28 June, 2012

28 June 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
28 June, 1945      1000
Dearest darling Wilma –

I’m sorry I had to rush away yesterday, but I was busy and I just had to get some things done – and on schedule. I did. It involved going down to Metz (about 40 miles from here) and setting up a sort of sub-aidstation – with the dental officers in charge. Metz, by the way, is hardly beat up at all. I was surprised, remembering the description of the bloody battle for Metz. But apparently it involved the Forts – and very little more.

Here at Nancy we’re becoming pretty well organized. Our men have taken to their M.P. duties quite well, and so far, there’s little trouble. There are a couple of airborne divisions here in town and they sure know how to act up – officers as well as men.

Last night about five of us started out to go to the movies and instead we went to the Red Cross Club for officers. It was quiet – no drinks except coke and coffee, so we didn’t stay long. In the same square we found the Lorraine Officers’ Club. They have a bar and drinks must be without a profit because Cognac, for instance, was only 10 francs. Civilian prices are 50 fr. The also have a dance floor and apparently run dances every so often. We managed to wander all over town. It closes up tight at 2300 – so we went home. I guess if we ever feel like tying one on, we’ll have to do it at home.

Well, darling, your story of the “beetle bug” and its landing on a spot where it had no business landing – only proves one thing: you need a man around you to take care of details like that – and others – and I’m that guy! Well – I used to hate bugs etc – and I still do; living in a foxhole at night teaches you to overcome the feeling of revulsion because you just can’t do a thing about it. Boy – a year ago this time – we were really in a fog. We were still up in the peninsula, everything was new including the war – and they were really trying days. If there are any letters of mine that I would like to review – it will be those of the early days in Normandy.

It’s too bad I didn’t know Phil was interested in a reflex camera before this. Many of the boys when we were in Germany managed to “liberate” a good many of that type. They’d hold onto them until they were broke and then sell them at a reasonable price. I never bought one because I had a fair camera and was getting decent enough pictures. Back here in France you don’t see any and of course – they’re impossible to buy. But I’ll be on the lookout for one. I would have to bring it home. They can’t be mailed.

You really make my mouth water, darling, when you write about the Cape. By the way, do you like the water, and do you swim, dear? I can’t remember your ever telling me about it – or my asking. And Stan and Betty will be able to make it? Do you mean to visit Verna and Irv? I thought when they parted – it wasn’t on the best of terms, or am I old-fashioned? I would like nothing better than to come home and be able to do the same thing, sweetheart, although I rather feel I’d like to be alone with you most of the time. I’ve got to get to know you in person, too, dear – and that will be the only way. But right now I haven’t the slightest idea whatsoever – when I’ll be coming home. I know only that I’m not on the way to the Pacific – and I will get home to see you and I hope – to marry you, too. Because I love you, darling, more than anything else in the world and that’s all I care about. It sure would be swell to know that once I go back – I would stay. Perhaps I will. Meanwhile, dear, try to hold out a little longer – just as I’m doing. It’s bound to come sometime and I know it will all have been worthwhile. So long for now, darling, and love to the folks. Regards from Pete, by the way, and you have
All my sincerest love


about The Battle of Luzon

The capital of the Philippines, Manilla, is on the island of Luzon

From the U.S. Army Center of Military History: The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II: Luzon as found on the web page of The Stamford Historical Society
The Battle of Luzon was fought on the island of Luzon in the northern Philippines and pitted the Allied forces under General Douglas MacArthur against a large Japanese force under Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita, noted for his capture of Malaya and Singapore. Because of the vital nature of the Philippines as a key route to sources of rubber and oil as well as the proximity of the islands to Japan, the Japanese High Command had reinforced the islands with a total of 430,000 troops distributed across the islands, 260,000 of which were on Luzon. The destruction of much of the Japanese carrier fleet earlier in June 1944 at the battle of the Philippine Sea and the subsequent loss of the remaining surface fleet in October at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, with the additional destruction of Japanese air power, left the defense of the Philippines in the hands of ground based forces.

As Leyte Island was still too distant for efficient preparations against Luzon, MacArthur made the decision to seize Mindoro, an island half the size of New Jersey and lightly defended by the Japanese. Mindoro was invaded by the U.S. forces on 15 December 1944. Despite kamikaze attacks, the landings were otherwise unopposed as there were only 1000 Japanese troops on the island. Airfields were seized by the end of that first day and preparations began for the taking of Luzon.

On 9 January 1945 General Krueger’s 6th Army landed at Lingayen Gulf with 175,000 men. The 8th Army commanded by General Robert L. Eichelberger landed at Subic Bay on 29 January and at Batangas on 31 January. Ultimately ten U.S. divisions and five independent regiments would see action on Luzon, making it the largest campaign of the Pacific War, involving more troops than the U.S. had used in North Africa, Italy or southern France. These attacks trapped the Japanese defenders in a giant pincer movement, but they put up bitter resistance at the battles for Manila, Balete Pass and the Cagayan Valley. Yamashita’s forces, despite their large number, were under-supplied with artillery, armor and other equipment, forcing him to fight a delaying action against the Americans with no real hope of victory. As such, Yamashita withdrew to mountainous zones, where the terrain afforded him some degree of protection and advantage.
But the mountains did not provide the desired protection. In the video below, troops of the 11th Airborne Division coordinate air and artillery attacks before moving up Hill 2380 in Luzon, April 1945. This film was shot "live" with sound, unlike the majority of WW2 combat films, which were usually shot silent and had sound effects added later.

The Stamford Historical Society continues:
On 28 June 1945 MacArthur's headquarters announced the end of all organized Japanese resistance in the Philippines. Pockets of enemy resistance continued for many months thereafter. American POWs were freed at Santo Tomas, Cabanatuan, Los Banos and Baguio. On 15 August General Yamashita surrendered with 50,500 troops.

Yamashita following his surrender

Japanese casualties were about 230,000. The American forces suffered 10,380 killed and 36,550 wounded. There were also 93,400 non-combat casualties including 260 deaths, most from disease.

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