Hello everyone, today I finished typing my grandfather's Diary from WW2 and decided to share it. I hope you all enjoy reading it. Also help correcting any typos I may of made would be greatly appreciated
(If desired I can upload scanned copies of the original , but opted not to initially upload them since it is 250mbs, and not as legible as this typed version
In addition sorry if this post is considered too long)
I have often wanted to start a diary but never got around to it. Now March 25, 1945 while I have an easy desk job with plenty of free time for writing letters, I’ll start.
Aug, 1, 1942. Today I started my first active duty as 1st Lt. in the Army Medical Corps. A few says after graduating from medical school at Pittsburgh I was commissioned June 11, 1941. That day was practically a class reunion after graduation nearly my whole medical class was there. We were assembled in a room on the 8th floor of the new post office. All the blue application blanks in triplicate and physical examinations had been taken care of in school a few months previously. Now we were all ready to be sworn in. Major Mclaughlin was in charge of our commissioning and at the appointed time came into the room with an armful of brown envelopes with big black letterheads we were soon to get acquainted with,---“War Department, Official Business.” We all knew him so that all the greeting necessary before he started the ceremony was “Good Morning Gentlemen”. First he called the role to be sure all were there. Then he had us stand up, hold up our right hands and repeat after him the oath of office of the armed forces. Then we filed up, to the table and signed our names and got our envelops. The envelopes contained our commission protected by a shell of cardboard. It looked like a college diploma but was only made of paper, signed by President Roosevelt. Next we were taken along the hall of the F. B. I. where we were fingerprinted. In this office nearly all the men there had pistols, this caused us to stare then but after two years in the army a pistol on a man is asmuch a matter of course as a pair of shoes. When they fingerprinted me, they coiled an arm around mine and grabbed my hand firmly, pressing down one finger at a time as if I were a crook and might run away.
After that came a year of internship with considerable anxiety about what the army was going to do. Around April or May of 1942 I began to get letters form the army. One told me to go Carlisle to be examined. A group of us went there to be examined. A group of us went together in a car belonging to one of the staff men. There we were through the line of about five doctors. The last captain signed my exam form and passed me. About June 1 we got our orders to go on active duty at Carlisle on August. Soon after that I was ordered my uniform considering that I did not need many clothes, I bought the best I could get including a Sam Brown belt. While they were new and strange, I enjoyed putting them on and going around the town. One day when I was walking up 5th Avenue in Pittsburgh a sailor saluted me. It was the first occasion for a salute and I used the left hand.
ON August 1 my cousin, John *****, drove me to Carlisle along with so me classmates. My insignia and tie were on wrong but I soon straightened them out. At Carlisle they registered us and showed us to our barracks, 50 cots in a big room. After that they started lecturing to us in the gymnasium. It was the first time any one ever called me to attention for a class. We made out allotments for dependency and war bonds. Immunization was scheduled. Then the classes began.
An average day started at about six o’clock when we had to get up and go out on a field for calisthenics regardless of how the weather was. After that we went to the mess to the mess hall and ate breakfast. The food was fair. The army fly traps at the door were a curiosity to us. About then minutes after breakfast there was a formation outside of the barracks. Being one minute late for this was a serious offense. Some second lieutenants the marched us to our classes behind the band. The band sounded good as far as the music was concerned although none of us liked the marching. Perfect step was expected if we made any mistakes these lieutenants correct us although any one of the students outranked them. There was about twenty colonels in the group and they were put in a special platoon and had a captain to drill them. During the march to the classes we admired the fancy houses the sergeants lived while we lieutenants and captains lived in barracks. At the buildings we were always glad to hear the command “fallout out” and it seemed as though they had us a minute or two just to show authority.
Classes were much like college classes except that they invariably called attention to start them and also to end them. One good thing about them was that they always stopped right in time of course we had to get there on time or explain to some colonel why not. We enjoyed the training films better than the lectures but despised the map problems that we were expected to do at night. Most of us collaborated on them and copied one another’s. I think the only reason we all wanted to pass was that we were afraid that we would get a bad organization if we aggravated the teachers.
Towards the end of the month we watched our mailboxes carefully for our orders. One afternoon I came to the mail room and found a noisy crowd jamming the place,- the orders had come. At last I got mine and I glanced hurriedly over the paper and the first thing I saw was Texas. Then I looked up and thought that at least I would get to see a strange state, about as far from home as I could get and still be in the states.
Before we left they had an elaborate graduation for us almost as extensive as a college commencement although we were only there four weeks. We had a fancy parade with the band and other paraphernalia. Before we took off we compared orders. It seems that they took the last ten officers and ordered them to the 31st Medical Regiment, including me. Some of my Pittsburgh friends were in the group.
My route took me through Pittsburgh and so I stopped off for a few hours. And so I stopped off for a few hours. I arrived at about 5 o’clock in the morning at my cousin, Dave’s house. He was not expecting me and so I thought I would surprise him. When he opened the door and asked who was there I yelled “Draft Board” and he looked around scared until he saw who it was.
I made the trip in a car with some of my friends. Most of the read I had never been on before. It was a pleasant trip. In Missouri we were surprised to see so many adults loafing on the grass in the heart of the heart of the towns and in Arkansas we saw plenty of people sitting on porches but very few working. In Texas there were men in wide brimmed hats and shoes with spurs but we didn’t see any of them on horses like we expected in a cowboy country.
A few days before my travel time had run out I arrived in Abilene which was only twelve miles form Camp Barkely. As I wanted to make a good impression I decided to go right to the camp. When I got there I found only a few officers and they weren’t doing anything but having short classes. Col. Bloom made me a company commander the second day. This was a responsible job and I worked very hard at it as I wanted to get a promotion. I didn’t care anything at all for the work although I admit I didn’t like anything about the army ever. I had to do drilling, teach classes, and also handle the administrative work of my company. After six weeks we got a group of new officers and one of them took command of my company along with several other shifts in command. I was transferred into a clearing company under Capt. Eaton and did much the same work but less of it.
I enjoyed the friendship of the Texas people and liked to hear their drawl. Abilene was a nice town and I regretted leaving it. There were good theaters and stores. The climate in Texas was warm and as I remember it, pleasant. The heat bothered us on road marches but I suppose a fifteen mile march would be annoying anywhere. Bivouacs were a nuisance especially when they lasted for several days. In all we were unhappy to leave Abilene in March of 1943.
With the 31st Medical Regiment I next move to the Mohave Desert in California, supposedly a climate just like the African desert which was the center of the fighting at that time. The ride was by a Pullman except for the last fifty miles which was by jeep for me. At first the heat didn’t seem uncomfortable. However for the first week all of us felt a little faint after we moved around much. There was no rain at all and the sand was nice to walk in.
After a few weeks I was transferred to the 92nd Evacuation Hospital which was about ten miles away on the desert. When I got there the unit was still packed and just waiting for orders to go overseas. I was not enthusiastic to go over the pond but I realized that it would be an interesting experience if I came out alive.
For about two months we just sat around our camp at Desert Center doing nothing. Then we move to Camp Stoneman, California. The trip was pleasant was by train. At Stoneman we lived in barracks waiting our turn to be put on a boat. There we “staged”, got our wills and allotments straightened out and our equipment loaded on the boat.
As Stoneman was so near San Francisco, I had a chance to spend a couples there on leave. The hotels were all crowded but I was able to get a bed in a dormitory of the Fairmont Hotel. I saw the whole city and was much impressed. The cliff house on a rock cliff on the beach was an interesting collection of souvenirs especially the old nickelodians. The trolleys are unusual in the way they can go up steep hills with people over flowing almost onto the street. I met a school friend of mine and he showed me the whole city. Chinatown was an interesting collection of shops. All the Japanese shops were closed. There is a remarkable view of the city from the Mark Hotel. In one of the department stores I bought a Japanese Language book as I didn’t know where I was going.
At last we left the states. We walked up the much talked about gangplank on about June 27. The Lurline was a first class Luxury Line with ballroom, swimming pool, fancy dining rooms, etc. I was put into a cabin with five other officers. The ship was converted into a transport. This cabin had been built for two people and had a private bathroom. We had a good time on the trip in spite of the blackout. We wore our life jackets all the time we were away from our cabin. Drills were about once a day early in the trip. A few sea sick but I escaped. After we passed the equator we were given a membership card in The order of the Deep.
Australia was a much pleasanter place to land than we had expected. Rumors in the states had us bound for anywhere from New Guinea to India. When we found that our destination was Brisbane after a few days on the boat, I was pleasantly surprised. The sea gulls were the first sight of land that we got. As we were piloted up the twelve miles of estuary to the port, it was interesting to watch over the rail. There were a few ships gettin repaired after being mauled by enemy fire of some sort. That was the closest to war any of us had ever been. Along the bank we were glad to see trees, dogs, and people after our fifteen days on the boat. As we docked a soldier called to us and told us we would like this country and town as it was full of women. At Camp Ascot near the dock we were billeted, crowded eight into tents built for four. It was a racetrack, converted into a classual Clamp. Nearly every day we went visiting at the city which was very interesting to us. After our two weeks there we were pleased to hear that we were to set up the hospital near Rockhampton instead of going to an island somewhere.
At Rockhampton we spent nine pleasant months. The trip was on a narrow guage Aussie Train which was uncomfortable according to our standards. The hospital was set up in a mountainous area about two miles from the town. We had a good transportation schedule on trucks and could get a ride any time of the day. The town was friendly and had nice stores and theaters. We also had shows three times a week at the hospital. I enjoyed working at the hospital there. It was the first time I had seen that unit function. My work was giving anesthetics and doing some minor surgery as well as working on the wards. Yeppoh was the nearest beach and we had a truck going there ever Sunday. For the last three months I was on detached service with an ordnance unit but did not care very much for that.
At least we had to leave Australis. As soon as the unit got “hot” I was taken back from ordinance to the 92nd. At first talk about making a beach landing seemed like a latrine rumor. When we started to get our jungle equipment, things looked more real. Most of the stuff was equipment we had never seen before, --Camouflaged jungle packs, machetes, fishing lines, jungle shoes, and ponchos. The jungle hammocks were interesting compact pieces with mosquito protection. Late in March we loaded on a train and embarked from Gladstone on a Liberty Ship. The officers slept under a canopy over hatch NO1. We were cool but got wet sometimes. The boat pitched and rocked considerable as we passed through the Barrier Reef along the coast of Australia but calmer when we got into the Coral Sea. Along the coast of New Guinea we passed through the China Straits and came very close to the land. That was our first taste of the “hot breath of New Guinea” that we had heard so much about coconuts were floating in the ocean we could see the coconut trees along the hilly coast with an occasional native. We were no longer a curiosity to them and so they didn’t come out to meet all of the ships the way they did formerly. The San Francisco Quinone landed us at Finchavaen early in April, 1944. We had a ride from the boat to shore in a duck and enjoyed it very much. We were all intrigued by the dense jungle just like the description in the Tarzan stories. Dodging falling cocanuts was also a new experience to all of us.
I took a while to get accustomed to living in the tropics. From the jetty we were hauled on a truck to a coconut grove down in a hollow. The first thing we did was pitch our jungle hammocks and get ready for night as we were afraid of the mosquitoes and wanted to be ready before dark. That evening one of those persistent steamy tropical rains started and most of us were wet although the hammocks do a good job at keeping out the rain and bugs after a little experience. Getting in and out of them is an art and many hammocks were ripped the first night. We found that a good way to dry clothes or blankets was to wrap them around us until they were dry.
In a few days we were at our staging area and living in tents there was an elaborate four lane highway running up the coast and we soon learned that in the combat zone the best way to get somewhere is to go out on the road and thumb regardless of rank. Our carbines were issued and we had a good time playing with them as they were like new toys. The movie situation in Finchaven was very good and we could usually manage to see a different one every day as long as the rain let us. As usually happens to us, the night we pulled out it rained terrifically.
The trip to Hollandia was smoothly. We got into the LST out of the mud and watched it pull out after about an hour. Ours had difficulty getting off the beach and I know a few of us hoped that maybe it wouldn’t make it. It depended for this on the propeller and also the holding ability of a guy line anchored in the water. I slept on a cot in a cabin. Although we had many alerts, I don’t think we saw an enemy plane. We were due on D plus 2 but didn’t land until a day latter on account of a massive ammunition dump fire on White Beach 2.
Thee Hollandia Campaign only lasted a couple weeks for us. After much difficulty our LST was beached. We churned up the mud in several sites before we were able to get a good place to beach. Even then, we had to go through about three feet of water and several of the vehicles had to be towed out by a tractor. After we hit the beach, we were loaded on to an assault barge and taken to where our hospital was set up. There were many soldiers in swimming and this seemed incongruous to us as this was a beach landing and not a swimming party. The hospital was in a hilly muddy place. As soon as we were free to do so, we looked for a place to sleep. The prime requisite is a hole or cave safe from flying missiles or bombs. I found a cave where some of the other officers were and decided to sleep there after making a little wall on the downhill side with some rocks. The only disadvantage of this place was that it was along the new trail coming down the hill that any Japanese would probably follow if he wanted to approach the hospital. Of course every night we usually had at least one alert, One night a Japanese plane sneaked over the hospital and dropped a bomb about a half mile away killing about six men. We didn’t get an alert for that but heard the place, the first Japanese plane we had heard. After about two weeks we got orders to close the hospital and turn the patients over to the 36th Evac. All of us were disappointed at this as we had worked to set up the hospital and didn’t like to pull out and go on another campaign just when this one was starting to quiet down. After that we lived in pup tents on a beach nearby for about a week. Each night the tide would rise and fill our foxholes and some of our tents. I’ll never forget that ammunition dump fire we watched from there for about two days. By an accident a fire was started on a nearby beach where there were tons of Japanese and US ammunition. Although it was about two miles from us, the various bullets, shells and rockets made the most brilliant 4th of July show I have ever seen. At least we were baded on another LST for our next campaign in May 1944.
This trip to biak was about like the one to Hollandia. Although we had many alerts, we didn’t see a Japanese plane until we were beaching at Biak and then the ack-ack quickly drove him off. As our convoy pulled in on D plus l we were all out on the deck watching the enemy island as we approached it in the cool dawn.
Our new area was near the beach and full of coral. It was a good target for the enemy as there was a radar unit and a Bofors gun right next to us, foxholes were hard to dig and most of us relied for protection at first on the sand bagged ward tents. Later due an individual fox hole near my ward with a roof and slept. There at night for about two weeks. After a while you get accustomed to sleeping in a hole on the sand and don’t even wake up when the guns are firing at a plane. That is one time we all want to be awake. Rain would usually wake wake me up as a puddle accumulated under my back. Here we had frequent raids and one bomb landed in our area and exploded harmlessly in a garbage pit although some of our men were in holes only four feet away. Once a suicide raiding patrol was intercepted one the hill above us only a few hundred yards from the hospital we heard the carbines firing at them but thought it was just some trigger-happy boys shooting at moving twigs in the n night. The navy lobb lobbed whistling shells over our heads every night at the Japs and so did the army 155s.
One day I’ll never forget is the Sunday of June 4th 1944. The day we called black Sunday. About noon we got a message the the Japanese fleet was on its way to Biak and was expected in at about three o’clock If it came, It would obviously shell the beach where we were and as our hospital was right along the beach we expected to be leveled. The plan we decided on was to take all walking patients and personnel not needed up on the hill where we would have some defilade. As we did this a bulldozer was busy burying the hospital equipment that we had packed and gathered into a big hole. Most of us thought we would all be dead within twenty four hours. We knew that American fleet and air units were on the way to intercept the attack and late in the evening then nothing happened we believe the attack had been repulsed. Nevertheless most of us slept on the hill overnight. The Japanese troops were not over a half mile away from there and so everything had to be quiet after dusk. The infantrymen there warned us that they would shoot at all sounds so some of us were afraid to turn over or cough. I found a little foxhole and was able to sleep a little during the night. We had the usual shells whistling overhead and several alerts in the night. Dawn was always welcome on those dangerous nights as we could move around safely without getting shot at by our own men. The following day the scare had passed and we were able to move back down and presume where we left off.
After about three weeks on Biak we moved the hospital over to Owi Island, five miles away. One of the reasons was that we though we would be safer there and also that there would be more room for expansion. We went over on barges and found our area which was a nice coco nut grove with a coral beach and no Japs on the whole island. Some of the wards were already up and I soon was given one of them. As soon as it was ready for patients, I began to look for a place to sleep. I dug a hole across from the ward and put a litter on it and also a roof of sticks. That night I slept there and the rain was terrific. I was soaked completely. In a few days the engineers built a road through there and rooted up my foxholes. Then I found a ravine and built a little tent there from a poncho and slept there for about three weeks. Things were going smoothly with the hospital although we had air raids nearly ever night but no bombs fell on the hospital. Soon we moved into the officers’ area and lived there in a tent. I was in with Alfred Glattauer and Abe Traugot. We made another foxhole with sandbagged sides and a roof although none of us slept in it. There was a telephone near our tent and that was a nuisance.
During our stay on Owi we took we took care of an extensive typhus epidemic. We often wondered why the Japs never bothered with that island and if it were on account of the typhus mites that live under them. Chiefly due to typhus our census reached 900, the highest ever. There wasn;t much we could do for the victims except keep them in bed. Fortunately less than 15% of them died. During the epidemic the nurses arrived.
The airport was the chief industry of the island as far as the army was concerned and our hospital was partly for their use. We were right in the path of the take-offs and those big overloaded B24’s often cut the leaves of the cocoanut tree over our heads as they roared for the take-off. While I was there I had a ride in a cub over to Bial and also a ride in a glider just before we left.
Around October we began to get “hot” again he Cal Free called us in for a meeting and explained all he knew about the plans for the Philippine Invasion. We were to go in at Lingayeh Gulf, a place I had never heard about. Soon the nurses left us and were transferred to the 132nd general hospital, at Biak. For the next month or so we sat around the camp and didn’t do anything but sit around and swim and read. There wasn’t quite so much preparation for this campaign as we were not due until D plus 4 and were again on a Liberty Ship and so we didn’t need to be combat loaded.
About December 20th we loaded on to our ship off the island and started our 30 day trip. The officers were quartered on the deck on litters built on a frame. It was cool and that was a decided advantage. We sailed south to Aitape first and then came north to Hollandia where we formed our convoy. I think we stayed about a week in each port, including both Christmas and New Year’s Day. There were about two cases of beer for each man I think. The trip went peacefully except for an occasional alert until we came opposite Manila Bay. There we saw two innocent looking planes at a distance, it wasn’t until they turned and began to dive that we realized that they were planes of the Special Attack Corps that we were to hear so much about. As they were diving in we could hear the tremendous rattling of the guns on our boat from the officer’s country where we were huddled. Our hearts were thumping and we were plenty scared there as we squatted with our helmets and life jackets. This ship to our starboard and the one to our stern were both hit and we watched them smoke for several hours as they limped along. We had one lesser attack as we rounded Lingayen Gulf. For two days we stayed on the boat. At least we were loaded off the boat onto a duck and were taken ashore.
Most of us had the worst scare of our life about the second day ashore. We were bivouacked on a cocoanut grove near San Fabiam that had been occupied by artillery recently. Most all of us had foxholes that we either dog, paid for having dug, or inherited from our predecessor. Artillery shells whistled over us each night as a Biak but there were practically no air raids. Alfred and I were sleeping in a little tobacco shack belonging to a Filipino. One night at about 11 o’clock we heard some shots from carbine and a hand grenade exploded. At the time we didn’t realize the serious news of the situation thinking the rifle was from a trigger-happy soldier and the explosion was from a has tank. Soon several rifles began shooting and then a machine gun. At this time we became a little alarmed and crawled over to the big fox hole in the shack. Bullets were hissing over us at the time. There were a few yells but we didn’t attach any significance to them. A fire broke out in the supply pile and we thought that the bullets caused it and that it was accidental. This kept up until about three thirty. Then the fire died down and the area became quiet again. Just before that happened we heard some chattering 3 near our shack in a foreign language that we though to be Taagalog. The next day we woke up as usual and as we were getting out of the hole, about eight of our officers came across the rice paddy in single file with their carbines on their shoulders and sad faces.When they asked us if any Japs were at our place last night we thought they were joking and answered “oh yes, about then.” As we walked over to the main area with them they told us that about seven went through the main area, we thought they were having hallucinations. However we heard that four of our men had been killed and saw a Japanese helmet and some unexploded grenades, we realized the tragedy of the night. The Japs had mistaken us for the artillery and had attacked us with a suicide patrol. They had started a fire in our supplies with gasoline and grenades and left early in the morning. Most of the the injured men were those who either didn’t have foxholes or didn’t stay in them. Seven of the Japs had been killed by the M,P, at the bridge next to our area. One other we found dead just beyond our area and think one of our technicians shot him. The raid was so unexpected that we were just not prepared for it. After that we always kept an elaborate defense perimeter and soon added machines guns.
After bivouacing a few days at San Fabian we moved on to Malasiqui and bivouaced there a couple of weeks in a rice paddy behind a school. While we were there a local judge took us to a dance at his house and we got acquainted with some of the town people. They were much more civilized than we expected to find and wore the same kind of clothes as Americans although they were all pre-war styled. All of them were friendly to us and we enjoyed talking to their doctors and lawyers particularly. They put on a stage show for us and also a fiesta. We enjoyed going to the market and buying souvenirs to send home.
Our next stop was Guimba and we stayed there through most of February. The hospital was set up in a school, our first time to operate in buildings. Everything ran smoothly and I had two medical wards. Our main purpose in setting up there was to be able to take care of some prisoners who were going to be liberated from Cabanatuan. We got very few patients until the prisoners arrived. Then one day they came in, -- about 500 of them. Their clothes were tattered and most of them were undernourished and had sore swollen feet. We were amazed at the stories of being beaten and starved by the Japs that they told us. Most of the army equipment was all strange to them. My wards were full of officers and they looked as bad as the rest. General MacAruther was around to visit and he went through both of my wards. After staying a few days, most of the prisoners were able to make the trip to the states. We were only bothered once by Japs at Guimbe and that was when a couple of stragglers came down the railroad by us. This time we were ready for them and let go with everything we had. Besides our own guard there was the guerilla guard and they liked to hear any kind of gun go off. Three thousand rounds were fired but they kill two Japs. Some of the boys even got a bazooka and fired it, mostly for their own amusement we thought. The air was thick with gunpowder smell.
Early on March 1945 we moved to Agooto be ready for the push on Baguio. I was receiving officer then and had to be diplomatic to keep as many civilians from being admitted to the hospital as possible. We were supposed to take only emergency cases or army employees but sometimes had to take people who had influence. Refugees were starting to come from Baguio and some of them were the aristocracy of the Philippines. Civilian hospital facilities were badly deteriorated under the Japs and the army had to supplement them to some extent. The P.C.A.U. co-operated with the army and civilian hospitals so that there was better care for the civilians than at any time during the war and possibly before. Most of our cases were battle casualties from Baguio were the Japs were strongly dug in. Our hospital arrangement was about like Guimba although the school building was smaller. The Japs didn’t bother us although several dogs and caraboas were shot for getting in the perimeter at night. Here again our census reached to high figure of 900 although our T. O. only calls for 400
Our next site was Baguio we had known that this was coming for several months Early in may 1945 we loaded on trucks and ground up the dusty mountain side road to approach Baguio from the north east. It was a long steep climb and took about two hour. The Igorots along the roads were strange to us as we had not seen any of that tribe before. The men wore G strings and the women wore striped dresses and smoked cigars as they walked along the road. Their leg muscles were large from so much mountain climbing. Mountain travel was either by foot or auto and probably none of them had cars. There were no animals to be seen used for travel up here. As we approached Baguio, the smell of pines and the cool air was very bracing and reminded me of the old country. At the outskirts of the city we saw the cemetery, the site of a furious tank battle we had heard about. and gotten casualties from. Just around the hill was the beautiful summer capital. Nearly all the buildings were damaged to some extent but the past showiness of the city could easily be imagined. The lake was undamaged in the center of town. The streets were full of people as they had started to come back after the battle was over the Japs cleaned out. our new area was the West Point of the Phillippines and very much damaged. The cottage where some of us officers were going to live was full of discarded Japanese trash. there were about five dead Japs nearby about the steps. Even after they were taken away and burned we could smell the odor of rotting flesh for several weeks. There were plenty of souvenirs around and we all spent plenty of time rooting around the piles of trash.
The hospital was soon functioning. It was the best place we had ever had as far as buildings were concerned. The only objection was that they were all spread around we there was too much walking involved. During the whole time we were there the Japs never bothered us. on our payroll we had about 300 Igorots who spent most of their time cleaning up the area. They were very honest and did not go around in stolen army uniforms like some of the lowlanders we had experienced with. Our quarters were fairly comfortable. We had plenty of furniture that we gathered up all around the town and soon a radio and electric lights. The cottage had a fire place. I had a private room. The Japs had plastered the walls with newspapers I suppose to keep in the heat. The entire hospital area was fortified with Japanese caves. There was also a crematory near our house and a Japanese cemetery near that. At that time I worked in the receiving office and we had more fancy furniture than ever before. I had a swivel chair. There was a lot of amebic dysentery coming in and also plenty of hepatitis. When we were first there we had some battle casualties but they soon dwindled. We had the census below 400 as often as possible.
One after noon the colonel (Free) called us in for a meeting and gave us some bad news. Since our unit had a good record, It had been ordered to go on another push. After having made three beach landings already we expected to enjoy Baguio for another six months. Soon we were to move into a prepared area on the beach not far away. After a few months we would have to go on another major campaign. About three weeks later we pulled out with practically all of the furniture, much to the disgust of the 41st Field Hospital who were taking over our area.
While we were at Baguio, the news of the European victory reached us. We had been following the war news closely and the announcement was so much expected that there wasn’t much surprise to it. That was on May 12. There was considerable debate about exactly when the war did end as many of our officers had made bets on the day of victory. About two weeks later the point system came out and we were all figuring our points many times. My score came out to be 66 and so I didn’t have much hope as the critcal score was set at 85. For about a week I was sick in the hospital and when the applications came out for temporary duty, I decided to ignore it and hope for demobilization.
About July 4 1945 we packed up our equipment and came back to the lowlands, --- to a place called Caba near Aringay. Before we lift, we gathered all the furniture we had picked up from all over Baguio and brought it along with us. the 41stField hospital which relieved us was very much peeved that we didn’t leave any thing that we could carry away.
The area of Caba was nice sandy beach af a black color, --- volcanic sand. There were some buildings that the engineers had built for the 41st Field Hospital. It was in a coconut grove along the water, ---- warm but was a good breeze. There were several Filipino Nipa huts in the area, the first time we had ever had civilians right in our hospital area. the beach was good for swimming and at first we went in every day. The hospital was soon functioning. I was given a medical ward. All the wards were in tents. The patients were from the 33 Division. Bill guy was stationed near here and he visited me about every week or so. We expected to go on the campaign which was to be, we thought, either Japan or China. The division was having amphibious maneuvers and we were there to furnish medical service for them while they were doing this.
This week was a very important one as far as news was concerned on August 8 they announced that atomic bombs had been dropped on Japan for the first time. Also today, Aug 1945 Russia declared war on Japan. We were all optimistic now and expected the war to end soon.
Aug. 15 ‘45. This is the day that we heard that the Japs had agreed to accept the surrender terms formulated at Potsdam so that their surrender was unconditional except that the emperor could rule subject to the allied military commander. There was a yell through the hospital area when we heard the news of the armistice over the radio at about ten o’ clock here. As I made rounds on my ward, many of the patients wanted to leave the hospital and I let out about ten of them. Each of us had a case of beer issued today and tonight will probably be very noisy. I think there has been more important news this week than at any week since the war started. There has been a lot of speculation as to how soon we’ll get home now that the war is over. If our unit goes in as occupying troops, we old jungle rats might get stuck here for another sex months or more. I don’think any of us want to see Japan in palace of going home now but we’ll get one more trip out of the army. Five officers have already gone home on temporary duty and probably won’t have to come back.
Sept. 2 45. This is official V-J day. This morning at about 10 o’clock we all listened to a broadcast of the surrender ceremony on the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay. We heard MacArthur and Truman as well ask Nimitz. The ceremony was broadcast to the states and rebroadcast to us here so that it Was not very clear. We heard it over the public address system that we have here. There wasn’t much excitement over it here as we had been expecting it and it just seemed like a form to go through with. The big thing on our minds is how soon we are going to get home. We are sitting around partly packed up and expecting to go to Japan. Next week I am scheduled to give a lecture on the Japanese languages part of the orientation program. For the past two weeks we have been having this this expectant waiting and it is getting monotonus. After 26 months over seas we are all disgusted about having to go to Japan and think that we should go home instead. The weather is fair although last night we were informed that a typhoon was expected but it never came. Tonight we are going to see a show with Lana Turner in “Keep Your Powder Dry”.
My cousin, John ***** just wrote me a letter today telling me that he is in Hawaii on his way home after only 9 months overseas while I have been here three times as long with no immediate hope of getting back soon.
General Yamashita is expected to come out of the woods to surrender one of these days. Col Hueyand Majr Yarley went to Baguio today expecting to see him but they were a day early and got back today disappointed. For a while we thought that we had gone back to Japan but the Filipinos insisted that he was still on the island and that turned out to be the case.
On sept 25 we got on the A PA James O’Hara at Lingayeb Gulf. We embarked at about the same spot on the San Fabian beach as where we landed nine months ago.
This time we went out to the beat in a small landing barge. The fifty mile trip to the beach we made in the usual GI truck and the road was fairly rough. On this boat we climbed up a gangplank, the first one since we left Australia. On deck we saw a major general, Gen Wible and he was going to ride on the same boat, the first time we have been bothered with a general on a boat. WE found the stateroom more comfortable than we had expected with sheets and permanent bunks.
The boat had been built in 1942 specially for troops as it was a regular transport. The windows had been filled with panels on account of the need for blackout during the war. WE imagined how nice it would be if they could be taken out. as will probably be accomplished before many years. Already the smoky gray war paint on the decks was being covered with light gray was there was no more need for camouflage. I got an lower berth and that was not as good as an upper as there were good lights for reading in the upper berths. The food was excellent and we ate in a ward room with the naval officers, three times a day in two shifts. Every other night there were movies and that was our first experience with movies in a ship theater. I suppose the machines ran about twelve hours a day so that passengers each saw a different film every other day. About Oct. 1 we sailed out of the harbor in a convey of about 20 APA’s with reports of a typhoon ahead. The first two days the sea was fairly calm but as we approached the typhoon area southeast of Okinawa the ships pitched markedly.
In all of our six ocean trips we had never experienced such rough waters. our cabin was amidships so we didn’t feel this as much as the men quartered fore and aft. There was plenty of seasickness I noticed on the days I held sick call. Up aft in the bow where the sick bay was you got the sinking feeling in the chest that you get when you go up and down in an elevator rapidly. There must have been a difference of thirty feet between the top and the bottom of the swing. As we watched the other ships in the convoy we saw some of the bows go so low that they were flooding the decks. During all of this time we were circling around the typhoon as we made many turns. There was probably good weather information behind all of this as we were never in any danger. I suppose if this had happened a century ago we would have gone right into the storm and been shipwrecked. There was a time when we stopped completely for a few hours.On about the 7th of October we began to move into the inland Sea North of Shikoku. At that point the boats all substituted a single file for the convey formation we had used up to this as point as there was less danger from mines this way. This was a cloudy day and the Japanese coast looked just like it does in the pictures, ---rugged and flanked by many small Islands. The water in the Island sea looked black about a few days later we found that that was just due to the cloudy atmosphere, Opposite Wakayama the convoy anchored. We could see the mills and they looked to be in good shape for where we were but of course there was no smoke coming from the chimneys.
I this anchorage we stayed until the 25th of October when we moved on. Supposedly we were waiting for the harbor at Nagoya to be cleared of mines that the B-29‘s dropped in the water. We all suspected that we were being held to delay the demobilization as we knew that these ships were going to take troops home next and that about half of the men were eligible at that time. OF course all eligibles were impatient to be off the ship so taht they could get to the separation center that was to be in operation at that time. We had plenty of books to read and also there were shore parties organized so taht we could spend an afternoon in Japan for the first time. I went in with a boat load of enlisted men. I twas a walk of about three hours for me and as it was the longest walk I had taken for about three years my feet were very tired when it was over. The mills were all ruined when we saw them at close range in contrast to the deceptive appearance they gave us from the boat. The Japs were out to welcome us and stare. Trading in cigarettes was heavy as they sold for $10 a carton or about four packs for a kimono. Nearly all of the small houses were miniature workshops and of course 90% of these were destroyed by the fire bombs and in their places were small gardens fertilized by night soil. The trams were running and jammed with gawking Japs. The automobiles running were converted to burn charcoal instead of gasoline. We had seen this type before in Australia. The trip back to the ship was uneventful except that we came back without three of the men we brought. Maybe they got on another boat. A typhoon passed over us in the anchorage and made the ships toss some. There were three battleships in the area and three aircraft carriers as well as smaller naval boats.
On the 25th we weighed anchor and in the evening of the 26th approached Nagoya. A Japanese pilot climbed aboard and seemed to have a persistent grin as he smoked cigarettes the navy officers gave him on the bridge. HE had a stiff white collar and was dressed in black otherwise. He had a pair of Japanese filed glasses which are no larger than our opera glasses. The ship was pushed from the channel to the dock by four of its barges
27th Oct. 45. This morning we got off of the James O’Hara and came to the communication building by truck convoy. The ride was long and tiring. I came in Jeep with major Nigg. The enormous factories were practically all ruined. Nagoya has excellent streets and the street cars are like American ones too. When we reached the buildings I was surprised to find it so modern.--except for the Japanese characters on the doors it looked as though it were in the US instead of Japan. There are three elevator systems and good lights. The halls are granite and looked very good. There were a few Japs here when we arrived and they were anxious to work and work very industriously. there is a bug roof garden and a theater in the top floor. Now we don’t have to worry about the rain interfering with our movies. From the roof we can see the whole city. The communications building is practically undamaged although the wooden shacks are completely burned down. Our enlisted men live nearby in a Japanese fort which consist of a series of barracks with a moat around it but of course there is a nowater in it. The barracks smells like a stable as we went through it. It has community bath rooms that is characteristic of Japan. There is a very good system of air raid shelters. The City Hall is a beautiful building and undamaged.
My job in the hospital at this time is ward officer for the skin ward. I’ll probably be around Japan about three more months as far as I know.
6 Nov. ‘45. About nov l Five of us officers were left with the hospital when 18 of our officers left for the Nagoya separation Center. We got a telegram authorizing all eligible officers to go there. instead of clearing through 25 Division and L Corps the way we really should have done we cut the orders and sent them directly there without notifying the division of corps. Otherwise they might have been delayed. Now they have practically all left for the states by plane. I think I would rather wait for a boat. I’ll probably be stuck for another month or so as they just put out an order setting the score here at 85 officers and I only have 74.
Last week Major Nigg recommended me for the bronze star and if that comes through I’ll have 79. Donovon, Swarts, and Sterling got bronze stars before.
At about the same time the 229 General Hospital moved into the building and began to take over the hospital. The nurses went to the top floor and the officers came with us on the 2nd. In a couple of days we’ll be out and living over in the old Japanese barracks where our men are now.
I the last few days I have been had a good time shopping. Cigarettes and GI chocolate candy are worth more than money, a pack of cigarettes being worth about 80 cents and a small candy bar almost as much. The shop girls are cute and giggle at us when we talk Japanese to them. There are department stores for Americans.
9 Nov. ‘45.
Yesterday we moved into the Japanese barracks in the castle area. am in a room with capt Christianson but can have an individual room if I want one. I took a trip to the castle and enjoy it very much. The main buildings are burned down but the outposts are still in good shape. I was surprised to find out from a Japanese that the place was only six years old. The timbers were all new in the building that I visited. There were several wells on the place about fifty feet deep. The entrance gates were very impressive about six inches thick. I have also been doing considerable trading cigarettes and candy. Tonight I sold four packs of cigarettes for $1.20 a pack. I have accumulated two Japanese flags and about fifty pictures. I can speak a little Japanese and the Japs enjoy crowding around to trade. When one starts to laugh at something they all start as it is contagious. I went into a Japanese theater and the proprietor took us into his office and gave us tea and presents. I am not doing anything yet as the 229 has completely taken over our hospital and we’ll just sit here until something comes up. I wish the unit would break up so that I could go home.
25 Nov. ‘45 WE are still in the barracks area and are opening up the hospital again. until today I have been executive officer, chief of service, registrar, and motor officer. Now I am only assistant chief of ward section and am glad of that. We got a few MAC’s and three medical officers from the 264 med. Bn. and also a Major and a warrant officer from a Medical Bn. HQ. A captain from the infantry joined us today permanently and we are glad of that. In the past few days I have been supervising the setting up of the hospital and it is going nicely and will be ready to take patients in about two days. We are putting in steel beds for the first time and also stoves. WE have Japs working for us and they do fairly well. We will get practically all of the patients from the 25 division except the psychos, officers and acute surgical eases. We will evacuate out the 229 GH. Our capacity is supposed to be 250 beds. The weather is fairly cold and we get about one rainy day in 10. The black market is dying out as the MPs nd tightening up on it.
3 Nov ‘45 We are still at the castle area and are operating the hospital.capacity of 250 patients. One building only is finished as the other one has to be painted before we put patients into it. We have Japs working on it but they are very slow. Now we have 48 patients but ae building up the census fast. I have two wards, one medical and one for skin and contagious disease. In all I have about twenty patients. I am still assistant chief of service and executive officer. Major Petway is chief of service and sees all the skins and GU cases. There are only three of the original 92nd officers left; Pfile, Vinicor, and I. We have one infantry officer on permanent duty and one MAC. Two other officers hare with us on TD. This is causing us much concern as the three of us are eligible for demobilization and we are not in the mood to be held up for lack of replacements. Today the score for medical officers is 76 and I have 73. The weather is getting a little colder now by that doesn’t worry me much as I want to be on the way home in another two weeks. Two days ago I picked up my saber. Each officer when he goes home gets a trophy,; pistol, saber, or sword. We get letters every day from the other officers who have gone home and are glad that they made the trip successfully. Most of them went by air and that is one wahy I don’t want to get home. I would rather wait an extra two weeks. The black market has quieted down and we don’t bother to sell any more cigarettes as the MP’s are clamping down. Last week we opened up an officer’s club and I went there for the first time last night. It is on the upper floor of a Japanese building here on the reservation. It has a good stove and that is an asset here as many buildings are unheated. Even the bug Japanese city auditorium us cold for the shows. This letter is full of mistakes as I am typing this without lights as a fuse somewhere has let go and the hospital is dark. I had planned to study tonight but as the lights let go I can’t do that very well. I just got a candle from the ward and am using it now. I am trying to do as much as possible to catch up on my medical work before I go back to civilian life.