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Gen. Kenney on the End of 1944

90st Bombardment Group; 5th Air Force; 319th, B-24s

General Kenney, Commander of the Fifth Air Force reported:

“Just before dark on 26 December, a Navy Reconnaissance plane sighted a Jap naval force of 1 heavy cruiser, 1 light cruiser and 6 destroyers about 85 miles NW of Mindoro {Philippines], headed toward San Jose.  We had available on out 2 strips there, 12 B-25s from the 71s Recon Squadron, the 58th Fighter Group (P-47s), the 8th Fighter Group (P-38s and the 110 Tactical Recon Squadron (P-40s).

“Every airplane that could fly took off on the attack, which continued until after midnight.  The Japs kept on coming and the planes kept shuttling back and forth, emptying their bomb racks and ammunition belts and returning for more.  In addition to the difficulty of locating and attacking the Nip vessels in the dark, the enemy made the job still harder by bombing our airdromes at intervals through the night.

Gen. MacArthur & Gen. Kenney

“In order to see what they were bombing and strafing, some of our pilots actually turned their landing lights on the Jap naval vessels.  With neither time nor information for briefings during the operation, it was every man for himself and probably the wildest scramble the Nip or ourselves had ever been in.

“Ar 11:00 P.M. the enemy fleet started shelling our fields and kept it up for an hour.  Fires broke out in our gasoline dumps, airplanes were hit, the runways pitted, but the kids still kept up their attack.  The P-47s couldn’t get at their bomb dump because of the fire, so they simply loaded up with ammunition and strafed the decks of every ship in the Jap force.  They said it was “like flying over a blast furnace, with all those guns firing at us.”

“Shortly after midnight. the Jap fleet turned around and headed north. They had been hurt.  A destroyer had been sunk and a cruiser and 2 destroyers heavily damaged.

“The attack had saved our shipping at San Jose from destruction, but it had cost us something too.  Twenty-five fighter pilots and B-25 crew members missing.  We had lost 2 B-25s and 29 fighter aircraft.  During the next few days we picked up 16 of the kids who were still floating around the China Sea in their life rafts.  I got Gen. MacArthur to approve a citation for each of the units that took part in the show.

Lt. Phyllis Hocking, 36 Evac Hospital, Palo, Leyte at Church of Transfiguration

On the 30th, Lt.Col. Howard S. Ellmore, a likable, happy-go-lucky, little blond boy from Shreveport, LA, leading the 417th Attack Group, the “Sky Lancers” caught a Jap convoy in Lingayen Gulf, off Vigan on the west coast of Luzon.  In a whirlwind low-level attack, a destroyer, a destroyer escort, 2 large freighters and one smaller were sunk.

“It was a fitting climax to 1944, which had been an advance from Finschaven to Mindoro, a distance of 2400 miles, equal to that from Washington to San Francisco.  During that time, my kids had sunk a half million tons of Jap shipping and destroyed 3000 Jap aircraft.  Our losses of aircraft in combat during the year were 818.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Hazel Bogaard – Sioux Falls, SD; US Army WAC, WWII, CBI, 142nd General Hospital ship, 2nd Lt.

John S. Czyscon – NY Mills, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 711th Ordnance Co./188th parachute Reg./11th Airborne Div.

A soldier’s death

Norman Fraser Sr. – No. York, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Raymond Hall – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 4213081, WWII, PTO

Virgil Motsinger – Eugene, OR; US Navy, WWII, USS Anzio (CVE-57)

Jack O’Neill – OR & CA; US Navy, WWII, pilot

Robert E. Oxford – Concord, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, “The Hump”, 1st Lt., KIA

Bobby Stubbs – Sedalia, MO; Korea & Vietnam, Captain (Ret.)

Adam West – Walla Walla, WA; US Army, American Forces Network, (beloved actor)

Vincent Vann Higginbotham Sr. – Springer, OK; US Merchant Marine, WWII

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December 1944 (2)

Avenger on the deck of the USS Anzio, Typhoon Cobra, December 1944

16 December – Douglas MacArthur was promoted to Five-Star General.  It seemed that General MacArthur’s promotion to General of the Army would require assistance from many sides.  It posed a problem in the respect that there was no such object as a five-star insignia in existence in the Pacific.  A clever Filipino silversmith created one from a miscellaneous collection of Dutch, Australian and Filipino coins.

USS Langley (CVL-27), Typhoon Cobra

17 December – Typhoon Cobra hit the Philippine Islands.  TF-38 was caught off-guard and the destroyers, USS Hull, Mongham and Spence were sunk and 22 other vessels received damage.  While 150 aircraft were blown off the decks of the carriers, more than 750 sailors drowned.

19 December – Adm. Nimitz was made Commander-in-Chief of the US Pacific Fleet and Pacific Areas, thereby promoting him to Fleet Admiral of the US Navy, a 5-Star Admiral.

USS Bryant

21→22 December – an American destroyer, the USS Bryant was damaged by the Japanese kamikaze pilots off Mindoro, P.I.  The Bryant had seen the plane approaching and while maneuvering to avoid collision, the kamikaze basically just clipped her and exploded beneath the waves.

22→29 December – Japanese Gen. Yamashita radioed Gen. Suzuki’s headquarters in Cebu City: “RE-DEPLY YOUR TROOPS TO FIGHT EXTENDED HOLDING ACTIONS IN AREAS OF YOUR CHOICE.  SELECT AREAS SUCH AS BACALOD ON NEGROS WHICH ARE HIGHLY SUITABLE FOR SELF-SUSTAINING ACTION.  THIS MESSAGE RELIEVES YOU OF YOUR ASSIGNED MISSION.”

Gen. Yamashita

This message would not reach Suzuki for 3 days, by which time his troops were being surprised by Gen. Bruce’s men.  The enemy fled to San Isidro and Palompon was taken by the 77th Division unopposed on Christmas Day.  Suzuki and about 10,000 of his troops concentrated at Mount Canquipot, whose eastern and western slopes made the sector a natural fortress.  They could hear Christmas carols coming from the G.I.’s.  Stragglers arrived from the Japanese 1st Division and 68th Brigade, but lost 100 men a day due to starvation.

29 December – Suzuki received a mess age from Gen. Fukue stating that the 102nd Division were leaving in boats for Cebu.  When Suzuki ordered them to remain in place – his message was ignored.  Approximately 743 men, all that remained of the prize Gem Division would evacuate by 12 January 1945.  Gen. Eichelberger’s 8th Army closed in on Suzuki and Mount Canquipot.

25 December – Yamashita informed Suzuki that he considered Leyte a lost cause and this date was originally designated as the end of organized resistance on Leyte, but the troops that remained assigned to the “mopping-up” of the island [7th Division] would beg to differ.

26 December – a Japanese naval force bombarded US installations on Mindoro and the Americans sank the IJN destroyer Kiyoshimo, (清霜, “Clear Frost”).

click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – for those finally returning home…

Homer Abney – Dallas, TX; US Army, Korea, Sgt., KIA

Robert Barnett – Austin, TX; US Air Force, Vietnam, Captain, pilot, KIA

Murray Cargile – Robertsonville, NC; US Navy, Pearl Harbor, Seaman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA

Louis Damewood – Carroll County, MD; US Army, Korea, Cpl.,HQ/3/38/2nd Div., KIA

Joseph Durakovich – Gary, IN; US Army, Korea, MSgt., KIA

William Kennedy – Titonka, IA; US Navy, Pearl Harbor, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA

James Mainhart – Butler, PA; US Army, Korea, Cpl., KIA

George Perreault – Burlington, VT; US Army, Korea, Cpl., KIA

William Ryan – Hoboken, NJ; USMC, Vietnam, 1st Lt., KIA

James Whitehurst – Dotham, AL; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc., KIA (Tarawa)

Those that still remain missing – 

from WWII – 73,060

Korea – 7,751

Vietnam – 1,611

Iraq – 6

At the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

A military ceremony was held for unclaimed cremains of five Veterans from Potter County (Amarillo), Texas. The Veterans are:

Michael Topp
Michael Papencheck
Ronald Stevenson
Laird Orton Jr.
Jerry Harris

Eye Witness Account – Leyte

Leyte-Patrol

Leyte patrol

These events took place in November 1944, therefore please do not be offended by any offensive language.

This was written by Pfc Deane Edward Marks, Light Machine-Gun (LMG) Platoon/HQ2/11th Airborne Division.  From “No One Smiled On Leyte,” published in the “Voice of the Angels” newspaper, Matt Underwood, Editor.

“…It was still raining.  We had no idea where we were going.  Someone mentioned Ormoc, wherever that was.  We heard that somewhere ahead, part of the C/511th was surrounded by the Nips.  We didn’t have any idea what the hell was going on.  After a day or two of walking, we arrive where the C/5511 had been.  Now, I see my first dead man, he was a trooper.  Now I realize what was going on.  It was real, real.  Somehow the mud seemed wetter, the rain colder and the stomach emptier.

Type 96 LMG

“…every now and then they would open up with their “woodpecker”. [name given to the Japanese Nambu 6.5mm light machine-gun Model 96] … the only thing you do is drop to the ground and roll over a time or two so when you lifted your head, you would not be in the sights of the shooter … ole Vicbert D. Sharp, LMG Platoon Sgt., starts wiggling up the side of the slope with his M-1.  He stopped, saw a sniper in a tree, then another and with 2 quick shots, using Kentucky windage, he got the both of those Nips.

“One day we climbed up a very large plateau and moved up our LMG.  We didn’t know why – shucks we never knew WHY we did anything.  We just kept putting our feet in the mucky brown footprint in front of us.  About 2 hours after we set up, we looked out into the valley and ‘holy cow!’ here came this C-47 barreling at eye level perhaps a thousand yards to our front … a slew of red and yellow parapacks dropped and troopers started jumping …  We finally figured out that they were the 457th Airborne Artillery also part of the 11th Airborne!

Cameraman on Leyte

“We headed back to our perimeter around a place called Lubi …we looked up to see at least 6 C-47s flying at 6-8 hundred feet overhead.  I found out later that they were Japanese “Tabbys” (a DC-2 built in Japan), loaded with a few hundred Nip paratroopers headed for the airstrips around Burauen … raised hell for a few days and nights and were finally driven off by the HQ Company/11th Airborne.  (Smitty was there.)

“All the time the rain kept falling.  We were all damp and cold.  After dark, one’s eyes got big as saucers.  You couldn’t see 5′ in front of you and your imagination would run rampant.  There were Japanese out there and one consolation was, they were just as wet, muddy and cold as we were.  Sitting in your foxhole at night and waiting to see if they would try to slip through was something else.  You were full of anxiety….”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News –50

To Remember – April 25th is ANZAC Day!  To view this blog’s posts on that memorial day – type ANZAC Day in the search box [top right].

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Valor with Honor” will be screened on Vimeo starting May 2017 for Asian Pacific Heritage Month.    “Valor with Honor” not only records the deeds and emotions of the veterans of the 442nd, but highlights the difficult struggle of the brave Nisei both on and off the battlefield.



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Military Humor –

“THIS WASN’T COVERED IN THE MANUAL!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard Allen – Little Rock, AR; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Bullwheel

Clifford Cursons – Wellington, NZ; RNZ Army # 239426, WWII, gunner

Arthur Gordon – Rochester, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Cabot

Gary Hardman – Newcastle, AUS; RA Navy, Vietnam, HMAS’ Ibis & Parramatta

Robert Kabat – Cleveland, OH; US Army, 17th Airborne Division

Michael Mastel – Hague, ND; US Army, WWII, PTO, surgery technician

Walter Roderick – Fall River, MA; US Navy, WWII

Richard Saggau – Denison, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 101st Airborne Division

George Teale – Vineland, NJ; US Army, WWII

Jack Wilson (106) – Willow Springs, IL; US Army, WWII

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Prelude to Smitty’s Combat

Jungle training for the Second World War was held for the benefit of the soldier’s immediate situation, but its effectual results led into the establishment of the Special Forces. This is typified by the creation of the Recon Platoon of the 11th Airborne Division and the Alamo Scouts. Out of these units we witnessed the outstanding operations of today’s special troops. In New Guinea and further combat experience, what these men learned went on to be vital assets for the future generations of soldiers.

The advantage of being acclimated to a different climate and acquainted with the strange terrain served to aid them in their survival and the success of their missions.

New Guinea, just before Leyte

Although the 11th A/B was small in size and short of arms and staff, they accepted orders normally issued to full size divisions. At this time, many people believed that MacArthur was obsessed with recovering the Philippines from the Japanese and perhaps he was, and with good reason. FDR had promised him serious military assistance in 1942, but it never arrived. As a direct result, MacArthur was ordered by his president to abandon his men on the islands and escape to Australia. The Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. had not only lied to one of his generals, but caused the forced surrender of American and Filipino citizens and military personnel. The infamous Bataan Death March and ultimate fall of the Philippines into Japanese control was the end result.

But here — the invasion of Leyte — would be, by far, the greatest operation of the Pacific. For the first time, the combined forces of MacArthur and the overseas bomber commands would be joined with the vast armada of Admiral Nimitz. Land and sea would simultaneously explode into action. The Japanese government also knew in their heart of hearts that the battles fought over the Philippine islands would decide the outcome of the war.  Unfortunately, intentionally or not, FDR not only found a way to leak the plans of Leyte’s attack, but diplomatic sources in the Kremlin gave the Japanese a forewarning and the the enemy became determined to make the Philippines an all-out effort.

Certain matters would need to be dealt with by the soldiers, Allied and Japanese alike. For the Japanese, the concept of using retreat as a strategic tactic was confusing and unheard of by their standard of protocol. The very thought of retreat was a disgrace and therefore forbidden. The American G.I. was equally befuddled by hara Kiri and kamikaze techniques. The purpose that suicide accomplished in a battlefield was beyond their comprehension – yet these and many more differences had to be confronted. (The official name of kamikaze was Tokubetsu Kogekitai and was not quite as popular in Japan as some have been led to believe.)

Gilliam-class APA

Many historians , looking back on the naval battles we recently discussed, compared the forces of Nimitz with throwing a right cross and MacArthur’s troops following through with the left punch – the enemy did not stand a chance.

As General Eichelberger said more than once: “The 11th Airborne Division are the fightingest men I’ve ever seen.” And the largest and most violent armed conflict in history was about to start for these men.

November of 1944 arrived and with that came packing up for the next destination, Leyte, Philippines. It also meant the arrival of the rains, an understatement to say the least. Such downpours are alien to those who do not live in the tropics. Even the darkness is unique when it arrives in a flash and the blackness envelops everything like a sweeping shroud. A man’s eyes can no longer be trusted; he stands as though blindfolded.

Nine APA’s (naval transport ships designed to attack) and AKA’s (cargo ships designed to attack) would be required to carry the 11th A/B on to their target. Due to the constant barrage of weather, the journey lasted from Nov. 11 until the 18th. The Battle of Leyte was officially code-named “King II Operation.”

 

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ernest Nernhoft Jr. – Memphis, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, ‘The Hump’

Ronald Blackham – Weaverham, ENG; British Army, WWII, ETO, Cpl., 3rd Batt. ‘Coldstream Guards’, KIA

Murray Goff – Bellingham, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, aerial photographer

Standing Guard

Maxx Hammer Jr. – Carbondale, Il; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, pilot, ‘Flying Tiger’, KIA

Jules Hauterman Jr. – Hampton, MA; US Army, Korea, medic, Cpl., KIA

Henry Jennings – Newburg, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot

Ed Murray – Ridgefield, WA; US Army, WWII, CBI

Mark Pedone – Garfield, NJ; USMC, WWII, PTO, 1st Marine Division

Donald ‘Butch’ Russell – Newark, DE; US Army, 11th Airborne Division, MSgt.

Robert Shearer – Hawera, NZ; 2NZEF # 022982, WWII

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November 1944 (1)

Ordeal at Ormoc Bay

Ordeal at Ormoc Bay, FEAF, by Steve Ferguson, and can be purchased here…

https://irandpcorp.com/products/ordeal-at-ormoc-bay/

3 November – When the Japanese 57th Regiment arrived at Limon, Gen. Krueger’s 24th Division was on the other side of the mountain range.  Rather than attack the lightly defended enemy positions, he halted his troops.  For some reason, he was expecting a possible enemy amphibious landing and the US attack would not begin for 2 more days.

5→10 November – in the 19th year of Showa, for the Japanese, the G.I. mortar and machine-gun fire seemed to nearly wipe out the squad scaling the ridge.  As the brush caught fire, the Americans of I Company/3rd Battalion/21st Infantry Regiment/ 24th Division, attacked and charged over the ridge until the enemy’s big guns opened up.  Another Japanese force arrived and the US troops retreated.  This would be known as Breakneck Ridge [Yahiro Hill to the Japanese].

Leyte activity map

Even with the support of the 1st Cavalry, the soldiers were pushed back, but they would return on the 8th.  They then proceeded to continually hit the ridge until the 10th, when the Japanese 3rd Battalion was ordered to tenshin. (which means to turn around and advance).  The few survivors remaining did make it back to their supply depot.

6 November – Japanese convoy MA-TA 31 escorted by 2 cruisers and other escorting vessels was attacked by a wolfpack of US submarines, Batfish, Ray, Raton, Bream and Guitarro at Luzon.  The Ray fired 6 rear torpedoes at the enemy cruiser  Kumano and destroyed her bow.

US Hellcat fighters and bombers with Avenger torpedo planes attacked enemy airfields and shipping installations throughout southern Luzon.  The US aircraft were intercepted by about 80 Japanese fighters and a dogfight ensued over Clark Field.  The enemy lost 58 planes and 25 more later in the day.  More than 100 Japanese aircraft were destroyed on the ground.  One cruiser sank in Manila Harbor and 10 other vessels were heavily damaged.

10→11 November – Another Japanese convoy, carrying 10,000 reinforcements for Leyte, escorted by 4 destroyers, a minesweeper and a submarine chaser.  They were screened by 3 other destroyers, but were intercepted by the US 10th Fleet aircraft as they made their turn into Ormoc Bay.  Before they could reach the harbor, the TF-38 aircraft attacked.  The first wave aimed at the transports.  The second wave hit the destroyers and third wave strafed the beaches and the burning destroyers.  Nine of the ships sank and 13 enemy planes providing air cover were shot down.

The FEAF (Far East Air Force, the 5th A.F.) used 24 B-24’s to hit Dumaguerte Airfield on Negros Island in the P.I. and fighter-bombers were sent to the Palompon area on Leyte.  Targets of opportunity were hit on Mindanao.  Fighter-bombers and B-25s hit shipping and Namlea Airfield, and P-38s hit Kendari Airfield on Celebes Island while B-24a bombed the Nimring River area.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – Teamwork, Beetle-style!!

cover for Beetle Bailey comic book

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Farewell Salutes – 

Sverre Alvestad – Norway/Glen Oaks, CAN; Royal Norwegian Navy, WWII, ace pilot

Charles Cawthorn – London, ENG; RAF, WWII, Lancaster pilot (Ret. 30 yrs.), 61st Squadron, POW

Lou Duva – Paterson, NJ; US Army, WWII

Howard Engh – Gig Harbor, WA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Lawrence Hanson – St. Paul, MN; US Navy, WWII (Ret. 26 years)

Kenneth Lawson – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, Spitfire pilot

Paul Pavlus – Panama City, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne / USAF, 82nd Airborne, MSgt.

Joe Rogers – Jackson, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, flight instructor

Albert Schlegel – Cleveland, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Capt. Pilot, KIA

Francis Took – AUS; RA Navy # 37327

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October 1944 (6)

While the Imperial Navy was floundering in their attempts to halt the persistent invasion of Leyte, Gen. Yamashita was in his headquarters at Fort McKinley on Luzon.  He was receiving very little information from his own people and upon hearing of the US landing, he was heard to say, “Very interesting.  But where is Leyte?”  [The Japanese general had only just been transferred from Manchuria.]

Yamashita did not feel that the Japanese all-out standing defense should be on Leyte and he refused to supply more troops to the island.  But he was overruled.  Gen. Terauchi, knowing that the island’s occupation by the Americans would divide their bases, so reinforcements would be sent in.

MacArthur inspecting the beach

21 October – Most of the Japanese beach defenses had been shattered by bombing and strafing and a majority of the 1st Battalion/16th Division had been wiped out.  Parts of Tacloban had been liberated by the US troops and Gen. Makino was now forced to split the remainder of his 16th Div. in half, North and South Defense Forces.

As the ground forces continued fighting, Japanese aircraft from all other bases in the Philippines arrived on Luzon to support the plans for a counteroffensive.

25 October – Gen. Sosaku Suzuki, in charge of defending the Central Philippines, still was receiving inferior or misleading intelligence and remained confident of Japanese victory because:  He still expected support from the Navy; he had glowing reports concerning Formosa; he was told that ALL US carriers had been sunk and no American aircraft were flying over his headquarters on Cebu.  Suzuki told his Chief of Staff, Gen. Tomochika, “…we are about to step on the center of the stage.  There is no greater honor or privilege.”

Two Japanese units were on en-route to Luzon:  the Japanese 1st Division [the Gem Division] to land at Ormoc on the west coast and the 26th Division at Carigara in the north.

MacArthur’s summary:

“The assault continued after a rapid consolidation of the first few days  objectives.  Numerous enemy counterattacks were beaten off in all areas during the next few days as advancing forces reported increased resistance on every front.  By the end of the third day, over 2,000 Japanese had been reported killed…

“On 24 October, elements of the XCorps began a drive up the Leyte side of San Juanico Strait, while farther south other units of the Corps pushed westward.  At the same time, the XXIV Corps directed attacks northward and westward.  The 96th Div., moving inland from Dulag, met heavy opposition from fortified positions on Catmon Hill, a terrain feature dominating the division’s zone of action and giving protection to enemy mortars bobbing shells toward the assault shipping in Leyte Gulf.  Catmon Hill was initially by-passed, then neutralized by naval guns and field artillery and finally cleared of the enemy by 31 October.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

 

“try to say something funny, Joe”

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Jack Agnew – Hamilton, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Leonard Beford – Falmouth, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Herbert Creacey – Roseburg, OR; US Navy, WWII

Catherine Ewell – Zachary, LA; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

Herbert Good – Bound Brook, NJ; US Army, WWII

Frank Hill –  Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Navy, WWII

Ralph Konze – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Lt.Colonel (Ret.)

Caldon Norman – Mineapolis, MN; US Army, WWII, ETO, POW

John S. Powell Jr. – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Army, Korea, Captain

Gerald Shepler – Liberty, IN; US Army, Korea, K/3/187th Airborne RCT, KIA

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Japanese View from the IJN Musashi

Yamato and Musashi (artist unknown)

Yamato and Musashi (artist unknown)

This was originally published in “Sensō: The Japanese Remember the Pacific War”, edited by Frank Gibney.  Story by: Satō Kiichi, from Yokosuka, Japan.

The Last of Battleship Musashi

“Third attack,” came the warning.  The damage from the second attack had been terrible.  Lying on the deck were several wounded men receiving emergency treatment.  I was taking a brief break.  My two subordinates were on their way to the infirmary.  Just at that moment, a torpedo approached with a sinister hissing sound.  Shouting “Go on up!” I rushed to the upper deck.  I couldn’t see the two who had gone to the infirmary.

IJN Musashi (artist unknown)

IJN Musashi (artist unknown)

I had to get those two.  I looked down the hatch.  There was already close to a meter of water flooding the ship.  The infirmary was left isolated.  Neither my voice nor my concern could reach that far.  Was it too late?  My feeling of grief ran ahead of me.  Then I recalled that the exhaust vent ran through the pharmacy.  I frantically threw a rope from the deck down into the exhaust pipe.  But there was no response.  Still I continued to call out desperately.

I regained a bit of my composure.  I was crouching in the safety zone under the main gun turret.  The battle gained in ferocity.  I wondered what had happened to my two men.  To think that a single hatch would be the difference between life and death.  We had spent our days together as crew members on the battleship Musashi.  Looking back, I still agonize about their going to the infirmary.

IJN Musashi

IJN Musashi

After the fourth and fifth concentrated air attacks, the Musashi, once called unsinkable, finally sank into the Sibuyan Sea.  Its bow tilted.  Columns of water and flames spewed up into the sky.  I heard voices of my comrades singing “Umi Yukaba” [“Across the Sea”]* and other war songs amid the waves.  Even now I see clearly onto my eyelids the faces of my two subordinates.  I hear my war buddies singing as their heads bob in the waves.

* “Across the Sea” was the anthem of the Japanese Navy.  The verse went:

Across the sea, water-drenched corpses;

Across the mountains, grass-covered corpses.

We shall die by the side of our lord,

We shall not look back.

Two years ago….

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Abe – Appleton, WI; US Navy, WWII

Kenneth Bourke – AUS; RA Navy, WWII, HMAS Warramunga

Robert Futoran – Pompano, FL; US Navy, WWII, Lt., USS Black

Leslie Gibson – Dallas, TX; US Navy, WWII, PTO,, LST-1040

Kenneth Ketron – Elsmere, KY; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Dallas Milton – Venice, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Robert Nelson Sr. – New London, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO

Frank Panzzie – East Meadow, NY; US Army, WWII

Teddy Sheean – Tasmania, AUS; RA Navy, WWII, HMAS Armidale, KIA

Lawrence Snowden – Charlottesville, VA; USMC, WWIII, Korea & Vietnam, LtGeneral (Ret.)

Click on images to enlarge.

Personal Note – My apologies for a late-in-the-day post and delayed viewing of your sites as I have been under the weather.

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First Hand Account – after Peleliu

Bruce Watkins, Monty Montgomery & Steve Stasiak

Bruce Watkins (Commander), Monty Montgomery (platoon Sgt.) & Steve Stasiak (guide)

INTRODUCTION: The following is a chapter taken from “Brothers in Battle” by R. Bruce Watkins. This book was written for the benefit of his children, grandchildren, and friends who have an interest in the events of World War II as he saw them. It reflects his personal experience as a platoon leader in E CO/ 2ND Battalion/1st Marines at Peleliu. He also served as company commander of E Co on Okinawa. Bruce dedicated his book to “My Brothers, those undaunted Marines, who followed me without hesitation into the very jaws of death.” [Pictures below are some of these men.]

We don’t often hear what happens after the men fight, the following is what Bruce Watkins remembered after the battle:

Bruce Watkins

Bruce Watkins

Chapter V
PAVUVU

marc_jaffe_better_web

Marc Jaffe

As we filed off the Tryon to our old bivouac at Pavuvu, we saw few familiar faces. There were a handful of lightly wounded casualties, but all the other living were still hospitalized. Settling into the tents that had been our home a short month ago, we were immediately struck by the empty cots with personal gear stowed below. We had returned with about 15% of our original number. That made for a lot of empty cots. Most of these cots would never see their original occupants again.

     Shortly after, I received a summons from Division headquarters. “We think we may have one of your men down here.” It was PFC Brennan and he told me he did not have a name, that the Japs had taken it from him on the second day. He was sent home to the States and I received a letter from him some time later. He had been suffering from cerebral malaria but back in a cool climate he had recovered.

    

John Kincaid

John Kincaid

In the heat of the Peleliu battle I had not accounted for two of our 17-year-old privates, but these returned to us now, unscathed. Monty told me they had bugged out in the middle of the battle. I had assumed they were wounded or killed. Although this was technically desertion under fire, the NCO’s had a great deal of understanding, taking into account their youthfulness. I saw no reason to take issue with their judgement, and these two more than proved themselves in the next battle.

     There were many signs of strain after Peleliu. Our colonel told us how coming out of the shower he met a major, a member of Battalion Staff, with a towel draped over his arm. The major asked the colonel if he really liked him. The colonel replied, “Of course.” He then removed the towel displaying a loaded 45 pistol in his hands. “I’m glad you do,” he said, “because if you didn’t, I would have to shoot you.” Our colonel made quiet arrangements and the major was shipped back to the states under guard.

Sgt. Hap Farrell

Sgt. Hap Farrell

     We took a boat over to Bonika, the main island of the Russells, where our hospital was. There we saw many of our comrades. John Kincaid was having trouble with both eyes and Joe Gayle was just getting the use of his arms back. Sam Alick was recovering well from the leg wound, but his thumb would never work the same. Another platoon sergeant, a handsome man, had half his face and jaw gone. A gunny sergeant with a shattered pelvis lay there with rods like an erector set holding his hips in place, and so it went. The good news was that Lee Height could return with us.

Lt. Lee Height

Lt. Lee Height

     Back on Pavuvu in the days that followed, we were allowed to rest and routine was at a minimum. We drifted from tent to tent checking on who had returned and always there were the empty cots. This was a most necessary rehabilitation period during wich we dealt with our shock and the loss of many friends. We were to need that rest both physically and mentally for there was much ahead of us.

In 1992 Bruce wrote “Brothers in Battle” about his experiences. The period covered stretches from December 1941 until November 1945.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

Edward Borschel Jr. – Panama City, FL; US Army, 187th RCT

Jack Griffiths – San Diego, CA; US Army, Korea, HQ/38/2nd Infantry Div., Major, POW, KIA

Dixie Heron – UK; RAF, WWII, ETO, 249th Squadron

Hugo Koski – Mt. Vernon, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII, Quartermaster

Ira Miss Jr. – Frederick, MD; Korea, HQ/38/2nd Infantry Div., MSgt., POW, KIA

Clifford Nelson – Spanish Fort, AL; US Navy, WWII, PTO & Korea, Captain (Ret. 29 years)

Charles Owen – Greendale, WI; US Navy, WWII

Lee Ragatz Jr. – Dania, FL; US Navy, USS Midway

Jack Slaughter (103) – Muskogee, OK; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Welles, Silver Star

Martin Waddington – So.Hurtsville, AUS; RA Air Force # NX098714, 10th Squadron

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October 1944 (1)

Causeway with 2 damaged Sherman tanks, Peleliu

Causeway with 2 damaged Sherman tanks, Peleliu

3  October – the Marines on Peleliu attacked the “Five Sister,” a coral hill with 5 sheer peaks and the Japanese defensive fire was deadly accurate.  Four days later, in an Army tank/Marine infantry operation, they made their assault in a horseshoe shaped valley after 2 ½ hours of big gun artillery fire.

The odor on the island of decaying bodies and feces, (latrines could not be dug in the coral), became extreme.  The flies were uncontrollable.  The [now-banned] pesticide of DDT was first used on Peleliu, but with very little success.

Napalm strike on Five Sister, Peleliu

Napalm strike on the Five Sisters, Peleliu

On 12 October, Captain Andy “Ack-Ack” Haldane, well-respected leader and veteran of Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester and Peleliu, was killed on Hill 140 in the Umurbrogol Pocket.  This was also the date that organized resistance on the island was declared over.

10 October – The 3rd Fleet of aircraft carriers made a major attack on the enemy naval and shore installations on the Ryukyu Islands.  Their arrival took the Japanese by surprise and destroyed 75 planes on the ground and 14 in the air; 38 ships were either sunk or damaged.  Other US Navy surface vessels conducted a 15-hour bombardment of Marcus Island.  This would give the US a forward base less than 1000 miles from the Japanese mainland.

Formosa and the Ryukyu Islands

Formosa and the Ryukyu Islands

12→15 October – after refueling, the 3rd Fleet’s 1000 carrier fighters and bombers conducted a campaign over Formosa along with 100 Superfortresses of the US Army’s 20th Air Force coming out of the Chingtu bases.  The 500 enemy aircraft of Adm. Fukudome’s Imperial Navy 6th Air Force were manned by inexperienced pilots.  On the 13th along, 124 enemy fighters were shot down during a massive dogfight and 95 more were destroyed on the ground.  As Fukudome himself described it, “Like so many eggs thrown against the stone wall of indomitable enemy formations.

More than 70 enemy cargo, oil and escort ships were sunk in the area.  The US lost 22 aircraft.  The carrier, Franklin, and the cruiser, Canberra, were hit, but the latter was towed to safety.  Due to the inexperienced Japanese pilots misinformation, Tokyo Rose announced, “All of Admiral Mitscher’s carriers have been sunk tonight – INSTANTLY!”  Japan claimed a second Pearl Harbor and a public victory holiday was proclaimed.

Arisan Maru

Arisan Maru

In October, the Japanese ‘hell ship’, Arisan Maru, departed Manila, P.I. with 1800 American prisoners on board held in her unventilated hold.  It was sunk by the USS Snook, killing 1795 POW’s.

The Japanese attempted to break the build-up of Allied forces in Manila Bay, Luzon, P.I., but the result was losing approximately 30 more aircraft to US fighters and antiaircraft fire.

October 1944 was an extremely active month and it will take at least 5 posts to just put the basics down.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – military-humor-funny-surrounded-attack-soldiers-meme

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Farewell Salutes – 

Paul Alamar – Scranton, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, minesweeper

Robert Brooks – Ontario, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, 143rd Air Wing, radio operations

Peleliu cemetery

Peleliu cemetery

Harold Girald – Mah-wah, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Ken Hartle (103) – San Francisco, CA; US Navy, WWII, SeaBee

Melvin Hill – Pomona, CA; Korea, 31st RCT, KIA

Harold “Hal” Moore, Jr. – Auburn, AL; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, 1/7th Cavalry Reg., Lt.General, West Point Grad, DSC

Allen “Bud” Moler – Dayton, OH; USMC, PTO, KIA (Roi-Namur)

Brent Morel – Martin, TN; USMC, Iraq, 1st Marine Recon Battalion, Navy Cross, KIA

Richard Lyon – Oceanside, CA; USMC, WWII, PTO / Korea, Admiral (Ret. 41 years)

Elizabeth Zarelli Turner – Austin, TX; US Army WAC, WWII, pilot

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September 1944 (2)

Moro tai, 15 September 1944

Morotai, 15 September 1944

Adm. Mitscher’s TF-38 bombings of Clark and Nichols airfields on Luzon, P.I., mowed down enemy bases.  More than 200 planes were destroyed and the shipping in Manila Bay was ravaged.  No Japanese aircraft reached the fleet, but 15 US aircraft were lost during the operation.

15 September – US troops landed at Morotai in the Netherlands East Indies.  They were met by only light resistance despite its location at the entrance of the Celebes Sea off the southern coast of the Philippine Islands.

16 September – the Japanese escort carrier Unyo [“A Hawk in the Clouds”] was sunk in the South China Sea by the US submarine Barb.  Although no US surface ships were in the area, the submarine service were causing havoc with the Japanese supply convoys between the N.E. I. and the southeastern Asian enemy forces.

Peleiu, 1944

Peleiu, 1944

On Peleliu. most of the 6 x 2 mile island was composed of coral ridges and heavily wooded scrub which made taking aerial photographs useless.  Although on paper, the 1st Marines were reinforced to an adequate size, the figures convinced MGen. Rupertus that Operation Stalemate would only last 3-4 days.  Col. Chesty Puller differed and pointed out the number of actual combat troops, but the general felt Chesty’s argument was groundless.

As the men crossed the airfield, E.B. Sledge, [author of “With the Old Breed’], said, “To be shelled by massed artillery and mortars is absolutely terrifying, but to be shelled in the open is terror compounded beyond belief of anyone who hasn’t experienced it.  The temperature that day was 105°F in the shade.”

Peleiu landing

Peleiu landing

19 September – on the eastern coast of Peleliu, the Marines took Ngardololok and flushed out a large Japanese defense, but the enemy remained deeply embedded in fortified positions.

22-23 September – naval bombardment sank some of the enemy barges which headed out to Peleliu, but about 600 of the Japanese troops from the 2nd Batt/15th Regiment made it to shore.  The Marines became even more weary of the continuing battle upon hearing this news.  The situation was becoming a replay of Guadalcanal.

25 September – The US Army 321st Infantry Regiment/81st Division was brought to Peleliu to support the Marines.  The joint effort created the III Amphibious Corps.

marines_wait_in_their_foxholes_-_peleliu

28 September – Marine pilots pounded the beach of Ngesebus, Peleiu for another amphibious landing.  They found no resistance until the reached the second airstrip.

In mid-September, FDR and Churchill met for their 8th was summit known as the Octagon Conference.  Most of the discussions revolved around the European Theater, but the British suddenly demanded more of a visible presence in the Pacific.  This after 3 years of insisting the PTO was America’s responsibility.  Adm. King vetoes the idea, but FDR accepted and this both embarrassed and infuriated the Chief of Naval Operations.  Ground work was also started for post-war atomic bomb production and an agreement for the weapons use against Japan if necessary.

Click on images to enlarge.

An eye witness account of Peleliu will be in the following post.

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Military Humor – 

Sad Sack

Sad Sack

Private Beetle

Private Beetle

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Farewell Salutes –

Anthol Bensley – Manawatu, NZ; RNZ Navy # 6389, WWII, Able Seaman

Joseph Frigenti – FL; US Army, Korean Warmediumpic634249020853470000

William Holden – Burlington, VT; US Navy, WWII, ETO, submarine service

Kenneth Irvin Sr. – Altoona, PA; US Army, WWII, 433rd Medical, Pfc

Philip Karp – Northdale, NJ; US Navy, WWII

Bob Leidenheimer Sr. – New Orleans, LA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Richard Manning – Norwell, MA; US Navy, WWII / US Army, Korea

Frank Puckett – Dickson, TN; US Army, WWII, ATO, Purple Heart

John Strudwick – London, ENG; RAF, 604 Squadron

William Tice – Ann Arbor, MI; US Army, 1st Infantry “The Big Red One”

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