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Ted Crosby – An Ace in a Day

n a dramatic painting by Roy Grinnell, Lieutenant (j.g.) Willis Hardy, a member of Crosby’s VF-17 Squadron from the carrier USS Hornet, flames a Japanese kamikaze plane that was on its way to attack the American naval task force off Okinawa, April 6, 1945. The Hellcat’s distinctive “white checkerboard” markings show it belongs to the USS Hornet (CV12).

As Ted Crosby watched, Yamato’s giant, 18-inch guns hit the water, their enormous weight probably helping the battleship capsize. Suddenly, Yamato’s No. 1 magazine exploded, sending up a huge coil of smoke and flame that could be seen for over 100 miles. It was a strange foretaste of the atomic mushroom clouds that would envelope Hiroshima and Nagasaki a few months later.

Watching from above, Crosby had no feeling of elation. “I was thinking of the Japanese crew,” he said in a 2011 interview. “Three thousand lives lost.”  As a former fighter pilot and Navy man, he could appreciate what it meant to go down fighting with his comrades.

During his World War II career, Ted Crosby served aboard two Essex-class carriers, Bunker Hill (CV 17) and Hornet (CV 12). There were 24 Essex-class carriers built during the war, and they soon became the backbone of America’s naval offensive in the Pacific. The efforts of pilots like Crosby not only turned defeat into victory, but also changed the course of naval warfare forever.

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Ensign John T. Crosby, shortly after being commissioned in May 1943.

An autumn raid on Rabaul was a major effort involving several American carriers. It was also Ted Crosby’s first taste of battle. The raid of November 11, 1943, involved dogfights on a massive scale. It was an aerial free-for-all, with the new F6F Hellcat generally gaining the upper hand over the vaunted Mitsubishi A6M Zero or “Zeke.”

On November 26, 1943, Ted got his first kill—a piece of a Mitsubishi G4M Betty bomber.  A steady stream of .50-caliber slugs sprayed from Ted’s six machine guns peppered and shattered the Betty’s tail and rear-gun position. Other Hellcats chimed in, joining Crosby’s symphony of destruction until the stricken bomber crashed. When he got back to Bunker Hill, he claimed the Betty, but it was determined that the other pilots had a share in its downing. As a result, Crosby’s official score stood at one-quarter of a Japanese bomber.

In dogfights and strafing runs, Ted had only one rule: “Don’t be in any one spot for more than 10 seconds! When I looked in my rear view mirror, I’d often see flak bursts where my plane had just been.”

In January 1945, Ted joined a newly reformed VF-17 aboard the USS Hornet. The new VF-17 appropriated the old formation’s skull and crossbones logo, but this time the men would be exclusively flying Hellcats, not Corsairs. The commander of the new VF-17 was Lt. Cmdr. Marshall U. “Marsh” Beebe.

On April 16, 1945, Ted Crosby became an ace in a day, shooting down five Japanese planes on a single mission. The Marines had landed on Okinawa on April 1 and, as time went on, the battle for the island intensified. Swarms of kamikazes flew out of Kyushu on suicide missions, crashing into any Allied ship they could find in the area. Ted and his fellow aviators called them “kami-krazies.” They seemed to conform to the wartime stereotype of fanatics who would rather commit suicide than surrender.

Crosby began April 16 on a target combat air patrol with Lt. Cmdr. Beebe. Crosby’s division (four Hellcats) was led by Lieutenant Milliard “Fuzz” Wooley; Ensigns J. Garrett and W.L. Osborn completed the quartet. As  VF-17’s war diary put it, “Wooley’s division ‘tallyhoed’ [engaged] 12 Jacks and Zekes at 24,000 feet and started working them over.”

Actually, there were two groups of Japanese planes, a dozen or so at around 24,000 feet and a second group that was flying about 9,000 feet lower. Their main target was a destroyer, possibly a Fletcher-class vessel, that was cruising north of Okinawa. Ted could not recall the name of the ship, but its call sign was “Whiskey Base.”

The fighter director aboard the destroyer was happy to see Hellcats above him but dismayed when it appeared that they were leaving. “The fighter director said, ‘I see what you guys are doing––don’t leave us!’ Wooley replied, ‘Don’t worry. We’ll be back. We want to meet these guys halfway before they can get to you!’”

In the process, Wooley and Crosby became separated from the other pilots. Squadron Commander Beebe called them, asking for their position. Crosby said, “Fuzz” replied, ‘Never mind, skipper, we got them [the Japanese] cornered!’”

The first plane Crosby encountered was a Mitsubishi J2M “Jack” fighter that was coming head on. Crosby and his adversary were seemingly on a collision course, like two medieval knights jousting in a tournament.

“Well, I met that Japanese plane head on with my six .50-caliber guns, and the impact of the bullets blew him apart. Part of his engine and propeller, with the prop still turning, flew right over my head. I picked out another [Japanese plane], executed a turn, and went right after him.”

The second was a Zeke, a kamikaze, not a fighter, so Ted proceeded with caution. “We all realized you had to watch out what you did because the kamikazes were loaded with TNT to do us maximum damage. When you hit one, they would really explode! Once they exploded, you’d find yourself flying through lots of garbage and debris.”

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After he downed the Zeke, Crosby attempted to find his division leader only to notice tracer bullets zipping past his Hellcat. Ironically, Ted had found his leader, but not in the way he wanted! The bullets were from Wooley who, in the excitement, had mistaken Crosby for the enemy. Realizing his error, Wooley sheepishly radioed Ted, “Did I get you, Ted?”

“Noooo.…” Ted replied, “but let’s settle down and get more of these guys!”

Wooley readily complied, going after another Japanese plane, but found he was out of ammunition. Ironically, his last few bursts had been expended when he mistakenly fired on Ted. Wooley dove down, making himself a decoy by luring enemy planes into Crosby’s guns. The ruse was successful, enabling Ted to down two more Japanese planes.

They decided to call it a day, but as they started back to the carrier Crosby spotted kamikaze heading toward the same destroyer they had helped protect earlier. Ted gave chase, tattooing the Japanese plane with a spray of .50-caliber lead. He broke off his attack because they were nearing the destroyer, and he knew that the ship’s radar could not distinguish friend from foe.

Sure enough, the destroyer opened fire, and the kamikaze, already disabled by Ted’s guns, angled down and crashed onto a nearby island. Thus, Ted Crosby became an ace in day, credited with three Jacks, a Zeke, and a Val dive bomber.  His skill and valor that day won him the coveted Navy Cross.

Ted says he did not feel too good about downing those kamikazes at first. He realized that most of the suicide pilots had little training and were for the most part sitting ducks to experienced Navy airmen. However, Ted felt better “when I was told the extent of the damage they did on ships, and by shooting them down I was saving American lives.”

Crosby also had a close call on a photo-recon mission near Shokaku, after American carrier planes had attacked Japanese shipping in the area. “I had my plot board out and I’m putting down the time of day, the slant of the sun, and all that had to do with photography. Suddenly, I saw stuff [bullets] bouncing off my wing. I look back, and there’s this guy on my tail—probably a George.  Only time I ever had a guy on my tail.”

After one pass the George broke off the attack and seemed to head back to his base. Crosby was not inclined to follow him. At the moment he was alone, and following an enemy plane over enemy territory did not seem like a wise thing to do. After he got back to Hornet, Ted found an unexploded 30mm shell in his cockpit armor, mute testimony to his luck and the fact that American aircraft designs protected their pilots.

Ted Crosby remained in the Navy after the war and retired with the rank of commander.

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Military Humor –

“Ya might hafta catch a boat. One of those kids ya just chased off th’ field wuz the pilot”

The new “Learn-as-you-Go” pilot training method.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ed Bearrs – Billings, MT; USMC, WWII, PTO, Cpl., 3rd Marine Raider Battalion & 7/1st Marine Division, Purple Heart  /  Historian

John Bero Jr. – Buffalo, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Patrick Chess – Yakima, WA; US Navy, WWII shipfitter 3rd Class, USS Oklahoma. KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Gabriel J. Eggud – USA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 1st Lt., pilot, 110/71 Reconnaissance Group, KIA (New Guinea)

Ellis Fryer – Dearborn, MI; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Donald Lesmeister – Harvey, ND; US Navy, Korea, USS Wiltsie

Jack McPherson – Casper, WY; US Army, WWII, Chief Warrant Officer/ Korea & Vietnam/ NSA (Ret.)

June Pearce – Waukon, IA; Civilian, B-17 riveter

Charles Perkins – Quincy, MA; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Donald Schimmels (100) – Kewaunee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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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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Sea Bees in Japan after the WWII

Signal Tower at Misarazu Air Station, built by the 136th NCB, 15 Oct. 1945

On V-J Day, thirteen Naval Construction Battalions (NCB), three Special Naval Construction Battalions (stevedores), and one Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) awaited assignment to Japan, where they were to aid naval forces at Hiroshima, Kabayana, Yokosuka, Omura, Nagasaki, Sasebo, and Kure. Their tasks included constructing, repairing, and maintaining Naval and Marine Corps bases throughout Japan to support US armed forces in occupying the country.

On 15 August 1945, Seabees with the 136th NCB embarked in 12 LSM’s at Guam headed for Iwo Jima and onto Yokosuka, Japan. They arrived at the badly damaged Yokosuka navy yard on 30 August 1945, where they established their camp at the Japanese navigation school. In preparation for the arrival of additional forces, the Seabees repaired housing, electric and telephone systems, and roads at the naval base; graded fields and remodeled buildings for the fleet recreation area; repaired housing and surfaced an airstrip at Kisarazu airfield.

Meanwhile, the 602nd CBMU arrived at Yokosuka to maintain runways and roads at the Marine Corps air base. They constructed a 2000-man galley, restored barracks and facilities for personnel, constructed a chapel and recreation facilities, completed a sawmill, public works shops, a cold-storage plant, and a chlorination plant for water treatment, and installed hot water showers in all barracks.

Galleys & mess hall built by 136th NCB for the Naval HQ, 14 Nov. 1945

During the month of September, the 41st Regiment, consisting of the 9th, 28th, 62nd, and 90th NCB, and the 28th Special Battalion, joined the 136th NCB at Yokosuka. Among the major projects included repairing and maintaining the naval base at Kisarazu naval air station, which included overhauling the gasoline system and providing housing facilities for air station personnel and repairing and maintaining the airstrip. They also repaired buildings and erected Quonset huts for housing and messing facilities for port director activities at both Yokosuka and Tokyo, and loaded gravel from the Atsugi River for use in repairing roads and runways.

Sasebo on the island of Kyushu, not far from Nagasaki, was the other big center of Seabees activity in Japan. For some time, the 7th Naval Construction Regiment, consisting of 4 NCBs and the 31st   Special, were working simultaneously at Sasebo to construct the naval base, clear the dock area in the navy yard and provide space for roadways and facilitating the unloading of ships. This required removal of large quantities of scrap metal, heavy marine equipment, and other debris. The Seabees used a Japanese floating crane and Japanese barges, together with some Japanese laborers, were used on the task.

Port camp for 31st NCB at Sasebo, Japan, Jan. 1946

In addition to repairing and maintaining the Marine Corps camp at Ainoura, the 116th NCB rehabilitated and constructed 5 miles of road from Ainoura to Sasebo, together with an alternate 5-mile stretch and operated two quarries to support road work construction. The Seabees also constructed a Quonset hut camp to house 400 men at the former aircraft factory at Sasebo. Seabees with the 72nd NCB constructed a 2000-man camp, two 200-bed hospitals, and recreational facilities in Sasebo to support naval forces.

Naval forces camp at Omora, Japan, built by 31st NCB, Jan. 1946

Upon its arrival in Japan, the 31st NCB had been sent to Omura, about 28 miles from Sasebo. At Omura, the battalion was given a former Japanese hangar for temporary barracks, messing, and work space, and assigned a former Japanese garrison force compound for permanent barracks and work space. The area was deliberately destroyed in an attempt to inconvenience occupation troops; all the latrines were in disreputable condition, lighting fixtures had been torn out, and the general litter and debris throughout the area was so extensive that a 40-man cleaning crew worked for more than a fortnight removing debris and trash.

One of the most unique duties the Seabees undertook in Japan after the war ended was working on the Bureau of Yards and Docks Technical Mission to Japan to survey damage wrought by the atomic bombs and other aerial bombing attacks. This group consisted of structural engineers and Seabees sent to Japan to survey the damage inflicted by atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as damage caused by high explosive and incendiary bombs.

31st NCB with Japanese aircraft set for destruction.

Unknowingly, these men exposed themselves to radiation and many died young of cancer, leukemia, and unknown illnesses all in an effort to assist the US in understanding the devastation atomic bombs leveled on a major city and industrial areas, and how to build facilities in the future to withstand atomic warfare.

By mid-1946, all Seabee units stationed in Japan were disestablished and the men were discharged from active duty. The Seabees were part of the demobilization plan, and by June 1946 their number had fallen from a peak strength of more than 250,000 men to approximately 20,000. The Seabees that served in Japan, during this time, played a key role in the construction of bases, roads, facilities, and infrastructure necessary to assist Japan in rebuilding their economy and country in the post-war years.

From the SeaBee Museum.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Scott Bumpers – TN; Tennessee National Guard, MSgt., 118th Wing/118th Intel Surveillance & Recon Group

Clayton Eldridge – Williamsville, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Dayton

11th Airborne Memorial

Betty Gill – Madison, WI; US Woman’s Marine Corps, WWII

Shelli Huether – TN; Tennessee National Guard, Lt. Colonel, 118/118th Intel Surveillance & Recon Group

Russell McCauley (101) – Altoona, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Casey A. Popenoe – USA; US Army, Iraq, Chief Warrant Officer 3, 2/8/1/25th Infantry Division

William Rouch – Bangor, PA; US Army  / WWII historian

Robert Salgado – Palm Springs, CA; US Army, WWII, 82nd Airborne Division

David Smith Jr. – East Walpole, MA; US Navy, WWII

Jessica Wright – TN; Tennessee National Guard, Captain, 118/118th Intel Surveillance & Recon Group

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Pin-up Girls Helped Win WWII

America’s entrance into WWII triggered the golden age of WWII Pin-ups — pictures of smiling women in a range of clothing-challenged situations.  The racy photos adorned lonely servicemen’s lockers, the walls of barracks, and even the sides of planes.  For the first time in its history, the U.S. military unofficially sanctioned this kind of art: pin-up pictures, magazines and calendars were shipped and distributed among the troops, often at government expense.

No history of any military unit would be complete without some info on its favorite pin-ups.  Keep in mind that in the days prior to women being in every military unit, soldiers would be in the field or in combat for months on end, or years as in WWII, without seeing or hearing a female voice.

Although a little revealing at times, pin-ups were not what you would recall pornography.  No one knows for sure when this trend began, but it is known that Napoleon’s soldiers carried pin-ups with them.

Usually pin-ups were wholesome American girls – movie stars, singers, dancers or just well-known celebrities, but occasionally, some of them were a bit on the “wild side”.  Some pin-ups were not real women at all, but drawings, like the well-known ones by Vargas.

“Gravy for the Navy”, Alberto Vargas

What would become the familiar pin-up began to take shape in 1917, when Wilson’s administration created the Division of Pictorial Publicity.  The art form’s ever-growing popularity bled over into other mediums, such as Hollywood, who jumped onto the bandwagon and movie execs began using sexually-charged imagery to promote their films.

This had such a success, it came as little surprise in WWII that pin-ups were used in recruitment posters and war bomb purchasing material.  Many considered this to be the pin-up’s “Golden Age” and thousands of images were commissioned to raise soldier morale while fighting overseas.  A U.S. soldier couldn’t go anywhere without seeing a pin-up girl: in barracks, on submarine walls and carried in pockets – they were never far away from a reminder of why they were fighting.

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Nose art for US aircraft regulations were eased and through WWII and into the Korean War, aircraft artistry would be in its ‘golden age.’  This not only helped the morale of the men, but it made a plane easier to identify rather than its serial numbers.  Although the art would also be of cartoon characters (“Thumper”) or hometowns (“Memphis Belle”), the majority were of women like “Lady Eve”, Forbidden Fruit” “Miss Behavin” and “Little Gem”, for example.

Adak Island, AK pin-up collection

The woman who became the champion pin-up girl was Betty Grable and winning that that title was a tough fight as she was up against such names as Hedy Lamarr, Dorothy Lamour, Ann Sheridan, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Esther Williams and many others.

For further research on pin-ups in aviation and nose art, Pierre Lagacé’s blog ‘Preserving the Past’ click HERE!  

                                                                                     Or ‘Preserving the Past II’ article HERE!

This information was condensed from stories found in “The Voice of the Angels” 11th Airborne newspaper.

For the 11th Airborne Division, the main woman was Olivia de Havilland, whose story will be in the next post.

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Current News –

To watch the vintage WWII aircraft flyover in honor of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two, Please check here for the count down and link for you to watch!!

For my post concerning the 2 September 2020 flyover. Please click here!!

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Military Humor – 

 

blind dates

 

 

 

 

 

‘Only one man in 1,000 is a leader of men. The other 999 follow women!’

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Farewell Salutes – 

Max Abram – Carthage, MI; US Army, WWII, Lt. Colonel (Ret. 37 y.)

John Childs – Jacksonville, TX; US Army, Vietnam, 2/506/101st Airborne Division, Lt. Col. (Ret. 21 y.)

Robert Butler – Lismore, MN; US Army, WWII, ETO, decoder

David Iggo (101) – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 415697, WWII, Flt. Lt., 457th Squadron

Wayne Kellog – North Hornell, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Sgt.

Vincent P. Marketta – Brick, NJ; US Army, SSgt., 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (A)

Edward ‘Mike’ Reuter – Tacoma, WA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Tyler M. Shelton – San Bernadino, CA; US Army, Sgt., 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (A)

Margaret Shinners (100) – Middletown, RI; Civilian, US Naval photographer

Donald F. Wright – Coffeyville, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT-150/Ron 12

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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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Trinity Beach, Australia

Trinity Beach, 1st Amphibious, Dec. 1, 1944

Trinity Beach was once a World War II training ground, where troops practiced all aspects of amphibious warfare before heading into war zones north of Australia.

Between May 1943 and December 144, thousands of Australian troops were rotated through this area for training in all aspects of beach warfare.  trainees were from the Australian 9th Australian Division which had recently returned from Tobruk and Alamein.  They were followed by members of the 6th and 7th  divisions that had been involved in campaigns in Egypt, Libya, Cyprus, Greece and New Guinea.

Training was a joint Australian-American army-navy exercise.  British ships and Navy personnel were occasionally involved.  Trinity Beach was the HQ for a number of units and the troops camped along Captain Cook Highway, particularly at Deadman’s Gully near Clifton Beach.

Training was intensive and involved both day and nighttime activities.  Troops undertaking this training included infantry, gunners, engineers, mechanics, signalers, ordnance, intelligence and field ambulance personnel.

Trinity Beach training

Trinity Beach had been a place for families during the holidays, this changed when the 532nd Engineer Special Brigade arrived in April 1943.  Troops were rotated between inland jungle training on the Atherton Tableland to amphibious training on the beaches.   This was done prior to embarkation to the front lines in Papua New Guinea.

Assault training was only one aspect of the training activities at Trinity.  Logistics, including load training, was undertaken.  The 1st Australian Corps Combined Operations Amphibious program co-ordinated  by the 6th Australian Div. had 5 key tasks:

1- Delivery of essential supplies from key ports to forward areas, which were close to combat and only accessible by sea

2-Carriage of troops, especially in amphibious assaults.

3- Evacuations of wounded.

4- Local carriage of equipment, stores and salvage.

5-Building of minor port facilities, such as jetties and landing stages.

Trinity Beach, 11 Sept. 1944

During the Pacific War, Cairns became one of Australia’s largest military embarkation ports and the region was dotted with a variety of facilities and camps.

HMAS Kuranda and the RAAF Catalina base were located in north Cairns wharf area and a Catalina slip facility on Admirlty Island in Trinity Inlet.  An American transhipment port was located at the mouth of Smiths Creek.  Aerodomes were established at Mareeba and cairns.  A very large hospital was established at Rocky Creek on the Atherton Tableland, with a second located on the west side of Cairns at Jungara.  A medical research and development unit was based there.  Radar and communications facilities were established throughout this area.

Trinity Beach today

For one and a half frantic years, thousands of troops moved in and out of the Trinity Beach area.  After the training headquarters were shut down, Trinity Beach slipped back into being a place for beach-going weekenders.

Excerpts from: Cairns arts and culture.com.au

This article was suggested by Gallivanta!!  Thank you for the idea, Ann!!

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert S. Chessum – Matamata, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 4311266, WWII

Joshua Fuller – Orlando, FL; US Navy, Commander, pilot

Murray Hilford – Whangaparaoa, NZ; RNZ Navy # 9474, WWII, ETO, Able Seaman

Enrique Roman-Martinez – Chino, CA; US Army, Spc., HQ Co./37/2/82nd Airborne Division

James Moir – New Town, NZ; RNZ Army # 205256, WWII

Vincent Segars – Valdosta, GA; US Navy, Captain, pilot (30 y.), Bronze Star

Peter B. Sheppard – AUS; Royal Australian Military Hospital, Cpl., # 0708811, Vietnam

Jimmy Sinclair (107) – ENG; British Royal Artillery, WWII, “Desert Rats”

Raymond Tompkins – Salem, OR; US Navy, WWII, Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class

Robert J. Wells – Eagle, CO; US Navy, WWII, gunner, USS Cornvallis, Bucknell & Whiteriver

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USS Barb – SS-220

Uss Barb, SS-220, May 1945

This post is in response to a suggestion I received from Pat at e-Quips.

In the closing months of World War II, heavy losses and depleted fuel stocks kept many of Japan’s remaining combat aircraft grounded and warships in port, awaiting an anticipated amphibious invasion. Starting in July 1945, Allied battleships embarked on a series of naval bombardments of coastal cities in Japan in an effort to draw these forces out to battle — with little success.

However, a week before the battleships began lobbing their massive shells, a legendary U.S. submarine toting a rocket launcher began its own campaign of coastal terror that foretold the future of naval warfare — and also engaged in the only Allied ground-combat operation on Japanese home-island soil.

Submarines still made use of deck guns during World War II, most of them ranging between three and five inches in caliber. These were used to finish off unarmed merchant ships or sink smaller vessels that could evade torpedoes, but also were occasionally directed to bombard coastal targets, such as in early-war Japanese raids on the coasts of California and Australia.

Capt. Eugene Fluckey of the Gato-class submarine USS Barb volunteered his boat to try out the experimental rocket launcher in 1945.

Fluckey with the navy Cross

At the time, the Navy was actually testing the weapon’s viability as an anti-kamikaze weapon, but Fluckey managed to cajole the R&D staff into releasing the Mark 51 in time for his patrol, making the Barb the only rocket-launching submarine of the Navy.

The Barb, which displaced 2,400 tons submerged, was one of the top-scoring Allied submarines of World War II. By the most conservative count, she sank 17 ships totaling 97,000 tons of shipping. Other tallies are considerably higher.

In January 1945, on his fourth patrol as commander of the Barb, Fluckey sneaked his boat into the shallow waters off of Namakwan Harbor off the coast of China and torpedoed six ships before hightailing away, an action that earned him the Medal of Honor.

The Barb set sail from her base in Midway on June 8 loaded with 100 rockets. She arrived off the Japanese home islands on June 20.  At 2:30 a.m. on June 22, Barb surfaced off of the town of Shari in northeastern Hokkaido Island, unleashing a volley of 12 rockets into the slumbering community. She then sailed northward to the coast of Southern Sakhalin Island, then known as the Japanese prefecture of Karafuto. (All of Sakhalin is presently administered by Russia.)

Over the following month, the Barb expended 68 rockets on Shikuka. Shoritori and Kashiho, mostly firing late at night at near-maximum range.

When Japanese seaplanes began hunting the sub during the day, Fluckey retaliated with a volley of rockets aimed at the Shikuka military airfield. The Barb’s guns also destroyed more than three dozen civilian sampans, while her homing torpedoes took out local trawlers, tugboats and a few large merchant ships.

The Barb’s most famous exploit did not involve those weapons.

USS Barb, 1944

Observing trains passing along the Japanese coastline, Fluckey hatched a scheme to dispatch a landing party to blow up one of the trains by burying the Barb’s 55-pound scuttling charge — essentially a self-destruct device — under the tracks. Rather than using a timer, the explosives would be jury-rigged only to blow when the pressure of a passing train completed the circuit, a trick Fluckey likened to a childhood walnut-cracking prank.

A landing party of eight was selected on the basis of their unmarried status and membership in the Boy Scouts. Fluckey believed the scouts would have better pathfinding skills.

At midnight on July 23, the Barb slipped up to within a kilometer of the shore, and a landing party commanded by Lt. William Walke paddled quietly to the beach. While three men took up guard positions — they encountered a sleeping Japanese guard in a watchtower, whom they left unharmed — the other five buried the demolition charge and managed not blow themselves up jury-rigging the detonation circuit.

They were furiously rowing back to the Barb when a second train passed.

Fluckey described what happened next in his autobiography , “Thunder Below!”

“The engine’s boilers blew, wreckage flew two hundred feet in the air in a flash of flame and smoke, cars piled up and rolled off the track in a writhing, twisting mass of wreckage.”

USS Barb demolition crew with their battle flag, August 1945

All 61 train cars derailed, killing 150 passengers. The Barb’s crew added a train to the tally of enemy ships sunk on their battle flag. Her landing party had just performed what would be the only U.S. ground operation on the Japanese home islands during World War II.

The Barb’s raids on the Japanese coast — and even those performed by Allied battleships — were premised on the Japanese military’s inability, by 1945, to effectively defend the home-island coastlines, which included a lack of coastal-defense guns.

While the rockets the Barb employed appear to have been effective, it’s not clear that they were superior to having another deck gun. But within a decade of the Barb’s last mission, new rocket-based technologies in the form of guided cruise and ballistic missiles drastically reduced the relevance of big guns on warships or coastal defenses. The new weapons could be launched by a submerged submarine a long distance from the shore, safe from immediate retaliation.

The Barb’s month-long seaside rampage will remain a unique incident for some time to come.

Excerpts from: War Is Boring. com

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Military Humor – 

for you submariners

Young submariners learn quickly to heed all signs!!
SIGN reads: “SECURE! Sanitation tanks under pressure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Natasha R. Aposhian – AZ; US Air Force, 319th Logistics Readiness Squadron

Bernard Barry – Stanley, AUS; RA Navy, WWII

George Bjork – St. Paul, MN; US Navy, Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class

Stanley De Witt – USA; US Army, Korea, Sgt., Medical Detachment/57th FAB/7th Infantry Div., Bronze Star, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Pete Conley – USA; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. K/3/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Thomas E. Griffith – USA; US Navy, WWII, radioman, USS  Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Ernestine “Tommy” King – Columbus, GA; Red Cross nurse. WWII

James Thomas Sr. – Montgomery, AL; US Navy, WWII & Korea, Lt. Commander

Julian C. Torres – TX; US Air Force, Airman 1st Class, 319th Security Forces Squadron

Jesse Vincent (100) – Leavenworth, WA; US Navy, WWII

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Shipping Them Home at the End of WWII

Here is a superb article on getting our troops home after the war.

e-Quips

Like to dream, yes, yes
Right between the sound machine
On a cloud of sound, I drift in the night
Any place it goes is right
Goes far, flies near
To the stars away from here
Well, you don’t know what
We can find
Why don’t you come with me little girl
On a magic carpet ride
Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf

From a forwarded email:

Can you imagine the logistical and administrative challenges involved in this operation?!! And, all before any computers! Staggering! AND, once they were in the US, getting them to out-processing stations and eventually home!

Remember what Eisenhower said at the end of the war, “Take pictures of the dead Holocaust Jewish people, a generation or two will never believe it happened”!!!

 Returning the troops home after WWII was a daunting task….

The Magic Carpet that brought everyone home.

 In 1939, there were 334,000 servicemen…

View original post 911 more words

Edward “Butch” O’Hare

Lt. Edward “Butch” O’Hare, Feb. 1942

On Feb. 20, 1942, the flattop Lexington was steaming toward the Japanese base at Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, when it was approached by two enemy flying boats. Their crews managed to signal its coordinates before American fighters flamed the planes, and the Japanese immediately launched an attack against Lexington.

That chance encounter had dire implications for the U.S., which couldn’t afford the loss of a single ship and certainly not a carrier.

American radar picked up two waves of Japanese aircraft. Mitsubishi G4M1 “Betty” bombers—good planes with experienced pilots.

Six American fighters led by legendary pilot Jimmy Thach intercepted one formation, breaking it up and downing most of the Bettys.

The second wave, however, approached from another direction almost unopposed.

Almost.

Two American fighters were close enough to intercept the second flight of eight bombers. The Navy pilots flew Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats, which like most American planes were practically obsolete at the time, certainly inferior to the best Japanese aircraft.

At this point in the war, the Navy had to rely on the men who flew them.

As the Japanese bombers dove from 15,000 feet, the guns jammed on one of the Wildcats, leaving Lexington’s fate in the hands of one young American aviator. Lt. Butch O’Hare —who’d been aboard Saratoga when she was torpedoed—had only enough .50- caliber ammunition for about 34 seconds of sustained firing.

Lt. Edward Butch O’Hare, 1942

And the Bettys were mounted with rear-facing 20mm cannons, a daunting defense.  O’Hare’s aircraft may have been inferior, but his gunnery was excellent.  Diving on the Japanese formation at an angle called for “deflection” shooting, but Thach had taught his men how to lead a target.

O’Hare flamed one Betty on his first pass, then came back in from the other side, picked out another and bored in.

Still too far away to help, Thach observed three flaming Japanese planes in the air at one time.

Betty bomber. Lt. Cmdr. Takuzo Ito first met 20 Feb. 1942

By the end of the action, O’Hare had downed five of the attacking Japanese planes and damaged a sixth, approaching close enough to Lexington that some of its gunners had fired on him.

After landing on the carrier, he approached one sailor and said, “Son, if you don’t stop shooting at me when I’ve got my wheels down, I’m going to report you to the gunnery officer.”

Thach estimated that O’Hare had used a mere 60 rounds for each plane he destroyed. It’s hard to say which was more extraordinary—his courage or his aim. Regardless, he had saved his ship.

On April 21, 1942, at a White House ceremony, Rita O’Hare draped the Medal of Honor around her husband’s neck as President Franklin Roosevelt looked on.  Roosevelt promoted the pilot to lieutenant commander.

Butch & Rita O’Hare as he is awarded the MOH

Later in the war, Butch O’Hare was killed off Tarawa while flying a pioneering night intercept against attacking Japanese torpedo planes —an exceedingly dangerous mission, employing tactics that were in their infancy.

He had volunteered. Aviators throughout the fleet reacted with disbelief at the news that Butch O’Hare was dead.

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There is a surprising footnote to the story.

“O’Hare” resonates with Americans today for the airport in Chicago that bears his name.

Easy Eddie (r) with Al Capone (l)

Ironically, O’Hare’s father had been an associate of Al Capone. On Nov. 8, 1939, “Easy Eddie” O’Hare was gunned down a week before Capone was released from prison, supposedly for helping the government make its case against his former boss.

His son, Butch, was in flight training at the time, learning the skills he would put to use little more than two years later in the South Pacific.

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Military Humor –  (For  Aviators)

“A HAIRY SITUATION!”

“AND ON A WINDY DAY, OH MY!!”

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Warren Bowland – El Paso, TX; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne, Bronze Star, Purple Heart / NASA, Col. (Ret. 30 y.)

Katherine Carson (100) – Boston, MA; WWII, US Coast Guard SPARS

Salvadore Dezio – Bayville, NJ; US Army, WWII, SSgt.

Bill Ham – Topeka, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO

Lois Jemtegaard – Washougal, WA; Civilian, WWII, Kaiser Shipyards welder

Mike Magoulas – Charleston, SC; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, navigator, Citadel alum / US Air Force Major (Ret.)

Alfred Newman Jr. – Cranston, RI; US Army, WWII, ETO / US National Guard, MSgt. (Ret.)

William Palmer Sr. – Monticello, NY; US Army, 503/ 11th Airborne Division

Herbert Stempel – Queens, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, 311/78th Infantry Division/counterintelligence

Elmer Umbenhauer – Stony Creek Mills, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 8th Armored Division, Bronze Star

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Armed Forces Day/Week

 

A 12 MINUTE HIGHLIGHT VIDEO OF THE LONGEST RUNNING ARMED FORCES DAY PARADE, FROM BREMERTON, WASHINGTON.

Armed Forces Week is celebrated in the week leading up to Armed Forces Day (the third Saturday in May). For American service members, Armed Forces Week is an occasion to remember past and present service for all branches of the service.  The week also includes “Children of Fallen Patriots Day” 13 May.

Armed Forces Day was observed for the first time on May 20, 1950, the day was created on August 31, 1949 to honor Americans serving in the five U.S. military branches. Armed Forces Day/Week was created in the wake of the consolidation of military services under the United States Department of Defense.

Today, there are many Armed Forces Week events around the globe, but sources report the “longest continuously running Armed Forces Day Parade” for Americans is held in Bremerton, Washington. In 2018 Bremerton marked the 70th straight year of its Armed Forces Day Parade.  Unfortunately, as expected, the festivities are postponed this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Armed Forces Week is another time for Americans to reflect on the sacrifices made by those in uniform, and local communities often pay tribute to their missing or fallen loved ones and friends. There may be ceremonies in your local area (especially if a military installation is nearby) to pay respects to those missing or killed in action.

 Being as we cannot hold parades or visit military installations this year…

More ways to celebrate

  • Wear red, white and blue
  • Fly the American flag
  • Thank a man or woman who serves or has served
  • Talking with or writing to a military member
  • Donate to veteran or military-based organizations
  • Send care packages for those serving overseas
  • Volunteer through the VA or a veterans service organization

What makes Armed Forces Day different from Veterans Day and Memorial Day?

Unlike Veterans Day, which honors those who served, and unlike Memorial Day, which honors those who died serving, Armed Forces Day is a day to honor all of the men and women currently serving as well as those who have served, both active and former military.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quarantine Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Arthur W. Barstow – Hadley, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 5th Air Force

Hilton Carter – New Orleans, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, MSSgt., Tuskegee pilot-crew chief-gunner

Daniel Daube – Donora, PA; US Air Force, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Colonel (Ret.)

Carl Groesbeck – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, bombardier-navigator, POW

Hansford ‘Hank’ Hancock – Greenville, KY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Dorville Johnson – Jonesboro, AR; US Navy, WWII & Korea (Ret. 21 y.)

Paul Krogh Jr. – Old Saybrook, CT; US Navy, WWII, USS Slater

Walter Mallin – Manchester, NH; US Army, WWII, Pearl Harbor survivor

Joseph Phillips – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, radioman-navigator

Jerry Stiller – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII / Beloved actor

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