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Gen. Kenney’s report – Reorganization – July 1945

18 July 1945, Okinawa, 90mm AAA-gun emplacement

During the night of 1 July, I found out that the was on Okinawa was not quite over.  Around midnight a party of Japs blundered into a fight with the guards about 50 yards from my tent. I put my pistol on a chair beside the bed.  The shooting died down a little later and I went to sleep.  The next morning, as I was taking off for Manila, Col. ‘ Photo’ Hutchison told me that he had had another battle going on during the night near his HQ.

On July 10th it was announced from Washington that the B-29s in the Marianas would form the 20th Air Force, under Gen. Twining and that those operating from Okinawa would form the 8th Air Force, under Jimmy Doolittle.  The 8th & 20th would together be called the United States Strategic Air Force, with Gen. Spaatz in command.

American soldier, Okinawa

On the same day, Nimitz turned over control of the 7th A.F. to the Far East Air Forces and told the Marine Fighter Wing at Okinawa to operate in conjunction with our (Army) show there.

On the 12th, Lord Louis Mountbatten and a few members of his staff flew from India to Manila for a conference with MacArthur.  We briefed him on the coming Olympic Operation and his staff in turn gave us the details of the proposed British operation to recapture Singapore.

Mountbatten wanted some bombing assistance at that time, if we had any to spare.  MacArthur asked me what I could do.  I gave him the details about the Australians and our B-24s and Mountbatten was quite pleased.

Kyushu Island, July 1945 bombing

All through July we kept moving aircraft into Okinawa from both the 5th and 7th Air Forces.  Generals Whitehead and Tommy White set up their HQ on the island and began the final sweep of Japanese shipping from the Yellow Sea and the Straits of Tusishima, between Japan and Korea.

In conjunction with the B-29 from the Marianas, who were battering the big cities of Japan apart and burning them down, we concentrated our attacks on the island of Kyushu, smashing airdromes, burning up gasoline stocks and wrecking the railway centers, bridges and marshalling yards.

The attacks were being made with a ever-increasing weight, as airdromes were being finished on Okinawa, allowing us to move the aircraft forward from the Philippines and the Marianas.

By the end of July, on an average day, when weather permitted large operations, there would be over 1500 of my airplanes operating along the line from Japan to Formosa to Shanghai to Borneo and the Netherlands East Indies.  Of this number around 600 bombers, strafers and fighters would be attacking targets in Japan itself.

It was a far cry from the days back in 1942, when a raid of 50 or 60 planes was such big news that we boasted about it for days!

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Military Humor – 

Great Lakes Training 1945

From: David Hart at https://mywarjournals.com/

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Farewell Salutes – 

Paul Connelly – Tulsa, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII / US Navy, Korea

Brian Hawkins – Pasadena, TX; US Army, 143rd/36th Division, medic

Herbert Hill – Shreveport, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 nose gunner

Ellis Lindsey – SC; US Army, 511th/11th Airborne & 504th/82nd Airborne divisions

William Mercantonio – East Orange, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea, TSgt.

Earl Ray – Cadillac, MI; US Army, MP

Maureen Rodgers – London, ENG; British Navy WRENS, Hut 11 decoder, Bletchley Park

Roland Rioux – Vero Beach, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO / Korea, Cuban Missile Crisis

Nicholas Vollweiler – Pleasant Valley, NY; US Army, K-9 instructor, Japan Occupation

Sam Wagner – Tonville, CO; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

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The End of the Okinawa Fighting

Okinawa

Hari-kari to end Okinawa

‘The Fall of Japan” by William Craig, excerpt submitted by Rosalinda Morgan who can be found at https://subliblog.wordpress.com/

On the evening of the twenty-first of June, Generals Ushijima and Cho sat down to a sumptuous meal in their home under Hill 89. Overhead the Americans walked on top of the escarpment, where Japanese soldiers continued to resist them by fighting for every rock and tree.

The generals ate quietly. As their aids offered toasts, the two leaders drank to each other with dregs of whiskey preserved for this moment. A full moon shone on the white coral ledges of Hill 89 as a final tribute rang through the cave: “Long live the Emperor.”

At 4:00 A.M. on the morning of the twenty-second, Ushijima, cooling himself with a bamboo fan, walked with Cho between lines of crying subordinates to the mouth of the cave. There Cho turned to his superior and said, “I will lead the way.” The two generals emerged into the moonlight. They were followed by several staff officers.

Outside the entrance a quilt had been laid on top of a mattress. Loud firing sounded on all sides as American infantrymen, no more than fifty feet away, sensed movement. Ushijima proceeded to sit down and pray. Cho did the same.

Ignoring the guns and grenades, Ushijima bowed low toward the ground. His adjutant handed him a knife. The general held it briefly in front of his body, then ripped it across his abdomen. Immediately his adjutant raised a jeweled sword and brought it down across his neck. Ushijima’s head toppled onto the quilt and blood spattered the onlookers. Within seconds, General Cho died the same way.

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Okinawa, The Flag is raised

By 30 June, even the mopping up was completed’

The battle of Okinawa had ended. Over 12,000 Americans and more than 100,000 Japanese were dead and there were 7,401 military prisoners.  The American flag flew only 350 miles from Japan.

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Clearing the post of Naha, 19 June 1945

During the Okinawa campaign, a very strange “armed truce” occurred on a nearby island.  The commander of the small Japanese garrison asked to have time to consult with Tokyo about continuing his pointless holdout.  He later met several American emissaries on his beach and informed them that he was forbidden to surrender – but he would not fire on parties visiting the island for recreational purposes – on the condition that they did not molest his people.  Quite an improvement on the “old Pacific War”.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Alan I. Armour – Chicago, IL; US Army, Korean War, Lt., battalion cmdr. 187th RCT “Rakkasans”

Raymond Bonang – Boothbay Harbor, ME; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 880th Airborne Engineers

John Broderick – Pittsbourgh, PA; US Army, 756th Field Artillery Battalion, MSgt.

William Fouty Sr. – Tukwila, WA; USMC, WWII, PTO

G.M. ‘Jim’ Greene – Conway, AR; US Army, WWII, PTO, 7th Cavalry

John McGinnis – NY; US Army, Vietnam, 173rd Airborne Brigade

Chalmers Murray – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Army, WWII

Percy Overman Jr. – Newport News, VA; Merchant Marine, aviator

Howard Wildrick – Highland, NY; USMC

Thomas ‘Vic’ Varnedoe – Nashville, TN; US Army, Sgt., 2nd Infantry Division

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Okinawa – June 1945

Last picture ever taken of Lt.Gen. Buckner, the day before he died

By 10 June, the Marines had captured Yuza Hill.  The 10th US Army suffered severe casualties before they and the USMC advanced to Kunishi Ridge, the western anchor of the Japanese defense; a massive fortress.

Gen. Buckner had been sending messages to Gen. Ushijima, urging him to surrender.  So, when over a dozen Japanese wearing white hats appeared, the Marines assumed they were surrendering and they ceased operations.  Shortly after the enemy soldiers ran, a mortar barrage began.

By morning, the Americans had a foothold on the ridge, but reinforcements were cut down when they tried to advance.  Nine tanks were used to deliver 54 fresh men and supplies, but returned with 22 wounded.  As the battle for Kunishi raged on, the tanks opened a road to continue supplying the Americans.

Okinawa

By 16 June, the US 96th Div. opened a road for the tanks to continue delivering supplies, as air drops were falling into enemy hands.  Only one day later, Kunishi Ridge was considered a “mopping up” operation.

The Marines were sent to Mezado and Kuwango ridges where the enemy fire though intense, was short-lived.  Meanwhile, the Army moved down the Pacific side of the island encountering the enemy at Yaeju Dake-Yuza Dake Escarpment.  Naval gunfire and artillery smothered the enemy as the 10th Army proceeded hill by hill toward the tip of Okinawa, up Hill 89, Ushijima’s headquarters near Mabuni.

18th June – the 8th Marines moved into the line contribute their fresh, full strength to the slow drive.  Army Gen. Buckner decided to leave the outpost he was at and found himself on a hill which afforded him a view of what was actually going on up at the front.  He paused to watch for a few moments.

Oroku Peninsula where Japanese base force made their last stand

By this time, the Japanese artillery had been reduced to next to nothing, no shells had fallen in that area all morning.  However, by some devious quirk of fate, a lone gun somewhere in the shrinking ranks of the enemy let go a few rounds.  The first one felled the general, but no one else near him was injured.  He died before they could evacuate him.

Gen. Geiger took over the command and followed what his late chief would have done.  This was the first instance of a Marine officer commanding an Army unit of that size, though in WWI, MGen. Lejeune had commanded the Army’s Second Division in several operations.

Ambulance jeep, Okinawa

Although Allied land forces were entirely composed of U.S. units, the British Pacific Fleet (BPF; known to the U.S. Navy as Task Force 57) provided about a quarter of Allied naval air power (450 planes). It comprised many ships, including 50 warships of which 17 were aircraft carriers, but while the British armored flight decks meant that fewer planes could be carried in a single aircraft carrier, they were more resistant to kamikaze strikes. Although all the aircraft carriers were provided by the UK, the carrier group was a combined Commonwealth fleet with British, Canadian Australian  and New Zealand ships and personnel. Their mission was to neutralize Japanese airfields in the Sakishima Islands and provide air cover against Japanese kamikaze attacks.

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Current News – 

Information on the upcoming events of the Bataan Legacy Historical Society….

http://bataanlegacy.org/future-events.html

Information contributed by Nasuko

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert J. Andrews – Colorado Springs, CO; US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, Lt.Colonel (Ret. 31 y.)

Rosetta Brobst – Laceyville, PA; WWII, US Army, nurse

Athol Currin – Wanganui, NZ; RSA # 816777, J Force 22nd Batt/42 Squadron

Robert Dole – Pearl City, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 665th Ordnance Co.

Dennis Garbis – Falls Church, VA; Vietnam, Lt.Colonel (Ret. 20 y.), Bronze Star

John McCain – Alexandria, VA; US Navy, Vietnam, pilot, USS Forrestal, POW / US Senator

Miriam Olsen – Eugene, OR; US Army, WWII, nurse

Ronald Setniker – Biwabik, MN; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

James Tisdale – Goshen, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division, Bronze Star

John Waite – Clarkston, WA; US Navy, WWII, PTO

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Battle of Sugar Loaf Hill Okinawa

Eye witness account from Okinawa….

Together We Served Voices

By Scott Sumner USMC 1978 – 1984

My uncle James M. Barrett was a World War II Marine. He was born in Nov. 1923 in Minnesota. He had a promising career as a welterweight boxer, 1until his country’s call became too loud. On January 18, 1943 he reported for duty with the United States Marine Corps. He went through recruit training in San Diego, Calif. and on the first of May was sent to Sitka, Alaska and in October to Attu, Alaska. The Army had finished cleaning the Japanese off the island, and he drew guard duty for the winter.

The battles in the Pacific had taken their toll and the Marine Corps needed more men for the fighting. My uncle was sent to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. for additional infantry training in May 1944. On December 27, he, and many others, embarked on a troop ship for Guadalcanal…

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

Col. Hiromishi Yahara on Okinawa

Lines of defense on Okinawa. Top Japanese officers were in the bottom line of bunkers.

Colonel Hiromishi Yahara was third in command of the Japanese defenses on Okinawa. Read all about his story below.

It was Colonel Hiromishi Yahara who designed and implemented the jiykusen, or the yard-by-yard battle of attrition that cost the American forces so many casualties in the three-month battle, and he was the highest ranking officer to survive the battle and make it back to Tokyo. Before the overall commander on the island, Lt. Gen. Mitsuru Ushijima, committed ritual suicide in the battle’s final days, he instructed Yahara to escape to Tokyo to make a final report to the emperor.

Yahara was captured by the Americans, which bothered him immensely—to be captured or to surrender was considered a disgrace to one’s family—but eventually he did return to Japan.  In 1973, Yahara still felt strongly that the garrison at Okinawa, as well as the people of Okinawa themselves, had been betrayed by Imperial Headquarters in Tokyo.  Because he faced personal attacks for surviving the battle, Yahara decided to write a book to set the record straight.


The result is a fascinating and unique look at the last, decisive battle of the Pacific War, written by a surviving member of the defeated Japanese command on Okinawa.  Yahara was a gifted and meticulous strategist, highly respected by his peers. Because he had spent two years in the United States as an exchange officer prior to World War II, he knew his enemy better than did his superiors at Okinawa, Ushijima and Maj. Gen. Isamu Cho.

Yahara makes a startling revelation in the book regarding the events surrounding the American landing on Okinawa on April 1, 1945.  According to Yahara, the plans drawn up in Tokyo called for Japanese air power to play the decisive role in the battle for Okinawa prior to the actual landing.  Japanese planes flying from the mainland along with aircraft launched by the Japanese Combined Fleet—conventional fighters and kamikaze suicide attackers—were supposed to strike the U.S. Fifth Fleet offshore prior to the landing and annihilate the American landing forces while they were still in their ships.  The 32nd Imperial Army entrenched on Okinawa was to play a minor role, mopping up the survivors of the American landing forces as they struggled ashore.

Giretsu Commandos on Okinawa

To Yahara, the failure to launch the promised air attack on April 1 sealed the fate of the island’s garrison—it never had a chance for victory. Hundreds of thousands of Okinawan citizens had been betrayed as well, Yahara believed, sacrificed to the whims of the Japanese high command.

Although his love for his country never wavered, Yahara was unique among his peers.  He fully recognized the flaws in traditional Japanese military thinking—the Bushido code, or way of the warrior—and he was disgusted as he watched his superiors repeat the errors of previous eras.  The Imperial Army had a “blood and guts” mentality; it had been undefeated since winning the Sino-Japanese War in 1895.  To the Japanese militarists’ way of thinking, the combination of Japanese spirit and the willingness to die for the emperor would overcome any material advantage enjoyed by an enemy.

Japanese bunker

Yahara was convinced that the initial Japanese strategy for Okinawa—depending on air power—would fail.  Japan’s air forces were seriously degraded by early 1945, and it had lost many experienced pilots. American aircraft were now technically superior, and Japan’s Navy was down to just a few surviving carriers.  Yahara believed that the only chance for his country’s survival lay in the proper use of its remaining ground forces.

After the promised air assault did not materialize, he went ahead with his planned defenses on the ground.  He would fight for time, making the invaders pay dearly for every inch of ground, to allow Japan to prepare its defenses on the main islands for the Allied invasion that was sure to come.  Yahara’s tactics on Okinawa would utilize the island’s terrain, which was perfectly suited for defense, to wage an ugly war of attrition. His soldiers would go underground in caves and concrete bunkers to survive air, artillery, and naval gunfire, and then battle American ground forces for every inch of island real estate. His intricate, multi-layered defensive positions and the tenacity of the 110,000-man 32nd Army combined to prolong the battle for three long and exceedingly bloody months.

Col. Hiromishi Yahara

In his book, Yahara admits that he despised both the self-delusion practiced by his superiors and the false propaganda foisted upon the Okinawan people, who were told that capture by American troops would result in rape, torture, and death, to which suicide was preferable.

Condensed from an article by John Walker.

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 Military Humor – BOOT CAMP 

‘Sign me up for swing shift basic training! I don’t think I could handle early morning hours.’

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bathurst – Madison, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Frank Conger – Poughkeepsie, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Bennington

Missing Man formation

Warren Foss – St. Louis, MO; US Navy, WWII, PTO

James Gavette – Bradford, PA; US Army, WWII

Samuel Tom Holiday – Kayeta, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker, Purple Heart

Norman Jackson – Watertown, NY; US merchant Marine, WWII

Francis McCormack – Rutland, VT; USMC

Irving Press – Windsor, CT; US Army, WWII

Raymond Rzepecki Sr. – Central Falls, RI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Pfc, B-24 tail gunner, 370th

Omar Shaffer – Linden, VA; US Navy, WWII, gunner

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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.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

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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

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SeaBees on Okinawa, April 1945

SeaBees of WWII

This eye witness account was contributed by John Ratomski.

 

AHEAD OF OKINAWA’S FRONT LINES WENT A FIVE MAN SEABEE SURVEYING TEAM TO LAY OUT THE SITE FOR A NEW AIRFIELD.  CCM DOYLE L. CROWELL AND HIS MEN WORKING IN “NO MANS LAND” FOR TWO DAYS – SOMETIMES MORE THAN A HALF-MILE IN FRONT OF THE FIGHTING. THE MARINES DIDN’T CATCH UP WITH THE SURVEYORS UNTIL THE THIRD DAY.

April 1, 1945 – Easter Sunday arrived with a calm sea and a clear blue sky. The sun was two hours above the horizon. The serene South China Sea was fogged with the ghostly gray mist of the smudge pots. Behind the curtain of smoke, landing barges circled restlessly, waiting.  In the distance boomed the heavy naval guns. At 0830 the barges flashed across the line to the beach. The battle for “Bloody Okinawa” was on.

This was the moment we had sweated out for thirty days aboard ship. Thirty days of playing cards and checkers and reading books, magazines and the news reports; thirty days of boredom and anxiety.

USS Joseph T. Dickman, WWII

Aboard the USS Dickman we tried vainly to see what was going on. The wall of smoke obliterated everything outside a radius of two hundred yards. Scuttlebutt spread widely through the ship: The Japs are shelling! Someone had seen several unaccountable splashes near the next ship in line. On our bit of the U.S.A., isolated from the world and the news and in the midst of significant historical events, we depended on the latest developments from the coxswains passing by in landing barges. No one hit on the fourth wave. The sixth wave went in standing up! Our bird’s eye view of the battle was minute indeed.

D-Day for Seabees was April 2nd, and the first groups of the 71st Naval Construction Battalion stepped ashore at Blue Beach to the first nearly civilized country they had seen in eighteen months. There, not six yards from the beach, was part of a real house with the wreckage of some natives possessions strewn about.

Yontan Airfield, aerial view from the 25th Photo Recon Sq./5th Air Force

From Blue Beach we marched five miles, carrying the equipage necessary to existence (a mere 60 to 100 pounds) on our backs, to a former Japanese airfield, Yontan, and prepared to bivouac. Within a few hundred yards of the camp were a number of Nip planes in all states of disrepair.

April 6th. No bombs were dropped in the camp vicinity, but old hands neatly hit holes dug for that purpose. Later in the day planes made a strafing run on the camp, setting fire to and completely destroying the Frank type Nip plane which was parked near the camp. The first casualty due to enemy action occurred, a slight shoulder wound caused by falling flak. The most severe cases were those individuals unfortunate enough to have been carrying open cans at the time of the raid.

On April 8th, grading started on Route 1 from Yamada to Onna, the main road which led north on the China Sea side of the island. This stretch of road formed the backbone of the battalion’s job on Okinawa. The next day the first part of the battalion moved to a more suitable position north, following the Marines of the 3rd Corps and keeping the roads open.

SeaBees on Okinawa

The month of April brought cold weather miseries to the men. Eighteen months in the torrid heat of the South Pacific had weakened the resistance of the men to the mild cold of Okinawa. Cloudy, rainy days and cold nights brought on the worst colds and grippe in two years. Nights were spent with all available clothing wrapped around the body, and baths from buckets and helmets were no longer cool and refreshing as they had been in the tropics, but ordeals to be endured only when the odor became overpowering.

Also in April came terrific hailstorms of steel to those remaining encamped beside Yontan.  Shore installations and ships in the harbor threw up such a tremendous barrage in each raid that the harbor vicinity was prey to the never ending rain of metal.  On 16 April mortar shells aimed at Yontan landed around the camp area.  During the previous night the first and only death due to enemy action occurred. There were air raids too numerous to count, but usually the planes merely passed over on their way to more important targets. On several occasions bombs were dropped nearby, but they were just close enough to make a few more Christians.

SeaBees at work, Okinawa

By April 29th the battalion road responsibility extended from Yamada to Nago, a distance of more than 20 miles. Throughout the entire distance the road was widened sufficiently to accommodate the northward drive of the 3rd Corps. A Piper Cub strip at Onna was begun on April 16th.  By April 20th enough of the strip had been completed to enable the first plane to land.  At the village of Kise, a concrete bridge had been badly damaged by combat action and was repaired by cribbing along the broken span and back filling with rubble. Many of the bridges on Route 1 were damaged, seemingly beyond repair. Each bridge was repaired by crib and back fill or with shoring. These bridges were the only ones on the island made passable by using salvage material and drift wood.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Adams Jr. – So. Windham, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Aviation Engineer

John Beverly – Stone, KY; US Navy, WWII, Korea, Sr. Chief Radioman (Ret. 22y.)

Bob Dorough – AR; US Army, WWII, band, (Schoolhouse Rock)

Larry Harvey – Portland, OR; US Army, (Burning Man founder)

Douglas Jackson – Knoxville, TN; US Army, WWII, ETO, 1261st Combat Engineers Battalion

Kathleen Leach – Tauranga, NZ; WAAF # W2039, WWII, L.Cpl.

James Martin – Brookline, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division, jumpmaster

Bill Nichols – OK; US Navy, WWII, PTO & CBI

Dennis Odom – St. Louis, IL; US Army, Vietnam

Joseph Varone – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII, Bronze Star & 2 Purple Hearts

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1 April 1945 – Okinawa

Okinawa invasion map

Codenamed Operation Iceberg, this was a major battle of the Pacific War fought on the island of Okinawa by U. S. Marine and Army forces against the Imperial Japanese Army.

The United States created the Tenth Army, a cross-branch force consisting of the 7th, 27th, 77th, and 96th infantry divisions of the US Army with the 1st, 2nd, and 6th divisions of the Marine Corps, to fight on the island. The Tenth was unique in that it had its own tactical air force (joint Army-Marine command), and was also supported by combined naval and amphibious forces.

On this day in 1945, after suffering the loss of 116 planes and damage to three aircraft carriers, 50,000 U.S. combat troops of the 10th Army, under the command of Lieutenant General Simon B. Buckner Jr., land on the southwest coast of the Japanese island of Okinawa, 350 miles south of Kyushu, the southern main island of Japan.

Marine & Navy aircraft destroyed all enemy aircraft on land. Shown here is Yontan Airfield

Determined to seize Okinawa as a base of operations for the army ground and air forces for a later assault on mainland Japan, more than 1,300 ships converged on the island, finally putting ashore 50,000 combat troops on April 1. The Americans quickly seized two airfields and advanced inland to cut the island’s waist. They battled nearly 120,000 Japanese army, militia, and labor troops under the command of Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima.

See some of the action in this 4 minute video………

The naval campaign against Okinawa began in late March 1945, as the carriers of the BPF began striking Japanese airfields in the Sakishima Islands. To the east of Okinawa, Mitscher’s carrier provided cover from kamikazes approaching from Kyushu. Japanese air attacks proved light the first several days of the campaign but increased on April 6 when a force of 400 aircraft attempted to attack the fleet.

The high point of the naval campaign came on April 7 when the Japanese launched Operation Ten-Go.  It was during this operation that they attempted to drive their battleship Yamato through the Allied fleet with the goal of beaching it on Okinawa for use a shore battery.

Initial U.S. landings began on March 26 when elements of the 77th Infantry Division captured the Kerama Islands to the west of Okinawa. On March 31, Marines occupied Keise Shima. Only eight miles from Okinawa, the Marines quickly emplaced artillery on these islets to support future operations. The main assault moved forward against the Hagushi beaches on the west coast of Okinawa on April 1. This was supported by a feint against the Minatoga beaches on the southeast coast by the 2nd Marine Division. Coming ashore, Geiger and Hodge’s men quickly swept across the south-central part of the island capturing the Kadena and Yomitan airfields (Map).

US Army 77th Infantry soldiers trudge thru the mud & flooding on Okinawa

Having encountered light resistance, Buckner ordered the 6th Marine Division to begin clearing the northern part of the island. Proceeding up the Ishikawa Isthmus, they battled through rough terrain before encountering the main Japanese defenses on the Motobu Peninsula.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News –

The remains of five Australians who were murdered by the Japanese in World War II appear to have been discovered on the island of Nauru.  The five men were working as civilians on the island in 1943, not soldiers, so there is, unfortunately, no money available to repatriate them.

Frederick Royden Chalmers volunteered to remain on the island along with four other men in order to help the islanders deal with the Japanese invasion they knew was coming.  Chalmers was 62 years old when he was killed. The other four men were Bernard Quin, 48, Wilfred Shugg, 39, William Doyle, 47, and Frederick Harmer, 44. They were captured by the invading forces and eventually dragged onto the beach where they were killed on March 25, 1943.

The family of Chalmers wants his body returned to Australia. The Unrecovered War Casualties Unit of the Australian Army Defense Force and the Department of Foreign Affairs both claim to be unauthorized to bring the remains of the men back home.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Stevie Barnett – Matthews, MO; US Navy, Vietnam,Chief Petty Officer (Ret.)

Ira ‘Pete’ Chesley – North Platte, NE; US Army, WWII, ETO, 9th Armored Division

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

Bob Funderburke – Rock Hill, SC; US Army, Korea, Sgt., 11th Airborne Division

Jessie Gale – Tetonia, ID; US Navy, WWII, ATO

Michael Littrell Sr. – Louisville, KY; USMC, Vietnam

William Patterson – Santa Barbara, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Col. (Ret.), 42 Ordnance Div.

Lloyd Robertson – Cralk, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

John Siler – Banner, OK; Merchant Marine, WWII

Francis Weniger – Plankinton, SD; US Navy, WWII, PTO

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General “Vinegar” Joe Stilwell, Sr. – Intermission Story (25)

He is probably best remembered for his military service in the China-Burma-India Theater during World War II. His nickname “Vinegar Joe” was attributed to his caustic personality. Born in Palatka, Florida, then moved with his family to New York.

After high school he received an appointment to attend the US Military Academy at West Point, New York and graduated in 1904 with a commission as a second lieutenant. During World War I, he was assigned to the US 4th Corps as an intelligence officer and helped plan the St. Mihiel offensive. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his service in France.

After World War I he served three tours in China, where he became fluent in Chinese, and was the military attaché at the U.S. Legation in Beijing from 1935 to 1939.  In 1939 he returned to the US and became the assistant commander of the 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Sam Houston, Texas and from 1940 to 1941 he was assigned to organize and train the 7th Infantry Division at Fort Ord, California.

In 1941 he was sent back to China by President Franklin Roosevelt and Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall where he performed duties as the Chief of Staff to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, and also served as the commander of the China-Burma-India Theater responsible for all Lend-Lease supplies going to China, and later was Deputy Commander of the South East Asia Command. Unfortunately, despite his status and position in China, he soon became embroiled in conflicts over U.S. Lend-Lease aid and Chinese political sectarianism.

Lt. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell wasn’t around, so caricaturist Don Barclay, did the next best thing – captured him from a photograph. Here’s the result. Barclay is making a tour of hospitals and small units in CBI-land. CBI Roundup

When he arrived in China, he immediately began the task of reforming the Chinese Army, over the concerns of Chiang Kai-Shek that the American-led forces would become another independent force outside of his control.  The Chinese leader was far more concerned with fighting the Red Chinese Army, while also keeping a majority of the Lend-Lease benefits for himself and his cohorts.

In Burma, his initial military operation, to keep open the Burma Road between India and China and to repel Japanese incursions into Burma, failed. The operation in Burma was so disastrous that Chinese forces under his command stopped taking orders. He personally led his 117-member staff to safety in India on foot as the Allied forces capitulated to the Japanese invasion.

In India, he became well known for his no-nonsense demeanor and disregard for military pomp and ceremony. His trademarks were a battered Army campaign hat, GI shoes, and a plain service uniform with no insignia of rank, and frequently carried a .30 Springfield rifle rather than a sidearm. His derogatory remarks castigating the ineffectiveness of what he termed “Limey” forces, a viewpoint often repeated by his staff, did not sit well with British and Commonwealth commanders. However, it was well known among the troops that his disdain for the British was aimed toward those high command officers that he saw as overly stuffy and pompous.

He managed to lead Chinese divisions to retake Myitakyina and its airfield on August 4, 1944, from Japanese control, rebuilding the Ledo Road, a military highway in India that led into Burma. However, conflicts with Chiang Kai-Shek led to his ultimate removal in October 1944. He then served as Commander of Army Ground Forces, US Tenth Army Commander in the last few days of the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, and as US Sixth Army Commander.

In November 1945 he was appointed to lead a “War Department Equipment Board” in an investigation of the Army’s modernization in light of its recent experiences. Among his recommendations was the establishment of a combined arms force to conduct extended service tests of new weapons and equipment and then formulate doctrine for its use, and the abolition of specialized anti-tank units. His most notable recommendation was for a vast improvement of the Army’s defenses against all airborne threats, including ballistic missiles.

He died of stomach cancer at the age of 63 at the Presidio of San Francisco, while still on active duty. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean.

Among his military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army Distinguished Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Legion of Merit, the Philippine Campaign Medal, the World War I Victory Medal, the China Service Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the National Order of the Legion of Honour (France), and the Combat Infantryman Badge, only one of three general officers to be given this award normally reserved for those in the rank of colonel or below. The General Joseph W. Stilwell Award for the Outstanding Overall Cadet, Senior Division, in the California Cadet Corps is named in his honor.

So much more could be written for this soldier and his standards.  You can stand down now, General.

This information was obtained from a bio written by: William Bjornstad; CBI Roundup; History on-line.

This post was done on a recommendation by 56 Packardman 56packardman.wordpress.comx

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – CBI Roundup style & Cpl. Gee Eye

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Paul Addington – No. Canton, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII

John Beitia – Shoshone, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, radio & co-pilot

Alfred Dresner – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII

William J. Ely (105) – Claysville, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Lt.Gen., Corps of Engineers (Ret. 33 y.), West Point grad 1933

Frank Gilchrist – Centersville, MA; US Coast Guard, WWII & Korea

Bud Hindsley – Union City, IN; USMC, WWII, PTO, Cpl.

Georgina Leland – Ossipee, NH; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Anthony Malizia – Nutley NJ; USMC, Korea

William Packard – Locust Grove, Ga; US Army, WWII

George Sims – Papakura, NZ; 2nd NZEF # 641719, Sgt., 5th Engineers

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Personal Request –    click to enlarge

I have been shown this photo and asked if I or any of my readers could give a clue as to where this WWII picture was taken.

Thank you for taking the time to look…..

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