Richard Ira Bong- WWII Hero

Richard Bong

I could do a very lengthy blog about Richard Ira Bong but I decided to stay with the facts that really matter. For everything else I urge you to look up his name, so much has already written about him.

Today would have been his 99th birthday. He is credited with shooting down 40 enemy aircraft in aerial combat.

The citation on his Medal of Honor descried him best.

“The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Major (Air Corps) Richard Ira Bong (ASN: 0-433784), United States Army Air Forces, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 49th Fighter Group, V Fighter Command, Fifth Air Force, in action in the Southwest Pacific area from 10 October to 15 November 1944. Though assigned to duty as gunnery instructor and neither required nor expected to perform combat duty, Major Bong voluntarily and at his own urgent request engaged in repeated combat missions, including unusually hazardous sorties over Balikpapan, Borneo, and in the Leyte area of the Philippines. His aggressiveness and daring resulted in his shooting down eight enemy airplanes during this period.”

Ironically  though he didn’t die in combat but  he died in California while testing a jet aircraft.

But even the date of his death is significant because it was also the date that the Enola Gay dropped the “Little Boy” atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

enola

But despite that massive historic event , Richard Bong’s death was featured prominently in national newspapers,

paper

Happy Birthday Major Bong, may you rest in peace.

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The curious suicide of Hajime Sugiyama

Hajime Sugiyama

Now I am not a person who subscribes to conspiracy theories , but the suicide of Hajime Sugiyama appears to be a bit odd to me.

There were many Japanese officers who committed suicide at the end of WWII, but most would do this in the traditional way of of the ritual suicide of Seppuku, sometimes referred to as harakiri.

However, on September 12,1945 Hajime Sugiyama committed suicide by shooting himself four times in the chest with his revolver while seated at his desk in his office, 10 days after the surrender of Japan. At home, his wife also killed herself.

Getting back to Sugiyama’s  suicide though, he shot himself FOUR times in the chest with his revolver, this means he had to pull the trigger four times.

Maybe it is just me but to me that sounds quite bizarre. There are very few law enforcement agencies who would considered that to be a clear cut suicide. I am pretty sure under normal circumstances that would be treated as a homicide.

I have no way of proving that of course but to me it is a curious suicide.

 

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Hiroshima-The forgotten History.

hIROShima

Today marks the 74th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. So much has already been documented about this, so therefore I will focusing more on the lesser known facts about that fateful day and the aftermath

Enloa Gay

The crew of the Enola Gay consisted of 12 men. Prior to the war in the Pacifc and taking command of the Enola Gay, Colonel Paul W. Tibbets Jr had flown the lead bomber ‘Butcher Shop'(aka Big Tin Bird) for the first American daylight heavy bomber mission on 17 August 1942, a shallow penetration raid against a marshaling yard in Rouen in Occupied France.

First Lieutenant Jacob Beser was the radar specialist aboard the Enola Gay, 3 days later, he was a crew member aboard Bockscar when the Fat Man bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. He was the only crew member to be on both missions.

It was a common practice before the war for American Issei, or first-generation immigrants, to send their children on extended trips to Japan to study or visit relatives.There was, therefore, a sizable population of American-born Japanese living in their parents’ hometowns of Hiroshima. It is estimated that up to 11,000 Japanese-Americans died that day.

However  about 3,000 of them are known to have survived and returned to the U.S. after the war.Like other survivors they were called Hibakusha-person affected by a bomb’ or ‘person affected by the exposition to a bomb.

pamphlet

Before the atomic attacks, the US Air Force dropped pamphlets in Japan. They advised the citizens of  “prompt and utter destruction” and urged civilians to flee.

2019-08-06

The Lonesome Lady was shot down on 28 July, 1945 while bombing the Japanese Battleship Haruna, in Kure Harbor. Only the pilot, Thomas Cartwright, and Tail Gunner, Bill Abel, returned home from that mission.

Three planes that were flying missions over Hiroshima were shot down in the days before the bombing, with the crew of Lonesome Lady all managing to bail out and survive the crash… before being quickly captured and imprisoned in a base in Hiroshima. the instructions given to captured airmen was to tell captors the truth, as the US assumed that Japanese already knew what was planned, and telling the truth would possibly limit torture. But despite Captain Tom Cartwright telling his captors the truth, he was not believed and he was shipped off to Tokyo for a more ‘rigorous’ interrogation. This actually saved his life, as when the bomb hit Hiroshima. But six of his  crew men died as a result of blast wounds and radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on 6 August, 1945.

 

 

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Sources

New York Times Magazine

Gizmodo

UCLA

Wikipedia

 

Wim Kan’s World War 2 years.

WIM

Anyone living outside the Netherlands or the Flemish speaking part of Belgium will probably have never heard of Wim Kan.

It is actually not that easy to describe what he was, his title was cabaretier ,which is French for Cabaret performer. But I think the term ‘stand up comedian’ would be more relevant nowadays, even though that doesn’t really describe it accurately either.Because he cracked jokes, sang songs he had written himself, told stories.

He was one of the ‘Great 3’ cabaret acts of the Netherlamds, together with Win Sonneveld and Toon Hermans.

3

In 1936, he established the ABC Cabaret, which soon became one of the most successful Dutch cabaret groups, in which several artists debuted who later became famous.Wim Kan’s wife,Corry Vonk, was also a member of the group.

In 1940, the ABC Cabaret was touring the Dutch East Indies.(Now called Indonesia)While they were on tour in Indonesia, which was a Dutch Colony at the time, Germany invaded the Netherlands therefor Wim Kan and his Cabaret company could not return to the Netherlands.

POSTER

On 8 December 1941, the Dutch government-in-exile declared war on Japan. Wim Kan was called as a conscript with the KNIL. The Royal Dutch Indies army. He was assigned to  the Department of War as a radio broadcaster.By March 1942 all of Indonesia was occupied by Japan.On Friday the 13th of March, Wim Kan was made a prisoner of war, with POW number 71502.

He survived 13 Japanese camps. Probably because of his fame he ,did enjoy some protection of hard physical labour, but he was not completely exempt from working on the Burma railway.

railway

While he was in the camps he did do what he always done, entertain. He continued doing shows albeit in adapted form, and he continued writing songs. He also kept a diary of his years under captivity. These diaries were only released relatively recently.

Mt Dros, who was one of the 15,170 Dutchmen who survived the Burma Railway, said in an interview with a Dutch newspaper” The performances of Wim Kan were like small rays of light, and made us feel like we were home in the Netherlands again albeit for a short time.”

Shortly after the war ,on November 6,1945 Wim Kan staged a benefit show in Bangkok  for former prisoners of war. The show was called ‘Mystery in Budapest’

AFFICHE

Wim Kan and his wife returned to the Netherlands in 1948, where he became an even bigger star as when he was before the war.

When the Japanese Emperor Hirohito came for a state visit to the Netherlands October 1971, Wim Kan strongly protested and urged the Dutch government to get the Emperor tried for war crimes.

Wim Kan died age 72 on September 8, 1983.

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Sources

Trouw.nl

NIOD.nl

New York Times

Dutch Wikipedia

 

 

 

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George Takei and Executive Order 9066.

9066

I am not saying I agree with Executive Order 9066, in fact I strongly disagree with it. It was a breach of basic human rights.However it is also very easy for people nowadays to judge about things retrospectively and for people who never found themselves in the unprecedented times like WWII.

Executive Order 9066 was a US presidential executive order signed and issued during World War II by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942,less then 2 months after the Pearl Harbor attacks which dragged the US into WWII.

The order authorized the Secretary of War to prescribe certain areas as military zones, clearing the way for the incarceration of Japanese Americans, German Americans, and Italian Americans in U.S. internment camps.

Rohwehr

Over the years the US has received a lot of negative commentary about these camps, but they were not the only countries to have internment camps for citizens perceived to be as potential enemies. Canada, Great Britain  also had these type of camps and some had worse living conditions then the American camps.

George Takei, from  Star Trek fame , spent his formative years detained with his family in Japanese-American internment camps during World War II.

In 1942 aged 5 he and his family spent 3 months in a converted Horse race track called Santa Anita Park.

st anna

After 3 months the Takei family was transferred to the Rohwer War Relocation Center for internment in Rohwer, Arkansas.The family was later sent  to the Tule Lake War Relocation Center in California.

tule

George and his family remained interned until the end of the war.

Life was very hard in the internment camps but they were a far cry from the European concentration camps, therefore comparing them would be completely inaccurate.. People in the internment camps had no threat of death.

In total about 120,000 Japanese Americans ended up in the internment camps as per Executive Order 9066.

Takei had a number  relatives living in Japan during World War II. Among them were an aunt and infant cousin who lived in Hiroshima and who were both killed by the atomic bomb attack.

At the end of World War II, Takei and his family returned to Los Angeles.

Star trek

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Source

Variety

IMDb

The Verge

CNN

Owlcation

 

The unfortunate career of L. Ron Hubbard

l rON hUBBARD

Most people will associate the name of   L. Ron Hubbard with the Church of Scientology and his work as an author of science fiction books. Although one may not fully understand the concept of the Church of Scientology or agree with its teachings, you would have to agree it is a successful venture, and the same can be said about his work as an author.

blackout

But as the title suggests this blog is about his lesser known career. A career which wasn’t as  fruitful.

During WWII L. Ron Hubbard served in the US Naval and had actually commanded 2 naval vessels, the USS YP-422 and the USS PC-815. It is  the latter one I will be focusing on

The USS PC-815 was a PC-461-class submarine chaser built for the United States Navy during World War II.

PC 815

In November 1942, Hubbard was sent to the Submarine Chaser Training Center in Miami, Florida for training on submarine chaser vessels. He then went on a ten-day anti-submarine warfare training course at the Fleet Sound School in Key West .On January 17, 1943 he was posted in Portland, Oregon,where he took command of USS PC-815.

While he was in command of the vessel, Hubbard was involved in two bizarre naval incidents. In May 1943, he reported that his vessel had damaged and sank two Japanese submarines that surfaced off the coast of Oregon.

Over a duration of  68 hours, the ship dropped 37 depth charges in a “sea battle” that also involved the U.S. Navy blimps K-39 and K-33, the United States Coast Guard patrol boats Bonham and 78302, and the sub chasers USS SC-536 and USS SC-537, all were called upon to  to act as reinforcements. PC-815 was finally ordered back to base on 21 May. His superiors couldn’t find proof that any submarines had been sunk anywhere near the place which Hubbard indicated; his claims were dismissed.

In an eighteen-page after-action report, Hubbard stated  to have “definitely sunk, beyond doubt” one submarine and critically damaged another. The  submarine he claimed to have sunk was the I-76.

76

However that submarine was still operational in April 1944.

Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher a decorated Navy officer, was assigned to investigate Hubbard’s sinking of a Japanese submarine.In his report dated June 8, 1943 to the commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet, Fletcher writes, “An analysis of all reports convinces me that there was no submarine in the area.”

Admiral Fletcher’s investigation suggested that Hubbard mistakenly read a magnetic iron ore deposit on the ocean floor as two enemy submarines on their sonar.

report

The second incident nearly caused a diplomatic conflict between the US  and Mexico.In June 1943, the PC-815 traveled to San Diego, which was to be the new home port  for the vessel . She arrived there on the 2nd of  June 1943, and at the end of June was ordered to sea to join an anti-submarine training exercise.The exercise, held on 28 June, ended early and Hubbard took the opportunity to order an unscheduled and improvised gunnery exercise while anchored just off the Mexican territory of South Coronado Island to the south-west of San Diego.He mistakenly believed that the islands were uninhabited and situated within U.S. territory, so he carried out gunnery practice close to the islands.The islands were actually a base to  Mexican Navy personnel during the war.The Mexican government sent an official protest to the U.S. Government, as no gunnery operations had been scheduled.

The Mexican government filed a complaint  and two days later, Hubbard had to appear before a naval Board of Investigation in San Diego. He was found to have disregarded orders by carrying out an unsanctioned gunnery practice and violating Mexican waters. He was reprimanded and removed from command, effective July 7.

mexican report

 

The official incident report stated that he was “unsuitable for independent duties and lacking in the essential qualities of judgment, leadership, and cooperation,” and he was forced to perform administrative tasks for the rest of his years in service.

pc 815 2

 

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Sources

Vintage News

Business Insider

NavSource Online

 

 

 

The cowardly execution of Sgt.Leonard Siffleet.

Siffleet

The Japanese Imperial  Armed forces did claim they were honorable and conducted themselves in the way of the Bushido. In reality there was very little honour in how they conducted themselves, especially when it came to treating prisoners of war.

The Bushido code consists of a set of 8 virtues, one of them being Benevolence or Mercy this was virtue 3. It goes on to say:3.

“A human invested with the power to command and the power to kill was expected to demonstrate equally extraordinary powers of benevolence and mercy: Love, magnanimity, affection for others, sympathy and pity, are traits of Benevolence, the highest attribute of the human soul. Both Confucius and Mencius often said the highest requirement of a ruler of men is Benevolence.”

The last virtue indicates Character and Self-Control.8

“Bushido teaches that men should behave according to an absolute moral standard, one that transcends logic. What’s right is right, and what’s wrong is wrong. The difference between good and bad and between right and wrong are givens, not arguments subject to discussion or justification, and a man should know the difference.Finally, it is a man’s obligation to teach his children moral standards through the model of his own behavior: ”

Len Siffleet, was an Australian  special operations soldier,born on 14 January 1916 in Gunnedah, New South Wales. In the late 1930’s he moved to Sydney trying to join the Police. Unfortunately due to his eyesight he didn’t qualify to become a Police officer. In 1940 however he served with a searchlight unit at Richmond Air Force Base but was released after three months and returned to civilian life. In 1941 returned to his family to help look after his young brothers following the death of his Mother.

After completing a  radio communications course at Melbourne Technical College, he volunteered for special operations in September 1942 and was posted to the Services Reconnaissance Department (SRD) of the Allied Intelligence Bureau in Melbourne.

He was promoted to the rank of sergeant and transferred to M Special Unit in May 1943. Siffleet joined a party led by Sergeant H. N. Staverman of the Royal Netherlands Navy, which included two Ambonese privates, in New Guinea.

The reconnaissance group commenced its mission in north-east New Guinea in July, trekking across New Guinea’s mountainous terrain.

new guinea

In mid-September the mission, along with members of another special operations team travelling with them to Aitape, were discovered by New Guinean natives. During a short scuffle Siffleet managed to shoot  and wound one of their attackers,and  he managed to get away.However he was soon  caught again  and, along with his companions, was handed over to the Japanese.

The men were confined for several weeks before they were  taken down to Aitape Beach on the afternoon of 24 October 1943. Bound and blindfolded, surrounded by Japanese and native onlookers, they were forced to the ground.

3 men

 

On the orders of Vice-Admiral Michiaki Kamada of the Imperial Japanese Navy the men were beheaded. The officer who executed Siffleet, Yasuno Chikao, ordered a private to photograph him in the act.

There was absolutely no valid reason for the executions. The men were prisoners of war and should have been treated as such. Even according to their own Bushido code they should have shown compassion. But instead the executed unarmed men who were bound and blindfolded.

The photograph of Siffleet’s execution was  later discovered on the body of a dead Japanese major near Hollandia by American troops in April 1944.

beheading

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Soutce

Australian War Memorial

Find a Grave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pig Basket atrocity

basket

We all know about the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime and they are truly awful, mostly even hard to fathom, but we should never forget the crimes committed by the Japanese regime, very often they were just as evil if not worse..

One only had to look at the rape of Nanking or at the actions of Unit 731.

731

After the Allies capitulated to the Imperial Japanese army  in East Java,Indonesia, in 1942, approximately  200 allied troops  took to the hills around Malang. to fight as a guerrilla resistance force. Unfortunately they were eventually captured and tortured  by the Kempeitai,the military police arm of the Imperial Japanese Army.
Kempeitai

The captured soldiers were forcibly squeezed into 91-95 cm long bamboo baskets and transported in open trucks,the bamboo baskets were usually used to transport pigs, in temperatures reaching 38 degrees Centigrade . The prisoners of war , already suffering from severe dehydration due to the extreme heat, were then placed on waiting boats, which sailed off the coast of Surabaya, the baskets  were then thrown into the ocean. The prisoners were drowned or eaten alive by sharks.

Dutch girl Elizabeth Van Kampen, who was 15 at the time was one of the witnesses, below is her testimony

“At the beginning of October 1942 when my father and I walked over the main road near the coffee and rubber plantation Sumber Sewu, laying on the ridge of the Mount Semeru, when we heard trucks from a distance coming our way. We quickly hid behind the coffee bushes laying higher up than the road, (alas) we could see everything quite well.
We saw 5 open trucks, they were loaded with bamboo baskets with therein laying white men. We heard the men screaming and crying for water and for help in English and Dutch. The baskets were piled up on the open trucks, they were driving direction Banyuwangi.

I was 15 years old and so I could fully understand what was happening there in front of my eyes, but what touched me so much deeper were the voices of the desperate men begging for help and water.
I was hiding behind my father and I heard him softly saying; “Oh my God”.

We slowly walked home but over another road, neither of us said a word. There were no words for what we both had seen and heard…

After the war, I often wanted to talk with my father about that drama we had seen together. Had the Indonesians from Sumber Sewu seen those trucks? I shall never know.”

I believe the drawing at the start of the blog was drawn by Elizabeth

It is important to note that Indonesia was and still is predominantly a Muslim country, pigs are considered ‘dirty animals’ and any contact with pigs is seen as unholy. It is therefor not hard to believe that the allied troops were put in ‘pig baskets’ deliberately to ensure that local people would or could not help them, But even if they would have attempted to help they more then likely would have been executed anyway

Lieutenant General Hitoshi Imamura, commander in chief of the Japanese forces in Java, was acquitted on war crimes charges by a Netherlands court due to lack of evidence but was later charged by an Australian military court and sentenced to 10 years in prison, which he served from 1946–54 in Sugamo, Japan.

Hitoshi

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Sources

Shark attack file

De Indische kwestie

 

A destructive beauty.

boom

On July 16,1945,at 5:29 a.m the world witnessed a beautiful yet devastating event. When I say world I really mean only a select few. What they witnessed was the first ever nuclear test, designated the ‘Trinity Test’ it was part of the Manhattan Project.

The bomb that was detonated was ‘the gadget’.

gadget

Although we all know how devastating a nuclear device can be, there is something beautiful about it. Don’t get me wrong I don’t like nukes but the direct aftermath of the explosion does display a beautiful fireball and cloud.

The expanding fireball and shockwave of the Trinity test explosion, seen .025 seconds after detonation on July 16, 1945. It nearly looks like a perfect sphere.

0.025

The evolution of the Trinity fireball over the first 9 seconds, with the Empire State Building for scale. Image by Alex Wellerstein.

empire

The evolution of the Trinity fireball over the first 9 seconds, with the Empire State Building for scale. Image by Alex Wellerstein.

The fireball of the conventional explosion was visible from Alamogordo Army Air Field 60 miles (97 km) away, but there was little shock at the base camp 10 miles (16 km) away.

A few weeks after the Trinity test the US Army Airforce would drop 2 nuclear bombs on Japan,, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

 

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Rare historical Photos

 

Japanese attack on Fort Stevens-Oregon.

i 25

After the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7 1941, there was a fear that Japan had plans to invade the US. This never happened, although there had been a few attacks on American soil by Japan, these did very little damage.

The only military base ever to be attacked by Japan was Forts Stevens on the Oregon side of the mouth of the Columbia River.

The attack  occurred on June 21, 1942. After trailing American fishing vessels to bypass minefields, the Japanese submarine I-25 made its way to the mouth of the Columbia River. It surfaced near Fort Stevens.

Fort

The Japanese submarine I-25, commanded by Tagami Meiji, had been assigned to sink enemy shipping and attack the enemy on land with their 14 cm deck gun. Transporting a Yokosuka E14Y seaplane, it had a crew of 97.

i 25 plane

Just before midnight, the submarine used its 140-millimeter deck gun and fired 17 shells at the fort. Thinking that the return fires of the fort’s guns would only serve to more clearly reveal their position, the commander of Fort Stevens ordered his men not to return fire.  Instead a compete black out was ordered. The plan worked, and the bombardment was almost totally unsuccessful—a nearby baseball field bore the brunt of the damage.

Damage

The only significant damage was caused when one shell severed several large telephone cables.

American Army Air Corps planes on a training mission had seen the  the I-25 and called in her location,requesting  an A-29 Hudson bomber to attack. The bomber spotted the I-25, but she successfully escaped the falling bombs and submerged undamaged and got away.

Bomber

Although there were no injuries and very little damage, the Japanese attack on Fort Stevens did increase the fear of a Japanese invasion.

The Fort Stevens shelling was the only time that a continental United States military installation was attacked by the Axis Powers during World War II.

News Papaer

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Sources

Discerning History