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October 1944 (2)

October 20, 1944: U.S. troops head toward the beaches of Leyte island during the amphibious assault to reconquest the Philippines. (AP Photo)

October 20, 1944: U.S. troops head toward the beaches of Leyte island during the amphibious assault to reconquest the Philippines. (AP Photo)

15→16 October – Carrier aircraft again set off to bomb shipping and installations at the Manila Bay, Luzon area on both days.  The Japanese lost: 20 aircraft shot down and 30-40 destroyed on the ground.

17→18 October – Northern Luzon and again the Manila Bay area were attacked by the carrier aircraft and the enemy this time lost 56 aircraft; four ships were sunk, with 23 others damaged.  The US lost 7 aircraft.

19 October – Carrier aircraft bombed, rocketed and strafed select targets in the Visayas Group of the Philippines.  The US 6th Army , under Gen. MacArthur began landings on Leyte which pushed the Japanese Navy to act.

22→23 October – Three enemy task forces converged for battle.  The Japanese Combined Fleet were underway for Operation Sho, (Sho  = Victory) and they would meet with their first casualties from the US submarines Darter and Dace in the Palawan Passage.

Just after 0500 hours, LtComdr. Benitez said to his men, “It looks like the 4th of July out there!”  Adm. Kurita’s cruisers IJN Atago & Maya of  the 1st Strike Force were ht and sinking.  The enemy’s position was passed on to command and the US Task Force 38/3rd Fleet sailed to the Sibuyan Sea to intercept.  The Second Battle of the Philippine Sea was underway and it would continue through 27 October.

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[It will take the next few posts to try and encapsulate all that transpired in this short period of time – Please bear with me.]

Japanese losses would include: 2 battleships, 4 carriers, 6 heavy cruisers, 3 light cruisers, 3 small cruisers or destroyers, and 6 destroyers.  Severely damaged were: 1 battleship, 5 cruisers, 7 destroyers.  Others with damage: 6 battleships,4 heavy destroyers, 1 light cruiser and 10 destroyers.

US losses: the light carrier Princeton and 2 escort carriers, the Saint ‘Lo and Gambier Bay were sunk.  Two destroyers, Johnston and Hoel went under, along with 1 destroyer escort, the Samuel B. Roberts and a few smaller craft.

[The story of the USS Samuel B. Roberts can be read in the book “For Crew and Country,” by John Wukovits.  It is an inspiring book to read.]

24 October – Adm. Mitscher’s aircraft assaulted Adm. Kurita’s Center Force and the Nishimura/Shima Sounthern Force while their planes  were out hitting US concerns around the Philippines.  The Princeton was hit by a kamikaze carrying a 100-pound bomb that went through her deck.  The Birmingham was damaged by later explosions as she assisted the damaged carrier; this killed 200 seamen.

The following 10 minute video shows both Allied and Japanese photography.


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Military Humor – Navy style

war

“I have a funny feeling about those blind dates of ours.”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Millard Ball – Clarksville, TN; US Merchant Marine, WWII / US Army, Korea, 187th RCT / Vietnam, 101st Airborne, CSgtM (Ret. 45 years)

Victor Carty – San Jose, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, aircraft mechanicsalute

Edward Cooke – Fonda, IA; US Navy (USNA graduate), WWII, CBI, minesweeper, VAdmiral

Warren Ferguson – Seattle, WA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 3167th Signal Corps

Teresa Gies – Wellington, NZ; RNZ Air Force, WWII

Harry Hamilton Sr. – St. Petersburg, FL; US Navy, WWII

Matuszewski Klemens – Taragowa, POL; Polish Army, WWII, ETO, POW

Paul Martin – Croghan, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 318 Fighter Sq./7th Air Force, Cpl.

Richard Ramsey – Bloomington, IN; US Navy, WWII, LST-947

Frank Yates – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 502/101st Airborne, Sgt.

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First Hand Account – after Peleliu

Bruce Watkins, Monty Montgomery & Steve Stasiak

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

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

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

Bruce Watkins

Bruce Watkins

Chapter V
PAVUVU

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Marc Jaffe

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

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

    

John Kincaid

John Kincaid

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

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

Sgt. Hap Farrell

Sgt. Hap Farrell

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

Lt. Lee Height

Lt. Lee Height

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

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

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charles Owen – Greendale, WI; US Navy, WWII

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

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

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

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September 1944 (3) – CBI Roundup

Major James England w/ Crew Chirf Eugene Crawford

Major James England w/ Crew Chief Eugene Crawford

These articles appeared in the September 28, 1944 issue of the CBI Roundup.

  TENTH A.F. HQ., INDIA – Searching out a means of contributing “just a little more” to the war effort (having already purchased war bonds, donated blood to the Red Cross, held down absenteeism and given their time as air raid wardens), the 500 members of the little Universal Engineering Co. of Frankenmuth, Mich., conceived the idea of purchasing an airplane and turning it over to the United States Army Air Force.
In a very short time, they had enough cash to buy a P-51 Mustang fighter plane.
That plane is making history today in the CBI Theater.
When it was turned over to the US Army Air Corps, it was named Spirit of Universal. When it got overseas it was renamed Jackie, in honor of Mrs. Jacqueline England, wife of its pilot, Maj. (then Capt.) James J. England, of Jackson, Tenn.
To date, that plane – member of the “Yellow Scorpion Squadron” – has destroyed eight Japanese planes and damaged three over Burma. On several occasions, other pilots than England flew it, notably Lt. William W. Griffith. Between the two, they have two DFC’s two Air Medals, numerous clusters to each and the Silver Star. England has credit for all the sky victories, while Griffith won the Silver Star fro “gallantry in action.”
For the information of the good people of Universal Engineering Co., their plane has done considerable damage while flying air support over Burma, killing many enemy foot soldiers and destroying fuel, ammunition and storage dumps, barracks areas, bridges and sundry other installations.
They are also appraised that they never would be able to recognize the ship today, because in its more than 100 combat missions and 600 hours against the enemy, it has been shot up quite frequently. Besides having had 58 different holes, 38 from one mission, it has had tow new wing tips, two gas tanks,  stress plate, engine change, prop,  aileron assembly, tail section, stabilizer, electric conduit in the left wheel and several canopies.
Yet it still sees action regularly in combat.
When Griffith won the Silver Star for his feat of bringing back the plane when it was theoretically unflyable, the Universal employees rewarded him and his crew chief, S/Sgt. Francis L. Goering with $100 war bonds.

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 MOROTAL ISLAND(ANS) – Pvt. Joe Aiello, of the Bronx, N.Y., was ordered to bail out of a Liberator with engine trouble on a mission to the Philippines, plunged 3,000 feet without benefit of parachute but escaped without a broken bone.
Aiello’s parachute failed to open, but treetops broke his fall. His first words on regaining consciousness:
“The goddam Air Corps! I should have stayed in the Medics.”
He added, “I was scared to open my eyes for fear I might see angels.”

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Ledo Road and the Monsoon

  One of the questions that the Roundup’s feature on the Burma Road provokes is – How are the U.S. Army Engineers making out on the Ledo Road?
That question is partially answered by an article received today from correspondent Walter Rundle of the United Press.
Writes Rundle: “Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Pick and his Ledo Road construction forces are proving that the new land supply route, which eventually will lead from India to China, can be kept open through the monsoon season. Maintenance he said recently, has proved a less serious problem than had been anticipated.

Ledo Road

Ledo Road

  “As a result, only a few bulldozers and other heavy equipment are being retained on the upper sections of the road. Most of the construction machinery has been released to push down closer to the front where the actual construction now is underway.
“Engineers on the completed sections of the road employ huge scrapers to push aside excess mud and water and to fill in the spots softened by the monsoon. A constant patrol is maintained to keep drainage open. Damaged sections of the road are promptly repaired so that while traffic has at times been slowed, it never has been entirely stopped.

“Typical was the work done on a damaged 140-foot bridge, A report of the damage was received at 3 a.m. By 8 a.m. plans for repair were completed and men and materials needed had been sent to the scene. By 5 p.m. of the same day a temporary span had been repaired and put into operation. Nine days later, an entirely new bridge had replaced the old one and was opened to traffic.”
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 HEADQUARTERS, EASTERN AIR COMMAND – Three master sergeants in a U.S. Bomb Group, part of the Third Tactical Air Force, have 85 years service in the Army among them.r973
The wearers of the yards of hash marks are M/Sgts. William Hopkins, 54, Mike Jamrak, 53, and Hubert F. Sage, 49. Hopkins has been in the Army 26 years, Jamrak 30 years and Sage 29 years.
Hopkins saw service in France during the last war, later served in Panama, Hawaii, the Philippines and China. This time around, he has fought in Egypt, North Africa, Sicily, Italy and now Burma. In China, in 1923, he was in the 18th Infantry Regiment under then Lt. Col. George C. Marshall and later had as his regimental executive officer Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Jamrak saw 22 months of fighting in France in 1917-18 with the Third Infantry Division, followed by nearly continuous service at overseas stations. he was transferred to the Air Corps in 1932. Because of his age, he had to receive special permission from the Adjutant General to come overseas in the present war.
Sage also served under Eisenhower when the latter was a captain and under Gen. H. H. Arnold, then a colonel. During the last war he was stationed in the Philippines. He has two sons in the Air Corps and a son-in-law in the Ordnance Department.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – 

6 February is Waitangi Day in New Zealand.  Let’s commemorate this day with them.

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/waitangi-day-2016/

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Military Humor – [” Strictly G.I.” comics by: Ehret, CBI Roundup Sept. ’44 ] – 

"And besides that, it only runs on 2 flashlight batteries!"

“And besides that, it only runs on 2 flashlight batteries!”

"Would you sign this requisition for 20 feet of rope, sir?"

“Would you sign this requisition for 20 feet of rope, sir?”

Eating that Japanese sniper is one thing, but making a fool of yourself in front of the children is another.

Eating that Japanese sniper is one thing, but making a fool of yourself in front of the children is another.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Theodore AArons – Oakland, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Barry Bollington – Manurewa, NZ; RNZ Navy # 14185, seaman

Thomas Davis – Huntsville, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

81st Infantry Div. monument on Peleiu

81st Infantry Div. monument on Peleiu

Gale Furlong – Johnsonburg, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI & PTO, 678th Bomb Sq., tail gunner

William Jaynes – Elmira, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 351st Bomb Group/100th Bomb Sq., B-17 waist gunner

Raymond Logwood – Covington, LA; US Army, WWII

Norman Luterbach – Calgary, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, 39th Squadron

Reid Michael Sr. – Mount Holly, NC; US Army, WWII & Korea

A.L. Lonnie Pullen – Bradenton, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO

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Peleliu – Eye Witness Account

" Thousand Yard Stare" by Thomas C. Lea III

” Thousand Yard Stare” by Thomas C. Lea III

“The main cause of the 1st Marines going through the ordeal of Peleliu was the rugged and well-defended terrain of the Umurbrogol Hills.  They were honeycombed with caves and enemy strongholds.  Spearheading the grueling assault was Colonel “Chesty” Puller’s 1st Regiment.  The following are excerpts from Pvt. Russell Davis:

We went quickly into line, backing and plunging a bit in the surf like race horses in the starting gate. The control oflicers in the picket boats sighted along the line and then waved us ahead. We took off into the wake of the second Wave, but it was hard to see them when they were in the troughs of the swells.

Everyone was up and yelling but Buck and the squad leader. They crouched low; both of them were young but their faces looked old with determination and fear. When we hit the beach they would have the job to do, and we would do whatever they told us to do.

It was almost a glorious feeling, roaring in toward he beach with fear gone for the moment. We were in motion with thousands of tons of armed might at our backs; and it seemed that nothing could stop us. We were an old and tried outfit, led by men like Buck and the squad leader, who would know what to do when the time came to do it. As we rolled in on Peleliu, and before we were hit, the excitement took us and we were not afraid of anything. Some men began to chant: “Drive! Drivel!Drive!”

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I saw the amphibious tractor in front of us go up in a shellburst. For a moment I didn’t realize what I had seen. Somebody said: “Hey, I think they hit him,” in a complaining tone, as though it were against the rules to do that.

The amtrac flamed, spread gas on the water, and wallowed in a puddle of fire. Men spilled from it. The driver of our tractor screamed so loud we heard him above everything. He had seen the hit and he was very frightened.”

After Pvt. Davis landed and joined in the fight:

“Clawing and crawling up the cliff went platoons that were no more than squads and companies that were no more than large platoon.  From the base of the cliffs we could pick out each man and follow him until he got hit, went to the ground or climbed to the top.  Not many made it to the top.

As they toiled, caves, gulley’s and holes opened up the Japanese dashed out to roll grenades down on them and sometimes to lock body to body in desperate wrestling matches.  Knives and bayonets flashed on the hillside.  I saw one man straighten and lunge to kick something that attacked his legs like a mad dog.  He reached and heaved, and a Japanese soldier came end over end down the hill.  The machine-gunner yelled encouragement.”

The Attacks on the hills during the first week of battle cost Puller’s regiment 1/3 its strength.

Russell Davis wrote the book, “Marine At War”.

Thomas C. Lea III, war correspondent for “Life” magazine, author and artist of the “2000 Yard Stare” and “The Price” said about the actual Marine on Peleliu: “He left the States 31 months ago. He was wounded in his first campaign. He has had tropical diseases.  He half-sleeps at night and gouges Japs out of holes all day. Two-thirds of his company has been killed or wounded. He will return to attack this morning. How much can a human being endure?”usmc-c-peleliu-p3b

As seen from the air on D-Day, 15 September 1944, Beaches WHITE 1 and 2, on which the 1st and 3d Battalions, 1st Marines, landed. Capt George P. Hunt’s Company K, 3/1, was on the extreme left flank of the 1st Marine Division.
Department of Defense Photo (USN) 283745

References: US Army Center of Military Information; World War II Today and ibiblio.org.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Leo Adams – Brighton Bch., NY; US Army, WWII, Lt., US 5th Army

Alice Attchison – Saskatchewan, CAN; RC Woman’s Air Force, WWII

Frank Bartos – McHenry, IL; USMC, WWII, PTOth-jpg1

John Caddell – Belmont, NH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Haggard

Clarence Day – Wanganui, NZ; RNZ Army # 446267, WWII, Engineers

Gilbert Meehan – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, WWII

William ‘Ryan’ Owens – Peoria, IL; US Navy SEAL, Yemen, KIA

Charles Rupprecht – Collierville, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Div., Communications

Carl Stearns – Oshkosh, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea, SSgt.

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September 1944 (2)

Moro tai, 15 September 1944

Morotai, 15 September 1944

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

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

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

Peleiu, 1944

Peleiu, 1944

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

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

Peleiu landing

Peleiu landing

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

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

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

marines_wait_in_their_foxholes_-_peleliu

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

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

Click on images to enlarge.

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

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Military Humor – 

Sad Sack

Sad Sack

Private Beetle

Private Beetle

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Farewell Salutes –

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

Joseph Frigenti – FL; US Army, Korean Warmediumpic634249020853470000

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

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

Philip Karp – Northdale, NJ; US Navy, WWII

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

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

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

John Strudwick – London, ENG; RAF, 604 Squadron

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

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Floating Docks of WWII

SS Artisan (ABSD-1) w/ Antelope (1X-109) & LST-120 in the dock at Espiritu Santo, 8 January 1945

SS Artisan (ABSD-1) w/ Antelope (1X-109) & LST-120 in the dock at Espiritu Santo, 8 January 1945

The United States Navy, during World War 2, decided to create a temporary forward base utilizing service stations; these stations meant the United States Navy could operate throughout the huge Pacific Ocean for more sustained amounts of time.

Creating these pretty much meant they could have a major naval base within a short distance of any operation carried out in the area. The base was able to repair; resupply and refit, meaning fewer ships had to make the journey to a facility at a major port, which allowed them to remain in the Pacific for up to a year and beyond.

This was vitally important as if ships were damaged enough (either by storms in the area or damage from the enemy) they would usually have to travel thousands of miles to get to the United States naval base that could carry out essential repairs. The distance to the San Francisco base (the nearest United States naval base) was as far from their location as it would have been to sail from London, England to San Francisco.

USS Iowa in dry dock

USS Iowa in dry dock

These temporary bases provided ships with supplies, ranging from food, fuel, ordnance and other much-needed supplies. This meant that these stations were vital in terms of practical use to the United States Navy and their operations in the area.

These stations were officially named Advance Base Sectional Docks (ABSDs) and were put together section by section. Each part was welded to the next once in their correct position.

There were two different sizes of floating docks created, the largest ones were created using ten sections and could lift 10,000 tons each – being 80 feet wide and 256 feet long. Once these sections were welded together, it became a fully assembled dock that was a whopping 133 feet wide, 827 feet long and could lift up to 90,000 tons.

Looking at an LST from inside the ASDR

Looking at an LST from inside the ASDR

This was more than enough lifting power for any ship within the Fleet.

The smaller dock was put together using eight sections and could lift 8,000 tons each – being 101 feet wide and 204 feet long. Once the sections of the smaller dock were fitted together, it was capable of lifting a ship up to 120 feet wide, 725 feet long and 8,000 tons of weight.

The sections used in the creation of these docks were given the form of a rough hull; this allowed the sections to be towed in place at a speed of 6-8 knots. The walls were capable of folding down so that they had resistance to the wind while being towed and helped to lower their center of gravity.

ABSD-2 at Manus w/ USS Mississippi (BB-41), 12 October 1944

ABSD-2 at Manus w/ USS Mississippi (BB-41), 12 October 1944

Each dock had their own generator aboard (fueled by diesel) and quarters for the crew. Once fully assembled every dock had two cranes aboard, that could lift 15 tons; these ran on specially placed rails that sat on top of the dock walls.

Enough sections were made during the War that three large and four small docks were able to be assembled. The very first one was complete within 1943 (at Noumea) and a second was being fitted by the end of the year at Espiritu Santo. The total capacity of the dry docks in the Navy by the end of 1943 was 723,000 tons.

Idea for this post was suggested by Ian, the Aussie Emu.

Information retrieved from the War History on line.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

Lawrence Apel – St. Louis, MO; US Army, ATO & PTO

Frank Bobb Jr. – San Francisco, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Gene Cernan – Chicago, IL; US Navy, pilot, Astronaut (2 Moon voyages)

Max Duncan – Forest City, NC; US Navy, WWII, USS Barb (SS-220), Capt. (Ret. 30 yrs.), Silver Starsalute

Robert Eaves – Boston, MA; US Army, WWII

Colin Gibbard – Wanganui, NZ; RNZ Army # 105345, WWII, 27th Machine-gun Battalion

Ernest Glass – Walpole, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, KIA

James King – Temperance, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Savo Island (CVE-78), machinist’s mate

Roderick McIntire – Kuluin, AUS; RA Air Force # 420241, WWII, navigator

William Mohr (108) – Hatboro, PA & Port St. Lucie, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 381st/45th Infantry Div., Sgt.

John Oblinger Jr. – North Bend, OH; US Army, West Point, 11th & 82nd Airborne, Major (Ret.)

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Smitty – Letter XII

The 11th Airborne Division, still in New Guinea  and continuing to specialize their training – little do they know that they are coming closer and closer to their time for combat.  Their commander, General Swing, awaits the word from General MacArthur.

Backpacking the good ol' fashion way

Backpacking the good ol’ fashion way

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Letter XII                                                       ?? Problems ??                                           0800 Sunday 9/3/44

Dear Mom,  We will start off first with “Webster’s” definition of the word — problem.  “A question for solution, and a proposition to be demonstrated.”  This is all very true, only in the army, although it is demonstrated, it never turns out in a satisfactory solution.

For some unknown reason, the hint of a problem soon-to-be gets around long before it is ever officially announced.  When once you hear about it, you begin to wonder just how you will get out of going and wonder if going on sick call will help.  The best thing is to try to get on some detail, but generally, the details floating around loose at that time are of such a nature that going on the problem is much easier.

No one likes or cares for problems including the officers and non-coms, except maybe a few who are bucking and hope to show their leader that they have tactical and sure-fire P.F.C. abilities.

No matter how easy or simple the problem, you always have to carry around a load of unnecessary equipment.  On the day set forth for the problem they put up a list of the stuff you are to take with you.  After an hour or two spent trying to get everything into the pack, just big enough to hold a pair of socks, a tent, poles, rain gear, poncho, insect repellent and your toilet articles, you are pretty well tired out and lie down for a few minutes rest.  You no sooner do that than the sergeant will come around with a revised list of equipment and again you unpack and re-pack.  This goes on through the day until finally in utter despair you pick up your duffel bag and carry that on your back.

Finally the whistle blows.  You hurriedly put on your pack, pick up your rifle and dash to fall in the formation forming outside.  After standing there for 30 or 40 minutes, you realize that all your rushing was in vain and that you have a chance to untangle yourself from the pack harness and straighten it out.  You no sooner start to do this than the order comes to pull out and get going.

While marching out, it suddenly dawns on you that a quick visit to the latrine would have helped, but is now impossible to get to.  After walking for two hours, your pack feels like a ton and your five-pound rifle now weighs twenty.  The heat is slowly getting you down and you begin to wonder, is it all worth it?  Soon the Lt. comes prancing alongside of you and walking just as easy as falling off a log.  He says a few words to you, such as, “Close it up.” “Keep in line” or “How you doing fella?” as he passes by.  You wonder how the devil he can keep it up, until you take a good look at his pack.  Many are the times when I wondered what would happen if I stuck a pin in it.  Wonderful things these basketball bladders.

When finally you arrive at the next to last stop, the Lt. calls his men around him and proceeds to try and tell them what this problem is about and what we are supposed to do.  We are all too tired to listen in the first place and in the second place — don’t give a damn.  All this time you watch the Lt. and soon you realize that he didn’t much care for the problem and is probably just as annoyed as you.

When you finally hit the place where the problem is, confusion takes over and the problem is started.  Orders are given and not carried out, cause generally the G.I. has been told before to do something else, so that by the time order is restored, all is in a worse shape than before.  The Lt. takes out a map to try and locate himself and is only to find that the map he has is the one relating to last week’s problem.  No matter, from then on, where the C.P. and assembly area were to be, now, wherever you are at that particular moment will become the C.P. and assembly area.  If the rest of the company was fortunate enough to locate the right place — the hell with them — let them find us.

You are then assigned to different spots and told to dig in.  Now, digging in calls for some thought.  If you just dig a slit trench, it doesn’t call for much work, but you can always be seen and so you can’t sleep.  But, if you dig a larger hole, called a foxhole, you can safely sleep away the night and also — the problem.  Myself?  I go for the foxhole on the slit trench side as it affords me the opportunity of sleeping in a horizontal position.

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Soon the whistle blows announcing the end of the problem.  You awaken to find that it is the next day and that once again you slept through the whole mess.  Questions are asked as to who or what side won, did the enemy get through and a thousand and one others.  Before leaving the place, you now have to shovel the dirt back into your hole, as leaving blank open holes around are dangerous to life and limb.  When that is completed, you put your backpack back on and trudge your weary way back.

Upon arriving back in camp, critiques are held and then you find out what you were supposed to have learnt while you were out there.  I have always been of the opinion that if critiques were held before going out, it would save us all a lot of trouble and also make going on the problem — unnecessary.  Once back in your tent, you unpack and think that now you will lie down and have a little nap, only to find out that the detail you tried to get on in order to miss the problem has materialized and that you are to get up and get on it.  Oh, weary bones, will they never have any rest?

Don’t give up, for after all, the war can’t last forever.  One thing you can always count on though, problems are the pride and joy of the army and will continue on being as long as there is an army.

Hope I’ve confused you as much as we are.  I’ll leave you as that damn detail has come up and so I’ll have to carry my weary body out and hope I last out the day.

Confused as all hell,    Everett

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But training goes on …..

New Guinea, training. Notice the date on the picture – 

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

John ‘Spike’ Adochio – Miltown, NJ; US Army, WWII

Nevin Biser Jr. – Columbia, SC; US Navy, WWII

Joseph Chadwell – Tullahoma, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 101st Airborne Division

Edward Elder – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, USS Seawolf, KIA

US Army division salute for outgoing & incoming troops

US Army division salute for outgoing & incoming troops

Alan Fewer – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force  # 413053, Squadron 485 & RAF 232, WWII

Bee Jay Garrison – Bethany, OK; US Army, WWII, PTO

Clare Hollingworth – ENG; Telegraph war correspondent, WWII, ETO

John McGrath – Calgary, CAN; RC Army, WWII, ETO, (Ret.)

Bruce O’Brien Sr. – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, SeaBee

Joseph ‘Pip’ Paolantonio – Wayne, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Cpl., 472 Glider Field Artillery/11th Airborne Division

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September 1944 (1)

Bonin and Volcano Islands

Bonin and Volcano Islands

31 August → 2 September – US carrier aircraft started an intense 3-day bombing on the Bonin and Volcano Islands.  The Japanese suffered heavy losses of matérial.  A US Navy communiqué lists the enemy damages as : about 50 ground and airborne planes destroyed; around 15 ships sunk and damage to installations, hangers, ammo and fuel dumps.

 

1 September – the American submarine, Narwhal landed men on the eastern coast of Luzon in efforts to become logistics-ready for the Philippine invasion.

USS Narwhal

USS Narwhal

2 September – Wake Island, the most isolated post for the Japanese Empire, received bombardments from the Task Force of one aircraft carrier, 3 cruisers and 3 destroyers.  The island would not be invaded; it would remain in Japanese hands until the end of the war.  The main Allied advance was planned for the Philippine and Ryuku Island groups.

In China, the enemy-held airfield of Hengyang was bombed along with gun positions, and areas with apparent troops in the Changning areas.  A bridge at Yangtien was also damaged.

3 September – the Japanese ‘hell ship’ Shinyo Maru left Mindinao carrying 750 American prisoners.  She was torpedoed by the USS Paddle four days later, killing 668 of the POWs on board.

 
6 → 11 September – a massive naval force of 16 aircraft carriers, numerous cruisers and destroyers attacked Yap, Ulithi and the Palau Islands in the Carolines.  The 5th Fleet became the 3rd Fleet when the Battleship USS New Jersey arrived flying Adm. Halsey’s flag.  This started the air bombings of the Philippine Islands, Mainly Mindinao and Luzon.

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In the CBI, in China, railroad yards, troop occupied areas, and trucks were hit north of Lingling.  While 45 Allied aircraft attacked troops, warehouses shipping and communication targets in the Hukow area Pengtse areas.

8 → 11 September – Adm. Mitscher’s TF-38 hit industrial, naval and aviation positions around Mindinao.  The airfields at DelMonte, Valencia, Cagayan, Buayan and Davao were the targets.  On the first day of the attack, 60 enemy aircraft were destroyed.

12 September – Halsey signaled Admiral Nimitz after the attacks on Mindinao that it appeared enemy strength had been wiped out.  There was “no shipping left to sink” and “the enemy’s non-aggressive attitude was unbelievable and fantastic.”  He recommended that Leyte be the next invasion, but Nimitz refused to call off the pre-planned invasion of Peleliu. (Operation Stalemate).

 

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Military Humor – 

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seriously

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard G. Adams – Newbury, ENG; Royal Army Service, WWII, ETO, (beloved author)

Frederick Campbell – Bellingham, WA; USMC, WWII, Korea & Vietnam

John Carver Jr. – Preston, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Undersecretary of the DOI, Lt. 120507-m-0000c-005

Earl Cumpiano – Santa Barbara, CA; US Navy, WWII, fireman striker

Allen Farington – Montreal, CAN; RC Navy

Luther Kimbler – Louis City, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 411th Bomber Squadron, SSgt.

Donald McEvoy – N.Platte, NE; USMC, WWII

Edward O’Soro – Wakefield, MA; USMC, WWII, 1st Marine Division

Isadore Pette – Lakewood, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 675th Medical/11th Airborne Division

Scott Sherman – Fort Wayne, IN; US Navy, USS Eisenhower, A-7 pilot

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Smitty – Letter XI

Everett 'Smitty' Smith and the 187th Regiment

Everett ‘Smitty’ Smith and the 187th Regiment

This following letter from Smitty will show how much the G.I.’s of WWII and those of today have in common.  Human nature doesn’t seem to change very much in 68 years.

11th A/B patches

11th A/B patches

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Letter XI                                      Java at 2100                                Thursday 8/10/44

 

Dear Mom,  Java at 2100 is nothing more or less than a good old-fashioned gabfest or the same as women folk back home call a “Koffee Klotch.”

There are a few differences though that need a little explaining.  At home, the girls gather and talk, generally about the one who isn’t present; including in this conversation, her husband and his family, also hers and then down the line to her most distant relatives.  Also, they will gab for hours about the gossip of the neighborhood and of course add a little more to it.  At times, arguments amongst themselves will ensue and that ends the present meeting and the next few to come.

With us there are a few differences and variations, such as: we don’t care whether the person being talked about is present or not; although his absence is preferred and appreciated.  Of course we have our little gossip circles, but they mostly run toward the rumor side and therefore no one puts much stock in them.  Invariably we always talk of home, such as what we did before the President greeted us, also what we intend to do when we get back.  This home talk most always leads into a lively debate as to whose state, city or county is the best.  Arguing that topic is just like arguing religion; no one is ever impressed or convinced.

The officers are always good for a good 20 to 30 minute razing, with no one pulling their punches.  At times though you must be careful, as there might be someone present who is bucking like the devil and the talk will go back.  Never is there a good word said in the officers’ defense and I doubt if there ever will be.

Another colorful period is spent when someone brings up non-coms.  What is said at this time is unprintable.  Surprise to say that if I was visited by the seven plagues, I wouldn’t be as bad off as the non-coms, if even half the things wished upon him should ever befall him.  I sometimes wonder if ever in their own conceited way they know just how the private feels toward them.

At home, the girls are all gathered around strictly  talking, but here again we vary.  Some may be playing cards with every now and then some player adding his say, much to the consternation and anguish of the others.  Over in another corner are the die-hards who always listen for rumors and continue on talking about the latest one long after the others have dropped it.

All this time the water is being boiled outside in a large five gallon can.  Every now and then, someone will go out to see if it is time to add the coffee.  When once the coffee is added, there comes over the tent a lull and then everyone shuffles out to get his cup, which he will dip into the can of coffee before coming back in.  Conversation for a while is a combination of talk, loud sips and the blowing of the hot Java.  We manage also to provide milk and sugar and at times, crackers.  The last is generally present only around paydays.

coffeepouringani

I don’t know whether it is the effects of the hot coffee upon the vocal chords or not, but always right after the coffee, some would-be Crosby or Sinatra starts singing some old favorite and that is when music conquers over all.  They say music has its charms, but after listening to it here — I have my doubts.

Some nights the conversations are really good and so is the coffee, on those occasions, talking lasts after taps has blown and then you are sure to hear the mournful wail of the company charge of quarters meekly saying, “Aw fellas, put out the lights.”  Never has it happened that the request was heeded and I doubt if it ever will be.  It isn’t long after though that the first sergeant comes barging in bellowing, “Get those blankety-blank lights out and get the H–l to bed!”  Lights immediately go out and good-nights can be heard throughout the company area as Koffee Klotches all over break up.

Peace and quiet prevails until all one can hear is the not too soft patter of feet heading out to the place where, at some time or another, we all must frequent.  Bits of conversation can be heard drifting through the night, but generally isn’t worth listening to, as it is only the rumor mongers at work again in their office.

Before I close this chapter, allow me to say that the evening coffee, sugar and milk are all donated cheerfully by the fellow most unfortunate enough to have had K.P. the day before.

Having nothing more to gab about and also having to pay a visit down to the end of the company street, I’ll close before I have to make a run for it.

Gabbingly yours,  Everett  (The Donator of This Evening’s Coffee)

Click on images to enlarge.

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imagesiu502ww1To the Arkansas veterans who read and listen to this site… may I send you a Happy New Year wish and hearty Thank You for all you’ve done for us !!

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frank Ables – Kirkersville, OH, US Army, WWII

Joseph Charyk – Falmouth, MA; Under Sec. of the Air Force

W.L. Doerty – Gunnison, CO; US Air Force, Korea, pilot, POW &

Broad Channel veteran's  parade

Broad Channel veteran’s parade

Vietnam, Bronze Star

Fredene Frye – Greybull, WY; US Army WAC, WWII

Billy Hooks – Lake City, TN; USMC, Vietnam, Cpl.

Darlene Koering – Shellsburg – IA; US Women’s Marines, WWII

Troy Gilbert – Litchfield Park, AZ; US Air Force, Oper. Iraqi Freedom, Major, KIA

Charlie Laine – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Troy Gilbert – Nazzareno Tassone – Niagara, CAN; YPG, Syria

Floyd Passmore – Bedford, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, C/503rd/11th Airborne Division

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August 1944 (1)

Cowra POW Camp, Sydney, Australia

Cowra POW Camp, Sydney, Australia

1 August – it was announced that the Japanese resistance on Tinian had ceased.  This came after costing the enemy 9,000 troops in its defense.  This island would provide the Allies with an air base for long-range bombings in Japan.

On Guam, the US troops, in the midst of heavy combat, occupied Utano, Pado, Pulan and Matte.  The aircraft bombings preceded them in the north to ease the men’s advance.  This fighting had resulted in 1,022 KIA and 4,926 WIA.  By the following day, half of the island was in US hands.

Myitkyina, Burma, mid-1944

Myitkyina, Burma, mid-1944

1-3 August – while the Nationalist Chinese territory was being reduced by the enemy in China, the Burma results were quite the opposite.  After an 11-week blockade, the Japanese withdrew from Myitkyina and the US/Chinese troops moved in to occupy it.  The Japanese commanding general of the 14th Army committed suicide as the surviving enemy soldiers retreated toward Mandalay.

This development shortened the Hump route into China and the supplies being air-lifted doubled.  Generals Wingate and Stilwell viewed this as vindication for their-range penetration operations. [Between 26 May and 1 August 1944, the US 14th Air Force had carried out 4,454 missions in support of the Chinese forces in central China.]

japan_map_political

Bonin and Volcano Islands’ locale

From the INCPAC communiqué No. 106 –

“Air and surface units of a fast carrier task force on 3 August (West longitude dates), virtually wiped out a Japanese convoy and raided airfield, towns and ground installations in the Bonin and Volcano Island groups.  Our planes sank 4 cargo ships of approximately 4,000 tons each, 3 escorting destroyers or escort destroyers and 4 barges.  Our surface vessels sank one large destroyer, one cargo ship, one small oiler and several barges.  One damaged vessel escaped.

“4 August our forces continued the sweep.  In the attack on ground installations, our surface craft shelled shipping and shore facilities at Chichi lima.  Omura Town on Chichi Jima was destroyed.  At Iwo Jima, 6 airborne enemy planes were shot down and 6 others were destroyed and 5 others damaged on the ground.  We lost 16 planes and 19 flight personnel to enemy antiaircraft fire.”

newspaper

5 August – Japanese POWs attempted a massive break-out from Cowra POW Camp in Sydney, Australia.  About 334 escaped and 3 Australian guards were killed.  Machine-gun fire killed 234 inmates and injured 108 others.

8 August – a US submarine sank the enemy escort carrier IJN Oraka off the coast of Luzon.  The USS Seawolf landed men on Palawan, P.I.

9-10 August – Japanese General Obata radioed Tokyo from Guam: “THE HOLDING OF GUAM HAS BECOME HOPELESS.  I WILL ENGAGE THE ENEMY IN THE LAST BATTLE TOMORROW.”  The following day, he committed suicide.

The RNZAF, despite political misunderstandings and red tape between governments, continued to be involved in the Pacific theater that was quite disproportionate to the nation’s size.  At this point in the war, they had 7 squadrons on garrison duty in the Pacific while also supporting the European theater.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Soldiers and Officers from 16 Air Assault Brigade, build snow men during their Naafi break.

Soldiers and Officers from 16 Air Assault Brigade, build snow men during their Naafi break.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Thomas H. Armstrong – Pittsburgh, PA; UA Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Div., Purple Heart, Bronze Star

Betty DeAngelo – Garza, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, teletype operator

William Foreman – Ashland, OH; US Navy, WWII. UDT (Underwater Demolition Team)06062012_AP120606024194-600

Robert Hecht Sr. Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII & Korea, Lt.Commander

Kenneth Holmes – Invercargill, NZ; Green Howards # 14217181, WWII, POW # 142987

Lucas M. Lowe – Hardin, TX; US National Guard, aircraft maintenance

Wayne Minard – Furley, KS; US Army, Korea, Co. C/1st/9th/2nd Infantry Div., Cpl

Dustin L. Morteson – League City, TX; US National Guard, Chief Warrant Officer

Lee Thompson – Des Moines, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Paul Walter – Redstone, CO; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Colonel (Ret.)

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