for industry-intensive heavier artillery.  Technically, Japanese light “knee” mortars at first merely bridged the gap between hand grenades and true mortars and were more properly referred to as grenade dischargers.

The Model 89 was by far the most prolific of the grenade dischargers and the weapon most commonly encountered by Allied Marines and soldiers throughout the various theaters of the Pacific War. Technically known as the Hachikyu Shiki Jutekidanto, or 89 Model Heavy Grenade Discharger, the new weapon featured a wide variety of improvements over the old Type 10 and had almost universally replaced the former weapon by 1941. To the frontline Japanese infantryman, the Type 89 was most often referred to as the Juteki.

To fire, the gunner removed the fuse’s safety pin and dropped the bomb tail first down the muzzle of the knee mortar. A pull on the leather lanyard attached to the trigger then fired the weapon. The firing pin struck a percussion cap primer that fired the propelling charge, which also caused a copper driving band on the charge body to push out and engage the rifling of the barrel. The force of discharge also set back and armed the fuse in the nose projectile and re-cocked the mainspring inside the mortar.  This was usually done at a 45-degree angle.

Despite these relatively crude controls, a soldier could quickly and easily be trained to fire the Type 89 knee mortar with impressive accuracy. While it could be fired by one man, a knee mortar with a three-man crew could maintain an effective rate of fire of 25 rounds per minute.

 Lt. Col. Merritt “Red Mike” Edson, leader of the famous Marine Raiders, critically evaluated the knee mortar and insisted American forces badly needed an equivalent. He listed the following reasons:

“1. It is a one man load.

2. A man can carry ten rounds on his person besides his weapon.

3. It has a high rate of fire.

4. It gives to the platoon commander a weapon of this type which is immediately available to him.

5. This mortar uses the Jap all-purpose hand grenade….”

A Marine Corps legend, then-Lt. Col. Lewis “Chesty” Puller seconded Edson’s opinion. “I consider it imperative that the Army and Marines be equipped with knee mortars and only carry one type grenade.”

Army Sergeant C.W. Arrowood completely agreed: “The Jap knee mortar gives us hell. They come in fast, thick, and accurate. Can’t we have one?”

M79 40mm grenade launcher

The answer to Sergeant Arrowood’s question was a resounding No. United States forces soldiered on with the little loved rifle grenade until the advent of the M79 40mm grenade launcher during the early stages of the Vietnam War.

References: Warfare History Network;

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

You can always count on your scoped grenade launching silenced pistol bipod w/ attached katana handle crowbar!

Because no Zombie Apocalypse survival kit is truly complete w/out a grenade launcher & a few bandoleers of HE rounds.

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Cecil Akigg (100) – Calgary, CAN; RC Army, WWII, ETO, radar technician

Nicholas Baxter – Harrisburg, PA; US Army, Co. M/187th/11th Airborne Division

Benjamin Bold – Rotorua, NZ; NZ Army # 267128, WWII, Pvt., J Force

Jean Doyle – Tyngsboro, MA; US Army Air Corps WAC, WWII, 1st Lt.

Luther Gordon – San Diego, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart, Silver Star

Melton ‘Dale’ Hair – Tulsa, OK; US Navy, WWII

Herschell Johnson – Dothan, AL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 8th Armored Division

John Kelly Jr. – Billings, MT; US Navy, WWII

Richard Pettijohn – Naples, FL; US Army, WWII, ATO, radio operator

Gordon Sherwood – Yarmouth, ME; US Army, Korea

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Trained as a Kamikaze – and lived – Intermission Story (26)

The airbase at Chiran, Minamikyūshū, on the Satsuma Peninsula of Kagoshima, Japan, served as the departure point for hundreds of Special Attack or kamikaze sorties launched in the final months of World War II. A peace museum dedicated to the pilots, the Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots (知覧特攻平和会館 Chiran Tokkō-Heiwa-Kaikan), now marks the site.

The pilots filed into the room and were presented with a form that asked if they wanted to be kamikaze. It was multiple-choice, and there were three answers: “I passionately wish to join,” ”I wish to join,” and “I don’t wish to join.”  This was 1945.  Many were university students who had been previously exempt from service, but now Japan was running out of troops.

Hisashi Tezuka recalls that a few of his colleagues quickly wrote their replies and strutted away. But he and most of the others stayed for what felt like hours, unable to decide.

Hisashi Tezuka, trained Zero kamikaze pilot

He did not know then if anyone had dared to refuse. He learned later that the few who did were simply told to pick the right answer.  Tezuka so wanted to be honest to his feelings he crossed out the second choice and wrote his own answer: “I will join.  I did not want to say I wished it. I didn’t wish it,” he told The Associated Press at his apartment in a Tokyo suburb.

They were the kamikaze, “the divine wind,” ordered to fly their planes into certain death. The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey and data kept at the library at Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo estimate that about 2,500 of them died during the war. Some history books give higher numbers. About one in every five kamikaze planes managed to hit an enemy target.

Books and movies have depicted them as crazed suicide bombers who screamed “Banzai” as they met their end.  But interviews with survivors and families by The Associated Press, as well as letters and documents, offer a different portrait — of men driven by patriotism, self-sacrifice and necessity. The world they lived in was like that multiple-choice form: It contained no real options.

First-born sons weren’t selected, to protect family heirs in feudalistic-minded Japan. Tezuka, then a student at the prestigious University of Tokyo, had six brothers and one sister and wasn’t the eldest.  He was given a five-day leave to visit his parents. He didn’t have the heart to tell them he had been tapped to be a suicide bomber.  There was one absolute about being a kamikaze, he says: “You go, and it’s over.”

He survived only because Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender on a radio broadcast, just as he was on a train headed to take off on his kamikaze attack.

 

A burly man with a quick wit, Tezuka hands a reporter a sepia-toned photo of himself as a Zero fighter, grinning in a helmet, the trademark white silk scarf at his neck.  “That’s to keep warm. It gets really cold up there,” he says.

“Do you know what a rainbow looks like when you’re flying?” he asks, his eyes aglow with childlike excitement. “It’s a perfect circle.”

Seventy years after the end of World War II, the runway that once stretched at Tsukuba is long gone. But the rows of cherry blossoms still stand.  In another corner of the Tsukuba grounds, an underground bomb shelter winds in pitch darkness through several chambers. It was designed to serve as an emergency command.  It’s a reminder of the illusory determination that gripped the imperialist forces, to keep fighting, no matter what.

In training, the pilots repeatedly zoomed perilously, heading practically straight down, to practice crashing. They had to reverse course right before hitting the ground and rise back into the sky, a tremendous G-force dragging on their bodies.

When they did it for real, they were instructed to send a final wireless message in Morse code, and keep holding that signal. In the transmission room, they knew the pilot had died when a long beep ended in silence.

Yoshiomi Yanai looks over the Last Will and Testament he wrote out before flying his kamikaze mission.

Yoshiomi Yanai, 93, survived because he could not locate his target — a rare error for a kamikaze operation. He visits the Tsukuba facility often.

“I feel so bad for all the others who died,” he says, bemoaning the fate of comrades who died so young, never having really experienced life.

Yanai still keeps what he had intended to be his last message to his parents. It’s an album that he keeps carefully wrapped in a traditional furoshiki cloth. He plastered the pages with photos of him laughing with colleagues and other happy moments. He got a pilot friend to add ink drawings of the Zero.

“Father, Mother, I’m taking off now. I will die with a smile,” Yanai wrote in big letters on the opening pages. “I was not a filial son but please forgive me. I will go first. And I will be waiting for you.”

Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, who wrote about the kamikaze in his 2008 book, “Danger’s Hour,” says the kamikaze were driven by nothing but self-sacrifice.

When he started his research, he expected to find fanaticism. He was stunned to find they were very much like Americans or young people anywhere else in the world, “who were extraordinarily patriotic but at the same time extraordinarily idealistic.”

Kennedy stressed that kamikaze have little in common with suicide bombers today. Japan was engaged in conventional war, and, above all, kamikaze had no choice, he said. Civilians were not targets.

“They were looking out for each other,” he says, in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. “If he didn’t get in the plane that morning, his roommate would have to go.”

Yokosuka MXY7 Cherry Blossom suicide aircraft

Though the Zero was used in kamikaze missions, it was not designed for the task. The Ohka was. It was a glider packed with bombs and powered by tiny rockets, built to blow up. They were taken near the targets, hooked on to the bottom of planes, and then let go.  Americans called it the “Baka bomb.” Baka is the Japanese word for idiot. Because their cruise range was so limited, they were easily shot down.

Fujio Hayashi

The job of overseeing and training Ohka pilots, and ultimately sending them to certain death, fell to Fujio Hayashi, then 22.

Hayashi believes Ohka might never have happened if there had been no volunteers when the concept was first suggested.  He was one of the first two volunteers for Ohka. Dozens followed.  But he could never stop blaming himself, wondering whether his early backing helped bring it about. When he finally saw one of the flimsy gliders, he felt duped; many thought it looked like a joke.

Over the decades, Hayashi was tormented by guilt for having sent dozens of young men to their deaths “with my pencil,” as he put it, referring to how he had written the names for Ohka assignments each day. To squelch any suspicion of favoritism, he sent his favorite pilots first.

After the war, Hayashi joined the military, called the Self-Defense Forces, and attended memorials for the dead pilots. He consoled families and told everyone how gentle the men had been. They smiled right up to their deaths, he said, because they didn’t want anyone to mourn or worry.

“Every day, 365 days a year, whenever I remember those who died, tears start coming. I have to run into the bathroom and weep. While I’m there weeping, I feel they’re vibrantly alive within my heart, just the way they were long ago,” he wrote in his essay “The Suicidal Drive.”  “I think of the many men I killed with my pencil, and I apologize for having killed them in vain,” he said.

He often said he wanted his ashes to be scattered into the sea near the southern islands of Okinawa, where his men had died.  Until then, he said, his war would never be over.

He died of pancreatic cancer at age 93 on June 4. His family plans to honor his request.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – The Kunihiko Hisa Cartoon Album

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Farewell Salutes – 

Maynard Ashley – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII

Charles banks Jr. – Salem, NJ; US Army, WWII, PTO

William Campbell – Hatfield, AL; US Army, WWII

Chilton Gates – Eminence, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Flight Instructor

Ann Jackson Huckaba – Rockvale, TN; USWMC, control tower

Mickey Kinneary – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, Korea

Ernest Laws – Columbus, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO

John Logan – brn: Glasgow/Detroit, MI; US Army, Vietnam, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Joseph Schmitt – O’Fallon, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, / NASA

Michael Weber – Toronto, CAN; RC Army, WWII, LT., Corps of Signals

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Pacific War Museum – Current News

re-enactors

During the re-opening of the Living History Programs in the renovated Pacific Combat Zone in March, the volunteers included two students of Asian descent who came from the Dallas area to play the roles of Japanese soldiers. Robert (“Robbie”) Boucher, who is of Vietnamese descent, is a graduate student in history at Texas Christian University. His close friend, Ryan Itoh, whose father is Japanese, just graduated from TCU and will be entering medical school this fall. Both are experienced in reenacting with U.S. Civil War and Indian War groups and became intrigued with becoming involved in reenactments of Pacific War battles.

re-enactors: Robbie Boucher & Ryan Itoh

In Robbie’s view, our Museum’s programs appealed because they offer one of the most unique experiences possible for people interested in history. They allow visitors the opportunity to glimpse ever so slightly into the realities of 75+ years ago, hear the sounds of combat, and feel its stresses. Ryan elaborated by saying that being half Japanese, he had always been fascinated with the Pacific War and wanted to learn about the daily lives of the Japanese troops.

From past experiences, he knew that when you put on a uniform and enact the lives of soldiers you learn so much more: from the way the uniform fits; how the leg-wrappings cut into your legs, but provide a sturdy support; and how hot the sun becomes when you wear a steel helmet.

You also feel a small portion of their suffering when you jam your finger in the charging bolt or feel the weight of the weapon or the heat from the flame thrower. Yet, it is just a taste — you get to change clothes afterwards and go home. When asked what they hoped to achieve through their roles as Japanese combatants, both Robbie and Ryan stated that their key purpose was to humanize the Japanese soldiers as people with families, hopes and goals. Robbie said this is often forgotten due to propaganda and movies which show them as faceless fanatics charging machine guns for the emperor.

As reenactors, they hoped to dispel stereotypes created of the Japanese. Ryan stated that the Japanese soldiers and airmen were all called upon by their nation to fight for a dogma that they may not even have believed in — yet they answered the call. He believes that at the end of the day, the GIs and Japanese soldiers had more in common than differences. In sum, participating in these reenactments gives both Ryan and Robbie the opportunity to learn more than they ever could from a college textbook or documentary, and their goal is to make the audience realize there was a soul behind the Japanese uniform.

This short video from the museum tries to reenact a battle.  In reality, it did not always end so grand for anyone.

Article is from the National Museum of the Pacific War, in Fredericksburg, Texas w/ the Admiral Nimitz Foundation.

Click on images to enlarge.

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STAND ON THE BEACHHEAD

Feel what it was like to walk the wooden dock alongside a PT Boat, stand in the hangar deck of an aircraft carrier as a torpedo bomber is readied for a strike, and view Japanese battlefield entrenchments.

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Military Museum Humor –

National War Museum: ‘And I say we move this up to the 3rd floor!’

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Farewell Salutes –

Henry Andregg Jr. – Whitewell, TN; USMC, WWII, PTO, Cpl., KIA (Tarawa)

Jack Avery – Lacombe, CAN; RC Army, WWII, ETO, Signal Corps

Norma Duncan – Matariki, NZ; WRNS (WRENS), WWII

Laura Edmonson – Ft. Pierce, FL; US Coast Guard SPAR, WWII

Albert Golden – Katy, TX; USMC, WWII, PTO

Lester Habeggar – Spokane, WA; US Army, WWII, medic

Charles “Red” Jones – Knoxville, TN; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Rodney Kirkpatrick, NM; US Navy, WWII

Howard Shearer – Fannetsburg, PA; US Army,, 11th Airborne Division

H.Gordon Turner – Troy, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS California

 

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Japanese 私たちは日本人

I am always saying that we need to look at all sides to every story and to do that we need to meet them. Here is Nasuko from Japan who also feels that way. Please give our new Blogger a warm welcome!!

Nasuko Japan

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We Japanese cultivate the fields, religious 神, love nature.
We Japanese wanted to defend our country “Japan”, not merely fighting to invade other countries.

We Japanese have wisdom.
We Japanese love peace.
We Japanese love Japan.

All images pick up from SNS

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朝鮮人特攻兵 光山文博(卓庚鉉)少尉

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Intermission Story (9) – A Special Woman

Last December the world lost a very special person, Florence Ebersole Smith Finch, (101).

Florence Ebersole Smith Finch, USCGR 

Coast Guard SPAR decorated for combat operations during World War II

By William H. Thiesen, Ph.D.
U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area Historian


Of the thousands of women who have served with honor in the United States Coast Guard, one stands out for her bravery and devotion to duty. Florence Smith Finch, the daughter of a U.S. Army veteran and Filipino mother, was born on the island of Luzon, north of Manila, in Santiago City. She married navy PT boat crewman Charles E. Smith while working for an army intelligence unit located in Manila. In 1942, after the Japanese invaded the Philippines, her young husband died trying to re-supply American and Filipino troops trapped by the enemy on Corregidor Island and the Bataan Peninsula.

After the Japanese occupied Manila, Finch avoided internment by claiming her Philippine citizenship. She received a note from her imprisoned army intelligence boss regarding shortages of food and medicine in the POW camps. Finch began assisting with locating and providing smuggled supplies to American POWs and helping provide fuel to Filipino guerrillas. In October 1944, the Japanese arrested Finch, beating, torturing and interrogating her during her initial confinement. Through it all, she never revealed information regarding her underground operations or fellow resisters.

When American forces liberated her prison camp in February 1945, Finch weighed only eighty pounds. She boarded a Coast Guard-manned transport returning to the United States and moved to her late father’s hometown of Buffalo, New York. In July 1945, she enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard, eager to continue the struggle against an enemy that had killed her husband. Finch served through the end of the war and was among the first Pacific-Island American women to don a Coast Guard uniform.

After the war, she met U.S. Army veteran Robert Finch. They married and moved to Ithaca, New York, where she lived the remainder of her life. Of the thousands of SPARs serving in World War II, she was the first to be honored with the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Ribbon. In November 1947, she received the U.S. Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian medal awarded to Americans who aided in the war effort. In 1995, the Coast Guard honored her service by naming a facility for her at Coast Guard Base Honolulu.

Ms. Finch crossed the bar on 8 December 2016.

  • Read her written answers to questions submitted to her regarding her remarkable life and career, first as a resistance fighter in the Philippines and then as a SPAR
  • Ms. Finch (c) with her extended family.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Peter Aczel – brn: HUN/ Quakertown, NY; US Army Air Corps

Alfred Biegert Jr. – San Antonio, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Photo Lab technician

Arthur Gosselin Jr. – Springfield, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Douglas Hardy – New Plymouth, NZ; RNZ Army # 64450, Sgt.

Stanley Krumholz – Far Rockaway, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT-190 Jack’O’Diamonds

Gerald Larson – Red Oak, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Robert Murray Jr. – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Sgt., 11th Airborne Division

Donald Perdue – Vancouver, CAN; RC Army, Korea, Queen’s Own Rifles

Hank von der Heyde Jr. – Jacksonville, FL; USMC, WWII (Ret.)

Baxter Webb – Hapeville, GA; US Army, Lt., Tank Platoon/4th Division

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Intermission Story (4) – A Japanese Ace

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

“In the ocean of the military, reflective of all distinguished pilots, an honored Buddhist person.”  So translates the name awarded to Japanese pilot Hiroyoshi Nishizawa following his death in 1944.  In life, however, he earned himself a very different title.

The Devil of Rabaul, they called him, and not without good reason.

Rabaul 1943

Rabaul 1943

Skilled pilots on both sides fought terrifying aerial battles, carried out daring raids against the enemy and engaged with combatants in the air, on the land and on the sea. Yet even amongst the many outstanding Japanese aces, there was no one quite like Nishizawa.

The outrageous aerobatics, performed in the early summer of 1942, could easily have cost him his life. Instead, the soldiers on the ground held their fire, and by the time Nishizawa returned to his own base, a letter had already arrived congratulating him on his maneuvers – and inviting him back for the “all-out welcome” he deserved.  The Devil of Rabaul chose to decline that particular invitation, of course.

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

In fact, even amongst his own comrades he seemed like a figure out of legend. Nishizawa was known as a strange and solitary character, for he seemed ever more content with the status of an outsider as his celebrated status increased. Tall, thin and strikingly pale, Nishizawa was far from forthcoming, and even once his name became synonymous with acts of courage and valor, he kept to himself.

Even in death, elements of mystery still cling to the man who seemed to stray so close to myth. Nishizawa had already been present at some of the key battles fought in that geographical theatre of the war, and October 1944 found him escorting the first of Japan’s major kamikaze attacks against the Allies. He himself was only present to back up the five bombers, but as the attack unfolded, something extraordinary occurred.

The young pilot watched his comrades hurtling to certain death, their planes ripping into the US warships below. Led by Lieutenant Yukio Seki, the explosions caused by four of the five planes triggered chain reactions throughout the vessels. In the sky overhead, Nishizawa was also engaged in combat, successfully bringing down two F6F Hellcats and raising the total number of his confirmed kills to 88. It was a clear victory for the Japanese fighters, but even as he fought, Nishizawa had a striking vision.

Nishizawa in his Mitsubishi Zero A6M3, 1943

Nishizawa in his Mitsubishi Zero A6M3, 1943

While the carnage unfolded before his eyes, he saw another event take place –his own death. Though accounts vary as to the exact nature of the fate he envisioned for himself, he returned from the mission without a shadow of a doubt in his mind. To the Devil of Rabaul, it seemed his end was close at hand.

Once again, he held true to his courageous nature. While another man might have tried to run from his fate, the Devil of Rabaul wasted no time in facing his destiny head on. The very next day, with his premonition still at the forefront of his mind, he himself requested a position on the next suicide squad kamikaze mission. If he had to die, Hiroyoshi Nishizawa was going to do it in style.

Of course, his request was refused.  By denying his wish, Nishizawa’s superiors sealed the fate of their finest pilot.

He was assigned to a different mission in the end, and the following morning set out as a passenger on a transport aircraft, setting off from Mabalacat. The weather was fine, with clear skies and low winds – the region had always been known for its gentler climate.

High in the clear October skies over Mindoro Island, two planes appeared in the distance. They were far behind, but rapidly closing the distance. The US fighters, a pair of F6F Hellcats, were now in hot pursuit, though even they had no idea just who they were bearing down upon.

As the three planes flew above the town of Calapan, American pilot Lt. Harold P. Newell sent the lumbering transport plane before him down in flames.

At the age of 24, just days after he predicted his own end, the Devil of Rabaul was dead.

In his short career, the Japanese Ace of Aces had earned the respect of his enemies and his comrades alike. He had become a nationally recognised symbol of bravery, patriotism and fearlessness in the face of death. Hiroyoshi Nishizawa walks to this day a unique line between a man and a myth, with a story rivalled by few others in its mysterious and evocative nature.

Like all the great figures of legend, the legacy of the man now known as Bukai-in Kohan Giko Kyoshi lives on, even after death. In the ocean of the military, Nishizawa is remembered as an honored Buddhist person, the Devil of Rabaul and the Ace of Aces.

By Malcolm Higgins (@Mhiggins95)

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – from the Kunihiko Hisa cartoon album – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Helen Dellinger – Lincoln County, NC; Civil Air Patrol, WWII

William Emnott – Oshkosh, WI; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Edward Fanning – Englewood, FL; Merchant Marines, WWII

Jack Heyn – W.Des Moines, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 3rd Bombardment Group/5th Air Force, photographer

Francis Higgiins – Salem MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Jack Kronenberger – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Ora “O.P.” Miller – Anderson, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Air Transport Unit, pilot

Irena Nowakowska – Warsaw, POL; Polish Underground Army (Armia Krajowa), WWII

Richard Powell – OH; US Navy, WWII, ETO

Leslie Scace – London, ENG; Royal Navy, WWII

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Japanese View from the IJN Musashi

Yamato and Musashi (artist unknown)

Yamato and Musashi (artist unknown)

This was originally published in “Sensō: The Japanese Remember the Pacific War”, edited by Frank Gibney.  Story by: Satō Kiichi, from Yokosuka, Japan.

The Last of Battleship Musashi

“Third attack,” came the warning.  The damage from the second attack had been terrible.  Lying on the deck were several wounded men receiving emergency treatment.  I was taking a brief break.  My two subordinates were on their way to the infirmary.  Just at that moment, a torpedo approached with a sinister hissing sound.  Shouting “Go on up!” I rushed to the upper deck.  I couldn’t see the two who had gone to the infirmary.

IJN Musashi (artist unknown)

IJN Musashi (artist unknown)

I had to get those two.  I looked down the hatch.  There was already close to a meter of water flooding the ship.  The infirmary was left isolated.  Neither my voice nor my concern could reach that far.  Was it too late?  My feeling of grief ran ahead of me.  Then I recalled that the exhaust vent ran through the pharmacy.  I frantically threw a rope from the deck down into the exhaust pipe.  But there was no response.  Still I continued to call out desperately.

I regained a bit of my composure.  I was crouching in the safety zone under the main gun turret.  The battle gained in ferocity.  I wondered what had happened to my two men.  To think that a single hatch would be the difference between life and death.  We had spent our days together as crew members on the battleship Musashi.  Looking back, I still agonize about their going to the infirmary.

IJN Musashi

IJN Musashi

After the fourth and fifth concentrated air attacks, the Musashi, once called unsinkable, finally sank into the Sibuyan Sea.  Its bow tilted.  Columns of water and flames spewed up into the sky.  I heard voices of my comrades singing “Umi Yukaba” [“Across the Sea”]* and other war songs amid the waves.  Even now I see clearly onto my eyelids the faces of my two subordinates.  I hear my war buddies singing as their heads bob in the waves.

* “Across the Sea” was the anthem of the Japanese Navy.  The verse went:

Across the sea, water-drenched corpses;

Across the mountains, grass-covered corpses.

We shall die by the side of our lord,

We shall not look back.

Two years ago….

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Abe – Appleton, WI; US Navy, WWII

Kenneth Bourke – AUS; RA Navy, WWII, HMAS Warramunga

Robert Futoran – Pompano, FL; US Navy, WWII, Lt., USS Black

Leslie Gibson – Dallas, TX; US Navy, WWII, PTO,, LST-1040

Kenneth Ketron – Elsmere, KY; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Dallas Milton – Venice, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Robert Nelson Sr. – New London, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO

Frank Panzzie – East Meadow, NY; US Army, WWII

Teddy Sheean – Tasmania, AUS; RA Navy, WWII, HMAS Armidale, KIA

Lawrence Snowden – Charlottesville, VA; USMC, WWIII, Korea & Vietnam, LtGeneral (Ret.)

Click on images to enlarge.

Personal Note – My apologies for a late-in-the-day post and delayed viewing of your sites as I have been under the weather.

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Japanese View of the Leyte Naval Battle

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The following was published in “Senso: The Japanese Remember the Pacific War.”

Don’t Shoot at a Sinking Enemy

As a 25-year old seaman about a destroyer, I participated in the sea battle off Leyte.  In the midst of the battle, our destroyer was pursuing a fleeing aircraft carrier through squalls and curtains of smoke.  Suddenly a single enemy destroyer headed directly for us.  Attacked by the concentrated fire from our destroyer squadron, it rapidly went up in flames.  As we neared the enemy ship to see its last moment, it listed to one side, with flames rising everywhere.  It was about to sink.  Men were floating on the water’s surface or sinking beneath it, while half-naked crew members jammed themselves into lifeboats and rowed away, escaping.

We were close enough to see their unkempt beards and the tattoos on their arms.  One of our machine-gunners impulsively pulled his trigger.  He must have been overflowing with feelings of animosity toward the enemy.  But he was checked by a loud voice from the bridge saying, “Don’t shoot at escaping men!  Stop shooting, stop!”  So he inflicted no injury on the enemy.

I read an article written after the War’s end that the captain, who survived*, (a descendant of the Cherokee tribe) had tears in his eyes when he recalled the scene. “A Japanese destroyer that passed by did not shoot.  What is more, I cannot forget the officers on the Gigantic warship who saluted us in seeming condolence for the loss of our ship.”  What flashed through my mind was the story of Commodore Uemura, who rescued the crew of the sinking Yurik during the Russo-Japanese War.  Seppū was the name of his destroyer – known as the luckiest warship in the world.

This was written by Okuno Tadashi, who became a business owner in Ōmuta, Japan after the war.

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Edward E. Evans

Edward E. Evans

Commander Ernest Edwin Evans was born in Pawnee, Oklahoma on August 13, 1908.  He was three quarters Cherokee Indian.

During the Battle of Leyte Gulf on October 25, 1944 Commander Evans and the USS Johnston were assigned to Task Unit 77.4.3 AKA Taffy III with 2 other destroyers (Hoel and Heermann), 4 destroyer escorts (Butler, Dennis, Raymond, Roberts) and 6  escort carries (Fanshaw Bay, Saint Lo, Kalinin Bay, White Plains, Kitkun Bay, Gambier Bay).  Here, at the Battle Off Samar, they fought the vastly superior Imperial Japanese Navy Centre Force which consisted of 4 battleships, 6 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, and 11 destroyers.

At 9:45 AM Commander Evans ordered his crew to abandon ship.  The USS Johnston sank at 10:10 AM, receiving a hand salute from the skipper of a Japanese destroyer.

* The article Mr. Tadashi read must have been written by another crew member, as Cmdr. Evans was seen abandoning ship, but was never found.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Personal note – 

I would appreciate hearing if you are interested in more stories from the Japanese side of the war.  I refrained from adding a second story here from a crew member of the Musashi to keep the post at a decent size.

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Military Humor – from the Readers Digest ‘Humor in Uniform –

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“I’m the commander of data security.”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Anthony Allis – Clearwater, FL; USMC, WWII, PTO

Lou Bucelli Sr. – Bridgeport, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Scoter

George Clifford-Marsh – Waikato, NZ; RNZ Army # 629433, WWII, Cpl.th-jpg1

James Fuehrmeyer – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Thomas Gibson – Nashville, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot

Stuart Hansen Jr. – Kettering, OH; US Army, Vietnam

Robert Jones – Syracuse, NY; US Navy, WWII

William ‘Bud’ Liebenow – Fredericksburg, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO & ETO. Captain, PT-199

Howard Porter – Kalamazoo, MI; US Army, WWII, PTO, medic

Joseph Wapner – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

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A Soul Lost in a Faraway Jungle – Part 2

Our good friend Koji Kanemoto gives us a view from both sides of the war.

Masako and Spam Musubi

It is believed I occupy a potentially unique position when it comes to looking at history as it pertains to the Pacific Theater in World War II.  I am American first and foremost and have studied WWII history out of curiosity.  As expressed in the description of my blog, my viewpoint is from “one war, two countries, one family”.  However, one potential uniqueness is that I am able to read a bit of Japanese; you may be amazed to read what is written about WWII from the Japanese viewpoint of history. As such, I believe each battle will have in the background two broad, driving and dissimilar viewpoints: one from America and one from Japan.  The attack on Pearl Harbor is one example. But that is but the surface on war’s history – a high altitude view.  One that can be easily manipulated politically. But being on the ground dealing…

View original post 1,246 more words

October 1944 (1)

Causeway with 2 damaged Sherman tanks, Peleliu

Causeway with 2 damaged Sherman tanks, Peleliu

3  October – the Marines on Peleliu attacked the “Five Sister,” a coral hill with 5 sheer peaks and the Japanese defensive fire was deadly accurate.  Four days later, in an Army tank/Marine infantry operation, they made their assault in a horseshoe shaped valley after 2 ½ hours of big gun artillery fire.

The odor on the island of decaying bodies and feces, (latrines could not be dug in the coral), became extreme.  The flies were uncontrollable.  The [now-banned] pesticide of DDT was first used on Peleliu, but with very little success.

Napalm strike on Five Sister, Peleliu

Napalm strike on the Five Sisters, Peleliu

On 12 October, Captain Andy “Ack-Ack” Haldane, well-respected leader and veteran of Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester and Peleliu, was killed on Hill 140 in the Umurbrogol Pocket.  This was also the date that organized resistance on the island was declared over.

10 October – The 3rd Fleet of aircraft carriers made a major attack on the enemy naval and shore installations on the Ryukyu Islands.  Their arrival took the Japanese by surprise and destroyed 75 planes on the ground and 14 in the air; 38 ships were either sunk or damaged.  Other US Navy surface vessels conducted a 15-hour bombardment of Marcus Island.  This would give the US a forward base less than 1000 miles from the Japanese mainland.

Formosa and the Ryukyu Islands

Formosa and the Ryukyu Islands

12→15 October – after refueling, the 3rd Fleet’s 1000 carrier fighters and bombers conducted a campaign over Formosa along with 100 Superfortresses of the US Army’s 20th Air Force coming out of the Chingtu bases.  The 500 enemy aircraft of Adm. Fukudome’s Imperial Navy 6th Air Force were manned by inexperienced pilots.  On the 13th along, 124 enemy fighters were shot down during a massive dogfight and 95 more were destroyed on the ground.  As Fukudome himself described it, “Like so many eggs thrown against the stone wall of indomitable enemy formations.

More than 70 enemy cargo, oil and escort ships were sunk in the area.  The US lost 22 aircraft.  The carrier, Franklin, and the cruiser, Canberra, were hit, but the latter was towed to safety.  Due to the inexperienced Japanese pilots misinformation, Tokyo Rose announced, “All of Admiral Mitscher’s carriers have been sunk tonight – INSTANTLY!”  Japan claimed a second Pearl Harbor and a public victory holiday was proclaimed.

Arisan Maru

Arisan Maru

In October, the Japanese ‘hell ship’, Arisan Maru, departed Manila, P.I. with 1800 American prisoners on board held in her unventilated hold.  It was sunk by the USS Snook, killing 1795 POW’s.

The Japanese attempted to break the build-up of Allied forces in Manila Bay, Luzon, P.I., but the result was losing approximately 30 more aircraft to US fighters and antiaircraft fire.

October 1944 was an extremely active month and it will take at least 5 posts to just put the basics down.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – military-humor-funny-surrounded-attack-soldiers-meme

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Farewell Salutes – 

Paul Alamar – Scranton, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, minesweeper

Robert Brooks – Ontario, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, 143rd Air Wing, radio operations

Peleliu cemetery

Peleliu cemetery

Harold Girald – Mah-wah, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Ken Hartle (103) – San Francisco, CA; US Navy, WWII, SeaBee

Melvin Hill – Pomona, CA; Korea, 31st RCT, KIA

Harold “Hal” Moore, Jr. – Auburn, AL; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, 1/7th Cavalry Reg., Lt.General, West Point Grad, DSC

Allen “Bud” Moler – Dayton, OH; USMC, PTO, KIA (Roi-Namur)

Brent Morel – Martin, TN; USMC, Iraq, 1st Marine Recon Battalion, Navy Cross, KIA

Richard Lyon – Oceanside, CA; USMC, WWII, PTO / Korea, Admiral (Ret. 41 years)

Elizabeth Zarelli Turner – Austin, TX; US Army WAC, WWII, pilot

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