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Luzon | February 1945 (2)

Japanese in Manila

The final attack on the outer Japanese defenses came from the 11th Airborne Division.  The division had been halted at Nichols Field on the 4th and since then had been battling firmly entrenched Japanese naval troops, backed up by heavy fire from concealed artillery. Only on 11 February did the airfield finally fall to the paratroopers, and the acquisition allowed the 11th Airborne Division to complete the American encirclement of Manila on the night of the twelfth.

As February opened, the 7th Allied Air Force continually bombed Iwo Jima, Marcus Island and Corregidor, while the 5th Allied Air Force not only targeted Corregidor, but Cavite, Cebu City, and enemy positions on Mindanao and Borneo.

Col. Robert Soule

The 11th A/B continued on to Tagaytay Ridge where they would come upon more of the enemy. Colonel Soule directed the artillery of the 674th and the 675th while the final assault was made by the infantry. The troopers went uphill through the Mount Cariliao-Mount Batulao defile. This was Shorty Ridge; the eastern area that needed to be free of Japanese before the 511th made their jump. (The regiment had to be capable of meeting up with the rest of the division within twenty-four hours of their landing.) The forward Command Group of the Headquarters Company went through a mile of enemy territory to destroy the resistance on the ridge and make that first contact.

A mere two hours later, the Command Group followed along the fire-swept road and set up the division command post on the ridge. The Reconnaissance Group, right behind them, did not rest, but continued on toward Manila. The Command Group then folded in behind and set up another command post while under heavy fire.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Author’s Note – 

I am having trouble with my wordpress notifications.  They do not always give me a link to return to your site anymore.  I’m doing the best I can to not only get this glitch repaired, but find a way back to each site.

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25 April   |   ANZAC Day

MAY WE ALL REMEMBER ON ANZAC DAY

Let’s all wish our Australian neighbors and friends a memorable ANZAC Day.

For those unaware of its meaning…

“Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served”.

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Current News –

Crocodile in Key West

In South Florida, surprise visitors can crawl on their bellies.  And wear out their welcome.

Naval Air Station Key West had to remove a stubborn crocodile from its airfield on Boca Chica Key so planes could take off and land. The croc was photographed basking in the spring sunshine with a Super Hornet fighter jet in the background.

Navy officials knew what to do. The air station, at mile marker 8, off the Overseas Highway, is located within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.  She had been tagged about  years ago, but now has a new tag.

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Military Humor – 

Quite a tee off position!

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Farewell Salutes – 

Hemming Anderson (104) – Tauranga, NZ; 2nd Expeditionary Force, WWII # 32089

Ian Cosgrove (100) – Winton, NZ; RNZ Army Medical Corps, WWII

Bob R. Hayes (100) – Mt. Vernon, NY; US Army, WWII

Aubie Kreusel – Gansville, LA; Civilian, WWII, Consolidated Vultee Aircraft (B-24 production)

Bernard Lampinen – Ashby, MA; US Navy, WWII

Harold Mann – Columbus, GA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 1255th Engineer Battalion

Jack E. Matson – Rock Island County, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO, SSgt. # 36431461, 382/96th Infantry Division, KIA

George Nelson – Wheatland, WY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Sgt., radioman, 8th Air Force

Hans Petersen – Shelby, DEN; Danish Resistance, WWII

William Ragsdale – TN; USMC, WWII, PTO, Cpl. # 433627, HQ Co/1/24/ 4th Marine Division, KIA (Saipan)

Hillary Soileau – Bunkle, LA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Pvt. # 34233291, Co F/2/27/25th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (“Galloping Horse Hills”, GUAD)

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Luzon

Lt.General E.M. Flanagan

“The advance had been so swift that the Japs who had the steel-trussed span mined were caught on the far side of it. They attempted to get to their detonator but our fire from the west bank of the Palico killed six and forced the rest to withdraw toward Tagaytay Ridge. Capture of the bridge allowed us to keep moving ahead. Its destruction would have seriously delayed us since our engineers did not have the equipment to replace it. Bypassing would have been difficult because the Palico River flows in a deep, steep-sided canyon, as do most of the Luzon Rivers.”___ Gen. E.M. Flanagan

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

US Army, Luzon

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

Nichols Field, Luzon, February 1945

On 4 February 1945, General MacArthur announced the imminent recapture of the capital while his staff planned a victory parade. But the battle for Manila had barely begun. Almost at once the 1st Cavalry Division in the north and the 11th Airborne Division in the south reported stiffening Japanese resistance to further advances into the city. As one airborne company commander remarked in mock seriousness, “Tell Halsey to stop looking for the Jap Fleet; it’s dying on Nichols Field.” All thoughts of a parade had to be put aside.

The final attack on the outer Japanese defenses came from the 11th Airborne Division, under the XIV Corps control since 10 February. The division had been halted at Nichols Field on the fourth and since then had been battling firmly entrenched Japanese naval troops, backed up by heavy fire from concealed artillery. Only on 11 February did the airfield finally fall to the paratroopers, but the acquisition allowed the 11th Airborne Division to complete the American encirclement of Manila on the night of the twelfth.

As February opened, the 7th Allied Air Force continually bombed Iwo Jima, Marcus Island and Corregidor, while the 5th Allied Air Force not only targeted Corregidor as well, but Cavite, Cebu City, enemy positions on Mindanao and Borneo.

Luzon and the 11th Airborne

References: “Angels: The History of the 11th Airborne Division by Gen. EM Flanagan Jr.; US Army History: Luzon; Pacific Wrecks & US Navy records; “Our Jungle Road To Tokyo” and “Dear Miss Em” by Gen. Robert Eichelberger.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frederick H. Alvet – Catharpin, VA; USMC, WWII, Purple Heart  /  US Army, Korea

Sanford K. Bowen – Ashland County, OH; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pfc. # 35308473, I Co/3/157/45th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Reipertswiller, FRA)

Luxembourg-American Cemetery

Frank Cota – Archdale, NC; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT/11th Airborne, (Ret. 24 y.)

Elizabeth Elliott, Toronto, CAN; Women’s Royal Air Force, WWII

Patrick Francis – Brooklyn, NY; USMC, WWII, PTO, 1st Lt., Silver Star, Purple Heart

George Gilbert – Indianapolis, IN; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fire Controlman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Leslie C. Hallock – Duncan, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co B/188th/11th Airborne Division

Gerald R. Helms – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt. # 36306478, Co E/325 GIR/82nd Airborne Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Katerbosch, NETH)

Wilbur F. Newton – Mound City, MO; US Navy WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class # 3760544, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Robert Novotney – Kadoka, SD; US Navy, WWII, APO & PTO, fireman, USS Bearss (DD-654)

Winfield W. Scott Jr. – Colorado Springs, CO; US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, pilot, West Point grad ’50, West Point superintendent, Lt. General (Ret. 40 y.)

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A tribute to my parents on their 79th wedding anniversary if they are here today

From fellow blogger, Rosalinda Morgan, we receive a first hand account of when Smitty was on Luzon…

Subli

With the war going on in Ukraine, I thought of the war in the Philippines when I was a baby. War is a terrible thing, and in memory of my parent’s 79th wedding anniversary, I’m reposting this story of how Dad’s decision saved our lives from the massacre. Otherwise, my three brothers and I won’t be here today. Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! Love you both and miss you every day!

I sent this story four years ago to a fellow blogger, GPCox, who blogs about WWII in the Pacific at https://PacificParatrooper.wordpress.com. It is an excerpt from my book, BAHALA NA, Come What May. If you’re a fan of WWII Pacific Theatre, go and visit Pacific Paratrooper and say hello to GP.

Thank you.

Mom and Dad are on the terrace during their 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration at their home.

My father told me this story of what happened…

View original post 1,017 more words

HMAS Australia

HMAS Australia

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

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

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

Aussie damage

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

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

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

Aussie damage

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

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

funnel damage

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

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

The Australian Navy link includes some fantastic photographs!

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – 

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

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

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lingayen Gulf | January 1945

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

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

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

USS Columbia, hit by kamikaze

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

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

Rear Admiral Theodore Chandler

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

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

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

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

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

USS Louisville during kamikaze attack

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

For some additional information on the Kamikaze, Click HERE.

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

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

The Flag flies in all weather, courtesy of Dan Antion

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

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

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

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

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

George Pendleton – Bristol. RI; US Navy, WWII

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

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

Richard Watson – Gorham, ME; US Army, WWII

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1 January 1945

5th Air Force strafing Clark Air Field, 1945

 

Ringing in the new year 1945 with fireworks had a far different meaning in the Pacific and CBI Theaters than we’re used to.  It began with ______

In the Philippines – bombings of Clark Field on Luzon and Sasa on the island of Mindanao.  Wasile Bay enemy bivouac areas felt the bombardments from overhead B-24’s and B-25’s.  Manila saw the fighter-bombers as shipyards and other airfields and ammunition dumps were blown.  US Air Force planes sank the Japanese ship No. 7, Taiko Maru and No. 3, Taiwan Maru, off Masinloc, P.I.

Philippine Islands

Also in the Philippines – the USS Stingray delivered 35 tons of supplies to Filipino forces on the north coast of Tawi Tawi.   HMS Staesman sank four small Japanese vessels with gunfire northeast of Sumatra.

In the Netherland East Indies – the IJN Kyyokku Maru was sunk by a mine that was previously laif by HMN Tradewind off Mergui.

From Saipan – The 7th Air Force had 19 B-24’s bomb Iwo Jima.  This was followed by additional bombers during the evening hours in waves.

In China – railroads, warehouses, industry and gun positions were bombed.  Suchow Airfield lost 25 aircraft.  Armed ground reconnaissance units hit between Xiaolan and Hsuchang.

India-Burma – had the tenth Air Force bombing furl dumps, villages, supply areas, tanks and enemy troops at several locations.  Four other targets of opportunity were found along the Irrawaddy River while large-scale transport operations proceeded as planned.

When we last spoke in the war posts, the 11th Airborne Division was on Leyte and still battling a well dug-in enemy in the uncharted mountains of the island.   As the fighting for the 11th Airborne on Leyte came to a close, the battalions worked their way back to Bito Beach.  The 674th and 675th Glider Field Artillery and the 457th Parachute Field Artillery remained in strategic positions to cover them.

Despite MacArthur declaring Leyte secure on Christmas Day 1944, even Gen. Robert Eichelberger said in relation to the “mopping-up” his men were left with, “The Japanese Army was still intact.  I was told there were only 6,000 Japanese left on the island…  Soon Japanese began streaming across the Ormoc Valley… well equipped and apparently well-fed.  Between Christmas Day and the end of the campaign we killed more than 27,000 Japanese…”

Col. Austin “Shifty” Shofner, USMC, [ the only man to lead a successful escape from a Japanese POW camp (1943)], was assigned to the Army’s 37th Division as an observer and boarded the USS Mount McKinley at New Guinea and sailing for Luzon.  Within a week, he would witness the onset of the Kamikaze Special Attack Force aiming their aircraft at the US Navy in Lingayen Gulf.  The future Brigadier General would assist in the planning of the rescue plans of the Cabanatuan POW camp where over 500 Allied survivors of the Bataan Death March were being held.

Col. Shafer being tended to.

References used: “Pacific War” by John Davison; Pacific Wrecks; “The Pacific” by Hugh Ambrose; WW2 Timelines, World War 2 Photos and “Our Jungle Road To Tokyo” by Gen. Robert Eichelberger.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frederick W. Anderson (100) – Southington, CT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT Base # 2

Lee Anthony – Petrolia, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Rome E. Barr – Martins Ferry, OH; US Navy, WWII, USS Loy (Destroyer Escort)

Nando A. Cavalieri – Eveleth, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Captain, 324/91/8th Air Force, B-17G pilot, KIA (Döberitz, GER)

Edward Conway – Canon City, CO; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Electrician’s Mate 1st Class # 3718589, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Don D. Dowler Jr. – Clarinda, IA; US Army, Korea, Pfc., Co D/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Edwyna Green (100) – Summerset, NZ; NZ Women’s Air Corps, WWII, LCPL # 812146

Richard “Demo Dick” Marcinko – Langsford, PA; US Navy, Vietnam, Iran, SEAL Team # 6 Commander, 4 Bronze Stars, Silver Star (Ret. 25 y.)

Wilbur F. Newton – Mound City, MO; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class # 3760544, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Henry Steele – Corbett, OR; US Army

Jack Tison – Bifay, FL; US Army, WWII, PTO, Medic

Betty White – Oak Park, IL; Civilian, WWII, American Women’s Volunteer Service, PX truck driver  /  Beloved Actress

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Closing 1944 with General Kenney

Gen. George C. Kenney

Being as the 5th Air Force, especially the 54th Troop Carrier Group, were operating so close to the 11th Airborne for so much of the war, I chose to finish up 1944 with the first-hand account from their commander….

 

General Kenney, Commander of the Fifth Air Force reported:

Sky Lancers

“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.

“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.

“At 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.

417th, Lindbergh with Col. Howard Ellmore

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.”

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Military Humor – 

“OKAY – You got the C-17 ON the carrier -NOW, how are you going to get it OFF?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Marvin D. Actkinson – Sudan, TX;US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co B/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Hugh R. Alexander – Potters Mills, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Lt. Comdr., USS Oklahoma, Silver Star, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Kenneth Barhite – Alden, IA; US Army, WWII, PTO, 2nd Lt.,158th RCT/Americal Division

Mary M. Bevan – Greenwich, CT; USMC, WWII

Louis Block – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII

Hubert P. Clement – Inman, SC; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fire Controlman 1st Class # 2619359, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Clayton L. Cope – Alton, IL; US Navy, USS Eisenhower

Donald Peterson – Auburn, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Lt., USS Rotanin

Tceollyar Simmons – Hacoda, AL; US Navy, WWII, Seaman 2nd Class # 3115534, USS California, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Thomas Smith (100) – Early Branch, SC; US Navy, WWII, Radioman 1st Class

Harvey Swack – OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, aircraft mechanic

Larry Virden – Edwardsville, IL; US Army, Iraq

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SANTA’S ON HIS WAY!!

Leyte | start of November 1944

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].

Breakneck Ridge, Leyte; courtesy of Koji Kanemoto

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.

Breakneck Ridge (highlighted) map

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.

IJN Shimakaze

10→11 November – Another Japanese convoy, carrying 10,000 reinforcements for Leyte, escorted by 4

Japanese transport under attack

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.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Adrian Cervini – Flint, MI; USMC, Korea

Margaret Christie – Toronto, CAN; Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service, WWII

Final Mission

Joseph Devlin – Johnstown, PA; US Navy, WWII, submarine service

Roy D. Eneroth – Thornton, WA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Wesley E. Graham – Watervliet, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor )

John Klunder – E.Elmurst, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman 1st Class, USS Fayette (APA-43)

Anthony R. Mazzulla – Bronx, NY; US Army, Korea, 1st Lt., Co B/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

George E. Park – Bedford, MA; US Navy, WWII, Quartermaster/Navigator, USS Bunker Hill

Duane I. Pierce – Lyndon, VT; US Navy, WWII, PTO

William Potoka Sr. – Mt. Pleasant, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co C/127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

John R. Samuelson – Page, City, KS; US Army, WWII

Jim Warnica – Clovis, NM; US Navy, WWII, PTO

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Leyte continued

LST’s # 66,67,18,245,102 on 20 October 1944

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.

Yamashita Tomoyuki, 1945

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.

airfield construction

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 surveys Leyte beach, 1944

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.”

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Military Humor – 

“You’re doing it wrong.”

Practice aircraft carrier??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Keefe R. Connolly – Markesan, WI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Hospital Apprentice 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Daniel Coons Jr. – Fort Madison, IA; US Army, WWII

Joe Chadwell Tullahoma, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Charles A. Day – Redwood, CA; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Colonel (Ret.)

Stanley L. DeWitt – Royal City, IN; US Army, Korea, Sgt., Medical Detachment/57th FA/ 7th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Robert C. Martin – Lakemore, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, radio/gunner, Putple Heart

Mortimer Goodkin – Short Hills, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ATO (Adak, AK)

Robert Killey Sr. – Elmira, NY; US Coast Guard

Reuben Klamer – Canton, OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, V-7 program  / boardgame developer

Michael T. MIles – Wikes Barre, PA; US Army

Joe R. Nightingale – Kalamazoo, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Elizabeth Thew – Hopeswell, VA; Civilian, WWII, Corsair cockpit construction / military librarian

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Leyte, Philippines begins

Leyte, Oct. 1944

20 October – the X and XXIV Corps of the 6th Army, under General Krueger, made their amphibious landing on a 25-mile (40 km) stretch of coastline between Dulag and Tacloban on the eastern side of Leyte.

At 0945, the 1st Cavalry went ashore on White Beach, the 24th Infantry Division went on their left at Red Beach and the 96th Infantry Division landed further south on Orange and Blue Beaches.  They all moved inland for about a mile, hitting stiffer resistance as they went.

MacArthur observing the beach at Leyte

The 7th Infantry Division at Violet and Yellow Beaches had the lightest opposition, but Dulag was taken by the following day.  MacArthur described the view he witnessed from the flag bridge of the USS Nashville:

“Landings are explosive once the shooting begins and now thousands of guns were throwing their shells with a roar that was incessant and deafening.  Rocker vapor trails criss-crossed the sky and black, ugly ominous pillars of smoke began to rise.  High overhead, swarms of airplanes darted into the maelstrom.  And across what would have ordinarily been a glinting, untroubled blue sea, the black dots of the landing craft churned towards the beaches.

“From my vantage point, I had a clear view of everything that took place.  Troops were going ashore at Red Beach near Palo, at San Jose on White Beach and at the southern tip of Leyte on tiny Pansom Island…”

Gen. MacArthur walking into the Philippines.

MacArthur became impatient and ordered a landing craft to carry him and President Osmeña to Red Beach for a dramatically staged arrival back to the Philippines.  But the boatload of VIP’s and press were caught in a traffic jam of vessels making an effort to the same makeshift pier.  The harassed beachmaster directed the VIP’s away and said, “Let ’em walk!” This more and likely is the reason for his surly expression in the famous photograph, despite him trying later to create a better one.

Mac went into the 24th’s area and sat on a log with Osmeña and a Signal Officer gave the general a microphone.  The “Voice of Freedom” was back on the air and Mac gave his speech, “People of the Philippines, I have returned…”  His aides noticed that the speech left him shaken and visibly moved.

By evening, a 17-mile beachfront was taken with only light casualties, but a serious enemy counter-attack came with Japanese torpedoes bombers that scored a hit on the USS Honolulu.  Approximately 22,000 enemy troops were dug into their positions in the hills behind Tacloban.


The X Corps had unfavorable conditions in terrain and sporadic mortar and artillery fire which caused them to take 5 days to complete unloading.  This however did not prevent them from the establishment of their beachhead.

MacArthur’s summary:

“The enemy’s anticipation of attack in Mindanao caused him to be caught unawares in Leyte and the beachheads of the Tacloban area…  The naval forces consisted of the 7th US Fleet, the Australian Squadron and supporting elements of the 3rd US Fleet.  Air support was given by naval carrier forces, the Far East Air Force, and the Royal Australian Air Force.  The enemy’s forces include the 14th Army Group under Field Marshall Count Terauchi, of which 7 divisions have been identified – 16th, 26th, 30th, 100th, 102nd, 103rd and the 105th.”

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Current News – Happy 74th Birthday to the U.S. Air Force 9/18/1947 

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/?s=air+force+birthday

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Military Humor – 

“The situation in Iraq appears to be going well, gentlemen. THAT however, is a map of Staten Island.”

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Farewell Salutes – 

James C. Barnhart – Somerset, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart / Korea, Purple Heart

A. Charles Casadonte Jr. – Herkimer, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co. B/111 Medical Battalion

Keith Dunker – Dayton, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Pt., pilot

Lester Flack – Guest, KY; US Army, WWII, 22 Infantry Division

Richard Gartee – Monroe, MI; US Navy, WWII

David M. Hardy Jr. – Tucson, AZ; US Navy, WWII, USS Louisville

Richard G. Hudak – Elizabeth, NJ; USMC, Vietnam, Captain

Teppo K. Jokinen – brn: Hyvinkää, FIN/ Everett, WA; Finnish Air Force

Paul Mazal – Loomis, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, P-47 pilot, Lt.  # O-763693, 513/406th Fighter Group, KIA (GER)

Andrew Pellerito – MI; USMC, WWII, PTO, Cpl. # 355031, Co. K/3/2nd Marine Div., KIA (Betio, Tarawa)

Joseph C. Rouse – Riverside, NC; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class # 2624770, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Helen Scallion – Birmingham, AL; Civilian, WWII, B-24 & 25 electrical system construction

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