October 28, 1944

Saturday

After today, doubts are in my mind. Had the devil kicked out of us. Four ships our of six holed, ours twice. The bursts were so close, the drumbeat of their shells was worse than all hell broken loose.1

Need to kid my radio operator about climbing in his frequency meter while the shelling went on. Unfortunately there is no such thing back in the tail, but would bet my body was just another thickness of armor plate back there. If anyone had offered me a ground job today, I’d have been a ground man tonight.

It’s getting tough and that Ambon Town, Ceram is a rough target in any league.2 That along with these horrible dreams of mine lately, and the oppressive jungle at night has me going, and no kidding about it. Hope to hold the guff for my next twenty missions.

It also seems hopeless after 8½ months. No question of having a yellow streak or I’d have been on the ground a long time ago. Nerves do scream when one awakes in the middle of the night pushing aside huge black memories. The days are all right except for the foreboding of the fear the night brings forth or the next day’s mission. Am I as sensitive as all this?

We have our laughs, too. One of the boys here has a new nickname for draft Army status. 2FF and 2SFStoo fat to fight and too short, fat and squatty.

Higgins is drunk tonight. Each succeeding drink bends his knees just a little bit more. He’ll soon be walking on them.

That’s about all for tonight, except to say that I miss you and love you, baby doll.

Notes & Commentary

1 Intense, heavy and accurate A.A. fire holed three planes of this squadron and one attached plane. This predictive type fire was on the formation before the bombing run, and continued throughout the run and on retirement. Several heavy positions were spotted don the clearings to the south and west of the Cricket Field in the extreme southwest area of the town.

Final Mission Report, No. 133, 100th Bombardment Squadron, Office of the Intelligence Officer, 28 October 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1141-1143

A report on Japanese anti-aircraft effectiveness published in early 1944 noted the following:

Over-all performance of the Japanese antiaircraft artillery defense system is definitely inferior to that of the other major contestants in this war.

It is difficult to make many authentic generalities about the Japanese AA system, which extends thousands of miles from the Solomons to Shimushu, because the defenses differ sharply from target to target. As the nature and importance of the targets vary, so do the accuracy and intensity of the antiaircraft fire with which the Japanese defend them.

Although Japanese AA fire is usually inaccurate when only one bombing approach is made, a second approach at the same altitude and from the same direction will very often encounter accurate AA fire, since the gunners can then use data computed from the first approach.

The Japanese have even been known to use data computed one day for firing the next day. In one particular instance in the China Theater, when the same target was attacked on two successive days, a very heavy barrage of antiaircraft fire was laid down on the second day at the approximate altitude at which the attack had been made on the previous day.

“Japanese Antiaircraft Fire”, Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 42, January 13, 1944. Military Intelligence Service, War Department. (http://www.lonesentry.com/articles/ttt09/japanese-antiaircraft.html : accessed 23 October 2014)

2 Six B-25J’s of [the 100th] squadron with an added six planes from the 70th and 69th squadrons attacked Ambon Town special target are 4X from medium altitude. The mission aircraft departed Mar Airfield between 0845 and 0850.

The formation attacked the primary target at 1120. The aiming point was the hotel. Twelve strings of bombs covered an area northwest of the target area with one string walking through buildings some 1,000 ft. north of northwest corner of target. Three small fires were kindled. A total of 48 500 lb. bombs were dropped.

After performing search missions on the return to base, the mission aircraft recovered at Mar Airfield between 1355 and 1400.

Final Mission Report, No. 133, 100th Bombardment Squadron, Office of the Intelligence Officer, 28 October 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1141-1143

According to a Narrative Report filed by the Intelligence Officer, this mission had a special target:

On 28 October 1944, six B-25J’s of the 100th Bomb Squadron with an added five planes fro the 69th Bomb Squadron and one plane from the 70th Bomb Squadron, each loaded with 4 X 500 lb GP bombs fused instantaneous nose and tail attacked special target 4X in Ambon Town from an altitude of 10,500 feet on a true heading of 360°. The Aiming point was the large hotel in the 4X area where presumably the Japanese General Staff keep their Geisha girls. Although the hotel was not destroyed the bombs were near enough to cause the Japanese General Staff considerable anxiety for the future. Evidently they intend to protect vigorously what little they have left to them, namely the Geisha girls, since four of the twelve planes were holed with heavy, intense, continuous track fire received on the bombing run and retirement to the left. No personnel were injured and all planes were able to conduct the usual “Nan” search mission enroute to Mar were they landed at 1355.

Narrative Combat Report, 28 October 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Intelligence Officer, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frame 1140.

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12 Responses to October 28, 1944

  1. gpcox says:

    I have noticed the same problem the Japanese had with ground forces. They did not seem to learn from their mistakes of a previous battle. Up top, Wayne describes feelings I’m certain many men had about having a ground job.

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    • a gray says:

      Perhaps it is not so much a failing to learn from their mistakes as it a lack of alternatives due to equipment, prevailing weather and terrain. Ambon Town, Rabaul and others were heavily defended because of their importance as Japanese bases, locations which the Japanese chose because of the terrain offered a defensive advantage.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pierre Lagacé says:

    We can see the fear starting to torment Wayne.

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    • a gray says:

      Wayne writes about his dreams; his tent mate gets drunk. The missions against Rabaul were tough in May, June and July, but this is different. The antiaircraft artillery fire is more intense. This jungle is different.

      How Wayne writes now is a far cry from his writing when he first arrived on Guadalcanal in February. There are no more beautiful tropic nights. Movies are shown at Mar Afield, but he no longer describes them. Food is rarely mentioned.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The stress and his “voice” really paints an amazing picture of what it was like to a soldier. He’s a natural writer. Who was this guy? Great post!

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  4. Mustang says:

    I admire the courage it took to re-embark on prime target aircraft, time after time. I think it is true what they say about fighter pilots: they have to be about two bubbles off plumb —they have to believe that they’re the best fighter pilot there ever was. With bomber crews, it had to have been faith in God and a resignation to His will be done. Truly, these were amazing men.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. suchled says:

    As things are getting tougher and tougher I can’t imagine how I would react in the same situation. This really a fine piece of work.

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  6. Mustang.Koji says:

    This entry was one that spoke of the terror of being in combat. I have been so lucky to not have been even drafted although I got close. His writing about the nightmares endured by ALL of them never went away from the two WWII vets I was close to. One thing Old Man Jack said about your aircraft being hit by rounds; he had flown rear seat on an unknown number of missions. He said he was wondering what all that racket was… When rounds hit your plane, it was like being in a corrugated tin shed and someone was throwing marbles at it.

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  7. This is a very dark entry. No doubt it was tough out there. Those of us who haven’t experienced war firsthand can only imagine what it was like and how it affected his psyche. His writing gives us a glimpse of it though

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    • a gray says:

      When Wayne was flying out of Stirling Island, the 42nd Bombardment Group fielded two bombardment up and three in reserve. Except for a few, most of the missions appear to have been medium altitude, e.g.. 10,000 to 12,000 ft., missions against Rabaul and its associated air fields and supply dumps. The missions were dangerous. Any mission during which any enemy shoots at you is dangerous.

      With the movement into the Netherland East Indies where Japan gets its oil and the consolidation of the 42nd Bombardment Group at Mar Air Field at Sansapor, it appears things have changed. They are flying low-level attacks against an enemy that has not that has not been totally bombed into submission. With all the bombardment squadrons consolidated at one air field, a loss in one squadron is a loss in all squadrons. No longer are three squadrons sitting in reserve. The missions seem to be longer and over more open water. The living conditions are not as pleasant as they were at Banika and Stirling Islands. The missions appear to be becoming more dangerous.

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