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Everything posted by unterhund

  1. Words fail. "Osprey quality" indeed. I presume that I am not alone in my appreciation of your research and your artwork. Historians in the future will appreciate them also.
  2. As with the previous member who has posted on this thread, I also traveled on the Rose as a dependent. Aboard her, my mother, sister, and I sailed to Germany in July of 1962 to join my father. Dad was a career infantryman who had gone six months ahead of us to his posting in Wurzburg, and later Aschaffenburg, as an officer in the 7th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Division ("Cottonbalers"). He ultimately commanded the 2nd Battalion of that regiment. I was 7 years old when we crossed the Atlantic, and the trip was very exciting, especially the life boat drills. What a great time and setting for a little boy to spend the next three years--West Germany during the Cold War. I was often surrounded by soldiers, nearly all of them saluting my Dad, as APCs and tanks clattered by. The Cuban Missile Crisis and JFK's assassination occurred while we were in Germany and were two of many times when Dad got up in the night, laced up his boots and joined his men on alert, not returning from the field for weeks. Thanks for posting the pictures from the brochure, they really gave me a rush of nostalgia.
  3. I'll probably have to post them in whatever forum is appropriate, as the size of the collection defies a shadow box or album. Dad was fortunate in the sense that he wasn't assigned to the 17th Infantry until late July of 1943. Consequently, he missed the terrible fight for Attu. His future battalion, the 3rd of the 17th, suffered high casualties on Attu, especially during the final "Banzai" charge. He had been serving at Camp Adair in the 104th Division, his first assignment since OCS, but he couldn't stand all that training, the "hurry up and wait" factor, so he requested a transfer to an overseas unit four times. His request was finally granted in June of 1943 and away he went to the Aleutians. He commanded the 4th platoon of K Company, 17th Infantry, during Operation COTTAGE, the assault on Kiska, Operation FLINTLOCK, the assault on Kwajalein Atoll, and Operation KING II, the liberation of Leyte in the Philippines. During KING II, he suffered malaria and schistosomiasis and was evac'd to a hospital in January of 1945. He rejoined his platoon for the last weeks of the mop-up, and then was kicked upstairs to be the battalion motor transport officer in 3-17s headquarters company. Despite this assignment, he was one of the first men in his battalion to go ashore for Operation ICEBERG, the assault of Okinawa. During that fight, his headquarters company was almost overrun by Japanese in the midst of their May counter-offensive. He lost many friends in the holocaust on Okinawa. He rarely spoke of what happened to him during the war, it's only diligent research that has revealed the details of his service. The clues were in his mementos and old records, which I found in footlockers in the basement after my Mom died. A cousin bequeathed to me after his own death a collection of letters that Dad wrote during the war to his big brother, my uncle. They chronicle his progress from bewildered draftee to seasoned 1st Lieutenant. I supplemented those with info from books and on-line to recreate the whole epic.
  4. Thanks, friends. I figured it was more of a souvenir than something he actually wore. Dad was never one to wear an insignia or a decoration to which he was fully entitled. He had plenty that he actually earned to wear instead. His career lasted from March of 1941 through April of 1968, starting out as a Private and retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel, the whole time in the infantry. He "only" saw combat in World War II in the 17th Infantry, but that was plenty. Of the six officers in his rifle company during the war, he was the only one not wounded or killed. I'll be posting more of his memorabilia in the future.
  5. Hello all. I recently found this patch among my late father's mementos. He served in the 17th Infantry Regiment of the 7th Infantry Division during World War II. His division was assigned to V Amphibious Corps in Hawaii in the fall of 1943, prior to Operation FLINTLOCK, the invasion of Kwajalein Atoll. It appears to have never been worn. if I recall correctly, members of a corps wore their division patch as their SSI unless they were in the corps' staff. I can only imagine how he got this patch. I'd appreciate it if anyone can instruct me as to the regs regarding corps patches and just who would wear them. At first I didn't know what the patch was, but during research this morning regarding V Amphibious Corps, I discovered an illustration of the patch and at last determined what significance it had for my Dad. I consider myself quite fortunate to not only have had a father with such notable service in the war, but also a father who maintained a large collection of memorabilia.
  6. espeed, those are wonderful pictures. My research has focused largely on the 3rd Battalion of the 17th Infantry, but I would be happy to address any questions you might have. I have some knowledge of the 7th Division's early days 1940-43, and of the fight for Attu, but my father joined the regiment on Adak in July of 1943, as a replacement platoon leader after Operation LANDCRAB. I can tell you a fair amount about the subsequent campaigns. If you have not read them already, you should check out "The Capture of Attu," "Island Victory," and Love's "History of the 7th Division in World War II." These books were the starting point for my research. The exigencies of time have removed the original picture to which I referred, so I attach it here.
  7. Hello friends. I have revived this topic after much research. My project, the telling of my late father's service in WWII, is still underway. Five years have passed, involving countless hours poring over photos, letters, mementos, and records. I have learned a bit more about the photo. It does NOT depict members of the 7th Division, but rather, members of the 3rd Battalion, 87th Infantry, loading onto an LCM assigned to the attack transport USS Zeilin. Here's an interesting detail: although the 87th mountain soldiers had their own prized rucksacks, they were ordered to wear the old-style haversacks for the water-borne portion of Operation COTTAGE, because some officer found a regulation that required all infantrymen in an amphibious operation to use the haversack. Other photos and films of the embarkation on Adak Island prior to COTTAGE show 87th troops wearing the haversack, and also carrying their rucksacks. See "Packs On," a book about the 10th Mountain Division, pg. 21, for this esoteric detail. The 87th Infantry was to be the first unit ashore at Kiska at H-Hour on D-Day, preceded by members of the 1st Special Service Force and the Alaskan Scouts, who marked the beaches and cleared some of the numerous boulders on the shore. Dad's unit, the 17th Infantry Regt., followed shortly after the 87th, passing through the mountain troops and moving further into the hills in the center of the island. I found Dad's maps of Kiska, one of them marked with a pencil line indicating his platoon's course over the island in search of the Japanese. As is well-known, the enemy had evacuated Kiska over two weeks previously. Unfortunately, the fratricide/amicide on Kiska was initiated by panicked members of the 3rd Bn., 87th Inf., in the evening of D-Day on Kiska, August 15th, 1943. It's possible that some of the men in the photo were victims. The "fog of war" was both metaphoric and real on Kiska. Radio communications were compromised by magnetic interference and wet weather, in addition to the radio silence required in the early hours of the operation. Veterans recalled that high winds and naval gunfire also obscured the passwords and challenges. All the men in COTTAGE had been appraised of a large enemy force that, based on the prior fight for Attu, was expected to be vicious, devious, and unwilling to surrender, hence there was a great deal of apprehension in the ranks of the assault force. Additionally, the 87th had never trained above the battalion level prior to its deployment to the Aleutians, and the regiment's doctrines were somewhat different than that of the other components of the operation. The 87th arrived on Adak too late for the large rehearsal landings for COTTAGE on nearby Great Sitkin Island. The photographer, Lt. Commander Horace Bristol, had been a long time LIFE photographer and gave up his job for a commission as one of the first members of the Steichen unit. Thanks to all here for indulging me; I wanted to correct the mistakes in my prior posts and give illumination to the photo.
  8. Further research indicates that this General Stewart is indeed the individual I mentioned in the previous post. As a Lieutenant Colonel in the 7th Division's days at Fort Ord under General Stilwell, Stewart was a Lieutenant Colonel and the C.O. of the 75th Field Artillery Battalion. At that time, the 75th FA Bn was still horse-drawn, one of the last horse-arty units in the Army. They gave up their horses in mid-1942. It seems that General Stewart never lost his love for horses and carried it to the 7th Division's occupation of Korea in the fall of 1945.
  9. A correction to my post from yesterday: CARILLON was the code name for the entire atoll; PORCELAIN was the code name for Kwajalein Island itself.
  10. Many, if not most, of the helmet nets used by the Army's 7th Infantry Division for Operation FLINTLOCK on Kwajalein were woven by local Hawaiian women and given as gifts.
  11. That's very nice work GITom1944. I appreciate being quoted. The B/W panels were indeed meant to prevent incidents of fratricide. Some of the participants for Operation FLINTLOCK, the invasion of Kwajalein Atoll, had been on Kiska Island five months before when "friendly fire" from fellow infantrymen took the lives and also wounded several members of the 87th Infantry Regt. I have a copy of General Corlett's standing orders for Operation COTTAGE, the invasion of Kiska, and ironically, it indicates that similar panels were issued for that operation as well, in addition to very large fluorescent orange panels for squads to deploy on the ground. But they were either not used or were not visible in the fog of that island when some panicked members of the 87th fired on each other. The fratricide on Kiska was an unfortunate start to an otherwise splendid record of the 87th in subsequent European campaigns. The B/W panels were used by the 32nd and 184th Inf. Regts. on Kwajalein Island (code-named CARILLON) on February 1st-4th, 1944, but not by the 17th Inf. on January 31st on CARLOS and CARLSON Islands, nor by the 17th Inf on BURTON Island on February 3rd and 4th. The panels were discarded by the 32nd and 184th Regts. afterwards and not used in the 7th Division's fights on Leyte and Okinawa. As might be obvious, I've done a bit of research on the service of the 7th Division during WWII, primarily focusing on the 17th Infantry Regiment, in order to learn more about my late father's experiences. Operation FLINTLOCK was considered at the time to be an important event and called by many "the most perfect amphibious operation of the war," but with the passage of time and the death of most of the veterans, FLINTLOCK rarely appears in the short versions of Pacific War histories. My old man would have been gratified to see your model.
  12. My Dad was a rifle platoon leader in the 17th Infantry Regiment during Operation COTTAGE and kept a number of mementos from his WWII service. Among them are an "oilskin" ATF9 patch and a copy of General Corlett's general orders for the operation. The orders state that all personnel were to wear the "long knives" patch on both left and right shoulders of their jackets and on their shirts. Corlett was a detail fanatic during planning, a reputation he had since at least World War I. He had some concern about accidental fratricide, which I believe was one of the reasons for ordering the patch to be worn on both shoulders. The general orders also warn about being "trigger happy" and suggests several passwords that could not be pronounced by Japanese personnel, e.g, "lollipop" and "long limb." Alas, Operation COTTAGE is best known as an example of fratricide; on Kiska, the "fog of war" was literal as well as figurative, and the great anxiety among those units who had no prior combat experience (the 17th Infantry was the exception, having endured the frigid bloodshed on Attu) may have contributed to the needless deaths in the 87th Infantry Regiment.
  13. I've got one of those that my Dad picked up on Kiska during Operation COTTAGE. As most know, the Japanese had evacuated more than two weeks before the Allied invasion, leaving only a couple dogs behind. An Air Force pilot who was among those dispersing the leaflets later said, "We dropped thousands of those leaflets on Kiska, but the dogs couldn't read."
  14. My father was a rifle platoon leader in the 7th Division's 17th Infantry Regiment during WWII. At least some of the helmet nets worn by the 7th Div. dogfaces during Operation FLINTLOCK on Kwajalein Atoll were hand-woven by civilian women in Hawaii and given to the division before the operation. The men were issued paint and instructed to paint their helmets themselves in a camouflage pattern. The colors were a shade of green and a mustard-yellow. Most of the men retained the nets and the painted helmets for Operation KING II on Leyte in the Philippines and Operation ICEBERG on Okinawa.
  15. The lyricist was Air Force Colonel William O, Eareckson, who, prior to the Kiska assault, actually went ashore during the battle on Attu Island in the company of General Simon Bolivar Buckner and was slightly wounded while venturing a bit too near the front for someone in his position. Regarding the song, many members of ATF9 called themselves "Corlett's Cutthroats," or "Corlett's Long Knives." Although the 1st SSF had their own V42 daggers, the other infantrymen in the assault force had no issue blade beyond their bayonets, and a newspaper account written from Adak Island before the operation noted that "all" the infantrymen had each found "widowmakers," or "hunting knives" prior to the assault. My father was a rifle platoon leader during Operation COTTAGE, and I love to find any material related to it. I presume Colonel Shisler was one of the Marines in General H. M. Smith's training contingent who accompanied the doughboys to Kiska. Thanks for posting this.
  16. Would this be the same General Stewart who became the 7th Infantry Division's artillery commander after the previous div/arty C.O., General Archibald Arnold, became the division C.O. in the Spring of 1944? For my own research, I'd be interested in any info you might have on the 7th Div's occupation duties in Korea in the Fall of 1945.
  17. I revisit this thread only to correct an error. Additional research has revealed to me that the Japanese indeed desired to salvage the radar from the wreck of the HMS Prince of Wales, but were unsuccessful. I don't know how this rumor of the radar being salvaged and employed on Kiska started, but I apologize for perpetuating it.
  18. ...found this shot on line. Col. Saffarans is describing a scene of jungle training to the president. Standing on the left is Admiral William D. Leahy, FDR's Chief of Staff. To the president's left in the car is Lt. Gen. Robert Richardson, who was in charge of all Army training under Nimitz and for a while the military governor of Hawaii. This occasion was during FDR's conference in Hawaii with Nimitz and Macarthur, July, 1944. During the same tour of Oahu, he also reviewed my father's unit, the Army's 7th Infantry Division, on a parade ground near Schofield Barracks.
  19. I've revived this thread because I discovered it while googling for further info about Bob's visit to the Unit Jungle Training Center in 1944. My late father had attended this school a few weeks before Hope's visit. The man shaking Bob's hand and driving the jeep in the pictures above is Colonel William Crowell "Wild Bill" Saffarans, a former Georgetown Hoyas football star who, just before coming to Hawaii to build and run the center, was in charge of the U.S. Army's first Ranger school in the states. Using Nisei Army engineers, who were trusted at the time with picks and shovels but not rifles, Saffarans had the center built and up and running in eleven days. It was a rigorous course modeled after Ranger training. FDR toured the center in July of 1944 with Saffarans guiding him. I've got some mementos of the training that I'll put here once I get my scanner back up and running.
  20. My father collected and managed to keep a large number of trinkets and mementos from his 27-year career as an Army infantryman. When I am gone, these items will be shared among my five grandsons, although I intend to donate most of his orders, maps, etc. to the Infantry Museum at Fort Benning. It will be difficult to determine who gets what, especially the swords he took from a Japanese major during "The Battle of the Ridgelines" on Leyte in December of 1944. His first action in a combat zone was on Kiska, but due to the prior evacuation of the Japanese on that island, Dad did not come under enemy fire until five-plus months later, when he was on Ebeye Island on Kwajalein Atoll during Operation FLINTLOCK.
  21. I revisited my research materials regarding Operation COTTAGE this afternoon and determined that the 1st SSF did not spend any significant time on Adak. Upon arrival at one of Adak's harbors, it was determined by a small shore party that the original bivouac area was inadequate and the unit shipped instead to Amchitka Island. Their final training occurred there. The 1st and 3rd Regiments of the Force were part of the initial operation, spearheading the assault along with a contingent of Alaska Scouts in the early hours of August 15th, while the 2nd Regiment remained on Amchitka in full jump gear as ready reserve. I neglected in my prior post to include the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment, a component of the newly-authorized 10th Mountain Division. This regiment was among those training on Adak in late July and early August of 1943. It was the 87th that suffered the bulk of the friendly-fire casualties on Kiska during the first day and a half of the operation.
  22. Adak saw many infantrymen treading its muskeg as well as Air force and Naval personnel. Among others, the 17th Infantry Regt. stayed there in squad tents after the Attu battle while training for the assault on Kiska. The California National Guard unit, the 184th Infantry, which later was incorporated into the 7th Division, was there for the training. Operation COTTAGE, the code-name for the Kiska operation, would have been the first combat operation for the 184th. As we now know, there was ultimately no combat on Kiska, unless one includes the dreadful friendly-fire incidents and the victims of Japanese booby-traps. Of course, many Japanese were killed or wounded on Kiska by naval and aerial bombardment before the furtive evacuation. The Canadian contingent of Operation COTTAGE trained on Adak as well. One of the important lessons from the Attu battle was that the infantry should learn how to walk on muskeg before fighting on it. The vast majority of US troops that fought on Attu three months before COTTAGE had shipped directly from California and never set foot on Alaska soil until they left their Higgins boats on the rocky Attu beaches. Consequently, there was very intensive infantry training on Adak as well as a practice landing and "field problems" on Adak's neighboring island of Great Sitkin. After Kiska was assaulted on August 15th, 1943, and found abandoned, numerous personnel were stationed there who had already been on Adak; many of these were non-combat forces who nevertheless might want a good blade. The knife in question may never have been carried by an infantryman, but it still has important historical value. As we collectors often wish; if only it could talk! Immediately prior to Operation COTTAGE, a journalist on Adak noted that most of the men in "Amphibious Training Force 9"--the euphemism for the Kiska assault force--had obtained civilian-made knives whenever, wherever, and however they could. (There were no M3 Trench Knives or even M1918 knives available in the Aleutians.) The only "officially" issued "fighting knives" for Operation COTTAGE were the V42s of the 1st SSF--which were indeed available by that time to the "Force Men." The private acquisitions, along with the Bowie-knife design of ATF9's shoulder patch, led to the nickname, "Corlett's Long Knives," and variations of such, for the units involved. The knives, the patch, and the nicknames were not officially sanctioned by the War Department. Nice find. I envy the new owner.
  23. Mifune Toshiro starred in a 1965 Japanese film depicting the evacuation, but I have not seen it. It goes by different titles; "Retreat From Kiska," and "Miraculous Military Operation in the Pacific" among them. During the war, the leaders in Tokyo tried to make the most of the disastrous over-extension of their forces that the operations in the Aleutians represented. The nearly-complete annihilation of the men on Attu, including the climactic Banzai charge, was celebrated as the very definition of heroism and loyalty to the Emperor. The admittedly impressive escape from Kiska, under Kinkaid's nose, was also honored as an example of the greatness of the Emperor's forces. As the last Japanese boarded the evacuation ships, pre-timed explosions destroyed the island's radar (which had been recovered from the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and was the first radar the Japanese had a chance to examine and deploy in their own service), the escaping men shouted "Banzai" and cheered for their comrades lost on Attu and those lost on Kiska during American bombing raids. My research revealed, at least to myself, an interesting coincidence: Admiral Akiyama Monzo, commander of the fleeing garrison, and who helped planned the Kiska evacuation, was rewarded for the "success" of that action by being given command of Kwajalein Atoll. The southern portion of the atoll was seized by the 7th Division under General "Cowboy Pete" Corlett in February of 1944. It was units of the 7th Division, supplemented by others, and under command of Cowboy Pete, that had missed the chance to capture Admiral Akiyama months previously on Kiska. Akiyama was killed on Kwajalein Island, by either naval or Army artillery bombardment. I sometimes wonder if Corlett had a chance to view the body of his two-time opponent. I have read that Corlett presented Admiral R. K. "Terrible" Turner with a Japanese sword after Kwajalein was secured. It would have been appropriate if the sword had been Akiyama's, but that detail is lost to history.
  24. I revisited my copious notes about Operation COTTAGE and found that, in addition to several episodes of friendly-fire, there were many dubious claims made by members of ATF9. Even Colonel Frederick of the 1st SSF reported personally finding an open tin of milk that still tasted sweet. And of course, there is the better-known tale of hot coffee being found on a stove, which, combined with the reports of abandoned dogs, led Admiral King to say to Secretary Knox, "the Japs are very clever; they've even trained their dogs to brew coffee." Churchill was at the time meeting with Roosevelt at the first Quebec conference and at least once entered the conference's map room, stirring his coffee and saying, "Woof, woof!" Post-war interviews with captured Japanese officers revealed that the evacuation was complete and amazingly well-planned and executed. I am ready--indeed eager--to hear substantiated reports of actual contact with live Japanese personnel on Kiska. I will not discredit out-of-hand any story told by a veteran. I admit the possibility that an atrocity was committed on captured Japanese and covered up, but the search for intelligence on the island was VERY thorough, and anything of any conceivable value was reported, if only to alleviate embarrassment for Admiral Kinkaid. He gave the go-ahead for the operation despite speculation by his staff that the island had already been evacuated. Generals Buckner and Holland Smith, AAF Colonel Eareckson, and some lower-ranking officers were dubious about an enemy presence. Buckner and Smith both suggested a pre-op reconnaissance by Alaskan Scouts and the 1st SSF, which Kinkaid disallowed. There was even a betting pool on the number of Japanese to be found on the island, which was won by a photographer in Steichen's naval photographic unit, who bet on zero. Admiral King strangely faulted Admiral Rockwell, who was in direct command of COTTAGE, for the unopposed evacuation, and transferred him afterwards back to the states to command one of the amphibious schools. Yet, in my opinion, if anyone was responsible for the Japanese escape, it was Kinkaid, who was in overall command, and had authority over the supposedly impenetrable blockade of the island. The blockade had been suspended after the infamous "Battle of the Pips," in which U.S. Navy engaged a non-existent enemy and consequently opened a hole in the blockade. In that brief window, the Japanese evacuated, aided as much by the dynamic Aleutian weather as by the hole in Kinkaid's fleet.
  25. And here is the snapshot he found on Kiska. Who knows what happened to these people, and how long they waited for news of their loved one? Upon arrival at Adak, Dad described the enemy in a letter to his brother as "monkey men." He told me that after he found this photo, he realized that his enemy was just as human as himself. Sorry that I hijacked this discussion of shoulder patches. My best to all.
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