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2 - 8 JULY 1944

 

2 JULY 1944

 

Fresh eggs mixed with dehydrated eggs, salt pork, and bread for breakfast.  Of course we always had coffee for breakfast.  Bread was seldom available, so it was always a treat.  Inspection this morning. Salmon patties, dehydrated potatoes, bread, and rice pudding for lunch.
 

Lt. McRoberts briefed the company officers at 1430 using a sand table. 

The mission is Noemfoor Island.  Enemy strength at 2800, 1600 are combat troops, and they may be reinforced by a battalion from Manokwari only 70 miles across the bay and possibly by some troops escaping from Biak by barge at night. 

 

This last source of information did not make sense.  The reason that it became necessary to take Noemfoor Island, code name is  Table Tennis, was that the Japs were using this island as a staging point to send reinforcements to Biak.  That was the basis for the operation, code name Cyclone.  Biak was proving to be a hard nut to crack, and the issue was still in doubt.  The reinforcing of the Biak defenders had to be stopped.

 

 

 

Our battalion goes in D+3, Wednesday, 5 July.  The Bn jump order will be:  F Co, first; Bn Hq Co, second; D Co, third; and E Co, last.  Jump masters in F Co by plane will be: #1, Lt. McRoberts; “2, Lt. Miller; #3, Lt. LaVanchure; #4, Lt. Brock; #5, Lt. Clyde; #6, Lt. Flash; #7, Lt. Calhoun.  The company officers at this time were:  1st Lt. McRoberts, CO; 1st Lt. Tom Clyde, Ex. O; 2nd Lt. William Calhoun, 1st platoon ldr; 2nd Lt. Edward Flash, 2nd platoon ldr; 1st Lt. William LaVanchure, 3rd platoon ldr; 2nd Lt. Emory Ball,  ass’t 1st platoon ldr; 2nd Lt. Charles Attmore, ass’t 2nd platoon ldr; and 2nd Lt. Sidney Brock, ass’t 3rd platoon ldr. Lt. Col. John Britten, Bn CO; Capt. Lawson Caskey, Bn Ex O.

The 3d platoon will secure the area.  The 2nd platoon will be the advance party.  The 1st platoon will be the assault platoon.  The mission will be given about 30 minutes after we assemble.  The assembly area is 100 yards from point 2 near the middle of the strip.  Intelligence men will mark the Bn assembly area at point 2 with yellow smoke.  As soon as a platoon is assembled the platoon leader will notify the company commander by SCR 536 stating that the platoon is assembled and give the number of known injured men and the missing men.

Flying time  from Hollandia to Noemfoor is two and one half to two and three quarters hours.  There will be a time interval of ten minutes from the time we pass over the strip until we circle to the “Go” point.  With the 1st battalion  jumping D+1 and the third battalion jumping D+2 the jumping procedures should be well refined.  The landing area is the coral strip the Japs constructed at Kamiri Airdrome.  This sounds like a pretty hard surface to land upon.

The big worry is bombing by the Japs.  There are 139 bombers and 260 fighters at Halmahera, Sarong, and Manokwari.  Within six hours are an additional 100 bombers and 100 fighters. This report evidently does not take into account that our air forces had decimated the Jap air force.

Our Naval support consists of one heavy cruiser, five destroyers, and a number of submarines.

Noemfoor is approximately 18 miles long, north-south, and 12 miles wide.  There are a number of good trails.  Highest point is a mountain 670 feet.  General slope is to the west.  There are streams along the coast and many swamps around the streams and bays.  The interior is heavy rain forest.

Predesignated points on the map will be used in describing positions.  Use approximate distances in yards directly from the nearest point.

Jump casualties will be given first aid treatment by aid men.  The aid men will then join the platoon to which they are assigned.  If jumpers are missing do not look for them.  Regimental HQ Co and Service Co will be searching for and salvaging bundles and containers.  They will find missing jump casualties.

Namber strip to the south on the west coast is serviceable. Kornasoren Strip to the west is an emergency strip under construction. The strip we jump on, Kamari, is on the northwest corner of the island. 

Men will dig in as soon as we move into a position for the night.  Distances from Hollandia to:

Noemfoor Island                      415 miles
Japan Island 275 miles
Halmahera 850 miles
Sarong 670 miles
Manakwari 475 miles

 

 

 

 

 

From 0800 the enemy opened fire. 
Two cruisers, 8 destroyers and several PT boats. 
The noise of the gun fire was terrible. 
With the shipping and planes combined, it is terrible. 
Our Imperial Army, however remains calm.

 

Source: Diary taken from KIA, 7 August 1944 near BAWE

 

 

 

EQUIPMENT FOR JUMP

1.  All combat equipment.

2.  Musette Bag: 

a.   

Poncho

b.

Mosquito head net

c.

Rations

d.

Mosquito repellant, extra bottle

e.

Salt tablets, extra

f.

Waterproof food and clothing bag

g.

2 pair socks

h.

Cleaning and preserving equipment

i.

Leather gloves

j.

Pair of coveralls

3. Barracks bags will be tagged with men’s name, rank, and serial number plus his organization.  The bags will be stacked in the mess tent.  A duplicate tag will be placed in the barracks bag.  All equipment not being jumped will be placed in barracks bags.

4.  Rations to carry on jump:

a.

One can of C Rations with B unit can.

b.

One D Bar.

c.

One tenth of a 10-In-One Ration.

5.   APO is #704.  This is the same APO we had at Port Moresby.

6.   Jump list will be made out in triplicate.  One list will go to the Bn Adjutant, one will go to the pilot or crew chief, and one will be retained by the jumpmaster.

 7. Jump masters in "F" Co by plane will be:

#1:

Lt. McRoberts

#2:

Lt. Miller

#3:

Lt. LaVanchure

#4:

Lt. Brock

#5:

Lt. Clyde

#6:

Lt. Flash

#7:

Lt. Calhoun

 

 

 

 

3 JULY 1944

 

 

About 0515 on 3 July regimental headquarters and the 1st Battalion, 503d Parachute Infantry, began loading at Cyclops Drome, Hollandia, on thirty-eight C-47's of the 54th Troop Carrier Wing, Fifth Air Force. At the same time, three B-17's, from which supplies and ammunition were to be dropped on Kamiri Drome, were loaded. The first C-47 took off from Cyclops Drome at 0630, and by 0747 all forty-one planes were in the air. The commanding officer of the parachute regiment, Col. George M. Jones, and most of his staff were in the lead C-47. The planes were to fly over Kamiri Drome in flights of two each, the first plane at a height of 400 feet and the second echeloned slightly to the right rear at 450 feet. Subsequent flights were to follow at a distance of 300 yards.

About 0600 on the 3d, almost twenty hours after he had been advised on the point by a paratroop officer, General Patrick radioed to ALAMO Force that it would be wise if the C-47's flew over Kamiri Drome in single file. He made this recommendation because he feared that the falling paratroopers might suffer casualties if they landed on obstacles along the sides of the narrow airfield, which comprised a 250 by 5,500-foot cleared area and a 100-foot-wide runway. The radio was received at Headquarters, ALAMO Force, about 0740 but apparently was not delivered to the G-3 Section until 0915. Sometime between 0740 and 0915 the radio was passed to Headquarters, Fifth Air Force, by the ALAMO Force message center. By then, the troop-carrying planes were airborne and well on their way to Noemfoor.

No attempt seems to have been made to establish radio contact with the 54th Troop Carrier Wing's C-47's to effect the desired change in formation. Whether such an eleventh-hour alteration could have been made is a difficult question. Last-minute attempts to change plans might have created confusion which could have delayed or postponed the parachute drop. Moreover, the radio traffic necessary to effect the change might have brought every Japanese plane within range of Noemfoor over that island. In any case, no change in formation was made, and the thirty-eight C-47's flew into sight of Kamiri Drome about 1000. Ten minutes later, the 'troopers from the leading C-47 were on the ground, followed closely by the men in the neighboring plane.

Contrary to plans, the first two C-47's flew over the strip at a height of about 175 feet, and the next eight planes all flew below 400 feet. Dropping from this low altitude caused the paratroopers in the first ten C-47's to suffer many casualties; more casualties resulted because the planes flew over the strip two abreast. The broad formation caused many 'troopers to land off the southern edge of the 100-foot-wide runway in an area where Allied vehicles, bulldozers, supply dumps, and wrecked Japanese aircraft were located. Additional hazards beyond the cleared area were jagged tree stumps, trees partially destroyed by preassault air and naval bombardments, and a number of antiaircraft gun emplacements. Altogether, there were 72 casualties among the 739 men who dropped on 3 July. Included in this number--a rate of almost 10 percent--were 31 severe fracture cases, most of whom would never again be able to make a parachute jump.

 

The Approach To The Philippines

Robert Ross Smith

 

 

15:00

"Flash! - The 2nd Bn will prepare to be able to leave for Cyclops Airdome at 04:00 hr.  Barracks bags will be turned in to R.S.O. immediately after supper and parachutes drawn.  Jungle hammocks will be rolled in bundles of 20, properly tagged, and will be dropped to us by resupply, C rations, "D" bars and “10 and 1” will be issued to Co.’s, and broken down to individuals.  Rations for one day will be jumped on person.

18:45

 

Flash No. 2 for the day.  We will revert to original plan.  3rd Bn move  out at 04:00 hr.,  July 4th.  The Bn. jungle hammocks have been struck, barracks bags begun to be transported to R.S.O. and camp in general struck.  I have heard bitching but the reaction to the news that the move is off ‘till July 5th tied the best of it. 

Instead of 03:00 hr reveille will be at 07:15 hr tomorrow."

Reports from Noemfoor are that the landing field is clear.  Heavy resistance is being encountered in the hill.  Jump altitude is 450 feet.

News has come down that we will jump tomorrow, 4 July.  This would be a good day to jump, the biggest Fourth we ever had. 

We packed our stuff into barracks bags and took them to the Bn mess tent.  After everything was stowed there word came that they had moved our jump back to the 5th.  We took our barracks bags back to our area and set up for the night.

 

 

 

 

 

4 JULY 1944

 

 

At 0955 on the 4th the 3d Battalion, 503d Parachute Infantry, and the rest of regimental headquarters began dropping on Kamiri Drome; by 1025 the 685 men of this echelon were on the ground. This time all the C-47's flew at a height of at least 400 feet in single file formation, and, although the flight pattern of five to seven planes was not entirely satisfactory, nearly all the troopers landed on the airstrip.

Even with the new precautions there were 56 jump casualties, a rate of over 8 percent. Most of the injuries on the second drop were attributed to the hard coral surface of Kamiri Drome, on which considerable grading, rolling, and packing had been accomplished since the morning of 3 July. So far, 1,424 officers and men of the 503d Parachute Infantry had dropped at Noemfoor. There had been 128 jump casualties, a final rate of 8.98 percent, among them 59 serious fracture cases. There had been no casualties from enemy action. The parachute regiment had lost the services of one battalion commander, three company commanders, the regimental communications officer, and a number of key noncommissioned officers.

Colonel Jones, the regimental commander, considered that injuries had been excessive on both the 3d and 4th of July, and he therefore requested General Patrick to arrange for water shipment of the remaining battalion.The task force commander agreed that no more drops should be attempted, but he suggested to ALAMO Force that the remainder of the regiment be brought forward by air as soon as Kamiri Drome was sufficiently repaired to receive C-47's. With these recommendations, General Krueger agreed. However, torrential rains and a shortage of heavy equipment at Noemfoor combined to keep the airfield inoperational longer than had been expected. Finally the 2d Battalion, 503d Parachute Infantry, was flown from Hollandia to Mokmer Drome on Biak. Disembarking from C-47's at Mokmer, the troopers moved aboard LCI's for the trip to Noemfoor, which they reached on 11 July.

 

 

The Approach To The Philippines

Robert Ross Smith

 


2d Bn.
08:00 

"There will be one change in Bn. plan of jumping.  Instead of flying in groups of two, echeloned to right rear, the planes will fly in line.  The 1st Bn had 51 casualties using the echelon right formation, because of the narrow jump field."

09:00

"Lt. Phelan’s plane conked out this morning, and just made it back to Cyclops Strip with the one operating motor smoking.  Lt. Phelan and his group of 17 3rd Bn. men will jump with the 2nd Bn tomorrow.  32 planes will jump the 2nd Bn., with one extra for Lt. Phelan.” 

 

When we went from Biak to Noemfoor, Phelan was on the "F" Company LCI.

 

"Barracks bags turned in again along with jungle hammocks, chutes drawn again, Battalion packed 49 bundles to be dropped.  There was one bundle for each rifle company, 42 bundles for battalion headquarters company, and four Red Cross supply bundles.  Breakfast was to be at 0300, load trucks at 04:00." 

Trucks were numbered to correspond to the plane numbers.  If you were to  fly and jump from plane number 17, then you would load in truck number 17.

22:00 

“Flash No. ? - The 2n Bn will not jump tomorrow." 

The high percentage of casualties in the 1st & 3d Bn caused by landing on the coral and cement-like mud of Kamiri Strip prompted higher HQ’s to cancel our jump.  The only places near suitable for a jump area are Noemfoor’s three air strips which were all the same composition.  The ground here proved a bit tougher than the 'chutists.  The 3 strips are swaths cut out of rainforest, which reaches up to 125 ft. high.

22:00 

"Breakfast will be at the regular time tomorrow morning."

 

 

 

Cream of wheat and dehydrated eggs for breakfast.  About 1000  we packed up again and moved everything to the storage tent again.  Salmon patties for lunch.  After lunch drew our chutes and adjusted them.  Many wrote letters, but we cannot mail them until we reach Noemfoor. Morale is high.  Everyone appears eager to go tomorrow.  Junk for supper.  Most of us went to an engineering unit nearby and saw the movie “The Navy Way”.

The paratroopers jump in jump suits with web belts and suspenders, machete, entrenching tool, ammo, and grenades.  Riflemen carry 128 rounds.  Rifle grenadiers carry fragmentation and anti-tank rifle grenades.  BAR gunners jump with their BAR and 280 rounds of .30 cal ammo.  The assistant BAR gunner carries an M1 carbine with 105 rounds of ammo plus 280 rounds of BAR ammo.  The BAR ammo bearer carries an M1 rifle with 128 rounds of ammo plus 280 rounds of BAR ammo.  Each jumper carries two hand grenades.  One canteen is carried on the web belt.  The musette bag is carried in the parachute kitbag which hangs down in front below the reserve chute.  All of this, with a steel helmet, makes a heavy load.

 

 

 

Commenced to move position. 
Entered the former FUHADA unit quarters. 
Enemy naval gun fire is accurate. 
This afternoon, the enemy made their first appearance in KANASI gardens. 
NISHIKA’s Battalion immediately initiated attack, but failed. 
Major KONORI and his men carried out successful night attack. 
Majority of men were killed during the charge.  Detachment headquarters and other forces began night march. 
Naval gun fire is pursuing our movement. 

Situation is grave. 

 

Source: Diary taken from body of enemy as five Japanese soldiers fell in vicinity of MENUPURI.

 

5 JULY 1944

 

08:00

 

The 2nd Bn will turn their chutes in to R.S.O. , and draw jungle hammocks and barracks bags.  We are standing by for further orders. 
The belief is we will land on Kamiri Strip in C-47, or go to Noemfoor by LST.  Anything would seem plausible after four changes in two days.

10:00

"Camp is again completely set up, awaiting what may come."

Sausage, bread, and jam for breakfast -  great.  Waited all morning.  Just sitting and waiting.  What is going on?  We are supposed to be jumping this morning.  The lunch was poor.  Waited all afternoon. 

Dark came and we went to the engineers’ movie again.  The movie was "Andy Hardy’s Double Life”. 

 Good smoko tonight.  Everyone brought out what they had stashed away.

   
 

 

 

 

Enemy planes flew over at low altitude chiefly to reconnoiter. 

At night, discussion was held as to future plans with Detachment Commander in charge. 

Decided to remain alive as long as possible
and to hamper any enemy movements.

 

Source: Diary taken from body of enemy as five Japanese soldiers fell in vicinity of MENUPURI.

 

6 JULY 1944

 

08:00

 

"Still no news from Reg’t. Hq. or the 1st & 3rd Bn’s that jumped on Noemfoor.  Improvement of camp and retention of combat gear at high efficiency occupied day.

08:00

 

"No change."

09:10  "Flash! - 2nd Bn will be prepared to move from Ebli’s Plantation tomorrow.  We will go by C-47 planes to Biak, and from there take LCI’s to Noemfoor.  Barracks bags, hammocks, and complete kitchen equipment will be taken.  Particulars will be issued later."

16:00

 

"Breakfast at 03:00 hr. tomorrow.  Entruck at 04:00 hr in order of Hq, D,E,F for transportation to Sentani Drome and Cyclops Dromw:  2 Co’s per drome.

Bn Hq will have eight planes, each line Co, seven:  A corresponding number of trucks has been assigned to each Co.  We are due in Biak Is. tomorrow, 8th at Mokmer Strip.  From there we go under Navy control for transport to Noemfoor by LCI on the 10th, giving the Bn. one day on Biak."

 

 

 

Pancakes for breakfast.  Pancakes are considered a good breakfast as long as something sweet is served with them.  C Rations, biscuits, and canned fruit for lunch.  Inspection at 1300.  We’re just hanging in limbo.  Soup made from the gallon cans of C Rations and fruit, canned.  The show at the engineers tonight, “They Got Me Covered”
   
 

 

 

7 JULY 1944

 

Pancakes, sugar and water syrup, and salt bacon.  A good breakfast.  Mail going out again, so the officers had mail censoring duty.  This was probably the most hated by the junior officers of all their duties.

We found out that jump casualties were so heavy in the 1st and 3rd battalion that they cancelled our jump.  We fly to Biak tomorrow morning.  From there we will be transported by boat to Noemfoor Island.  We hear there has not been much action on Noemfoor.  They cannot find the 2800 Japs.  Of course our Battalion is saying that we’ll just have to go find them.

Bully beef patties, bread, apricots, and synthetic lemonade for lunch.  Heavy rains started at 1400.  We stayed in our jungle hammocks much of the afternoon.  The  show tonight was very poor, “Jam Session”.  We get up at 0245, eat at 0300, and leave at 0400.  We are carrying our barracks bags with us.  Had a smoko and went to bed.

 

 

 

 

8 JULY 1944

 

 


2d Bn.
0300 

 

"Breakfast at 03:00 hr entrucked at 04:00 for move to airdrome.  Hq & "D" went to Sentani Drome, "E" & "F" to Cyclops."
06:45 "Weather closed in at Hollandia.  Will sweat it out in planes until take off time."

09:00

 

"Weather at Biak is “5”, or visibility zero.  If it doesn’t clear by 13:00, it will be too late to take off.” 

This is incorrect in part.  As explained above "F" Company did depart from Cyclops Strip and made it to Biak.

 

1300

 

"Weather still bad.  Personnel will spend nite in plane or under it, prepare for early take off tomorrow."
   

"F" Co. and "E" Co. went to Cyclops Drome.  Bn Hq. Co. and "D" Co. went to Sentani Drome.  F Co. left at 0730 in heavy weather.  The other companies were held back waiting for a break in the weather.  We were flying right down on the water and still could not see.  We were in plane #301.  After a long time the crew chief told me that the visibility was growing worse,  and we were going to turn and go back to Hollandia.  Just about this time we broke out into the clear and landed on Biak about 1100.  By 1230 they had moved us to our area by trucks.  The rest of the Bn did not come in until the next day, and they had to walk about two miles from Mokmer Drome.

 

 

Our area was a low coral hill.  It had once been covered with small trees,  but now these were denuded stakes. The shelling had been very heavy here.  We had difficulty setting up jungle hammocks, because the tree trunks were too small to support the weight of a man.  This area had been booby-trapped by our troops.  They had set these up with hand grenades.  We found several and removed them. George Harrigan unknowingly tripped one we had overlooked. Men were all around it.  I felt the heat on my back.  Emory Ball was a few feet further away chopping on a small tree trunk with his machete.  Just before the blade struck a grenade segment stuck the tree trunk near the spot where the blade hit.  No damage was done physically, but our faith in our fragmentation grenades did suffer.

Looming a half mile to the north was a ridge of great length with high cliffs towering above us.  We could feel great pity for the men who had to advance across this coastal plain to attack the cliffs.  Most of us set out for the cliffs to satisfy our curiosity and look for souvenirs.  At the base of the cliffs were many caves.  Some were large extending back to no telling where.  The large cave entrances were reached by descending into deep pits probably 50-75 feet deep and a couple of hundred feet in diameter.  Narrow trail wound down the sides of the pits to get to the bottom.  This gave perfect protection to the cave entrances from shell fire. 

C-47’s would drop 55 gallon drums of gasoline into the pits.  After a large number were dropped in they would drop an explosive device and have a raging inferno for a time.  The problem was that the Japs could get well out of harm’s way back into the depths of the caves.  We climbed down into the pits of a couple of caves and looked around the front parts. Many of the stalactites had broken from the ceiling and fallen to the floor.  We saw parts of Japs sticking out from under several, so the naval shelling had some effect here.  One large cave still had a fire burning burning in the pit.  The C-47’s had dropped gasoline in it the morning of our arrival.  This was the third burn-out for this cave. With all the stalagmites and the wreckage of the stalagmites among them it would had been very difficult to go back into the caves.  The face of the cliffs were pockmarked with small caves.  Crowning the cliffs were huge hardwood trees forming dense rain forest.

J Rations for supper.  No movies that we could find.  There was still heavy fighting taking place and some not too far away.  Any movies would be by small units in secluded places.

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

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