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Eye Witness Account for Leyte

AMTRAC (alligator)

As November 1944 is coming to a close, the 2nd Battalion/187th Regiment/11th Airborne Division moved up from Bito Beach to the mountains just west of Burauen and it’s an eye-opener for the men.  This is the account of CWO William Nelson, personnel officer of the 2nd. wrote:

The Second was literally ferried to the new position in those strange vehicles called amtracs.  Enroute, we stared like yokels at a starlet, as we crossed the coastal plain between Dulag and Burauen, for up to this time, we had no idea of the magnitude of the American effort on Leyte.

Soldiers in a field hospital, P.I., WWII

We passed ammunition dumps by the dozen; 155 batteries; truck battalions; field hospitals and many special-unit headquarters.  Finally, as we neared Burauen, we clanked past airstrips jammed  with P-38’s.  All these installations were literally bogged down in the mud.  In fact, the typhoons of October and the continuing deluge had all but washed out the 6th Army’s Service troops and the 5th Air Force back across the beach.

Arriving at Burauen, the battalion found the dry areas – the relatively dry areas of the town already occupied by an Air Force MP platoon, an Ordnance Battalion and the 44th General Hospital.  The battalion of the 511th we were to relieve was preparing to move out.  A.F. files cheerfully informed us that the Nips bombed away at the strips almost every night, although lately his nightly application had become a bit feeble.  [Similar to what the beach troops had already been through – maybe it was the same pilot?!]

Operations maps 28 November 1944

Down near one of the airstrips was located the headquarters of our division.  This half-flooded landing field had been allotted to the 11th A/B and from it aerial resupply missions were being launched in support of the 511th.  Up on the hill, at the edge of town,was the 5th Air Force Headquarters, where it overlooked the three airstrips of its fighter squadrons.

At any rate, the job of the 2nd battalion was to protect this whole gigantic, and confused, melange, and accordingly, it occupied positions about 800 yards west of the town on a low hill dominating the surrounding flat-land.

These notations made by CWO Nelson were found in “The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division” by Lt.General E.M. Flanagan, Jr. US Army (ret. 30 years).  I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with the general twice.  It will remain as a highlight of my life.

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Personal Note – 

I finally succumbed to an interview request, and you can come and see how good or bad I am at talking about myself!  Come and visit my only attempt at this!!

GP Cox in action…..

https://meetthebloggersblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/02/pacific-paratrooper-by-gp-cox/

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Albright – Stone Ridge, NY; US Army, 188th/11th Airborne Division

Hymie Epstein – NE; US Army, WWII, PTO, Medic, (Buna-Gona) KIA

Michael Galajdik – Elwood, IL; US Navy, WWII, fireman, (Pearl Harbor), KIA

Vernon Grow – Redding, CA; US Navy, WWII, USS Oklahoma,( Pearl Harbor) KIA

Jack Harold – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Navy # 4242, WWII, PTO

Jessie Kuster – Hartford, CT/RI; US Navy WAVE, WWII, ETO, Yeoman

Robert Peers – Vancouver, CAN; RC Navy (Ret.), Korea, Captain

Leonard Rood – DePere, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 423rd Bomb Squadron

Louis Sanchez – Witchita, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO, 3rd Army

Melvin VanGundy Jr. – Jacksonville, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, pilot “Little Colonel”, POW

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CBI November Round-up

r678

5 November – 53 B-29’s of the 20th US Army Air Corps made a round-trip of 3700 miles (5950 km) from Calcutta, India to bomb enemy installations around Singapore and the Pangkalan oil refinery on Sumatra, Dutch East Indies Indonesian).

Construction on Ledo Road

As shown by the photos, the Ledo Road was an ever-constant process of being built while it was used to deliver supplies.

Accurate supply drops in Burma.

10TH AIR FORCE HQ, in BURMA – You generally associate pin-point bombing with fighter and bomber planes. But then you’re not giving a fair shake to the gang who fly the 10th Air Force’s Troop Carrier and Combat Cargo planes, who have a remarkable record for accuracy in supply dropping.
Battle lines in Burma have been so fluid at times that the pilots’ instructions were out of date an hour after take-off. In many cases, they had to be briefed on new targets while in the air. But so fine has been their marksmanship, that seldom, if ever, have they ‘chuted a package to the wrong team in the jungle warfare.
Less than two hours before the picture at left was taken, the territory was in Jap hands. While the pilot was in the air, he was ordered to this point. Advance Allied patrols, left center, wait to pick up the packages.

Home Never Like This
BUT PIPELINERS NOT STUMPED

BURMA – Ferrying supplies into camp on an improvised raft of empty gasoline drums was never taught at Camp Claiborne to the SOS Engineers who operate the CBI Pipeline. Nor was the proper way to manage a rubber life boat a part of their Field Manuals. And certainly, checking for leaks in the pipeline daily in an assault boat was not prescribed as SOP. All three of these amphibious operations, however, comprise normal “daily dozens” for certain members of the Engineer Petroleum Distribution Companies under Engineer Division No.1.
With the roads washed out and almost surrounded by water, the men of one pumping station devised a raft, using four empty 55-gallon gasoline drums lashed together. Propelled by bamboo poles, this craft crosses the “River Styx,” as the body of water has been locally nicknamed, several times daily to bring in supplies.
Farther along the line lies “Twin Islands,” another pumping station. The station itself is on “Island Number One,” while on “Island Number Two” a mile or more away live the men. An assault boat, powered by a 22 horsepower Johnson outboard motor, plies back and forth between the islands, carrying tools and equipment and the men who work at the pumps. This detachment of men is the proud possessor of a second boat in their boathouse, this one being an inflated rubber one of the type carried in aircraft for emergency use! It is a “personnel carrier” only, and serves as a ferry between the home island and nearby solid ground.
Another assault boat with an outboard motor is used at one point to make the daily pipeline patrol for leaks. As gasoline is easily detected on the surface of the water a leak is quickly spotted. This group of men is the envy of all the pipeline walkers who walk many weary miles a day looking for leaks.
These “Amphibious Pipeliners” are seriously considering designing a shoulder patch of their own, complete with rampant motorboats, crossed bamboo poles, and quartered gasoline drums.

US Army WAC’s in the CBI

WAC’s In China
CHUNGKING – Two WAC’s, members of Maj. Gen. A. C. Wedemeyer’s staff, reached the never-never land of China this week, strengthening the tiny contingent of Army nurses and Red Cross girls already serving on the far side of The Hump.
Wedemeyer declared: “I visualize bringing in more WAC’s, nurses and Red Cross members. It will be done gradually, of course, and the women will relieve men now employed on secretarial and other posts.”
The new commander of U.S. troops in China explained: “In my opinion it will improve the morale of the men.”
(You have something there, general – Ed.)

Some articles and all of the photos are from the CBI Roundup newspaper published during the war.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – C.B.I. Style 

“NO! NO! EUNICE! DON’T GET SO UPSET JUST BECAUSE A G.I. FORGETS TO SALUTE!”

“BUT IT WON’T GET THERE BY CHRISTMAS IF IT GOES BY BOAT!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Peter Atkinson – Berkley Springs, WV; AVG (American Volunteer Group), WWII, CBI, “Flying Tigers”, KIA

Luis Armendariz – El Paso, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 27th Infantry Division

Daniel Davis – Lowell, IN; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Bobby Finestone – Chelsea, MA; US Coast Guard, WWII, ETO, USS Bayfield

Bartley Furey – Tampa, FL; US Army, Vietnam, West Point graduate, Field Artillery, 1st Air Cavalry Div. (Ret. 28 yrs.), Silver Star

Berna Kowalski – Blakley Island, WA; US Army WAC, WWII, ETO, Lt., nurse

James Lenahan – Indianapolis, IN; US Navy, WWII & Korea, Pharmacist mate

Frank Nash – Mobile, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 433rd Troop Carrier Group, pilot

Eleanore Quatrano – Asbury Park, NY; US Army WAC, WWII

Freda Lee Smith – Temperance, MI; US Navy WAVES, WWII

William Tomko – Westfield, NJ; US Navy, WWII

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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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Lost at Sea

A look into the air war and saving pilots!

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IHRA

As November 1944 began, the 345th Bomb Group was flying to the staging base of Morotai, where they would then take part in missions that targeted islands in the Philippines. Morotai was three hours away from their base at Biak Island. While this hop could be considered routine, weather once again thwarted plans of landing at Morotai on November 6th. As the B-25 pilots attempted to fly through the stormy weather, Morotai went on red alert and the control tower went off the air. It became extremely difficult for the crews to find their way to Morotai without a radio signal, not to mention a way out of the storm. Several pilots turned around. One, Lt. Edward Reel, remained in the area, hoping to catch a station. Aboard his B-25 were six crewmen as well as two passengers.

Hours passed. Reel had descended to find the bottom of the clouds…

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And so it begins….

11th Airborne Division on Leyte

22 November 1944, the 11th Airborne Division received orders to relieve the 7th Infantry Division along the Burauen-La Pag-Bugho line and destroy all enemy on their way and in that sector.  While the 77th and 32nd divisions converged on the valley, the 11th moved into the central mountain pass from the east.  During this time on Leyte, the 11th A/B was under the command of the Sixth Army.

24 November – General Swing, commander of the 11th Airborne Division, moved his HQ to San Pablo.  To protect the 5th Air Force HQ of Gen. Whitehead he moved the 674th and 675th Glider Artillery Battalions to the mission which instantly made them infantrymen.  Contact patrols went out from the 187th Regiment to keep abreast of the 7th Division’s movements.  Some would witness their first “banzai attack.”

Field Order Number 28 instructed them to continue through a very rough and densely forested area called the Cordillera.   The rainy season dragged on and on and the mud not only caked on their boots (making it difficult to walk), but it ate clear through the footwear within a week.  The uniforms began to rot away.  The men were quickly beginning to realize why the natives wished to be paid in clothing rather than food or cash.

Action map

One part of the Headquarters Company was left guarding the perimeter of Mawala and the remainder of the unit went upstream to Manarawat to defend that perimeter.  The 221st Airborne Medical Company, with two portable surgical hospitals, took nip-thatched huts and lined them with parachutes.  Despite the trials and tribulations of the troopers after they landed between Abuyog and Tarragona just four days previous, they proceeded in their mission to relieve the 24th and 37th infantry divisions.

Considering the advances the U.S. forces had already gained, especially at the ports and airfields, the Japanese Imperial Headquarters sent an edict to their troops demanding the destruction of Dulag and Tacloban airstrips.  Japanese paratroopers immediately set out to jump on the Burauen airstrip; some missed their targets and landed on other airstrips.

Yank magazine

Also on this date, the 5th Air Force (now known as the Far East Air Force, Southwest Pacific Area), sent B-24’s and B-25’s to bomb Bacolod Airfield and Ipil on Negros Island.  They also hit bridges and barges in the Ormoc area.  Sasa Airfield on Mindanao was bombed as well.  All throughout this month, the FEAF and the 7th Air Force made persistent runs on Iwo Jima.

During November alone, 23 inches of rain fell and the battles for Leyte were being won during four typhoons.  Roads began to collapse and wash away, mud slides abounded and distinguishing a rice paddy from a campsite was impossible.  Foxholes were completely flooded.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

Mark DeAlencar – Edgewood, MD; US Army, Afghanistan, 7th Special Forces, KIA

Stewart Dennis – Port Lincoln, AUS; RA Air Force LAC # 122461

Harold Evans – Spokane, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, E/188th/11th Airborne Division

William Fagan – Bethlehem, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Ralph Harkness – Tampa, FL; US Navy, WWII, ETO, Captain (Ret.)

Robert Milner – Haynesville, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, P-51 pilot “Little Rebel”

Jeanne Newhouse – San Diego, CA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Fred Otto – Greene, ND; US Navy, WWII,PTO, Seaman 1st Class, USS Vicksburg

Mary Philpo – Detroit, MI; civilian, B-24 aircraft parts, Willow Run

Vernon Weber – Saint Donatus, IA; US Navy, WWII


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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Elephant in the room: Indian Army in Burma

The rarely heard CBI Theater

The War Room

Chennai, Nov 4:

The China-India-Burma Theatre was ablaze with heavy firing during the Second World War. Indian soldiers died in thousands over a two-week period at Imphal. The combat zone was reduced to a Maharaja’s tennis court as the Battle of Kohima ended and came knocking on Indian doors.

India’s intrusion in a global war was unprecedented.

Despite having had a significant impact on the East, why was the Burmese zone rarely acknowledged in India?

“It is interesting to note how India’s place in the world is attributed to the summer of 1991 and the new liberalization policy. The assumption is that this ‘Asian Power’ is a consequence of the last 25 years or so. I believe that the Second World War was the catalytic moment of India’s emergence in the world stage”, said Dr. Srinath Raghavan, author of India’s War: The Making of Modern South Asia and a senior…

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Smitty and Leyte

There were a few dogfights everyday above Bito Beach between Zeros and P-38s, but at night there was a rather unique spectacle watched by the men.  Some of you might remember an episode of the television show, “M.A.S.H.” entitled “5 o’clock Charlie” – this had to be where they got the idea for that particular episode.  The 11th airborne had their very own “Washing Machine Charlie” routinely chugging overhead.  On a daily basis, his old engine coughed around so loudly he could be heard for miles.  His flight path was so predictable that sounding the air raid alarm seemed ludicrous to the troops.  The bomber only succeeded in landing one shell after his many raids and it happened to hit the causeway.  The engineers were forced to return and rebuild the breach.

My father told me that he would just shrug it off when he heard “Charlie’s” plane overhead.  He only hoped that all of the Japanese planes were in such rotten condition and the pilots had the same cross-eyed aim.  (Too bad it wasn’t true.)

US Army Engineers on Leyte

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Unfortunately, Smitty did get to know some of the natives better, as I was to discover one day as we watched the news about Vietnam.  When it was mentioned that the soldiers found it difficult to distinguish between friend and foe, my father grunted and slowly shook his head.  When I questioned him, he replied that he was very concerned about the welfare of our troops.  Not one to discuss combat, I needed to prod him for an answer.  He looked at me once and after that I could see that he was reliving the event.

US Army soldier being operated on, Leyte.

“In the Philippines it was the same way.  You couldn’t tell an ally from a makapili, that was one of the Filipinos who decided to side with the Japanese.  We woke one morning and our usual Filipino woman who came to clean up the tent reported ill and her husband showed up to do the work in her stead.  I had to go on patrol, so I didn’t think too much about  it.  My buddy was assigned to some detail and stayed back.  When I returned to camp, things didn’t feel normal.  I knew something was wrong and I headed straight for my own tent.  I don’t know why, I just knew the trouble was there.  I found a detail cleaning debris out of it.  The Filipino husband had straightened out our tent (lord only knows why) and left my buddy a surprise in his bunk – a grenade.  They pull that same crap in Nam.”

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Between his last letter and the following one, the 11th Airborne Division went through combat enduring some of the worst weather imaginable.  The four days of monsoon rains made the smallest hill a slope of greasy mud and the flat terrain into knee-deep quagmires.  The mud would cause a condition of the skin, especially their feet that the men would refer to as “jungle rot or swamp rot.”  The troopers bivouacked under palm fronds in the coconut groves near Abuyog and Balay Baban villages trying to stay as dry as possible.  The supplies, ammo and other war materiel had been separated and camouflaged and stayed dryer than the men.  Natives and Filipinos worked to help accomplish this task and they were paid in pesos, food or clothing – whichever item they found most necessary.

Rain and mud of Leyte, another enemy.

It had been reported by The Courier Mail in Brisbane, Australia, that the mud was unique, “… a thin yellow soup, porous like quicksand and sometimes bottomless, yet the Americans made headway …”  The heavy humidity soaked everything they possessed, including their meager rations, but they were hard-pressed to remain on alert at all times.  The conditions proved beneficial for the enemy; their replenishment of food and ammunition were only hindered, while it became near impossible for the troopers.  Making matters worse, there were no fixed battle lines and the Japanese were getting their supplies through the blockades.  Wherever our men went, they encountered Japanese marines and suicide guards.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Charles Achatz – Center, CO; US Navy, WWII

Tom Amberry – Grand Forks, ND; US Navy, WWII

Walter Collins – Dorchester, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Robert Fatum – Grand Rapids, MI; US Army, WWII, PTO, Purple Heart

Donald Knode – Albuquerque, NM; US Navy, WWII, Intelligence translator

Kenneth Mitchell – Cleveland, OH; US Navy, WWII, ETO & PTO

William Schaf Sr. – Albany, NY; US Army, Korea, 187th ARCT, Medic, POW

Selwyn Thompson (102) – Kerikeri, NZ; 2NZEF # 062165, WWII

Harry Tye – Orinoco, KY; USMC, WWII, Pvt., KIA (Tarawa)

Kenneth Weihl – Tucson, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 451st Bomb Squadron, radio/gunner

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Smitty’s Letter XV – “Landing”

All ashore that’s going’ ashore…..

November 1944: Two Coast Guard-manned landing ships open their jaws as U.S. soldiers line up to build sandbag piers out to the ramps, on Leyte island, Philippines. (AP Photo)

As the ships drew closer to Leyte, the American soldiers already on shore were being hampered by logistical problems which caused a severe delay in capturing the island.  When the 11th A/B division arrived, General Hodge was finally able to move General Arnold’s 7th division and their plans came together.

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Letter XV                                         Landing                        Somewhere in the Philippines

Dear Mom,

We landed here in the Philippines yesterday morn, but before leaving the ship, the Japs treated us with their honorable (?) presence in the form of bombing planes.  Shore batteries kept hammering at them in the gloom of a misty a.m. and the tracer’s bullets reaching up to the planes made a very pretty but gruesome sight.   The way those tracer shells can pick out the planes you would think that they had a score to settle and just can’t wait to even it.

We landed finally on the beach, being taken to it in those much touted and not highly praised enough landing boats.  How boats can ground themselves  on land the way they do and still get off again unscratched is really a marvel.  Those boys who handle them also deserve a lot of credit and, as Winchell would say, “A great big orchid is due.”

The natives here were real friendly and helpful in a dozen different ways.  They ran up to the landing boats as soon as the bow of the boat sunk its bottom into the beach and helped us carry off our burdensome equipment.  It reminded me of Penn or Grand Central Stations with porters running helter-skelter all over the place.  The only thing missing to make the picture complete were the tell-tale red caps on their heads.

November 1944: U.S. landing ship tanks are seen from above as they pour military equipment onto the shores of Leyte island, to support invading forces in the Philippines. (AP Photo)

It wasn’t long after landing that we were organized into work groups and sent off to our chores.  Work kept on until we were hours into the night despite the fact that again, Jap planes came over.  I am happy to report that they will not be able to do so again, that is – not the same ones.

During the day we were handed K-rations for our dinner and after the excellent food we had aboard ship, they sure tasted like hell.  Just before dark last night, we were allowed a few moments to ourselves and at once set to work getting our tents erected.  Here again, the native men came in handy helping us to either put up the tents or dig our slit trenches.  Of course they don’t do any of this work for nothing, but for items such as undershirts, trousers, soap or most anything in the line of clothing.

I will write more about the people in a later chapter.  After all, you can’t do well to write about them on so short an acquaintance.  Right now we are busy setting up a camp decent enough to live in.  Having a few minutes to spare in between tents.  I thought I’d write this down before it completely slipped my unrententive and feeble brain.  There goes the whistle calling us back to work now, so until the next ten minute rest period, I’ll close with loads of love and car loads of kisses,

Love, Everett

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Max Brown – Alma, MI; US Army, WWII, Military Police

Harold DeRose – Indianmound, TN; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Robert Fairbank – Gilbert, AZ; US Merchant Marine, WWII

Boy Scout Farewell Salute

Victor Galletly – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 44189, WWII

Zeb Kilpatrick – Hendersonville, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, C/457 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Leo ‘Bill’ LeFevre – Jamestown, ND; US Army, WWII

David Maxwell – Brisbane, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII

Jose Ocampo – San Jose, CA; US Navy, WWII

Dick Patterson – Fort Worth, TX; USMC, WWII, PTO

Anthony Randi – New Haven, CT; US Army, WWII, Cpl.

Donald Thompson – Spokane, WA; US Army, WWII

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Landing the 11th Airborne Division

Medic on Leyte

As General Eichelberger said more than once: “The 11th Airborne Division are the fightingest men I’ve ever seen.” And the largest and most violent armed conflict in history was about to start for these men.

November of 1944 arrived and with that came packing up for the next destination, Leyte, Philippines. It also meant the arrival of the rains, an understatement to say the least. Such downpours are alien to those who do not live in the tropics. Even the darkness is unique when it arrives in a flash and the blackness envelops everything like a sweeping shroud. A man’s eyes can no longer be trusted; he stands as though blindfolded.

11 November – 9 APA’s (naval transport ships designed to attack) and AKA’s (cargo ships designed to attack) would be required to carry the 11th A/B on to their target from Oro Bay with an escort of 9 US destroyers. Due to the constant barrage of weather, the journey lasted from Nov. 11 until the 18th. The Battle of Leyte was officially code-named “King II Operation.”

The division’s historian noted, “Fortunately, the trip was made in Navy-manned ships.  It was fortunate because the food we had was the best we had eaten since Camp Stoneman, California…  As far as we were able to determine, the trip was uneventful – with one exception.  One sub did venture within detecting range, we were immediately sent to out emergency positions.  But a DE took off after the Jap craft and the alert was called off.

“Aboard ship, troops spent their time talking endlessly about the immediate and post-war future.  Some gambled the days away… Now we had time to ponder and we found ourselves ready for combat.  We didn’t know then – no one knew – how soon we were to be committed; but it came sooner than any of us anticipated.  The Angels were about to make some fighting history.”

Activity map

When the 11th airborne landed at Bito Beach, Leyte, they immediately began to unload the ships.  The troopers worked around the clock, even as the tail end of the convoy was being attacked by Zeros.  (The Japanese most certainly had other planes, but the G.I.s tended to call them all Zeros.)  The beach gradually became an ammo dump as Bito Beach was surrounded by water on three sides and a swamp covered the fourth, it was technically an island and therefore they were unable to move the crates out until the engineers built them some bridges.  Throughout all this, air raids were being called which impeded progress all the more.

19 November 1944 – a kamikaze sank one of the transport ships only 1,500 yards offshore.  It was left where it sank, sticking partway out of the water.  The men used it as a sight to adjust the artillery aimed at the sea.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – 

Cecil Hotel, Westminster, RAF’s 1st HQ

A reminder that Britain’s Royal Air Force will celebrate their 99th Birthday, having been formed 1 April 1918.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Blair Cummings – Scarbourgh, ME; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Hilary P. Jones

Frank Dallas – Fayetteville, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ/11th Airborne Division (Ret. 27 years)

Robert Glade – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, Korea

Iris Hunter – Warwickshire, ENG; RAF, WWII

Emmett Kirkpatrick – Roanoke, VA; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Robert Lilley – Ft. Gratlot, CAN; RC Army, WWII

Arthur McNamara – Boston, MA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Richard Morgan – Rollings, MT; US Army, Korea, A Co/187th RCT

Gale Tedball – Eugene, OR; US Navy, WWII, USS Detroit

William Young – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force #  4310091, WWII

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