World War II Memoir

T-4 John L. McHale, Army Serial No.13150911

 

(Sept 1, 1939  Germany’s invasion of Poland starts WWII.  Within a few   days, Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada  declare war on Germany.
(Dec 8, 1941  Japanese attack U.S. base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  Three days later, Germany and Italy back Japanese.   U.S. joins Allies.)
(June 4-6, 1942   Victory over 80-ship Japanese fleet near Midway Island shifts Pacific power to U.S. Navy.)

July, 1942        Two weeks after graduation at age 17 from LaSalle College High School,  Philadelphia, enlisted in US Army Signal Corps Reserve Corps (on-campus recruiting.)  First assignment, August, 1942, electronics training at Mastbaum Vocational High School, Philadelphia.
 

(July 21, 1942  Japanese forces occupy Buna, New Guinea.)
(Aug  7, 1942  U.S. attacks Guadalcanal island in Solomons.)
(Aug  26, 1942  Japanese land at Milne Bay, New Guinea.)

Sept 9, 1942 Began radar training at Temple University, Philaderlphia.
 

(Sept 11, 1942  Australians rout Japanese near Port Moresby, New Guinea.)
(Nov 2, 1942  Australians recapture Kokoda, New Guinea.
(Dec 1, 1942  Australians take Gona beachhead, near Buna.
(Jan 2, 1943  U.S. and Australians divide Buna area, New Guinea.)

Jan.30, 1943 Completed Temple U. electronics study with barely passing 70 grade.
Feb 6, 1943 To active duty, Fort Meade, Md.  Rode troop train to Camp Crowder, Neosho, Joplin, MO.for six weeks of Army basic training.
 

(Feb 8, 1943  Japanese evacuate Guadalcanal.)

March 1943     Began U.S. Army Signal Corps radar training at Camp Murphy, Jupiter, Fl.  On week-ends, public provided off-duty servicemen free hitchhike to Palm Beach. Women SPARS, the Coast Guard equivalent of  Navy’s WAVES – were housed at exclusive Biltmore Hotel taken over for wartime. Outnumbered at least 10 to 1 by hordes of off-duty sailors, soldiers, marines and coastguardsmen. Camp Murphy converted after war to Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

 

(April 20, 1943   Three airmen in raid led by Col. James Doolittle – the first  bombing of Japan -- beheaded by Japanese captors.)
(June 29, 1943  U.S. marines land at Nassau, near Lae, New Guinea.)
(Sept 5, 1943   U.S. paratroops surround 20,000 Japanese near Lae.)
(Sept 15, 1943  Allies gain control of Lae.)
(Oct 2, 1943)  Australians take Finschafen, New Guinea.)

Dec 1943  Service at Warner Robins, Ga,.and Bradenton Fl. 
 

(Jan 22, 1944  Allies land troops at Anzio, Italy.)
(Jan 27, 1944  Germany ends 900-day siege of Leningrad, Russia.)
(Jan 31, 1944  U.S. invades Marshall Islands.)
(Feb 29, 1944  GI’s seize airfield in Admiralty Islands.)
(March 24, 1944  Japanese counter-attack is repulsed on Bougainville.)
(April 11, 1944  Allies take most of  New Britain islands.)
(April 27, 1944  Allies capture Hollandia airfields in Dutch New Guinea.)
(May 19, 1944  U.S. raiders secure Wake island.)
(June 6, 1944  D Day - Allies land massive force of men and arms under Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower at Normandy, France.)
(June 7, 1944  U.S. troops capture Biak airfield in Schouten islands.)
(June 19, 1944 Over 300 Japanese planes are destroyed in air clashes of “Turkey Shoot” over Marianas islands.)

June 25, 1944  After brief service at Salt Lake City, UT,sailed from San Pedro, CA on the “Lurline,” cruise liner converted to haul 5,000 troops.
 

(On Saipan island, July 7, 1944, a Japanese admiral and general commit suicide as defensive position deteriorates.)
(U.S. captures Saipan island July 9, 1944.)

July 18, 1944  Following one-day pause at Brisbane, Australia, Lurline arrives at Oro Bay, New Guinea.
 

(U.S. takes Tinian island Aug 1, 1944.)         

Aug 1944 Assigned to 1041st Army Signal Co., encamped in jungle in tents, mosquito nets and some shacks at Nadzab, near Lae, New Guinea.

 

 

(U.S. captures Guam island Aug 10, 1944.)
(U.S. troops take Morotai and invade Caroline islands Sept 15, 1944.)
(Oct 20, 1944 U.S. troops, led by Gen. Douglas “I shall return” MacArthur, land at Leyte Gulf, Philippines.)

Thru 1944   Repaired aircraft radios and radar at Nadzab.  In nightly highlight after day's work. 1041st men enjoyed volleyball under a 1,000-watt bulb, powered by lone portable gasoline engine.
 

(Nov 24, 1944 U.S. B-29’s begin bombing from Marianas islands)
(Nov 25, 1944 Japanese resistance ends on Peleliu.)

Early 1945     GI’s tended vegetable gardens in rich equatorial soil.  Featured tomatoes.   Beloved Aunt Margaret Grady of west Philadelphia, sister of grandmother Mary Ann Grady McHale, mailed eggplant seeds.  Lush crop, surprise camp favorite, delighted mess sergeant.
 

(Jan 20, 1945  Major advance by U.S. forces at Lingayen Gulf, on Luzon, Philippines’ largest island.
(Jan 24, 1945  U.S. seizes Clark Field, Japanese airbase on Luzon, Philippines.)
(Feb 5, 1945  Australians land on New Britain, east of New Guinea.)
(Feb. 17, 1945  U.S. troops capture Bataan peninsula in Manila bay.)
Feb 19, 1945 30,000 U.S. marines land on Iwo Jima island, storm Mt. Suribachi and raise flag  Feb 23, 1945.)
(Feb.28, 1945 Corregidor island in Manila Bay is taken.)
(Apr. 1, 1945 60,000 soldiers invade Okinawa island, near Japan)
(Apr 16, 1945 U.S. landings bergin on Ie Island) 
(Apr. 22, 1945 Cebu Island, Philippines, taken.)
(May 13,1945 Australians clear Wewak peninsula, New Guinea.)
(May 16, 1945  U.S. Army captures Chocolate Drop Hill on Okinawa.)
(May 22, 1945  U.S. Army captures Sugar Loaf Hill on Okinawa.)

Through June, 1945  at Nadzab, New Guinea, occasionally observed black native men of stone-age culture. Working under Australian guards, slashed head-high equatorial kunai grass with machetes. Aboriginals are classed by anthropologists as Fuzzy Wussies.  Unsightly teeth blackness stems from habitual chewing of astringent betel palm nuts.
 

(June 21, 1945  Okinawa resistance ends; over 100,000 defenders lost.
On June 30, 1945  Sailed on troop ship Oxford from Lae, New Guinea.  Signal Corps unit is re-assigned to 1<sup>st</sup> Radar &amp; Maintenance Batallion Aviation.  No longer in Signal Corps; henceforth, U.S. Army Air Corps.
(July 5, 1945 Philippines liberation announced; over 100,000 Japanese killed.)

July 9, 1945   Stationed at Dau, radar school, Clark Field, Angeles villaqe, Pompanga province, near Manila, the Philippines.    Filipino people near starvation after Japanese occupation.  Following every meal, young boys lined up, eagerly collecting left-overs scraped from G.I mess kits into pail for their families.  “Jesus Chrice, no rice,” they said.
Filipinos addressed “G.I. Joe,” or “Joe.”  Girls roamed barracks, seeking laundry.   Never quoted price for hand-washed items delivered neatly folded, next day.  “It’s up to you, Joe.” Very satisfied by any payment.
 

(Aug 1, 1945 Dilemma faced U.S. President Harry S. Truman:  whether to suffer very heavy loss of troops invading the main Japan island including Tokyo, or to destroy cities with the first use in history of an atomic bomb.)
(Aug 6, 1945 Atomic bombing devastates Hiroshima city; Japanese death toll 140,000.)
(Aug 9, 1945 Nagasaki  A-bombed, 113,000 dead, 10,000 homeless.)
(Aug 14, 1945 Japanese surrender accepted.  Ceremony, Sept 2, 1945.)

Dec 2, 1945   Return from Manila on a “Liberty Ship,” vessel built to haul troops to Europe in first World War.   Quarters pack seven men per stack of canvas-hammock bunks.   Plus, narrow rows between stacks form tight sets of 14 “bunks” each.   Daily fresh water allotment: one canteen per G.I.  Unwashed clothing tossed overboard.  Poker on deck fills most days . During voyage, feverish symptoms of malaria worsened.
Dec 18, 1945  Arrived San Pedro, CA.  Treated for malaria.  For first time, saw some “enemy” troops - men in striped coveralls working on the grounds under guard.Told these were Italian prisoners of war.
Jan 26, 1946   Honorable discharge at Indiantown Gap, PA.

Malaria  yielded welcome $10 monthly service-connected disability subsistence while attending LaSalle College, Philadelphia, under the tuition-paid GI Bill for veterans, through June, 1949.