Blog Archives

Current News – Bataan Mile Markers

Bataan mile marker, before and after.

CLARK AIR BASE, Philippines – Jungle moss and roadwork are threatening historical markers along the Bataan Death March trail in the Philippines, says an American who’s waging a lonely battle to preserve them.

Bob Hudson’s father, Tech. Sgt. Richard Hudson, was among tens of thousands of troops forced to march nearly 70 miles from the Bataan Peninsula to Japanese prisoner-of-war camps after the surrender of U.S. and Filipino forces on April 9, 1942. Thousands perished during the trek, which included intense heat and harsh treatment from the guards.

Bataan Death March

The government of former Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos installed the first markers — made of metal — along the path in the 1960s, Hudson told a group of veterans last month in Angeles City, Philippines. In 2000, the Filipino-American Memorial Endowment, or FAME — an organization seeking to preserve the nation’s war memorials — replaced them with 139 white concrete markers.

Bob & Rosalie Hudson

Those markers are sturdier than the old ones, some of which were stolen as souvenirs or sold for scrap metal. But the inexorable growth of the surrounding jungle and the tropical heat and humidity are taking a toll on them.

“These markers require a lot of maintenance,” Hudson said.  Since 2012, he and his wife, Rosalie, have spent many weekends along the Death March trail pulling weeds and cleaning and repainting the markers, which quickly get covered in mold and moss.

Rosalie Hudson working.

Hudson said he started the work to honor his late father, who on his death bed asked his son to track down a daughter he left behind in the Philippines during the war.

The elder Hudson — who survived the death march, a voyage to Japan in a “hell ship,” forced labor in a mine and the atomic bombing of Nagasaki — returned to the Philippines to look for his fiancé after the war. He found out that she had been raped and murdered by Japanese troops, and that their daughter had been adopted.

The younger Hudson moved to the Philippines in 2012 and tracked down the children of his half-sister, Leonida Hudson Cortes. Though he learned that she died in 1999, his work on the Death March markers continues.

A local power company is helping maintain 11 markers at the start of the trail, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Angeles City is looking after the final seven. Hudson said that leaves 1

“I’m almost 70 years old,” he said. “It is getting to be a difficult project for me.”

Recent damage to some of the markers by road workers hasn’t made it easier, he said.

FAME provides the couple with paint and the VFW recently donated some money to help fund the project. Those who want to help can find more information at: http://filipino-americanmemorials.org/donate/

Article is from Stars and Stripes magazine.

Click on images to enlarge.

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More Current News – you up for the challenge?

A Special Request (2018 Navy SEAL Swim/Ruck Challenge)
This summer, 6 June 2018 to be specific and during part of the annual D-Day remembrance festivities a very unique and special event will take place:  The 2018 Navy SEAL Swim/Ruck Challenge.  A friend of the Sons of Liberty Museum and the Army Air Corps Library and Museum and an active duty SEAL, will take part in this event and along with 24 other participants will swim in the English Channel, climb cliffs on Omaha Beach and Ruck to St. Lo. this event supports our friends of the Navy SEAL Museum and Trident House in Fort Pierce, FL.  Read More & Support This Event

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Military Humor –

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Bryce Blakely Jr. – Orleans, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, gunner, 828/485/15th AF

John Cunningham – San Francisco, CA; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Thomas Evans – Buffalo, NY; US Navy, WWII, APO, radioman

Gunnar Frey Jr. – Des Moines, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 12th Air Force

Cop Howard – Whangamata, NZ; NZ Army # 230124, WWII

Marion Jenkins – Portland, ME; US Coast Guard, WWII

Alex Littlefield – Daytona Beach, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, pilot

James ‘Bill’ Majors – Fort Payne, AL; US Navy, WWII, ETO

Guillermo Green-Sanchez – Coamo, PR; US Army, WWII, Korea, Sgt.FC

Stanley Stegnerski – Gastomia, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII. ETO, 2nd Lt., P-51 pilot, KIA

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The Final Cavalry Charge Commander freed

“Never Surrender: The Ed Ramsey Story” is a new documentary about the WWII hero who led the last cavalry charge in US military history.  This 4 minute video is well worth watching.

Born in Illinois, Edwin Ramsey died at the age of 95 in 2013. He had been placed in command of the elite 26thCavalry Regiment in the Philippines. Most of his time was spent playing polo with other officers until the Japanese troops invaded Manila.

While in the Philippines, Ramsey found himself in facing down a large body of Japanese infantry, supported by tanks, while he and his men were mounted on horseback. With no other options available, Ramsey ordered his cavalry to charge – the last cavalry charge in American Military History. It was effective, too. The Japanese Infantry, surprised and terrified, broke and fled, and Ramsey and his small group held their position under heavy fire for five hours until reinforcements arrived.

The last Charge, 26th Cavalry (Philippine Scouts),

After this incident, he led the famous offensive in the jungle of the Philippines. He took command of the Filipino resistance in 1942, after their commander was captured, and the forces under him eventually grew to more than 40,000 guerrilla fighters. He survived extreme malnutrition and tropical diseases, the LA Times reported.

Enduring malaria, malnutrition, dysentery and an appendectomy without anesthesia during his service with the Philippine resistance, he received honors from several Philippine presidents and was revered in the Filipino American community.

It makes for an interesting tale but the film, directed by Steven C. Barber and Matt Hausle with some narration by Josh Brolin, spends a lot of time on polo and Ramsey’s career with Hughes Aircraft Co. after the war.

The movie includes the usual line-up of historians, retired military personnel and family members. It even includes scenes with Ramsey, filmed from 2003 and 2012.

Strangely, though, no Filipino veterans are represented in the film despite Ramsey’s time spent lobbying in Congress to restore the benefits that were promised them.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

What age Cavalry?

New Age Cavalry

 

 

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Current News –

Please wish your New Zealand neighbors a great Waitangi Day for 6 February!!

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/waitangi-day-2016/

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Farewell Salutes – 

Reginald Brazier – Winnipeg, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Edward DeVries – Uxbridge, MA; US Navy, WWII, SeaBee, 64th Naval Construction

Edward Fredricksen – Bayport, MN; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

William Jerome – Roanoke, VA; US Army, WWII

Harry Lamas – Mobile, AL; US Army, WWII, ETO

Cliford Naleski – Colorado Springs, CO; US Army, Chief Warrant Officer (Ret. 27 y.)

Robert Olson – St. Paul, MN; War Dept., WWII, intelligence

Robert Plant – RI; USMC, WWII, PTO, machine-gunner

Donal Sipe Sr. – Bakersfield, CA; US Navy, WWII, USS Jeremiah & Nevada

Harold Warren – Steep Falls, ME; US Army, 503rd/11th Airborne Division

Santo Tomas Internment Camp

Santo Tomas Internment Camp, aerial view.

Santo Tomás Internment Camp [STIC] was the largest of several camps in the Philippines in which the Japanese interned enemy civilians, mostly Americans, in World War II. The campus of the University of Santo Tomás in Manila was utilized for the camp which housed more than 4,000 internees from January 1942 until February 1945.

Over a period of several days, the Japanese occupiers of Manila collected all enemy aliens in Manila and transported them to the University of Santo Tomás, a fenced compound 50 acres (22 ha) in size. Thousands of people, mostly Americans and British, staked out living and sleeping quarters for themselves and their families in the buildings of the University. The Japanese mostly let the foreigners fend for themselves except for appointing room monitors and ordering a 7:30 p.m. roll call every night.

American flag draped over balcony of building as American and Filipino civilians cheer their release from the Japanese prison camp at Santo Tomas University folllowing Allied liberation of the city. Manila, Luzon, Philippines. February 05, 1945

The Japanese selected a business executive named Earl Carroll as head of the internee government and he selected five, later nine, men he knew to serve as an executive committee. They appointed a British missionary who had lived in Japan, Ernest Stanley, as interpreter. Santo Tomás quickly became a “miniature city.’ The internees created several committees to manage affairs, including a police force, set up a hospital with the abundant medical personnel available, and began providing morning and evening meals to more than 1,000 internees who did not have food.

Carl Mydans. Freed American and Filipino prisoners outside main entrance of Santo Tomas University which was used as a Japanese prison camp before Allied liberation forces entered the city. Manila, Luzon, Philippines. February 05, 1945

Santo Tomás became increasingly crowded as internees from outlying camps and islands were transferred into the camp. With the population in Santo Tomás approaching 5,000, the Japanese on May 9, 1943 announced that 800 men would be transferred to a new camp, Los Banos, 37 miles (68 km) distant, the then campus of the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture, now part of University of the Philippines Los Baños. On May 14, the 800 men were loaded on trains and left Santo Tomás. In succeeding months, other enemy aliens were transferred to Los Baños including a large number of missionaries and clergymen who were previously allowed to remain outside the internment camps provided they pledged not to engage in politics.

Carl Mydans. Emaciated father feeding Army rations to his son after he and his family were freed from a Japanese prison camp following the Allied liberation of the city. Manila, Luzon, Philippines. February 05, 1945

The American force that liberated the internees at Santo Tomas was small and the Japanese still had soldiers near the compound. Fighting went on for several days. The internees received food and medical treatment but were not allowed to leave Santo Tomas. Registration of them for return to their countries of origin began. On February 7, General Douglas MacArthur visited the compound, an event that was accompanied by Japanese shelling. That night and again on February 10, 28 people in the compound were killed in the artillery barrage, including 16 internees.

Carl Mydans. Two emaciated American civilians, Lee Rogers (L) & John C. Todd, sit outside gym which had been used as a Japanese prison camp following their release by Allied forces liberating the city. Manila, Luzon, Philippines, February 05, 1945

The evacuation of the internees began on February 11. Sixty-four U.S army nurses interned in Santo Tomas were the first to leave that day and board airplanes for the United States. Flights and ships to the United States for most internees began on February 22.  Although food became adequate with the arrival of American soldiers, life continued to be difficult. The lingering effects of near-starvation for so many months saw 48 people die in the camp in February, the highest death total for any month. Most internees could not leave the camp because of a lack of housing in Manila.

Click on images to enlarge.

Photography and information from: “Return To The Philippines World War II” by Rafael Steinberg; Prison Photography.org; Philippine Internment; Trinity College Digital Repository;

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Military Humor –

You have your point of view – and I have mine.

For when you just want to reach out and touch someone.

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Myriam (Wescott) Alley – Tacoma, WA; US Army WAC, WWII

Charles Edeal – Sumner, NE; civilian, WWII, Africa & CBI, B-25 aircraft mechanic

Campbell Henderson – Cairns, NZ; RNZ Air Force, WWII, PTO, Radar Unit 53, Cape Astrolabe, Malaita

Rick Jolly – Hong Kong/London, ENG; Royal Navy, Falklands War, surgeon

Robert Kozul – Fairmont, WV; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Donald LeSuer – Jay, ME; US Army, WWII, PTO, SSgt., 911 Signal Corps

Martin Newman – brn: London, ENG/Canberra, AUS; RA Air Force, Wing Commander

Angelo Rolando – Rocky Hill, CT; US Army, WWII, Pfc, Purple Heart

Robert Tulk – Tiffin, OH; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Addison Mort Walker – Kansas City, MO; US Army, WWII, ETO /cartoonist628x471

 

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Japanese weaponry

Firing a ‘knee’ mortar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“1. It is a one man load.

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

3. It has a high rate of fire.

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

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

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

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

M79 40mm grenade launcher

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

References: Warfare History Network;

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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

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

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gordon Sherwood – Yarmouth, ME; US Army, Korea

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First Hand Account – Home Front on Luzon

Fellow blogger at https://subliblog.wordpress.com/ and author of “BAHALA NA (Come What May)”, Rosalinda R. Morgan, remembers a story her father told her about discovering the Americans had returned to Luzon.  The pictures here have been taken from her Photo Gallery, available on her blog.  Please be sure to visit her.

Mr. & Mrs. Mateo Rosales on their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

My father told me this story of what happened in his town when the American soldiers came back to rescue the Philippines.

One night, they heard a loud explosion. It was dark around where my parents were camping in their makeshift village. There were nipa huts scattered under dense mango trees and roofs were covered with leaves. One by one, men came out and looked where the noise was coming from. It was a moonless night. It was total darkness except for the lights coming from the explosion.

Somebody called out. “The Americans are coming! The Americans are coming!” When the people heard that, they all came out of hiding. There was a promontory in the area where they could watch the flashing light. They climbed the little hill and looked out toward the horizon. The area was wide open field and there were no trees blocking the view. One could see all the way to Taal Lake.

They could see where the flashing lights were coming from. It looked like they were coming from Lemery. From where my parents stood, they could hear the artillery shells going back and forth. The shootings got louder and louder. Trees and debris were flying high up where the artillery landed. The Americans were not shooting far enough. It could be that they did not know where the Japanese were or the range of the artillery fire was not long enough. The shooting went on all night.

In the morning, they found out the shots from the previous night landed in the cemetery nearby where empty shells were everywhere. It was still quite a distance where the Japanese were occupying Mt. Makulot in Cuenca on the far side of Taal Lake.

Lake Taal across from Tagaytay, in the distance is Mt. Makulot.

In no time, the Americans set up a camp with several tents in Taal at the Plaza across the big cathedral. Then, the U.S. soldiers started marching inland toward the Japanese camp. When they reached Alitagtag, some people saw soldiers marching up the road. At first, they were scared thinking they were Japanese, then they realized they were white-skinned and tall. Instantly, they knew it had to be the Americans. Then they got excited. Someone ran to the field where everyone was hiding and informed them. People started coming out running to the street, waving their arms and cheering them on. The American did not expect the kind of reception they were getting and it became very unsettling. The cheering went on for several minutes. Some civilians were asking for food, others just waved and said “Hi Joe.” They were deliriously happy to see the Americans. They asked if MacArthur was coming. The GIs said yes. That news were received with loud cheer.

The soldiers told them to evacuate to the Elementary School and the nearby church. Some evacuees settled in the elementary school. My parents decided to stay overnight at the church. There were several evacuees in the church. The little group, huddled together, sat in the pews all night, some praying, some just sitting quietly until their eyes got tired and they dozed off to sleep.

Later in the night, the shooting started again. This time, the Japanese shells started coming in their direction. The Japanese started shooting at the school. Artillery fire was coming from Mt. Makulot. All night long, the shooting never abated. All the evacuees at the school were moved to the church and the rectory in the cover of darkness. It was a long night for the evacuees.

By daybreak, the shooting stopped. The evacuees were told to move again. This time they were told to move to Taal. My parents together with my two unmarried uncles joined the throng evacuating to Taal. My uncles brought sacks of rice, kamote and some clothing. My father had me on his shoulder as he trod along with my mother.

Within an hour, there were thousands of people evacuating. Men, young and old with their wives and children joined in. Everybody looked scared but nobody protested. They were just following what the American soldiers told them.

The evacuation ran smoothly with the American soldiers flanking the evacuees and leading the way. However, the throng was getting bigger as they reached several villages. More people joined the evacuation as it progressed its way through towns. Some people stopped along the way trying to rest their feet. My parents kept their pace slowly, rested for a few minutes every now and then. They were totally exhausted when they reached Taal. It took them all day to get there.

The jungle at Alitagtag. This picture is the cover for “BAHALA NA”

At Taal, the evacuees were taken in by the residents of Taal. In the morning, they went to the U.S. Camp to get breakfast. For a week, my parents stayed in Taal with the rest of the evacuees. While the evacuees were being housed and fed in Taal, the American soldiers continued their march to Alitagag and then the shooting continued at night until the American troops reached Cuenca.

By this time, the evacuees at Taal were moved again. People began to scatter around several nearby villages. One of my mother’s aunts and her family were among the evacuees in Taal. Mom’s aunt wanted my parents to join them and hide near the sugar cane fields which were not far from Taal. My father wanted to return to Alitagtag so my mother asked her aunt to join them instead. The aunt said they were tired of walking and believed they would be safe in the sugar cane fields.

My parents returned to their hiding place in Alitagtag. They thought staying at their own property was the best option for them. The American soldiers were now past Alitagtag and on their way to Manila to join MacArthur’s force trying to enter Manila. Later on, my father heard there was heavy fighting as the American soldiers crossed Cuenca where the Japanese were at Mt. Makulot.

In a few days, the Japanese burned the sugar cane field where my mother’s aunt’s family and other evacuees went into hiding. They were all killed and my parents were very lucky to make their own choice and saving their lives.

Click on images to enlarge. 

Also – Remember to stop in, see the other photos and say Hi…

Rosalinda R. Morgan

“BAHALA NA (Come What May)

 

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Military Humor –

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Joe Appleby – El Paso, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, TSgt., B-24 gunner/radio, 8th Air Force

Erven Boettner – Roca, NE; US Army, WWII, Col. (Ret.)

John Donahue – Shrewsbury, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 5th Air Force

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

Raynald Goulet – Portland, ME; USMC, WWII, pilot

Anna Mae Hays – Buffalo, NY; US Army WAC nurse, CBI / Korea & Vietnam, 1st female general (Ret.)

James Janes – Louisville, KY; US Army, WWII, medic

Paul Moll III – St Louis, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Arthur Schoenfield – Manawatu, NZ; RNZ Army # 4434429, WWII, Sgt.

Howard Wolfgram – Waukesha, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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11th Airborne Lands at Luzon

American Eighth Army soldiers debark from LCI(L)s [Landing Craft Infantry, Large] in Luzon. “File number: 259015. Released: Feb. 14, 1945.

Navy lands Eighth Army on West coast of Luzon–Troops of the U.S. 8th Army under command of Lieutenant General Robert L. Eichelberger, pour off Navy LCI’s (landing craft infantry) and wade ashore between San Narciso and San Antonio on the west coast of Luzon on January 29, 1945, in a brilliant move calculated to cut off Bataan Peninsula and to capture the naval base at Olongapo. Tactical surprise was achieved to such a dress that not a man, ship or plane was lost in the landing.” 29 January 1945.

Long before the American invasion began, General Yamashita divided his Luzon forces into three groups, each centered around a remote geographical region. The largest of these groups and under the direct command of Yamashita was Shobu Group, located in northern Luzon with about 152,000 troops.

A much smaller force, Kembu Group, with approximately 30,000 troops, occupied the Clark Air Field complex as well as the Bataan Peninsula and Corridor. The third major force, Shimbu Group, consisted of some 80,000 soldiers occupying the southern sections of Luzon, an area that included the island’s long Bicol Peninsula as well as the mountains immediately east of Manila. Most Shimbu units were in the latter area and controlled the vital reservoirs that provided most of the capital area’s water supply.

 

On 31 January, X-ray Day, two regiments of the 11th Airborne Division, under the command of Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Swing, landed unopposed. The paratroopers seized a nearby bridge before the surprised Japanese defenders had a chance to demolish it, and then the paratroopers turned toward Manila. The division’s third regiment, the 511th Parachute, dropped in by air to join the advance, which by the following day was speeding north along the paved highway toward the capital to the cheers of throngs of grateful Filipino civilians along the way.

 

Originally the 11th Airborne Division, one of Lt. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger’s Eighth Army units, had been slated to contain Japanese troops throughout southwestern Luzon. But acting on MacArthur’s orders, Eichelberger pushed the division north.

Once they were on land, they started down Highway 17 toward Tagatay.  That journey consisted of approximately 30 miles of valleys, flat terrain of rice and cane fields, mountains and careful traversing along the crests of ridges.

The distance between Tagatay and Manila was about 37 miles, taking them passed Nichols Field before reaching Manila proper.  This was the main supply area for the Japanese troops and the city’s port was a crucial stop-off for the enemy on other islands.

Reference: “Rakkasans” & “The Angels: The History of the 11th Airborne” by: Gen. E.M. Flanagan Jr.; YouTube.com; U.S. Army; Hyperwar.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Delton Collins – Ashburn, GA; US Army, Korea, Co. E/187th RCT, Purple Heart, Chaplin (Ret.)

Robert Dunn – Danbury, CT; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

John F. Cox – Denver, CO; US Navy, WWII

William Hall – NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Roger Kissane – UK; RAF (Ret.), 249th Squadron

Stephen Reiman – Casper, WY; US Navy, Vietnam

Edwin Simpson – Rainvelle, WV; US Army, WWII

Richard Thomas – Kenosha, WI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Jerry Van Dyke – Danville, IL; US Air Force / actor

John Young – Orlando, FL; US Navy, Korea, USS Laws / NASA Astronaut (Ret.)

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Smitty’s Letter XVI – Guard Duty, part one

 

Guard Duty, history.army.com, click to enlarge.

15 January 1945, all of the 11th Airborne Division was back on Bito Beach where they rested, re-organized, got re-equipped, re-trained and with a little time left over – they wrote letters home.  Here starts Number 16 from Smitty….

Letter XVI                                                                 Guard Duty                                                               1/15/45

 

You have received many notes from me in the past that always seem to contain one line that went something like this, “Have to go on guard duty tonight ____.”  Now in this letter I hope to be able to picture for you convincingly enough my first night on guard duty.  Please remember, all through this letter, that this place at the time was threatened at ALL times by the Japs and never for one moment were we allowed to forget it — especially at night.

My first trick on guard was posted for the hours of 9 to 11pm with a four-hour sleep period before going on as second sentry relief.  We were to be ready for immediate action.  This was also the first time I had to stand guard with a loaded rifle, so instead of feeling safe and secure, it tends to make me that much more nervous and apprehensive.

At eight-forty-five sharp, we were called out, inspected and told the password and counter sign.  We were then marched away, in a body, to our respective posts, told the special orders pertaining to that particular post and then left alone.  The quick, short steps of the guard soon grow faint and they rapidly walk on until all you can hear is the beat of your heart.

As soon as I realized that I was alone and on my post, I tried vainly to pierce the darkness and see just where I was and what was around and near me.  It generally takes from five to ten minutes before your eyes become accustomed to the darkness, but before that happens, I found out that your mind sees things and imagines most anything from a Jap standing or crouching down.  You try to shake off the feeling, but damn it all — how can you?

After a while, you begin to see things in their true form and you notice that the standing Jap is nothing but a small palm tree and that sinister apparition is only some old debris or fallen tree.  As these things unfolded before in their real form, I heaved a great sigh and relieved my tightened grip on my rifle.  Boy!  What a relief I thought and was just about to sling my rifle over my shoulder when suddenly I heard a noise.

I crouched down trying desperately this time to see what my ears had just heard, when again, I heard a faint sound — only this time it was in back of me or maybe on the side.  All sorts of thoughts run rampant through your mind at this stage and mine were really running wild.

 

You try to remember things you were taught about for situations such as these, but at the time the lessons were given, they seemed boring and so you didn’t pay much attention.  Now I wish I had listened and desperately tried to recall to mind what little I did hear.  Seconds seemed liked hours, my legs were getting numb, but I was too damned scared to move a muscle for fear of giving away my position to whatever was around.  “Where the hell is that man?”  I thought to myself.  Gosh, it sure was quiet and still that night.  I even tried to stop breathing for fear it would be heard.

Suddenly, your eyes pick out a strange object that wasn’t there before, or so your memory tells you.  You watch it for a while, then — oh, oh — it moves, sure as hell, it moved — there it goes again.

I could see it then, just an outline, but that was clear enough for me.  I held my breath and at the same time brought my rifle up and aimed it.  Now, I was in a mess.  What if it was an American soldier out there or the next guard?  The book covers this well, you remember it says, “Yell out, in a clear distinctive voice, HALT, at least three times.”  That’s fine I thought, but dammit, the guy who wrote that isn’t out there with me now and I’d bet he wouldn’t yell “HALT” at least three times.

Well, I won the bet and only yelled once and waited for the password.  Again, minutes seemed like hours, suppose he didn’t hear me, should I yell again?  Suppose it is another guard and he thinks I’m only kidding or it’s nothing but a swaying branch, what a mess, what do I do?  All these thoughts flash thru your mind and you are about to get up and yell again, but it moves back — that’s a Jap.  Without hesitation now, you pull the trigger and then in excitement, before you release your finger, you hear instead of one shot, three or more ring out.

Flash lights appear from nowhere as men come out anxiously looking about and trying to find out what the noise is about.  In the dim rays of their lights, you find that what you thought was a hoard of Japs surrounding you is nothing or was nothing more than a dog or wild pig prowling about.  You feel about the size of a ten cent piece, I sure did.  Inwardly you are proud to note that what you aimed at in the darkness, you hit and that a few are even remarking about that wonderful feat.  You aren’t even shaking anymore.  In fact, you notice to your most pleasant surprise you are no longer afraid.

Soon tho, you are left alone again, but this time the loneliness isn’t so bad and you know that soon you will be relieved and another “first night” will come along and make the same mistakes you did.

to be continued …

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Military Humor –

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Lucien Bolduc Jr. San Antonio, TX; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, West Point grad, MGeneral (Ret.)

Leo Chisholm – Baton Rouge, LA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

A soldier from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, the guardians of Arlington National Cemetery, waits amid the gravestones during funeral services for Army Spc. Sean R. Cutsforth, of Radford, Va., a member of the 101st Airborne who was killed in Afghanistan in December, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Thomas Curtsinger Sr. – Springfield, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, ‘The Hump’, radioman

Glen Elfrank – Painton, MO; US Air Force

Richard Groff – Collegeville, PA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Edwin ‘Perry’ Miller – Lincoln, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-25 pilot instructor

Pat Murphy – Kansas City, MO; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT ‘Rakkasans’

George Pfeifer – Roslyn Heights, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Irving Sager (103) – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII, radar

Ernest Zeman – Tampa, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Breton, Lt. (Ret.)

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HMAS Australia

HMAS Australia, imagery scanned from Navy Historic Archive

Possibly the ship with the most colorful World War II history was HMAS Australia, fondly known as “The Aussie”. The Aussie fought for almost the entire duration of the war. A county class cruiser commissioned in 1928 she was the second ship to bear the name of her country.

With the outbreak of WWII Aussie sailed for the Atlantic to begin her long wartime career that she was to fight on all fronts and against all enemies.  In September, 1940, she was in Operation Menace off Dakar, French West Africa.  Bombers of the Luftwaffe tried in vain to sink her whilst she was berthed alongside in Liverpool during the period when the city suffered its worst blitz. During her war service Aussie went everywhere.

n December 1941 when Japan entered the war Aussie became the flagship or Rear Admiral Crace, followed by Admiral Crutchley and then Commodore Collins.  In January 1942 the cruiser assisted in escorting the first US troops to Australia. Operating in the Coral Sea it pursued and attacked the Japanese from Guadalcanal to Hollandia, surviving everything its enemies could throw at her, until…

HMAS Australia funnel damage

Out of the blue skies of Leyte came the ‘Divine Wind” or the Kamikaze. The first Kamikaze hit against Aussie was by a A6M5 Zero-Sen Fighter fitted with a 200 kilogram bomb, the impact of this snapped one leg of the ship’s tripod mast, causing a huge shower of wreckage to rain down upon the compass platform.  Underneath it lay Captain Dechaineaux mortally wounded along with many others, amongst them Commodore J. Collins, hero of the HMAS Sydney.  Four days later, after the initial Kamikaze attack, Aussie again suffered the brunt of another, her sleek hull and distinctive row of three funnels drawing the suicidal pilots to her.

more HMAS Australia damage

HMAS Australia was needed badly by the R.A.N for she was the last surviving seaworthy member of the country’s heavy cruiser fleet the rest having been sunk and Hobart badly damaged. So she was quickly returned to active service.

She headed straight back to Philippine waters and on the afternoon of 5th January 1945 at Lingayen Gulf,  The Kamikazes targeted her again.  Her new Captain Armstrong flung the ship about wildly, but another bomb laden aircraft slammed into to her. The casualties were high – 25 men killed and 30 seriously wounded, most were badly needed guns crews.

Despite extensive damage she joined HMAS Shropshire and other US units to aid in the bombardment of San Fernando and Poro Point.  A new wave of Kamikazes then attacked, a Aichi ‘Val’ Dive Bomber surviving the murderous fire thrown up by all ships collided headlong into her upper deck exploding in an enormous fireball.  Several guns crews died instantly and a severe shock wave shuddered throughout the ship. This hit accounted for another 14 dead and 26 seriously wounded. by now Aussie’s AA defenses were all but eliminated.

HMAS Australia damage to the twin 4-inch mount

At dawn on 8th January the allied fleet resumed its bombardment and the Kamikazes renewed their suicidal attacks.  Aussie was the last ship in the line and was once again singled out.   The Aussie’s gunners throwing up withering fire at a Mitsubishi “Dinah” Bomber until at last shooting it down, but not before it released its bomb which exploded close to the waterline, punching a large hole in the hull.

Taking a dangerous list to port another ‘Dinah’ roared in.  Those guns still in operation tore the bomber to bits and it showered down aviation fuel upon the sailors whilst its massive engine smashed through the bulkhead of the Captain’s Day Cabin. Within seconds another ‘Dinah’ roared in, the Aussie gunners frantically trying to shoot it down, succeeding, within just 15 metres, the propeller blades embedding themselves in a life-raft.  The aircraft skidded into the hull ripping another large hole and damaging yet another fuel tank, whilst two mess decks were completely destroyed. Aussie by now was in bad shape, her speed reduced to fifteen knots to avoid causing more damage,  still hung in and managed to continue the fight with what was left of her.

The following day the Japs decided to finish the Flagship off knowing she was almost dead in the water. As another plane raced in heading for her bridge its pilot misjudged his attack line and slammed into the yardarm slewing the aircraft around so as to miss the bridge area and taking out the top of the foremost funnel. Sliced off cleanly it crashed to the deck. There were no casualties from this hit but it spelled the end for Aussie. Two boilers had to be shut down because of insufficient updraft.  Aussie’s war had come to an end.

The war for HMAS Australia was over.

Information from the Royal Australian Navy Gun Plot; Australian Navy and Joey’s Walkabout

The Australian Navy link includes some fantastic photographs!

Click on images to enlarge.

 

Current News – Doris “Dorie” Miller

Dorie Miller statue in progress

A 9-foot stature sculptured by Eddie Dixon will be unveiled today, Thursday, 7 December 2017, in honor of Doris “Dorie” Miller – Hero of Pearl Harbor!  On the banks of the Brazos River, Miller relatives and former crew of the USS Doris Miller will attend the ceremony for the Waco, Texas born seaman.

For a full story of Mr. Miller please click HERE!

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Military Humor –

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Margaret Abbott Hanson – CAN; RC Army, WWII, Regina Rifle Regiment

Deane Brees – Creston, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Gallatin, signalman

Paul Ciccarelli – Monessen, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co A/188/11th Airborne Division

Walter Eacott – Melbourne, AUS; RAF, WWII, night fighter pilot / RAAF, Squadron Leader

Charles Greene – Middleboro, KY; US Army, WWII, ETO, 916 Medical Ambulance, Bronze Star

James Lane – Wannambool, AUS; RA Navy # 57966, CPO

Francis Mitchell – Walkanae, NZ; RNZ Navy # 13840. Korea

David Nesbitt – Sidney, AUS; RA Air Force # 420355, WWII

Joseph Pisano – Queens, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, F/367/101st Airborne Division

Michael Vertucci – Maspeth, NY; US Army, KOrea

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Lingayen Gulf, 2-8 January 1945

USS Ommaney Bay, January 1945

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The USS Louisville is struck by a kamikaze Yokosuka D4Y at the Battle of Lingayen Gulf, 6 January 1945

On 2 January, the US carrier, USS Ommaney Bay, was severely damaged by a kamikaze aircraft and would later need to be scuttled.  Three days later, the cruiser, USS Columbia, was also damaged when she was hit by 2 of the Japanese suicide planes.  US shipping received relentless kamikaze strikes that cost the Navy more than 1000 men due to those 30 hits.

Beginning on 6 January, a heavy naval and air bombardment of suspected Japanese defenses on Lingayen began.  Aircraft and naval artillery bombardment of the soon-to-be landing areas occurred, with kamikazes attacking again on the 7th.

USS Columbia hit by kamikaze

On the 8th, it was observed that in the town of Lingayen, as a response to the prelanding shelling, Filipinos had begun to form a parade, complete with United States and Philippine flags – firing was shifted away from that area.

The USS Louisville had been hit on the 5th of January with one man killed and 52 wounded, including the captain.  The following day she was attacked by six successive plane, 5 were shot down, but one got through.

USS Louisville, hit by kamikaze

The strike on the Louisville was also notable for the death of RAdmiral Theodore Chandler, commanding the battleships and cruiser in Lingayen Gulf.  He was badly burned when his Flag ship was engulfed in flames, but jumped down to the signal deck and deployed hoses to the enlisted men before waiting in line for treatment with the other wounded sailors.  However, his lungs had been scorched by the petroleum flash and he died the following day.

Rear Admiral Theodore Edson Chandler

An eye witness account of the attack on the USS Louisville, from John Duffy:

“All of a sudden, the ship shuddered and I knew we were hit again.  I was in charge of the 1st Division men and I yelled, “We’re hit, let’s go men!”  I was the first man out the Turret door followed by Lt.Commmander Foster and Lt. Hastin, our Division Officer, then a dozen more men.

“The starboard side of the ship was on fire from the forecastle deck down.  One almost naked body was laying about ten feet from the turret with the top of his head missing.  It was the kamikaze pilot that had hit us.  He made a direct hit on the Communications deck.

“As the men poured out of the turret behind me, they just stood there in shock.  Explosions were still coming from the ammunition lockers at the scene of the crash.  We could see fire there too.  Injured men were screaming for help on the Communications Deck above us.  I ordered 2 men to put out the fire on the starboard side by leaning over the side with a hose.  That fire was coming from a ruptured aviation fuel pipe that runs full length of the forecastle on the outside of the ship’s hull.  That fuel pipe was probably hit by machine-gun bullets from the kamikaze just before he slammed into us.

“Although there was no easy access to the deck above us, I ordered several men to scale up the side of the bulkhead (wall) and aid the badly burned victims who were standing there like zombies.  I also ordered 3 men to crawl under the rear Turret 1’s overhang, open the hatch there and get the additional fire hose from Officers Quarters.  These 3 orders were given only seconds apart and everyone responded immediately, but when they got near the dead Jap’s body, which was lying right in the way, it slowed them down…”

For some additional information on the Kamikaze, Click HERE.

The HMAS Australia was included in this fleet and would also come under heavy attack.  Her full story will be the following post.

Click on images to enlarge

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Military Humor – 

“I wish they’d get someone else to make up the mess duty roster!”

“Hold it , sailor! – Let’s see your orders!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Chapman – Macon, GA; US Army, WWII, PTO

George Cramer – Prichard, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Major, B-17 belly gunner

Peter Ferracuti – Ottawa, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Charles Galloway – Clinton, SC; US Army (Ret.), WWII, Korea & Vietnam

Margaret Glazener – NC; US War Dept.; code breaker

William Hayes – London, ENG; RAF, CBI

Vance Larson – Saskatoon, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, Captain

Richard Nichols – Billings, MT; US Army (Ret. 22 y.), 11th, 82nd & 101st Airborne Divisions, 2 bronze Stars

Thomas O’Brien – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Daphne White – Melbourne, AUS; Women’s British Air Force, WWII

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January 1945 (2)

Major Thomas McGuire,

As the fighting for the 11th Airborne on Leyte came to a close, the battalions worked their way back to Bito Beach.  The 674th and 675th Glider Field Artillery and the 457th Parachute Field Artillery remained in strategic positions to cover them.

The Luzon Attack Force, commanded by VAdmiral Kinkaid, under MacArthur, was composed of 7th Fleet units and numbered more than 850 ships. This was divided into the Lingayen Attack Force (Vice Admiral Wilkinson commanding), the San Fabian Attack Force (Vice Admiral Barbey), a reinforcement group (R Admiral Conolly commanding), a fire support and bombardment group ( VAdmiral Oldendorf ) and surface and air covering groups (Rear Admiral Berkey and Rear Admiral C.T. Durgin, respectively, commanding). The Luzon Attack Force was to transport, put ashore and support elements of the 6th U.S. Army (Lieutenant General Walter Krueger) to assist in the seizure and development of the Lingayen area.

2→3 January – A military report showed that 111 enemy aircraft were destroyed on and above Formosa and the Ryukyu Islands.  B-24’s bit Haha Jima and Iwo Jima over a seven hour period and areas of Luzon and the Netherland East Indies (NEI) continued to be hit.

In preparation for the upcoming invasions of Iwo Jima, Okinawa and eventually Japan, Gen. MacArthur was placed in command of US ground forces and Adm. Nimitz over all naval forces.

3→4 January – the 3rd Fleet, operating under Admiral Halsey, with its fast carrier task force commanded by VAdmiral McCain, was to cover and protect the operation by air strikes over Luzon.  There was little airborne opposition, but unfavorable weather conditions somewhat reduced the toll of enemy ships, planes and facilities destroyed.

Early in January, Japan’s General Yamashita pulled his Fourteenth Army (260,000 men) back off of Luzon’s beach to conserve them. He was aware of the forthcoming invasions of American troops.  

Japanese division of troops on Luzon

Yamashita divided his men into three defensive groups; the largest, the Shobu Group, under his personal command numbered 152,000 troops, defended northern Luzon. The smallest group, totaling 30,000 troops, known as the Kembu Group, under the command of Tsukada, defended Bataan and the western shores. The last group, the Shimbu Group, totaling 80,000 men under the command of Yokoyama, defended Manila and southern Luzon.

Yamashita tried to rebuild his army but was forced to retreat from Manila to the Sierra Madre Mts. of northern Luzon, as well as the Cordillera Central Mts. Yamashita ordered all troops, except those tasked with security, out of the city.

Almost immediately, IJN RAdm. Sanji Iwabuchi re-occupied Manila with 16,000 sailors, with the intent of destroying all port facilities and naval storehouses. Once there, Iwabuchi took command of the 3,750 Army security troops, and against Yamashita’s specific order, turned the city into a battlefield.

USS Spot

6 January – The naval battle of Lingayen Gulf will be published in a following post.

7 January – US pilot and ace, Mj. Thomas McGuire (38 victories) was killed in a low-level combat with a group of Japanese Zero fighters, led by Shiochi Sugita, the 3rd highest scoring ace of the IJN Air Force, over Negros Island.

USS Spot sank 2 Japanese trawlers with her deck gun in the yellow Sea and US aircraft over the South China Sea sank IJN landing ship No. 112.

Resources: World War II Database; Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne, by Gen. EM Flanagan; US Army Green Books; US Navy reports.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – Private SNAFU and Booby Traps –

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Brennan – Manitowoc, WI; US Army, Korea, 25th Infantry Division, Col (Ret.), Bronze Star

Paul Ciccarelli – Monessen, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 188th/11th Airborne Division

Thomas Ender – Diamondhead, MS; US Merchant Marine, WWII

Sixto Fernandez – Las Cruces, NM; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division

Wesley Fox – Blackburg, VA; USMC, Korea, Vietnam, colonel (Ret. 43 Y.), Medal of Honor

Harold “Tidley” Hannon – Scranton, PA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc, KIA (Tarawa)

Robert Mains – Rochester, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st LT, B-24 pilot, KIA

Todd L. McGurn – Riverside, CA; US Army, Iraq, Cpl., 1st Armored Division

Marvin Peters – Longmont, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 gunner

David Swidler – Oklahoma City; US Army, Korea

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