We’ve had ice cream twice these past four days. This is getting better every day in every way but one. Less flak each succeeding day plus better food. Still, I’ve not flown another mission.
Have been definitely assigned to the 75th Squadron, which is one consolation. A swell gang of fellows are in it, including one friend of Columbia days, Harvey Francis. This outfit also contains our original crew which makes for the possibility that we all may be together again. Of course at the present time, Russell and I seem to be spares, which isn’t too good a job. We have plenty of rest, but very little work, which indicates we’ll have a long stay out here.
Two new rumors have reared their ugly heads out here, first that we are to be issued pup tents and bed rolls. Second that our destination will be 11 days by boat and three by aircraft. Looks like we’re going to establish a beachhead for the ground crew. We know we’re going to move, as the radio operator1 was told so in a recent formation. The war is liable to get tougher; however, the tougher the going, the shorter the war.
Had a dream last night which seems inexplicable. It seems, I’d gotten pretty sick, and had passed out for a long, long time. When I finally came to, I was in the midst of my family. My folks and Bonnie were all there. The conversation was exuberant and everyone seemed very happy. The talk finally returned to the war as all conversations inevitably do. My surprise was immense when I learned that the war had ended. I gasped, “When”? Bonnie said, “Why darling, it ended June 6th”. I remember saying, “Well I’ll be damned, Henry2 was right after all.” Then I awakened. Wonder if it will be true? Time will tell! And I’m eagerly awaiting June 6th, though I still cannot believe in termination so soon. We all take it for granted, however, that the war will appear to be at the height of its fury when we sleep one night and then will be over when we awaken.
Tuesday, our Army in collaboration with the Navy, landed three AEF3 on New Guinea, two at Hollandia and one 150 miles south on the coast. Radio reports say we captured the Hollandia air fields which, if so, opens a gateway to the Philippines and the Dutch East Indies, but more important than all, a supply route to China’s beleaguered forces.
Hollandia has long been a land stanchion and supply port for the Japanese New Guinea forces. 60,000 more Japs we can now begin to stamp out with patrols and starvation tactics. Can’t think of anyone I’d rather starve than those heathens. Many are already ruing the day of infamy and they will, as a matter of form, get their just desserts!
Celebrated my first ride on a Navy barge yesterday, when I took one going to Mona, our sister Island. It has a lovely beach and mostly a complement of New Zealanders.4
Heard two legends, besides obtaining several sea shells. The natives are superstitious of Stirling Island and do not prefer to live on it. An old legend has it that this island will someday be swallowed by the sea. The other has to do with a Japanese nurse who is at liberty somewhere on Mona. Patrols have gone out after her several times, and though they once caught her with her pants down, she escaped leaving a brassiere and a pair of panties, among other things, behind her. The story has it that she was kind to the natives, and as reward, they are hiding her. I wonder!
The New Zealanders have a YMCA on Mona where they serve “Tai”. There’s a constant migration from here to there, as they hop a Navy barge. It seems the boys must have their “spot of tai”. If I’ve occasion to go over there again will carry my canteen cup and try their “tai”, though I have little taste for their country’s pet drink.
The boys hit Lakunai yesterday and ran into very little flak. That used to be one of the toughest targets in this area. How time does change things in this area as in all other areas.
Have received no mail recently, but am hoping for the best today. Am all caught up on my mail at the present time.
Well that’s all for these days so adios for now. I do miss you and adore you, my darling wife.
I must write a book on war. Not of its glory, but its terrifying death. An introduction to the book containing a definition of death, followed by the true stories of men who died. The price they paid and will pay, wherever war holds sway. These stories are indelibly on my mind. I do not write them now. Horror is something that a combat man may not dwell upon lest his nerves go. We must seek brightness and joy rather than death and disillusion. I must write. I must place these stories on the minds of men. War is not glory, it is but death.
Notes & Commentary
1 “the radio operator”, Wayne’s friend and fellow aircrew member, Russell.
2 Henry Ford predicted the war would end on June 6, 1944.
3 “US I Corps lands from TF 77 at Hollandia”
In a swift lightning strike that has wrong footed the Japanese in northern New Guinea, a 52,000 strong Allied invasion force under General Douglas MacArthur today, in Operation PERSECUTION seized Hollandia, the administrative capital of Dutch New Guinea. The landings, made from 113 ships escorted by the US Fifth and Seventh Fleets, have cut off the escape route for General Adachi’s main force, estimated to be 50,000 men, now surrounded at Wewak, where Adachi expected the attack. At the same time Australian troops have closed on nearby Madang. The amphibious Allied force swept ashore this morning at Hollandia, Aitape and Tanahmera bay after US Navy aircraft from Pacific fleet carriers had destroyed over 100 Japanese aircraft on the ground at Hollandia and its support airstrips. The 24th and 41st Infantry Divisions of the I Corps landed unopposed 25 miles apart; the 24th Infantry Division at Tanahmerah bay while the 41st Infantry Division lands at Humboldt Bay. In Operation RECKLESS, the 163rd Regimental Combat Team, 41st Infantry Division, lands unopposed at Aitape. (Jack McKillop)
Hollandia was like a battered ghost town as the US advance guard, covered in red mud, entered. Everywhere there are signs of panic as the 12,000 strong garrison of middle-aged reservists fled into the jungle following a dawn bombardment that seriously damaged all of Hollandia’s buildings. In a bedroom a Japanese officer’s polished boots still stand by his bed, a neatly-pressed uniform hangs on the door. In the school, the days lessons are still on the blackboard.
For MacArthur, who celebrated with a chocolate ice-cream soda as he toured the beach-heads, the victory is a consolation for his fading presidential hopes following his defeat in the Republican primary at Wisconsin three weeks ago.
20+ Fifth Air Force B-24s bomb airstrips on Noemfoor Island, Schouten Islands while 80+ B-24s and A-20s hit Boram and But Airfields and other targets in the Wewak area; 100+ B-24s and B-25s pound targets along Hansa Bay; and all through the day B-25s and fighter-bombers, in flights of 1 to 20+ aircraft, attack areas around Hansa Bay, Wewak, Bogia, Madang, and many other points along the northern and eastern coast of New Guinea; many of the strikes indirectly support Allied amphibious landings at Hollandia. (Jack McKillop)
“April 22nd, 1944 (Saturday)” Index of/Andrew.etherington/1944. (http://homepage.ntlworld.com/andrew.etherington/1944/04/22.htm : accessed 20 April 2014)
4 Troops of the New Zealand 3 Division along with Marines from the 1st U.S. Marine Amphibious Corps staged an amphibious assault on Mono Island on October 27, 1943. This was the first opposed amphibious landing by New Zealand forces since the attack at Gallipoli in World War I. Although the Japanese forces were outnumbered, the fighting continued through the end of November with groups of Japanese troops eluding capture for months after. After its occupation, Mono Island became the site of an Allied early warning radar station, and Stirling Island, about a half mile away, would become a combat airbase. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. “NZ troops make first opposed landing since Gallipoli” (http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/first-opposed-amphibious-landing-by-nz-troops-since-gallipoli-on-mono-treasury-islands : accessed 20 April 2014)