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Malayan Campaign (2)

Gen. Bennet at Gemas

Gen. Bennet at Gemas

General Bennett’s story continued_______

Then came the battle of Bakri where the 19th and 29th held the road for several days although they were being attacked on all sides.  The men who survived fought their way back…destroyed their equipment and tried to filter back in small parties.

Next, the Japanese concentrated on the Batu Pahat…they landed men in sampans.  Troops had just arrived from England and were quite unused to Malayan conditions and they were unsuccessful in landing at Batu Pahat.  This meant our force at Gemas was almost cut off.  Our withdrawal from the Gemas area was one of the saddest events of the campaign from the Australian point of view.  During the next week the whole force was gradually withdrawn.

Singapore

Singapore

Sadly the men crossed the causeway to Singapore Island.  Our position was strengthened by the arrival of the 4th (W.A.) Machine Gun Battalion.  The 7 Australian battalions were given the western half of the island.  The A.I.F had the 44th Indian Brigade.  The 3rd Indian Corps had the newly arrived English division.  When the men began to build beach posts for machine-guns and beach lights, the Japanese aircraft flew up and down bombing them.

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The Japanese were able to observe the Australian positions so closely by air, they made maps showing everyone of them.  They launched their attacks in boats in the dark overwhelming the thin defense…Our units received inadequate support from other units…It must be remembered that many of these troops were exhausted after the long fight in Malaya.

Lookout

Lookout

Even at this stage, the A.I.F. managed to form a strong perimeter, which the enemy smashed over and over again…retirements on our flanks forced withdrawals until our line approached the city itself.  Then the enemy was able to concentrate his whole air force and many of his guns on Singapore, which was being reduced to a pile of rubble.  Casualties among the civilians were very heavy.  The city’s water supply was cut off.

Brig. Duncan Maxwell

Brig. Duncan Maxwell

Our forces were so depleted in the A.I.F. that it was necessary to use noncombatant troops…signalers, Army Service Corps and ordnance – did fine work.  At the end we occupied a perimeter we refused to budge.  It was in this position when the direction to surrender was made.  Brigadier Maxwell who is a doctor in civilian life was given permission to hand over his command to work in an Australian hospital – all the nurses had been withdrawn from the island.

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[General Bennett made an escape from Singapore to Australia via Java.  Brigadier Maxwell remained a prisoner until September 1945; when he returned to Australia.]

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British Military Humor – 

Home Guard cadets

Home Guard cadets

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kathleen Daniels – Michigan & FL; US Army7388b_To-Honor-Ones-Country-Wreath

Robert Isgrove – Botony, NZ; RNZ Navy # 16636, WWII

Thomas Lapinski – Toledo, OH; US Army, 187th RCT, Korea

Rowena Littrell – Austin, TX; US  Army, WWII, nurse corps

Peter Miles – Coffs Harbour Base, AUS; RA Navy

Jeffrey Piter – WPalm Beach, FL; US Army, Vietnam

William Royal – Sun City, AZ; US Army, WWII, ETO, Capt.(Ret. 20 years), 390 Bomber Group

Ronald Stuart – CAN; British Army “Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders & Madras Reg., Capt. & Canadian Militia & Intelligence, WWII

Alva Tubbs – Kenai, AK; US Navy, WWII, Underwater Demolition Team

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A Correspondent’s View

POWs

POWs

 

Kenneth Attiwill, Australian playwright, journalist and author described the conditions of Malaya for the Allied troops as they were being pushed back to Singapore.  The picture he molds with his words is dramatically similar to what was faced throughout the Pacific.  To give you an insight_____

“…the jungles, mangrove swamps and thickly treed areas of cultivation present a particular problem.  Visibility is limited…there are no fields of fire and tactical features become insignificant.

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“…the jungle itself – a terrifying morass of tangled vegetation, steamy heat, nerve-racking noises and the discomfit of mosquitoes by the myriad, moths, beetles, insects of all kinds, biting, buzzing, irritating and debilitating.

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“Rubber too, with its dampness and sound-deadening effect breeds a feeling of isolation…Noise is difficult to pinpoint…In the monsoonal season there is the added handicap of torrential rain, hissing down incessantly upon the greenery, dripping on heads and bodies, humid, sweaty, destructive…article970368-3-001

Within little more than a month, the Japanese had advanced from Siam all the way down the peninsula into northern Johore…Yet, in Johore, the commanders chose to try to defend one strong point, only to be destroyed piecemeal.”

“Withdrawal into Singapore was inevitable.  That was the pattern — errors by commanders; insufficient or inadequately trained troops and continuous under-estimation of a savage, speedy, highly skilled and highly mobile enemy.”

Kenneth Attiwill became a POW of the Japanese and was interned on both Java and later Japan.  He survived his ordeal and married author, Evadne Price.  He wrote “The Singapore Story” to describe the events up to the surrender and “The Rising Sunset” about his time in captivity.  Mr. Attiwill passed away in 1960 and the youthful age of 54.

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News articles are courtesy of Trove.com

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Current News –     THE AMERICAN VETERANS DISABLED FOR LIFE MEMORIAL  HAS NOW BEEN DEDICATED – Take a moment.

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Does Little Rock like this one?  Did I do the veterans justice?  Let me know.

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Paintings by WWII POW Lance Bombardier, Des Bettany –

Where's the cookhouse?

Where’s the cookhouse?

 

 

 

Prison library

Prison library

Heigh-ho-heigh-ho

Heigh-ho-heigh-ho

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph Brugliera, Jr – Jupiter, FL; US Navy, WWII, destroyer radioman

Richard Bensacca – Soledad, CA; US Army, WWII, aircraft engine mechanicA-Single-Tear-Ach-Hold-Inspirational-Life-Quotes

John Cain – Ottawa, CAN; RC Army, P.P.C.L.I., Korea

Jack Dahlgren – Oilton, OK; US  Army, 291st Antitank/75th Div., USAAF, P-38, P-47 pilot, WWII

George Hill – Las Vegas, NV; US Air Force (Ret. E-6 20 years), 3 tours Vietnam

Harvey Johnson – Kansas City, MO; US Navy, WWII, pilot

Bruce McRobie – Northbridge, NZ; RNZ Navy, WWII

Lloyd Oczkewicz – Everett, WA; US Army,WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Robert Pratt – Lake Worth, FL; US Army, Korea

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January 1942 (2)

Top - blazing hangers at the airfield at Salamaua Bottom - Balikpapan oil wells set aflame by Dutch forces.

Top – blazing hangers at the airfield at Salamaua
Bottom – Balikpapan oil wells set aflame by Dutch forces.

6 January, the USS Yorktown, under RAdmiral Frank Fletcher, left San Diego, CA.  This was the flagship of the new Task Force 17 (TF-17) traveling with the supported protection of the Enterprise, flagship of TF-8.  Her mission was to unload a force of US Marines at Pago Pago to defend Samoa.  The two naval forces would then part company: TF-17 to the Marshalls and TF-8 to the Gilbert Islands.

USS Yorktown CV-5, North Island, San Diego, CA, WWII

USS Yorktown CV-5, North Island, San Diego, CA, WWII

7 January, Gen. Wavell made inspections of Singapore and reported back to Churchill that the “Fortress” defenses were far from adequate.  The entire north side was open to attack and all of the great guns faced the sea and could not be turned around.  Churchill responded that he was stunned, but his cable read: “NO SURRENDER MUST BE CONTEMPLATED.”

Retreat to Singapore by date.

Retreat to Singapore by date.

10-31 January, major Japanese landings occured throughout the Dutch East Indies.  Off the coast, on the 24th, US destroyers and Dutch bombers attacked an enemy convoy carrying additional troops.  Four ships were sunk, but the enemy managed to achieve a complete naval encirclement.

15-20 January, the Japanese 15th Army advanced into Burma and destroyed the 17th Indian Division and one Burmese division; both were being commanded by LtGeneral T.J. Hutton.

Japanese, some w/ cycles cross a temporary bridge in Burma.  Main structure destroyed by British.

Japanese, some w/ cycles cross a temporary bridge in Burma. Main structure destroyed by British.

16 January, British aircraft that remained on Singapore were flown to Sumatra.  From 20-31 January, British and Commonwealth troops transport to Singapore to aid in the defense of the island.  With all the planes absent, an appeal goes out to the RAF.

20 January, aircraft from 4 Japanese carriers began their bombing of New Britain at the port of Rabaul.  On the 23rd, 5000 enemy troops landed on New Britain,  New Ireland and Bougainville in the Solomon Islands.  New Britain’s northern tip went under enemy control.  These attacks and the heavy raids on Lae,  New Guinea brought the war dangerously close to Australia.

22 January, for this date I have included a link from WW2today.com that contains an Australian War Diary – CLICK HERE!

Battle of Balikpapan

Battle of Balikpapan

The Battle of Balikpapan on 24 January was the first time the US Navy fought a surface action since Dewey in 1898.  Japanese Admiral Nishimura’s destroyers went on a futile search for a Dutch submarines and left 12 transports unprotected in the anchorage.  The destroyers, USS John D. Ford, Pop, Parrot and Paul Jones arrived at 0300 hours and fired their guns and torpedoes – no hits.  Commander Talbot regrouped and went back a second time and attacked until they were out of ammunition.  Four transports were sunk, the Kuretake Maru, Nana Maru, Sumanoura Maru and Taksuami Maru; but the enemy campaign on Borneo continued.

25 January, Thailand officially declared war on the US and Britain.  They believed that Japan would ultimately win the war.

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HUMOR – 

unknown source

unknown source

from Chris @ Muscleheaded.wordpress.com/

from Chris @ Muscleheaded.wordpress.com/

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kenneth Ashley Sr. – Killeen, TX; US Army Sgt. (Ret. 20 yrs), Vietnam 2 tours, Purple Heart, 2 Bronze Stars

Frank Cardwell – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 422096, 617th Sqd. ‘Dam Busters’ 44 Sqd, WWIIBN91311

Hugh Dingsdale – (Born in Scotland), Burlington, CAN; RAF Military Transport, WWII, CBI, POW

Frank Eates Sr. – Portsmouth, VA; US Army, Korea, 11th Airborne Division

Theodore ‘Pete’ Enz – Appleton, WI; US Army, Sgt., WWII, ETO

Edmond Harjo – Seminole, OK; US Army, Pvt. Codetalker, 195th Field Artillery Batt., WWII

Myrtle Hoftiezer – Aurora, CO; WAC, WWII, nurse, ETO

Kenneth Isaak – Dickey County, ND; US Army, WWII, 70th Div., WWII

Marjorie McCall – Boca Raton, FL; civilian employee Vero Beach Naval Base, WWII

Glenn Plimpton – Orleans, MA; US Navy & civilian in advanced radar defenses

Howard Wagner – Weymouth, CAN; RC Army Medical Corps, WWII

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21-31 December 1941

Non-military objectives of the Philippines. (top) Pasay and (bottom) Cavite

Non-military objectives of the Philippines. (top) Pasay and (bottom) Cavite

 

21-30 December, the 11th Indian Division retreated into southern Malaya and the Japanese were freed to push back the Australian troops.  The following link comes with a WARNING!  I located a video of Indian action in the war but there is Graphic Violence____HERE!

 

The big guns of Corregidor respond.

The big guns of Corregidor respond.

23 December, the American and Filipino units on Luzon, Philippines, began moving into the Bataan Peninsula.  MacArthur was commanding from Corregidor and declared Manila an ‘open-city.’  The next day, 7,000 Japanese troops landed at Lamon Bay on the island and entrap the Allied soldiers on the peninsula.

24 December, after 2 weeks of steady bombardment and the landing of Japanese troops, Wake Island succumbed and US forces surrendered.  /  The vital British naval and air base at Rangoon, Burma received a major air bombardment.

 

24-31 December, along 400 miles of Borneo’s coast, the Japanese made amphibious landings at Kuching.  By the end of the year, the British troops were in general retreat throughout the Dutch East Indies as German-trained Japanese paratroopers were dropped on Sumatra.  On the 25th, Hong Kong officially surrendered.  /  And, on the 31st, Admiral Nimitz officially took command of the US Pacific Fleet.

PM John Curtin

PM John Curtin

Churchill and FDR had their first meeting, during which a message arrived from V.G. Bowden, Australia’s representative in Singapore, saying that the deterioration in the “defense of Malaya was assuming landslide proportions.”  Churchill denied the truth of the message despite South Africa’s Prime Minister Smuts argument, “that unless Japanese moves are countered by a very large scale action, they [Japan] may overrun the Pacific.”

Australia’s PM, John Curtin, challenged Churchill and his strategies, this dispute brought public the conflicts between the two men.  Churchill remained defiant by saying:  “…countries of the Far East simply have to accept a greater degree of threat…”  As Australia’s forces were scattered around the globe, Japan continued to sweep south and the plans for “Germany First” only allowed 2 inferior naval fleets to cover the Indian Ocean and the vast Pacific.

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On 26 December, at the “Arcadia” meeting, FDR discussed the possibility of a unified command in the Far East. (Actually an idea of Gen.Marshall’s, relayed by the pres.).  Churchill violently disagreed  until he discovered that they wanted General Archibald Wavell as the commander.  The British Chiefs of Staff felt it was somehow a “a Roosevelt trick,” the Far East was crumbling and Wavell would be blamed.  They answered, “Let some American take the post.”  Churchill did not want to surrender responsibility for Singapore to the US, “Think what the Australians would make of that!”  FDR was insulted – but a unified command was formed at the meeting.

Adm. Nimitz replaces Adm. Kimmell (left) and Knox visits Nimitz in Hawaii.

Adm. Nimitz replaces Adm. Kimmell (left) and Knox visits Nimitz in Hawaii.

While complaining about the humidity during his 6 days in Palm Springs, Florida, Churchill displayed “a wild and childish temper” at the Australians and their concerns over their own defense.  Although he considered Singapore to be a total loss, the Prime Minister told the Australians that there was strength at the ‘Fortress’ and the men would “hold out to the last.”  He then diverted his attention to Burma.  New Zealand on the other hand continued to receive his praise for their loyalty.

The proud Roosevelt's Christmas card for 1941.

The proud Roosevelt’s Christmas card for 1941.

Click on images for a larger view.

Most photos are from “The Veterans of Foreign Wars Pictorial History of the Second World War” vol. 2; the last two photos are from John Tolands, “Infamy and the Aftermath.”

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Humor –  political cartoons of the times____

20 David Low cartoon

41-A

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Howard Abisch – Tamarac, FL; US Army, WWII, 44th Infantry Division, ETO

passing of the colors

passing of the colors

Lawrence Bradley – Wowan, AUS.; RAAF # 25047, WWII

Gordon Cates – Vancouver, CAN.; RC Army, WWII

Charles Bandelier – New Haven, IN; USMC, WWII

Vito Ernest – New Haven, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Anthony Hobbs – Hamilton, NZ; RNZ Navy # 2027, WWII, Chief Petty Officer

Robert Pavlik – Boca Raton, FL; US Army, Korea

Harvey Stewart – Huntsville, AL; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Chaplain, Colonel, (Ret. 31 years)

Patricia Wentz – born: Edinburgh, SCOT, McLean, VA; British Military SOE (cryptographer for European resistance), ETO

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