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Smitty’s Cruise Begins – Letter III

USS Heyward - Heyward class troop ship

USS Heyward – Heyward class troop ship

From my father’s description of his transport ship out of San Francisco and the approximate number of soldiers that were aboard, I can speculate that it was a Heywood class ship, as seen in the above photograph.  As the ship lumbered out to the ocean swells, many of the young men took their final glance of the USA.  Smitty thought that his most boring time in the army was while he sailed on this cruise –  although – he did quite well in learning how to play cards – as did many other G.I.’s.

As they boarded, the ship’s crew immediately began enforcing the security procedures.  All portholes and hatches were covered and no lights were allowed after dusk.  The heat below deck in the cramped quarters would soon become intolerable.  The arrival of the “ditty bags” filled with toiletries, cigarettes, gum and a harmonica brightened their spirits; but many of the mouth organs were quickly sent flying overboard when the noise coming from the tin-eared soldiers became too much for the ship’s officers to endure.  This cruise would take 28 days to complete, so Smitty had plenty of time to write home.

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Letter III                                                                           Somewhere at sea at a loss

Dear Mom, 

  We have been on this tub for quite some time now and I must say that although the army doesn’t go to any great pains making you comfortable, they sure do go to extremes making it unpleasant.   I can’t tell you as much as I would like to about the  trip or what we are doing.  One reason is that we don’t know where the heck we are anyway and as for what we are doing, well anything we might like to do would be stopped sooner than it got started.  It has gotten so that now we have to play cards, if money is displayed, down in the hold.  Seems as though the sea gulls over this ocean are the pious type and the sight of men gambling is revolting — or they think it is food.

To try and describe the food or the mess hall would curtail the use of profanity the like of which I wouldn’t attempt to use.  To call it food in the first place is flattery at its best.  Mess Hall is very appropriate — it is some MESS.  This is the first time in my life that I can truthfully say I dread the thought of eating.  We are supposed to tell you that on board ship we can purchase cigarettes for 4 1/2 cents a pack, also candy and a load of other stuff at cost price.  We can also buy bottles of coca cola, but the blame stuff is so hot that we are of the opinion that loaded down with this coke in our stomachs, we might be used as depth charges if a sub should show up.  We did receive free, with no strings attached, a bag full of necessary things from the Red Cross.  It really was worthwhile going after.

Where we might be bound for is still a very big question that will no doubt be answered only when we finally arrive there.  After all, if we knew, we might tell it to the stars and that would be just awful.  I realize this doesn’t sound like a very pleasant letter, but then you must take into consideration this isn’t a very pleasant trip.  None of those romantic moonlit nights. 

Well, that is all for today, so until later on when I will be back to add to this, I’ll say so long for now and all my love,  Everett

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

"How can you feel queasy, we're barely out of port."

wwonenjokes_0185

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

James Audet – Walpole, NH; US Army, Korea, Morse Code operator

Varskin Baydarian – Detroit, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO

THANKS Veterans for walking the walk!

THANKS Veterans for walking the walk!

Harvey Fritz – Gary, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Div.

Wilfred Green – East Meadow, NY; US Merchant Marine

Orvin McGavin – Idaho Falls, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187th/11th Airborne Div.

Robert Parker – Scotsdale, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ/674 Artillery/11th Airborne Div.

Donald Pigford – Wilmington, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, P-47 pilot

Franklin Rinker – Allentown, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, D/152 Artillery/11th Airborne Div.

Stanley Wojcik – Windsor, CAN; WWII, RC Air Force

Eileen Younghusband – London, UK; British Army WAAF, WWII

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Japanese Diary on Kolombangara

Aerial view of Kolombangara, 1943

Aerial view of Kolombangara, 1943

In New Georgia on the Soloman Islands a Japanese private soldier found himself thrown into a campaign that had already been lost. He and his companions from the 23rd Infantry Regiment were landed on Baanga Island, where the troops in occupation were already in retreat. U.S. forces were already well established on nearby islands and the seas around were patrolled by PT boats and destroyers, making it increasingly difficult for the Japanese to land reinforcements or supplies.

Little is known about Tadashi Higa apart from what was found in his diary which was found by the Americans and translated for intelligence purposes. On the 3rd August 1943 he made the following entry

Kolombangara

Kolombangara

We walked along either starving or chewing hard tack. The men in the forces that were withdrawing had pale faces; and there was one casualty in torn clothing who went along using a sword as a cane.

Being just one battalion, we are helpless. We withdrew further. We must withdraw tonight, for our number will be up when day breaks. To advance would have meant death. The situation is indescribable.

The day broke. Enemy planes came roaring toward us, and if we had been detected, it would have meant our end.

The force has spent three days and four nights hiding in the brush without eating, and soaking wet. We were unable to advance a step. We were awaiting the order for an immediate withdrawal to Kolombanga.

Everybody picked coconuts. The enemy was hurriedly constructing an airfield opposite us. We could see them so clearly that it seemed we could have touched them. It only meant that more air attacks were in store for us. Our lives were worthless, for there was no order for withdrawal after all. I have come to hate the men who cause wars. The withdrawal order didn’t come through tonight either.

Our rations have run out. I felt as though I had Malaria, and I took quinine tablets and Hinomarin to keep alive. I was merely awaiting my fate and yet I wanted to die fighting.

It isn’t merely that Japan is being defeated. I felt like crying. Being wet, and in a jungle full of mosquitoes, I thought of home. Ah! The letters from home last month. Ten letters and fourteen or fifteen postcards after a year without any word. There were also letters from my parents.

News from HARUKO, I cherish deeply. But the new was that my beloved younger sister has died, has become a cold, black corpse. Oh! When I thought of her fate, the tears came. I really cried. I felt bitter toward Providence. When I realized that fate determines our lives, my mind became calm. Although death comes sooner or later, I felt sorry for my sister who had to die so young. I prayed for the repose of her soul.

Our parents must be bereaved. Furthermore my mother, who is always thinking about me, must be going through an ordeal worse than death. War is sad.

Nature remains unaffected by such things, though. The morning sun shone, the wind blew softly, yet rain fell plentifully. The hard tack was wet and gave out a foul odor; nobody ate it. We did nothing except gnaw on coconuts.

Two large landing barges were attacked by torpedo boats while they were transporting material to this island. One squad of our CO was on them. I wonder what happened to them.

We talked about home, and we criticized war conditions. We ate no food; our life was just this and nothing else. There was talk that, even today, dead bodies floated up on the north shore. When we thought of their deaths, we were overcome with sorrow.

There was talk that the men of the Southeast Div have not yet arrived. We could not expect them, because our forces, driven hither and thither, must have been roaming about these lonely islands. I wondered what would become of them! I wondered, too, what fate had in store for us!

Despite his sadness and his despair on 13th August Tadashi made his last entry in his diary:

We are determined to resist to the last soldier, and with that intention I lay down my pen.

It was the same situation as on Attu in the northern Pacific, despite knowing that they fought without hope of victory, or even of surviving, the ordinary Japanese soldier saw no alternative but to fight on.

His diary was eventually found on 20th August, what became of Tadashi Higa is not known. The diary was translated by the Combat Intelligence Center, South Pacific Force, and is now retained by the U.S. Naval Historical Center.

From WWIIToday.com?

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 6a00d8341bfadb53ef00e54f2c2fcf8834-640wi

Do a brave thing today!

Do a brave thing today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Arnold – Durham, NC; US Army, Korea

William Dellraria – Chelsea, MA & FL; Merchant Marine, WWIIeagles-with-bowed-heads

Joseph Gathercoal – Chicago, IL; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Donald Johnson – Howard Beach, NY; US Army, Korea era

Percy Jarrell – Hillsboro, OH; US Merchant Marine, WWII

Davis Meyer – Spokane, WA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Charles Rollins –  Calendonia, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

George Sakato – Colton, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Nisei 442nd RCT, Medal of Honor

Edward Tutty – Hawks Bay, NZ; RNZ Army # 45053, WWII, 29th Battery

James Wylie – TX & NC; USMC; WWII, Korea, Col. (Ret.), pilot

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OPEN LETTER TO: ALL

Courtesy of

Courtesy of “The Voice of the Angels.”

As we venture back to the past for the Pacific War, there will continue to be eye-witness stories, the Farewell Salutes, occasionally a homeland episode and military humor.  I may not supply all the resources for my posts, since as many as 5 or 6 may be used to verify the information of any given post.  My bibliography has grown to 6 pages long and has not even been updated lately; also my own library has grown considerably since I first chronicled the war.

I will be re-blogging  some of my own posts from the Archives – updated since they were first published.  This entire site is dedicated to my father, Everett A. Smith, aka “Smitty”, who served in the Headquarters Company/187th Regiment/11th Airborne Division in the Pacific during WWII and the 11th A/B as a whole; therefore it is only right that I do so.  Smitty never said, “I did this” or “I did that,”  it was always – “The 11th did IT!”

Everett

Everett “Smitty” Smith at Camp MacKall, N.C.

As a member of the 11th Airborne Association (Member # 4511) myself, I am privy to their newsletter, “The Voice of the Angels,” edited by Matt & Kara Underwood, and I will be using quotes and stories from that publication.  Mr. Underwood and the officers of the Association have been of great assistance to me and I thank them very much for their help.

This website is ever changing and being updated, because further knowledge is always being learned.  Smitty told me and many others, “I try to learn something everyday.  When I stop, Please, close the lid.”  I have never forgotten that motto to live by and I sincerely hope you all do the same.

Please, DO continue to share what stories you know and/or a link to data you’ve uncovered and put them in the comments.  I am afraid no emails will be opened.  If you are not a blogger, you can Follow by clicking the Follow button in the top right-hand corner of each post.

REMEMBER!

I thank you all for your contributions in the past and hope you will continue to do so.  If you are new to this site – WELCOME!!  We have a wonderful group of people participating here – join them.  Reminder – we have the volunteers and veterans of the Little Rock, AR area watching us too – help show your support of our veterans .

Please remember that these countries, in the following posts, were in a horrendous war and NOTHING written or quoted here is with the intent to disparage any people or nations.  And, I have tried to limit the amount of gory details without shading the facts.  I hope I succeed.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

Some definitions you may want to keep in mind:

ARMY – a body of men assembled to rectify the mistakes of the diplomats
DRAFT BOARD – the world’s largest travel agency
MILITARY EXPERT – one who tells you what will happen next week – and then explains why it didn’t
NEW GUINEA SALUTE – waving the hand over the mess kit to ward off the flies
PACIFIST – a person who fights with everybody BUT the enemy
WAR – a time that starts off paying old scores and ends up by paying new debts
 
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Farewell Salutes – 

Brian Ashton – TePuke, NZ; NZ Reg. # 386718, Platoon B, Malayaus-flag-and-soldier-1

George Barton – Joliet, IL; US Air Force, WWII

Richard Crawford – Seattle, WA; US Navy (RET.), submarine service, Vietnam

Arthur Kitts – Singer Island, FL; US Army, WWII, antiaircraft battery

Hung O. Lee – College Point, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 511th/11th A/B Div., PTO

Carmen Edward Mercandante -Amsterdam, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Reinhold “Hank” Nagel – Sun Lakes, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, HQ Company/187th Reg./11th Airborne Div., PTO

Johnny Powell – Cartwright, OK; US Navy, WWII & US Air Force, Korea (Ret. 23 years)

Franklin Trapnell Jr. – Richmond, VA; US Army, Colonel (Ret. 34 years), 2 tours Vietnam

Thomas Weatherall – Toronto, Can; British Army, WWII

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07-04-14

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Korean War (42)

 

USS Maddox (DD-731) in Korea

USS Maddox (DD-731) in Korea

1 May 1953, enemy shore guns on Hodo Pando scored one direct hit on the USS Maddox and one near miss at the USS Owen.  The communists fired over 200 105mm shells at the destroyers during their attack.  Both ships had minor material damage to their hulls.

USS James C Owens (DD-776)

USS James C Owens (DD-776)

The 1st Marine Division assumed control of the 14th Infantry Regiment and the 5th Marines and opened a new command post at Camp Casey.  A combat patrol engaged in a small fire fight, as did the recon patrol.  By 7 May, the 1st Marine Division, after 20 months of fighting, was relieved and deployed to rear areas.

Company G of the 2nd Battalion/65th Infantry Regiment/3rd Infantry Division relieved element of the 2nd Battalion/15th Infantry Regiment on outpost Harry during daylight hours 15 May on Line Missouri.  On the night of 15-16 May, they were required to defend the outpost and defeated an intended 3-prong attack by a battalion size enemy force.  Fourteen Bronze Stars were awarded to 4 officers and 10 enlisted men as a result of their performance.  From 15-31 May, this unit had 38 ambush patrols, one raid and 4 miscellaneous combat patrols.  Seventeen of the regiment were KIA.

Line Missouri

Line Missouri

13-16 May, 5 main irrigation systems were bombed on the Yalu River.  The flooding that resulted caused the destruction of the enemy’s rice crop.  16 May, in a message intended for Mao Tse-tung, Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, told President Nehru of India that the U.S. would use the A-bomb if necessary.

 

25 May, all sides at the Panmunjom peace talks accepted a modified version of the UN General Assembly Resolution 610 (originally written back on 3 December 1952), whereby prisoners of war who refuse repatriation should be passed to a Neutral National Reparations Commission (NNRC) supervised by India.  South Korean President Syngman Rhee went into such a rage that became so bad that Eisenhower considered using Plan Ever-Ready.  This was a contingency plan to depose him and seize control of the South Korean government.

Panmunjom peace talks building

Panmunjom peace talks building

27-28 May, in an effort to silence the ever increasing enemy coastal battery activity, the USS New Jersey joined TF-77 aircraft in a heavy air/gun strike on Wonsan coastal defenses.

Shortly after midnight, 6 enemy aircraft bombed a United Nation airfield and the POL (petroleum or oil) pipeline between Inchon and Yongdungpo.  One man was injured, 2 F-80s and one F-86 received minor damage and the POL pipeline was punctured.

The 1st Marine Division units prepared for 8th Army CPX (Command Post Exercise).  Strong enemy attacks in the US I Corps sector caused the alerting of the 1st Marines for a move to blocking positions.

29 May, the 8th Army CPX was postponed because of a continuation of enemy attacks across the Army front.  The 1st Marines passed to operational control of I Corps and moved into positions in the 25th Infantry Division sector.  The Recon Company moved in along the east bank of the Imjin River.

Reno, Vegas and Carson outposts marked

Reno, Vegas and Carson outposts marked

30 May, Outposts Vegas, Elko and Carson had fallen due to persistent enemy attacks.   31 May, at the 5th Marines parade field, MGeneral Pollock and RAdmiral Harp, Jr., Chief of Naval Chaplains, conducted Memorial Day ceremonies.

Click on images to enlarge.

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WWII Update – 

3 February is the day set aside to recognize the sacrifices of the four chaplains during WWII.  I regret that this information is belated, my apologies.  For the remarkable story  – Read –

The Four Chaplains Stamp

The Four Chaplains Stamp

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WWII Update – 

The Japanese soldier who refused to surrender…

Courtesy of The Week magazine

Courtesy of The Week magazine

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Farewell Salutes – 

Hubert DeBolt – Gig Harbor, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII PTO, Company A/127 Engineers

Alan Friedland – Boca Raton, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Missing in Action tags

Missing in Action tags

Albert Gonzalez, Sr. – W.Tampa, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Iowa

Alexander LePage – Tampa, FL; US Navy, WWII and then US Air Force (Ret.)

Joseph Mann – NY, NY & Miami, FL; US Navy, WWII

Ronal James McDougall – Ashburton, NZ; Serv. # 648638, bombardier, 25 Battery J Force

Robert Shawver – Oklahoma City,OK; US Navy, WWII

David John Smith – Rangiora, NZ; Serv. # 098687, 23rd Battalion, WWII

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Smitty Was Here

Miyajima Island

Miyajima Island

Being that Smitty so enjoyed taking in the sights of 1945 Japan and it is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, this post will continue with the brochures he brought home with him. Above is the Inland Sea and Miyajima Island that is approximately 45 minutes from Hiroshima; the entire island is considered a park being that two parks are actually on the island, The Omoto and the Momijidani, both famous for their cherry blossoms in spring and coloured leaves in autumn.

The Great Torii

The Great Torii

The Great Torii (52′ tall [16 metres]) is the red religious structure within the bay is from the 16th century. The earlier one had been destroyed by a typhoon. The Itsukushima Shrine has stone lanterns that remain lighted throughout the night. Senjokaku is the hall of a thousand mats and beside the shrine is a hall filled with countless rice ladles offered by worshipers. There is a five-storied pagoda (100 feet high) for Buddha close by and in the Omoto Park is a two-storied pagoda built by “Hidari-Jingoro” an ancient famous artist.

photos from inside the Miyajima Hotel brochure

photos from inside the Miyajima Hotel brochure

The center photo showing a patio, Smitty indicated that that was where they ate. And the circle to the right, dad wrote, “Damn good fishing and crabbing here.” It seems you can’t even take the Broad Channel, NY fisherman out of the soldier.

same brochure

same brochure

At the bottom picture here, Smitty wrote, “I slept here in a room like this.” On the right-hand side of the page is written, “I managed to get behind the bar at this place.” (Can’t take the bartender out of the trooper either, I suppose.) If any reader is capable of translating any of the Japanese writing in these posts, please do so. I have wondered for many years what they meant.

Gamagori Hotel

Gamagori Hotel

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At the Gamagori Hotel, above the bottom-left photo is written, “Good Food. Chef here studied under a Frenchman. Boy was the food tasty.” The right-hand photo has, “Fishing good here.”

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On this page of the Gamagori brochure, Smitty marked on the center diagram where his general stayed. (If viewing is a problem, please click on the photo to enlarge.) The bottom-left photo is marked, “Had a room like this at this place.”

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This brochure is entirely in Japanese and therefore unable to give the reader a clue as to where it was or still is located.

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KILROY WAS HERE!

KILROY WAS HERE!

And so was “SMITTY”!!

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Updated News-

Yank magazine Sept. 1945 (notice the helmet stenciling)

Yank magazine Sept. 1945 (notice the helmet stenciling)

Some of my friends who visit often might remember this cover of Yanks magazine with William Carlisle , of the 11th A/B on the cover. Koji of http://p47koji.wordpress.com notified me that he found a William and Norma Carlisle in Chalmers, IN. I sent a note to inquire and only received a reply two days ago.

Hello! So nice of you to write, Bob would have been pleased. The picture on the cover of the Yank magazine is William Robert Carlisle, my husband. I’m sure he could have told you stories of the 11th Air Borne. I’m Mrs. Norma Carlisle, Bob’s wife. I’m sorry to tell you that Bob passed away on Dec. 12 – 1997. I miss him! Hope you and yours are enjoying the Golden Years! God Bless, Norma

I was so disappointed to discover that we had lost yet another trooper’s tales of the era and a little taken back to see that He passed on what would have been my father’s 83rd birthday. Another Farewell Salute is in order.

With many thanks to Josh, we now have a link to the war memorial that honors the 11th Airborne using Mr Carlisle’s photo as a model.
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/56306307

http://www.warmemorialhq.org/cpg/thumbnails.php?album=520

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I am pleased to announce that Judy of http://greatestgenerationlessons.wordpress.com has invited me back for another guest post next Tuesday, 14 May. I touched on the lighter side of home life during the WWII era with an article entitled “There’ll Be A Hot Time…” Come – join us!!

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“Victory For the USA” 11th A/B poem

Yank magazine Sept. 1945 (notice the helmet stenciling)

Yank magazine Sept. 1945 (notice the helmet stenciling)

On the cover of the 14 September 1945 issue of Yank magazine,(Vol. 4 No. 13) is S/Sgt. William Carlisle of Chalmers, Indiana

This poem was written by: Pvt. Bronnell York, Battery D, 457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, 11th A/B; even if you are not a poetry enthusiast, it is worth reading.

“Victory For the U.S.A.”

We’re the boys of the 457,
Earning our major pay,
Fighting Japs and jungle life,
For three sixty cents a day.

Back home we’re soon forgotten,
By girls and friends we knew,
Here in the South Seas Islands,
Ten thousand miles from you.

All night the rains keep falling,
It’s more than we can stand,
“NO” folks, we’re not convicts,
We’re defenders of our land.

We’re the boys of many,
Holding the upper hand,
Hitting the silk and hoping,
We’re living when we land.

We’re having it pretty tough now,
You can believe what I say,
Some day we hope to live again,
Back home in the USA.

Victory’s in the making,
Our future will be serene,
We’ve got the Navy backing us,
Along with the fighting Marines.

HQ staff of the 457 PFAB

HQ staff of the 457 PFAB

We’re in this all together,
Fellas like you and me,
We’ll be a united people,
And our Country will be free.

There’s no two ways about it,
We’ll either do or die,
For our Country with dictation,
Is not for you or I.

When the war is over,
And we have finished what they began,
We’ll raise Old Glory high above,
The Empire of Japan.

So, to all you 4F jokers,
Who thinks there’s something you missed,
Don’t let the draft board get you,
And for God’s sake don’t enlist.

It might be a long time yet,
Then it might be any day,
When smiling faces see the Golden Gate,
And sail in Frisco Bay.

When this conflict’s over,
The boys can proudly say,
We had to fight for what was ours,
Victory for the U.S.A.!

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I located this poem in my old files from at least 15-20 ago, so I’m afraid I can not state the resource. I was also unable to locate information or a photo just yet. If anyone knows something about Bronnell York or William Carlisle, please inform all of us in the comments. Thank you.

A page from the 11th A/B 1943 Yearbook

A page from the 11th A/B 1943 Yearbook

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Current: From – Archaeology magazine

Discovery in Hawaii

Discovery in Hawaii

Race for Manila begins

situation map

situation map

By the beginning of February, 1945, the US Navy reported: since 19 June 1944, the Japanese have been losing 50 shipping vessels per week.  The US B-29’s, after bombing Singapore harbour, demolished the enemy shipping vessels there.  The US Air Force had begun to bomb Japan’s homeland as well.  Japan felt that if they beef-up their forces in the Philippines and were to drive the Allies off the islands, the United States would be forced to ease up on their bombardments.  Enemy replacements and war materiel began to pour onto Luzon.

3 February, 1945 is considered the starting date for the battle for Manila.  The Japanese are actually trapped in the city between the 11th Airborne Division moving up from the south and XIV Corps from the north.  This battle will go on all through the month with some of the most ferocious fighting of the war.

While advancing, the 11th A/B encountered heavy barrages from machine guns, mortars, artillery and grenades streaming from tunnels and caves above the highway.  After the enemy was eradicated, the command post dug in on the side of the road.  In the middle of the night, they were attacked.  Headquarters Company used flame throwers and rifle fire to fend them off.

My father would wrinkle his nose at the mere sight of a flame thrower on tv.  He said, “Once you smell burning flesh, it stays with you.  There’s nothing worse.  Everytime I see one of those things flare up, even in a movie, I can smell the fuel and flesh all over again.

flamethrower

flamethrower

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

A mere two hours later, the Command Group followed along the fire-swept road and set up the division command post on the ridge. The Reconnaissance Group, right behind them, did not rest, but continued on toward Manila. The Command Group then folded in behind and set up another command post while under heavy fire. It was here that the plans for attacking Manila and Nichols Field were developed.

General Swing now had a supply trail stretching 70 miles and he began to fine tune the missions of some of the units. Colonel Hildebrand and the 187th were sent to Nasugubu and patrol the main supply route. Hildebrand was also put charge of thousands of guerrilla fighters, not an easy job in itself. All in all, him and his regiment had been given a very large task. They were staring into the jaws of the noted Genko Line. (which will be explained soon.)

Luzon

Luzon

4-11 February 1945, US President Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Churchill and Russia’s Joseph Stalin met at Yalta in the Crimea for a conference. It was decided that when Germany is defeated, Russia will declare war on Japan. It was clear to all that Stalin was already putting in a claim for territory (the spoils of war) after the Allied victory.

(Click photos to enlarge )

Guard Duty – Letter XVI – conclusion

In the event that you missed the previous post, Pvt. Smith serving in the 11th Airborne during WWII, was attempting to visualize his first experience at standing guard duty in a combat zone to his mother in a letter.  At one point, the situation appears critical and the next – a comedy of errors.  Nevertheless, this half of the letter describes his four-hour rest period and the following two hours of standing guard.  Hope you stick around to see how he does.

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Bill Mauldin's army - Is that officer a ninety-day wonder?

Bill Mauldin’s army – Is that officer a ninety-day wonder?

Guard Duty (con’t)

As soon as your relief man comes along, you strut back to your tent feeling as proud as all hell knowing that you are a conqueror of the night and a tried and true veteran of the guard.  You are supposed to get four hours of rest or sleep before going on for your second shift, but for some reason or another the time just flits away and just as you close your eyes in deep slumber — in walks the sergeant of the guard and out you go sleepily rubbing your eyes wondering how in the devil you are ever going to keep awake for the next two hours.

As you sit on the stump of a tree surveying what you have just fours hours ago mentally overcame, you begin to think of home.  Now, thinking of home is alright in the daytime with a load of griping G.I.s around, but at night on a lonesome post, it is strictly out.  Not only do you think of things you shouldn’t, but soon you are feeling sad and more lonely than ever knowing that no one cares and that the whole world is against you.  Not only is this bad for you, it doesn’t even help to pass the time.

You turn your thoughts elsewhere trying next to figure out what the cooks will try to feed you tomorrow.  Here again is a very poor time-passing thought as you know damn well they’ll feed you bully-beef in its most gruesome form.  Soon your eyes feel heavy again and seem like they’re going to close and you wonder if it would be okay to light up a cigarette.  Here again the book says what to do, but heck, as I said before, the guy who wrote it isn’t out here, so what does he know?  You daringly light one up, trying desperately to shield the light and take a big, deep drag.  I found that it isn’t the inhaling of the cigarette that keeps you awake, but the ever constant threat of being caught in the act.  You look at your watch and find to your dismay that you still have an hour and forty-five minutes left to go.

Damn but the time sure does drag along.  Wonder why it doesn’t speed up and pass on just as it does when you are off.  Oh!  Well, sit down again and hum a tune or two, maybe that will help.  Gosh, sure wish someone would come along to talk.  Ho-hum, lets see now.  What will I do tomorrow on my time off?  This last thought is sure to pass away in 15 to 20 minutes, but why it should, I don’t know.  You know damn well that no matter what you may plan for tomorrow’s off-time, it will only be discarded and you will spend that time in bed asleep.  Light up another cigarette, sweat it out, swear a little at the dragging time, hum another tune, think more about home, think of you and the army, swear good and plenty and after that thought — look at your watch.

Hey — what goes on here? — that damn relief is over a half-minute late — who does he think he is anyway?  Swear.  Brother how you are swearing and cursing now.  Oh!  Oh!  There’s a light coming your wat — the relief.  “Oh boy, sleep ahead.”

“So long bud, the whole damn post is yours.  Take it easy, it ain’t too bad.  Goodnite.”  —  And so ends your first night of guard duty as you wearily drag yourself to your bunk too damn tired to even undress.

Hey Mom, hope you enjoyed this as much as some of the others here did.  Meant to send this off before now, but you know me.

Love,  Everett

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A lot of information about Leyte was difficult to acquire and/or receive permission to reprint.  I will therefore in the following post include a few more photos to give the reader an idea of how efficiently the American troops went through the island to clear out the Japanese.

questioning a prisoner

questioning a prisoner

_____________________________________________________________________________________________ Personal Note – I have been invited by Judith Hardy, of Greatest Generations Lessons, to be a Guest writer on her blog.  Her father was born the same year as “Smitty” and also received his draft notice the same year.  I’m very excited about the article and the honor and certainly hope many of you will stop by her blog and check it out.  My article should appear this Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, but stay a while and check out Judy’s previous posts.  Thank you._____________________________________________________________________________________________

They're in the army now!!

They’re in the army now!!

Guard Duty? Letter XVI part one

Who wants guard duty?

15 January 1945, all of the 11th Airborne Division was back on Bito Beach where they rested for a short time.  As Japan experienced an earthquake,  they took advantage of their position to re-organize, get re-equipped, re-trained and with a little time left over – they wrote letters home.

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Letter XVI                                        Guard Duty                                Monday 1/15/45

Dear Mom,

You have received many notes from me in the past that always seem to contain one line that went something like this, “Have to go on guard duty tonight ____.”  Now in this letter I hope to be able to picture for you convincingly enough my first night on guard duty.  Please remember, all through this letter, that this place at the time was threatened at ALL times by the Japs and never for one moment were we allowed to forget it — especially at night.

My first trick on guard was posted for the hours of 9 to 11pm with a four-hour sleep period before going on as second sentry relief.  We were to be ready for immediate action.  This was also the first time I had to stand guard with a loaded rifle, so instead of feeling safe and secure, it tends to make me that much more nervous and apprehensive.

At eight-forty-five sharp, we were called out, inspected and told the password and counter sign.  We were then marched away, in a body, to our respective posts, told the special orders pertaining to that particular post and then left alone.  The quick, short steps of the guard soon grow faint and they rapidly walk on until all you can hear is the beat of your heart.

As soon as I realized that I was alone and on my post, I tried vainly to pierce the darkness and see just where I was and what was around and near me.  It generally takes from five to ten minutes before your eyes become accustomed to the darkness, but before that happens, I found out that your mind sees things and imagines most anything from a Jap standing or crouching down.  You try to shake off the feeling, but damn it all — how can you?

After a while, you begin to see things in their true form and you notice that the standing Jap is nothing but a small palm tree and that sinister apparition is only some old debris or fallen tree.  As these things unfolded before in their real form, I heaved a great sigh and relieved my tightened grip on my rifle.  Boy!  What a relief I thought and was just about to sling my rifle over my shoulder when suddenly I heard a noise.

I crouched down trying desperately this time to see what my ears had just heard, when again, I heard a faint sound — only this time it was in back of me or maybe on the side.  All sorts of thoughts run rampant through your mind at this stage and mine were really running wild.

Guard Duty - painting from history.army.mil

Guard Duty – painting from history.army.mil

You try to remember things you were taught about for situations such as these, but at the time the lessons were given, they seemed boring and so you didn’t pay much attention.  Now I wish I had listened and desperately tried to recall to mind what little I did hear.  Seconds seemed liked hours, my legs were getting numb, but I was too damned scared to move a muscle for fear of giving away my position to whatever was around.  “Where the hell is that man?”  I thought to myself.  Gosh, it sure was quiet and still that night.  I even tried to stop breathing for fear it would be heard.

Suddenly, your eyes pick out a strange object that wasn’t there before, or so your memory tells you.  You watch it for a while, then — oh, oh — it moves, sure as hell, it moved — there it goes again.

I could see it then, just an outline, but that was clear enough for me.  I held my breath and at the same time brought my rifle up and aimed it.  Now, I was in a mess.  What if it was an American soldier out there or the next guard?  The book covers this well, you remember it says, “Yell out, in a clear distinctive voice, HALT, at least three times.”  That’s fine I thought, but dammit, the guy who wrote that isn’t out there with me now and I’d bet he wouldn’t yell “HALT” at least three times.

Well, I won the bet and only yelled once and waited for the password.  Again, minutes seemed like hours, suppose he didn’t hear me, should I yell again?  Suppose it is another guard and he thinks I’m only kidding or it’s nothing but a swaying branch, what a mess, what do I do?  All these thoughts flash thru your mind and you are about to get up and yell again, but it moves back — that’s a Jap.  Without hesitation now, you pull the trigger and then in excitement, before you release your finger, you hear instead of one shot, three or more ring out.

Flash lights appear from nowhere as men come out anxiously looking about and trying to find out what the noise is about.  In the dim rays of their lights, you find that what you thought was a hoard of Japs surrounding you is nothing or was nothing more than a dog or wild pig prowling about.  You feel about the size of a ten cent piece, I sure did.  Inwardly you are proud to note that what you aimed at in the darkness, you hit and that a few are even remarking about that wonderful feat.  You aren’t even shaking anymore.  In fact, you notice to your most pleasant surprise you are no longer afraid.

Soon tho, you are left alone again, but this time the loneliness isn’t so bad and you know that soon you will be relieved and another “first night” will come along and make the same mistakes you did.

to be continued …

YANK magazine. November 26th

Thanksgiving Yank magazine

Thanksgiving Yank magazine

Leyte 1944

Leyte 1944

Click on photos to enlarge.

Try viewing the videos on YouTube by typing in : 11th Airborne Division

I am certain you will enjoy the actual footage available on this site.