December 13, 1944

Wednesday

Eight B-25Js of the 100th bombardment Squadron heckled Old Namlea Airfield, which was located on the east coast of Boeroe Island1 from dawn to dusk on December 13, 1944.

Wayne wrote nothing in his journal on December 13; however, he flew on the heckling mission. According to the Operations Order2 for the day, Wayne flew as the tail gunner on B-25 #126 piloted by 2nd Lt. William R. Florance. The rest of the air crew consisted of 1st Lt. Kenneth E. Miller, 1st Lt Edmund H. Flagg, S/Sgt Louis L. Miller; S/Sgt Stanley L. Seehorn.

B-25Js #105, 979, 012 and 126, the plane on which Wayne was a crewmember, took off from Mar Air Field at 0330 before sunrise. This four-plane element followed the route from Mar Airfield to Batanta Island, then to Boano Island and thence to the target. Each plane was armed with ten 100 lb general purpose bombs and a full load of ammunition. They followed ae direct route back to Mar Airfield from the target and landed at 0845.

The attack on Old Namlea Airfield was carried out in three phases. The first attack occurred at about 0610, the second at about 0635, and the third attack occurred around 0655. Bombs were dropped from altitudes of 8,500’, 10,000’, 9,500’ and 8,500’ and fell on the runways and in the building areas.

Slight to moderate antiaircraft fire was received at the beginning of each of the bomb runs over the target. This fire was from medium and heavy antiaircraft artillery located in previously plotted positions. B-25J #105 flown by Capt. Herbert J. Sunderman, the squadron’s operations officer, was hit in the tail and in the right engine cowling. One enemy plane, possibly serviceable, was noted in a large revetment on the north side of Old Namlea Runway #3 and another plane, of unknown serviceability, was noted on the east side of the south end of Namlea Runway #4. Neither plane was identified as to type. At 0550 on the way to the target, a large fire with smoke and orange flames rising to 100’ was observed on Babi Island. 3

While Wayne was engaged in the dawn heckling mission against Old Namlea Airfield in the Netherlands East Indies, his brother’s brother-in-law, Arthur Garfield Cline, mailed a Christmas card from Hawaii to his sister, Aileen, and her husband. The return address was Co. A, 64th Engineering Battalion, APO 957, San Francisco, California. The 64th Engineering Battalion played a key but little publicly ecognized role in the Pacific War.4

Notes & Commentary

1 “Old Namlea Airfield.” PacificWrecks.com. (http://www.pacificwrecks.com/airfields/indonesia/namlea_old/index.html : accessed 11 December 2014).

2 Operations Order No. 126, 13 December 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Operations Officer, 13 December 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1829-1831.

3 Final Mission Report, Mission No. 201, 13 December 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Intelligence Officer, 13 December 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1824-1828.

4 “Histories for 64th Engineer Battalion (Topo)”, Military.com. (http://www.military.com/HomePage/UnitPageHistory/1,13506,104102%7C825533,00.html : accessed 26 September 2014). Posted by Melvin Smith on 26 May 2006.

This is a history I have copied from the one and only weekly 64th newspaper dated November 23, 1946. I got this shortly after I arrived at the Isetan in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Melvin Smith

OUR OUTFIT

On the 15th of this month some of us here in the 64th passed our first milestone in Japan. Reviewing the events which have taken place this past year we cannot help but notice that most of the old familiar faces we knew upon arrival from Guam are now gone–that we’ve had almost two complete changes of officers and men, and we realize the average man who is with us now knows little or nothing; about the past of our outfit. It is for these new members that we present this short resume of the 64th’s history and the part it played in the war.

The 64th Engineers started their career at Ft Benning, Ga. in February 1940 as a Corps Company. Upon completion of basic training the company participated in Third Army maneuvers near Alexandria, La. 1941 found the company again in the field, this time Tennessee and the Second Amy maneuvers, and later, additional field problems in South Carolina. On December 7th the war started, and a few days later the 64th was on its way to Ft Ord, Calif. Here for six months the company received additional training and in June of 1942 embarked for Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands, arriving at Honolulu on 2nd July.

The 64th’s new station was Schofield Barracks, and during Its first few months in the Pacific, work consisted for the most part of mapping and survey work relative to Oahu and the nearby islands in connection with the post pearl harbor expansion of military installations. During 1943 and the first part of 1944, the company completed several mapping assignments for CinCPAC, as Admiral Nimitz’s headquarters was known. These consisted principally of the compilation and reproduction of operational maps and charts for the campaign then under way in the Solomons, and for military and naval operations in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands.

About this time it was decided future assignments of the 64th Engineers would involve production beyond the capacity of a corps company. Therefore, on the 8th of April 1944 the company was expanded to an army battalion, absorbing into it the personnel and equipment of the 651st Engineer Topographic Battalion which had arrived from the states a few weeks before. A few days were spent reorganizing and then with greatly extended facilities the battalion embarked on a major mapping project connected with joint Army-Navy-Air Forces operations against the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Guam in the Marianas, as well as several islands of the Carolines Group. During the three months required for this operation, the reproduction section ran off a total of 4-1/2 million copies. Also, during this period a provisional Mapping detachment consisting of 5 officers and 55 enlisted men was formed for the purpose of accompanying task force units of the XXIV Corps which was then staging at Oahu.

During the latter half of 1944, outstanding projects undertaken by the 64th included “Stalemate” as the campaign in the Palauas was called; “King II”, the operation which returned General MacArthur to the Philippines and the Bonin Islands operation which later resulted in some of the bitterest fighting of the war on Iwo Jima. Early in 1945 the battalion completed the mapping for contemplated operations against Okinawa. This was one of the outfit’s most intensive projects, with most of the required maps and charts compiled, reproduced, and distributed in an 8 week period. Final distribution for the job showed: Navy 986,000 copies Army 3,000,000 copies. In March of 1945 the outfit Moved to Guam. Here at CinCPAC advance headquarters, working in huge air-conditioned quonsets, the battalion concentrated on the production of maps and charts for the Navy and for the 5th and 20th Air Forces, for the final pounding of Japan, which, in September, led to her surrender.

When news of Japan’s surrender was received there was little time for celebration in the 64th. Production was halted on all work in process involving the final invasion of Japan which was then shaping up, and within a deadline of 2 weeks, the battalion prepared and reproduced anchorage charts showing individual berths and anchorages for all ships of the 3rd, 5th and 7th Fleets; city and town plans for use of occupation troops; showing location of all known Prison of War camps, road maps covering virtually all of Japan and War Planning Charts showing landing points and areas to be occupied by the allied, forces on “occupation day”. With the war over, November of 1946 found the 64th in Japan, settled down at Isetan, commencing work on the Post Hostilities Mapping Program, still in progress at this writing.

The Meritorious Service Wreath and one of the stars which the men of the battalion wear on their uniform represent an award which was made to the battalion by General Burgin of Central Pacific Base command for the excellent work rendered by the battalion while at Oahu. The second star represents an additional award made to the 64th by General Richardson for meritorious work accomplished by the Provisional Detachment on Leyte and on Okinawa. Letters of commendation were also received from General Buckner, General Stillwell, and fleet admiral Nimitz. And so, men of the 64th may feel a just pride in their outfit, for during the many years of the war the men then in the outfit worked long hours, most of the time 7 days a week-and usually, due to the highly classified nature of their work, with little or nothing in the way of outside entertainment. They made it possible for the outfit to claim a very important part in helping bring victory in the Pacific to our side. Signed: M. Sgt. George H. Koran

The references to “Isetan” in the preceding paragraphs are to the “. . . Isetan Department Store building in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo. The structure was a modern 7-story department store and office building . . . Being both fire- and earthquake-proof, building stood almost completely undamaged in an area mostly destroyed by U.S. incendiary bombs.” Years later, Arthur Garfield Cline related that during the winter of 1945/46, light was provided at Isetan by Coleman lanterns and heat by kerosene heaters.

For additional information regarding the operations of the 64th Engineer Battalion and its role in the Pacific Theater of Operations, see: United States. Army. Forces, Pacific. Engineers of the Southwest Pacific, 1941-1945: Reports of operations [of the] United States Army Forces in the Far East, Southwest Pacific Area, Army Forces, Pacific. vol. 3, Engineer Intelligence. [Washington: U.S. Govt. Printing Office, 1948.]

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2 Responses to December 13, 1944

  1. gpcox says:

    The personal letters bring the war in crystal-clear reality, don’t they?

    Like

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