Blog Archives

Manila | February 1945

Flamethrower

While advancing, the 11th Airborne encountered heavy barrages from machine guns, mortars, artillery and grenades streaming from tunnels and caves above the highway.  After the enemy was eradicated, the command post dug in on the side of the road.  In the middle of the night, they were attacked.  Headquarters Company used flame throwers and rifle fire to fend them off.

My father, Smitty, would wrinkle his nose at the mere sight of a flame thrower on TV.  He said, “Once you smell burning flesh, it stays with you.  There’s nothing worse.  Every time I see one of those things flare up, even in a movie, I can smell the fuel and flesh all over again.”

The importance of Manila cannot be stressed enough. The natural harbor has served as a strategically situated port for commerce and trade for centuries. Manila Bay and Laguna de Bay are connected by the Pasig River.

Pasig River, before the war

Following the initial American breakthrough on the fourth, fighting raged throughout the city for almost a month. The battle quickly came down to a series of bitter street-to-street and house-to-house struggles. In an attempt to protect the city and its civilians, MacArthur placed stringent restrictions on U.S. artillery and air support. But massive devastation to the urban area could not be avoided. In the north, General Griswold continued to push elements of the XIV Corps south from Santo Tomas University toward the Pasig River.

Late on the afternoon of 4 February he ordered the 2d Squadron, 5th Cavalry, to seize Quezon Bridge, the only crossing over the Pasig that the Japanese had not destroyed. As the squadron approached the bridge, enemy heavy machine guns opened up from a formidable roadblock thrown up across Quezon Boulevard. The Japanese had pounded steel stakes into the pavement, sown the area with mines, and lined up old truck bodies across the road. Unable to advance farther, the cavalry withdrew after nightfall. As the Americans pulled back, the Japanese blew up the bridge.

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Current News – The Legacy continues – 

The 11th Airborne will exist once again!!

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2022/05/05/army-creating-second-paratrooper-division-service-forges-new-identity-arctic-troops.html?ESRC=eb_220506.nl

5 May 2022

Military.com | By Steve Beynon

Soldiers stationed in Alaska will soon ditch the 25th Infantry Division’s “Tropic Lightning” patch and be re-designated the 11th Airborne Division,

The two existing airborne combat units are the 82nd Airborne Division and  the 101st Airborne, which is airborne in name only; it’s actually an air assault division.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Russell Adams – San Francisco, CA; US Merchant Marines, WWII

Willy J. Cancel – TN; USMC  /  KIA (Ukraine)

Aubrey B. Dale – Lilburn, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Jack W. Harrell – MacClesfield, NC; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Luis Herrera – Marion, NC; US Army, Spec., 82nd Airborne Division

Jack E. Lilley – Waldworth, OH; US Army, Korea, Pfc. # 15414336, Truck Driver, HQ Co/34/24th Infantry Division, KIA (Taejon, SK)

Riley D. Mixon – Greenville, SC; US Navy, Vietnam, Desert Shield & Desert Storm, Admiral (Ret. 36 y.) / Exc. Director & Vice Chairman to establishing the USS Midway Museum

Laverne A. Nigg – Browns Valley, MN; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 3167440, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Lee R. Peterson – Edmore, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Radioman, USS Estes

William F. Teaff – Akron, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, radioman # 35586750, POW, KIA (Stalag Luft VI)

Chauncey (William) Sharp – Osborn, OH; US Army, Korea, Pfc., Co C/1/27/25th Infantry Division, KIA (Hwanggon, SK)

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So… Have a great day!

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Luzon February 1945 (1)

Entering Manila

The 6th and 8th Armies on Luzon were repeatedly in close and brutal combat with the Japanese.  By dawn on 4 February the paratroopers ran into increasingly heavy and harassing fire from Japanese riflemen and machine gunners. At the Paranaque River, just south of the Manila city limits, the battalion halted at a badly damaged bridge only to be battered by Japanese artillery fire from Nichols Field. The 11th Airborne Division had reached the main Japanese defenses south of the capital and could go no further.

The U.S. on Luzon

Regarding Manila as indefensible, General Yamashita had originally ordered the commander of Shimbu Group, General Yokoyama Shizuo, to destroy all bridges and other vital installations and evacuate the city as soon as strong American forces made their appearance. However, Rear Adm. Iwabachi Sanji, the naval commander for the Manila area, vowed to resist the Americans and countermanded the order. Determined to support the admiral as best he could, Yokoyama contributed three Army battalions to Iwabachi’s 16,000-man Manila Naval Defense Force and prepared for battle. The sailors knew little about infantry tactics or street fighting, but they were well armed and entrenched throughout the capital. Iwabachi resolved to fight to the last man.

The battle for Manila had barely begun. Almost at once the 1st Cavalry Division in the north and the 11th Airborne Division in the south reported stiffening Japanese resistance to further advances into the city. As one airborne company commander remarked in mock seriousness, “Tell Halsey to stop looking for the Jap Fleet; it’s dying on Nichols Field.”

6 February 1945: “The view of Manila last night was a terrible thing as the whole part of one side of the city seemed to be on fire.  Smoke and flames were going way up in the air….Dombrowski spent the night at the airstrip and said even there, 50 miles away, he could see the flames of Manila…”  General R. Eichelberger

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Current News –

From: Fellow Blogger – Brizzy Mays Books & Bruschetta___

“You may not be aware GP that the east coast of Australia has suffered major flooding over the last six weeks with lives lost and much property destroyed. A supply vessel, the USS Frank Cable, arrived in Brisbane just at the tail end and when the sailors disembarked for their first day of shore leave, 100 of your countrymen and women volunteered their time to help our Mud Army with the clean up – removing debris from houses, chopping down fallen trees, loading trucks with rubbish that floated down swollen rivers etc. It was a wonderful thing, much appreciated, and I hope you guys over there heard about the spirit of co-operation and friendship between our countries. Respect”

USS Frank Cable

[THE U.S. ARTICLE i LOCATED ON THE SUBJECT_____]

USS Frank Cable recently arrived in Brisbane, and some of the ship’s company stepped ashore to help Australian Defense Force personnel deployed on Operation Flood Assist with clean-up tasks.  The ship, attached to the US Seventh Fleet and based in Guam, is visiting Brisbane as part of its current deployment.

The visit has been coordinated with the support of the relevant state governments and Australian Border Force.  Commanding Officer Frank Cable, Captain Albert Alarcon, said he was proud his crew was able to lend assistance.

“Our ship is very honored to be given the opportunity to support the local Brisbane community,” Captain Alarcon said.  “The crew has a very high level of volunteerism and interest in public support, so when offered the opportunity to help out, it resonated across the deck fleet.”

Australia’s longstanding alliance with the US is the nation’s most important defense relationship.  It stands as a pillar of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific and it is a testament to shared values and a commitment to an open, secure, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

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Military Humor –

‘THIS IS A HELLUVA JOB FER A SOJER”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Hersh Aramaki – Price, UT; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co C/442nd RCT, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Barney R. Cox – NY & TX; USMC, Korea & Vietnam, GySgt. (Ret.)

Helen Gallagher – Boston, MA; Civilian, WWII, South Boston Army Base

Jack Higgins (Henry Patterson) – Newcastle, ENG; British Army, Royal Horse Guards/Household Cavalry  /  author: “The Eagle Has Landed”

Wilbur R. House – Augusta, KS; US Navy, WWII, Sr. Chief Operations Specialist

Richard B. Johnson – Pueblo, CO; US Navy, WWII, Vietnam, submarine service (Ret. 25 y.)

Arlie Kendrick – CAN; Civilian, WWII, Port Credit Munitions Plant

Etta Moore (101) – St. Louis, MO; Civilian, WWII, aircraft construction

Harry E, Nichols – Sioux City, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Navy Storekeeper # 3213806, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Walter R. Pentico – Lexington, NE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 3723404, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Herbert Stiles – Manchester, NH; US Navy, WWII, ETO, minesweeper

Francis Tippet (100) – Toronto, CAN; RC Navy WRENS, WWII

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Entering Luzon | 31 January 1945

Notice arrow for the 11th A/B at the bottom. Click to enlarge.

I have to continue here on January 31, 1945, as this is where the actions of Smitty and the 11th Airborne Division become quite confusing. While the 221st medical is attached to the 187th, the 187th itself is split and send in alternate directions. Up until now, the division has been maintained fairly well in secret from the Japanese, but it is here that Gen. Eichelberger not only wants to allow the enemy knowledge of their existence, he wants to (in his words) pull a “monumental bluff” and splash the landing across the newspapers.

The men hit the beach with only their necessities on their backs; their personal items would not be seen for two months. The Eichelberger/Swing strategy began at dawn with the convoy’s arrival at the shore. 0700 hours – eighteen A-20’s and nine P-38s strafed the beaches.
0715 hours – the navy began to shell the landing area with rockets from the LCIs and shells from the destroyers.
0815 – cease fire, beach party lands
0822 – no opposition from enemy reported; first wave of 8 LCVPs lands, men head toward Nasugbu only 1500 yards away.
0945 – the 188th was through Wawa, Nasugbu and the airstrip.
1030 – the 187th begins landing and immediately joined up with the others to head up to Tagatay Ridge. One unit of the 187th remains to defend Nasugbu, one battery of the 674th assists. The 102d AAA AW Battalion and the 152d AA-AT Battalion set up antiaircraft defense on the beach.
1300 – the beach was clear – Eichelberger and Swing head down Highway 17

“We were very fortunate in capturing a bunch of bridges on Highway 17 before the Japs had a chance to blow them up.  I saw a number of big packages of explosives which they never set off.” __ Gen. Eichelberger

Palico Bridge

1400 – Gen. Swing notified Admiral Fechteler that all the men were ashore and he would resume command. Little did the 11th know that for a few brief hours, they were under the command of a naval admiral!
1430 – all key elements were 8 miles from the beach and at the Palico Bridge. It was saved just as a squad of Japanese were about to blow the steel and wood structure.
1600 – the 188th set up a CP in the Palico barracks.
All companies continued to moved forward. Artillery, rifle and machine gun fire erupted shortly afterward.

Japanese artillery, Nasugbu, Luzon

The monumental bluff was created by: a flying boatload of correspondents that blasted the news that the “Eighth Army had landed on Luzon,” and Eichelberger ordered Swing to have the 187th and 188th move as quickly as possible, fire as much artillery and weapons and create as much dust as possible. All vehicles raced down the dirt roads, guns blazing and air strikes thrown in made the division appear to not only be of immense size, but that they also had an armored unit with them.

They would now be coming up on the infamous Genko Line; a stretch of blockhouses and pillboxes that contained guns from Japanese warships, 20mm, 6 inch, etc. The enemy had dug massive octopus traps called takotsubo. All this needed to be destroyed before liberation of Manila and elimination of the 20,000 soldiers waiting for them within the city limits. For this action, the 11th would be granted the Presidential Unit Citation.

The 187th went down the steep southern slope of Tagatay and progressed to the north shore of Lake Taal where they were ordered to take Tanauan. The 127th Engineers carved out a road on the vertical cliffs for them.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Vaughan Albrecht – Grant City, MI, US Women’s Army Air Corps

Wilfred Anderson (104) – N. Vancouver, CAN; British Columbia Dragoons, WWII

Pearl F. Barrow – Wichita, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pvt. # 37731632, Co F/12/4th Infantry Division, Bromze Star, KIA (Hürtgen, GER)

Gerald Blevins (100) – Pueblo West, CO; US Army, WWII, ETO

Lillian Campbell – Roseville, MI; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Frank DeVita – Brooklyn, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII, ETO, USS Samuel Chase (APA-26)

Hampton Folse Jr. – Raceland, LA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Laffey (DD-724)

Albert S. Frost – Tauranga, NZ; RNZ Army # 442456, WWII

Donald Guay – Hartford, CT; US Army, medic, 101st Airborne Division

Joseph Talarchek – Wilkes-Barre, PA; US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, SSgt.

Leroy W. “Swede” Svendsen Jr. – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII, aerial gunner / US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, fighter pilot / Pentagon, MGeneral (Ret. 34 y.)

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11th Airborne lands on Luzon

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

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.

Divisions of enemy troops on Luzon

A much smaller force, Kembu Group, with approximately 30,000 troops, occupied the Clark Air Field complex as well as the Bataan Peninsula and Corregidor. 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.

LST landing Jan. 1945

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.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard Adan – San Antonio, TX; US Army, Colonel (Ret.)

Oliver K. Burger – San Pedro, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Petty Officer 1st Class # 2952575, USS Oklahoma, KIA, (Pearl Harbor)

Bob Cardenas (102) – San Diego, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-29 pilot, BGeneral (Ret. 34 y.)

Over the horizon

Paul D. Church – Millington, MD; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 Navigator, 2nd Lt.

Jerry N. Hoblit –  Conroe, TX; US Air Force, Vietnam, 3 Silver Stars, 3 DFC’s, Air Force Cross, West Point grad., Colonel (Ret. 28 y.)

Bernard Junge  – Holgate, OH; US Navy, submarine service, USS Odax

Casimir P. Lobacz – Kenosha, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, SSgt.# 36228207, Co E/11/5th Infantry Division, Bronze Star KIA (Fort Driant, FRA)

Newell F. Mills Jr. – Pinellas City, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, P-51D pilot #0-827247, 354 FS/355 FG, DFC, KIA (Bremen, GER)

Henry Muller (104) – Philadelphia, PA; US Army Air Corps, PTO, G-2 11th Airborne Division Intelligence / US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne, BGeneral, Bronze Star, Silver Star, Purple Heart

William White (106) – Long Beach, CA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Major, Purple Heart / Korea (Ret. 30 y.)

Michael Zezulak Sr. – Lombard, IL; US Army, medic, 82nd Airborne Division

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13 March – K-9 VETERANS DAY

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New Orders for the 11th Airborne

Lt. Gen. Joseph May Swing

21 January 1945 – Gen. Swing announced to his 11th Airborne Division that he was ordering up a review as they were transferring to the 8th Army and the reviewing officer would be none other than Gen. Robert Eichelberger.  Swing had received Field Order Number 17 which gave him the order to prepare for Luzon.

Luzon was the most populated, most highly developed and the most historical island in the archipelago.  It was a land of wild boars, birds, snakes, reptiles, feral dogs, tons of insects and an enemy hiding within the cogon grass at every turn. (the plant had coarse spikes with “silky” hairs that made your skin feel as those hundreds of critters crawled beneath it.)  There was always a threat of dengue fever, that is contracted from a mosquito and if left untreated resulted in bleeding and death, and we can’t forget malaria.

The 6th Army, under Gen. Krueger, was already in the midst of all this trying to reach Manila.  MacArthur had told Eichelberger how upset he was at their slow progress to get to the capital and added, “speed up your ‘palsey-walsey,’ Krueger doesn’t radiate courage.”  Ergo – a rivalry was born and a race between the 6th and 8th Armies would exist – the problem was – the 11th A/B had been given more than one priority as their mission.

Generals Swing and Eichelberger making plans for the 11th Airborne

As X-Day approached, the pace of activity increased dramatically.  The division’s supply loading plan put the responsibility on the unit commanders.  The G-4, Roy Stout, set up a special section to load the 11th and all ran efficiently despite not knowing what vessels the Navy would be sending.  But on 25 January, most of the supply ships were completely loaded within 24 hours.


The LCI’s (Landing Craft Infantry), arrived at 0700 hours on 27 January and a convoy of almost 100 ships pulled out to sea that afternoon, under the command of Adm. Fechteler, and headed south through Mindanao Sea and then swung north.  The LCI’s were crowded and there were no cooking facilities, the men ate “10-in-1” rations rather than having the customary steak and eggs before a landing.

Adm. Flechteler

Most of the sailing days were spent in map study, planning and orientation.  All the troopers would be so well briefed on the terrain from aerial photographs and mock-up reliefs that their landing somehow felt like déjà-vu.  Excess baggage was not carried – only what the men could carry on their backs.  Personal baggage would not be seen for 2 months.

General Eichelberger wrote his wife, Miss Emmalina, of the beauty in watching the large naval convoy and he marveled at their expertise.  He noted the Navy’s ability to keep their sense of humor, despite the seriousness of their voyage.  Before landing on 31 January, he heard over the loud speaker system, “Sick call _ all sick, lame and lazy report to sick bay.”  He also commented that Gen. Swing was grand to deal with.

Eichelberger would write in his book, “Now the stage was set for what I regard as one of the most thrilling exploits for the Pacific War – the 11th Airborne’s dash for Manila”

References: “Our Road to Tokyo”, by Gen. Robert Eichelberger; “The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division,” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan Jr.; “Rakkasans” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan and “Dear Miss Em”, by Gen. Robert Eichelberger

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

June Boykin – Philadelphia, PA; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

James E. Carl (101) – Tulsa, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO,P-51 pilot, Lt. Colonel (Ret.)

Sea Captain

Kenneth Dower – New Haven, CT; US Navy, WWII / USMC, Korea

Myles W. Esmay, Utica, NY; US Army, WWII, CBI, 1st Lt. # 0-491925, Co B/236th Engineer Combat Battalion (Merrill’s Marauders), KIA (Myitkyina, BUR)

William Jordon – Waynesville, NC; USMC, WWII / US Army, 82nd Airborne Division

Calvin Keaton – Ironton, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO

Dennis F. Melton – Waverly, TN; US Air Force, Nigeria, SSgt., 768th Expeditionary AB Squadron/Nigerian AB 101

Harry C. Nivens (100) – Pinesville, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 101st Airborne Division, Purple Heart

Claude White – Dyersburg, TN; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Chief Water Tender # 2948177, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Ian Woodrow – brn. IRE; British Merchant Marines, WWII

William M. Zoellick – Cook County, IL; US Army, Korea, Pfc # 26368528, Co B/1/9/2nd Infantry Division, POW, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

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HMAS Australia

HMAS Australia

A  ship with quite a colorful World War II history was the 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.

In December 1941, when Japan entered the war with the Allies, 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…

Aussie 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.

Aussie damage

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.

funnel damage

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.

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.

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Military Humor – 

“That meal was delicious, what went wrong with it?”

“Let’s go in here – they probably remember me from last night!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kenneth L. Bridger – Stevens County, WA; US Army, Korea, Pvt. E-2 # 19354338, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Kevin J. Carroll – East Meadow, NY; USMC, Vietnam, Pfc., 3/1/Marine Aircraft Group 12, KIA (Quang Tin, SV)

William B. Coleman – Mobile, AL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pfc. # 34803721, Co F/134/35th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Grèmecey, FRA)

Roy C. Delauter – Washington County, MD; US Army, Korea, Sgt. # 13277149, Co D/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Kathleen (Gohl) Gilchrist – Royal Oak, MI, US Navy WAVE, WWII

Carson R. Holman – Newport, PA; US Army, Colonel(Ret. 30 y.), West Point graduate, 82nd Airborne Division

Errol Lagasse (100) – Panama City, FL; US Coast Guard, WWII, Chief Petty Officer

David F. Lutes – Sarasota, FL; US Army, Korea, 11th Airborne Division

Thomas McGee (102) – Bethesda, MD; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Tuskegee pilot, 409 missions in 3 wars  (remains a record), Colonel (Ret. 30 y.)

Bill Morrison – Birmingham, AL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pfc., Co G/2/110/ 28th Infantry Division, KIA (Hürtgen Forest, GER)

Adolph Olenik – Gary, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt. # 15103844, B-24  “Kate Smith” gunner, 98th Heavy/345th Bomb Squadron, KIA (Ploesti, ROM)

Charles F. Perdue – Salisbury, MD; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Shipfitter 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

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Mules in the CBI and their Veterinarians

Merrill’s Marauders

We often comment on the animals who help us, especially in war, BUT the Veterinarians who care for them are very rarely given a voice…

I received a message from Lavinia Ross @ Salmon Brook Farms about her veterinarian, D.E. Larsen, DVM and his mentor, Robert W. Davis, DVM, Please visit to read!

GP, you might like this post by our old veterinarian who retired some years back. One of his mentors in vet school was the same veterinarian who cared for the mules used by Merrill’s Marauders in Burma during WWII.”

Article about Dr, Davis

Dr. David E. Larsen, So. Korea

The most famous American unit of the CBI was the 5307th Composite Unit, also known as “Merrill’s Marauders.” Undertaking operations similar to those of the Chindits, it used large numbers of mules. Six Quartermaster pack troops were part of the unit, and mules were liberally issued to the rest of the unit as well to transport their own equipment and supplies. Each troop had about 300 mules and 75 men.

Dr. Robert Davis, India

During campaigns the mules proved their worth time and again. Don L. Thrapp served with the Marauders and later wrote of his experiences with the pack mules during the fighting at Tonkwa against the Japanese. “They were zeroed in on our bivouac area at a river crossing, and their fire caused us some casualties in men and animals. One tree burst accounted for seven animals. Another shell cut between two mules … and burst about eight feet behind them, but injured neither.”

In the words of a veteran of the China-Burma-India Theater, retired Technical Sergeant Edward Rock Jr., [they] “served without a word of complaint or lack of courage. They transported artillery, ammunition, food, and medicine, and under enemy fire transported the wounded. Many of the CBI veterans are here today because a mule stopped a bullet or a piece of shrapnel meant for the GI. Mules fell in battle, mortally wounded, and we shed tears for them.”

moving through Burma w/ supplies for the 475th Inf.

Pack mules indeed performed yeoman service in Asia and other theaters during World War II, hauling weapons and equipment as well as saving lives by carrying wounded off the front lines. They took the same risks as their human masters and too often they paid the ultimate price.

Wingate, Chindits & mules

A report on April 4, 1944, from one of the units of Merrill’s Marauders described their sacrifice in detail: Japanese artillery fire had killed or wounded most of the unit’s mules. The mules really proved their value in the CBI with both British and American units fighting there. The famous British Brigadier Orde Wingate used large numbers of mules to supply his Chindit Brigade.

Francis & Donald O’Connor in their movie.

After the war, the mules were not forgotten.  A beloved character, “Francis the talking mule.”  became a well-known movie. https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2020/04/20/francis-the-talking-mule/

I hope some of this has encouraged you to check out more….

David E. Larsen, DVM

Please be sure to visit Dr. Larsen’s site,  and Lavinia’s too, she deserves a big Thank You.

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Military Humor –

Farewell Salutes – 

John Bergman – Osbourne, KA; US Army, WWII, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

No greater love

John Boyko – Lansing, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT boat service

Biacio Casola – Bronx, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, Seaman 1st Class, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Paul C. Charvet – Grandview, WA; USNR, Vietnam, Comd., A-1H Skyraider pilot, Attack Squadron 215, USS Bon Homme Richard, KIA (Thanh Hoa Prov., N.Vietnam)

Adabelle I. Crum – Lagrange, KY; US Women’s Marine Corps, WWII

Peter “Harmonica Pete” Dupree – Ogdensburg, NY; US Army, WWII, 4th General Hospital

Thomas Eubanks (103) – Springfield, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 tail gunner

Terrance G. Fitzsimmons – NYC, NY; US Army, Korea

Claire Menker – Milford, MA; Civilian, WWII, Firestone Co., gas mask production

Harold J. Smith Jr. – Levittown, NY; US Navy, WWII

Thomas J. Wilson (102) – Petaluma, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO

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Lingayen Gulf | January 1945

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.

Rear Admiral Theodore Chandler

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.

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. Commander 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.

USS Louisville during kamikaze attack

“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.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

R.B. Cherry – Dallas, TX; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. G/2/24th Infantry Division, POW, KIA (Camp 5, NK)

Naomi Clark – Lima, OH; Civilian, WWII, Lima Army Tank Depot

The Flag flies in all weather, courtesy of Dan Antion

Alfred Guglielmetti (103) – Petaluma, CA; Civilian, WWII, Mare Island welder, battleship repair

Nancy Hussey – Bronxville, NY; US Coast Guard SPARS, WWII, Company Comdr. & coxswain

John M. Loncola (100) – Old Forge, PA; US Navy, WWII, CBI & PTO, Chief Petty Officer

Jocelyn L. Martin – Orewa, NZ; WRNZ Air Force, LACW # 77239

John R. Melton – Liberty, MS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class # 2744530, USS West Virginia, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

George Pendleton – Bristol. RI; US Navy, WWII

Robert E. Smith – San Francisco, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, fighter pilot

Robert Teza – Syracuse, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Richard Watson – Gorham, ME; US Army, WWII

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January 1945 cont’d

11th Airborne, Leyte

 

As the fighting for the 11th Airborne Division, 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 hit 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.

Yamashita’s division of Luzon

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.

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.

Major Thomas McGuire

7 January – US pilot and ace, Major 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.

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Military Humor – 

If it’s stupid, but it works > it ain’t stupid.

If at first you don’t succeed > call in an airstrike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Farewell Salutes – 

James J. Bednarcik – Cleveland, OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, SeaBee

Lawrence Brooks (112) – Norwood, LA; US Army, Australia, Pfc., 91st Engineering Battalion

Final Mission

Vincent D’Andrea – Sloatsburg, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Broome

John Farnsworth (101) – Salem, MA; Civilian Conservation Corps  / US Army, WWII

David Gilbert (105) – South Bend, IN; US Navy, WWII

Richard “Dick” Lutes – Wiscasset, ME; US Navy, Vietnam, Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic, Black Beret, River PT Sailor

Timothy D. Minatrea – Quitman, TX; US Navy, Desert Storm, Aviation Electricians Mate 1st Class

David V. Nguyen – Oakland, CA; CA National Guard, 870th MP Co.

Charles A. Peachtree Jr. – Lexington, KY; US Army, WWII, infantry

Juanita Quintero (100) – Pinole, CA; Civilian, welder, Richmond Shipyards

Edwin Schmidt – Alton, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO, cartographer

Billy Turner – Ardmore, OK; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Wesley Woods – Hornlake, MS; US Army, MSgt., 1st Stryker Brigade/25th Infantry Division

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Leyte, eye-witness account from Gen. Robert Eichelberger

Gen. Douglas MacArthur, left, Lt. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger, right.

“Eighth Army took over Leyte on Christmas Day.  There were 8 divisions fighting there when I assumed command.  When the 32nd Div. and 1st Cavalry broke through on a narrow front, GHQ described the Leyte campaign as officially closed and future operations as “mopping-up.”

“Actually, the Japanese Army was still intact.  I was told there were only 6,000 Japanese left on the island.  This estimate was in serious error.  Soon, Japanese began streaming across the Ormoc Valley, well equipped and apparently well-fed.  It took several months of the roughest kind of combat to defeat this army.  Between Christmas Day and the end of the campaign, we killed more than 27,000 Japanese.

Leyte painting, “FOLLOW ME!” by Col Aubrey Newman

“Many others, evacuated safely by bancas (small boats), and reappeared to fight the 8th Army on other islands.  I called these singularly alive veteran troops the Ghosts of Leyte.

“I am a great admirer of Gen. MacArthur as a military strategist…  But I must admit that after 6 years serving under him, I never understood the public relations policy that either he or his assistants established.  It seems to me ill advised to announce victories when a first phase had been accomplished…

“Too often, as at Buna, Sanananda, as on Leyte, Mindanao and Luzon, the struggle was to go on for a long time. Often these announcements produce bitterness among combat troops, and with good cause.  The phrase “mopping-up” had no particular appeal for a haggard, muddy sergeant of the Americal Division whose platoon had just been wiped out in western Leyte…  Or to the historian of the 11th Airborne, who wrote:

‘Through mud and rain, over treacherous rain-swollen gorges, through jungle growth, over slippery, narrow, root-tangled, steep foot trails, the Angels pushed wet to clear the Leyte mountain range…  It was bitter, exhausting, rugged fighting – physically the most terrible we were ever to know.’

11th Airborne field artillery on Leyte

The combat infantryman deserved the best and usually fared the poorest in the matter of sugar plums, luxuries and mail from home.  The home folks in America were vastly generous, but transport to the front could not always carry out their good intentions.  Ammunition and rations came first.  This – the G.I. could understand… But, it was disconcerting to find out he had only been “mopping -up”.

“If there is another war, I recommend that the military and the correspondents and everyone else concerned, drop the phrase “mopping-up” from their vocabularies.  It is NOT a good enough phrase to die for.”

This post is from “Our Jungle Road to Tokyo” by General Robert Eichelberger.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Clifford H. Bailey – Acoma, NM; (Acoma Indian Reservation); US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 11th Airborne Division

Benjamin R. Bazzell – Seymour, CT; US Army, Korea, Cpl; HQ/57FA/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Chester Benoit – Putnam, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 503/11th Airborne Division

James E. Cruise – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, Navigator/ Flight Officer

Charles W. Harpe Jr. – Ashland, KY; USMC, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Captain (Ret. 33 y.)

Anthony F. Mendonca – Waipahu, HI; US Army, WWII, PTO, Co A/106/27th Infantry Division, KIA (Saipan)

Lawrence Overley – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, WWII, Fire Controlman 2nd Class #3820643, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Robert Leslie Putnam – Mason, OH; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation / Korea, 188 &187th/11th Airborne Division // Deputy Sheriff, Police Chief

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/224877961/robert-leslie-putnam

James N. Stryker – W.Nanticoke, PA; US Army, Korea, Sgt., Co. L/3/23/2nd Infantry Division, KIA (Han’gye, SK)

Morris E. Swackhammer – Binghamton, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pfc., Co. C/1/143/36th Infantry Division, KIA (Fraize, FRA)

Flora Wilhelm – Evansville, IN; Civilian, WWII, aircraft riveter

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