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Intermission Story (12) – CBI – Eye Witness Account

Richard Sherman

Richard Sherman trained as a bombardier and navigator for B-25 bombers. He served in the 11th bomb squadron. He served 13 months in China, during which he flew 52 missions and was shot down once. During that time, only seven men from his squad were lost.

He was shot down on February 13th, 1944. What they thought was a Chinese fishing vessel was a Japanese warship in disguise.

Sherman used his “pointy-talky,” a Chinese-English dictionary, to communicate with the Chinese to get help getting to a place where they could get picked up.

WWII pointie-talkie

One of the Chinese told him that the dictionary wasn’t necessary – he spoke perfect English. The Chinese took the Americans by charcoal-powered bus, occasionally stopping to stir the charcoal. At every village they came to, the people held a celebration. Sherman has a piece of cloth, signed by the Chinese, as a memento of this time. Only later did he learn that the Japanese would have killed him and the Chinese who signed the cloth if they had found it.

Sherman claims he didn’t have enough sense to be scared. That, along with his training, kept him from panicking – but there would be tense times while in China.

Raids into China were typically scheduled in the morning. The flight to pick up Sherman and his crew was later in the day. The Japanese were bombing the American airfield, so the flight kept getting pushed back.

11th Bomb Squadron

The flight crew was told to contact the Chinese for instructions on where to land. As the day turned to night, the crew was unable to see a runway when someone on the radio told them to “put your wheels down and get ready to land.” Suddenly, kerosene lamps outlined the strip.

Sherman’s parents had received telegrams stating that he was MIA. Now they received one from the Red Cross stating that they should disregard any previous message. At that point, they knew that he was OK.

Flight crew of the B-24 Liberator airplane, named ‘Betty J’ 11th Bomb Squadron

As a bombardier, Sherman sat towards the front of the plane. Once, his plane was hit by Japanese fire, sending Plexiglass into his arms and face. Seventy-one years later, an x-ray technician noticed that he had a foreign object between his eyes. Since it had been there so long without causing issues, it was decided to keep it there. Sherman received the Purple Heart for that mission.

Gen. Claire Chennault always knew where his men were, according to Sherman. Chennault was not one to kid around, but if you did your job, you would have no trouble from him.

General C. Chennault

After WWII, Sherman worked at Olin Mathieson. One day he received a phone call asking how quick he could get his clothes together and get to Cincinnati. Five days later, he called his wife Pat to tell her he was in Germany. The Russians and Germans had moved tanks to the Berlin Wall, making the U.S. nervous. Sherman was put in charge of the automotive division, which was required to be able to pack up and move overnight, if necessary.

Chennault continued to be connected throughout Sherman’s lives. Their son became friends with Chennault’s grandson when they attended Neville High School together. Also, the Shermans, along with Nita Brinson and others, helped start the Aviation Historical Museum that is now known as the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum. Sherman has some memorabilia on display in the museum.

They also have several paintings that Chennault painted after retiring from the military.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Personal Note – icon_lol

Please check out the honor365 site– they are honoring Smitty today !!!!

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Military Humor –

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Ben Angel – Native Tewa American; Las Vegas, NV; US Army, Military police

Colin Bower – Queensland, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII

Michael ‘Red’ Cerio Sr. – Emira, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Antietam

A soldier from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, waits amid the gravestones during funeral services for Army Spc. Sean R. Cutsforth, of Radford, Va., a member of the 101st Airborne who was killed in Afghanistan in December, Feb. 24, 2011, (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Anthony Formosa – San Francisco, CA; US Navy, WWII

Edward Gray – Newark, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division, Bronze Star

Ty Hardin – Austin, TX; US Army, Korea, 1st Lt., pilot; (beloved actor)

Richard Klenoski Sr. – Saginaw, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Lt.Colonel (Ret. 26 years)

James Lancaster – Denver, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Hugh McCormick Jr. – Baltimore, MD; US Navy, WWII, ETO, Cmdr. (Ret.) subchaser SC-525

Harry Patrie – Celina, OH; US Navy, WWII

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Dowsett’s War, Part 6 – Changi Prisoner

In leading up to Purple Heart Day on Monday, 7 August 2017, we honor another POW for his sacrifices.

The Rant Foundry

Three prisoners at Shimo Songkurai in 1943. The effects of malnutrition can be seen in their skeletal frames and the stomach of the man on the right, distended by beri beri. The photograph was one of the last to be taken by George Aspinall on the camera he smuggled up to the Thai–Burma railway from Changi. [By courtesy Tim Bowden] Three Australian prisoners at Shimo Songkurai in 1943. The effects of malnutrition can be seen in their skeletal frames and the stomach of the man on the right, distended by beri beri. The photograph was one of the last to be taken by George Aspinall on the camera he smuggled up to the Thai–Burma railway from Changi. [Photo by G. Aspinall]

“The place earned the title of Hellfire Pass, for it looked, and was, like a living image of hell itself.”
Jack Chalker, Burma Railway: Images of War, London, Mercer Books, 2007, 59

For the other chapters of Dowsetts War, click here.

Douglas France Dowsett, a driver with the 22nd Infantry Brigade Australian Army Service Corps Supply (AASC) Section was held along with roughly 15,000 other servicemen of the Australian Army’s 8th Division in the British Army’s Selarang Barracks, Changi. It was a prisoner of war camp holding some…

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Lt. William J. Lang (1919-1944)

A more personal look at the Arisan Maru‘Hell ship’.

Texas History Notebook

Bill Lang was an aviator in WWII.  Bill was the son of prominent Dallas architect William J. Lang, Sr. and the grandson of Otto H. Lang, both of whom were well known in the area.  The Lang name had long been associated with the architectural firm Lang and Witchell, a company that designed many of the buildings that still stand in Dallas.

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Christmas in January 1943

Cabanatuan Prison Camp

Cabanatuan Prison Camp

Commander Melvin H.McCoy of the U.S.Navy had survived the Bataan death march on the Philippines and was now in the notorious Davao Prison camp on Mindanao. Like most prisoners of the Japanese they were on starvation rations and men were dying on a daily basis.

On 29th January 1943 they got a lucky break. For whatever reason the Japanese had for once decided to hand over the Red Cross parcels that had been sent from the States. This was a very irregular event. Many prisoners of the Japanese never saw any of them.

Red Cross parcel

Red Cross parcel

The importance of such support from home could never be underestimated:

“It’s Christmas, Commander McCoy!” he shouted. “It’s Christmas!”

I was well aware that Christmas had already passed, practically without notice, so I asked him to explain his excitement.

“Stuff from home,” he babbled. “Boxes from the States. Red Cross boxes.”

I had quickened my pace, and by now I was trotting along beside him. Then I must confess that both of us broke into a run, a headlong dash for the barracks.

The news was true. There were, indeed, Red Cross boxes, and two for each prisoner. More than that, they meant to each of us … home. As each prisoner ripped open a box, I suspect that there were many besides myself who worked with a catch in the throat.

I will make no attempt to describe the joy with which those Red Cross boxes were received. Just as there is no word for “truth” in the Japanese language, neither are there any words known to me which could describe the feelings with which we greeted this first communication from our homeland. And what a welcome message those boxes contained!

First of all, there was coffee – a concentrate which tasted better than any steaming cup I had ever drunk to cheer an icy night on the bridge of a ship at sea. It was the first I had tasted since a smuggled sip in Old Bilibid Prison, back in Manila. There were chocolate bars, there was cheese, there were tinned meats and sardines, there were cigarettes, and there was a portion each of tea, cocoa, salt, pepper and sugar. Best of all, there were sulfa drugs and precious quinine!

Red Cross packages

Red Cross packages

Since I did not smoke, I very quickly made an advantageous trade for my cigarettes – the only tobacco available for those who used it was a coarse native leaf which grew within the prison confines. Often this was not available, and the prisoners resorted to corn silk and dried leaves. In my trading, however, I could find nobody who would give up a crumb of his cheese: we had known no butter, milk or any kind of dairy product since our capture….Our Christmas had been delayed, but it was one of the most enjoyable many of us will ever remember.

In addition, to the two boxes received by each prisoner, each of us also received fifteen cans of corned beef or meat-and-vegetable stew. This was rationed to us by the Japanese at the rate of two cans a week, and it therefore lasted us approximately eight weeks. The food during those eight weeks was the best and most nourishing I received in all the eleven months of my imprisonment by the Japanese.

But our belated Christmas rejoicings had a dark side, too. In the first place, we learned that our precious Red Cross supplies had been received aboard a diplomatic ship back in June of 1942, in Japan. We never learned why it took them some seven months to reach us in Davao. More catastrophic was the fact that, as soon as our boxes were received, the Japanese promptly discontinued the meager supply of vegetables which we had been rationed in the past. And when each man had eaten the last of his fifteen cans of meat, the vegetables still were withheld from us.

In short, we were back on the same rations we had received at Cabanatuan – lugao in the morning, and rice with a half-canteen cupful of watery camote-top soup for the other two meals.

At first the diet was fair, consisting mainly of rice, salt, sugar, and vegetables. Some of the comments made by the prisoners on the food in those days run as follows: “We grown our own food, including rice in paddies. Still living well on farm.” “Working on poultry farm for our own consumption.” “We eat lots of rice three times a day, banana buds and green papaya, mongo beans, camotes, and jack fruit [which] makes good soup. Native jungle food good.”

On 29 January 1943 each prisoner received one and one-half Red Cross packages, which helped somewhat, but at the same time the Japanese stopped issuing any food, and did not restore the original issue, even after the Red Cross supplies had been exhausted.

Cabantuan POW camp

Cabantuan POW camp

In April of this year the rice ration was cut one-third, after ten prisoners had escaped, and in August it was cut a second time. For a time the Japanese set up a canteen where they sold dried bananas, but this did not last long. Later they put some moldy tobacco leaves on sale, which the prisoners bought eagerly, in spite of their moldy condition.

Reports from returned prisoners show that in the later days of the camp the Japanese took more and more of the food the prisoners raised on the farm for themselves, leaving only a very little for the men. They also forbade the prisoners to eat the wild food that grew in the vicinity of the camp.

OFFICE OF THE PROVOST MARSHAL GENERAL: REPORT ON AMERICAN PRISONERS OF WAR INTERNED BY THE JAPANESE IN THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS

http://ww2today.com/

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Current News – 

ta-plane-art

Dive team explores the wreckage of a WWII Tuskegee aircraft – 

http://www.stripes.com/news/us/dive-team-explores-wreckage-of-tuskegee-airman-s-wwii-plane-1.363937

$1. bill with a message

$1. bill with a message

Heart-warming story of returning a 1942 $1. bill – 

http://www.stripes.com/news/veterans/longshot-hunch-brings-veteran-s-63-year-old-war-dollar-home-to-grandson-in-maine-1.364407?utm_source=Stars+and+Stripes+Emails&utm_campaign=Military+History&utm_medium=email

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Military Humor – nurse

uso

Courtesy of Chris @ Muscleheaded

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Farewell Salutes – 

Gino Ascani – Chicago Heights, IL; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

Elario Banuelos – Boyle Heights, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 7th Air Force

Frank Funk – Tucson, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 463rd Bomb Group/15th Air Corps, POW

Ira Kelly – Boston, PA; US Army, Vietnam, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, POW

Harold Konvalinka – Clarksville, TN; US Air Force (Ret.), WWII, POW

Glenn Maddy Sr. – Helena, OH; US Army, WWII, ETO, 65th Division, Purple Heart, POW

Joseph Ondrejka – Rockford, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 460th/15 Air Force, Purple Heart, POW

James Pappas – Bradenton, FL; US Army, WWII, POW

Armond Provencher – South Berwick, ME; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, POW

David “Pops” Reed – Virginia Beach, VA; US Army, Korea, POW

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CBI POW

Des Bettany on the beach

Des Bettany on the beach

Des Bettany

Prisoner of war camps and internment camps were a large part of WWII and many would not have survived without retaining their own unique sense of humor.  One such prisoner was Des Bettany who painted and sketched to retain his sanity.  To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Singapore, he was asked to write this article in 1991.  This is a condensed version…

Bettany hand-written transcript of POW memories

Bettany hand-written transcript of POW memories

“On our arrival in Singapore, in November 1941, we entrained up country to Mantin.  The unit, the 88th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, became part of the 9th Indian Division, and the 3 batteries were sent to where the Repulse and Prince of Wales were sunk.  Eventually the battery was sent back over Fraser’s Gap to the west coast, north of Kuala Lumpur, and took part in the fights, skirmishes and battles down the Peninsular to Singapore.  After capitulation we were all marched to Changi, after disabling and destroying our guns.

“What remains clear is that throughout the period of privation, starvation and slavery, hope, faith and confidence in our eventual release remained optimistically constant.  Rumors abounded but I particularly remember the night of the D-Day landings in Normandy.  When the report reached us, the whole camp within and without the jail began to stir and murmur – to the consternation of the Japanese.  This was accepted as fact, but the stories of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic bombs was met with disbelief.

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“Some things remain clear – the never ending struggle to bolster insufficient rations; the treatment of working parties by 3rd class Japanese and Korean privates, some of whom had never seen a European before; the roadside display of severed heads, the lashings and tortures of Chinese and Indian labourers as well as POWs and complete disregard for the sick.

“But there was also the ingenious use of material shown in building accommodation, chapels, theatres and essentials.  The concerts, shows and plays were quite excellent as were talks and lectures by experts.  Many miracles of surgery occurred under very trying conditions.

AIF Theatre program from Selarang

AIF Theatre program from Selarang

“At an early date, working parties left Changi for camps in Towner Road and Sarangoon Road, etc.  We worked at cleaning up the damage in Singapore and the dock area.  Igenious methods of sabotage were used both here and other working parties.  We were forced to clean up transit camps for Japanese fighting soldiers to provide R&R.  They would lace the bedding with bed bugs.  There was nothing better than seeing those men in the middle of the night outside, scratching and stripping off their clothes – NO R&R.

“At the time of the Selarang Square incident in Changi, parties began leaving to work on the Burma Railway.  After returning, we were moved to the jail and surrounds, and from there until repatriation, went to work daily clearing a corner of the Changi area and creating a fighter strip.  This still exists, but has grown into the Changi International Airport.

Liberation!

Liberation!

“My worst personal worst moments came when I had to appear before the Japanese Commandant and an assortment of interpreters to try and explain, to humourless Japanese officers, a book of political cartoons I had drawn.  I had lent the book to a careless person who allowed it to fall into their hands.  This was at a time that the war was going badly for Germany and Japan and this was reflected in the cartoons.  I was extremely lucky to get away with my whole skin.  I never saw the book again. [But he did redraw much of it from memory after his release].

Lance Bombardier Des Bettany passed away in 200 at the age of 81.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Dave Arnce – Brandenburg, KY; US Army (Ret.), Vietnam

Otto Barnick – GER & Medina, OH; US Army, Sgt. (Ret. 22 years), Vietnam, Purple Heart, Bronze Star

Charlie Dewese – Southside, TN; US Army, Maj. (Ret.), Vietnam, Purple Heart, Bronze Starflag

Douglas Grimes – US & CAN; USMC, Vietnam

Jay Kritz – NPalm Beach, FL; US Navy, USS Saratoga

Robert Lindsay (101) – Auckland, NZ; Regimental # 31905, WWII, 2nd Div., Signals

Nick Nishimoto – Hawaii; US Army, Korea, 25th Infantry Regiment

Thomas Y. Ono – Oahu, HI; US Army, WWII, ETO, DSC / Korea, 25th Infantry Regiment, POW

Murray Resk – WPalm Beach, FL; US Army, WWII

Donald Schwartz – Sandy, UT; US Army, WWII

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Fepows

F Force enroute to the Burma Railroad, by Otto Kreeft

F Force enroute to the Burma Railroad, by Otto Kreeft

Fepows – Far Eastern POWs

Countless films and books concerned with the Second World War have, through the decades, concentrated on Europe and the Holocaust and the Far East prisoners of war have barely been mentioned.  The official 5 volumes of British history for this war include only 10 pages devoted to the subject, compared to the Australian history with 170 pages.

sketch by Jack Chalker, Fepow;British Army, Konyu, Thailand

sketch by Jack Chalker, Fepow;British Army, Konyu, Thailand

Japan’s army conquered the Far East in 1941-42.  Prisoners were taken from Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaya, Thailand, Java, Sumatra, Ambon, New Britain, Celebes, Guam and the Philippines.  According to the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, Japan took more than 50,000 British and Australian troops in Singapore alone; 42,000 Dutch (N.E.I.); 10,000 British in Java and 25,000 Americans in the Philippines and then transported to the mainland camps.

The Japanese government made its position known in 1942, through its legation in Bern, Germany.  They felt they were not bound by the Geneva Convention, but it would apply the rules as far as it was possible – mutatis mutandis (with necessary changes).  By Japanese standards, the men who were captured had shamed themselves; they were contemptible, expendable and “white.”  But, the Japanese treated their own soldiers as badly as the prisoners.  Although most every rule of the Geneva Convention was broken, not every huard was cruel and not every camp a hell-hole.

Australians, rice in the rain, by Ray Parkin, Fepow, Australian Army.

Australians, rice in the rain, by Ray Parkin, Fepow, Australian Army.

Generally, the prisoners conformed to national stereotypes.  The British tried to preserve the class system, with the officers maintaining their privileges.  The Australians were generous to their “cobbers,” but where also considered the most skillful at robbing or tricking the Japanese.  The Americans were the most entrepreneurial, but some of their rackets were worthy of the Mafia.

The Americans offended the Australians because of their ignorance about other countries and an unsubstantiated superiority complex and they made insulting remarks about the menial status as a pawn of Britain.  The Americans in turn found the Australians smug, opinionated and inexplicably fond of monarchy and pageantry.  Both saw the British as arrogant, stiff-necked, inflexible and acting superior.

40 km south of Thanbyuzayat, Burma (Hidden POW camera)

40 km south of Thanbyuzayat, Burma
(Hidden POW camera)

For most Britons, the war ended on VE Day in 1945 – the soldiers still fighting in Burma became the “forgotten army.”  That made the Fepows not only forgotten, but forsaken.  It would take them more than 50 years to receive any proper compensation from the British government.

Catholic Church at Chungkai, by Jack Chalker

Catholic Church at Chungkai, by Jack Chalker

According to Ronald Searle, former Fepow, “When the memories  have vanished, their story will be a mere milestone in history.  All the personal misery and suffering that captivity entailed will become simply words on a page.  The Fepows have been described as members of the world’s ‘most exclusive and impenetrable’ club… Something that is difficult to explain to those unfortunates who are outside our “club”, who have never experienced what it means to be dirt and yet privileged to be surrounded by life-saving comradeship.”

rice arrives, hidden camera, George Aspinall, Australian Army

rice arrives, hidden camera, George Aspinall, Australian Army

Resource: “Surviving the Sword: Prisoners of the Japanese in the Far East 1942-45″ by Brian MacArthur, Random House, 2005

Being as most of the POWs of the Pacific and CBI were in captivity until 1945, further accounts will appear throughout this series.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Fepow Humour – 

Dammit Freddie - you know perfectly well that Saturday night is formal!

Dammit Freddie – you know perfectly well that Saturday night is formal!

"Can I scrape out the porridge bins cookie - it's me birthday today." -( George Sprod - bamboo round my shoulder)

“Can I scrape out the porridge bins cookie – it’s me birthday today.” -( George Sprod – bamboo round my shoulder)

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Farewell Salutes – 

Roy Achilles – St. Paul, MN; US Navy, WWII

William Crump – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Army # 273977Flag at half staff with sunset

Richard Discher – Ft. Pierce, FL; US Army, Korea

Bernice Duncan – Shawnigan Lake, CAN; Canadian Women’s Army Corps, WWII

Elmer Hall Jr. – Metairie, LA; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Andrew Harper – El Dorado, IN; USMC, WWII, US Navy, Korea

Richard Kincade – Divide, CO; US Navy, Cmdr. (Ret. 25 years), Vietnam, USS Princeton & Midway

Will O’Donnell – Hawke’s Bay, NZ; RNZ Army, WWII

Bill Romano – Chicago, IL; US Army, Korea

Curtis Williams – Oberlin, KS; US Air Force, Korea, radar

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