JANUARY 1945

S

M

T

W

T

F

S

31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31 1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10

28 JANUARY 1944 - 3 FEBRUARY 1945

 

 

 

28 January 1945

 

 

   

The 1st & 3rd Platoon's sent to Paclassen on Southern end of the island to guard a radar unit.

 

 

 

29 January 1945

 

 

 

"Regular camp duties performed."

"Cap. McRoberts relieved of assignment as company commander & Lt. William T. Bailey assumed command. Company set up across the river west of San Jose. Began intensive training & preparation for another mission."

   
 

 

 

30 January 1945

 

 

 

"The 1st and 3rd plt's. returned having made no enemy contacts."

 

 

 

 

31 January 1945

 

 

 

Something new was initiated when we moved into our new camp north of the Bugsanga River. Our guard detail now still consisting of the 1st, 2nd, and 4th platoons moved back to the new camp 27 January. The camp was completely built, and all we had to do was move in. The something new was that now we had company messes. Things had changed, too, at the task force headquarters before we left. It had become a base command, and the headquarters area had been greatly expanded. Tents housing various commands and administrative sections now surrounded the house. New roads had been built. One project was to build a road through a carabao wallow. We watched this undertaking with great interest. The road could have been moved a short distance and missed this quagmire, but some hard head insisted on going right through the middle of the muddy hole. They hauled rock and gravel for about a week before it quit sinking out of sight. A large maintainer moved in to smooth the road bed out. The maintainer promptly sank several feet. Bulldozers moved in to pull the maintainer out, but the cables kept snapping and the maintainer kept gradually sinking. When we left not much of the maintainer was still in sight. It can be peculiar what passes for entertainment in the Army.

 Now that we had our own mess, things seemed better - at least for a time, until the newness wore off. We did have a chance to supplement our rations. Everyone was on the look-out for something new and different. These were not always sought from the Quartermaster in the form of "requisitioning." One day one of our well respected company members strode proudly into the  orderly room and announced that we were going to have corn on the cob. He had located a Filipino farmer who had corn for sale and had bought plenty for our company mess to serve. He invited us to come out to a jeep and see for ourselves. We went out to see his purchase -- sure enough he had a large amount of corn -- old dried corn.

 Our master provider, Ed Flash, and his two able assistants, John Pulos and Angelos Kambakumis, did not disappoint us. Somehow they obtained a real electric refrigerator. I have no idea of how they accomplished this, since such items were almost non-existent. It had to have come from the Navy. They pulled-off another coup by acquiring an ice-cream making machine. I know this was an Army-Navy deal. Our first sergeant, "Moose" Baldwin, was in on this acquisition. I suspect a jeep was traded for the ice-cream machine, and that was possibly the thing traded for the refrigerator. We would "requisition" a jeep after making a deal. The jeep would be taken to the beach, loaded on a lighter, and taken out and put aboard the ship. Once aboard it was painted Navy gray and renumbered. In this way the ship now had a jeep of their own, and we had our piece of equipment. The biggest problem with this "requisitioning" system was that speed was essential. There were MP check points at various places on the roads. The MP's checked all vehicles to see if the number of the vehicle was on the stolen list. This necessitated that the "requisition" be made a short time before the transfer of equipment was made.

This was no problem for professionals, though.

 


Richard Lampman

"On Mindoro we had a Jeep - when we found abandoned out in the irrigation ditch (15th to 26 Dec.) (About 7 of us). Mike [PFC Mike Natalie] didn't steal it. He wrote out a requisition, took it to the motor pool and the SGT gave it to him! One or two of the others we were with went with him. I don't remember names of any of the others we were with. 

One of the few times I was in this Jeep happened while trucks were hauling food/ ammo from the boats to the area up on the hill. We drove up behind one of those trucks and unloaded two cases onto the hood of the Jeep and took them back to our "home". They contained turkeys. We collected enough food so we had a memorable Christmas dinner. We also had the regimental commander Col Jones join us!! Ask him if you dare?"

 

 

 

Some of our men liked to practice their marksmanship. They endeavored to be superior in all weapons, not just their assigned ones. This sometimes paid unexpected dividends.

A good example of this is given by Burl Martin. One night he and James McClain found out where they could obtain beer. They had stumbled upon a tent set up in a secluded area. A group of truck drivers had set up a beer store there. They could not suppress the suspicion that these black soldiers were, in the spirit of free-enterprise and for their own profit, directing some of the supplies they were hauling to the base in San Jose to this secluded tent. Burl and James bought a case to my tent, and left with their suspicions.

In the same spirit of free-enterprise, this led to the hatching of other thoughts and plans. Our heroes returned the following night with a "requisitioned" vehicle and a light machine gun. Moving into reasonable range they cut the top out of the tent with machine gun bursts. The several occupants of the tents departed for safer areas. The raiders loaded the contents of the tent onto their vehicle and moved these cases of beer to a safer place. In addition, to the great amount of enjoyment they and their friends received from these suds they also felt a sense of achievement knowing they had driven some fellow soldiers from a life of crime. Like so many other deserving men in our unit, their efforts went unrewarded.

Except, that is, for some beers.

One hardly needs another example of the superiority of initiative being shown by our airborne troops. They were constantly training, even on their own time. Tony Lopez and George Pierce were exceptional scouts, and even on their own time they would be practicing scouting and patrolling and, in their words, "living off the land".

 


Tony Lopez

"George Pierce & myself took a GI truck and got in line with the rest and were loaded. We went to the Company area and distributed the rations. We had plenty of flour,sugar, etc. We had the makings of pies, so we made large pies and coffee. We had dried fruit in large five gallon cans (square). We made an oven in the side of a hill by carving out a large hole. We used the square cans as pie pans.

I remember we asked the company commander and a couple of 2nd Lt's to have some pie, and they couldn't believe it! It turned out real good. They couldn't believe we had so much good chow there. Later they wanted to make me a cook. I couldn't picture me as a cook."

 

On one occasion our “F” Company first sergeant brazenly walked into the QM dump, stepped into a truck waiting to be unloaded, and drove off. Of all things, the truck was loaded with canned fruit, mostly cherries. Undismayed, he and his cohorts set about building a still to make a distilled liquor. After scrounging around the big sugar mill and other places for parts, including copper tubing, they built an apparatus and soon were producing a potent drink. One thing could be said for sure about the cherry flavored brew, was that those who drank some of it would never forget it. It must have been 180 proof.

One night a sergeant from "E" Company came to our tent and motioned for me to come outside. When I came out he asked, "Lieutenant, do you want a case of beer?"

Even though I knew the sergeant well I could not believe this, but I replied that I did. He took me over to a parked deuce and a half, jumped up on the bed, and slid a case of beer back to me. The next day we heard that a crime had been committed the night before.  As a truck was pulling away from the M.P. check point near the beach, a soldier had stepped up on the running board and into the passenger side of the truck. He was armed with a .45 caliber pistol and had the driver stop and get out. Then he drove off into the night. Those of us who knew the sergeant well knew he was no criminal. He was a kind and just man, looking out for the welfare of his fellow comrades.

We were getting too settled, so a change must be in the making. Beside training everyday brings on a restlessness for action. The unit was in peak condition and ready for combat.

Our battalion surgeon, Doctor "Doc" Charles H. Bradford had a new assistant. 1st Lt. Charles Donus had joined us just before we left Leyte, bound for Mindoro. He was a free spirit. For the landing he packed his musette bag with bottles of booze. After the landing when "Doc" Bradford became aware of this he was shocked. Doc was a real soldier and such behavior did not fit his pattern of soldierly behavior.

After we set up our camp we bathed and washed our clothing in the Bugsanga River. The river was wide and shallow, but the waters were swift and clear. One day Dr. Donus lost his fatigue trousers in the swift current, and they were last seen heading west toward the sea. Some of the jokers immediately went to our aid station and told Doc that he should head for the river quickly because his latest assistant had flipped, too. They said that Donus had thrown his pants in the river and was running around half naked. What really made the story more plausible was that back at Dobodura, Doc's assistant at that time had suffered a mental breakdown, had to be restrained, and shipped out. Moreover, this new assistant goes into a beach landing assault against unknown enemy capabilities with no personal belongings, just whiskey. Doc, of course, left immediately and met Donus coming along the trail heading for the cantonment area 'sans coulette.'

For a short time each doctor seemed to question the other's sanity.

Doc always reacted with kind forbearance, much like a father toward mischievous children. Of all the men in our battalion, Doc was the most loved and respected. This gentleman was a friend of all - private, non-com, lieutenant, captain, and field grade. When I say gentleman, I use the most appropriate word for he is a true gentleman. When I read of George Washington and Robert E. Lee and other famous gentleman I am reminded of Charles Bradford. He certainly carries on the great tradition of the William Bradford family.

As a medical doctor he specialized in orthopedic surgery, possessing unusual ability in this field. There are still old 503d'ers with all their arms and legs who would have lost one or more were it not for the great skill and competence of Doc.  Ask Richard Lampman, Herb Elmore, and so many others.

Great soldier, skilled surgeon, "real" gentleman Doc. was still much more. He was one of the most educated men I have ever known. Doc's knowledge included the classics, history, and philosophy. He had a naturally inquisitive mind and sought to find out about everything surrounding him. A good example of his inquisitiveness was shown when the story came out about "Commando" Kelly winning the Congressional Medal of Honor. One of the weapons he used, according to the news, was 60mm mortar shells for hand-grenades.

We had a lively discussion over whether a man could slam a 60mm shell against the ground hard enough to cause the safety mechanism to deactivate, thus arming the round. While we talked, Doc took some rounds out into the forest and ran his own tests. For the life of me I cannot remember the results. Being a friend of this great man is cherished by me.

Charles Donus was a very competent, hardworking doctor who served us well. We appreciated him. He was much like us in finding fun where he could.

For a few days we had time for recreation on the flat, dusty plains of Mondoro. I can still see Al Turinsky, John Britten, Lawson Caskey, Tom McNerney and so many of our battalion officers on the volleyball court. We played touch football, too. There were movies every night. We had to be hard up for entertainment to sit through some of them. As the war progressed the movies seemed to grow ever more poor.

   

"Company rested and staged for their next mission."

This entry was through 15 Feb 45.

 

   
"San Jose, Mindoro island operation concluded."
   

We are alerted. The latest, right off the first hole, is that thirty-six planes will transport our battalion,  Sunday morning 4 February, to drop on a radio station somewhere. The 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment staged here and took off for a jump on Tagaytay Ridge which is located on Luzon south of Manila. We are resentful of this junior outfit getting a mission before us. We, of course, had no idea of the plan being developed for us.

 

McRoberts and LaVanchure are back.  McRoberts has been assigned to command 2nd Battalion Headquarters Company. I don't understand the entry in the "F" Company History  ofb29 January (above) which relieves McRoberts of command of "F" Company. Bailey had commanded "F" Company since August with no break in command. La Vanchure is now executive officer of "F" Company. Walter P. Massey has been transferred to the 511th PIR. A new officer has joined us. He is 1st Lt William G. Campbell and has been assigned to the 3rd platoon as platoon leader.

 

 

This is the last entry for the 2nd Battalion S-1 Journal. These excellent journals are the work of 1st Lt Thomas P. McNerney. After he was moved to other positions I don't know of the existance of another battalion adjutant's journal. This is very unfortunate.

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