Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving. Had turkey which was very welcome after a steady diet of C rations. Spent two hours in the morning at the medics with ear and foot fungus. Very inconvenient to say the least. Wrote letters all the rest of the day. These were to Bonnie, Mom, Dad, Nordie, Bob and Guyneth. Will get caught up in the next day or two, I hope. Got my Bible lesson as usual before bedtime.
Golly how I do miss all the folks at home. Received a very welcome letter from Mom Gibbons, Bonnie’s mother, giving me information I’d requested on our silverware. Her suggestion for a Christmas present for baby doll coincided with mine, so will send her money to buy some. How I’d love to send enough to buy the whole set for her; because I know she’d love it. But, holy smokes, that stuff is expensive. Lent Lt. Fincham 100 guilders1 which would come in handy towards that set; however am afraid he won’t get paid in time so will have to send all my cash payday and more at the first of the year. Bonnie deserves a wonderful Christmas, believe me!
Golly, what I wouldn’t give for six months of free time. Have ideas for half a dozen novels which are just waiting to be written. It seems that time just doesn’t go around anymore, doggone. It’s a novel of a young married couple for instance. Two simple, happy people building a true future for each other. Their happiness, and little heartbreaks, their keeping things and saving for things, which bit by bit, assume a pattern in the future not only of wedded but welded bliss.
Another story is on goodness and evil growing out of a Pacific army camp in which a decent young man fights the mental suggestions of evil. A decent young man, I say, but not infallible. A man who is tempted daily by braggarts, by stories of sexuality made perverted by too many lonely months in God forsaken, stinking rotten jungle. The effect of these things on decency slowing eating away and undermining love, truth and religion. Balancing on the side of these evils are cast instinctive purity, a lack of religion that threatens to eclipse all else, and the every torment that will eventually destroy a woman. A nervous look fraught with fear of the harm, fear of sin, fear of, yes, even truth, faith and the many other attributes of purity. A man can get awfully mixed up to say the least.
Well, today, we went out to give the enemy another blow.2 The target, Laha Supply camp next to the one concrete Jap dock.3
Notes & Commentary
1 In November 1944, this was equivalent to about $38.00. Wikipedia contributors, “Dutch guilder,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dutch_guilder&oldid=630297919 : accessed 23 November 2014)
2 Nine B-25’s of the 100th Bombardment Squadron took off from Mar Air Field between 0905 and 0910 for an attack on the Laha Personnel and Supply Areas. Each B 25 carried four 500 lb M27 fragmentation cluster bombs.
The bomb run commenced at 9,600’ at 1135 with the aircraft stacked up in three formations separated by 200’. During the last half of the bomb run and retirement, medium, heavy, moderate and generally inaccurate prediction-type antiaircraft fire was received. Some of the planes were bounced around, but none were holed. No fires were started. Only dust and bomb smoke was observed in the target area.
The aircraft of the 100th Bombardment Squadron recovered at Mar Air Field from 1335 to 1345, roughly two hours and twenty minutes after takeoff.
Final Mission Report, Mission No. 179, 24 November 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Intelligence Officer, 24 November 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1390-1391.
1st Lt. Kenneth E. Mller was the pilot of B-25J #087. The aircrew consisted of the following: 1st Lt. R. H. Stem; 2nd Lt. J. W. Mangum; S/Sgt. L. H. Miller; S/Sgt. Stanley LeVelle Seehorn; and S/Sgt. Wynne A. Gray
Operations Order No. 108, 24 November 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Operations Officer, 24 November 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1393 – 1394.
The attack on the Laha Personnel and Supply Areas was undertaken by nine B-25s from the 100th Bombardment Squadron and eight each from the 69th, 70th and 390th Bombardment Squadrons. The nine B-25s of 100th Bombardment Squadron attacked the barracks area west of runway #1 with 500 lb fragmentation cluster bombs while the 16 B-25s of the 69th and 70th Bombardment Squadrons attacked the same area with 500 lb napalm incendiary bombs. The 390th Bombardment Squadron attacked the supply area at Laha Village with 500 lb napalm incendiary bombs. The 100th attacked at 1135 from 9,600’. The 70th attacked at 1146 from 11,000’. The 69th attacked at 1153 from 10,000’. At 1145 the 390th attacked from 10,500’. During the 18 minutes from 1135 to 1153 the barracks area west of runway number one was subjected to 36 500 pound fragmentation cluster bombs and 64 500 pound napalm incendiary bombs. Meanwhile, 32 500 lb napalm incendiary bombs were dropped at 1145 on the supply area near Laha Village.
Consolidated Mission Report #797, 24 November 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 24 November 1944, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 166-167.
3 Laha Airdrome was located on Ambon Island which was seized by the Ito Detachment (38th Infantry Group with 228th Infantry, 38th Division) under Major General Ito Takeo and the Kure 1st Special Naval Landing Force. They were opposed by 2,800 Dutch troops and 1,170 Australian troops of the Australian 2/21st Infantry Battalion. Ambon was the second largest naval base in the Netherlands East Indies; however, allied naval and air units had already withdrawn before the Japanese invasion. The Dutch forces surrendered on 1 February 1942 and the Australians two days later on 3 February. On 9/10 February, troops of the Kure 1st Special Naval Landing Force beheaded 230 Australian and Dutch troops and buried them in a mass grave at Laha Airdrome.
Gordon L. Rottman. World War II Pacific Island Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002. p. 208. See also “Massacres and Atrocities of World War II, Laha Airfield Executions”, George Duncan Website. (http://compunews.com/gus/massacres.htm#pacific : accessed 15 November 2014)
Seventy years ago! What an astounding journal entry … His thoughts turned to home and presents for those ‘who deserve it’. All while he is himself in less than comfortable circumstances.
His soul-searching and admissions of the longings and moral dilemmas of his current situation were interesting, provocative and made me feel for all those young men whose normal transition years into adulthood had been so abruptly and irrevocably altered.
What terrible anguish and worry and then to have to go out on a mission!
You can feel the tension building in Wayne’s entry. Yet he still manages to separate out his own feelings for his loved ones back home and those of the war, the jungle and the terrible loneliness it creates amongst his colleagues. A thought provoking entry.