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HMAS Australia

HMAS Australia, imagery scanned from Navy Historic Archive

Possibly the ship with the most colorful World War II history was HMAS Australia, fondly known as “The Aussie”. The Aussie fought for almost the entire duration of the war. A county class cruiser commissioned in 1928 she was the second ship to bear the name of her country.

With the outbreak of WWII Aussie sailed for the Atlantic to begin her long wartime career that she was to fight on all fronts and against all enemies.  In September, 1940, she was in Operation Menace off Dakar, French West Africa.  Bombers of the Luftwaffe tried in vain to sink her whilst she was berthed alongside in Liverpool during the period when the city suffered its worst blitz. During her war service Aussie went everywhere.

n December 1941 when Japan entered the war Aussie became the flagship or Rear Admiral Crace, followed by Admiral Crutchley and then Commodore Collins.  In January 1942 the cruiser assisted in escorting the first US troops to Australia. Operating in the Coral Sea it pursued and attacked the Japanese from Guadalcanal to Hollandia, surviving everything its enemies could throw at her, until…

HMAS Australia funnel damage

Out of the blue skies of Leyte came the ‘Divine Wind” or the Kamikaze. The first Kamikaze hit against Aussie was by a A6M5 Zero-Sen Fighter fitted with a 200 kilogram bomb, the impact of this snapped one leg of the ship’s tripod mast, causing a huge shower of wreckage to rain down upon the compass platform.  Underneath it lay Captain Dechaineaux mortally wounded along with many others, amongst them Commodore J. Collins, hero of the HMAS Sydney.  Four days later, after the initial Kamikaze attack, Aussie again suffered the brunt of another, her sleek hull and distinctive row of three funnels drawing the suicidal pilots to her.

more HMAS Australia damage

HMAS Australia was needed badly by the R.A.N for she was the last surviving seaworthy member of the country’s heavy cruiser fleet the rest having been sunk and Hobart badly damaged. So she was quickly returned to active service.

She headed straight back to Philippine waters and on the afternoon of 5th January 1945 at Lingayen Gulf,  The Kamikazes targeted her again.  Her new Captain Armstrong flung the ship about wildly, but another bomb laden aircraft slammed into to her. The casualties were high – 25 men killed and 30 seriously wounded, most were badly needed guns crews.

Despite extensive damage she joined HMAS Shropshire and other US units to aid in the bombardment of San Fernando and Poro Point.  A new wave of Kamikazes then attacked, a Aichi ‘Val’ Dive Bomber surviving the murderous fire thrown up by all ships collided headlong into her upper deck exploding in an enormous fireball.  Several guns crews died instantly and a severe shock wave shuddered throughout the ship. This hit accounted for another 14 dead and 26 seriously wounded. by now Aussie’s AA defenses were all but eliminated.

HMAS Australia damage to the twin 4-inch mount

At dawn on 8th January the allied fleet resumed its bombardment and the Kamikazes renewed their suicidal attacks.  Aussie was the last ship in the line and was once again singled out.   The Aussie’s gunners throwing up withering fire at a Mitsubishi “Dinah” Bomber until at last shooting it down, but not before it released its bomb which exploded close to the waterline, punching a large hole in the hull.

Taking a dangerous list to port another ‘Dinah’ roared in.  Those guns still in operation tore the bomber to bits and it showered down aviation fuel upon the sailors whilst its massive engine smashed through the bulkhead of the Captain’s Day Cabin. Within seconds another ‘Dinah’ roared in, the Aussie gunners frantically trying to shoot it down, succeeding, within just 15 metres, the propeller blades embedding themselves in a life-raft.  The aircraft skidded into the hull ripping another large hole and damaging yet another fuel tank, whilst two mess decks were completely destroyed. Aussie by now was in bad shape, her speed reduced to fifteen knots to avoid causing more damage,  still hung in and managed to continue the fight with what was left of her.

The following day the Japs decided to finish the Flagship off knowing she was almost dead in the water. As another plane raced in heading for her bridge its pilot misjudged his attack line and slammed into the yardarm slewing the aircraft around so as to miss the bridge area and taking out the top of the foremost funnel. Sliced off cleanly it crashed to the deck. There were no casualties from this hit but it spelled the end for Aussie. Two boilers had to be shut down because of insufficient updraft.  Aussie’s war had come to an end.

The war for HMAS Australia was over.

Information from the Royal Australian Navy Gun Plot; Australian Navy and Joey’s Walkabout

The Australian Navy link includes some fantastic photographs!

Click on images to enlarge.

 

Current News – Doris “Dorie” Miller

Dorie Miller statue in progress

A 9-foot stature sculptured by Eddie Dixon will be unveiled today, Thursday, 7 December 2017, in honor of Doris “Dorie” Miller – Hero of Pearl Harbor!  On the banks of the Brazos River, Miller relatives and former crew of the USS Doris Miller will attend the ceremony for the Waco, Texas born seaman.

For a full story of Mr. Miller please click HERE!

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Military Humor –

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Margaret Abbott Hanson – CAN; RC Army, WWII, Regina Rifle Regiment

Deane Brees – Creston, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Gallatin, signalman

Paul Ciccarelli – Monessen, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co A/188/11th Airborne Division

Walter Eacott – Melbourne, AUS; RAF, WWII, night fighter pilot / RAAF, Squadron Leader

Charles Greene – Middleboro, KY; US Army, WWII, ETO, 916 Medical Ambulance, Bronze Star

James Lane – Wannambool, AUS; RA Navy # 57966, CPO

Francis Mitchell – Walkanae, NZ; RNZ Navy # 13840. Korea

David Nesbitt – Sidney, AUS; RA Air Force # 420355, WWII

Joseph Pisano – Queens, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, F/367/101st Airborne Division

Michael Vertucci – Maspeth, NY; US Army, KOrea

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General Joseph May Swing – Intermission Story (30)

Major General Joseph Swing

As the intermission period closes, it is only fitting that I introduce the man who lead the 11th Airborne Division.  Many called him “Uncle Joe”, but on the back of this photograph, Smitty wrote “My General.”

“A hero is a man noted for his feats of courage or nobility of purpose—especially one who has risked his life; a person prominent in some field, period, or cause by reason of his special achievements or contributions; a person of distinguished valor or fortitude; and a central personage taking an admirable part in any remarkable action or event; hence, a person regarded as a model.”

Joseph May Swing was born on 28 February 1894 in Jersey City and went to the public schools there, graduating in 1911 and entered West Point Military Academy directly.  He graduated 38th in the class of the star-studded class of 1915, famously known as “The Class the Stars Fell On.”

The 5-star generals were Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar Bradley.  The four-star (“full”) Generals in the class of 1915 were James Van Fleet and Joseph T. McNarney. The three-star (Lieutenant Generals) Generals were Henry Aurand, Hubert R. Harmon, Stafford LeRoy Irwin, Thomas B. Larkin, John W. Leonard, George E. Stratemeyer, and Joseph M. Swing. This view was taken facing south around noon on May 3, 1915.

In 1916 Lieutenant Swing was part of the punitive expedition to Mexico against Francisco Villa under the leadership of General John J. Pershing. In 1917, shortly after the US entered the war in Europe, Major Swing joined the artillery of the 1st Division in France. When he returned to the US in 1918, he became an aide-de-camp to the Army’s Chief of Staff, General Peyton C. March. On 8 July 1918, he married Josephine Mary March, the daughter of General March. Later that year, he joined the 19th Field Artillery at Fort Myer, Virginia, and in 1921 sailed for Hawaii to command the 1st Battalion of the 11th Field Artillery at Schofield Barracks.

In 1925, he returned to the States and assumed command of the 9th Field Artillery at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.  He graduated with honors from the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, and in 1927 he graduated from the Command and Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. For the next four years, he was on duty in the Office of the Chief of Field Artillery in Washington, DC, and in 1933 he became chief of its war plans section. In 1935, he graduated from the Army War College in Washington and then joined the 6th Field Artillery at Fort Hoyle, Maryland.

Next, he went to Fort Sam Houston where he was the chief of staff of the 2d Division from 1938 to 1940. Later, he commanded the 82d Horse Artillery Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Bliss, Texas and then commanded its division artillery. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1941 and at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, organized the division artillery of the 82d Division, a move which was to project him into the brand new field of “airborne.”  In Camp Claiborne, General Omar Bradley was the 82d Division commander. General Ridgway was the assistant division commander, and Colonel Maxwell D. Taylor was the chief of staff.

General Joseph M. Swing

In February of 1943, as a newly promoted major general, General Swing was assigned the task of activating the 11th Airborne Division at Camp Mackall, North Carolina, the Army’s third airborne division. Thus began for General Swing a tenure of service which was unique then and still remains a record: division commander of one division for five years, during which he activated the division, trained it, and commanded it in combat and during its subsequent occupation of Japan. During this period, General Swing and the 11th Airborne Division became synonymous; the man was the division and the division was the man.

General Swing made his mark on the Army and on the thousands of men who passed through the 11th Airborne Division in a way which those of us who were fortunate enough to serve with and have known him will never forget. His subordinates and superiors have described General Swing with numerous adjectives: forceful, energetic, courageous, self-disciplined, purposeful, farsighted, innovative, just, sentimental, short-tempered, forgiving, sincere, considerate, demanding—and with it all, handsome, erect, prematurely gray, with a lean, tanned face from which steely-blue eyes focused with incredible sharpness either to find a mistake or an accomplishment of a subordinate. General Swing fitted all of those descriptive adjectives to one degree or another; illustrations to exemplify each trait abound, particularly in the lore of the 11th Airborne Division. And as the years go by and as the men of the 11th gather at reunions, the stories about the “old man” increase and take on a sharper and more pungent flavor.

Leyte, Gen. Swing and staff on Mt.Manarawat

There is no doubt that General Swing was demanding in training, insisting on excellence, and setting and requiring the highest of standards for the 11th Airborne Division so that when it entered combat, after months of grueling training in Camp MacKall, Camp Polk, and New Guinea, the division was ready to take on the Japanese in the mud and rain across the uncharted central mountains of Leyte. Early in its combat career, it was ready to thwart a Japanese parachute attack on the division command post and nearby San Pablo airfield at Burauen, Leyte.

General Swing demonstrated his courage and vitality on that occasion by personally leading a Civil War-like attack across the airstrip with engineers, supply troops, and a glider field artillery battalion armed with carbines and rifles against the dug-in Japanese paratroopers who had had the audacity to attack the 11th Airborne from the air. In short order, the Japanese paratroopers, the elite Katori Shimpei of the Japanese forces, were routed, and the San Pablo airfield was back in the hands of the 11th Airborne Division.

_____ Condensed from a biographical article written by Edward Michael Flanagan, Jr., Lt.General, Retired

also, “The Gettysburg Daily, Wikipedia and Smitty’s scrapbook.

And this is where we left off the day by day and monthly island-hopping offense of the Pacific War.  You will be hearing often of General Swing, you might even get to admire him almost as much as Smitty did.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

‘I think it’s about time McFergle retired — he remembers the Lusitania.’

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Ball – Sterling, AK; USMC, WWII, PTO

Lloyd Crouse – Columbus, OH; US Army, WWII, PTO, 251st Sta. Hospital, combat medic

Charles Dye – Flint, MI; US Army, WWII

Frank Forlini – Yonkers, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187th/11th Airborne Division. Purple Heart

Richard Gordon – Seattle, WA; US Navy, test pilot / NASA astronaut, Gemini 11, Apollo 12 & Apollo 18

Bill Jo Hart – Fort Worth, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Flight Instructor

Alfred Jeske – Seymour, WI; US Army, WWII

Bill Mesker – Wichita, KS; US Navy, WWII

Myra Mitchell – Upalco, UT; USMC, Women’s Corps, WWII

Sterling Wood – Omaha, NE; US Army, Colonel (Ret. 30 y.), 143rd Transportation Command

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Trained as a Kamikaze – and lived – Intermission Story (26)

The airbase at Chiran, Minamikyūshū, on the Satsuma Peninsula of Kagoshima, Japan, served as the departure point for hundreds of Special Attack or kamikaze sorties launched in the final months of World War II. A peace museum dedicated to the pilots, the Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots (知覧特攻平和会館 Chiran Tokkō-Heiwa-Kaikan), now marks the site.

The pilots filed into the room and were presented with a form that asked if they wanted to be kamikaze. It was multiple-choice, and there were three answers: “I passionately wish to join,” ”I wish to join,” and “I don’t wish to join.”  This was 1945.  Many were university students who had been previously exempt from service, but now Japan was running out of troops.

Hisashi Tezuka recalls that a few of his colleagues quickly wrote their replies and strutted away. But he and most of the others stayed for what felt like hours, unable to decide.

Hisashi Tezuka, trained Zero kamikaze pilot

He did not know then if anyone had dared to refuse. He learned later that the few who did were simply told to pick the right answer.  Tezuka so wanted to be honest to his feelings he crossed out the second choice and wrote his own answer: “I will join.  I did not want to say I wished it. I didn’t wish it,” he told The Associated Press at his apartment in a Tokyo suburb.

They were the kamikaze, “the divine wind,” ordered to fly their planes into certain death. The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey and data kept at the library at Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo estimate that about 2,500 of them died during the war. Some history books give higher numbers. About one in every five kamikaze planes managed to hit an enemy target.

Books and movies have depicted them as crazed suicide bombers who screamed “Banzai” as they met their end.  But interviews with survivors and families by The Associated Press, as well as letters and documents, offer a different portrait — of men driven by patriotism, self-sacrifice and necessity. The world they lived in was like that multiple-choice form: It contained no real options.

First-born sons weren’t selected, to protect family heirs in feudalistic-minded Japan. Tezuka, then a student at the prestigious University of Tokyo, had six brothers and one sister and wasn’t the eldest.  He was given a five-day leave to visit his parents. He didn’t have the heart to tell them he had been tapped to be a suicide bomber.  There was one absolute about being a kamikaze, he says: “You go, and it’s over.”

He survived only because Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender on a radio broadcast, just as he was on a train headed to take off on his kamikaze attack.

 

A burly man with a quick wit, Tezuka hands a reporter a sepia-toned photo of himself as a Zero fighter, grinning in a helmet, the trademark white silk scarf at his neck.  “That’s to keep warm. It gets really cold up there,” he says.

“Do you know what a rainbow looks like when you’re flying?” he asks, his eyes aglow with childlike excitement. “It’s a perfect circle.”

Seventy years after the end of World War II, the runway that once stretched at Tsukuba is long gone. But the rows of cherry blossoms still stand.  In another corner of the Tsukuba grounds, an underground bomb shelter winds in pitch darkness through several chambers. It was designed to serve as an emergency command.  It’s a reminder of the illusory determination that gripped the imperialist forces, to keep fighting, no matter what.

In training, the pilots repeatedly zoomed perilously, heading practically straight down, to practice crashing. They had to reverse course right before hitting the ground and rise back into the sky, a tremendous G-force dragging on their bodies.

When they did it for real, they were instructed to send a final wireless message in Morse code, and keep holding that signal. In the transmission room, they knew the pilot had died when a long beep ended in silence.

Yoshiomi Yanai looks over the Last Will and Testament he wrote out before flying his kamikaze mission.

Yoshiomi Yanai, 93, survived because he could not locate his target — a rare error for a kamikaze operation. He visits the Tsukuba facility often.

“I feel so bad for all the others who died,” he says, bemoaning the fate of comrades who died so young, never having really experienced life.

Yanai still keeps what he had intended to be his last message to his parents. It’s an album that he keeps carefully wrapped in a traditional furoshiki cloth. He plastered the pages with photos of him laughing with colleagues and other happy moments. He got a pilot friend to add ink drawings of the Zero.

“Father, Mother, I’m taking off now. I will die with a smile,” Yanai wrote in big letters on the opening pages. “I was not a filial son but please forgive me. I will go first. And I will be waiting for you.”

Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, who wrote about the kamikaze in his 2008 book, “Danger’s Hour,” says the kamikaze were driven by nothing but self-sacrifice.

When he started his research, he expected to find fanaticism. He was stunned to find they were very much like Americans or young people anywhere else in the world, “who were extraordinarily patriotic but at the same time extraordinarily idealistic.”

Kennedy stressed that kamikaze have little in common with suicide bombers today. Japan was engaged in conventional war, and, above all, kamikaze had no choice, he said. Civilians were not targets.

“They were looking out for each other,” he says, in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. “If he didn’t get in the plane that morning, his roommate would have to go.”

Yokosuka MXY7 Cherry Blossom suicide aircraft

Though the Zero was used in kamikaze missions, it was not designed for the task. The Ohka was. It was a glider packed with bombs and powered by tiny rockets, built to blow up. They were taken near the targets, hooked on to the bottom of planes, and then let go.  Americans called it the “Baka bomb.” Baka is the Japanese word for idiot. Because their cruise range was so limited, they were easily shot down.

Fujio Hayashi

The job of overseeing and training Ohka pilots, and ultimately sending them to certain death, fell to Fujio Hayashi, then 22.

Hayashi believes Ohka might never have happened if there had been no volunteers when the concept was first suggested.  He was one of the first two volunteers for Ohka. Dozens followed.  But he could never stop blaming himself, wondering whether his early backing helped bring it about. When he finally saw one of the flimsy gliders, he felt duped; many thought it looked like a joke.

Over the decades, Hayashi was tormented by guilt for having sent dozens of young men to their deaths “with my pencil,” as he put it, referring to how he had written the names for Ohka assignments each day. To squelch any suspicion of favoritism, he sent his favorite pilots first.

After the war, Hayashi joined the military, called the Self-Defense Forces, and attended memorials for the dead pilots. He consoled families and told everyone how gentle the men had been. They smiled right up to their deaths, he said, because they didn’t want anyone to mourn or worry.

“Every day, 365 days a year, whenever I remember those who died, tears start coming. I have to run into the bathroom and weep. While I’m there weeping, I feel they’re vibrantly alive within my heart, just the way they were long ago,” he wrote in his essay “The Suicidal Drive.”  “I think of the many men I killed with my pencil, and I apologize for having killed them in vain,” he said.

He often said he wanted his ashes to be scattered into the sea near the southern islands of Okinawa, where his men had died.  Until then, he said, his war would never be over.

He died of pancreatic cancer at age 93 on June 4. His family plans to honor his request.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – The Kunihiko Hisa Cartoon Album

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Farewell Salutes – 

Maynard Ashley – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII

Charles banks Jr. – Salem, NJ; US Army, WWII, PTO

William Campbell – Hatfield, AL; US Army, WWII

Chilton Gates – Eminence, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Flight Instructor

Ann Jackson Huckaba – Rockvale, TN; USWMC, control tower

Mickey Kinneary – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, Korea

Ernest Laws – Columbus, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO

John Logan – brn: Glasgow/Detroit, MI; US Army, Vietnam, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Joseph Schmitt – O’Fallon, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, / NASA

Michael Weber – Toronto, CAN; RC Army, WWII, LT., Corps of Signals

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Douglas Munro, Coast Guard Hero – Intermission Story (24)

Painting of Doug Munro providing support from his LCP, by Bernard D’Andrea

The United States Coast Guard was founded on a tradition of taking small boats into dangerous conditions to save lives. This skill made Coast Guard coxswains an indispensable part of the Pacific Theater  and Smitty would whole-heartedly agree.  Coast Guardsmen proved their worth time and time again as they expertly handled small landing craft in and out of almost any situation. No man better exemplifies this prowess than Douglas A. Munro.

Signalman 1st Class, Douglas Munro

Born in Vancouver in 1919, Douglas Munro attended Cle Elum High School in Washington state.  He attended the Central Washington College of Education for a year before enlisting in the Coast Guard in 1939. He spent his first two years on board the Cutter Spencer,  a 327-foot Treasury-class cutter which patrolled out of New York, and later Boston.

While on the Spencer, Munro advanced quickly, making Signalman 2nd Class by the end of 1941. After the Spencer, he transferred to the Hunter Ligget, a Coast Guard-crewed landing craft patrolling in the Pacific. In 1942 he was made a part of Transport Division 17, helping to coordinate, direct, and train other troops for amphibious assaults.

The United States’ first taste of this warfare was at Guadalcanal.  After the initial Marine landings, a base was established at Lunga Point. Munro was assigned here along with other Coast Guard and Navy personnel to operate the small boats and assist with communications.  This base served as a staging point for further troop movements, consisted of little more than a house, a signal tower and a number of small craft and supplies

Lunga Point, Guadalcanal

After the Marines had moved west of Lunga point, they encountered an entrenched Japanese position on the far side of the Manatikau river. It was clear that an attack across the river would be fruitless, and a plan was devised to bring men down the coast, to land west of the Japanese position, allowing it to be attacked from both sides. To achieve this goal Marine Lieutenant Colonel Lewis “Chesty” Puller placed men from the 7th Marine Division onto landing craft and began an assault on September 27th.

These landing craft were led by Douglas Munro, who took the men into a small bay just west of Point Cruz and delivered the entire 500 man force unopposed. Meanwhile, the destroyer USS Monssen laid down supporting fire and protected the Marines’ advance.

Meanwhile, Munro and his crews returned to Lunga point to refit and refuel, leaving a single LCP(L) (a 36-foot landing craft, lightly armed and made mostly of plywood) to provide evacuation for any immediate casualties.

Marines landing on the beach from their LCP’s.

But less than an hour after the initial landing the operation began to deteriorate. First, a flight of Japanese bombers attacked the Monssen, forcing her to leave the Marines without fire support.   Then the Japanese launched an infantry attack on the Marines. The Japanese had stayed to the north of the Marine landing force, near a rocky cliff known as Point Cruz. Their attack to the southwest was designed to cut the Marines off from their escape route.

There the single LCP(L) still sat, manned by Navy Coxswain Samuel Roberts and Coast Guard Petty Officer Ray Evans. The men had gotten close into shore for a speedy evacuation. A sudden burst of Japanese machine gun fire  damaged their controls.  Roberts managed to jury rig the rudder but was fatally wounded in the process, Evans jammed the throttle forward, speeding back to Lunga Point.

The trapped Marines hadn’t brought their cumbersome radios with them, and couldn’t signal back to their support. In desperation, they spelled out “HELP” by laying out their undershirts on a hillside. Luckily this was noticed by a Navy dive bomber pilot who reported it back to the sailors at Lunga. Because of this, by the time Evans’ LCP(L) made it back Munro and his men were already aware that something wasn’t going right.

Marines on Guadalcanal

Thanks to Evans they now had the detailed information needed to make a plan of action. It was determined that a group of small boats and troop transports would have to return, under fire, to get the men out of the combat zone. Munro immediately volunteered to lead the operation and got ten boats readied and underway as soon as possible.

This small flotilla came into the bay under fire.  USS Monssen, which had returned , gave support.  Munro directed his landing craft to begin ferrying the men back to the Monssen, while he and the other LCP(L)s provided fire support.

USS Monssen

By this time the Japanese had taken up positions on all three sides of the bay, and were able to coordinate a devastating barrage of fire on the retreating men. Seeing this, Munro positioned his own craft between the enemy and the landing crafts to provide support by fire.

After the last men were coming off the beach, a landing craft became grounded.  Munro ordered another craft to tow it free while he provided support, again putting his own boat in harm’s way to help save as many men as possible. While Munro’s boat was taking position to do this, a Japanese machine gun crew was setting up on the beach.

Petty Officer Evans, saw this and called out for him to get down, but Munro couldn’t hear him and he was fatally wounded.  Evans pulled away, and along with the rest of landing craft, headed back to Lunga Point; with all of the Marines saved.

Marines crossing Matanikau River.

Thanks to Munro’s heroism, 500 Marines made it off the beach that day, and for this, Signalman 1st Class Douglas A. Munro was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal Of Honor.  The 500 men he saved went on to help capture the Matanikau River early in October, which meant the beginning of the end for Japanese forces on Guadalcanal.

The engraving on the back of Munro’s medal.

Munro’s body is interred in his hometown of Cle Elum, Washington, and his Medal of Honor is on display at United States Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, New Jersey, where it serves an everlasting example to new recruits about what it means to truly be a United States Coast Guardsmen.

Click on images to enlarge.

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 Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

Donald Bender – Machesney Park, IL; US Navy, WWII

Catherine Brown – San Diego, CA; US Coast Guard SPARS, WWII

Edward Delaney – Boston, MA; US Coast Guard, WWII, LST 170

Raymond Edinger – Liberty, NJ; US Coast Guard/Navy, WWII, Meteorology officer

James Evans Jr. – Seattle, WA; US Coast Guard, WWII, Korea

Daniel Fite – Fort Worth, TX; US Coast Guard, WWII

Arthur Janov – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, WWII

Arthur Peeples – Springhill, MS; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Alexander Strachan – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 4210193, WWII, Sgt.

Robert Unzueta – Avalon, CA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

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Military Poetry – Intermission Story (20)

When only poetry will do – in their words ______

A SOLDIERS PICNIC

I like my olives sanded,
My pickles full of bugs;
I’m rustic: To be candid,
I shy from chairs and rugs.

The open field! The azure sky!
The fields of waving grain!
The piece of huckleberry pie
That’s bogged with sudden rain!

I understand the merits of
A cake that’s turned to goo;
For every bite I take and love
Mosquitoes give me two,

And naught I know can close compare
The taste of hardboiled eggs,
While bees make honey in my hair
And flies besiege my legs.

So “outdoor” is the word for me
Ah! – Give me trees to hack!
And then my first response will be
To give the damned things back.

– By M/Sgt. H. E. KELLENBERGER

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11th Airborne Division Chapel

A PARATROOPER’S PRAYER

When I’m flying at seven hundred
And the red light flickers on
I know I’ll tremble and start to sweat
But, God, let me be strong.
When I look down through the hole, God
It’s like I’m standing by a grave
And my knees go weak and I can’t speak
Then, God, please make me brave.
And if it be Thy will, God
Part of Thine own Great Plan
That my life should stop, then on that last long drop
Oh God, let me die a man!
While I’m waiting to emplane, God
And checking my jumping kit
Though I laugh and jeer I’m full of fear
But, God, don’t let me quit.
When the kite begins to move, God
And take off time is near
Then my heart grows cold – God, make me bold
And drive away my fear.

 

Desmond Le Pard, 17th Battalion Parachute Regiment @ 18 years old

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

Paratrooper School.

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Timothy Bowman – Ontario, CAN; Canadian Forces, Military Police, Capt. 1 Wing HQ, pilot

Edward Flora – Mishawaka, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, A/674th Arty/11th Airborne Division

Gilbert Grossinger – Kerhonkson, NY; US Army, WWII

Donald Hardcastle – Rochdale, ENG; RAF, WWII, radioman

Hugh Hefner – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, Infantry Clerk, military newspaper cartoons

Vincent Koravos – Lowell, MA; USMC; WWII, PTO, MAG-24 tail gunner

Ramon Laughter – Edna, TX; US Army, WWII & Korea, Colonel (Ret. 25 y.)

Kevin McCarthy – Brooklyn, NY; US Air Force, Flt. Surgeon

Geral Sheridon – Denver, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Jon Vaccarino – Yorktown Heights, NY; US Army, Korea

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Pacific War Museum – Current News

re-enactors

During the re-opening of the Living History Programs in the renovated Pacific Combat Zone in March, the volunteers included two students of Asian descent who came from the Dallas area to play the roles of Japanese soldiers. Robert (“Robbie”) Boucher, who is of Vietnamese descent, is a graduate student in history at Texas Christian University. His close friend, Ryan Itoh, whose father is Japanese, just graduated from TCU and will be entering medical school this fall. Both are experienced in reenacting with U.S. Civil War and Indian War groups and became intrigued with becoming involved in reenactments of Pacific War battles.

re-enactors: Robbie Boucher & Ryan Itoh

In Robbie’s view, our Museum’s programs appealed because they offer one of the most unique experiences possible for people interested in history. They allow visitors the opportunity to glimpse ever so slightly into the realities of 75+ years ago, hear the sounds of combat, and feel its stresses. Ryan elaborated by saying that being half Japanese, he had always been fascinated with the Pacific War and wanted to learn about the daily lives of the Japanese troops.

From past experiences, he knew that when you put on a uniform and enact the lives of soldiers you learn so much more: from the way the uniform fits; how the leg-wrappings cut into your legs, but provide a sturdy support; and how hot the sun becomes when you wear a steel helmet.

You also feel a small portion of their suffering when you jam your finger in the charging bolt or feel the weight of the weapon or the heat from the flame thrower. Yet, it is just a taste — you get to change clothes afterwards and go home. When asked what they hoped to achieve through their roles as Japanese combatants, both Robbie and Ryan stated that their key purpose was to humanize the Japanese soldiers as people with families, hopes and goals. Robbie said this is often forgotten due to propaganda and movies which show them as faceless fanatics charging machine guns for the emperor.

As reenactors, they hoped to dispel stereotypes created of the Japanese. Ryan stated that the Japanese soldiers and airmen were all called upon by their nation to fight for a dogma that they may not even have believed in — yet they answered the call. He believes that at the end of the day, the GIs and Japanese soldiers had more in common than differences. In sum, participating in these reenactments gives both Ryan and Robbie the opportunity to learn more than they ever could from a college textbook or documentary, and their goal is to make the audience realize there was a soul behind the Japanese uniform.

This short video from the museum tries to reenact a battle.  In reality, it did not always end so grand for anyone.

Article is from the National Museum of the Pacific War, in Fredericksburg, Texas w/ the Admiral Nimitz Foundation.

Click on images to enlarge.

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STAND ON THE BEACHHEAD

Feel what it was like to walk the wooden dock alongside a PT Boat, stand in the hangar deck of an aircraft carrier as a torpedo bomber is readied for a strike, and view Japanese battlefield entrenchments.

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Military Museum Humor –

National War Museum: ‘And I say we move this up to the 3rd floor!’

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Farewell Salutes –

Henry Andregg Jr. – Whitewell, TN; USMC, WWII, PTO, Cpl., KIA (Tarawa)

Jack Avery – Lacombe, CAN; RC Army, WWII, ETO, Signal Corps

Norma Duncan – Matariki, NZ; WRNS (WRENS), WWII

Laura Edmonson – Ft. Pierce, FL; US Coast Guard SPAR, WWII

Albert Golden – Katy, TX; USMC, WWII, PTO

Lester Habeggar – Spokane, WA; US Army, WWII, medic

Charles “Red” Jones – Knoxville, TN; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Rodney Kirkpatrick, NM; US Navy, WWII

Howard Shearer – Fannetsburg, PA; US Army,, 11th Airborne Division

H.Gordon Turner – Troy, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS California

 

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U.S. Army’s 242nd Birthday / Flag Day

THE U.S. ARMY

AMERICA’S FIRST NATIONAL INSTITUTION

U.S. Army uniforms through the years

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FLAG DAY 

Today is Flag Day, an annual observance of the Second Continental Congress’ official adoption of the stars and stripes in 1777. At the time, they “resolved that the flag of the 13 United States” be represented by 13 alternating red and white stripes and the union by 13 white stars in a blue field, “representing a new constellation.” Now, more than 200 years later and with an updated design, the flag is an American icon.  Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is the only state to recognize it as a legal holiday.

U.S. Army Sergeant Joey Odoms’ audition to sing the National Anthem from Afghanistan. On  10 November 2016, he performed in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Dillion Baldridge – Youngsville, NC; US Army, Afghanistan, 101st Airborne Division, Cpl., KIA

William Bays- Barstow, CA; US Army, Afghanistan, 101st Airborne Division, Sgt., KIA

Eric Houck – Baltimore, MD; US Army, Afghanistan, 101st Airborne Division, Sgt., KIA

R. Patrick McGinley – Plainville, CT; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Robert ‘Allen’ O’Berry – Kissimmee, FL; US Army, Sgt. (Ret. 20 yrs.)

Marcella Remery – W.Palm Beach, FL; US Army WAC

Harold Roland Jr. – Atlanta, GA; US Army, Korea, 82nd Airborne Division

Richard Stackhouse – Indianapolis, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Lt., B-24 bombardier

Robert Wilke Sr. – Owens Cross Roads, AL; US Army, Vietnam, Lt.Colonel, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Samuel Wilson – Rice, VA; WWII & Vietnam, ‘Merrill’s Marauders, Lt. General (Ret. 37 yrs.), Silver Star (2), Bronze Star (2)

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25 November 1944

Lieutenant Yamaguchi’s Yokosuka D4Y3 (Type 33) Suisei diving at Essex, 25 November 1944. The dive brakes are extended and the non-self-sealing port wing tank is trailing fuel vapor and/or smoke

Aircraft from the Task Forces 38.2 and 38.3 both bombed The Japanese shipping off central Luzon in the Philippine Islands.  Planes from the American aircraft carrier, USS Ticonderoga (CV-14), sank the enemy heavy cruiser IJN Kumano in Dasol Bay.  Hellcats and Avengers from the Ticonderoga, Essex, Langley and Intrepid attacked a Japanese convoy and sank the IJN Yasojima and landing ships.  The enemy army cargo ship Manei Maru was sunk and the Kasagisan Maru was damaged.

Kamikazes broke through the US Navy’s defenses and pushed on to attack and damage the USS Essex, IntrepidHancock and Cabot.   The following 4-minute video is actual footage.

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Military Humor – Disney & Looney Tunes at war – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph Curcio – Brooklyn, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Gasconade

Calvin Davis – Virginia Beach, VA; US Army, WWII, PTO & Korea (Ret. 28 years)

Saying goodbye to the Greatest Generation

James Hanson – Framingham, MA; US Army, 503/11th Airborne Division

Ray Hickman – Kodak, TN; US Army, WWII, ETO, 137th Ordnance, Sgt.

Joseph Kerwin – McAllen, TX; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Sgt. Major, 82nd Airborne (Ret. 30 years)

Arthur W. Manning – UK; RAF, WWII, ETO, 249th Squadron

Ralph Mohl – W.Chester, OH; US Merchant Marine, WWII

James Munro – Melbourne, AUS; AIF, WWII, Brigadier (Ret.)

Donald Noehren – Harlan, IA; US Army, Korea, HQ/2nd Combat Engineers/2nd Infantry Div., POW, KIA

Thelma Powers – Sedan, NM; Civilian, WWII, ATO,  Elnendorf Field, Alaska, air traffic comptroller

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November 1944 (2)

1 November –  Young Japanese girls wore headbands that designated them as Special Attack Force members. Daily they would recite the Imperial Precepts for Soldiers and Sailors before they began a twelve-hour shift in a makeshift factory in Kokura, Japan. Here they were producing 40 foot balloons to carry a bomb package across the ocean as they were released to drift on the Pacific jet stream.

A total of approximately 9,300 of these weapons were made and about 342 reached land, some as far east as Ontario, Michigan and Nebraska. Some were shot down or caused minor injuries and one hit a powerline of the nuclear weapons plant at Hanford, Washington. But – 5 May 1945 – near Klamath Falls, Oregon, a pregnant woman, Elyse Mitchell and five students were killed on their way to a picnic. These were the only casualties of the war in the 48 states.

2 November – On Peleliu, the Japanese troops were still holding out on Mount Umurbrogol and causing heavy American casualties.

7→8 November – approximately 200 enemy troops landed on the deserted Ngeregong Island near Peleliu.  American forces immediately created a blockade in the Denges Passage and bombarded the island by sea and air.

11 November – the Japanese launched a new aircraft carrier, the IJN Shinano, a 68,059-ton (69,148-tonne) vessel of steel and purported to be bomb-proof.  However, she proved not to be torpedo-proof and was sunk by the US submarine Archerfish 18 days later as she sailed between shipyards to receive her finishing touches.

12 November –  carrier aircraft attacked enemy shipping in Manila Bay.  This resulted in 1 enemy cruiser, 4 destroyers, 11 cargo ships  and oilers being sunk.  Twenty-eight Japanese aircraft were downed and approximately 130 were strafed and damaged on the ground.

The Japanese cruiser, Kiso was sunk and five destroyers were damaged in Manila Harbor off Luzon, P.I. as US aircraft continued their raids.

Bloody Nose Ridge

13 November – on Peleliu, the last of the Japanese holdouts on Bloody Nose Ridge were wiped out.  The following day, the 81st Infantry Division re-occupied Ngeregong and found no enemy resistance.

17 November – the US submarine,USS  Spadefish, the Japanese escort carrier IJN Shinyō (Divine hawk), in the Yellow Sea as she attempted to reach Singapore.  It was possibly 4 torpedoes that struck and  ignited her fuel tanks.  Only 70 of her crew survived as she went under quickly.

21 November – The enemy battleship IJN Kongō (Indestructable), was attacked by the American sub, USS Sealion and sank in the Formosa Strait.  There were 237 survivors.

24 November – the US Army Air Corps used 11 B-29 Superfortresses for their first long-range bombing mission on Tokyo.  However, only 24 aircraft actually hit their assigned targets.

USS Intrepid

25 November – the increasing use of kamikaze pilots by the Japanese resulted in damage to 4 aircraft carriers near Luzon: Intrepid, Hancock, Essex and Cabot.  The Japanese had the cruiser, Kumano sunk by USS Ticonderoga.

27 November – organized enemy resistance on Peleliu seemed to no longer be present and the battle for the island is considered complete.

29→30 November – US B-24 Liberators and B-25 Mitchell bombers were kept busy hitting the Japanese airfields on Iwo Jima.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –  

Gilbert Baker – Chanute, KS; US Army

Richard Burkett – Greencastle, IN; US Navy, WWII / US Army, Korea, Signal Corps, 7th Infantry Division

Jean Cozzens – Bradley Beach, NJ; USO, WWII, singer

Foster Hablin – Millers Creek, KY; USMC, WWII, PTO & Korea

Burial at Sea – USS Intrepid, 26 November 1944

William James Jr. – Las Cruces, NM; US Army, WWII, ETO, 99th Inf. Div., Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Robert Nugent – Chester, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, C/13/17th Airborne Division

Joseph Pelletier – Coos, NH; US Army, Korea, HQ/15/2nd Infantry Div., Cpl., Bronze Star, Purple Heart, KIA

Donald Rickles – Jackson Heights, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Cyrene (AGP-13)

Mary Schnader – brn: ENG, W,Lawn, PA; British Royal Air Force

Thomas C. Thomas – Bullhead City, AZ; US Army, WWII, APO/ETO, 74th Engineer Corps

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November 1944 (1)

Ordeal at Ormoc Bay

Ordeal at Ormoc Bay, FEAF, by Steve Ferguson, and can be purchased here…

https://irandpcorp.com/products/ordeal-at-ormoc-bay/

3 November – When the Japanese 57th Regiment arrived at Limon, Gen. Krueger’s 24th Division was on the other side of the mountain range.  Rather than attack the lightly defended enemy positions, he halted his troops.  For some reason, he was expecting a possible enemy amphibious landing and the US attack would not begin for 2 more days.

5→10 November – in the 19th year of Showa, for the Japanese, the G.I. mortar and machine-gun fire seemed to nearly wipe out the squad scaling the ridge.  As the brush caught fire, the Americans of I Company/3rd Battalion/21st Infantry Regiment/ 24th Division, attacked and charged over the ridge until the enemy’s big guns opened up.  Another Japanese force arrived and the US troops retreated.  This would be known as Breakneck Ridge [Yahiro Hill to the Japanese].

Leyte activity map

Even with the support of the 1st Cavalry, the soldiers were pushed back, but they would return on the 8th.  They then proceeded to continually hit the ridge until the 10th, when the Japanese 3rd Battalion was ordered to tenshin. (which means to turn around and advance).  The few survivors remaining did make it back to their supply depot.

6 November – Japanese convoy MA-TA 31 escorted by 2 cruisers and other escorting vessels was attacked by a wolfpack of US submarines, Batfish, Ray, Raton, Bream and Guitarro at Luzon.  The Ray fired 6 rear torpedoes at the enemy cruiser  Kumano and destroyed her bow.

US Hellcat fighters and bombers with Avenger torpedo planes attacked enemy airfields and shipping installations throughout southern Luzon.  The US aircraft were intercepted by about 80 Japanese fighters and a dogfight ensued over Clark Field.  The enemy lost 58 planes and 25 more later in the day.  More than 100 Japanese aircraft were destroyed on the ground.  One cruiser sank in Manila Harbor and 10 other vessels were heavily damaged.

10→11 November – Another Japanese convoy, carrying 10,000 reinforcements for Leyte, escorted by 4 destroyers, a minesweeper and a submarine chaser.  They were screened by 3 other destroyers, but were intercepted by the US 10th Fleet aircraft as they made their turn into Ormoc Bay.  Before they could reach the harbor, the TF-38 aircraft attacked.  The first wave aimed at the transports.  The second wave hit the destroyers and third wave strafed the beaches and the burning destroyers.  Nine of the ships sank and 13 enemy planes providing air cover were shot down.

The FEAF (Far East Air Force, the 5th A.F.) used 24 B-24’s to hit Dumaguerte Airfield on Negros Island in the P.I. and fighter-bombers were sent to the Palompon area on Leyte.  Targets of opportunity were hit on Mindanao.  Fighter-bombers and B-25s hit shipping and Namlea Airfield, and P-38s hit Kendari Airfield on Celebes Island while B-24a bombed the Nimring River area.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – Teamwork, Beetle-style!!

cover for Beetle Bailey comic book

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Farewell Salutes – 

Sverre Alvestad – Norway/Glen Oaks, CAN; Royal Norwegian Navy, WWII, ace pilot

Charles Cawthorn – London, ENG; RAF, WWII, Lancaster pilot (Ret. 30 yrs.), 61st Squadron, POW

Lou Duva – Paterson, NJ; US Army, WWII

Howard Engh – Gig Harbor, WA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Lawrence Hanson – St. Paul, MN; US Navy, WWII (Ret. 26 years)

Kenneth Lawson – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, Spitfire pilot

Paul Pavlus – Panama City, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne / USAF, 82nd Airborne, MSgt.

Joe Rogers – Jackson, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, flight instructor

Albert Schlegel – Cleveland, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Capt. Pilot, KIA

Francis Took – AUS; RA Navy # 37327

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