September 26, 1944

Tuesday

Two missions making 26.1 That much closer to you, baby. It seems like it will never pass fast enough, but each day brings homecoming closer.

Have been terribly busy the past six days. Had a new ship assigned to me. A B-25J, brand new, No. 126.2 Three days of hard work on those doggoned guns. It may pay off someday, however. One can never tell when ones life may depend on a good clean gun.

Have also worked hard on our living quarters, burning brush, putting in floors, tables and chairs. As a result of all of this activity haven’t had much of a chance to write letters home.

Our only lights are candles. Electric ones are installed but not turned on as yet. Each evening they come on and go off a thousand times, until the man in charge of the generator says “Oh, nuts” and leaves the lighting problem to candles and ropes in a Coke bottle full of diesel oil. Ah yes, “This is the Army Mr. Jones”.3 Life goes on as usual.

Wrote to Bonnie last night. Must write again tomorrow. Russell, my radio operator, broke his arm yesterday. Am going over to the hospital tonight and take a couple of dictated letters for him. He can’t write for several weeks. Is being evacuated to a rear area and may get home as his arm is a china bowl (easily broken).

The lights just came on again. Will wonders never cease.

Our mission today was to Langoan air strip in the Celebes. Supposed to be a tough target. Sighted five ruined planes on the ground. They were silver so imagine we’re getting into their reserve of new aircraft. The 390th teamed with us. 60 per cent of our bombs in the target area.4 Escorted by P-38s, eleven of them, who flew a beautiful cover for us.

The Celebes are very pretty from the air. Lots of open country with many clearings. The strip we bombed was next to a huge lake. There are many populated areas, a relief after flying over sea and jungle for hour after hour with never seeing human habitation. It’s a rough life not seeing the lights of Denver or any other American city.

Out lots of time today, 5 1/2 hours to be exact. Shaking on a rudder. Two pieces of metal came loose and rattled like the devil all through the trip. Home safe and sound though.

Drank two shots on return and got drunk. Truth, so help me. This country is hard on a person when it comes to drinking. Now it’s seven o’clock and time to takeoff for the hospital and S/Sgt Russell’s correspondence.

Notes & Commentary 1

Wayne wrote “two missions making 26”, but did not disclose the dates of the missions. One mission, which actually occurred on September 25th rather than on the 26th, has been identified; however the other mission could have been any of the 100th Bombardment Squadron missions reported below. The halcyon days of Hollandia are over.

September 22:
In accordance with 13th Air Task Force Field Order #30, the 42nd Bombardment Group launched 27 B-25s from three squadrons to bomb and strafe Haroekoe Airdrome and dispersal area on 22 September 1944. Between 1020 and 1047L, 26 of the 27 B-25s launched were over the target at minimum altitude. One plane turned back because of engine trouble.

The squadrons reported the following results:

75th squadron: A-two-story frame building 2,000 feet east of the east end of the runway blew up. Four fires were observed, two on the north side of the runway and two on the south side at the easterly end. They were apparently small buildings on fire. The following points were thoroughly strafed: machine gun positions along north side of the strip at midway point and a pile of boxes approximately 200′ north of the runway and 2,000′ west of the east end. Shortly before reaching target one aircraft thoroughly strafed a 100 to 150′ wooden ship offshore of a small village located on the east shore of Haroekoe Strait, about 3 miles west of the airdrome. The control tower midway of the runway on the south side was thoroughly strafed and the occupants were seen to jump or fall out.

100th and 390th squadrons: Bombs were observed hitting a supply area 2,000′ south of the center portion of the runway and a cluster of houses in an area north of the center of the airfield; a plane in the southwest revetment area which appeared unserviceable; a direct hit on a gun position 500′ north of the center of the runway; a hit on a dock 2,500′ east of the east end of the runway from which a column of black smoke ascended 2,000′.

Each squadron went across the target area in line abreast of each other and picked targets of opportunity.

Antiaircraft fire: tracer fire was received from two positions at the west end of the runway and two positions on the north side of the runway 1,500′ from the east end. Two positions immediately south of the east end of the runway. Also from one medium position north of east end of runway. The antiaircraft fire was fairly accurate as two aircraft were hit causing minor damage. Small arms fire was received from the village almost to the west of the airdrome on the coastline. The bombardier of one plane received superficial wounds.

Photographs of the attack were taken but coverage was incomplete. The photos were of little value.

During the attack, 66 100lb general purpose bombs and 46 250lb general-purpose bombs were dropped on the target. Four 250lb bombs were jettisoned. In strafing the target, 35,900 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition was expended.

Consolidated Mission Report #42-529, 22 September 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), Office of the Intelligence Officer, 22 September 1944, microfilm B0131, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 1986-1987.

September 23:
On September 23, 1944, six B-25s from the 100th Bombardment Squadron were dispatched to bomb and strafe two submarine chasers and barges reported to be operating in Dampier Strait. No attack was made; however, the mission crews observed two PTs operating in the Sarong area and a pair off the east tip of Waigeo Island. The mission report does not specify if the PTs were allied or enemy. They also observed native house boats with thatched roofs in a bay on the west coast of Waigeo Island. Something strongly resembling yellow marker dye was observed at 1650L in the water off the north shore of Misool.

Consolidated Mission Report #42-530, 23 September 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), Office of the Intelligence Officer, 23 September 1944, microfilm B0131, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frame 1985

September 24:
The 100th Bombardment Squadron launched six B-25Js in the early hours of September 24, 1944 to attack shipping in Amoerang Bay. They were to attack from a minimum altitude as soon as possible after daylight. Enroute, they encountered a solid weather front over the Halmaheras and were forced to turn back to home.

Consolidated Mission Report #42-531, 24 September 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), Office of the Intelligence Officer, 24 September 1944, microfilm B0131, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frame 1984

Also on September 24, 1944, 11 B-25s (3 from the 100th Bombardment Squadron and 8 B-25s from the 390th attacked anti-aircraft positions at the Old Namlea Airdrome. The B-25s were over the target at 8,500 to 11,400′ at 1246L. They dropped 44 500lb general purpose bombs with poor results being obtained. Moderate medium caliber but accurate anti-aircraft fire was received during the bomb run. One ship returning to take photographs received medium and heavy, intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire.

The mission crews noted three twin-engine aircraft at the airdrome. They also noted a white tower and red roofed building, possibly a radar or radio station, on a small island 300 yards west of Manipa Island.

Consolidated Mission Report #42-534, 24 September 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), Office of the Intelligence Officer, 24 September 1944, microfilm B0131, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frame 1981.

2 North American B-25J-10-NC serial number 43-28126.

3 This Is the Army, a musical comedy, was released in Technicolor in 1943 by Warner Bros. Among others, it starred Frances Langford, Ronald Reagan, and Alan Hale, father of Alan Hale, Jr. who would later star in the television series Gilligan’s Island. This Is the Army is reported to have been the highest grossing film of 1943. This Is the Army. IMDb. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036430/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt : accessed 24 September 2014).

4 The entry in Wayne’s journal, “the mission today was to Langoan air strip”, suggests that the mission occurred on September 26, it actually occurred on September 25. According to the 42nd Bombardment Group and 100th Bombardment Squadron reports, the 100th Bombardment Squadron flew no missions on September 26.

The Langoan runway was bombed by 16 aircraft (9 B-25s from the 100th Bombardment Squadron and 9 B-25s from the 390th) on September 25, 1944. The aircraft were over the target at 1103L in three-plane elements javelined down between 10,600 to 11,600′. The bomb results were judged good with 62 500lb general purpose bombs being dropped. In accurate, medium caliber anti-aircraft fire was encountered. The attacking aircraft noted numerous planes, previously plotted, present in hardstand and revetment areas.

Consolidated Mission Report #42-537, 25 September 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), Office of the Intelligence Officer, 25 September 1944, microfilm B0131, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frame 1978.

The occupation of Hollandia and the subsequent establishment of airbases in western New Guinea and adjacent islands brought Japanese forces in the Dutch East Indies under increasingly intense attack. These forces had to be destroyed or neutralized as a prelude to the invasion of the Philippines. The following article from the September 28, 1944 issue of The Canberra Times provides a view of Allied air activity.

Long distance hits from Celebes to Philippines

From our war correspondent, John Laughlin

Brisbane, Wednesday. Distant targets in the Philippines, Borneo and Celebes were hit by Catalina’s on Saturday and Sunday night. Off Bastian Island, in the South-west Philippines, one Catalina sank coastal vessel.

Another of our night patrols sent a 3,000-ton freighter-transport to the bottom of Darvel Bay, Eastern Borneo, and a third damaged a 100-ton freighter in the Celebes. Continuing their attrition of Japanese coastal shipping around Halmahera, Lightnings on Monday night sank three small camouflaged freighters and damaged several barges.

Five months after the Allied landing at Hollandia, fugitive Japanese parties, starving and diseased, are still being wiped out in the rugged mountain country around our base. Not only are they being hunted down by American patrols, but natives are taking vengeance for the depredations among their village gardens and have killed large numbers with their bow and arrows and cassowary bone knives. In the last six weeks a further 687 Japanese have been killed by patrols or found dead where the natives left them.

Since the landing on April 22, Japanese losses at Hollandia have totalled 5,147, including 669 prisoners.

Official Communique
Philippines: One of our night patrol planes sank a coastal vessel off Bastian Island. Borneo: One of our night air patrols sank a 3,000-ton freighter transport in Darvel Bay.

Moluccas – Halmahera: Fighter-bombers swept the Hahnaheras, destroying three small camouflaged freighters, and damaging several barges. Patrol planes strafed enemy enemy occupied villages on Kaoe Bay.

Ceram – Boeroe: Our medium and heavy units attacked Amahai, Namlea and Haroekoe aerodromes and coastal installations at Boela, with more than 65 tons of bombs, while fighters on low level sweeps hit small craft and aerodrome facilities, and waterfront installations were damaged and numerous small craft were wrecked.

Celebes: Our escorted medium units bombed Langoan aerodrome at night. Our air patrols started fires in Menado town, damaged a 1,000 ton freighter in the Celebes-Sea and started a large-fuel fire at Kendari.

Timor:- Heavy bombers dropped over 26 tons on Lautem township and anti-aircraft positions, starting fires.

Banda Sea: Attack and pursuit planes struck shipping and shore installations in the Arao. and Kai groups and islands to the northwest, damaging three coastal vessels and several smaller croft. We lost one plane.

Dutch New Guinea – Vogelkop: Our fighter-bombers hit Babo and Kaimana aerodromes with 15 tons of bombs. Air patrols strafed small craft in MacCluer Gulf and dropped bombs on Manokwari.

Hollandia: Our ground patrols to the south report a further 686 enemy dead, raising his total losses in this sector, including prisoners, to 5,047.

British New Guinea: Medium units bombed Wewak.

New Ireland: Our dive-bombers and fighters hit roads and bridges in the south, and naval patrols were active in St. George’s Channel.

New Britain- Gazelle Peninsula: Our lighter patrol, bombed Rabaul and destroyed huts. Two of our planes are missing.

Bougainville: Medium units and dive-bombers with 42 tons, attacked enemy concentrations in the Buka and Kieta areas. Patrol planes and light naval units swept the coast.

“Long Distance Hits from Celebes to Philippines.” The Canberra Times. September 28, 1944, p. 1. (http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2599261 : accessed 25 September 2014).

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