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Gen. Kenney’s report – Reorganization – July 1945

18 July 1945, Okinawa, 90mm AAA-gun emplacement

During the night of 1 July, I found out that the was on Okinawa was not quite over.  Around midnight a party of Japs blundered into a fight with the guards about 50 yards from my tent. I put my pistol on a chair beside the bed.  The shooting died down a little later and I went to sleep.  The next morning, as I was taking off for Manila, Col. ‘ Photo’ Hutchison told me that he had had another battle going on during the night near his HQ.

On July 10th it was announced from Washington that the B-29s in the Marianas would form the 20th Air Force, under Gen. Twining and that those operating from Okinawa would form the 8th Air Force, under Jimmy Doolittle.  The 8th & 20th would together be called the United States Strategic Air Force, with Gen. Spaatz in command.

American soldier, Okinawa

On the same day, Nimitz turned over control of the 7th A.F. to the Far East Air Forces and told the Marine Fighter Wing at Okinawa to operate in conjunction with our (Army) show there.

On the 12th, Lord Louis Mountbatten and a few members of his staff flew from India to Manila for a conference with MacArthur.  We briefed him on the coming Olympic Operation and his staff in turn gave us the details of the proposed British operation to recapture Singapore.

Mountbatten wanted some bombing assistance at that time, if we had any to spare.  MacArthur asked me what I could do.  I gave him the details about the Australians and our B-24s and Mountbatten was quite pleased.

Kyushu Island, July 1945 bombing

All through July we kept moving aircraft into Okinawa from both the 5th and 7th Air Forces.  Generals Whitehead and Tommy White set up their HQ on the island and began the final sweep of Japanese shipping from the Yellow Sea and the Straits of Tusishima, between Japan and Korea.

In conjunction with the B-29 from the Marianas, who were battering the big cities of Japan apart and burning them down, we concentrated our attacks on the island of Kyushu, smashing airdromes, burning up gasoline stocks and wrecking the railway centers, bridges and marshalling yards.

The attacks were being made with a ever-increasing weight, as airdromes were being finished on Okinawa, allowing us to move the aircraft forward from the Philippines and the Marianas.

By the end of July, on an average day, when weather permitted large operations, there would be over 1500 of my airplanes operating along the line from Japan to Formosa to Shanghai to Borneo and the Netherlands East Indies.  Of this number around 600 bombers, strafers and fighters would be attacking targets in Japan itself.

It was a far cry from the days back in 1942, when a raid of 50 or 60 planes was such big news that we boasted about it for days!

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

Great Lakes Training 1945

From: David Hart at https://mywarjournals.com/

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Farewell Salutes – 

Paul Connelly – Tulsa, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII / US Navy, Korea

Brian Hawkins – Pasadena, TX; US Army, 143rd/36th Division, medic

Herbert Hill – Shreveport, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 nose gunner

Ellis Lindsey – SC; US Army, 511th/11th Airborne & 504th/82nd Airborne divisions

William Mercantonio – East Orange, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea, TSgt.

Earl Ray – Cadillac, MI; US Army, MP

Maureen Rodgers – London, ENG; British Navy WRENS, Hut 11 decoder, Bletchley Park

Roland Rioux – Vero Beach, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO / Korea, Cuban Missile Crisis

Nicholas Vollweiler – Pleasant Valley, NY; US Army, K-9 instructor, Japan Occupation

Sam Wagner – Tonville, CO; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

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July 1945 from Gen. Eichelberger

Ge. Robert Eichelberger

On 7 July 1945, General Robert Eichelberger left San Jose, Mindoro, P.I. in a C-47:

Generals Griswold and Byers and a number of other officers were with me.  We came down at Bagabag in 6th Div. territory.  Gen. Hurdis met us and we jeeped to the command post of the 63rd Infantry in the mountains NW on the road to Bontoc.

Luzon airfield

Col. Everett Yon was full of fight and the situation looked good: Yon’s forward elements were withing 200 yards of the hills overlooking a Japanese stronghold at Kiangan, and he expected to take it within a few hours.

There I had my first glimpse of almost naked savages, armed only with spears, who were fighting side by side with our troops.  These were the Ifugaos.  The tribesmen had come down from their villages and thrown in their lot with us.  They were tall, broad-shouldered, splendidly muscled, and despite the cold climate, wore only G-strings.  They carried deerskin packs.

Ifugao Warrior

The first one I met indicated by sign language that he wanted a cigarette.  Since I don’t smoke I couldn’t oblige him.  Col. Yon told me that the Ifugaos were excellent fighters; they were also the best of our native scouts.

My next port of call was the HQ of the 37th Div. at Tuguegarao, where my friend Gen. Bob Beighler met me.  We proceeded to the CP of the 148th Infantry where i had a talk with Col. Delbert Schultz.  The 37th controlled the upper section of the Cagayan Valley and in conjunction with the 11th Airborne, which made a landing at the seaport of Aparri, had seized control of Hwy No. 5 shortly before the 8th Army took over.

Northern Luzon

The job of the 37th was to eliminate by-passed Japanese units, a discouraging job indeed.  This meant going into sections altogether without roads.  The enemy was incapable of offensive action, but the heavy rains aggravated the problem and made it sheer drudgery.

During the next several days, I continued to inspect the troops in the field.  The HQ of the 38th Div., which had been assigned the job of cleaning up central Luzon, was on a ridge only about an hour’s ride east of Manila.  MGen. William Chase met me at Bielson Field and we made the inspection trip to the front together.

Napalm bombing near Ipo Dam

From a high hill, Chase and Gen. Bill Spence pointed out to me the Ipo Dam area and other battlefields of the 38th.  Although the tempo of the fighting was now slowed, 259 Japanese were killed between dawn and dusk and 29 captured.

That evening I wrote gen. MacArthur that I found morale on Luzon very high.  My own morale was high.  I was convinced that the back of the Japanese opposition was broken.  (I might not have been so optimistic if I had known that when IJA Gen. Yamashita finally came out of the mountains, he brought 40,000 of his men with him.)

( This is an example of “mopping-up”)

37th Div. dug-in @ Baguio Cemetery

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Military Humor – 

“That can’t be no combat man. HE’S looking for a fight!!”

Courtesy of Chris @ Muscleheaded

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Norman Christiansen – Des Moines, IA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 3rd Army, combat Engineer

Henry Gerhart Jr. – Reading, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Travis Houser – Hampton, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

James Lansdale – Orlando, FL; Civilian, WWII Historian

Charles McDaniel Sr. – Greenwood, IN; US Army, WWII / Korea, 1st Cavalry Div., medic-Chaplin, MSgt, KIA

Richard Murray – Kansas City, KS; US Navy, WWII

DeWitt Parsons – Battle Creek, MI; US Navy, Korea, navigator

William A. Reilly – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, WWII

Joseph Ryan – Boston, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Frederick Segrest (aka Eddie Hart) – Phenix City, AL; USMC, WWII, PTO

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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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Okinawa – June 1945

Last picture ever taken of Lt.Gen. Buckner, the day before he died

By 10 June, the Marines had captured Yuza Hill.  The 10th US Army suffered severe casualties before they and the USMC advanced to Kunishi Ridge, the western anchor of the Japanese defense; a massive fortress.

Gen. Buckner had been sending messages to Gen. Ushijima, urging him to surrender.  So, when over a dozen Japanese wearing white hats appeared, the Marines assumed they were surrendering and they ceased operations.  Shortly after the enemy soldiers ran, a mortar barrage began.

By morning, the Americans had a foothold on the ridge, but reinforcements were cut down when they tried to advance.  Nine tanks were used to deliver 54 fresh men and supplies, but returned with 22 wounded.  As the battle for Kunishi raged on, the tanks opened a road to continue supplying the Americans.

Okinawa

By 16 June, the US 96th Div. opened a road for the tanks to continue delivering supplies, as air drops were falling into enemy hands.  Only one day later, Kunishi Ridge was considered a “mopping up” operation.

The Marines were sent to Mezado and Kuwango ridges where the enemy fire though intense, was short-lived.  Meanwhile, the Army moved down the Pacific side of the island encountering the enemy at Yaeju Dake-Yuza Dake Escarpment.  Naval gunfire and artillery smothered the enemy as the 10th Army proceeded hill by hill toward the tip of Okinawa, up Hill 89, Ushijima’s headquarters near Mabuni.

18th June – the 8th Marines moved into the line contribute their fresh, full strength to the slow drive.  Army Gen. Buckner decided to leave the outpost he was at and found himself on a hill which afforded him a view of what was actually going on up at the front.  He paused to watch for a few moments.

Oroku Peninsula where Japanese base force made their last stand

By this time, the Japanese artillery had been reduced to next to nothing, no shells had fallen in that area all morning.  However, by some devious quirk of fate, a lone gun somewhere in the shrinking ranks of the enemy let go a few rounds.  The first one felled the general, but no one else near him was injured.  He died before they could evacuate him.

Gen. Geiger took over the command and followed what his late chief would have done.  This was the first instance of a Marine officer commanding an Army unit of that size, though in WWI, MGen. Lejeune had commanded the Army’s Second Division in several operations.

Ambulance jeep, Okinawa

Although Allied land forces were entirely composed of U.S. units, the British Pacific Fleet (BPF; known to the U.S. Navy as Task Force 57) provided about a quarter of Allied naval air power (450 planes). It comprised many ships, including 50 warships of which 17 were aircraft carriers, but while the British armored flight decks meant that fewer planes could be carried in a single aircraft carrier, they were more resistant to kamikaze strikes. Although all the aircraft carriers were provided by the UK, the carrier group was a combined Commonwealth fleet with British, Canadian Australian  and New Zealand ships and personnel. Their mission was to neutralize Japanese airfields in the Sakishima Islands and provide air cover against Japanese kamikaze attacks.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – 

Information on the upcoming events of the Bataan Legacy Historical Society….

http://bataanlegacy.org/future-events.html

Information contributed by Nasuko

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert J. Andrews – Colorado Springs, CO; US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, Lt.Colonel (Ret. 31 y.)

Rosetta Brobst – Laceyville, PA; WWII, US Army, nurse

Athol Currin – Wanganui, NZ; RSA # 816777, J Force 22nd Batt/42 Squadron

Robert Dole – Pearl City, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 665th Ordnance Co.

Dennis Garbis – Falls Church, VA; Vietnam, Lt.Colonel (Ret. 20 y.), Bronze Star

John McCain – Alexandria, VA; US Navy, Vietnam, pilot, USS Forrestal, POW / US Senator

Miriam Olsen – Eugene, OR; US Army, WWII, nurse

Ronald Setniker – Biwabik, MN; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

James Tisdale – Goshen, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division, Bronze Star

John Waite – Clarkston, WA; US Navy, WWII, PTO

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June – 11th Airborne (continued)

11th Airborne w/ 81mm mortar on Luzon

The 11th Airborne battled the Shabu Forces on a 75 mile hike in 120 degree heat to connect up with the Connolly Task Force. The combined goal was to prevent the enemy from escaping into the Cagayan Valley and out to sea. Lt. Col. Burgess met Gen. Beightler, on 26 June, and received a rather snide remark about how his men had saved the 11th A/B. Burgess became quite red-faced and replied that he was under orders to save the 37th Division. Gen. Swift, standing off to one side, laughed and said, “Well, you SOUND like one of Swing’s boys.”

Lipa Airfield, Luzon

The Gypsy Task Force marched away to the 37th’s Headquarters to request C-47s to transport the unit back to Lipa. Burgess was denied and told to counter-march to Aparri and have the trucks take them south to Manila. That would mean they would still need to march another 55 miles from Manila to Lipa. Instead, the men bribed the C-47 pilots with Japanese swords, guns and various other paraphernalia in exchange for a flight back. (Necessity is the mother of invention.)

Bold headlines exploded in the Australian newspapers: U.S. Paratroopers Land In Northern Luzon – “After the 11th A/B Division made their air-borne landing near Aparri on June 23rd., using their gliders for the first time, carrying howitzers, jeeps and mobile equipment. Each trooper jumped with 100 pounds of gear strapped to his body.”

In the 26 June 1945 issue of The Army News – “On Saturday, from 600 feet into paddy fields, the 11th Airborne dropped near the port of Aparri in a surprise move against the Japanese forces in northern Luzon. They used their gliders for the first time in the southwest Pacific…”

3 July, General Swing made an official note stating that he had implored the higher echelon of the Sixth Army two months previous with a plan to drop the entire 11th Airborne Division onto northern Luzon back when Gen. Krueger’s men were having so much trouble with the Japanese in Balete Pass. He expressed his frustration that his own plan to attack Aparri had gone unheeded. The Japanese had been given the opportunity to withdraw just enough to unite with reinforcements.

According to the US Government’s booklet on Luzon,

On 30 June 1945 Krueger’s Sixth Army was relieved by the Eighth Army, whose task was to mop up scattered Japanese positions.  [There we go with that “moping up” terminology again.]

Technically, the battle for Luzon was still not over when Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945. On the northern part of the island Shobu Group remained the center of attention for the better part of three U.S. Army divisions. Altogether, almost 115,000 Japanese remained at large on Luzon and on some of the southern islands.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – 

The remains of 2 Civil War soldiers will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery…

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2018/06/20/bones-of-civil-war-dead-found-on-a-battlefield-tell-their-horror-stories/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.7609f97aa01f

AND….

WWII firearms and swords were found under a Tokyo elementary school….

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/08/06/national/1400-guns-1200-swords-world-war-ii-found-buried-tokyo-elementary-school/#.W2tEg9VKiM8

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bochek – Milwaukee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Daniel Cremin – Sydney, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, ETO, KIA

Joseph Garron – Brooklyn, NY; USMC

Terrell J. Fuller – Toccoa, GA; US Army, Korea, Cpl., D/1/38/2nd Infantry Division, KIA

John Kain – GloucesterCity, PA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

William A, Larkins – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army, Korea, Sgt., A/503 Field Artillery/2nd Infantry Division, KIA

John Magnon – New Orleans, LA; US Navy, WWII

Robert L. Martin – IA & IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Tuskegee pilot

Edward Ranslow – Melville, MA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Francis Sapp – Weston, FL; US Army

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June – 187th/11th Airborne Division

Jump at Aparri, Luzon

With his thoughts still focused on his R&R in Australia, Everett “Smitty” Smith landed back at Lipa City, P.I. only to discover that a mission was scheduled. The last remaining organized Japanese group, the Shabu Forces, were hold up in the northeast corner of Luzon and General Swing had organized the Gypsy Task Force to take them out. On his orders, the unit would include “all Camp MacKall veterans.”

This unique unit would include men from the 187th Infantry, the 511th, the 457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, a platoon from the 127th Engineers and two platoons from B Company. Despite Gen. Krueger’s disapproval, Lt. Col. Henry Burgess, now 26 years old, would be the commanding officer. (Smitty was at the ancient age of 30, one of the oldest paratroopers besides one other soldier and a few of the officers.) Col. Lahti (31) would be CO for the reserve unit.

Task Force Gypsy, Aparri, Luzon

Col. John Lackey, CO of the 317th Troop Carrier Group, with very little notice, began loading 54 C-47s and 13 C-46s at 0430 hours, 23 June 1945. His plane was the first to leave Lipa airstrip and the constant rumbling of the planes soon became “Vs” in the open skies. Within the transports, every man appeared as a clone to the next. Individuality was lost among the uniforms, bundled parachutes and rucksacks filled to capacity with ammunition, first-aid, water and C-rations.

C-47 Skytrain “Gooney Bird”

Each man stood and checked the chute of the man beside him when the “Gooney Birds” lurched at 0900 hours; the smoke flares from the forward Pathfinders were spotted and green lights flashed for the paratroopers. The stick of men hooked up to the static lines and proceeded to jump into vertical development. With mandatory, disciplined silence, the traditional battle cry, “Geronimo,” is only heard within the imaginative faculty of 1,030 men. All these diverse personalities would react separately to the same experience.

Task Force Gypsy

Each man, for his own reasons, volunteered for the perilous duty that might end his life. Each man went through various stages of development and arrived at the same destination. Each man had been chosen for their good health, general toughness and honor. A jump into combat is reality in its most crystalline form.

As the ground races up to meet the troopers, they see the tall, thick fields of the sharp kunai grass, flooded rice paddies, caribou ruts and bomb craters – all would prove dangerous. The Task Force would lose 7%, two men killed and 70 wounded as they landed in 25 mph winds. The battle-hardened paratroopers collected their flame throwers, howitzers and rifles from the gliders and reassembled with “Espirit de Corps.”

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Current News – Tomorrow, 7 August 2018 is Purple Heart Day

purple-heart-day-us-holidays1-640x427.jpg

Over 1.8 million awarded to date.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Hugh Adams – Portland, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Trevor Anstey – Chesterfield, ENG; RAF, WWII

Angel Flight

Gary Bohanick – Virginia Beach, VA; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Michael Gagliardi – Boca Raton, FL; US Army, 127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Freeman Hepburn – brn: Bahamas/Port St. Lucie, FL; US Army

Richard B. “Rick” Long Sr. – Seven Lakes, NC; US Army, Lt. Colonel (Ret.)

Samuel McAllister – Mt. Vernon, NY; US Army, 75th Ranger Regiment, Sgt. Major, (2) Bronze Stars, KIA

Christopher Nelms – Oklahoma City, OK; US Army (28 y.), Delta Force, Sgt. Major, (2) Silver Stars, KIA

Billy Sapp – Reno, NV; USMC, WWII, PTO, 1st Marine Division

Kenneth Walser – Mesa, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea, B-26 pilot

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Eye Witness Account – Clearing Manila Harbor

RAdm. William A. Sullivan

This is condensed from a story written by Rear Admiral William A. Sullivan and appears in”The Pacific War Remembered” edited by John T. Mason Jr.

ship in Manila Harbor

 

When Captain B.S. Huie had arrived with his men, I put the gang to work on North Harbor.  There turned out to be over 200 wrecks there.  Huie cleaned this up and then work began on the Pasig River.  For some weeks we had 40 to 60 wrecks cleaned up per week, this was around the end of May.

crossing the Pasig River

Our most important job in Manila was the opening of the main harbor entrance.  The Japanese did a perfect job blocking it – far more efficient than any similar job the Germans had done in Europe.  There were 5 ships sunk in a staggered line across the entrance.  Four of them were old inter-island ships and one was the Luzon, flagship of the Yangtze patrol.  I had the steering wheel of the Luzon taken off and sent to the naval Academy Museum.

USS Luzon

About this time, Doc Schlesinger advised me to get the men out of the tents they had been living in and put them in solid buildings before rainy season hit.  Requisitions for lumber were ignored.  The lumber was being unload by the SeaBees to build build a tremendous 7th Fleet Headquarters.

I watched them and every afternoon at 4:00 pm, they knocked off and went back to their billets.  One night a lighter was not properly secured and drifted loose.  I sent our boat over to it.  Just what we needed!  The next morning, the SeaBees returned and went to work as usual.

I turned it all over to our firefighters and the houses got built by mostly Filipino carpenters and guerrillas.  No one in the Navy asked where I got the lumber.  The only who asked was General Casey, MacArthur’s chief engineer.  I told him I stole it from the Navy as the Army was short, so I couldn’t have stolen any from them.

We had a job which received much publicity, the recovery of silver pesos from the waters around Corregidor.  I asked MacArthur about using Army divers, but he didn’t want the job of Manila Bay neglected.  A week or two later, he brought the subject up again.  He said the money had been removed from Manila bank before the Japanese complete take-over.  The money was dumped by barges, something like 13 million dollars worth.  The United States had both a legal and moral obligation to recover it.

I made up a team of divers and gave the CO of the ARS his orders and he left with an Army finance officer and a MP.  They found no silver.   An Army Sgt., Bataan Death March survivor, recently released POW, who had worked on the barges, marked the chart with an X.  He also said the Japanese had recovered some of the silver themselves.

Dive ship in Manila Harbor

Finally after many dives, the wooden boxes were located at 90 →130 feet down, deteriorated and broken apart.  The divers had to sift the silt on their hands and knees.  The recovery of the silver continued through my stay.  When I left the Philippines (August 1945), I believe something like 7 million dollars in pesos had been recovered.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

August Bill – Woodland, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Vella Gulf

Patrick Churchill – Oxfordshire, ENG; Royal Marines, WWII, ETO

Joseph DioGuardi – Mount MOrris, NY; US Army, Korea, 11th Airborne Division

Gerald Giles – Lowell, MA; US Army, Cpl., medic

Drensel Haws – Emmett, ID; US Navy, WWII

Dick Marshall – Des Moines, IA; USMC, WWII, PTO

John Reith – LA & CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, P-51 pilot

David South – Bozeman, MT; US Army, WWII, ETO, 85th Div., Silver Star, Bronze Star

Albert Trapanese – Bronx, NY; US Navy, WWII

Charles Wright – Millcreek, UT; USMC, WWII, PTO

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Fort Drum, Luzon, P.I.

Fort Drum, Luzon, P.I.

As the Okinawa battles continued to rage, a completely new type of operation was progressing in Manila Bay, Luzon.

The ruined concrete fort in Manila Bay is Fort Drum. Formerly called Island, it is quite literally the world’s only unsinkable battleship. Certainly deserving of a rightful place in the list of tourist spots, it has a story that is worth re-telling.

When the United States annexed the Philippines in 1898, its defense automatically became their responsibility. In order to defend their latest colony against any future invaders, the US fortified four islands at the mouth of Manila Bay during the period of 1909-1913. These four islands – Corregidor, Caballo, Carabao and El Frail went on to become Fort Mills, Fort Hughes, Fort Frank, and Fort Drum, respectively.

To construct Fort Drum, the US Army Corps of Engineers had to cut the small, rocky island of El Fraile. Taking the rock as the foundation, they erected a concrete fortification that was in the shape of a battleship. Said ”battleship” was 240 feet long, 160 feet wide, and 40 feet above the water line, with walls 30-40 feet thick and a deck 20 feet deep. It had four levels inside that were connected by an axial tunnel that ran across the island and 11 guns.

When the Usaffe got destroyed in Bataan on 25 January 1942, the Japanese began to prepare to shell the island forts. Under the leadership of Maj. Toshinori Kondo, the Japanese began shelling the islands 5 Feb. Their objective to destroy Fort Drum, however, did not materialize, as it remained intact despite being hit over a hundred times.

By 3rd February 1945, a flying column had reached Manila led to a month-long battle to liberate Manila from the Japanese. Despite the ongoing battle, however, the Americans began to clear the fortified islands of Japanese to open Manila Bay for shipping, with Fort Drum being the last island to get liberated.

Retaking Ft. Drum

The Americans devised special tactics to liberate Fort Drum.  On 13 April, a Landing Ship Medium (LSM) and a Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) was sent to pull up alongside Fort Drum.  The LSM had a specially built ramp on top of it, using which it discharged two platoons of soldiers: while the first platoon consisted of crack snipers to cover every opening where Japanese soldiers may appear, the second comprised engineers assigned to plant demolition charges.

The sniper opened up again and a bullet cut through the fatigue jacket of SGT Mack Thomson of Springfield, MO, the colonel’s driver and radio operator. Thomson had been standing amidships unaware that he was a target.  The bullet made seven holes, passing through the outside of the jacket, the baggy pocket and a sleeve.  Thomson wasn’t even scratched.  Another sniper bullet grazed the back of CPL Vincent Glennon’s right hand.  Glennon, an aid man from Gary, IN, had dropped behind a ventilator for protection at the first sniper shot.  The bullet went through the light, thin metal of the ventilator and creased his hand, drawing no more blood than a pin scratch.

Fort Drum

A sailor, Steve Bukovics, a PA native, had worse luck. A Jap shot split the fittings that connected the three air hoses to the gyroscopic sight of his 20mm gun and several pieces of the scattered wreckage were embedded in his throat.  Army and Navy medics teamed up to give him an immediate transfusion and to dress his wounds.  He, Glennon and Thomson were the only casualties.

Once the charges were in position, the LCM poured 3,000 gallons of oil into one of the vents and dumped explosives into the other. Both the LSM and LCM were moved to a safe distance after the fuses were lit.  With the charges detonated, a series of explosions followed that finally blew Fort Drum’s manhole that was 1 ton in weight and 1 meter in diameter 50 meters up into the air. Finally gaining access to the fort on 18th April, the Americans went on to discover 65 dead.

Ft. Drum, bearing her battle scars.

As of today, Fort Drum continues to stand as an old ruin right at the mouth of Manila Bay.  Although no longer in action, it still holds its reputation as being unsinkable.

Unfortunately, though, in spite of all the history, Fort Drum, along with the nearby Fort Frank are still neglected as tourist spots.

 Article condensed from a stories in War History online and Yank Magazine;
Click on images to enlarge.
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Military Humor –

Bill Mauldin cartoon

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Farewell Salutes –

Raymond Barker – Delavan, WI; USMC, WWII, Cpl., KIA (Tarawa)

Richard Bohan – Brooklyn, NY; USMC, Vietnam

Jack Childs – Minneapolis, MN; US Army, Korea, Vietnam, Major (Ret.)

Joanne Gillespie Goldsmith – Chester, PA; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Allen Higgins – AZ; US Army, WWII, ATO, intelligence

Leopoldo Muniz – Milagro, NM; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Burgess “Buck” Rand Jr. – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Air Force, Vietnam

James Stoner – Cape Girardeau, MO; US Army, WWII, ETO

George Truebe – Decatur, IL; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Wayland Wadley – Cedar Key, FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS West Virginia

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Navy Diary for end of March 1945

USS Montpelier

From “Pacific War Diary” by James J. Fahey of the USS Montpelier

Friday, March 16, 1945 – We left Subic Bay, traveled to Mindoro and anchored.  We may be ordered to troops on the southeast side of Mindanao.  We had plane recognition every day as usual.  We have movies of our planes and the enemy’s so we can tell the difference.  Tonight many B-24 bombers returned after a raid on China.  One of the planes came in on 3 motors.

The Press News reported that the Japanese lost approximately 4000 airplanes in the Philippine campaign.  British Lancaster bomber loads were increased to carry 11-ton bombs for the first time yesterday.  They are capable of destroying 5 city blocks each, being the largest bombs in the world.

James J. Fahey

Tuesday, March 20, 1945 – B-29s dropped leaflets on Japan telling the inhabitants that the bombing would cease when they stopped fighting.  They also warned people to stay away from military areas,  Bomber from Iwo Jima will bomb Japan soon.

I left the ship today for recreation on the beach at Mindoro.  We received a ride from an Army truck and went to the town about 10 miles away.  HQ for the 5th Air Force was also accommodated on the island.  I saw a couple of Red Cross girls there.  Some of the men bought corn whiskey from the soldiers.  They paid $17 for one pint.  That must be some kind of record.

Sunday, March 25, 1945 – Today is palm Sunday, our third in the Pacific.  The Australian cruiser Hobart was here, but left yesterday with the Phoenix and Boise.  The Cleveland, Denver and Montpelier are the only cruisers here now.  The men would like to join Bull Halsey’s Third Fleet, but they are only letting the newer ships go with the 3rd.

The other night we were ordered to battle stations.  Around midnight, Jap bombers struck at Manila.  They did not attack the ships in the bay.

USS Franklin, in the Task Force, 60 miles off the coast of Japan. This is what Seaman Fahey was missing. One Japanese “Betty” bomber dropped 2 bombs. All planes on deck were lost as were 832 crew members.

The Press News reported that 274 tons of bombs have been falling on Germany every hour for the past 3 weeks.  This is more than England received during the entire war.  The Japs lost 10,000 aircraft in the past 7 months.

Sunday, April 1, 1945 – A British task force is now operating with the American Fleet off Japan.  Today at noon approximately 100 LCIs arrived.  Some action must be in store.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ted Brewer – Omaha, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, CM Sgt. (Ret. 26 y.)

Willie Cardin – Hartford, CT; US Army, 11th & 82nd Airborne Divisions

Robert Gilmour – Manitoba, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Wendell Hawley – Burlington, VT; US Army, WWII

Alan Konzelman – Patterson, NJ; US Navy, engineer, 6th Fleet

William Lynch – Washington DC; US Navy, WWII, Radioman 3rd Class

Mark Pitalo – Biloxi, MS; USMC, WWII & Korea

Harry Sergerdell – Broad Channel, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII

Thomas Turner – Gaffney, SC; US Navy, WWII, submarine service

Willis Williams – Memphis, TN; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Commander (Ret.)

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