Category Archives: WWII

The Legacy – Survivors Stories of the USS Indianapolis

My second post about the USS Indianapolis.  This time you get the testimony of its survivors, a look at the commander of the sub which sank it, and other facts, not the Hollywood version.

They carried the components for Little Boy to the island of Tinian on July 26,1945, the first Atomic Bomb later dropped on Hiroshima.

Their mission was so secret, they were denied a proper escort to protect from submarine attack, because “they weren’t there”.  A distress signal they sent was ignored as a Japanese ruse.

While over 900 of the 1,100 plus crew survived the sinking, only some 300 were rescued.  Hundreds were killed by repeated shark attacks.  Just 317 survived, only to band together again in a fifty-year fight to clear their captain’s name.

The original post:

USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage


Bougainville – The Battle of the Coconut Grove

An important element of the island hopping campaign, but like many other battles seldom mentioned, was one which took place after the securing of Guadalcanal.  This episode (video link at bottom) is one of a series entitled Battle History of the U.S. Marine Corps: Marines in the Pacific.

Courtesy of Wikipedia (most links disabled):

The Battle of the Coconut Grove was a battle between United States Marine Corps and Imperial Japanese Army forces on Bougainville. The battle took place on 13–14 November 1943 during the Bougainville campaign, coming in the wake of a successful landing around Cape Torokina at the start of November, as part of the advance towards Rabaul as part of Operation Cartwheel.

In the days following the landing, several actions were fought around the beachhead at Koromokina Lagoon and along the Piva Trail. As the beachhead was secured, a small reconnaissance party pushed forward and began identifying sites for airfield construction outside the perimeter. In order to allow construction to begin, elements of the 21st Marine Regiment were ordered to clear the Numa Numa Trail. They were subsequently ambushed by a Japanese force and over the course two days a pitched battle was fought. As the Marines brought up reinforcements, the Japanese withdrew. By the end of the fighting, the Marines had gained control of a tactically important intersection of the Numa Numa and East–West Trails. A further action was fought around Piva Forks in the days following the ambush.


In early November, US forces had landed around Cape Torokina and established a beachhead, as part of Allied efforts to advance towards the main Japanese base around Rabaul, the isolation and reduction of which was a key objective of Operation Cartwheel.  A Japanese counter landing at Koromokina Lagoon was defeated in the days following the US landing, and the beachhead was subsequently secured.  Following this, a blocking force was pushed forward towards the Piva Trail, a key avenue of approach towards Cape Torokina, to defend the narrow beachhead while further supplies and reinforcements were landed.   The Japanese commander on Bougainville, Lieutenant General Harukichi Hyakutake, ordered the 23rd Infantry Regiment to advance towards Cape Torokina from the main Japanese position around Buin Heavy fighting subsequently took place during the Battle for Piva Trail as the Japanese advancing from Buin clashed with the Marine blocking force. The battle resulted in the capture of Piva by US forces, after which a small reconnaissance party of naval construction personnel, escorted by a force of Marine infantrymen, was sent out in search of of a site suitable for an airfield. Led by Commander William Painter, a Civil Engineer Corps officer, the party identified a suitable location about 1 mile (1.6 km) beyond the perimeter, about 3 miles (4.8 km) inland, and they set about preparations for the construction of several landing strips for bomber and fighter aircraft.

E04: Bougainville – Securing the Solomons  23 min

Logistics involved in conducting the Pacific Campaign

Apart from abysmal ignorance of the vast territories which western countries had colonized in southeast Asia, the logistics of conducting the Pacific Campaign are staggering.  The China-Burma-India (CBI) campaign is no less daunting.  Using overlay maps of countries shows the magnitude of this endeavor.  Google prevents showing the actual maps, links provided must be used.   First, an overlay of Australia on the U.S.:

The Philippines overlayed on Australia

Indonesia overlay on Australia

Overlay of Indonesia on the U.S. gives another perspective.  Apparently, it’s much longer than the 3,000 miles wide area of the U.S.

Google’s limited list precludes any ability to show the CBI area overlayed on the Pacific island chains extending from say, New Guinea to Okinawa.

However, China overlayed on the U.S. would provide a crude idea of the distances.

You can contract (-) each overlay to show the surrounding areas.

Courtesy of the Nations Online Project

Map of Southeast Asia Region



The Norwegian Resistance – Max Manus: Man of War

I only just today found out about Max; a Norwegian saboteur and others with him who fought the Nazis after Quisling’s betrayal.  While the film makers may have “created situations for dramatization”, this is a true story, and testament of their gallant, courageous resistance.

Red title is a live link.  English subtitles.

Max Manus: Man of War



Admiral Chester Nimitz

A good biography on Admiral Chester Nimitz

“When I assumed command of the Pacific Fleet in 31 December, 1941; our submarines were already operating against the enemy, the only units of the Fleet that could come to grips with the Japanese for months to come. It was to the Submarine Force that I looked to carry the load until our great industrial activity could produce the weapons we so sorely needed to carry the war to the enemy. It is to the everlasting honor and glory of our submarine personnel that they never failed us in our days of peril.”

Chester W. Nimitz

The Bloody 100th Bomb Group

For perspective, some excerpts from this documentary:

Missions took from eight to ten hours.  One of the original crew of the 100th commented on losses: “Of the original crews who went over, only 14% got their 25 missions; 86% were shot down.”

Heavy contrails, produced by hot exhaust gasses with the cold air at 25 thousand feet became cover for Luftwaffe attacks from the rear.  A gunner’s comment:
“They’d sneak up in the contrails, you’d never even know they were there. And uh, they’d shoot you, shoot you up there”.

Precision bombing is a relative term; in WW II, a bomb landing within 300 meters of the aiming point is “on target”.

Ironic comment made during a preflight briefing: “The temperature at the target, should be relatively warm, -25 degrees centigrade”.

Guys were freezing to death; -50, -60 degrees Fahrenheit up there. The prime combat casualty of WW II among army personnel in WW II was frostbite.

1000 bombers took 2 hours to cross a single point.

At the height of the bombing campaign, losses approached 50%. Averaged out overall losses were about 10%. In comparison, infantry losses were under 1 percent.