Blog Archives

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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October 1944 (7)

Chiang Kai-shek and Gen. Stilwell

2 October – Lord Mountbatten, Commander of the SEAC, continued issuing pressure on the Japanese 15th Army in Burma.  The British IV and XXXIII Corps pursued the enemy even throughout the monsoon season.

6 October – FDR relieved Gen. Joseph Stilwell of his post as Chief of Staff to Chiang Kai-shek in an effort to appease the Nationalist leader.  [Chiang wanted to withdraw his Y Force, the Chinese Nationalist Revolutionary Army) from Burma, but when Stilwell notified FDR of his plans, he lost his patience.  FDR had tried to put Stilwell in charge of the Y Force so it could be reenforced, but Chiang became offended and the President made an about-face.

Gen. Stilwell in the field

Stilwell’s domain was split into two parts.  MGen. Albert C. Wedermeyer became Chiang’s new Chief of Staff and Chief of the China Theater.  Lt.Gen. Daniel Sultan, and engineer officer and Stilwell’s CBI deputy, now took over the India-Burma Theater.

10 October – The oil refineries at Balikpapen were devastated by a US raid using B-24 bombers in North Borneo.  Being as this area was producing 40% of Japan’s oil imports at this stage, the attack greatly affected the enemy’s resources.

As the British XV Corps prepared to advance down the Burma coastline, Gen. Sultan could now call on one British and 5 Chinese divisions, as well as a new long-range penetration group, the 532nd Brigade, known as the Mars Task Force.  This brigade-size unit consisted of the 475th infantry, containing survivors of Operation Galahad and the recently dismounted 124th Cavalry of the Texas National Guard.  A detailed account of their movements can be found HERE!

The Allies possessed nearly complete command of the air and an Allied victory in Burma was only a matter of time.  The CBI’s logistics apparatus was well established as their advance continued in 2 stages.

The suicide kamikaze attacks increased around Leyte.  The destroyer, the USS Abner Road, was sunk.  The US Vessels, Anderson, Claxton, Ammen and two other destroyers received damage.

“Burma Peacock” salvage boys shown in this photo are: W/O Herbert Carr, Capt. Charles A. Herzog, S/Sgt. Don Hall, M/Sgt. Irving C. Sallette, Pfc. Ernest Luzier, Sgts. Roland Wechsler and Clifford Baumgart.

CBI Roundup – October 26, 1944 –  “Bring ‘Em Back Alive” they’re beginning to call Chief W.O. Herbert W. Carr of this Air Service Group’s reclamation detachment. Carr makes a specialty of going into jungle or rice paddies or the mountain country in search of crashed airplanes; of bringing out those ships whole or in “complete pieces;” and recently he climaxed all his previous Frank-Buck exploits.
He took a crew behind Jap lines, and brought back a C-47 which had crashed into a crater hole – the location being behind the known perimeter of the Jap knees.
According to the commander of Carr’s outfit, the “Burma Peacock’s,” the opportunity to attempt reclamation came by merest chance, when a liaison airplane reported having seen a mired C-47 on the ground.
The party was flown into the area by Capt. Charles A. Herzog, on a UC-64 light cargo ship.  Equipment consisted of two five-gallon cans of drinking water, K-rations, 180 pounds of rice, 10 pounds of tea, and 20 pounds of sugar, in addition to kits of tools, a chain hoist, axe and other items for the job. The rice, tea and sugar were for such coolie helpers as they hoped to impress from neighboring jungle settlements.
For the next six days the men fumed and tussled in the hot sun; gradually jacked up and pulled the C-47 from the bottom of a bomb crater; repaired its gear and got its engines going.
At first, no coolies appeared, so a runner was dispatched to try to rent some elephants, when and if the pachyderms could be located. One elephant almost arrived on the job, but unfortunately Dumbo put his foot into a booby trap and plunged, screaming with hurt, through the grass, his body stinging with shrapnel. In a day, the coolies, ever sensing the need for their well-paid services, began to show up.
The extra workmen were sorely needed, according to Carr, who was forced to call off work on the first all-day shift, due to excessive heat and lack of salt to counteract the drain of energy. Eventually, the C-47 was removed from the crater by piece-meal hauling along a fresh-cut incline up the mud slopes.
When the airplane was on dry land again, engines were turned up, and the craft soon was lined up for take-off. However, an overnight wait came into the picture, the ship being absent one pilot. In the morning Combat Cargo Command dropped in with a pilot; the rejuvenated C-47 took off like a breeze, and another craft had been brought back “alive” under the ministrations of “Frank Buck” Carr.
No trouble was caused by Japs during the stay of the mechani-commandos. The Japs had learned from previous experience that Chindits and Chinese-American forces do not allow Nippons to intrude on workers without one hell of a fight.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – CBI Round-up style – 

“You Myitkyina boys should have seen the Carolina maneuvers!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jack Albert – Charleston, WV; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Medical Corps

Jack Bates – Presque Isle, ME; US Army, WWII, ETO

Ronald Cagle – Palm Beach, FL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division, communications

Dorothy Cook Eierman – Townsend, DE; civilian aircraft spotting station, WWII

painting “Take a Trip With Me” by SFC Peter G. Varisano

Gordon Fowler – Ottawa, CAN; RC Army, WWII

Vernon Galle – San Antonio, TX; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Pres. Jackson

Leslie Langford – Battle Creek, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO

Eric Mexted – Waikato, NZ; RNZ Army # 242467, WWII, 22nd Battalion

Donald Peterson – Salt Lake City, UT; US Navy, WWII

Marge Tarnowski – Madison, FL; US Coast Guard, WWII, radio operator

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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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October 1944 (1)

Causeway with 2 damaged Sherman tanks, Peleliu

Causeway with 2 damaged Sherman tanks, Peleliu

3  October – the Marines on Peleliu attacked the “Five Sister,” a coral hill with 5 sheer peaks and the Japanese defensive fire was deadly accurate.  Four days later, in an Army tank/Marine infantry operation, they made their assault in a horseshoe shaped valley after 2 ½ hours of big gun artillery fire.

The odor on the island of decaying bodies and feces, (latrines could not be dug in the coral), became extreme.  The flies were uncontrollable.  The [now-banned] pesticide of DDT was first used on Peleliu, but with very little success.

Napalm strike on Five Sister, Peleliu

Napalm strike on the Five Sisters, Peleliu

On 12 October, Captain Andy “Ack-Ack” Haldane, well-respected leader and veteran of Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester and Peleliu, was killed on Hill 140 in the Umurbrogol Pocket.  This was also the date that organized resistance on the island was declared over.

10 October – The 3rd Fleet of aircraft carriers made a major attack on the enemy naval and shore installations on the Ryukyu Islands.  Their arrival took the Japanese by surprise and destroyed 75 planes on the ground and 14 in the air; 38 ships were either sunk or damaged.  Other US Navy surface vessels conducted a 15-hour bombardment of Marcus Island.  This would give the US a forward base less than 1000 miles from the Japanese mainland.

Formosa and the Ryukyu Islands

Formosa and the Ryukyu Islands

12→15 October – after refueling, the 3rd Fleet’s 1000 carrier fighters and bombers conducted a campaign over Formosa along with 100 Superfortresses of the US Army’s 20th Air Force coming out of the Chingtu bases.  The 500 enemy aircraft of Adm. Fukudome’s Imperial Navy 6th Air Force were manned by inexperienced pilots.  On the 13th along, 124 enemy fighters were shot down during a massive dogfight and 95 more were destroyed on the ground.  As Fukudome himself described it, “Like so many eggs thrown against the stone wall of indomitable enemy formations.

More than 70 enemy cargo, oil and escort ships were sunk in the area.  The US lost 22 aircraft.  The carrier, Franklin, and the cruiser, Canberra, were hit, but the latter was towed to safety.  Due to the inexperienced Japanese pilots misinformation, Tokyo Rose announced, “All of Admiral Mitscher’s carriers have been sunk tonight – INSTANTLY!”  Japan claimed a second Pearl Harbor and a public victory holiday was proclaimed.

Arisan Maru

Arisan Maru

In October, the Japanese ‘hell ship’, Arisan Maru, departed Manila, P.I. with 1800 American prisoners on board held in her unventilated hold.  It was sunk by the USS Snook, killing 1795 POW’s.

The Japanese attempted to break the build-up of Allied forces in Manila Bay, Luzon, P.I., but the result was losing approximately 30 more aircraft to US fighters and antiaircraft fire.

October 1944 was an extremely active month and it will take at least 5 posts to just put the basics down.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – military-humor-funny-surrounded-attack-soldiers-meme

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Farewell Salutes – 

Paul Alamar – Scranton, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, minesweeper

Robert Brooks – Ontario, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, 143rd Air Wing, radio operations

Peleliu cemetery

Peleliu cemetery

Harold Girald – Mah-wah, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Ken Hartle (103) – San Francisco, CA; US Navy, WWII, SeaBee

Melvin Hill – Pomona, CA; Korea, 31st RCT, KIA

Harold “Hal” Moore, Jr. – Auburn, AL; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, 1/7th Cavalry Reg., Lt.General, West Point Grad, DSC

Allen “Bud” Moler – Dayton, OH; USMC, PTO, KIA (Roi-Namur)

Brent Morel – Martin, TN; USMC, Iraq, 1st Marine Recon Battalion, Navy Cross, KIA

Richard Lyon – Oceanside, CA; USMC, WWII, PTO / Korea, Admiral (Ret. 41 years)

Elizabeth Zarelli Turner – Austin, TX; US Army WAC, WWII, pilot

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August 1944 (1)

Cowra POW Camp, Sydney, Australia

Cowra POW Camp, Sydney, Australia

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

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

Myitkyina, Burma, mid-1944

Myitkyina, Burma, mid-1944

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

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

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Bonin and Volcano Islands’ locale

From the INCPAC communiqué No. 106 –

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

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

newspaper

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

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

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

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

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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

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

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Soldiers’s Stories & Kiwi Air Power

Soldier's Stories

Soldier’s Stories

One day I happened across a blog written by Myra Miller and I stopped in for a visit.  Ms. Miller and her family were compiling stories from WWII to be published soon.  I was invited to submit one of Smitty’s letters – and I most certainly took her up on her offer!

Myra Miller PhD.

Myra Miller PhD.

Smitty’s Letter X, Jungle Juice was accepted and now, appears on pages 286-288.  I received my copy right before Christmas!  The timing could not have been better.

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The volume: Soldiers stories: A Collection of WWII Memoirs is out on the stands!  This 317 page historical collection honors our Greatest Generation veterans, both male and female soldiers, from theaters of operations around the world.  They will grab and transport you into the past and once you are there – you witness the tears, the laughs, the success and the failures which created a complete transformation of this world of ours.

The design is by Myra Miller and the illustrations by Ken Miller which make up a handsome edition to anyone’s library.  My copy is a welcomed addition to mine.

If you wish a copy for yourself, please visit Myra’s site HERE!  It is also available through Barnes and Noble.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Also, I downloaded a copy of Matthew Wright’s Kiwi Air Power, that he was graciously offering to us free of charge [and will be doing so again in the future] and can be found on Amazon.  You can also download a copy from Matthew Wright’s blog by clicking on the book cover, located HERE!

Matthew Wright, author

Matthew Wright, author

Right up front, Mr. Wright informs the reader that he will show the how and the why of the New Zealand’s Air Force.  The rather rough start, their combat and now, their continuation – rather than the what.

Mr. Wright’s writing expertise together with personal remarks from the men themselves, you can visualize all they supplied in men and machines to support England in the war, some airmen serving with the RAF, and on into the Cold War.  You read about the political struggles and strength of will that prevailed.

I am enjoying my copy very much and suggest anyone interested in history – quick – get a copy for yourself!

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Holiday Humor – fb_img_1482158893635

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Anderson – Jones County, GA; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Sr. Chief (Ret.)

Robert Caplan – Knoxville, TN; US Navy, WWII

The Big Picture...

The Big Picture…

Thomas Corbett – Dorchester, MA; USMC, WWII, USS Bennington

Kenneth Fransen – Sun City, AZ; US Army, Korea

Thelburn Knepp – Peoria, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 89th Infantry Division

Bruce Linzy – Gay, FL; US Army, Company C/1st Batt./87th RCT

John Murray – Bronx, NY; US Air Force

Julian Parrish – San Diego, CA; USMC, Vietnam, 1st Force Recon, Colonel

Robert Thamm – NY & FL, US Navy

Don Witherspoon – Lamar, SC; US Army, Korea, 9th Reg./2nd Infantry Division, Silver Star

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Eye Witness Account – Driniumor River

New Guinea natives evacuate wounded Allies across the Driniumor River near Afua.

New Guinea natives evacuate wounded Allies across the Driniumor River near Afua.

By: James D. West, 124th Reg/31st Infantry Division @ Indiana Military, org

After about three weeks of nightly Jap attacks along the Driniumor the situation eased somewhat. The 124th plus one battalion from the 169th was ordered to cross the River and go after the Japs that remained in the area. This group had the code name “Ted Force” after Col. Edward Starr, Commanding Officer of the 124th as well as C.O. of this endeavor. Much has been written about this “Ted Force” but I’ll just touch on it briefly. These four battalions moved in different directions while eventually meeting at a given point. They had to move by use of a compass as maps were not of much use in the jungle. About all you could recognize was the ocean, the river, the mountains and perhaps a stream. It was very slow going, as they had to hack their way through the dense jungle growth with machetes.

 

This was an extremely difficult endeavor in enemy held territory which lasted from 31 July 1944 to 10 August 1944. It was difficult not only because of enemy soldiers but also from the rough marshy jungle terrain. Torrential rains came every day making footing almost impossible at times, with soldiers slipping and falling everywhere. Under such extreme conditions there was still an enemy out there fighting at every occasion that seemed to offer him an advantage.

Sketch by: William Garbo Sr., Dog Platoon, July 1944

Sketch by: William Garbo Sr., Dog Platoon, July 1944

Unfortunately this is war and we had casualties and being so deep in the jungle it’s impossible to get them out at that time. Our litter cases had to be carried along and under these extreme conditions this was not an easy matter. Not having enough litters, some were improvised by using two saplings, with a poncho stretched between them. With such adverse conditions it was extremely tiring on men to carry litters. They would have to trade off and rest awhile which often made it a job for ten men to carry one litter case.

 

The dead were buried along the trail and when the battle situation permitted details were sent in to bring the bodies out. I often had to send trucks out for the purpose of hauling these bodies. Naturally the odor was unpleasant and the truck drivers hated this detail, even though all they had to do was drive the truck. In spite of such difficult conditions the mission was a success with the destruction of the Japs from the ocean to the mountains while others fled back toward their base at Wewak.

 

Along the Driniumor River was a totally different environment than these soldiers were accustomed to and this took almost all of their energy just to exist. Yet in spite of this hostile environment, enemy soldiers, dense jungle, torrential rains, terrible heat of the day, cold wet nights, diseases and jungle rot, our foot soldiers prevailed. Being in transportation, I did not have to endure the trials of the foot soldier but the conditions made it a terrible experience for anyone who was there.

 

As we think about our conditions and the 440 (87 from the 124th) American Soldiers killed in action in this battle; the conditions for the Japanese soldiers were much worse. With little food, hardly any medicine, plus a shortage of arms and ammunition and no hope of any more supplies. The 124th’s first contact with the Japs along the Driniumor River found these soldiers in good physical condition with many being much larger in stature than the typical Japanese man. As time passed the shortage of food and medicine began to take its toll and their physical condition deteriorated rapidly. I have seen estimates that they suffered anywhere from 10,000 to 18,000 killed here at Aitape. Don’t know if this includes those who died from disease and starvation but I suspect that it doesn’t. I read in one publication that in all of New Guinea 148,000 Japanese soldiers perished in these jungles. It is my opinion that most of these died of starvation and disease. Many fell dead while attempting to move through the harsh jungle to some hopeless perception of a better condition for them in western New Guinea. In any event the end result of this battle along the Driniumor river here at Aitape was the destruction of the Japanese 18th Army as an effective fighting force.

 

As we began to prepare for the invasion of Morotai the 43rd Division relieved the troops on the line. Then a few weeks later Australian troops took over and sporadic fighting continued, with casualties on both sides, until the Japanese surrender at the War’s end.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

9667ded23974313fa648faa8a91fe060

murphy_080105

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Farewell Salutes – 

Allan E. Brown – Takoma Park, DC; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt. 1st Class, 1st Special Troops Batt./1st Cavalry Div.

John Glenn – Cambridge, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, Korea, Colonel, pilot, Astronaut, Senator11986973_1183822258300441_3544440820007753006_n-jpgfrom-falling-with-hale

Andrew ‘Holly’ Hollingsworth – SC; US Navy (Ret. 20 years)

Michael Kinneary, Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, Korea

Parker Mosley Jr. – Humble, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 1th Airborne Division

Janice Olson – Victor Valley, CA; VV College Foundation President, instrumental in locating lost B-17’s of WWII, PTO

Peter Pergunas – Ballina, AUS; RA Navy

Steve Reese – Bartlesville, OK; USMC, Vietnam

William Schaefer – Chicago, IL; US Navy

William Wyatt – Tauranga, NZ; RNZ Navy # 2056, WWII & Korea

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The Other Pearl Harbor Story – Kimmel and Short

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People around the nation, including some vocal congressmen, asked why America had been caught off guard at Pearl Harbor.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt said he would appoint an investigatory commission. Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts — a pro-British internationalist friendly with FDR — was selected to head it. Also appointed to the group: Major General Frank McCoy, General George Marshall’s close friend for 30 years; Brigadier General Joseph McNarney, who was on Marshall’s staff and chosen on his recommendation; retired Rear Admiral Joseph Reeves, whom FDR had given a job in lend-lease; and Admiral William Standley, a former fleet commander. Only the last seemed to have no obvious fraternity with the Washington set.

The commission conducted only two to three days of hearings in Washington. Admiral Standley, arriving late, was startled by the inquiry’s chummy atmosphere. Admiral Harold Stark and General Marshall were asked no difficult or embarrassing questions. Furthermore, all testimony was taken unsworn and unrecorded — an irregularity that, at Standley’s urging, was corrected.

The commission then flew to Hawaii, where it remained 19 days. When Admiral Husband Kimmel was summoned, he brought a fellow officer to act as counsel. Justice Roberts disallowed this on grounds that the investigation was not a trial, and the admiral not a defendant. Because Kimmel and General Walter Short were not formally “on trial,” they were also denied all traditional rights of defendants: to ask questions and cross-examine witnesses. Kimmel was also shocked that the proceeding’s stenographers — one a teenager, the other with almost no court experience — omitted much of his testimony and left other parts badly garbled. Permission to correct the errors — other than adding footnotes to the end of the commission’s report — was refused.

The Roberts Commission laid the blame for Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian commanders. Roberts brought a final copy of the report to FDR. The president read it and delightedly tossed it to a secretary, saying, “Give that in full to the papers for their Sunday editions.” America’s outrage now fell on Kimmel and Short. They were traitors, it was said; they should be shot! The two were inundated with hate mail and death threats. The press, with its ageless capacity to manufacture villains, stretched the commission’s slurs. Even the wives of the commanders were subject to vicious canards.

By 1944, the Allies were clearly winning, and national security would no longer wash as a barrier to trials. A congressional act mandated the court-martials. At last, the former Hawaiian commanders would have their day in court.

In August, the Naval Court of Inquiry opened. A source inside the Navy Department had already tipped Kimmel and his attorneys about the scores of Magic intercepts kept from the admiral in 1941. One of the attorneys, a former Navy captain, managed to get at the Department’s files, and authenticated the existence of many. Obtaining their release was another matter. Obstruction after obstruction appeared — until Kimmel tried a ploy. Walking out of the courtroom, he bellowed to his lawyer that they would have to tell the press that important evidence was being withheld.

By the next day, the requested intercepts had been delivered — 43 in all. The admirals on the Court listened to them being read with looks of horror and disbelief. Two of the admirals flung their pencils down. More than 2,000 died at Pearl Harbor because those messages had been withheld. Navy Department officers gave additional testimony. After nearly three months, the inquiry finished. The verdict of the Roberts Commission was overturned. Admiral Kimmel was exonerated on all charges. Admiral Stark — who had rejected pleas of juniors to notify Hawaii on the morning of the attack — was severely censured.

Criticism of the president, incidentally, was forbidden to the proceedings as beyond their jurisdiction. But FDR held ultimate responsibility for Pearl Harbor, and the warnings he had received — some of which have only recently come to light — far exceeded anything they might have dreamed.

Naturally, the inquiry findings wrought dismay in the administration and Pentagon. But a solution was swiftly concocted. It was announced that, in the interest of national security, the court-martial results would not become public until the war’s end.

Other rather staged shows were carried out afterward. Witness reversed their original testimonies or memories were “refreshed.” It was discovered that just four days after Pearl Harbor, Rear Admiral Leigh Noyes, director of naval communications, told his subordinates: “Destroy all notes or anything in writing.” This was an illegal order — naval memoranda belong to the American people and cannot be destroyed except by congressional authority. Stories circulated of a similar information purge in the War Department. Some files, however, escaped destruction.

Congress did conduct a probe in 1995, at the urging of the families of General Short (died 1949) and Admiral Kimmel (died 1968). The families hoped to restore the ranks of their libeled, demoted fathers. The 1995 probe requested that the Pentagon reinvestigate Pearl Harbor in light of new information.

However, on December 1, 1995, Undersecretary of Defense Edwin Dorn concluded his own investigation with these comments: “I cannot conclude that Admiral Kimmel and General Short were victims of unfair official actions and thus cannot conclude that the remedy of advancement on the retired list is in order.”

However, on May 25, 1999, the U.S. Senate approved a resolution that Kimmel and Short had performed their duties “competently and professionally” and that our losses at Pearl Harbor were “not the result of dereliction of duty.” “They were denied vital intelligence that was available in Washington,” said Senator William V. Roth Jr. (R-Del.). Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) called Kimmel and Short “the two final victims of Pearl Harbor.”

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Farewell Salutes –

David Bone – Livonia, MI; US Navy, WWII, USS Kretchmer

Joe Carter – Lodge, SC; US Navy, WWII, Chief Petty Officerflag041

Harry Grim – Aransas Pass, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Henry Kaufman – Jersey City, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Wallace Lutz – Lake Worth, FL; US Navy, WWII

Linda Milton – Tucumcari, NM; US Army, Sgt.

Jack Riley – Shelton, NE; US Army, Korea

William Stanley – Cheshire, CT; US Army, WWII, Ordnance

Bryan ‘Jim’ Whitmer Jr. – Waterville, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Jess Wise – Spokane, WA; USMC, Korea, Force Recon

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Canadian-Chinese in the C.B.I. 1944-45

 

Force 136

Force 136

Rumble in the Jungle: The Story of Force 136 is on at the Chinese Canadian Military Museum in Vancouver Canada until the end of 2016.  More information at: www.ccmms.ca

Ironically, while these men were agents for the Allies, back home in Canada they were not considered citizens. Although born in Canada, these soldiers could not vote, nor could they become engineers, doctors or lawyers. Many were forced to live in segregated neighborhoods. In some cities, they were forbidden to swim in public pools and were forced to sit in the back of theaters.

In late 1941, Japan entered the war. It quickly invaded large swathes of Southeast Asia. Many of these areas had been British, French and Dutch colonies.

Britain was desperate to infiltrate the region. They had had some success in occupied Europe when Special Operations Executive (SOE.) trained and dropped secret agents into France, Belgium, and Holland. These agents organized and supported local resistance fighters, and helped with espionage and sabotage of infrastructure and German supply lines and equipment.

Training camp near Poona, India. (another camp was in Australia).

Training camp near Poona, India. (another camp was in Australia).

However, Southeast Asia presented unique challenges to SOE. It was a vast area with many islands, challenging physical terrain and diverse populations and languages. As well, most of the residents of the region resented their former colonizers.

SOE realized that Caucasian agents would stand out too much and would struggle to gain local trust. The British needed an alternative.

There was one glimmer of hope. Scattered throughout the region was a sizeable population of Chinese who were vehemently opposed to Japanese occupation and angry about Japanese aggression in China. The question was how to contact and organize them?

Training by British Intelligence.

Training by British Intelligence.

That’s when the British discovered Chinese Canadians. They could easily blend into the population. They could speak Cantonese. They were loyal to the Allies. And there were lots of these young men waiting for an assignment.

Between 1944 and 1945, Chinese Canadians were recruited and quietly seconded to SOE in Southeast Asia (Force 136). They were told they had a 50-50 chance of surviving. They also were sworn to secrecy.

To do this kind of work would require much more than basic army training. The men would need to learn commando warfare techniques. Over the course of several months they learned skills such as: stalking; silent killing; demolition; jungle travel and survival; wireless operations; espionage; and parachuting.

Originally unsure that Chinese Canadians could pass muster, SOE recruited in waves. The first team consisted of only 13 hand-picked men. Eventually, about 150 were seconded for Southeast Asia with the majority based out of India.

Force 136

Force 136

Some men had been assigned to do short trips into occupied Burma. But 14 Chinese Canadians found themselves operating behind Japanese lines for several months in Borneo, Malay, and Singapore. They endured primitive conditions as well as suffocating heat and humidity. They befriended headhunters and other guerrilla groups in the jungles. To survive, some men were forced to eat monkey and crocodile meat, and even insects.

Fortunately, all the Chinese Canadians in Force 136 survived the war although some came back sick with tropical diseases.

With the war over and the Allies victorious, Chinese Canadians now wanted a second victory – the right to vote. Armed with their war wounds and service records, veterans became part of a chorus that demanded full citizenship for the community.  Their loyalty won out. Two years after the guns fell silent, Chinese Canadians were finally granted citizenship. By 1957, the country elected their first Chinese Canadian Member of Parliament: Douglas Jung, who had served with Force 136.

Veterans from Force 136; Hank Lowe, Gordon Quan, Tommy Wong, Charlie Lee & Ronald Lee, cut their cake, 14 May 2016

Veterans from Force 136; Hank Lowe, Gordon Quan, Tommy Wong, Charlie Lee & Ronald Lee, cut their cake, 14 May 2016

Today, through the Museum’s special exhibition, a new generation is learning how the blood, sweat, and tears of a small group of men, in a secret jungle war, helped change the destiny of an entire community. And how their service helped secure a coveted title: the right to be called a “Chinese Canadian.”

Condensed from information found with the Chinese-Canadian Military Museum, Vancouver, Canada.

Click on images to enlarge.

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CBI Roundup Humor  – Private Louie by Somerville

 

"I guess it's safe to say - he DOESN'T like snakes !"

“I guess it’s safe to say – he DOESN’T like snakes !”

Louie leaving for a change & rest - the bearers have all his change and the railroad got the rest !

Louie leaving for a change & rest – the bearers have all his change and the railroad got the rest !

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Edward Albert – Milwaukee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Kenneth Bailey – Ames, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-24 pilot, Major (Ret.)

Passing the Colors

Passing the Colors

Joseph Clancy – Durand, MI; US Army, WWII & Korea, Captain

Kenneth Eastlick – Osoyoos, BC, CAN; RC Army, WWII

Beryl Head – Hawke’s Bay, NZ; WR Air Force, WWII, LACW R-T operator

George Keyser – Redington Bch., FL; US Army, WWII/USAF, Korean War

Keith Meredith – Launceston, AUS; RA Army # TX6408, WWII, 6th & 2nd Regiments

Garrett ‘Ray’ Myers – Hemet, CA; US Navy, WWII, signalman

Allen Pellegrin – Houma, LA; US Army, WWII, 109th Engineers/”Red Bull” Division

Karl Zerfoss – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, 397th/100th Infantry Div., T-5 radio operator

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Censorship ~ Did you ever wonder who blacked out those letters?

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There was some censoring in the Civil War because letters sometimes had to cross enemy lines. Most of the censoring came from the prisoner-of-war camps. For example, if someone was writing a letter from Andersonville [a Confederate prison camp where many Union soldiers starved] those at the camp didn’t want people to know what was happening, so the prisoners wouldn’t be allowed to say anything bad about a camp. The first heavy censorship of U.S. soldiers took place during World War I
The censors were looking out for two things in World War I and World War II. They didn’t want the soldier to say anything that would be of value to the enemy, such as where they were. They always wanted to camouflage how strong the troops were. “Loose lips sink ships” was the phrase that was very prevalent in WW II and that was the theory in WW I as well.

Officers also were looking to see any weakening of desire among the troops. It’s very important in wartime for officers to know about morale issues.
One of our researchers recently found over 500 confiscated and condemned letters at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. They included letters that used graphic language dealing with sex. Our member also found that in some cases the same writer would keep having his letters confiscated and apparently didn’t get the message. These letters were never delivered and apparently the sender was never sent a notice of the offense.

Letters that were sent in foreign languages were also intercepted. Many members of the armed forces were immigrants or the children of immigrants and they were more comfortable communicating home in their native language. A letter written in Polish or Italian usually wasn’t delivered because the typical censor didn’t know what it said.
In general, in the Revolutionary War and Civil War the letters have much more information. The writers would say, ‘We’re outside of Fredericksburg’ or ‘I’m in the 12th division,’ and that’s important information that was often cut out in World War I and World War II.

In WW II, it’s common for a soldier to write, ‘I can’t say much or the censors will cut it out.’ Early in World War II, the soldiers couldn’t say where they were. People back home didn’t know if they were in the Pacific or the Atlantic. You’ll see letters where the soldier will say where he is — it’s cut out — and how many people are in the building — and that’s cut out too. People would do very simple things to get around the censor like write on the inside of the flap but they were usually unsuccessful. So the World War letters often just include just Mom and Pop stuff.

WWII poster

WWII poster

Who did the censoring?
The enlisted soldier was censored by an officer in his unit. It was considered an unimportant job and often someone like the chaplain or the dentist would get saddled with the job. If the enlisted man did not want his officer to read his mail — if he had been giving him a hard time, let’s say — the soldier could use what was called a ‘blue envelope.’ The writer would certify that there is nothing in here that shouldn’t be and the letter would go up to the next level where it might be looked at a little more kindly.

The officers were self-censored. They didn’t have anyone looking at their mail regularly, although the higher level staff or base censors would randomly check officers’ letters to keep an eye on them. Officers seemed to say more in their letters. Whether it was because they knew better what was allowed or whether they were more brazen or whether their mail often was not censored is debatable.

If the section they wanted out was very big, they would confiscate the letter. If it was small, they cut out the words or obliterate it with ink. If they had to use special chemicals to check for invisible writing — something they did when they suspected a spy — they would confiscate the letter because they didn’t want people to know they were doing it.

The censors returned very few soldiers’ letters. They confiscated them; they didn’t send them back. They didn’t necessarily give the word back to the soldier that his or her letter was withheld. It depended where it was stopped and how fast the troops were moving.

From the soldier’s perspective, you often didn’t know if it was going to get through. The soldiers were all given guidance on what they could say, so you would think they would know how to avoid getting their mail intercepted, but not all did.

Information is from ‘The American Experience.’

 

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Military Humor – Private Sanfu

"Well, the way I figure it ____, and ___!"

“Well, the way I figure it __ _ __, and __ _!”

ww2_censorship_300

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Louis Adriano – Albertson, NY; US Navy, WWII

Jacques Cayer – Cap-de-la-Madeleine, CAN; RC Air Force, Captain (Ret. 30 years)

Margaret Dover _ New Plymouth, NZ; WRNS # 55532, WWIIth-jpg1

H.L. Hungate Jr.  – Roanoke, VA; US Navy, WWII, USS Iowa

Ward ‘Bud’ Johnson – Idaville, IN; US Army, WWII, ETO, 773rd Tank Destroyer

Ellen Keener – Evans, GA; US Army WAAC, ETO

Jack Levin – Philadelphia, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 pilot

Mark Parsons – Spokane, WA; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO

William Reinhard – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, pilot

David Woolley – Boston, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

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