Blog Archives

From a U.S. sailor’s diary (Balikpapan)

USS Montpelier (CL-57)

Wednesday, 27 June 1945:  USS Montpelier 

The bombers started early this morning, it was 7 A.M.  The men on the 5″ and 6″ guns will be glad when we leave here.(Balikpapan).  The past 10 days they have been in those hot steel mounts and turrets passing big shells and powder cases.  They start passing the ammunition at 7:30 AM and don’t stop until 6 PM.  Then they stay up all night standing their usual watches.

James J. Fahey’s secret diary

The Australian cruiser, Hobart, one heavy cruiser and some destroyers came in today, many PT boats and gunboats also came in.  A destroyer pulled alongside with 60 bags of mail.  The air mail was only 16 days old!

The demolition squad returned to our ship this morning, they were soaking wet.  They have a very dangerous job clearing the place of mines and underwater obstacles put there by the Japs, they must have worked all night.  One of our b-25 medium bombers came in so low on a strafing run that it hit some trees and landed in the water.  One of our small boats was sent to pick up the crew, lucky for them no one was hurt.

The Australian soldiers that we have with us are always studying their maps, charts and photos.  These men are special troops and have important jobs to do when they land

War Diary of the USS Montpelier

Thursday, 28 June 1945

All hands got up at 6 AM.  We really opened up on the Japs today and so did the bombers.  When it was all over you could see nothing for miles around but thick black smoke, it rose so high into the sky for miles, it went so high that it was out of sight.  I never saw anything like it before.

There was enough black smoke here to cover many big cities, at the same time it was enough to choke you.  I don’t know how the Japs can stand it.  There were so many huge storage tanks exploding and so many miles of Borneo were blacked out that it looked like the end of the world.

Today while we were covering the demolition crew, the Jap machine-guns opened up on them, they had some casualties.  They had a very rugged job to do, they were in the water near shore and the Japs were looking at them not too far away.

They must have ice water in their veins, no wonder it is such a tough outfit to join.  I can see why they have such heavy casualties.  The Japs gave them a hot time with their machine-guns and mortars.  The demolition crew set off long chains of explosions. They have to clear a path in the water for our landing craft…..

There is a big wall and many steel posts plus mines.  The demolition men can stay under water for a long time, but when they come up, the Japs open up on them.  We fired back and knocked out their guns and crews.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Click on images to enlarge.

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

Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Farewell Salutes – 

Max Barton – Streator, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 193rd Ordnance Co./5th Air Force

John Clement – Quantico, VA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Purple Heart

Fred Frevert – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, 38th Infantry Division

Noel Grimm – Hudson, OH; US Army, WWII, PTO, Sgt., M.P.

Robert Hagan Sr. – PA; US Air Force, Captain, pilot

Frederick Hopkins – New Plymouth, NZ; J Force # 444837, WWII, PTO

Stanly Kretowski – Cobourg, CAN; Canadian Army, WWII, ETO

Vinnie O’Hare – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, WWII

Charles Slade Jr. – Saginaw, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO

Jerry A. Williams – Phoenix, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

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

Advertisements

C.B.I. Theater – June 1945 (1)

Harassed and groggy after ever-increasing aerial blows, residents of Japan’s main cities once more sought shelter underground this week as Super-Forts rode high and unchallenged over the island kingdom. But, for once, the giant planes did not only unleash cargoes of flaming death. Huge paper bombardments also rained down on the cities, spraying millions of propaganda leaflets over wide areas.


Text of the leaflets was soon revealed by Radio Tokyo, which reported they were signed by President Truman and advised the Japanese people to get out of the war or face the same destruction that was accorded the German people. “Unconditional surrender,” the broadcast reported the pamphlets as reading “would not mean obliteration or slavery for the Japanese people.”
However, Uncle Sam’s airmen backed up the threats implied in the propaganda warfare with two “knockout” punches aimed at Nippon’s “glass jaw” – her concentrated industrial empire.

As Maj. Gen. Curtis S. Lemay, Commander of the 12th Bomber Command, assessed the results of last week’s destruction raids on Tokyo in an announcement that 51 square miles surrounding the Imperial Palace grounds in the heart of Japan’s capital city are “great masses of gray ashes and fire-blackened ruins of the few buildings left standing.” Super-Forts struck in force at Yokohama and Osaka.

Metrotogoshi Railway Station, Tokyo, after incendiary bombing.

The next day, more than 450 B-29’s returned from the heaviest daylight raid on Japan and reported giant fires were burning all over the industrial section of Tokyo’s port city of Yokohama. Later the enemy High Command conceded that “considerable damage” was inflicted and reported a high wind was spreading fires throughout the city’s automotive, aircraft, shipbuilding and rubber plants. Aerial photographs revealed that the raid, in which 3,200 tons of incendiary bombs were dropped, had burned out nearly seven square miles of Yokohama’s principal business and industrial center.

The Super-Forts were out again, this time striking at the manufacturing center of Osaka. More than 450 bombers, escorted by 150 Mustang fighters, dropped 3,200 tons of bombs. The attack was concentrated on harbor facilities, shipyards, warehouses and factories. Reports indicated that 86 square miles of Japan’s most highly industrialized city were destroyed or heavily damaged and Japanese broadcasts admitted that flames started throughout the manufacturing heart of the city were only gradually being brought under control.

Osaka 1945

The naval air force was out in strength, too. Striking on two successive days, planes attacked Southern Kyushu airfields from which the Japs have been launching suicide aerial attacks against the American fleet. Meanwhile, the Jap government announced that the entire naval air corps of Japan has been converted into a “suicide corps” for attacks against Allied warships.

*****          *****          *****

The British this week announced formation of new SEAC Army, the 12th, under the command of Lt. Gen. Montague Stopford, to be based in Rangoon.
In the meantime, the 14th Army continued its mopping up operations in Burma, with the enemy making desperate attempts to keep open his escape routes to the east.
At the “Kama” escape route, north of Prome and east of the Irrawaddy River, the British killed 1,221 Japs in a series of engagements.
In the Kalaw, area Empire troops have captured a “staircase,” which goes up to the mountains northwest of Kalaw. This was rugged terrain and presented difficulties comparable to any in the entire Burma campaign.
The Japs are resisting in Burma from Pegu in the south to Mawchi Road in the north. British reports say the enemy is just as fanatical as ever in his resistance. During the week, planes of Eastern Air Command hit troop concentrations in Moulmein and attacked the jetty area in Martaban.

Click on images to enlarge.

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

Military Humor – CBI Roundup Style – 

“BE CAREFUL, JOE! IT MIGHT BE A TRAP!”

 

 

 

 

 

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

Farewell Salutes – 

William Blancheri – Los Angeles, CA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pharmacists Mate,  2/2nd Marines, KIA (Betio)

Harry ‘Bud’ Calsen – Brookfield, IL; USMC, WWII, PTO, TSgt., A/2nd Amphibian Unit, KIA (Betio)

Robert Holmes – Salt Lake City, UT; USMC, Pfc., KIA (USS Oklahoma)

Robert Kitchner –  Pittsburgh, PA; US Army, Korea

Richard Murphy – Washington DC; USMC, WWII, PTO, SSgt., 6th Marines, KIA (Saipan)

Henry Sakaida – Los Angeles, CA; Civilian, Pacific War Historian, eg: “Winged Samurai”, “The Siege of Rabaul”, “Pacific Air Command WWII”

Lester Schade – Holton, WI; USMC, WWII, PTO, Captain, 4th Marines, KIA,  (Enoura Maru, hellship)

Neil Simon – Bronx, NY; US Army Air Corps, (renown playwriter)

Arthur Weiss – St. Louis, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Lowell “Whip” Wilson – Lynchburg, SC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 306th Bomber Group, Silver Star

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

June 1945 for the Navy

USS Langley, June 1945

After sending Sherman’s US Navy Task Force 38.3 to Leyte for a rest period, Halsey ordered RAdm. Radford’s Task Force 38.4orce northward on June 2 to strike the airfields on Kyushu, the southernmost Japanese main island. Halsey and McCain remained off Okinawa. When Radford returned on the afternoon of June 3, Halsey sent Task Group 38.1 southeast to rendezvous with Rear Admiral Donald B. Beary’s Service Squadron 6.  Ships and search planes reported a tropical storm moving up from the south.

The Missouri and Shangri-La headed southeast with Radford’s group, and Halsey ordered the amphibious command ship Ancon to monitor the storm. On the evening of June 4, Task Group 38.4 joined Clark’s force and Beary’s fueling squadron, and they all headed E-SE. At this time, radar operators aboard the Ancon sighted a typhoon, but the ship’s report did not reach Halsey until 1 the next morning.

USS Pittsburgh, Typhoon Connie, 1945

Course changes were made, and there was much feverish plotting aboard the Missouri and other ships through the night and into June 5. Halsey did not want his fleet scattered as before, and he hoped to find better weather so that his flattops could fend off kamikaze attacks. But the barometer was falling, and the howling typhoon closed in. While Radford’s group steamed through fairly calm seas 15 miles to the north, Task Group 38.1 was sucked into a maelstrom of high winds and mountainous waves. Clark ordered his ships to stop their engines and heave to.

Beary’s fueling group, meanwhile, struggled against 75-foot waves and wind gusts up to 127 knots as it passed through the eye of the typhoon. His 48 ships were “riding very heavily,” he reported, yet only four—two jeep carriers, a tanker, and a destroyer escort—received serious damage. Clark’s group passed through the eye half an hour after Beary’s, and almost all of his 33 ships suffered some damage, but none were sunk. The cruiser, Pittsburgh had 110 feet of her bow section torn off, and Clark’s four carriers—the San Jacinto, Hornet, Bennington, and Belleau Wood—were battered. Clark and Beary lost six men killed or swept overboard and four seriously injured, 76 planes were lost.

USS Hornet, June 1945

The other TF-38 ships damaged in the typhoon included the battleships Missouri, Massachusetts, Indiana, and Alabama; the escort carriers Windham Bay, Salamaua, Bougainville, and Attu; the cruisers Baltimore, Quincy, Detroit, San Juan, Duluth, and Atlanta; 11 destroyers; three destroyer escorts; two oilers, and an ammunition ship.

Halsey was aware he would have to face another court of inquiry and took the offensive.  In an angry message to Admiral Nimitz, he complained that early-warning messages were garbled, that weather estimates conflicted, and that coding regulations critically delayed the Ancon’s message. The Third Fleet, meanwhile, soon went back into action. On June 6, 1945, Clark’s and Radford’s groups again provided air support off Okinawa, and Radford’s carriers resumed strikes against Kyushu on the 8th. U.S. troops gained the upper hand on Okinawa, the kamikaze attacks tapered off, and TF-38 retired to Leyte Gulf on June 13 after 92 wearying days at sea.

USS Bennington, June 1945

Admirals Halsey, McCain, Clark, and Beary were ordered to appear before a court of inquiry aboard the aging battleship USS New Mexico anchored in San Pedro Bay, a Leyte Gulf inlet. Presided over again by the harsh Admiral Hoover, the tribunal convened on June 15 and deliberated for eight days. Blame was placed squarely on Halsey and McCain, with the court concluding that the main cause of the Third Fleet’s damage was Halsey’s “extremely ill advised” change of course from 110 to 300 degrees at 1:34 am on June 5. McCain, Clark, and Beary were indicted because “they continued on courses and at speeds which eventually led their task groups into dangerous weather, although their better judgment dictated a course of action which would have taken them fairly clear of the typhoon path.”

Hoover recommended the reassignment of Halsey and McCain, and Navy Secretary James V. Forrestal was reportedly ready to retire Halsey. When the court’s finding reached the Navy Department, Admiral King agreed that the two officers had been inept and, with the weather data available to them, should have avoided the typhoon. But Halsey was a national hero, and King had no wish to humiliate him. It would tarnish the Navy’s triumph in the Pacific. King decided to take no action, and Forrestal agreed.

Admirals Halsey & McCain, March 1945

McCain, however, received no such consideration. Nimitz had long doubted his competence, and it was decided that it was time for him to go. He was ordered by the Navy Department on July 15 to hand over command of Task Force 38 to Admiral John H. Towers and, after a furlough, become deputy head of the Veterans Administration. But McCain, worn out and emaciated, died of a heart attack on the day after he returned to his Coronado, California, home on 6 September 1945.

Halsey, meanwhile, sailed back to America and was greeted in San Francisco and Los Angeles by blaring bands, sirens, whistles, and cheering thousands. His reputation had been tarnished, yet he emerged from the war as a fighting admiral revered by the men who served under him.

Click on images to enlarge.

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

Naval Humor –  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Farewell Salutes – 

Donald Anthon – Baton Rouge, LA; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO, LT., Academy Graduate

Dean Bailey – Mobridge, SD; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Gardiner’s Bay

John Casey – Phoneix, AZ; US Navy, WWII, corpsman

Robert Danzig – Albany, NY; US Navy, Korea

Edward Finley III – New Orleans, LA US Navy, Top Gun pilot

Ed Jost – Glencoe, IL; USMC, WWII, Sgt., machine-gunner

Gordon Olson – Seymour, CT; USMC, WWII

Thomas Suddarth –  Concord, MO; US Navy, WWII, USS Honolulu Klaskanine

Warren Venable – Memphis, TN; US Navy, aerial photographer

Eugene W. Wicker – Coweta, OK; US Navy, WWII, Seaman 1st Class, radioman, USS Oklahoma, KIA

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

Eye Witness Account – Clearing Manila Harbor

RAdm. William A. Sullivan

This is condensed from a story written by Rear Admiral William A. Sullivan and appears in”The Pacific War Remembered” edited by John T. Mason Jr.

ship in Manila Harbor

 

When Captain B.S. Huie had arrived with his men, I put the gang to work on North Harbor.  There turned out to be over 200 wrecks there.  Huie cleaned this up and then work began on the Pasig River.  For some weeks we had 40 to 60 wrecks cleaned up per week, this was around the end of May.

crossing the Pasig River

Our most important job in Manila was the opening of the main harbor entrance.  The Japanese did a perfect job blocking it – far more efficient than any similar job the Germans had done in Europe.  There were 5 ships sunk in a staggered line across the entrance.  Four of them were old inter-island ships and one was the Luzon, flagship of the Yangtze patrol.  I had the steering wheel of the Luzon taken off and sent to the naval Academy Museum.

USS Luzon

About this time, Doc Schlesinger advised me to get the men out of the tents they had been living in and put them in solid buildings before rainy season hit.  Requisitions for lumber were ignored.  The lumber was being unload by the SeaBees to build build a tremendous 7th Fleet Headquarters.

I watched them and every afternoon at 4:00 pm, they knocked off and went back to their billets.  One night a lighter was not properly secured and drifted loose.  I sent our boat over to it.  Just what we needed!  The next morning, the SeaBees returned and went to work as usual.

I turned it all over to our firefighters and the houses got built by mostly Filipino carpenters and guerrillas.  No one in the Navy asked where I got the lumber.  The only who asked was General Casey, MacArthur’s chief engineer.  I told him I stole it from the Navy as the Army was short, so I couldn’t have stolen any from them.

We had a job which received much publicity, the recovery of silver pesos from the waters around Corregidor.  I asked MacArthur about using Army divers, but he didn’t want the job of Manila Bay neglected.  A week or two later, he brought the subject up again.  He said the money had been removed from Manila bank before the Japanese complete take-over.  The money was dumped by barges, something like 13 million dollars worth.  The United States had both a legal and moral obligation to recover it.

I made up a team of divers and gave the CO of the ARS his orders and he left with an Army finance officer and a MP.  They found no silver.   An Army Sgt., Bataan Death March survivor, recently released POW, who had worked on the barges, marked the chart with an X.  He also said the Japanese had recovered some of the silver themselves.

Dive ship in Manila Harbor

Finally after many dives, the wooden boxes were located at 90 →130 feet down, deteriorated and broken apart.  The divers had to sift the silt on their hands and knees.  The recovery of the silver continued through my stay.  When I left the Philippines (August 1945), I believe something like 7 million dollars in pesos had been recovered.

Click on images to enlarge.

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

Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Farewell Salutes – 

August Bill – Woodland, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Vella Gulf

Patrick Churchill – Oxfordshire, ENG; Royal Marines, WWII, ETO

Joseph DioGuardi – Mount MOrris, NY; US Army, Korea, 11th Airborne Division

Gerald Giles – Lowell, MA; US Army, Cpl., medic

Drensel Haws – Emmett, ID; US Navy, WWII

Dick Marshall – Des Moines, IA; USMC, WWII, PTO

John Reith – LA & CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, P-51 pilot

David South – Bozeman, MT; US Army, WWII, ETO, 85th Div., Silver Star, Bronze Star

Albert Trapanese – Bronx, NY; US Navy, WWII

Charles Wright – Millcreek, UT; USMC, WWII, PTO

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

PTO & CBI reactions to V-E Day

US Army 77th Division hears the news on Okinawa

Victory in Europe was welcome news to Allied troops in the Pacific and the China-Burma-India theaters of war. They greeted it with thanksgiving but there was little celebration. As a London Times special correspondent in Burma wrote, “The war is over. Let us get on with the war.” Now that Europe would no longer be receiving the bulk of troops and materiel, officers and enlisted personnel in the war against Japan hoped they would be given more men and equipment quickly, in order to end their war sooner.

Meanwhile, fighting continued in New Guinea, the Philippines, Okinawa, the CBI and elsewhere. Kamikazes still made suicide dives to sink Allied ships. The lights may have gone on over Europe and America, but a funeral pall still darkened the Pacific and Asia.

SMITTY _ New Guinea 10/24/44

Smitty, my father, when asked how he had felt, merely shrugged. “I was happy for my fellow soldiers over there, but we had work to do, so we didn’t think about it very long.”

From The May 7, 1945 Edition of Stars and Stripes

OKINAWA, May 6 (ANS)—The reported death of Adolf Hitler and the word of surrender of the German armies in Italy was good news to soldiers, sailors and marines here but there was no celebrating.Most of the fighting men figured it wouldn’t mean a thing to them “until we can see some help coming and see a chance of ending the war out here.”

They termed Hitler’s death “good riddance” and said it was a good thing he went that way because there probably would have been lots of bickering around if we had taken him alive.”

Gen. Daniel I. Sultan

Gen. Dan I. Sultan, commander of the India-Burma Theater, on V-E Day, paid tribute to the fighting men who won the European war in a short statement to the troops of the India-Burma Theater broadcast over the American Army radio stations in the Theater. The text of Gen. Sultan’s statement:
“Today in Europe, German military might has been broken. After almost six years, organized hostilities have ceased. The great work of reconstruction of the shattered continent can now begin.
“We recognize the tremendous achievements of the Allied Armies in Europe who won this victory, for we too have been fighting. We know the cost of driving back a tenacious enemy – we know the necessity for close co-operation of all branches of our forces, the close union with our allies in the common cause. We know the heartbreaking conditions of combat under adverse weather and over difficult terrain – the back-breaking work of construction and supply in support of combat operations. So, as fighting men, we pay tribute to the fighting men in Europe.
“Their victory is in part our victory. We have done with less man and supplies, so that they might have more. Their victory brings our victory nearer. The men who broke the German ground defenses in the west, who destroyed her essential industries from the air, can now turn their attention to the war with Japan. The industrial strength of the United States, until now producing for the war both in Europe and in Asia, can turn its full productive force to the Far East.
“This is the day of Germany’s defeat and Europe’s liberation, but we must not forget that there is still a tough battle to be fought before the Japs are licked. Every one of us knows his part in that fight; and if every one of us will do his part to the utmost, Japan’s defeat and the liberation of Asia will come surely and swiftly.”

The Pacific War

 

The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia greeted V-E Day with the question, “Since when has it been customary to celebrate victory halfway through a contest?” The war with Japan had been the great threat to Australia itself, and the country’s sons were still fighting and dying in that war. Accordingly, the mood was more somber than in Europe. On May 9, some 100,000 people attended a service at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.

For the most part New Zealanders observed V-E Day on May 9, although there was some spontaneous dancing in the streets. Preparations had been underway for weeks, in part to keep celebrations from getting out of control. Events included speeches, thanksgiving services, and the singing of the national anthems of New Zealand, America and the Soviet Union. A People’s Victory March in Christchurch drew 25,000.

In the U.S., many communities attempted to subdue celebrations, wanting to give the occasion the solemnity they felt it deserved and reminding Americans that, as Truman said, “Our victory is only half over.” Across the country, however, joyous celebrations broke out. Thousands gathered in New York’s Times Square. New Orleans took on the appearance of Mardi Gras, with people dancing in the streets. Church bells rang out the glorious news in small towns and major cities.

In the Soviet Union, Stalin himself seemed less than enthusiastic. His deputy Nikita Khrushchev telephoned to congratulate the Soviet leader on his victory, and Stalin reportedly snapped at him, “Why are you bothering me? I am working.” The USSR’s official victory parade took place in a downpour over a month later, on June 24.

Click on images to enlarge.

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

Military Humor –

‘Bring back rationing!’

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Farewell Salutes –

Harold Bishop – Sacramento, CA; US Navy, WWII, submarine service

Christopher A. Celiz – Summerville, SC; US Army, Afghanistan (7th deployment), Sgt. 1st Class, KIA

Dallas ‘Chris’ Christenson – Pensecola, FL, US Air Force, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, MSgt. (Ret.)

John Hart – Keesville, NY; US Army / US Navy

Melvin Hilscher – Kulm, ND; US Army, WWII

James McLean – AUS; RA Air Force # 428761, WWII, Flight Sgt., 83rd Squadron

George Meyer – Bristol, CT; US Navy, WWII, Medical Corps

Ruskin Reddoch – Troy, AL; USMC, WWII, 1st Lt., Silver Star, Purple Heart

Elliot Seidman – Delray Beach, FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman

Maria Swafford – Boydton, VA; Civilian, US Map Service, D.C., WWII

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

USS Hornet (CV-12) – A Father’s Untold War Story – Battle of Okinawa (April – June 1945)(Part 2)

Kamikaze Action Report – sample from May 1945

Treasures from the USS Evans

The USS Evans and Hadley departed from the Hagushi anchorage at Yomitan, Okinawa on the afternoon of 10 May 1945, under orders of CTG 51.5, and arrived on Radar Picket Station #15 about 1500.  Other ships in support on that station were LSM 193, LCS 82, LCS 83 and LCS 84.  The latter four ships were disposed in a diamond formation 1000 yards on a side, their course reversed about every half hour by signal, speed maintained at 10 knots.  Hadley and Evans were in column in that order, speed 15 knots, distance 1500 yards, circling the support formation at a distance of about one mile.  Hadley was Fighter Director Ship and controlled a small Combat Air Patrol. Evans was Fire Support Ship.  At 1934 hours that evening a Japanese “Kate” was shot down by this ship.

From 0151 until 0340, 11 May 1945, remained at General Quarters as there were enemy aircraft in immediate vicinity, probably on reconnaissance missions. Early in the morning of the 11th, a general warning was received from Commander Fifth Fleet to expect heavy air raids during the day.

Enemy aircraft were again in the area from 0640 to 0654, after which we were in the clear until commencement of the action which this report covers.

At 0835 with Evans closing Hadley from 3500 yards on his starboard quarter, Evans and Hadley both opened fire with 5″ on an enemy aircraft (type undetermined) closing on Hadley’s starboard beam.  Hits were observed and the plane was splashed dead ahead of Evans.

At 0839 a “Zeke” approached from high on starboard quarter in steep dive, taken under fire by Evans’ 5″ battery at 7000 yards, by 40MM at 3500 yards, and shot down in flames at 2500 yards.  At 0841 a “Zeke” approached from high on starboard quarter in steep suicide dive and was shot down by 40MM and 20MM fire, hitting the water 800 yards on starboard beam.

At 0845 a “Tony” approached on Evans port bow in a shallow dive at high speed and was taken under fire by main battery at 5000 yards.  Hits were observed and plane splashed close aboard Hadley on her port quarter.

aircraft identifier

Less than two minutes later a “Tony” approached from high and deep on port quarter in a very steep dive, was taken under fire by 40MM and 20MM and set on fire.  It dropped a bomb close aboard on starboard bow, and was shot down by 5″ battery at 1500 yards off the starboard bow going away.  At 0849 an “Oscar” approached from port quarter in shallow dive at high speed.  Taken under fire by 5″ battery at 6000 yards and 40MM battery at 4000 yards, it crashed in flames 1000 yards off port quarter of Evans.  Less than a minute later, without ceasing fire, and with 5″ guns in automatic, the director was slowed forward from port quarter to port beam and approaching “Jill” was taken under fire at 10,000 yards. This “Jill” was shot down at 7,000 yards.

“Zeke”

At 0851 a “Kate” was observed closing Evans rapidly on a bearing of 330° relative, and taken under fire at 5000 yards by main battery. The enemy plane, although hit and burning severely, continued to close until at about 200 yards nearly broad on port bow it launched a torpedo. Hard left rudder was applied, with the ship making about 10 knots, and fortunately the torpedo crossed just ahead of bow less than 25 yards. The “Kate”, already on fire, was shot down going away 2000 yards off starboard bow by 5″ fire.

At 0854 a “Tony” approaching from Evans port bow was taken under fire by Hadley and Evans’ main batteries at 7000 yards, with hits observed from both ships.  Plane was shot down an equal distance from Hadley and Evans at 3500 yards (an assist with Hadley).

0856 observed “Val” coming in from high and deep on port quarter. It was taken under fire by main battery at 6000 yards, by machine guns at 4000 yards. Numerous hits were scored and the enemy plane set on fire. Although he attempted to suicide, it appeared the plane was out of control as it crossed over ship and crashed in water 2000 yards off starboard bow.

Click on images to enlarge.

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

Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

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

Farewell Salutes – 

Henry Arnold – Huntsville, AL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS New Orleans / US Army, Lt.Col. (Ret.)

Robert ‘Don’ Bass – Tampa, FL; US Coast Guard, WWII, radioman 3rd Class

John DeLang Jr. – Boston, MA; US Army, WWII

Robert Foster – Denmark, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO

Leonard Gamble – Waikato, NZ; RNZCI # 652525, WWII

Wasil Glushko – Simpson, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 navigator

Frank Johnston – Lowell, MA; US Army Air Corps, 187th/11th Airborne Division

Stanley McChristian Sr. (100) – Miami, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 co-pilot, 454th/15th Air Force

Shirley Richardson – Moose Jaw, CAN; RC Air Force Women’s Corps, WWII

Glen Snoddy – Shelbyville, TN; US Army, WWII, (Fuzz Tone engineer)

 

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

 

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

IJN Yamato

IJN Yamato

By early 1945, Japan’s strategic situation was grim. Japanese conquests in the Pacific had been steadily rolled back since the Allied landings on Guadalcanal in August 1942. The Philippines, Solomons, Gilberts and Carolines had all been lost and the enemy was now literally at the gates. Okinawa, the largest island in the Ryukyu island chain was the last bastion before the Home Islands itself. The island was just 160 miles from the mainland city of Kagoshima, coincidentally the birthplace of the Imperial Japanese Navy.

 From: Kyle Mizokami

In early 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy made a difficult decision: it would sacrifice the largest, most powerful battleships ever built to protect Okinawa, the gateway to Japan’s Home Islands. The decision sealed the fate of the battleship Yamato and its crew, but ironically did nothing to actually protect the island from Allied invasion.

Yamato under construction

The battleship Yamato was among the largest and most powerful battleships of all time. Yamato has reached nearly mythical status, a perfect example of Japan’s fascination with doomed, futile heroics. Built in 1937 at the Kure Naval Arsenal near Hiroshima, it was constructed in secrecy to avoid alarming the United States. Japan had recently withdrawn from the Washington Naval Treaty, which limited battleship tonnages, and was free to build them as large as it wanted.

Unfortunately for Yamato and its crew, it was obsolete by the time it was launched in 1941. The ability of fast aircraft carriers to engage enemy ships at the range of their embarked dive and torpedo bombers meant a carrier could attack a battleship at ranges of two hundred miles or more, long before it entered the range of a battleship’s guns. Battleships were “out-sticked,” to use a modern term.

At 0800 hours on April 7, scout planes from Admiral Mitscher’s Fast Carrier Force, or Task Force 58, located IJN Yamato, still only halfway to Okinawa. Mitscher launched a massive strike force of 280 fighters, bombers and torpedo planes, and the fight was on.

IJN Yamato

For two hours, the Surface Special Attack Force was subjected to a merciless aerial bombardment. The air wings of 11 fleet carriers joined in the attack—so many planes were in the air above Yamato that the fear of midair collision was real. The naval aviators were in such a hurry to score the first hit on the allegedly unsinkable ship plans for a coordinated attack collapsed into a free-for-all. Yamato took two hits during this attack, two bombs and one torpedo, and air attacks claimed two escorting destroyers.

A second aerial armada consisting of one hundred aircraft pressed the attack. As the Yamato started to go down, U.S. naval aviators changed tactics. Noticing the ship was listing badly, one squadron changed its torpedo running depth from ten feet—where it would collide with the main armor belt—to twenty feet, where it would detonate against the exposed lower hull. Aboard Yamato, the listing eventually grew to more than twenty degrees, and the captain made the difficult decision to flood the starboard outer engine room, drowning three hundred men at their stations, in an attempt to trim out the ship.

Yamato in battle, artist unknown

Yamato had taken ten torpedoes and seven bomb hits, and was hurting badly. Despite counterflooding, the ship continued to list, and once it reached thirty five degrees the order was given to abandon ship. The captain and many of the bridge crew tied themselves to their stations and went down with their ship, while the rest attempted to escape.

At 14:23, it happened. Yamato’s forward internal magazines detonated in a spectacular fireball. It was like a tactical nuclear weapon going off. Later, a navigation officer on one of Japan’s surviving destroyers calculated that the “pillar of fire reached a height of 2,000 meters, that the mushroom-shaped cloud rose to a height of 6,000 meters.” The flash from the explosion that was Yamato’s death knell was seen as far away as Kagoshima on the Japanese mainland. The explosion also reportedly destroyed several American airplanes observing the sinking.

Yamato at the end, artist unknown

When it was all over, the Surface Special Attack Force had been almost completely destroyed. Yamato, the cruiser Yahagi and three destroyers were sunk. Several other escorts had been seriously damaged. Gone with the great battleship were 2,498 of its 2,700-person crew.

Click on images to enlarge.

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

Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

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

Farewell Salutes – 

Frank Beasley – Athens, OH; US Navy, corpsman

Ainslie Boyd – Marlborough, NZ; RNZ Navy # 7544, WWII & Vietnam, K Force

Francis Drake Jr. – Springfield, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO, KIA (Tarawa)

David Douglas Duncan (102) – Kansas City, MO; US Army, WWII, PTO, combat photographer / Civilian, Korea & Vietnam Wars, Life Mag. photographer

Donald Freeman – Mobile, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187th/11th Airborne Division

Howie Judd – Rensselaer, NY; CIA (Ret.)

Harvel Moore –  Chatham, LA; USMC, WWII, PTO, KIA (Tarawa)

James Robinson – Leavenworth, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Mustin

Dee (Berglin) Robinson – Fairmount, ND; VA hospital nurse, WWII

Robert Southall – Cleveland, OH; US Army, WWII

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

HAVING TROUBLE DEALING WITH MONDAY?

HAVE A GREAT DAY, FOLKS!!

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

USS Laffey & the American Flag

Bill Kelly keeps a photograph in his room at the Claremont Center nursing home where he lives. The picture is of him in a football uniform on Thanksgiving Day, 1942 at Manasquan High School where he was an outstanding football. He says that the very day after the picture was taken, he went to New York and enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17.

A few years later, Kelly was photographed holding the tattered remnants of a flag. The flag is the US flag that flew over the USS Laffey during the Battle of Okinawa. It is tattered because of the damage received from the kamikaze attacks, some of the worst in history, that took place on April 16, 1945.

Kelly says that the Japanese “knocked the hell out of it,” but the ship stayed afloat.

Now 94-years-old, Kelly sits in a wheelchair, but his mind is still sharp. While some details of that fateful day have faded from his memory, his bravery has been chronicled by historians. Last month, he received a flag that had flown over the US Capitol from US Representative Chris Smith.

Kelly with Rep. Smith.

“Bill Kelly’s brave, selfless and outstanding service to this nation aboard the U.S.S. Laffey stands as a shining example of the best our country has to offer,” Smith stated

Kelly worked as a signalman, with expertise in Morse code, on the starboard side of the ship.

Ship historian Sonny Walker said that a Japanese plane flew into the mast and knocked down the American flag. Kelly went out and retrieved the flag from the main deck and headed back to the signal room with it.

On the way back, he found a sailor with his leg missing. It turned out to be Kelly’s good friend, Fred Burgess. He was leaning against a gun mount on his good leg with blood pouring out his missing leg. He cried for Kelly to help him, so Kelly and some other men rushed Burgess to the sick bay.

Once there, Burgess asked Kelly for the flag and Kelly gave it to him. He died, still clutching the flag, before a doctor had a chance to see him.

The Laffey was attacked by 22 Japanese planes that day. She was struck by six planes and four 400-pound bombs. Kelly narrowly missed being crushed by a falling 2-ton antenna. Another blast tossed him fifteen feet in the air.

A shipmate hung a new flag on the deck – “so the Japanese knew who they were fighting,” Kelly remembered, 32 men were killed on the Laffey that day and 71 were wounded. Kelly is amazed that anyone was able to walk away from that attack.

After the war, Kelly worked as a milkman and started a cleaning service while raising five children. He never spoke of the war. His daughter, Margie Moore, only learned of his bravery five or six years ago.

Today, there are just four surviving crewmen from the Laffey. The ship, known as “the ship that would not die,” is a floating museum off the coast of South Carolina.

Kelly was just 20 years old when the attack occurred but he remembers it like yesterday. His room holds mementos of that day: the tattered second flag raised by the shipmate, a photo of the Laffey badly damaged after the attack, his medals which include the Purple Heart.

Laffey after the attacks.

And now the folded congressional flag. When asked about what this flag meant to him, he was humble. “I take this for my shipmates, not me,” he said.

The USS Laffey was present at the D-Day invasions of Normandy where she fired on shore defense locations with her two five-inch gun turrets. She was then moved to the Pacific to help with the attacks on the Japanese where she provided support for the US troops in the Battle of Okinawa, which is when the kamikaze attacks took place.

Patriot’s Point, Laffey and Yorktown

After the war, the ship was repaired and went on to serve in the Korean War and the Cold War before being turned into a museum. It rests at Patriot’s Point, South Carolina next to the aircraft carrier Yorktown and the submarine Clamagore.

Click on images to enlarge.

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

Military Humor – 

“ALL RIGHT, SAILOR! LET’S GET THAT HAT SQUARED AWAY!!”

 

 

 

 

 

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

Farewell Salutes – 

Clifford Black Sr. – Commerce, GA; US Army, WWII, Korea, Bronze Star

Kern Lum Chew – Courtland, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

William Donnellan – Massapequa, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

Tony Duva – Lake Worth, FL; US Army, WWII

William Harth Jr. – Columbia, SC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 2nd Lt., 329th Bomber Squadron/93rd Bombardment Group, KIA

Fred “Dipper 19” Kovaleski – NYC, NY; Cold War, CIA

Randall Mosher – Bolivar, MO; US Army, Vietnam

Jimmy Simoneaux – LA; US Navy, WWII, USS Spearfish & Snook

Ray Smith – RI; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Arthur Wells – Paw Paw, IL; US Army, Vietnam, Col. (Ret.), 1st Armored Div., 11th Airborne Div., 24th Div.,& 1st Div. District Adviser, West Point grad, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

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

Eye Witness Account to Okinawa

This story was contributed by fellow blogger, Mike Tuggle, in tribute to his father, who sailed his final voyage this past Saturday.

My account of the Invasion of Okinawa

By:  Clayton C. Tuggle

I was one of the approximately twelve hundred men aboard the USS Birmingham CL-62. We set out for Okinawa in March, 1945.

Clayton Tuggle

Arriving in Okinawa, we were stationed about five miles from shore. We bombarded the island with 6-inch guns at night hitting several ammunition dumps and shore guns of several sizes. This went on until the invasion began on April 1, 1945. This battle was something entirely different from any the Navy had experienced. Torpedoes were exploding all around our ship, the skies were full of explosions from guns on both sides.

On the 5th of May, 1945, I was cleaning officers’ quarters when the captain [John Wilkes] came on the PA system. He said he’d just got word that 300 Kamikaze planes were headed for our fleet. He said, “The odds are against us but, men, for God’s sake, go down fighting.”

USS Birmingham

My battle station was fire control on the 40 mm guns. I received orders from the gunnery officer and relayed the message to the gun crews as per instructions to aim the guns at the oncoming planes. This was done by the radar system.

In my battle station I could see almost everything around our ship. Kamikaze planes were coming in from the port side, some would crash just before hitting our ship, some would be on fire and head for a ship of any size to hit. I saw one ship get hit by two planes at the same time. I saw several planes get shot out of the sky and crash into the sea. Some would fall near our ship.

Our Marines fired the 20 mm guns constantly as planes came as close as 50 ft from us. The sky was full of explosions. After the all-clear signal came, we headed toward the island for more bombardment. About a half-hour later everyone was back on regular duty.

USS Birmingham ripped apart by kamikaze plane, 1945

One Kamikaze having hidden in the clouds undetected by the radar came down. This tragedy killed forty-seven and wounded eighty-one on our ship. One sailor standing next to me was blown away. I never saw him again.

I was down below in officers’ quarters when the chaplain came to me and commanded me to take him topside. He was burned bad and suffering smoke inhalation. I was suffering from smoke inhalation, and something told me to get in the shower and turn it on for air. I stayed close to the shower for about a minute, then I was able to get the chaplain topside. He died three days later on a hospital ship.

I saw mangled bodies all over the deck, arms and legs were everywhere, bodies without limbs. I had known them personally. I walked by my living quarters and heard men screaming as the rescue squad was closing the hatch on them to keep the compartment from flooding. I then walked to the back of the ship and sat down for a while.

I was elected pall bearer as most of them were from my own division and I knew most of them. We were friends. They were all buried at sea.

Burial at sea.

We went back to normal duties. All my belongings had been destroyed, and I was assigned to another division temporarily and started out again as a sailor going about normal duty. We headed to Pearl Harbor for repairs. We were there for three months.

After repairs were finished we sailed to Tokyo Bay. We were preparing to attack, but the Enola Gay dropped some bombs and peace was declared.

Clayton Tuggle
3-14-1995

April 10, 1925 – May 12, 2018

Click on images to enlarge.

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

Farewell Salutes – 

Jeremiah Adams – Oswego, IL; US Navy, USS Nimitz

Robert Buchert – Cincinnatti, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 152nd AAA/11th Airborne Division

Bill Cooley – Seattle, WA; US Army, WWII, Lt.

Thomas Davis – Albuquerque, NM; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Major, Silver Star

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

Felix Cruz-Gomez – Brandon, FL; US Army, WWII, KOrea, Vietnam, MSgt. (Ret.)

Ballard Marshall – Richmond, KY; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Sgt.

Art Paul – Chicago, IL; US Army

Jhoon Rhee – Asan, So.KOR; civilian employee US Air Force, Korea War, interpreter

Emil Smith – Paeroa, NZ; RNZ Navy # 10828, WWII

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

%d bloggers like this: