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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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Additional Surrenders

Okinawa

Okinawa

Once the Emperor gave his speech for peace, the Japanese gave their surrenders across the Pacific, but not all went as smoothly as the one held on the USS Missouri. As late as 31 August, according to U.S. Intelligence reports, the Japanese refused to believe the surrender reports and ambushed a SRD party and three of the Japanese were killed.

In the Ryukyus, things were far more simple. The senior officer in the Sakishima Gunto, Lt. General Gon Nomi, Toshiro, whose headquarters was on Miyako Shima, had been given authority to conclude a peace treaty for all Army and Navy forces in the Sakishima Gunto, Daito Islands and the islands in the Okinawa Gunto not already under American control. The official papers were signed on 7 September 1945, with General Stillwell presiding.

Gen. Hata at surrender table with the Soviets

Gen. Hata at surrender table with the Soviets

General Shunroku Hata and his Army had taken only three weeks in April-May of 1944 to rout 300,000 Chinese soldiers in Honan to secure the Peking-Hankow railroad. He then moved south and then west to meet up with the Japanese forces in French Indochina. The 14th Air Force and the Chinese Air Force could not stop the offensive and by the end of May, General Marshall and the Joint Chiefs of Staff basically wrote off the Chinese Theater. Yet in the end, Gen. Hata signs the surrender.

Lord Louis Mountbatten with MacArthur

Lord Louis Mountbatten with MacArthur

12 September, Lord Mountbatten accepted the surrender of all enemy forces in Southeast Asia in Singapore. Once again, the Union Jack was flying over Government House. But, due to Britain’s overstretched resources, Japanese soldiers were used to maintain law and order in the region. Europe’s colonialism was severely damaged and in 1947, Britain granted independence to India and Pakistan.

17 August, American parachutists landed near Nanking on the Wse-hsien interment camp. The Japanese were forced to protect the troopers from the unrest (actually chaos) erupting in the area between Communist and Nationalist armies. On 9 September, General Ho Chin accepted the Japanese surrender of China (except Manchuria, Formosa [now Taiwan] and Indochina north of the 16th parallel in the name of Chiang Kai. Mao’s forces stayed away even though Allied officials were present. By not being at Central Military Academy in Whampoa, he was in violation of the Potsdam accords and went on to accept his own regional surrenders.

The British had been slow in retaking Hong Kong and revolts broke out. The POWs were not receiving food and the Chinese population caused riots in the streets. The British civil servants eventually took over while the Japanese kept the order. 16 September, the official surrender took place, but not until November were all Japanese troops in the New Territories relieved, disarmed and repatriated.

After a meeting in Rangoon, Mountbatten arranged for the Allied forces to enter Siam and Indochina. Thirteen days later, he flew his 7th Indian Division to Bangkok to move onward to Saigon. They were to assist the French in securing the southern half of Vietnam again as a French colony. The Americans felt that the French had already bled the country dry over the past century and so here – the start of the Vietnam War that would last until 1974.

Australian & British POWs on Borneo

Australian & British POWs on Borneo

Thailand had survived by playing both sides while attempting to appear neutral. Japanese General Hamada, responsible for heinous POW atrocities, committed seppuku.

Indonesia was grateful to the Japanese for throwing out the Dutch and declared their independence. Although British and Dutch troops made attempts to return them to colonization, they resisted. The Americans moved in with orders to disarm the Japanese and then leave. It would take four years of fighting before the Hague would recognize Indonesia as a sovereign country.

Burma disliked the Japanese, but they had given them a taste of independence from the British. They took no part in the surrender proceedings. After the Japanese were shipped home and fighting resumed with the British, the independent nation nation was established 4 January 1948.

India had acquired their own army under the Japanese Co-Prosperity Sphere, but not independence. After the war, the British tried in vain to hold the country, but hostility forced them to grant India their freedom in 1947. The transition was overseen by Governor General Mountbatten.

Korea - September 1945 - being relieved of all weapons

Korea – September 1945 – being relieved of all weapons

In Korea, the Japanese were ordered to sweep Inchon harbor of mines before the American fleet arrived. The Japanese, here again, were needed to maintain order until Koreans could be trained to contain the mobs. Korea had actually been ignored as far as surrender and removal of the Japanese. The U.S. had gone there to disarm the enemy. The end result of the incompetent handling of Korea during and after WWII resulted in the Korean War.

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Resources: “The Last Great Victory” by Stanley Weintraub;

Okinawa, August 1945

"Betty" bomber, Io Jima, 1945

“Betty” bomber, Io Jima, 1945

19 August 1945, Japanese Lt. General Kanabe and fifteen other emissaries secretly left Kazarazu air base in two Mitsubishi “Betty” bombers, painted white with green crosses, as ordered by General MacArthur, to comply with the surrender of the Philippines at Manila. After landing at Nichols Field and met by General Sutherland, they surrendered their swords. During the initial meeting, the Japanese were instructed to have 400 trucks and 100 sedans at Atsugi Airfield in readiness to receive the 11th Airborne. This caused much concern with the dignitaries. Atsugi had been a training base for kamikaze pilots and many of them were refusing to surrender. There were also 300,000 well-trained troops on the Kanto Plain of Tokyo, so MacArthur moved the landing for the 11th A/B to the 28th of August; five days later than originally planned.

Gen. Kanabe & Japanese delegation on Io Jima

Gen. Kanabe & Japanese delegation on Io Jima

There was much discussion as to whether or not the 11th Airborne would fly into Japan or parachute down. Troopers tried jumping from the B-24s on the island, but it proved to be an awkward plane for that purpose. To carry the men to Japan and then return was impossible for the C-46, therefore C-54s were brought in from around the world and crammed onto the island.

Parachute packing on Okinawa, 1945

Parachute packing on Okinawa, 1945

GHQ ordered General Swing to form an honor guard company for General MacArthur. Captain Glen Carter of the 187th regiment became the company commander. Every man was required to be 5′ 11″ or taller.

18-20 August, the Soviet army overran the Kwantung Army in central Manchuria, taking three cities in three days. They continued south in the quickest campaign of Soviet history, killing 80,000 Japanese.

11th Airborne Division patch

11th Airborne Division patch

28 August was to be the intended date for U.S. arrival in Japan, but two typhoons put a snafu on the trooper’s strategies. My father recalled, during their prolonged stay on the island, meeting some of the 509th Bomber Group. They were feeling guilt or remorse or still in shock over the extent of damage and death that had been created by the two atomic bombs. What they had witnessed through their goggles seemed to be a nightmare straight out of “Buck Rogers. The airmen begged, borrowed, but usually purchased an 11th A/B patch to sew over their own before entering Japan. Smitty said he gave away so many of them because he could not imagine the panorama of destruction they had seen or the gut feelings they would carry for the remainder of their lives. They were men who carried out their orders, but they were hurting.

Loading an L-5 into a C-54 on Okinawa, 1945

Loading an L-5 into a C-54 on Okinawa, 1945

The Emperor was wary of any fanatical emotions that might still be lingering within the kamikaze pilots. Therefore, he sent his brother, Prince Takamatsu, with a team to dismantle the propellers from their planes to prevent any “heroics” from occurring before MacArthur’s plane, the Bataan, was scheduled to land. The previously all-powerful Japanese Army had had such control over the country for so long that these precautions had to be fulfilled to ensure a peaceful occupation. This was all carried out while the Emperor still believed he would be executed as a war criminal.

Pacific Situation map (note date: August 22)

Pacific Situation map (note date: August 22)

CLICK ONTO PHOTOS TO ENLARGE

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Resources: Angels: History of the 11th Airborne Division and Rakassans by E.M. Flanagan, Presidio Press; Pacific: Day by Day by John Davison, Chartwell Books; Everett’s scrapbook; The Pacific War by John Costello,pub. RawsonWade

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“This is an Alert”

11th A/B, still battle weary, at Lipa airfield 1945

11th A/B, still battle weary, at Lipa airfield 1945

Saturday, 11 August 1945, top secret orders were delivered to General Swing for the division to be prepared to move to Okinawa at any time. The division G-3, Colonel Quandt, called Colonel Pearson, “This is an Alert. Have your regiment [187th] ready to move out by air forty-eight hours from now.” Commanders throughout the 11th A/B had their men reassembled, even those on weekend passes had been found and brought back to camp. The lead elements left Luzon immediately. At 0630 hours on the 13th, trucks brought the 187th to Nichols and Nielson Fields for transport and they landed at 1645 hours that afternoon at Naha, Kadena and Yotan Fields on Okinawa. They would remain on the island for two weeks.

C-47s of the 54th Troop Carrier Wing  1945

C-47s of the 54th Troop Carrier Wing 1945

It would take the 54th Troop Carrier Wing two days to transport the 11th Airborne using 351 C-46s, 151 C-47s and 99 B-24s; with their bombs removed and crammed with troopers. The planes had carted 11,100 men; 1,161,000 pounds of equipment and 120 special-purpose jeeps for communication and supply. Eighty-six men remained on Luzon long enough to bring the 187ths organizational equipment to Okinawa by ship.

Jeeps on Okinawa

Jeeps on Okinawa

Okinawa, as one of the islands being “beefed-up” with supplies, men and materiel, quickly became significantly congested; it is only 877 square miles. One day would be unbearably hot and the next would bring the heavy rains that created small rivers running passed their pup tents. The troopers were back to cooking their 10-in-1, ‘C’ or ‘K’ rations on squad cookers or eaten cold. A typhoon crossed the island and the men were forced to live on the sides of hills with their pup tents ballooning like parachutes and taking off in the wind. In the hills were numerous old Okinawan tombs that the Japanese troops had adapted into pillboxes and these helped to protect the men from the storms.

Jeep trailers stocked piled on Okinawa 1945

Jeep trailers stocked piled on Okinawa 1945

I believe it was about this time that Smitty discovered that there was an opening on General Swing’s staff. My father requested the position and happily received it. Swing was not certain how the enemy would take to him and the 187th regiment landing in Japan, so the men were ordered to be combat ready. Besides staying in shape, they spent many an hour listing to numerous lectures on the Japanese culture. The 187th regiment of the 11th Airborne Division would be the first troops to enter Japan, as conquerors, in 2000 years.

Also, on 13 August, two ships, the Pennsylvaniaand the La Grange were hit by kamikaze carrier planes. All ships in Okinawa harbors were shipped out to ensure their safety. Although the Emperor was at this point demanding peace, the complicated arrangement of their government (Emperor, Premier, Cabinet, Privy Seal, etc. etc.) made it difficult for them to answer the Allies immediately. As Soviet forces, hovering at the 1.5 million mark, launched across Manchuria and approximately 1600 U.S. bombers hit Tokyo.

Okinawa cemetery

Okinawa cemetery

14 August, the Emperor made a recording to be played over the Japanese radio stating that their government had surrendered to the Allied powers and to request that his people cooperate with the conquerors. The fanatics, mainly Army officers and also known as die-hards or ultras, attempted to confiscate the prepared discs and claim that the Emperor had been coerced into accepting the Potsdam Declaration. People died in this mini revolution and others committed hara-kiri when it failed. Some enemy pilots continue to fly their Zeros as American planes went over Japan.

Western Electric ad 1945

Western Electric ad 1945

15 August, Washington D.C. received Japan’s acceptance of the terms of surrender. Similar to the Western Electric advertisement pictured, phones and telegraphs buzzed around the world with the news that WWII was over, but reactions varied. Among the men on Okinawa, there was jubilation mixed in with ‘let’s wait and see.” In Japan, most felt relieved, but others committed suicide to fulfill their duty. Russian troops continued to push into Manchuria to get as far into the area as possible before the Allies could stop them. Troops in Europe were elated to hear that they were no longer being transferred to the Pacific. South America began to see the arrival of Nazi escapees and the United States went wild with gratitude.

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Resources: “The Rising Sun” by John Toland; “Rakkassans” and “Angels: History of the 11th Airborne Division” by E.M. Flanagan; “Pacific: Day by Day” by John Davison; The 54th Troop Carrier Wing
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Australia and June 1945 updates

Brisbane 1945

Brisbane 1945

8 June 945, Cpl. Everett Smith found himself and four others from the division on leave in Australia and Smitty was determined to have a good time! Those that went to Brisbane on the same orders for TDY were:
Lt. Col. Francis W. Regnier MC HQ 11th A/B Div.
Major George K. Oliver INF HQ 11th A/B Div.
T Sgt. Manuel C. DeBeon Jr. 187th Glider Infantry
Tec 4 Beverly A. Ferreira HQ 11th A/B Div.
The orders were signed by Major E.W. Wyman Jr., Adjutant General

Townsville Queensland WWII

Townsville Queensland WWII

My father never told me very much about his R&R and probably for a good reason. (For one, my mother was always around listening.) He did say that when he first arrived in Australia, he wanted a haircut and a shave. While the barber was working on him, he remarked that the pores in Smitty’s nose appeared enlarged. My father answered, “You spend five months in the jungles of New Guinea and see what your nose looks like.” Dad said after that, his money was no good. Everyone in the barbershop made such a fuss over him that henever got a word in edgewise. They were so extreely grateful to anyone who helped to stop the Japanese. Smitty did always tell me he wished he could make a trip back there; he thought Australia and her people were great, but sadly, he never did.

Perhaps the young lady, Joan, was the reason Smitty wouldn’t talk about his time on leave.

Happy Flying, Love, Joan

Happy Flying, Love, Joan

WWII postcard

WWII postcard

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June events –

9 June – U.S. Marines land on Aguni Shima in the Ryukyu island chain and Japanese defenses crumble on Mindanao, Philippines.

Australian soldiers at Wewak

Australian soldiers at Wewak

10 June – Australian troops land at Brunei Bay, Borneo and by the 25th, they capture major oil fields and the island of Tarakan.

21 June – As Japan commanders commit suicide and 7,500 soldiers surrender, Okinawa falls. The devastating figures:
approximately 100,000 Japanese soldiers dead and a loss of 8,000 aircraft (4,000 shot down by combat missions)
7,613 U.S. Marines and Army infantry killed
31,807 U.S. wounded
U.S. Navy lost 4,900 seaman, 36 vessels sunk and 368 damaged
U.S. lost 763 aircraft

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More current news –

Recently I discovered that a WWII Marine veteran was living nearby. Joseph Dryer Jr. landed on Iwo Jima 68 years ago as a lieutenant. A Japanese hollow point bullet (dum-dum) came directly at his chest 26 days later. It hit his dog tags, cut off his locker box keys and drove everything into his chest. But, he was too tough for one bullet – at 91 years young, he lives in his Palm Beach home today surrounded with emorabilia of his amazing life. Let’s give a salute.

Lt. Joseph Dryer Jr. (in circle) Iwo Jima

Lt. Joseph Dryer Jr. (in circle) Iwo Jima

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References: The Palm Beach Post, Everett’s scrapbook, Angels: History of the 11th A/B, by Gen. Flanagan; The Pacific by John Davison

Personal not – I believe my next post will be a flashback to the Battle of Leyte Gulf. I will do my utmost to do it justice.

March/April 1945

Kamikaze near-miss

Kamikaze near-miss


During March, Japan’s city of Osaka and Kobe were devastated and enemy resistance collapsed on Iwo Jima. The U.S. began its bombardment of Okinawa and kamikaze aircraft became a persistent threat to the Navy.

“Operation Iceberg” (Okinawa) began in 1 April with the U.S. Tenth Army (6th Marine Division and 1st Marine Division) making their landings. Their objective was to advance west and then north on the island. The U.S. Army XXIV Corps (7th Infantry Div. and 96th Infantry) was ordered to clear the southern region. The units encounter very little resistance at their initial targets, but 130,000 Japanese soldiers were prepared for battle in the interior area and rougher region of the island.
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General Masatoshi Fujishige

General Masatoshi Fujishige


18 April, Col. Pearson brought in tanks and 155mm howitzers to coordinate with the 187th and their fighting would continue for two more days. The 11th Airborne had pushed the Japanese back to Malepunyo. On the 19th, any cave found near the 1st battalion was sealed. Those hideouts discovered near Cuenca Ravine had gasoline drums rolled into them and were ignited by grenades. This not only killed a number of enemy soldiers, but also eliminated the vegetation that would normally provide cover and possible infiltration routes by the enemy. When the battle for Macolod was over on the 20th, the regiment had 13 casualties and 11 wounded.

General Fjishige gave an interview on 27 May 1946 at the Luzon POW Camp No. 1. He said, in reference to the plans for Macolod, that he took one month of planning and organizing the defense himself. He had their positions so well camouflaged that they could not be detected by land or air and were stocked with some of the best troops he had. The general stated that whoever attacked Macolod deserved the highest U.S. Army honors.

The next operation was Malepunyo. The exhausted men of the 187th were sent to Tiaong to relieve the 188th and allow them to join up the 511th regiment and the 8th Cavalry while they (the 187th) would remain to cut off any Japanese fleeing the high ground. The 187th laid ambushes for 10 miles and confirmed some 400 enemy killed or captured. During three simultaneous banzai attacks coming across the bridges, the 187th were told by a prisoner that they had nearly caught Gen. Fujishige.

Swing received orders to “go it alone, capture Mount Malepunyo and destroy all the Japanese thereon.” This was an area of thirty square miles of hills with a mangled rain forest and bamboo thickets. It had no roadways and was surrounded by wet slopes intermingled with sharp ridges. At one ridge, the troopers spotted fifty to sixty Japanese about 300 feet below them bathing in a stream as if they were oblivious to a war shattering the world around them. The men of the 11th A/B were certain that there was nothing luckier than to literally catch the enemy with his pants down!

after one fray, a patrol of the 187th found a Japanese diary attesting to the starving conditions the enemy were facing. The book read that they were without any communication to or from their headquarters. They were praying for help from Manila and hoped they would die bravely in their fight with the Americans. (Any papers found on the enemy were immediately handed over to a Nisei G.I. for translation).
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Indian Parachute Regiment insignia

Indian Parachute Regiment insignia

Between December 1944 and the end of April 1945, the British and Indian troops liberated Burma. The Japanese Army evacuated Rangoon on 29 April 1945. I should have included the campaigns of these men here as well, my apologies.
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All throughout April, the U.S. Marines land on the smaller islands surrounding Okinawa.

On 17 April, President Truman extended the lend-lease act, thereby giving a grand total of $39 billion for Europe’s war effort. The U.S. only received $5.5 billion in return.

29 April, Mussolini and his mistress Signorina Petracci were executed and hung by their heels in front of a filling station nd Italy surrenders. (I have a photo of this, but feel it is not suitable for all viewers.)
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Remember – click onto any photo to enlarge.

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