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Smitty’s Letter XIV – “On the Move Again”

 

Letter XIV                                    “On the Move” (again)                        undated due to censorship

Dear Mom,  We have been at sea now for three days heading toward someplace the Land and the great white father in Washington only knows.

As I sit here writing this, I just can’t help but feel like a very small insignificant part of something so vast that the mind can’t in any way begin to comprehend what it is all about.  Here I am on a ship heading out to something, someplace, and it was all planned probably months ago, miles and miles away from anywheres near here.  Suddenly it all takes form.  Transports and other ships stream into the harbor and just as quickly and quietly we are made loose and moving out.  It all happens so fast and so smoothly that you can’t help but admire it all.

Of course, as serious as it all is, the army just can’t help but be the cause of many amusing incidents.  When we first landed in New Guinea we got lost looking for our camp and coming down to the boats, the trucks again got lost and so we had to travel up and down the beach until finally, instead of us finding the boats — the boats found us.  Climbing up the gangplank with our packs and duffel bags always provide an amusing incident or two, but at the time seem pretty damn dangerous.

On board ship, we are once again packed in like sardines down in the hold.  Once shown our bunk, we proceed at once to get rid of our equipment and dash up on deck to pick out some spot where we can spend the night,  It isn’t long after this that the details are handed out — and so — what could have been a very pleasant voyage soon turns out to be anything else but.  I was lucky in that I was handed a detail that only worked for an hour each day, but the poor guys that hit the broom detail were at it all day long.  All we could hear, all day long, over the speaker system was: “Army broom detail, moping and brooms, clean sweep down forward aft, all decks.”  They kept it up all the time until soon one of the fellas made up a little ditty about it and sang it every time we saw a broom coming down the deck.

The food was excellent and really worth talking about.  On the first trip coming over from the states, we dreaded the thought of eating, but on this ship, it was more than a welcome thought.  Generally, when you go to a movie there are news reel pictures of convoys of ships and the men aboard.  They always try to show you a few playing cards or joking and say that this is how the boys relieve the tension they are under.  Well, I don’t know about the seriousness of the situation was anything like what the news reels portray.

Of course, it was a strange sight to see the boys at night line up at the side scanning the sky and distant horizon.  This was generally though at night and early dawn.  What we expected to see, I don’t know and what our reaction would be, if we did see something — I hesitate to predict.  It won’t be long after this letter is written that we will land or at least sight our destination, so wishing  to be wide-awake when we do, I’ll close this letter now and hit the hay hoping I sleep an uninterrupted sleep.

Till next time, “Good night and pleasant dreams.”                          Love, Everett

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – For those of you who will be in the Fredricksburg, Texas area…..

http://www.pacificwarmuseum.org/

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joan Abery – Darley Dale, ENG; RAF, WWII

Emil Adams – brn: Slovakia/US; US Navy, WWII, CBI, Annapolis graduate

David Altop – Salt Lake City, UT; USMC, WWII, PTO, radio operator

George E. Bria (101) – brn: Rome, ITAL/Waterbury, CT; AP war correspondent, ETO

Otis ‘Roger’ Humphrey – Montpelier, IN; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Charles Johnson – Wichita, KA; US Navy, WWII

Lucien Legault – Windsor, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

John Mumford – St. Petersburg, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 318/325/15th Air Force, KIA

Marion “Flee” Pettygrove – CA; USMC Women’s Corps, WWII

James Summitt – Des Moines, IA; US Navy, WWII, radioman

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October 1944 (5)

 

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 o945, 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.

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:

Gen. MacArthur surveys the beachhead ay Leyte.

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…

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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Military Humor – 

“Cause no one’s going to notice a branch covered moving tank…”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Harry Adams Sr. – New Cumberland, PA; US Army, WWII

Robert Clark – Westmoreland, NH; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO

Cleo Douglas – Berwyn, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Doris Graham – Blanchard, MI; US Navy WAVE, WWII, Unit 32 nurse

Virgile Green – Paron, AK; US Army, WWII, PTO

Raymond McCormick – E.Greenwich, RI; US Navy, WWII, USS Wisconsin, Alabama & South Dakota

Naomi Oliver – Wanganui, NZ; Women’s Nurse Corps # 816540, WWII

George Psiropoulos – Fon du Lac, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, 3rd Infantry Div., Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Frank Southern – Dipton, UK; RAF, WWII, ETO, 272 Squadron navigator, POW

Lester Tenney – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO, tank commander, Bataan POW

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International Women’s Day, Veteran of the Day, Violet Gordon

Violet Gordon

Violet Gordon

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Women’s Army Corps Veteran Violet Hill Askins Gordon. Violet served during World War II.

Violet was living in Chicago, Illinois, supervising stenographic pools, bored and restless, when a friend told her about the Women’s Army Corps. Violet enlisted when the first Officer Candidate class for women accepted her application.

At the end of the training period, Violet had earned the rank of Second Commanding Officer and was assigned to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where the first detachment of African-American women for the WAC were stationed. In an interview with the Veterans History Project, Violet said it was a little nerve-wracking when they arrived. “Of course the male units that were already there knew that we were coming. There was a lot of controversy about women in the services. A lot of rumors, most of them not really very complimentary.” Fortunately, Violet said Army officers always maintained safe and appropriate order within the camps.

After Fort Huachuca, Violet and her unit became the only all African-American female unit to serve overseas in England and France during World War II. Violet believes her experiences in WAC changed her from a shy, introspective person into a leader. Violet left the service as a Captain.

Decades after her retirement, Violet went to the dedication of the Women’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. On the final day, Violet heard somebody say, “Violet?” and turned to see one of her old friends from her unit. “I had no trouble whatsoever recognizing her and obviously she had no trouble recognizing me,” Violet said. Her friend then led Violet to a group of women from her first officer’s class and unit all sitting together. Violet was overjoyed to see her old friends.

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Violet remembers how happy it made her to see the women on active duty at the dedication in D.C. from all branches of the service, representing all colors, all races and all ranks. “It was something that I would have never envisioned in 1942 was right there in front of me.”

This past October, Violet celebrated her 100th birthday in Florida.

Thank you for service, Violet!


Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? You’re in luck! VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to newmedia@va.gov with as much of the information as you can put together with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating for how to create the best submission.

Veterans History Project

This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.


Graphic By Kierra Willis: Kierra Willis is a Graphic Communication Major at the University of Maryland University College. She currently has an AAS in Graphic Design and Visual Communications.

Japanese View of the Leyte Naval Battle

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The following was published in “Senso: The Japanese Remember the Pacific War.”

Don’t Shoot at a Sinking Enemy

As a 25-year old seaman about a destroyer, I participated in the sea battle off Leyte.  In the midst of the battle, our destroyer was pursuing a fleeing aircraft carrier through squalls and curtains of smoke.  Suddenly a single enemy destroyer headed directly for us.  Attacked by the concentrated fire from our destroyer squadron, it rapidly went up in flames.  As we neared the enemy ship to see its last moment, it listed to one side, with flames rising everywhere.  It was about to sink.  Men were floating on the water’s surface or sinking beneath it, while half-naked crew members jammed themselves into lifeboats and rowed away, escaping.

We were close enough to see their unkempt beards and the tattoos on their arms.  One of our machine-gunners impulsively pulled his trigger.  He must have been overflowing with feelings of animosity toward the enemy.  But he was checked by a loud voice from the bridge saying, “Don’t shoot at escaping men!  Stop shooting, stop!”  So he inflicted no injury on the enemy.

I read an article written after the War’s end that the captain, who survived*, (a descendant of the Cherokee tribe) had tears in his eyes when he recalled the scene. “A Japanese destroyer that passed by did not shoot.  What is more, I cannot forget the officers on the Gigantic warship who saluted us in seeming condolence for the loss of our ship.”  What flashed through my mind was the story of Commodore Uemura, who rescued the crew of the sinking Yurik during the Russo-Japanese War.  Seppū was the name of his destroyer – known as the luckiest warship in the world.

This was written by Okuno Tadashi, who became a business owner in Ōmuta, Japan after the war.

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Edward E. Evans

Edward E. Evans

Commander Ernest Edwin Evans was born in Pawnee, Oklahoma on August 13, 1908.  He was three quarters Cherokee Indian.

During the Battle of Leyte Gulf on October 25, 1944 Commander Evans and the USS Johnston were assigned to Task Unit 77.4.3 AKA Taffy III with 2 other destroyers (Hoel and Heermann), 4 destroyer escorts (Butler, Dennis, Raymond, Roberts) and 6  escort carries (Fanshaw Bay, Saint Lo, Kalinin Bay, White Plains, Kitkun Bay, Gambier Bay).  Here, at the Battle Off Samar, they fought the vastly superior Imperial Japanese Navy Centre Force which consisted of 4 battleships, 6 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, and 11 destroyers.

At 9:45 AM Commander Evans ordered his crew to abandon ship.  The USS Johnston sank at 10:10 AM, receiving a hand salute from the skipper of a Japanese destroyer.

* The article Mr. Tadashi read must have been written by another crew member, as Cmdr. Evans was seen abandoning ship, but was never found.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Personal note – 

I would appreciate hearing if you are interested in more stories from the Japanese side of the war.  I refrained from adding a second story here from a crew member of the Musashi to keep the post at a decent size.

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Military Humor – from the Readers Digest ‘Humor in Uniform –

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“I’m the commander of data security.”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Anthony Allis – Clearwater, FL; USMC, WWII, PTO

Lou Bucelli Sr. – Bridgeport, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Scoter

George Clifford-Marsh – Waikato, NZ; RNZ Army # 629433, WWII, Cpl.th-jpg1

James Fuehrmeyer – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Thomas Gibson – Nashville, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot

Stuart Hansen Jr. – Kettering, OH; US Army, Vietnam

Robert Jones – Syracuse, NY; US Navy, WWII

William ‘Bud’ Liebenow – Fredericksburg, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO & ETO. Captain, PT-199

Howard Porter – Kalamazoo, MI; US Army, WWII, PTO, medic

Joseph Wapner – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

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October 1944 (4)

USS Samuel B. Roberts

USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413)

Halsey was battling Ozawa’s Decoy Force at Cape Engaño where the last surviving Japanese ship from the Pearl Harbor attacks, IJN Zuikaku was ablaze and abandoned.  The Chitose was dead in the water.  Commander Hathaway’s USS Heerman was badly damaged, along with the Hoel, Johnston and Samuel B. Roberts.

IJN Chikuma

IJN Chikuma

When Halsey retreated south, the remaining ships had planes out that proceeded to hit the IJN Chikuma and Chokai before they too retreated.  The Zuikaku sank and hour later the Zuiha succumbed, followed by the Chiyoda.

In less than 7 hours ____

At 0750, escort carrier GAMBIER BAY, dead in water, is continually hit by 8-inch shells, set afire and floods.

IJN Chokai

IJN Chokai

At 0805, CruDiv 4’s CHOKAI, hit and set afire by numerous bombs from KITKUN BAY’s aircraft, goes dead in the water. At 0807, GAMBIER BAY, capsizes and sinks.

At 0814, Vice Admiral Kurita orders all ships to assemble and head north. At 0850, CruDiv 7’s CHIKUMA and TONE, followed by CruDiv 5’s HAGURO and CHOKAI, pursue “Taffy Three’s” escort carriers. At 0853, CHIKUMA is attacked by four TBM Avenger torpedo-bombers from “Taffy Two”. She is hit in stern port quarter by a MK-13 aircraft torpedo that severs her stern and disables her port screw and rudder.

At 0907, CHIKUMA reports to YAMATO that she has been torpedoed and is unnnavigable. Then at 0920, CHIKUMA reports that she has lost a propeller, is making 18 knots, but is unsteerable. At 0930, CHIKUMA reports she is at 11-25N, 126-48E and making nine knots.

At 1020, Force A reverses course towards Leyte Gulf. At 1105, CHIKUMA is attacked by five TBMs from KITKUN BAY. She is hit portside amidships by two torpedoes and her engine rooms flood. Power is lost. She comes to a stop and takes on a list to portside. At 1110, destroyer NOWAKI is dispatched to assist her.

After 1415, CHIKUMA is attacked by three TBMs from ORMANNEY BAY led by VC-75’s CO, Lt Allen W. Smith. Three torpedoes hit her portside near amidships. NOWAKI takes off her survivors then scuttles her with torpedoes. At 1430, CHIKUMA capsizes and sinks by the stern at 11-25N, 126-36E.

USS Heermann at Battle of Samar, by: Dwight Shepler

USS Heermann at Battle of Samar, by: Dwight Shepler

26 October 1944: 65 miles SSE of Legaspi, Philippines. At 0054, NOWAKI is crippled and set afire by gunfire from Task Force 34.5’s VINCENNES (CL-64), BILOXI (CL-80) and MIAMI (CL-89) and DesDiv 103’s MILLER (DD-535), OWEN (DD-536) and LEWIS HANCOCK (DD-675).  At 0149, NOWAKI, dead in the water, is sunk by gunfire and torpedoes from the destroyers at 13N, 124-54E. NOWAKI goes down with all hands, including CHIKUMA’s survivors.

Ship list from Wikipedia:

Allied losses:

The United States lost six warships during the Battle of Leyte Gulf:

Japanese losses:

The Japanese lost 26 warships during the Battle of Leyte Gulf:

Listed Japanese losses include only those ships sunk in the battle. After the nominal end of the battle, several damaged ships were faced with the option of either making their way to Singapore, which was close to Japan’s oil supplies but could not undertake comprehensive repairs, or making their way back to Japan where there were better repair facilities but scant oil. The cruiser Kumano and battleship Kongo were sunk retreating to Japan. Cruisers Takao and Myoko were stranded, unrepairable, in Singapore. Many of the other survivors of the battle were bombed and sunk at anchor in Japan, unable to move without fuel.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – in Naval Training –

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Farewell Salutes –

Chester Bochus – Licoln, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Ralph Gardener – Battle Creek, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO & CBI, 9th Air Force, Transport Command

Margaret Jaffe – Santa Cruz, CA; US Army Nursing Corps, WWII1e12f2d7f401d503e1678a3a20527afb-jpglord-kitcheners-farewell-salute

Harold Knowles – Bathhurst, NB, CAN; RC Signal Corps, Korea

Richard Lonien – Everett, WA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Brian P. Odiorne – Ware, MA; US Army, Iraq, 2/82/3/1st Cavalry Division, cannon crew

George Russell – Clifton Heights, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Company C/152nd Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Elwin Swigart – Molalla, OR; US Army, WWII, ETO

John Keith Wells – Lakewiew, TX; USMC, WWII, PTO, 5th Marine Div., Lt., Navy Cross, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Leonard Woods – Christchurch, NZ; RAF # 1330880, WWII, Warrant officer

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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

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“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!”

w25_09151307-595x405

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 –

10917034_508938132578654_4177597521600009923_n-577x640

article-1357224-0d3319e3000005dc-554_634x675

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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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