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Japan’s Underwater Aircraft Carriers – conclusion

American naval personnel inspect the hangar of a Japanese submarine aircraft carrier. The hangar tube was sealed by a two-inch-thick rubber gasket, and the hatch could be opened hydraulically from inside

By early 1945, the Japanese Navy had only 20 modern submarines left, including those in the Sen-toku squadron. Problems arose as the two available I-400 subs began test launching their Sieran planes. Each submarine was required to surface and get its three planes unlimbered and aloft within 30 minutes, but actual training showed that it took some 45 minutes.

Because of an increasing sense of urgency, the Japanese further modified their plans. A torpedo attack was ruled out because the pilots had not yet acquired the requisite skills. It was decided that each of the 10 planes designated for the Panama Canal mission would carry one 1,760-pound bomb, the largest in the Navy’s arsenal and similar to the one that sank the battleship USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor

The departure date was set for mid-June.  The Seiran pilots made practice bombing runs in Nanao Bay against a full-sized replica of the Gatun gates.

The fall of Iwo Jima in March 1945 and the American attack on Okinawa increased the angst among the Japanese planners as the Americans closed in on the home islands. The war had leaped ahead of the planners, and the slated attack on the Panama Canal was canceled. As noted, there were discussions about possibly using the planes in a surprise attack on San Francisco or Los Angles, but those, too, were put aside in favor of a plan to attack enemy carriers at Ulithi, a large staging area near the island of Truk in the Carolines that was used by the Americans.

Mail call on Ulithi, 1945

The two large subs were to proceed toward Ulithi independently for safety and then rendezvous near the target and launch the attack in mid-August. The I-13 never made it to Truk and was correctly presumed lost. The I-14 arrived at Truk on August 4, and its planes flew over Ulithi the following day.

Shortly thereafter word reached the submarines that an atomic bomb had destroyed Hiroshima, and on August 15 the Japanese seamen heard the broadcast from the emperor asking his warriors to lay down their arms. Subsequent orders from the homeland were confusing, with one commanding all submarine captains to execute their predetermined missions. On August 16, the underwater aircraft carriers received explicit orders that their planned attack on Ulithi had been canceled just hours before the I-401 was to launch its planes. The subs were ordered to Kure, and the I-401 turned course toward its fateful encounter with Lt. Cmdr. Johnson and the Segundo.

The Japanese eventually surrendered the I-401 and the other two remaining underwater aircraft carriers. Commander Ariizumi, the developer of the top secret subs, took his own life aboard the I-401 and was quietly buried at sea by the crew. Before encountering the Americans, Nambu had meticulously followed orders from Japan to raise the black flag of surrender and dispose of the vessel’s weapons, including the planes that were catapulted into the sea. Logbooks, code-books, and the like were loaded into weighted sacks and tossed overboard. The torpedoes were jettisoned, with one causing alarm as it circled back toward the large submarine before disappearing harmlessly into the depths.

The Japanese aircraft carrier submarines I-14, I-400, and I-401 are shown in Tokyo Bay at the end of the war. The submarines were destined to be sunk in Hawaiian waters during U.S. Navy torpedo tests.

The three submarines drew considerable attention when they made it back to Tokyo Bay.  Many Americans initially believed the large hangars atop the subs had been designed to haul supplies to troops on distant islands despite the clearly observed catapults. The Americans did receive some assistance from the Japanese crews as they tried to comprehend the purpose of the extraordinary submarines, and by the end of September the Americans had taken the submarines out for cruises. However, none was taken underwater.

The submarines were then taken to Hawaii for further study. The U.S. Navy gleaned what it could from them, and then all three were deliberately sunk by early June 1946 to keep them away from the prying eyes of the inquisitive Soviets.

One of the Seirans did make it to the United States after the war and was eventually restored at an estimated cost of $1 million. It is now on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Although the U.S. Navy was somewhat dismissive of the massive submarines, it did take a keen interest in the sound-protective coatings used on the vessels.

There is little doubt that the I-400s were the strategic predecessors to today’s ballistic submarines, especially to the Regulus missile program begun about a decade after World War II that carried nuclear warheads inside waterproof deck hangars. In short, Yamamoto’s plan lived on with “new and improved” versions that helped the United States win the Cold War.

This has been condensed from: Phil Zimmer is a former newspaper reporter and a U.S. Army veteran. He writes on World War II topics from Jamestown, New York.

The wreck of IJN !-401 was located in March 2005.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ronald D. Brown – Pembroke, KY; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

They stand on the line for us.

Richard E. Cole -(103) – Comfort, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Doolittle’s co-pilot, Lt. Colonel (Ret. 26 y.)

Robert Hendriks – Locust Valley, NY; USMC, Afghanistan, Cpl., 25th Marine Reg./4th Marine Division, KIA

Benjamin Hines – York, PA; USMC, Afghanistan, Sgt., 25th Marine Reg./4th Marine Division, KIA

Delmar Jones – Sesser, IL; US Army, WWII

Venizelos Lagos – Culpepper, VA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Virgil Patterson – FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Christopher Slutman – Newark, DE; USMC, Afghanistan, SSgt., 25th Marine Reg./4th Marine Division, KIA

Ly Tong – VIET; South Vietnam Air Force, Black Eagle Fighter Squadron, pilot, POW

Bryan Whitmer – Grand Rapids, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQS/457 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

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Japan’s Underwater Aircraft Carriers – part one

Lieutenant Commander Stephen L. Johnson had a problem on his hands; a very large problem. His Balao-class submarine, the Segundo, had just picked up a large radar contact on the surface about 100 miles off Honshu, one of Japan’s home islands, heading south toward Tokyo.  World War II in the Pacific had just ended, and the ensuing cease fire was in its 14th day. The official peace documents would not be signed for several more days.

As Johnson closed on the other vessel, he realized it was a gigantic submarine, so large in fact that it first looked like a surface ship in the darkness. The Americans had nothing that size, so he realized that it had to be a Japanese submarine.

This was the first command for the lanky 29-year-old commander. He and his crew faced the largest and perhaps the most advanced submarine in the world. The Japanese I-401 was longer than a football field and had a surface displacement of 5,233 tons, more than three times the Segundo’s displacement. More troubling though was the sub’s bristling weaponry that included a 5.5-inch gun on her aft deck, three triple-barreled 25mm antiaircraft guns, a single 25mm gun mounted on the bridge, and eight large torpedo tubes in her bow.

During a brief ceremony aboard one of the aircraft carrier submarines, the Japanese naval ensign is lowered and replaced by the Stars and Stripes as the vessel is turned over to the control of the U.S. Navy after Japan’s surrender

The large sub displayed the mandatory black surrender flag, but when the Segundo edged forward, the Japanese vessel moved rapidly into the night. The movement and the continuing display of the Rising Sun flag caused concern.  Johnson’s vessel pursued the craft that eventually slowed down as dawn approached. He brought his bow torpedo tubes to bear on the craft as the two vessels settled into a Mexican standoff.

Johnson and his crew had received permission by now to sink the reluctant Japanese vessel if necessary, but he realized he had a career-boosting and perhaps a technologically promising prize in his sights. Much depended on this untried American submarine captain and his wily opponent in the seas off Japan.

Little did Johnson know that the Japanese submarine was a part of the I-400 squadron, basically underwater aircraft carriers, and that the I-401 carried Commander Tatsunosuke Ariizumi, developer of the top-secret subs initially designed to strike the U.S. homeland in a series of surprise attacks. Ariizumi was considered the “father of the I-400 series” and a loyal follower of the emperor with years of experience in the Japanese Navy, so surrender was a disgrace he could not endure

Johnson also had to contend with Lt. Cmdr. Nobukiyo Nambu, skipper of the I-401, who traced his combat experience back to Pearl Harbor. He now commanded the world’s largest submarine designed to carry three state-of-the-art attack planes in a specially built hanger located atop the vessel. These secret Aichi M6A1 planes were initially designed for “a second Pearl Harbor” or another surprise attack, possibly even against New York City or Washington, D.C. The I-400 series submarines were themselves full of technological surprises.  They were capable of traveling around the world one and a half times without refueling, had a top surface speed of 19 knots (or nearly 22 miles per hour), and could remain on patrol for four months, twice as long as the Segundo.

Neither Nambu nor Commander Ariizumi readily accepted the emperor’s surrender statement when it was broadcast on August 15. The subsequent communiqués from Tokyo were exceptionally confusing, especially Order 114, which confirmed that peace had been declared – but that all submarines were to “execute predetermined missions and attack the enemy if discovered.”

It was Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander of Japan’s Combined Fleet and developer of the Pearl Harbor attack, who called for the construction of the I-400 series some three weeks after Pearl Harbor.  Once Japan was committed to war, he believed that submarine aircraft carriers dropping bombs “like rain” over major U.S. cities would surely cause the American people to “lose their will to fight.” A second surprise attack with even more to come would prove psychologically devastating to the Americans.

Yamamoto called for the construction of 18 of the massive submarines carrying a total of 36 attack planes. The name of the special submarine class was abbreviated to Sen-toku.

The attack planes had to be designed from scratch. The need for speed, range and a decent sized bomb payload required tradeoffs. The wings had to be foldable to fit inside the tube, or hangar, atop the submarine. The design work, testing, and building of the plane was outsourced to the Aichi Aircraft Company.

The I-400 program did have its detractors in the heavily bureaucratic Imperial Japanese Navy.  After the defeat at Midway in early June 1942, Japan became more focused on defending the homeland and far less on possible attacks on the U.S. mainland using the large submarines. The death of Yamamoto in mid-April 1943, played further into the hands of conservative Japanese commanders. Cutbacks were ordered in the number of submarines to be built.  .

The first test flight of the Aichi attack plane occurred on November 8, 1943. The plane, called Seiran or “storm from a clear sky,” reportedly handled fairly well as the world’s first sub-borne attack bomber. The Japanese began compiling limited available information on the heavily fortified Panama Canal. Their analysis showed that destroying the gate opening onto Gatun Lake would create a massive outpouring of water, destroying the other gates in its path while rushing toward the Caribbean Sea.

After weeks of planning, the Japanese came up with a strategy to attack the Gatun locks at dawn when the gates were closed and presumably the defenses were lax. The planners had nearly a full year to formulate the attack for early 1945. But there were problems ahead because none of the submarines were complete and the planes were not yet in the production stage.

I-400 Class submarine

The Japanese labored on, and by the end of 1944 the I-400 and the smaller I-13 were completed and turned over to the Navy. In early January 1945, the I-401 was commissioned  and the I-14, the last of the underwater aircraft carriers, was put into service by mid-March 1945.

As an important aside, it should be noted that while preparations for the attack on the Panama Canal went forward, Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa, vice-chief of the Naval General Staff, floated another idea for the use of the Sen-toku submarines. He suggested arming the Seiran planes with biological weapons to be unleashed against a populated area on the West Coast of the United States.

Dr. Shiro Ishii, Japan’s top virus expert and head of the Army’s notorious 731 unit in Manchuria, was consulted. He recommended that the planes drop plague-inflected fleas, something he had tested with success in China, on the United States with San Francisco, Los Angeles, or San Diego suggested as targets. The plan was discarded in late March by the head of the Army’s general staff who called it  “unpardonable on humanitarian grounds.”

In effect, the Japanese Army, which had led the development of biological weapons and had tested them on Chinese and American captives, nixed the idea of using the weapons late in the war on American civilians, perhaps in the belief that the war was already lost.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ernest Bargiel – Trafford, PA; US Army, WWII, medic

Alzena McNabb Bibb (99) – Corbin, KY; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Paul Copenhaver – Syracuse, NE; USMC, WWII, 3rd Marines

Ewell Foglemann – Dallas, TX; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pfc, Co. C/112/5th Engineer Corps

Ada Kirk (100) – Waipukurau, NZ; RAF # 895704, WWII, Cpl.

Donald Lawson – Elgin, KS; US Navy, WWII

Meddie Mojica – Asis, Cavite, PI; Filipino guerrilla & US Navy, WWII

William T. O’Keefe – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Mark Smith – Indianapolis, IN; USMC, Iraq, Colonel (Ret. 32 y.)

Jesse Weber – Arvada, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot

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Current News – USS WASP – WWII Wreck Located

A port bow view of the ship shows her aflame and listing to starboard, 15 September 1942. Men on the flight deck desperately battle the spreading inferno. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-16331, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

The discovery of sunken wrecks seems to hold an eternal fascination. Although the quest to find them takes a huge amount of resources and technical skills, the quest goes on. Many searches have focused on the wrecks of warships lost during the Second World War. One of the most recent successes, despite many difficulties, was the discovery of USS Wasp (CV-7) deep in the Pacific Ocean.

The story of Wasp‘s end begins in September 1942. The aircraft carrier set out with 71 planes and a crew of more than 2,000 men on board to escort a convoy of US Marines to Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. In the middle of the afternoon, Wasp was hit by Japanese torpedoes which caused serious damage.

The worst part was that the torpedoes had hit the magazine, setting off a series of explosions. The fire quickly spread, and the ship was also taking on water from the torpedo damage. Soon it began to tilt, and oil and gasoline that had spilled were set ablaze on the water. Captain Sherman had no choice but to give the order to abandon ship.

Wildcats & Spitfires on the USS Wasp, 7 April 1942

Those who were most seriously injured were lowered into life rafts. Those who could not find a place in a life raft had no choice but to jump into the sea. There they held on to whatever debris they could to keep them afloat until they were rescued.

Captain Sherman commented later that the evacuation of the ship was remarkably orderly under the circumstances. He also noted that sailors had delayed their own escapes to ensure that their injured comrades were taken off the ship first.

The first torpedoes had been spotted at 2:44 PM. By 4 PM, once he was sure that all the survivors had been removed, Captain Sherman himself abandoned ship. In that short time, Wasp had been destroyed along with many of the aircraft it was carrying, and 193 men died.

Despite the danger involved, the destroyers which had accompanied Wasp carried out a remarkable rescue operation and managed to bring 1,469 survivors to safety.

The ship drifted on for four hours until orders were given that it should be scuttled. The destroyer USS Lansdowne came to the scene, and another volley of torpedoes eventually sank the ship into the depths of the Pacific Ocean.

The discovery of the wreck was largely due to the philanthropy of the late Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. Allen had a lifelong enthusiasm for underwater exploration and a fascination with WWII wrecks. He provided the substantial sums required to fit out the Petrel exploration ship through his undersea exploration organization.

View of 5 inch gun from online room. Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc.

The quest to find Wasp looked likely to be one of their more difficult tasks. The wreck lay 2.5 miles down in an area known as an abyssal plane. There is no light and little animal life as well as massive pressure, making it one of the most inhospitable and inaccessible areas of the ocean.

Kraft and his team recalculated the possible location based on the distance between Wasp and the other two ships at the time of the torpedo attack. They realized that they needed to look much further south. It seemed that the navigator on Wasp had provided the most accurate location information after all.

Bridge of the USS Wasp

The crew once again sent out drones to scan the area and on January 14, 12 days after their mission began, they located the wreck. Despite the massive damage, Wasp could be seen clearly in the underwater photographs, sitting upright on the seabed and surrounded by helmets and other debris that served as reminders of its dramatic history and tragic end.

The exact location of the wreck remains a closely guarded secret to avoid the risk of scavengers looking for valuable relics from the ship. There are no plans to attempt to raise the wreck, but its discovery has brought satisfaction to the few remaining Wasp survivors and their families.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Chauncy Adams (101) – NZ; RNZ Army, WWII, 25th Wellington Battalion/3rd Echelon

James Baker – Farmersville, TX; US Army, WWII,PTO, Infantry, Chaplain (Ret. 20 y.)

Joseph Collette – Lancaster, OH; US Army, Afghanistan, 242 Ordnance/71st Explosive Ordnance Group, KIA

John Goodman – Birmingham, AL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Willie Hartley – NC; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne Division

Richard Kasper – Brunswick, GA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

Will Lindsay – Cortez, CO; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt., 2/10th Special Forces (Airborne), KIA

Stanley Mikuta – Cannonsburg, PA; WWII, PTO, Co. E/152nd Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Leonard Nitschke – Ashley, ND; US Army, Korea, Co. G/21/24th Infantry Division

Charles Whatmough – Pawtucket, RI; US Navy. WWII, PTO, Troop Transport cook

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Home Front – Big Timber, Montana

Welcome to Big Timber

These two articles are from The Big Timber Pioneer newspaper, Thursday, August 30, 1945

Prisoners Hanged

Ft. Leavenworth Prison Cemetery; By Gorsedwa, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/

Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Aug. 25 – The Army Saturday hanged 7 German prisoners-of-war in the Fort Leavenworth disciplinary barracks for the murder of a fellow prisoner whom they had accused of being a traitor to the Reich.

All 7 went to the gallows after receiving last rites of the Roman Catholic Church.  They were executed for killing Werner Dreschler at the Papago Park, Arizona prisoner of war camp, March 13, 1944.

The hangings took less than three hours.  The executions brought to 14 the total number of Nazi POW’s executed at Ft. Leavenworth during the last few weeks.

The 7 went to the gallows without showing any signs of emotion.  They had signed statements admitting their guilt.  Their defense was that they had read in German newspapers that they should put to death any German who was a traitor.  At their trial they said Dreschler had admitted giving information of military value to their captures.

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Sgt. Nat Clark was on Pioneer Mining Mission

313th Wing B-29 Base, Tinian – One of the 6th Bomb Group fliers who participated in the pioneer mining mission to northern Korean waters on 11 July was SSgt. Nathaniel B. Clark, son of Mr. & Mrs. J.F. Clark, Big Timber, MT. it was revealed here today with the lifting of censorship rules.  He is a left blister gunner and by war’s end had flown 29 combat missions in the war against Japan.

On the longest mission of the war, to deny the use of the eastern Korean ports to the already partially blockaded Japanese, Sgt. Clark explained that the crews were briefed to fly 3,500 statute miles to their mine fields just south of Russia, and back to Iwo Jima where they would have to land for fuel.  Then it was still 725 miles back to the Tinian base.

The flight was planned to take 16½ hours which in itself was not out of the ordinary, but the length of time the full mine load would be carried was a record 10 hours and 35 minutes.

Loading an aerial mine layer

The job called for hair-splitting navigation, Midas-like use of the available gas, penetration of weather about which little is known and finally a precision radar mine-laying run over a port whose defenses and very contours were not too well known.

“We sweated that one out from our briefing one morning until we landed back on Tinian almost 24 hours later.” Sgt. Clark recalled.

radar mine

One crew was forced to return to Okinawa because of engine trouble, but the other 5 on the pioneer flight landed within a few minutes of the briefed time.  One landed at the exact briefed time.  The closest call on gas was reported by the crew which landed with only 24 gallons left, scarcely enough to circle the field.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Herman Brown – Virginia Beach, VA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 385/76th Division/ 3rd Army

Lester Burks – Willis, TX; US Army, Co. B/513/17th Airborne Division

Pedro ‘Pete’ Contreras – Breckenridge, OK; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Lt.Col. (Ret. 30 y.)

Paul Jarret – Phoenix, AZ; US Army, WWII, ETO, Medical Corps, Bronze Star / US Air Force

John ‘Nick’ Kindred – Scarsdale, NY; US Navy, Lt.

James Lemmons – Portland, TN; US Army; Korea, HQ/187th RCT

Charles McCarry – Plainfield, MA; CIA, Cold War, undercover agent

Howard Rein Jr. – Philadelphia, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Morton Siegel – Rye, NY; US Navy, WWII

Eldon Weehler – Loup City, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII / US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Col. (Ret. 30 y.)

Submarine Warfare – July 1945

Submarine tender, USS Anthedon, Australia 1945

From: the true story of America’s “wolf packs” and “life guard” teams –  “Sink ’em All”. by Vice Admiral Charles A. Lockwood Jr., USN.   “Uncle Charlie” spent 39 years in submersibles.

My long-delayed visit to Admiral Fife’s command finally got underway in a PBM from Saipan, 20 July 1945.  Cavite and Manila were pitiful to behold.  These once beautiful and picturesque Spanish-built cities lay in ruins.

On the north shore of Subic Bay, 60 miles up the coast, I found Jimmie Fife building a submarine base and rest camp in jungles where, in bygone days, we hunted wild pig and deer.  Two pile-built piers extended into the bay, while 2 American and 2 British tenders with submarines alongside, lay at anchor farther out.

Aboard the tender Anthedon, anchored off the Base, I found Cmdr. Dick Hawes, an old friend from earlier submarine days.  Even this fine, new tender command was not big enough to absorb Dick’s energies, so he had salvaged a small Japanese freighter and had it moored alongside.  Repair crews worked elbow to elbow on the decks and in machinery spaces preparing her to run rations and materials up from the Fleet Base at Leyte Gulf.

Welcome sign for Subic bay, estab. July 1945

That afternoon, I went aboard the British tender Bonaventure with Captain Fell in order to take a dive in one of the XE midget submarines.  The midgets were training for a break into Singapore Harbor to lay mines and limpets under the heavy cruisers, IJN Myoko and Takao, which had taken refuge there after being heavily damaged by USS Darter and Bergall.  They also intended to cut the Hong Kong-Singapore cable off Saigon.

When I arrived on Guam, Admiral Nimitz sent for me and again warned me to be prepared to divide up the Sea of Japan with Russia, as she was coming into the picture on 15 August.  I took a poor view of the impending situation.  We had skimmed the cream off the Sea of Japan and there would not be much of a job for anyone in those waters except to pick up dunked *zoomies, smuggle in commando troops and land secret agents.  Already an OSS officer had approached me with a proposition to put agents ashore on the west coast of Korea.

British XE-Midget submarine

Cmdr. “Tiny” Lynch, during a patrol in June and July, played a dangerous game of ‘Hide and Seek’ with 2 Japanese frigates.  On 1 July, on the west coast of Korea, in dense fog about noon, an enemy convoy headed for Japan headed straight for his submarine.  He distributed 8 torpedoes among the 4 leading ships.  The frigate passed firing “full battle practice” and somehow missed the sub.

While Tiny dove for deeper water, all 8 torpedoes were heard to hit and high periscope reported mushrooms of smoke.  But the situation was far from being in hand.  He had only 2 torpedoes left, and one of them was a new hush-hush weapon, this seemed an excellent opportunity to test it.  It was sent on it’s way.

Time dragged by and nothing happened.  Tiny was ready to head for more shallow waters, when back from the fog, came the sound of a heavy explosion, followed by depth charge explosions.  The torpedo had missed the first target, but hit the second and as she sank, all her depth charges exploded.  Two freighters and a frigate – not bad for 15 minutes work.  The mine-detecting gear worked!

Japanese midget subs in dry dock, 1945

*zoomies – Aviator. Usually applied to USAF pilots. Stems from the USAF Academy – the “blue zoo” where civilians observe formations march to lunch daily from the chapel wall

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Military Humor – 

‘I joined the navy to see the world and I spent four years on a submarine!’

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Farewell Salutes – 

George Herbert Walker Bush – CT, ME, W.TX; US Navy, WWII, PTO, youngest pilot, USS San Jacinto  Avengers, D.F.C. / CIA / 41st President of the United States of America

Dominic Calabrese – Bronxville, NY; US Army, 1st Lt.

Herbert Davidson – Pittsburgh, PA; US Navy, corpsman

Troy Fultz – Green Forrest, AR; US Army, WWII, Bronze Star

Hub Gray – CAN; RC Army, Korea, LT., 6/C Co./ 2nd Batt./Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry

James Harvey – New Haven, CT; US Navy, WWII / US Army, Korea

Carl King – Norwalk, OH; US Merchant Marines / US Army, WWII

Thomas (Bucky) O’Brien – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, Vietnam

Scott Stearney – Chicago, IL; US Navy, Middle East, Vice Admiral, Commander of Naval Forces Central Command

Edward Vetting – Manitowoc, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO

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“Doubly So When Wars Increase”

The Chaplain Kit

Living, working and playing among the Service Members they minister to, chaplains usually have insight into the struggles and feelings of those Service Members. They help them try to navigate their troubles successfully through many means, based on their strengths and talents. Some use poetry, as did Chaplain Henry W. Habel, who by March 1945, had been an Army Chaplain for three years.

Chaplain Habel was from Buffalo, New York and graduated from Acadia University in Nova Scotia before pastoring churches in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada through the Baptist Church of the Northern Convention.

The following poem, written by Chaplain Habel, was found in a worship bulletin from 6 May 1945, from the 13th General Hospital Chapel in New Guinea where Chaplain (Major) D.O. Luginbill and Chaplain (Captain) L.V. Walters were the chaplains.

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Our Worship

Oft men feel they’re “in a spot”,

Wondering how to bear their…

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What would become known as – The Bomb

Pres. Harry S. Truman

In a 1958 interview, Truman was asked about the soul-searching decision he went through to decide on dropping the bomb. He replied, “Hell no, I made it like _ (snapped his fingers) _ that!” One year later at Columbia University, he said, “The atom bomb was no great decision.” He likened it to a larger gun.

The components for the 20-kiloton weapon were being shipped to Tinian Island, in the Marianas, aboard the “Indianapolis.” The top-secret package arrived at its destination a mere 24 hours after the official operational order for the bomb was sent to General Carl (“Tooey”) Spaatz.

Prince Konoye, after laboring two years for a route to peace, swallowed poison and died the day before he was to turn himself in as a war criminal.

The bomb, when it arrived, was a metal cylinder approximately 18 inches in diameter and two feet high, but when fully assembled, it measured ten feet long and 28 inches in diameter. It had originally been nicknamed “Thin Man” after the movie and the expected shape, but when it was completed, they changed it to “Little Boy” and gave the small bundle its own hiding place. The secrecy involving the bomb storage area was so secure that a general was required to have a pass to enter.

509th Composite Group, WWII

The other members of the 509th Bomber Group, not included in the mission, knew something was brewing, but they also were unaware of the exact plans. Hence, an anonymous writer was inspired:

Into the air the secret rose,
Where they’re going, nobody knows.
Tomorrow they’ll return again,
But we’ll never know where they’ve been.
Don’t ask about results or such,
Unless you want to get in Dutch.
But take it from one who is sure of the score,
The 509th is winning the war.

 

The crew of the ‘Enola Gay’ even received a humorous menu as they entered the mess hall for breakfast:

Look! Real eggs (How do you want them?)
Rolled oats (Why?)
Milk (No fishing)
Sausage (We think it’s pork)
Apple butter (Looks like axle grease)
Butter (Yep, it’s out again)
Coffee (Saniflush)
Bread (Someone get a toaster)

509th Composite Group, reunion

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Peter Bundy – Edgartown, MA; US Air Force, Vietnam, Captain, C-130 pilot

Michael Clamp – UK / US; US Army

Salvador Finazzo – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, Korea / FL National Guard, Col., Medical Corps

Ray Harris – Nevada, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, B-29 navigator

William Krupicka – Stamford, CT; US Navy, WWII, USS Stephen Potter

Robert LeMaire – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO,B-24 navigator/gunner

Mike Mauer – Kansas City, MO; USMC, WWII, PTO / US Army, Korea

Sidney Oxenham – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, CBI, 436th Squadron

Joyce Senne – Rochester, NY; US Navy WAVE, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., nurse

Jack Wattley – Cleveland, OH; US Navy, WWII, USS Moffett and Melvin

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CBI Theater – 1945

Stilwell Road

Fish Story along the Stillwell Road

ALONG THE STILWELL ROAD – The latest man-bites-dog incident turns out to be a fish story.
S/Sgt. Charles T. Hardin, Trenton, Tenn., power shovel operator for an Engineering Battalion along the Stilwell Road, used the world’s largest fishing tackle to bring in a 100-pound catfish out of the Dihing River.

Hardin, an engineer, was scooping up gravel from the river’s bed, as it had been his custom to do over many months since he has been in ol’ I-BT. He noticed a massive, torpedo-like form wending its way up to the spot where his shovel was operating.

Charles T. Hardin

Giving the controls a quick one-two, Hardin hit the lumbering fish with the big bucket and stunned him into insensibility. Then, skillfully maneuvering the huge snorting shovel, he hauled him in as easily as dipping for a trout.

His piscatorial prize turned out to be a white bellied catfish, measuring almost six feet from tail to teeth. As Hardin put it, “I’ve scooped up a lot of gravel to help build this road, but I never caught anything bigger than a minnow before. This time I hit the jackpot.”

After the fish was hauled off to the company area, the boys began slicing off steaks for a fish fry was contemplated.
A real tribute was paid the Stilwell Road Isaac Walton by one of his buddies, who remarked, “Old Hardin can throw that bucket anywhere he wants!”

 

Poem from CBI WWII

THE DEVIL’S DILEMMA

I met the Devil yesterday beneath a shady tree;
His head within his hand was held, his elbow on his knee.
A frown he wore upon his brow; his horns were dull with dust,
And resting on his arm I saw his pitchfork red with rust.
“Well, ” I said, “what can it be that brings you up from Hell?
From all appearances it seems that things aren’t going well.”
He gazed at me with blood-shot eyes and bade me take a seat,
And so I sat and wondered why his face bore sad defeat.

“O, Mortal, know,” he spoke, “that once I ruled a proud domain;

Within the bowels of Earth I reigned o’er punishment and pains of those were sent to me who’d lived in sin and hate,

To suffer for eternity upon hot Hades grate.
My tortures were most terrible, no others could compare,
I though I had the latest thing in fire and brimstone there
But then came war upon the Earth with tanks and planes and guns,
And implements of war ne’er seen before beneath the sun.
Now all the souls that go below who’ve failed the living test,
No longer fear my kingdom, but go as if to rest!
But I must leave; I’ve dallied long and must be on my way.
I’m off to meet St. Peter and you’ll pardon me, I pray;
I have a plan we must discuss that may unscramble this,
For Earth’s no longer what it was; it’s Hell, that’s what it is.”

 

– BY S/SGT. G. W. HICKOX

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

“Okay, now we need to go to Plan B.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Howard Anglin – AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, P-61’s 426 Night Fighter Squadron

John Bushfield – Boise, ID; US Army, WWII, 10th Mountain Division

Smoke Angel

Virgil DeVine – St. Louis, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-26 tail gunner

Charles Goodwin – Haskell, TX; US Navy, Vietnam, pilot, USS Coral Sea, KIA

Charles Hayden – Vancouver, CA; RC Air Force, WWII, B-17 tail gunner

Jay Kislak – Hoboken, NJ; US Navy, WWII, pilot

Anna Newman – Sarasota, FL; Civilian, WWII,  truck driver, MacDill Air Force Base

Albert Rivoire – Pawling, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, 104th Infantry Division, Bronze Star

Robert Seeber – Omaha, NE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman, USS Isley

Geoffrey Wright – Orewa, NZ; British Army # 14418502, WWII, ETO & CBI, Captain

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June to July on Luzon 1945

“Mopping-up”

General MacArthur relieved the headquarters of Sixth Army and I Corps of further operational responsibility on Luzon in order that the two could begin preparations for the invasion of Japan. The headquarters of Eighth Army and of XIV Corps assumed responsibility for the further conduct of operations throughout Luzon, where the only Japanese force still capable of effective, well-organized resistance was the Shobu Group.

For Sixth Army and I Corps, the meeting of the 37th Division and 11th Airborne Division units south of Aparri on 26 June had marked the strategic end of the campaign in northern Luzon. This conclusion attained considerable logic. The juncture had divided the Shobu Group’s remaining forces and had occurred while Yamashita was desperately trying to withdraw all available units into his last-stand area.

Moreover, Sixth Army estimated upon relinquishing control to Eighth Army that no more than 23,000 Japanese were left alive in northern Luzon and that these troops were disorganized and incapable of effective defensive operations. The 6th Army further estimated that only 12,000 of the 23,000 Japanese were located in the Cordillera Central between Routes 4 and 11, the rest in the Sierra Madre east of the Cagayan Valley.

XIV Corps would have under its control the USAFIP(NL), now a seasoned and reasonably well-armed force of 21,000 men supported by two U.S. Army field artillery battalions. Also under XIV Corps was the experienced Buena Vista Regiment, equivalent in size to a U.S. Army infantry regiment less supporting arms and services. All in all, it appeared that XIV Corps would become involved only in relatively easy mopping-up and patrolling operations.

The 6th Army had greatly underestimated the Japanese strength left in northern Luzon, and the 8th Army’s estimates, made upon its assumption of command, were but little closer to fact. Actually, at the end of June, close to 65,000 Japanese remained alive in northern Luzon, 13,000 of them in the Sierra Madre and 52,000 in the last-stand area between Routes 4 and 11.

Caring for injured Filipinos

Although organization, control, and morale were deteriorating, and although most of the troops were ill armed and poorly supplied, the Japanese in the last-stand area were still capable of effective resistance when the occasion demanded. The task confronting the U.S. Army and guerrilla units in northern Luzon was of far greater magnitude than any headquarters estimated at the end of June.  XIV Corps plan for operations against the remainder of the Shobu Group differed only in detail from those I Corps had previously employed.  Reduced to their simplest terms, both sets of plans called for the exertion of unremitting pressure against the Shobu Group wherever Shobu Group troops were to be found.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Donald Anderson – Mackay, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. C/187th/11th Airborne Division

Francis Beecher – Norristown, PA; US Air Force, radioman

Greater love hath no man

Roy Custer Jr. – Miami, FL; US Air Force, Korea

Joseph Ferraro – Queens, NY; US Navy, WWII

Vincent Johnson – Minneapolis, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Al Kuschner – Great Neck, NY; US Navy, WWII

Carlo Lattinelli – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, Korea

Charles Merritt – San Diego, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman, USS Panamint

Allan Redmond – Chicago, IL; US Merchant Marines, WWII, engineer

James Thayer – Carlton, OR; US Army, WWII, ETO, General, Bronze Star, Silver Star

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Gen. Robert Eichelberger Remembers

Generals Eichelberger & MacArthur

From: “Our Jungle Road to Tokyo”

I remembers a story Bob Shoe told on himself.  During the hottest of the fighting on Negros, he was making a trip to the front to look over the situation.  His jeep passed through a weary column of the 503rd Parachute Regiment which had been relieved after many hours of fighting and was on its way to the rear.

General Shoe is completely free of pretentiousness; he was born honest and friendly.  When he stopped for a drink at a spring, he spoke to a grimy paratrooper.  His question didn’t mean anything; it was merely passing the time of day.

“How are things at the front?” Shoe asked cheerfully.

11th Airborne paradrop

The veteran paratrooper, probably 20 years old, looked at Shoe’s clean uniform and his star and his jeep with elaborate boredom and said nothing.  Shoe went on to the front and was promptly shot.  It was a bloody wound and the stretcher which carried him toward the rear was thoroughly incarnadined.

On the way back, his stretcher was stopped by a military traffic jam, and he found himself again among the walking 503rd.  He asw the same redheaded young Pfc he had encountered back at the spring.  The Pfc was friendly now.  He grinned.  “General,” he said, ” how are things at the front?”

*****          *****          *****

Our Jungle Road to Tokyo”

I took a flying boat to Jolo, Philippines.  The USS Boise dropped anchor in Jolo Harbor and I rejoined General MacArthur, who reported the Borneo expedition completely successful.  After a tour of the island, we went back aboard the Boise and headed for Davao City.  Gen. Kenney, who now commanded both the 5th Air Force and the 13th Air Force, was aboard.  George and I spent 2 hours discussing the Philippines campaign and the problems which lay ahead.

That evening MacArthur talked to us for almost 2 hours about coming events and next morning we landed at Davao City.  We went as far as Mintal, where Jack Clifford and his troops had not yet been able to end their struggle against a stubborn enemy.

But we had reason to observe that massive artillery support – now under command of Hugh Cort – was true, accurate and devastating.  It was then that MacArthur told me he did not believe there were 4,000 Japanese left alive on Mindanao.  The surrender figures at war end were 23,000 enemy soldiers, showed how wrong he was.

*****          *****          *****

Generals Eichelberger & MacArthur

I was proud of the job the 41st Division had accomplished at Zambo when the fighting was done.  They laid down their guns and went to work.  They cut weeds and they cleaned out debris.  They became good neighbors.

The Japanese had refused to allow Catholic Filipinos (and there were a good many in that Moslem area), to worship at the ancient shrine of Bien Bemido al Virgen del Pilar.  The shrine was about the size of an American sandwich shop and was tucked into a space along a section of the Fort Pilar wall which had fallen into ruin.

GIs of the 41st Signal Company went to the work of repair and finally put up a sign welcoming all nationalities to worship there again.  Before long, there were hundreds of burning candles.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Paul Anderson – Fargo, ND; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Air-Sea Rescue

Joseph Bacigalupi – Little Silver, NJ; US Army

Edwin Bullington – Prairies Grove, AR; US Navy, USS Observation Island, photographer

Harry Doty – Milford, IN; US Army, WWII, artillery

Leonard Fenimore – Cabria, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, SSgt., 11th Airborne Division

Aaron Justice – Weirton, WV; US Army, WWII, ETO

David Lessin – Newark, NJ; US Army, Major, Medical Corps

Gerald Rothaermel – Bridgeport, CAN; Canadian Air Force, WWII

Leonard Solomon – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, ATO, TSgt., 42nd Coast Artillery of Engineers

Norman Wecker – Chicago Heights, IL; US Navy, WWII, PBY pilot

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