Saturday, February 23, 2013

Five Rising Suns

Five Rising Suns

By Cpl. OZZIE ST. GEORGE YANK Staff Correspondent

SOMEWHERE IN THE PACIFIC—Five neat little Jap flags painted on the nose of a B-24 are nice to look at, but they're scarcely anything to write home about. Five little Rising Suns on the bridge of a lumbering LST are something else again.

It happened not long ago. The LST was lying at anchor with a detachment of Coast Artillery aboard.  At 8:22 AM a shore station flashed "Red Alert."  Seven minutes later the LST was underway, her guns manned.  Reginald E. Gressley QM3c, Los Angeles lawyer, was on watch, keeping the ship's log.  What he logged that morning reads like a "Thrilling Adventure" yarn less the adjectives.

Eight Jap dive bombers (Val  99s) came out of the sun and peeled off, beaded for the ship.  The skipper, Lt. Harold M. Graham of New Orleans, ordered hard left rudder.  As the LST swung to port, her star-board guns opened up.

Floyd E. Knowles Y2c of LaFayette, Ind., forward  "talker,"  remembers that:  "I should have been scared, but there was too much happening."

Louis R. Dively S1c of Los Angeles, Earl F. Rarney F1c of Portsmouth, Ohio, and Glen C. Williams S2c of Portland, Ore., got their 20-mm on one Val and filled it full of flak.  William W. King F1c of Portland, Ore., Curtis O. Hanson MoMM2c, and Paul R. Hansen MM2c, both of Los Angeles, got another with their 20. Both Japs went into the bay before they could release their bombs.

Coxswain Edmund A. Kurdziel of Toledo, Ohio, and Nelson A. Minor F2c of Minneapolis picked off a third.  Fred F. Doty S1c, Harold F.  Hull F1c, both of Los Angeles, and Marvin Krueger S1c of Dale, Wis., got a fourth. The Army, firing four .50s and two 40-mms, got another.

And that accounts for the five little suns on the bridge of the LST.

Ensign Charles Macmurdo of Baton Rouge, La., on the conn during the attack, murmured later that he had watched three 250-pound bombs, released to port, sail over his head so low he ducked. They struck the sea 100 yards off the starboard beam. Two more landed 10 yards to starboard, the concussion springing leaks in some of the ship's piping. That was the only damage.

Damage inflicted on the Imperial Japanese Air Force was more apparent.   Boson's mate John Stephenson, former light-heavy and heavy-weight Golden Glove champ of St Paul, Minn., counted seven pillars of smoke within 3,000 yards of the ship.  P-38s had accounted for the odd two. The eighth, the crew decided, was let off that he might get home to spread the glad tidings.

In the official report of the action it was stated that "the Japanese pilots appeared surprised at the amount and accuracy of the antiaircraft fire."  No doubt.

The LST was one of the first Ts to see action in the SWPA.  In on the initial landing at Lae, it made five more trips to that hot spot, was bombed twice with no results.   Three trips to Finschhafen   were made without incident.   As LSTs are considered more or less "expendable"   once they reach the beach, this one is somewhat ahead of the game.

The LST and her crew were at Cape Gloucester, too, their third action within four months. Action, in their case, means, more than anything else, no sleep.  Hours in advance of reaching the beach the crew goes to general quarters, and stays there until the T is safely off the beach again.

At Lae, Ship's Cook Tim Keziak SC2c of Mineral Springs, N.C., sprang from gun to galley and back again, snatched five hours' sleep in 65. Ensign Louis Curra of Smithton, Pa., former tackle on the Western Reserve Sunbowl team of '41, and James Glenn F2c of Dallas, Tex., beat even that record with 56 straight hours of duty.

Call it bells or call it hours, it's still a long day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Jungle War

YANK reprinted this anonymous report on combat conditions in New Guinea by a wounded noncom from the "Intelligence Bulletin" with permission of the War Department.

We were flown over the Owen Stanley range to relieve an Australian combat unit, which was keeping open a trail over which natives were bringing up supplies.

The first day we had snipers firing into our perimeter (an area with all-around defense) with explosive bullets, which were very irritating and nerve-racking. The next morning the same thing started. I got permission from my lieutenant to go out and see if I could find the sniper. I walked about 40 yards out of the perimeter, and I saw him in a large tree about 300 yards away. Since this was the first Jap I had seen, I was quite nervous. I took my time and fired five shots. The Jap fell only partly out of the tree; he was tied in by his legs, and his rifle was strapped to a limb.

Our first general activity was to send out patrols under company noncoms, to be sure there were no Japs digging in.

One day about noon, our commander asked for volunteers to go into an area believed to be occupied, by the Japs. I asked for two men to go with me into the area. We had gone about 300 yards when we thought we heard something moving in the undergrowth. I left the two men behind and crawled up to a place where the growth had been cut down to about knee height There I could see fresh dirt, so I lay still and listened for about 30 minutes. Then I brought the other two men up with me and I left them in my position while I crawled forward to investigate. I found a freshly dug hole, with a banana-tree trunk forming a wall about waist high on two sides of it.

I called the other men up, and we decided to go back and report what we had seen; however, just then a .25-caliber machine gun opened up, and we immediately dived into the hole. We thought that the enemy was covering the hole with this one gun, but another .25 caliber opened up from another direction. All during the afternoon we exchanged fire with them, using our Thompson submachine guns and the one Browning automatic rifle we had with us. At about 2000, after dark, we went back into the jungle and got away without a shot being fired at us. We stayed in the jungle that night because it is absolute suicide to go into your own perimeter after dark.

Next morning we reported what we had seen. At night you're not permitted to fire your rifle because it would reveal to the Japs exactly where you are—you use only hand grenades and the bayonet.

The Japs will go from tree to tree during the hours of darkness and make noises, or call familiar names of people, or call your medical personnel. When they have located your perimeter, they fire their machine guns about waist high over your position; then they send a group of men crawling in under their own fire. They crawl very slowly until they feel the edge of your foxhole; then they will back away a bit and throw in hand grenades.

Another favorite Japanese trick is to capture a wounded man and place him near a trail or perimeter and then cover him with machine-gun fire. They will torture him until he screams and yells for help, but it is absolutely suicide to send him help.

One morning at 0845 we were told we were going to attack the Jap perimeter at 0900. The lieutenant in charge took with him two runners, who carried a telephone and the necessary wire. When we were at the right position, our artillery and machine guns laid down a barrage until the lieutenant telephoned back for them to stop. We moved on, on our bellies. The Japs were out of their pillboxes and seemed to be doing some sort of fatigue work. There were six of us who got within 20 yards of them without being seen. We had three Tommy guns, a Browning automatic rifle, a Springfield rifle, and a Garand rifle. The lieutenant motioned for us to start firing. One sergeant threw a grenade, and, as it hit, we opened up with all our guns. There wasn't a single Jap who escaped, but there were some left in pillboxes, and they pinned us down with fire from one .50-caliber machine gun and from several .30-caliber machine guns. One of our six men got hit near the hip with a .50-caliber bullet, which lodged in his left shoulder. The Japs also wounded three more of our men who were behind us. The lieutenant telephoned the commanding officer and told him our situation, and we were ordered to retire. Later we made another attack on this perimeter and took it.

There was a lieutenant who had been shot down near a pillbox, and our commanding officer asked for volunteers to go in and get him. When he was last seen he was still alive, but when we got to him, after wading through swamp water waist deep, he was lying on his stomach--dead. While we were going toward him, the Japanese had killed the lieutenant by slashing his stomach, and had placed him on an "island." We put him on a litter and started back into our own perimeter, but the Japs opened fire on us, and we had to leave him and take cover in the trees. I thought the fire was coming from only one pillbox, so we all started firing in the direction from which the fire was coming. We soon learned, however, that there were two more pillboxes from which we also wore receiving machine-gun fire. When they stopped firing, another boy and myself went out and got the lieutenant ana took him into the perimeter. Later he was taken to battalion headquarters (command post) where he was buried in the regimental burial ground.

A few weeks later our battalion moved into a position to make an attack on a large Japanese perimeter. All artillery and machine-gun fire was concentrated on this perimeter before the infantry started pushing forward. The heat was terrific. We moved in about 100 yards under Japanese fire, with two platoons forward and one in reserve (the squads also were two forward and one in reserve). My squad was in reserve when we started forward.

The lieutenant sent back for me to bring my squad forward and relieve the right squad. Because so many of this squad had been killed and wounded or had passed out from heat exhaustion, I thought I might find a better place to put my men. So I crawled forward to find positions for them. I had found a few good shell holes, some logs, and depressions in the ground, when a .30-caliber machine gun opened fiie on me. The first burst hit the front handle grip of my Tommy gun, and, of course, I got as low as possible; but the second burst hit my Tommy gun drum, and two bullets hit me in the arm. Also, fragments of the drum hit me hard-on the hand and shoulder. These .30's were explosive bullets which broke up my arm and tore a great deal of flesh away from it. It felt as if an ax blade were shearing through the flesh of my arm.

I rolled over into a small depression of the ground, and took my knife out and tried to cut off the sleeve of my coveralls. While I was cutting, I saw the barrel of the .30 caliber sticking out of a small pillbox, so I rolled back and got my Tommy gun, thinking there might be a chance of knocking out this one machine gun, which was about 80 yards away.

Just as I was getting in the right position to shoot, a .25-caliber machine gun opened up from the left. One bullet hit me in the elbow and one in the ribs—the latter went through my pipe and a can of tobacco and only broke my rib. I pulled out this bullet myself, burning my index finger on the hot lead. Another bullet went through my helmet and just grazed my scalp.

I lay there for about 3 hours in the hot sun, bleeding profusely. Figuring that I would bleed to death if I remained there, I began to crawl back to my own men—only hoping and trusting to God that He would give me strength and protection to get back. I got back to my men, and the platoon medical personnel made a hasty cross splint and sling for my mangled left arm.

One of my men helped me back to the command post where litter bearers took me back to a dispensary. Attendants gave me morphine and put me on a jeep, which carried me back—with several other casualties—to a portable hospital. There medical officers removed two bullets. Next day I was sent to a landing field where a plane was waiting to take casualties to Port Moresby.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Infantry Battle in New Georgia

With U. S. Forces in New Georgia--"When they got on the target, one Jap went 40 feet in the air, over the tops of the trees, just floated up lazy like, turned over one time and came back down."

"Then there was another that went up like a pinwheel, all arms and legs twisting in the air. He was an officer, I think, because I saw a saber go one way and a pistol the other. The next morning I stumbled over that saber and Howie got the pistol. There was one Jap blown plum out of his pants. We found the breeches hanging way up in the limb of a tree."

That was how first Sgt. Orville (Pappy) Cummings of Spokane, Washington, described the results of mortar fire on a Jap gun position during one of the 12 days that his infantry battalion drove a wedge from the jungle-land behind Munda airfield to the sea.

They fought three separate actions, each as different from the other as night from day. The story of the battalion and particularly of 1st Sgt. Cummins’ A company is the story of jungle combat--of attack and counterattack and then attack again.

Their first engagement lasted seven days. It was fought on a hillside and in a gully that was the jungle at its worst, where visibility was normally 15 yards and the war between the Jap and the American was waged at a distance that was often not more than 15 feet.

The hill was named O'Brien Hill for 1st Lt. Robert M. O'Brien of Everett, Washington, who died there. A second hill, immediately to the front, was named for 2nd Lt. Louis K. Christian of Pullman, Washington, who had received a field commission from the ranks on Guadalcanal and was killed at the beginning of the seven-day fight.

The battalion had shot its way from the line of departure to O'Brien Hill, and on the afternoon of the second day, C Company attacked due west toward Christian Hill, followed by B company. When they reached the foot of the slope and could go no further, they pulled back to allow the artillery and mortars to give the place a thorough working over.

Then, with B Company in advance, they tried again the next day. The battalion attack was again stopped cold. Insult was added to injury when the infantry found itself being shot at with our own weapons, our grenades, our BARs. Some of the Japs even wore our jungle "zoot suits." In some previous fight their take had been good, and they made the most of it.

With night coming on and the enemy still intact, the battalion pulled back to O'Brien Hill, and set up a perimeter defense of outposts pushed out ahead of a circular main line of resistance. They were there on the fourth day, throwing fire across the hill in front and directing fire at a strong point to their left, under assault by another unit.

On the fifth day occurred a series of events that were the beginning of a battle with all the trimmings.

The unit on the battalion's right had pushed ahead, had been badly hit and had been ordered back to reorganize . At chow time the unit, weary and somewhat bewildered, started back through the 1st Battalion lines. Behind it came the Jap, engaging its rear elements. In the jungle there was a confusion of friend and enemy, and for a while nobody knew exactly what was going on, least of all the Jap.

But he soon learned. He had been following a unit in withdrawal, and he ran flush into another unit of unknown strength, firmly emplaced on O'Brien Hill. The withdrawing unit moved through, it's rear elements disengaging the enemy and leaving him to the men of the 1st who waited for the counterattack to reach them.

At 1430 the Jap hit and the fight was on. Twenty-six hours later it was over. An estimated enemy body of two reinforced companies, which just about matched the battalion’s strength, had been so completely wrecked that in the days to follow there was no evidence of it again.

The first contact, when the advancing enemy ran head-on into light machine guns, rocked him back on his heels. For two hours, in the light of the afternoon, the attack came in squad groups as the Jap sought to probe the defensive lines, to see what this was he had smacked into. He stabbed inquisitively here and there, testing the front, testing the flanks, with six men, then a dozen, rushing forward. He got nowhere. When darkness came the battalion heard him digging in.

On the battalion's right flank was a saddle that led from O'Brien Hill to another rise to the right front. To the immediate front, stretching from right front to left, was the gully that was dense with jungle. The forward slope of O'Brien Hill was fairly open. The outposts were at the edge of the jungle and the main line of resistance not more than 15 or 20 yards behind them, with the CP a little higher and to the rear.

That night the Jap, more sure of himself, came in. He came across the saddle and up from the gully. It was obvious that he was trying his old trick of attempting demoralization because he yelled like a Comanche when he rushed, and when he was preparing to rush he yelled threats: "American soldier will die tonight. Prepare to die, Yank-eee!"

He worked by familiar formula, throwing in his little grenades which exploded with much noise and little effect, tossing in his knee-mortar shells, pouring in his fast-firing, brittle-sounding automatic fire. His yelling, which was mostly inarticulate, was constant, and the men of the battalion yelled back insult for insult.

"Americans cowards!" yelled the Nips.

Tojo eats —!" yelled the infantry.

Three times during the night the Jap attacked in what would amount to platoon strength, and each time the attack was cut to pieces. That night the .30-caliber light machine guns did the work of the defensive design heavies. In the morning the air-cooled lights looked as if they'd been in a fire, with their barrels burnt orange and flaking. But they kept on firing.

In the jungle the first light of dawn always brings heavy fire, and this time it was heavy. But the Jap tried no further attack. He was saving himself for something else, perhaps waiting for a better time.

At 0800 the battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Joe Katsarsky of Battle Creek, Mich., sent out a combat patrol to the extreme right flank. They cracked a body of Japs who were attempting to cut the line of supply and then work into the flank and rear.

By pulling out the officers and men for the patrol, the battalion weakened the perimeter, but it had to be done. The Jap had machine-gun fire on the supply trail, cutting it off, and men died as they started back with casualties or came forward with supplies. Drivers were shot at the wheels of their jeeps. Before it was over four jeeps blocked the trail.

The patrol went out, fought sharply and within two hours was back again, just in time. The Jap apparently was aware of the move, and even before everyone was back in position the grand assault got under way. Nothing could be more typical of the vaunted Japanese do-or-die technique than the 45 minutes in which they stormed the battalion's defense.

Everything in front of the battalion came forward, screaming. Jap bullets raked the hillside in a grazing fire that ranged from 6 inches above the ground to 3 feet. Shelter halves that had been stretched above foxholes were cut to ribbons and the sticks that held them up were splintered. The men tore them down to avoid getting entangled in the canvas.

The Japs used tracers and explosive bullets that trailed a brief string of fire and cracked sharply when they hit twigs. The Jap soldiers came forward in bunches, leaping and running like maniacs and yelling at the tops of their voices. Their bayonets were fixed and they might have tried to use them, but they never got that close. Two of them tumbled into outpost foxholes, dead before they hit the emplacements themselves.

The outposts withdrew to the main line of resistance as the battalion tightened against the strain. The aid station, which had been on the forward slope, moved to the other side of the hill because the fire was so thick that the medics could not get off the ground to attend the wounded. During the melee, when there was no work for them, the message-center people kept low and played Battleship. Finally, their shelter shot to ribbons, they moved.

The CP and the MLR stayed put. Men were hit. Once a man was gutshot and two medics picked him up and walked him, one on either side, through the fire to safety. Another man was shot and as he raised up he said, "I'm hit” as he fell forward, he said, "I'm dead." He was.

Capt. Ralph Phelps of Spokane, Wash., the battalion exec, was in a foxhole conference with the CO of A Company. As they talked, a stream of machine-gun bullets went between their bodies, less than 6 inches apart. They scooted down further, looked at each other, and went on talking. In the v of a tree was a Jap with a BAR which he let fly at intervals as he ducked up and down. They called him "Jack-in-the-box." A grenade got him.

Because there were no men to be spared for ammo carriers, the noncoms divided their time between controlling their men and supplying them, which in either case meant exposure to murderous fire. A corporal was killed as he crept forward with ammunition for his men. A buck sergeant, Hubert Santo of Medford, Oreg., held his part of the line together by galloping over the hillside in the dual role of ammo carrier and platoon leader. His outfit had no lieutenant.
In the heat of the fight, men were too busy to think of anything but the business at hand. A Lieutenant, wounded on the patrol action when a bullet hit his helmet and cut through the back of his neck, found time to have it dressed 2 hours later. Men said strange things, like the soldier whose shelter had been riddled with bullets. A flare dropped on the already-demolished canvas and he yipped in anguish, “There goes my tent!”

The fight centered on the right flank. In some positions there were mortar men armed only with pistols, put there to fill in while the patrol was gone.

On the right-flank center was a light machine gun with both gunners gone, one sick and the other momentarily absent at the start of the attack. Manning the gun was the ammunition carrier, a sandy-haired, drawling buck private named James Newbrough of Monument, Colo.

When the attack started Newbrough was on the gun. A Jap in front of him yelled, "Americans cowards!"

“The hell you say," Newbrough snorted.

"Come on out and fight," yelled the Jap, tossing a rock.

"Come on in and get me," said Newbrough.

The Jap and his comrades thought that over, threw a few more rocks and then screamed, "Here we come!"

Three of them sprang out with .25-caliber light machine guns, which they fired as they rushed. Two of them died in their tracks. The third ran.

As the fight progressed Newbrough, alone on the gun, kept it going constantly. Nobody, not even he, knows how many belts of ammunition he expended. As the gun continued to fire, it attracted more and more attention until it seemed that Newbrough was the only target. Bullets splattered into everything, cutting down the shelter half on top of him and clearing the underbrush from around him.

Newbrough unfastened the traversing mechanism and, crouching low, sighted along the under side of the barrel so that no part of him was above the level of the gun itself. With his hand over his head he hung onto the trigger and raked the ground before him.

His gun corporal, Dick Barrett of Rosburg, Wash., managed to get through to him with ammunition when the supply was almost exhausted, and Pfc. Hollis S. Johnson of McKenzie, Ala., came up to cover him with a BAR. Newbrough, a shy kid with a country brogue and the faintest show of a beard, probably saved the battalion that day.

The attack, once stopped, was not repeated. The battalion smashed it, but not until other units approached from two sides did the Jap see proof that his case was hopeless and withdraw in the late afternoon. With its ordeal over, the battalion took Christian Hill against little opposition and advanced 800 yards through the jungle before darkness halted it.

On the ninth day A Company was in front of the battalion advance, which skirted northward of Biblio Hill overlooking Munda airfield, moving across country that itself was hilly though less densely jungled as it ran westward to the sea.

The battalion chose a bivouac area for the night and A pushed out in advance, taking up positions and setting up an OP on the forward slope of a hill in front of the bivouac. On the left, on Biblio itself, another unit was engaged with the enemy.

From the company OP on the morning of the tenth day the company commander, Capt. Donald Downen of Pullman, Wash., saw an amazing sight--probably one of the few such scenes any American has witnessed in the war in the Pacific.

Immediately before him in a slight draw less than 100 yards away were Jap shacks, their tin roofs bright and a searchlight position in the midst of them. He saw Japs moving leisurely across the terrain, going in and out of the hub, puttering around as if there were no war within a thousand miles. Aware that his company's presence was completely undetected, he watched the Japs and studied the terrain ahead.

Then he reported back to Battalion, which moved up to direct an artillery concentration that shortly went plowing into the peaceful scene. When the guns had done their work, A Company threaded its way down across the draw and up the gentle rise immediately ahead.

Capt. Downen set up his CP in a 1,000-pound bomb crater. Almost abreast of it and perhaps 50 yards away, Cpl. Garrit Hulstein of Hospers, Iowa, established an OP in a similar crater. Although there was a little fire from the front, the terrain ahead looked comparatively harmless.

Then a heavy-caliber gun blazed, and Hulstein reported what he took to be a 77-mm mountain gun almost directly ahead and 50 yards away. As the barrel moved slightly, the corporal shoved the man beside him downward just as the gun blasted again. This time a foot and a half of the rim of the bomb crater was shot away, leaving men dazed and one man buried beneath clay dirt and coral. He was pulled out, unhurt.

Of the gun the men could see only the mouth of the barrel and two upright objects on either side, which they thought were wheels.
Battalion was contacted, not without trouble, because the gun was firing into the CP. A mortar treatment was started on the way. Hulstein went back to bring up the weapons company commander and while the mortars tossed in 81-mm shells, A Company began to move, not yet aware of what it was up against. It was entering one of the most unusual fights of two campaigns.

One platoon moved to the left and the other moved to the right to flank the piece. A machine gun in the OP crater covered their advance, peppering the top of the emplacement. As they moved, six Japs started across in front of them heading toward the gun. The left platoon, under Lt. Bob Brown of Bellingham, Wash., blazed away. Sgt. Elmer McGlynn of Seattle grabbed a BAR and turned it loose on automatic: the Japs never got where they were going. The platoons moved on, waiting for the mortar barrage to lift.

Company Headquarters, composed of the captain, his runner, the first sergeant and the mail orderly, went forward to coordinate the flanking attack. They were looking straight into the bore of the gun and knew only that, whatever it was, it was beautifully camouflaged.

When they were close enough the mortars quit, and Downen and his three men realized that they were nearer than either of the two platoons. There was no time to waste so they rushed the gun. Not until they were upon it did they realize that, instead of a field piece, it was a dual-purpose antiaircraft gun—and not one but two and perhaps more.

The captain got one Jap outside the emplacement. His mail orderly, T-5 David Lloyd George of Kalispell, Mont., got another. Then Pfc. Wiley Howington of Asheville, N. C, the company runner, went into action.

He leaped into the gun emplacement and found the Jap gun crew still huddled in the dugout, which was tunneled into the side of the emplacement itself. The mortars had driven them inside, and they never had time to get out. Howie fired a clip of M1 slugs into them, then leaped across to the other side of the entrance, fumbling first for another clip and then for a grenade.
George followed him in and opened up with a tommy gun.

"By Gawd," drawled Howie with an accent that was straight from the North Carolina hills, "I tell you there wuz some scramblin' down in there."
Five Japs were dead and a sixth was at the far entrance, trying desperately to get out. 1st Sgt. Cummins, who is built like a pint-sized quarterback, got him by degrees.

"I could see just about six inches of his rump sticking out and I bored him” Cummins said. "He'd keep sliding back—never could get that part of himself out of the way and every time he'd slide back I'd bore him again. Finally he slid back too far."

Now one gun was out. But there was another, some 35 yards away. In the first gun pit the four men could see the 75-mm rifle turn toward them, the elongated barrel moving fast. Cummins had one of the two grenades in the group and he heaved it--a perfect throw into the emplacement. The barrel stopped.
He grabbed Howington's grenade, which Howie hadn't been able to unhook when he wanted it, and it burst at the mouth of the dugout. Next day when the mop-up came, there was nothing left there to bother them.

When the excitement momentarily died, Capt. Downen saw men of his right platoon motioning to him frantically, pointing somewhere beyond the second gun at a place almost directly in front of them. At that instant the third gun roared, firing directly into the face of the platoon but just over their heads.
Downen yelled at them to get out, but the muzzle blast of the piece, not more than 20 yards away, had deafened them. Finally he waved them back, and they crawled to the rear, dazed by the terrific shock of the explosion. A Company with two guns down and a third discovered, withdrew to the bomb craters and called for mortar fire. That's when Cummins saw the Japs flying through the air.
"But the prettiest thing was when the mortars hit the ammunition," he added. "It looked like a million tracers going off at the same time."

No. 3 gun was gone. By that time the fourth and last was discovered and a direct hit by the 81s put it out of action. Actually there were five of the dual-purpose pieces, which the outfit thinks was a Jap Marine A A installation, but the fifth gun was never fired. The six Japs who started across in front of the left platoon were the crew, caught out of position.

On the eleventh day the battalion was on the move again, cleaning out the bivouac area behind the guns and capturing two other AA positions without opposition. They moved through a hospital area, rich in booty which they had no time to collect.

As they passed through, there was scattered firing. In a bombproof dugout there were several Japs and one of them held up his hands crying, "Me surrender! Me surrender!"

Defense of the beach was set up facing the sea and when the battalion hit them, the Japs tried to turn around and fight with their backs to the water. There were not many of them but they were trapped and desperate. The beach wire, meant to stop a seaborne invasion, was cut through from behind.
The battalion hit the beach defense at 1530 on the eleventh day. They received fire from pillboxes and pulled back to let the mortars in. But as they did, the Japs moved in toward them, letting go with a Lewis gun and machine guns and rifles in grazing fire 2 feet off the ground.

The terrain was of bomb-chewed coral, underbrush and water holes. A Company found itself in a position where practically the whole outfit was pinned down without a field of fire, only a few feet from the sea.

Behind a log was Pfc. Charles Boughner of Seattle with an M1. He alone was able to get in effective shots and soon it was apparent to everyone that Boughner in his position could do more than a platoon, or even the company.
He fired the M1 until there were no more clips. Someone tossed him a tommy gun and he emptied it. Another M1 was passed to him. S/Sgt. Bob Isaman of Chewelah, Wash., was at his feet and loaded clips as fast as Boughner could fire them. In the heat of the fight Isaman noticed what Boughner did not—that Jap bullets were smashing faster and closer to the log. He made the rifleman get underneath it instead of over it. The firing position was just as good; he could still see the enemy.

A BAR was passed to him. Boughner emptied clip after clip and the men around him threw every available cartridge toward his position. Isaman loaded them and passed them on. A belt of machine-gun bullets was tossed over, and they were reloaded and expended. Finally the Jap positions were quiet.
"That," said Sgt. Cummins, "was one time when a man was in attack supported by a company."

It was too dark to do more. That night the infantrymen heard the splash of wading feet and they fired when they caught sight of dark shapes against the water. Some of the Japs may have made it to a tiny island near by, but whether they did or not, their fight for New Georgia was over.

Next morning the battalion stood on the beach and looked out to sea.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bloody Basin

Bloody Basin: An Italian No-Man's-Land of Black Mist and Enemy Patrols
By Sgt. BURGESS SCOTT YANK Staff Correspondent
At the Front in Italy—Because so many men from both sides have died; here, Yanks of one Fifth Army unit call this sector "Bloody Basin."
The Basin is a shallow depression in a rocky, mountainous setting-a bowl some 200 yards across, with a few battered clumps of mountain scrub and more shell holes than a man can count.
The bottom and sides of the bowl have been pummeled, pounded and powdered by the 105s, 88s, mortars and howitzers until Bloody Basin looks more like a Hollywood battlefield set than like part of the Fifth Army front lines.
At dawn and at dusk, thin layers of mist pour into the Basin and lie in sheets over its scrub and blackened shell holes, making it seem more than ever a no-man's-land.
With nightfall, Yank patrols go out into the Basin to scout out every clump and recon every hole that might contain a Jerry sniper. As they step into the layers of mist, you see only helmets and feet, and then nothing. With darkness enemy patrols venture out, too, and sometimes in the misty blackness the opposing forces come close to each other.
Sometimes they're even within talking distance, and the men tell of weird conversations that fol­low—snatches of broken German and bits of throaty English exchanged there in the dark.
By day it's almost all foxhole warfare—dug-in Yanks and Jerries cracking at anything that moves opposite them. S/Sgt. James Rutledge of Rising Star, Tex., who has spent many weary days with his rifle in a hole overlooking the Basin, says: "You lie in your hole from sunup to sundown, and the only thing that breaks the monotony is taking potshots at Jerries."
Some unseen artillerymen recently cheated Rut­ledge out of a German.  He had a clear patch of ground across the Basin in his sights, and several times that day Jerries had carelessly wandered across the clearing. Each time he had squeezed his trigger and chalked up another score. "I had the next Jerry lined up in my sights," said Rut­ledge, "when a 105 made a direct hit on him and destroyed the evidence.”
One of the coolest operators in the Basin is S/Sgt Jack McMillion of Harrisburg, Colo. McMillion was making a report on the field tele­phone to his lieutenant when he observed three Germans advancing on him up the hill. With one hand he pulled the trigger of the rifle that lay across his knees, while the other hand still held the phone. The lieutenant heard the crack of McMillion's rifle over the phone. That crack dropped one of the Nazis and sent the other two running. Then McMillion completed his report to the officer.
A replacement in the Basin sector, Pvt. Gerald Gralinski of Milwaukee, Wis., got a close shave as an initiation. Gralinski hadn't had time to get into a regular foxhole. He'd scooped the dirt out in a hurry, and his hole was fairly shallow. He'd placed his pack across the front of the hole, laid his rifle across it and was doing a good job when a German machine gunner, got him in his sights.
The first burst tore Gralinski's rifle from his hands, crumpling it beyond use. Gralinski yelled to a sergeant in a nearby hole: "Hey, can you get me another rifle?" The sergeant's reply was somewhat profane.
Another replacement fared a little better. Pvt. Martin Krauss of Millville, N. J., a German-born Yank, found that his knowledge of German came in handy on several recon missions.  Once Krauss was sent with a couple of other replacements to wipe out a machine-gun nest.  They crept within a few yards of the gun, and then, as the other two covered him with grenades, Krauss commanded the Jerries to surrender, speaking their own language.  They came out with their hands up, and the trio of Yanks took them back to headquarters.
Sgt. Dan T. Barfoot of Oklahoma did the same thing, but he did it in English.  While on patrol Barfoot saw a machine-gun barrel poking through some brush and saw a Jerry helmet behind it.  Barfoot pushed his tommy gun into the brush and yelled: “Come outta there.”  “I’m coming,” answered a voice in good English, and out walked two Germans.
On another mission Barfoot led a patrol of 12 men through the Basin.  After they’d walked a good distance, he noticed that he had 13 men with him.  At the end of the column was a punch-drunk German soldier, dizzy from the constant shelling, who had fallen in and was marching with the Yank patrol.  Without saying anything, Barfoot continued the march back to headquarters.
YANK 25 Feb 1944 Down Under Edition


Friday, February 15, 2013

The Best of YANK (excerpt)

Yank magazine was created by enlisted men for the targeted reading audience of fellow enlisted men. Much of its content was written in military-ese and has a humor and style directed at those experiences that the enlisted man might appreciate. Therefore it probably wasn't the best publication for the general public to read.

In late 1944 the Yank editorial staff thought it had enough material that it might be nice to create a book for the general public's reading pleasure. They created "The Best of Yank" which was published in 1945 while the war was still raging.

The following is just an excerpt from the introduction of that book which shows just some of the involvement and effort and danger that the Yank correspondents experienced during World War II.

Yank editorial staff, therefore, consist entirely of enlisted men. Many of them have turned down the opportunity to get a commission because it meant leaving Yank. Some of them in civilian life were experienced writers and editors on big metropolitan dailies and slick paper magazines; Others were mere copy boys or reporters from small-town newspapers in town's like Paducah, Kentucky, and Long Beach, California. They live under military discipline and work for army pay (and not high pay, at that; most of them are corporals and buck sergeants and staff sergeants). Yank's main editorial office is in New York, where it publishes a U. S. edition for the camps in this country and prepares rotogravure, offset and letterpress pages for its overseas editions, printed weekly in London, Sydney, Honolulu, Rome, Paris, Cairo, Tehran, Calcutta, Puerto Rico and Panama. The Paris edition of YANK, incidentally, made its first appearance early in September, 1944, rolling off a rotogravure press that only a few weeks before had been printing the Paris edition of Wehrmacht, the German Army’s equivalent of YANK. The New York office also puts out weekly an Alaska edition, shipped from Seattle to Alaska and the Aleutians, and a general overseas edition for overseas bases not covered by the foreign printing operations. In addition to its regular Раcific edition, the Honolulu bureau of YANK also publishes a South Pacific edition, and a pony-sized Pacific Air Mail edition for troops on the lonely islands of Admiral Nimitz's far-Flung ocean command.

With such a worldwide territory to cover, YANK’S editorial staff naturally sees plenty of overseas duty. The editors, writers and photographers are rotated constantly from desk jobs to combat assignments, from the main office to the overseas bureaus and from one theater of operations to another. For instance, Sgt. Joe McCarthy, YANK’s managing editor, who received a Legion of Merit for helping to establish the Army weekly as a worldwide magazine, is now in France, has reported the war in Italy and was the first American GI to enter Athens when it was liberated.

Then there is Sgt. Merle Miller who after he had established the Pacific edition in Honolulu and landed in the Marshalls as a combat corespondent, returned to the U. S. to work for four months as an editor in the New York office and as a YANK correspondent in Washington. Then he went overseas again to France, where he became editor of YANK’S Paris edition. Sgt. Dave Richardson won the Legion of Merit for his front line coverage of the New Guinea campaign for YANK. Then he went to Burma and completed one of the toughest assignments undertaken by a correspondent in this war—a 500-mile march through the jungles with Merrill’s Marauders that took him behind the Јар lines for three months.

When he returned to civilization, Sgt. Richardson wrote to the office:

"Besides the regular 60-pound horseshoe-type pack which every Marauder carried (containing a blanket, poncho, kukri knife, three to five days rations, entrenching shovel, water wings for swimming rivers and an extra pair of shoes) I lugged two cameras, film, notebooks, maps, pencils and my carbine. And I brought along a typewriter. But the only chance I had to use it was during a two-day rest period after our first battle. I spent the first day repairing the damage that had been done to it by the incessant rain and by its being carried on a mule over bumpy ground. The second day I managed to bat out some picture captions. The rest of the time my stories had to languish in my notebooks because we usually walked from dawn to dusk, spending the rest of our time before dark cooking supper (no fires were allowed after dark in this Јар territory) and after dark sleeping in our ponchos and blankets on the ground, often in pools of water from the heavy rains.”

Miller and Richardson are not the only YANK men who have seen more than one side of the global war. Sgt. George Aarons and Sgt. Burgess Scott, after a tour of duty in Britain in 1942, went all the way from El Alamein to Tunis with the British Eighth Army. A few months later they established what they considered a record for long-distance jeep travel, starting from Cairo, driving to Aleppo in Syria to make a memorable picture story of the execution of two Nazi spies, and then turning around and going all the way across Africa to Algiers. There they managed to load their jeep on a transport plane and take it to Italy, where it асcompanied them on several trips to the Cassino front, landed with them at Anzio and chugged into Rome with the advance tanks of the 1st Armored Division. Scott has returned to the States for a tour of duty in YANKS main editorial office, but Aarons and the jeep are somewhere in France. Aarons says he won't be satisfied until he drives the jeep in triumph up to the front door of YANK'S Berlin bureau.

Then there is Sgt. Walter Peters, a veteran of many air missions over Europe (he was the only American correspondent on the murderous Schweinfurt raid), later cited for bravery under fire with the Infantry at St. Lo and now on his way to China to write about our Chinese allies and the men who are flying the B-29s. And Sgt. Georg Meyers, decorated for his conduct in the invasion of Attu. And Sgt. Walter Bernstein, who probably beats every YANK correspondent when it comes to globe trotting. Bernstein left the U. S. in the early spring of 1943, traveled by ship across the South Pacific to Australia and then across the Indian Ocean to the Persian Gulf. He spent some time in Iran and then moved to Cairo and to Algiers, just in time for the invasion of Sicily, where he saw action with the 45th and 3d divisions. When Sicily fell, he returned to Cairo and traveled in Palestine and Syria. He c then went to the Italian front when it was near Naples and left it to return to Cairo again to cover the conference between Churchill, Roosevelt and Chiang Kai-shek. In the spring of 1944, Bernstein managed to make arrangements with Yugoslav Partisan representatives in the Middle East and Italy for a personal interview with Marshal Tito, who had not yet been visited by a correspondent from an English-speaking country. The partisans took Bernstein from Italy to an island in the Adriatic andthen landed him on the Yugoslavian mainland where he walked for a week across German occupied territory and over the mountains to Tito’s headquarters.

"That walk was a nightmare," Bernstein wrote afterward. "We only had actual trouble once when we had to cross a main road at three in the morning between two German garrisons about a kilometer apart. We sent about ten men to each garrison to start a little disturbance and keep them busy and while they were doing that we double-timed across the road and into the woods on the other side. The bullets were flying around but nobody got hurt except a few Germans or Chetniks. That was the only real trouble we had, although we were near the Germans on several other occasions, but the walk itself was dreadful: over all the mountains in Yugoslavia. We would start in the morning and by three in the afternoon we would be up at the snow line and then we would go down the other side and start up again on the next mountain. We would walk sometimes all night and part of the next day and then sleep for a few hours and start again and I would lose all track of time and think that the dawn was sunset or vice versa. Anyway, I wouldn't want to do it again. I got sick when we finally arrived at headquarters, ran a fever for a few days and my eyes wouldn’t focus, but I stayed in bed a while and ate and slept and got over it."

Then Bernstein got his interview with Tito. A few days later the Anglo-American mission in Yugoslavia discovered that he had entered the country without proper permission and hustled him back to Italy on the next available plane. "It had Pullman seats, no less,” says Bernstein.

Thus far in the war, two YANK men have been killed in action. Sgt. John Bushemi was fatally wounded by Јар mortar fire during the invasion of Eniwetok in the Marshalls. Sgt. Peter Paris, the first enlisted man to cross the threshold of the New York office and report for duty when The Army Weekly was established in May, 1942, met his death on D Day in Normandy when he landed with the first wave of the 1st Division. Others have narrowly escaped with their lives. Sgt. Barret McGurn was hit by mortar fire during the second battle of Воugainville. And during the fighting at Gloucester Bay, Sgt. Dick Hanley, a staff photographer, climbed out of a foxhole 15 yards from the enemy and turned his back on the Japs to make a picture of some Marine machine gunners. "Go ahead," the Marines told him when he deliberated the wisdom of such a risk. "If they get you, we'll get them." Hanley managed to return to cover still in one piece.

Sgt. Joe McCarthy the editor of Yank magazine was once quoted as saying: if our correspondent survives, we have a story. If he doesn't, we have a casualty.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013


The mysterious history of Sherry Britton, whose sultry contours enslaved admirals and enlisted men alike.

KWAJALEIN, MARSHAL ISLANDS - The mysterious case of the kidnapped strip-teaser held the grim attention of the sweat-soaked rock-happy residents of this Pacific atoll for 10 tense weeks. A sensational story, you say. You can bet your last native necklace it was! Because, in the first place, what was a strip-teaser doing on Kwajalein?
Well, it was this way. She was Miss Sherry Britton, a girl who used to take 'em off every night in a place called Leon & Eddie's in New York City. Miss Britton was brought to Kwajalein in a special service capacity, a sort of morale-builder first class. She made her home in the studios of WXLG, an Armed Forces radio station.
Sherry is the kind of girl who fits exactly into the hour-glass hand pattern traced in the air by any wordless wolf who needs to describe his finest mental image. Her face, with its insolent, inviting eyes and bee-stung lower lip, is the only part of her which bears description on this page.
Sherry's job as easy for her. All she had to do was let the members of the military forces look at her. That's all - just look. And that's what they did - with varying results. There were those who came, and saw, and walked away with a dreamy look in their eyes. Some broke out in a cold sweat despite the 120 degrees of temperature. Some had to be led away. Or carried.
The far-flung fame of Sherry Britton reached even to the ears of admirals and generals in the Pacific Ocean areas. It was only natural then to expect the big brass to make inspection tours of this little rock. The Air Transport Command and the Naval Air Transport Service later said they never had seen so many star-studded planes. For a while they considered the necessity of several new pages in the book of military protocol. What else could determine whose plane would land first - that of a lieutenant general in the Army or that of a vice admiral in the Navy?
All of those brains-behind-the-battles descended in droves on the WXLG studios where Sherry was living. For a few days the broadcasting boys who were the guardians of Sherry were fearful that the sight of scrambled eggs and glittering stars would sway her, just as many another lass has succumbed to metal insignia in preference to arm stripes. But Sherry remained true and appeared to be more alluring than ever to the enlisted men.
(This case of a girl turning to enlisted men instead of officers has been written carefully for preservation in War Department archives, and the Medical Corps already has prepared a physio-neuro report on the phenomenon, a report which strives to show that a beautiful body often harbors a twisted mentality.)
And then it happened. Sherry Britton was kidnapped! This curvesome young creature, who had given her all for the morale of the garrison forces, was snatched from the WXLG studios one drizzly night. It was past the regular viewing hours for Sherry, but the kidnappers gained entrance by asking to come in out of the rain. One of the boys at the studio later admitted that he should have suspected a plot from the first moment. Because very few of these coral-crazy guys, after spending from 10 to 20 months on Kwajalein, know enough to come in out of the rain. But that's the way they got in. Shortly thereafter the rain stopped, the boys left, and so did Sherry Britton!
Well, those platter-spinners at WXLG almost went nuts. On top of the fact that all of them were crazy about Sherry themselves was the added realization that they were responsible for the safety of this number one morale-uplifter. In allowing Sherry Britton to be kidnapped they had violated the trust of thousands of men.
For eighteen hours the horrible crime was kept secret. But then, after some replacements from the States had been escorted to the studios for their inaugural three-second glimpse of Sherry and had been denied entrance, the thing couldn't be held back any longer.
The news broke on the air the next afternoon and immediately threw the entire Marshall and Gilbert Island area into an uproar. It hit everybody right between the eyes with a terrific shock.
Men reacted in strange ways. Three big Seabees, who had all day been driving fence posts into the rock with sledge-hammers, wept openly and unashamedly in the mess hall. A clerk in the Army personnel office jumped through a window and began to pull up the fence posts with his bare hands. Pilots climbed into their planes and gunned them into the wild blue yonder in an effort to forget the earthly catastrophe.
The law enforcement agencies of Kwajalein were called into the case instantly. Clues were scarce, however. No ransom note was received and so it was deduced that the motive for the kidnapping of the strip-teaser was not one of financial gain.
It was thought for a few hours that Sherry would be smart enough to leave a trail of bits of clothing so that he abductors could be followed. Being accustomed to taking off her clothes, she would have no inhibitions on that score. But then it was remembered that Sherry had been very lightly clad. As a matter of fact, unclad would be a better word.
A few days later a clue developed. A Navy man drew an issue of greens and asked for a shirt with a size thirty-six chest and a size twenty-four waist. The storekeeper was alert, however, and promptly turned in an alarm because he suspected that the specification for a size thirty-six chest was a direct clue to the whereabouts of Sherry Britton. When questioned, though, this Navy man stated that he was going back to the States and wanted to look sharp on board ship in a suit of tailor-made greens. He denied all knowledge of Sherry Britton, especially as to he measurements.
All those false clues served only to increase the feeling of hopelessness which crept over the island in those dark days. It is difficult to describe the maddening surge of nausea which occurred when WXLG reported every hour, on the hour, that "there is no news at this moment in the mysterious case of the kidnapped strip-teaser."
Sure, the war was over. It had ended about three days after Sherry disappeared. Nobody seemed to know the exact date. All right, so the war was over. So what? So there were no nude blondes to cavort in a lily pond during the V-J Day celebration, no girls to kiss, no bartenders to set 'em up. The morale of the men was low.
It was that way for weeks. Even the glorious news that 200 men would be sent home for discharges after 600 replacements had arrived failed to stir the gloom.
And then, as suddenly as it had happened, the thing was all over. Sherry Britton was found. Oh, it was nothing sensational. As a matter of fact, it was very simple. And when all the facts were known, the men took it bravely and went on with their daily occupation duties, painting, building new barracks, remodeling the island open-air theaters, and so forth.
The tip-off came from a Medic who was leaving and who had seen Sherry. He left an anonymous note with the Red Cross.
What happened was this: The deed was done by one of those men who had been placed under observation in the hospital because he had gazed too long and too well at Sherry Britton, one of those Section 8's. Sherry had become an obsession with him. He had sneaked from the hospital on that fatal, rainy night and had immediately gone to the radio station for another glimpse of his heroine. When he saw his chance, he spirited her out of the place and took her back to the hospital disguised in his hospital robe. The next day he was taken to another island, an island which actually had trees, and of course he took Sherry with him in the group.
A high-ranking officer was flown to this island to bring Sherry back. But he didn't return with her. It seems that this rock-happy lad was so enamored of Sherry Britton that to deprive him of his great love would have meant his complete physical collapse, as well as mental. Death would have followed.
An official bulletin explaining this was published, broadcast and read at Kwajalein.
The bulletin said, at the end:
"Never in the history of any military installation has a pin-up picture meant so much to so many. The picture of Sherry Britton was part of the life of this island. Its value as a morale builder cannot be measured by any standards. It is a tribute to you men that you withstood the awfulness of the past weeks after being deprived of our beloved picture. Let us take comfort in the knowledge that our picture has saved the life of the deluded soul who now has it in his possession. And now that you know all the facts - carry on!"
by Cpl. PAUL FREYE - December 7, 1945 edition.