Shortages in the Pacific Theater

Paul T. Jones enlisted in the Army in October 1940 and made the journey overseas with the 43rd Bomb Group. For much of the war, the U.S. adopted a policy of putting the fight in Europe ahead of all other theaters, leading to a lot of anger and frustration from the men in the Pacific who felt they were not getting the resources and relief needed to fight the Japanese. The shortage of men and equipment was often noted in diary entries like these.

April 6, 1943 — Sometimes I wonder, I have mentioned before how badly we need planes. Some of our combat crews have over 300 hours combat. Seems like if they are going to keep us over here they could send us some new planes and men. Gen. Kenney went to Washington to see what could be done and I understand they are sending some damn senator over to look things over. A hell of a lot he knows about it. I believe the people at home think this front is a joke. If they could be here working to keep these ships in the air and then seeing them take off and come back with some of their buddies missing it would cease to be so. At times you can’t help but get disgusted with the whole thing. Then again I know a lot of fellows and myself included wonder how things will be when we get back, taxes, and a thousand other things. Well I guess things will straighten out in due time.

Oct. 5, 1943 — A couple of days ago Gen. Kenney had us up to group for a little talk. The whole thing bills down to the fact that we can’t expect to go home in the near future. He can’t get any replacements over here. One percent a month is all for sick etc which isn’t enough. Combat men have good chances of going as they have, after 300 hours. Miserable ground men can expect to stay here until they are bush happy or physically unable. The Gen. said that he was working on a deal whereby we stay up here five months and go back to the mainland for one. It is rather plain that the German situation will have to be cleaned up before we can expect any relief…

June 17, 1944 — …The going home deal looks bad. Here it is the middle of June and the May men haven’t even left. [Jones was on the list for July.] Have been writing a few little shorts for the band in my spare moments. Shelton finished up his time and his going home orders are in. Good on him.

Jones would be transferred back home in October 1944, after almost 4 full years overseas.

13 thoughts on “Shortages in the Pacific Theater

  1. This is in relation to Paul T. Jones’ post under the heading “Shortages in the Pacific Theater”. It is an extract from a letter by Colonel Lee M Shelton (Ret) to Walt at the 22nd Bomb Group Newsletter (undated). It may add to Paul Jones’ post of Oct. 5, 1943. Shelton is mentioned in Jones’ post of Jun 17, 1944:

    “By way of introduction, I was assigned to the 33rd Sqdn. and arrived in Australia during January of 1944 with the first contingent of B-24 aircraft and crews. We signed over the new aircraft to the depot at Townsville (Garbutt Field) and were transported to join the 22nd Gp at Charters Towers where the 22nd was undergoing transition from B-26/B-25s to the Liberator. After a bit of transition and orientation the outfit began moving to Nadzab, New Guinea, about mid-March, with combat missions beginning soon thereafter. We progressed through Wakde, Owi, Angaur, Samar (Leyte), P.I, and Clark Field …

    “For the record, there were 52 crews shipped out of Biggs Field, El Paso, TX on 12 Dec 1943, bound for Topeka, to pick up our new aircraft for ferry to the European theater. All went according to plan, such as route briefing, issue of high-altitude (sheep-lined) flying gear, assignment of aircraft, etc, even to a tentative departure date.

    “Suddenly, late one night, we were called to a briefing and told that some of us were going to the Pacific, but quick. Some 30 crews took off, in new aircraft, during the next 48 hours, for Tucson, AZ (installation of long-range fuel tanks), then McClellan Field, CA (to flush and check the tanks), and finally to Fairfield-Salsun Army Air Base, CA (to tell us how the tanks work and how to find Australia).

    “On the 9th of January 1944, we looked down from a midnight sky to see the Golden Gate Bridge pass beneath our wings. Did it ever look black over the water! Later, Hickham, Canton Island, New Caledonia, and finally the red tile roofs of Brisbane.

    “‘No – you guys don’t belong here. Go on up to Townsville, they’ll take your airplanes there.’ Sure enough, they took ur aircraft – and we turned over our sheep-lined flying gear. Said we wouldn’t need it over here. How right they were!

    “I learned after the war, while reading General Kenny’s book, that he had persuaded General Arnold to spare him a few crews from the masses being assigned to the push in Europe. There but for the grace ….”

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  2. My Dad did 3 years in the Pacific before he came home. My adopted mom kept saying that she wrote him letters all the time while she was working with the Government in UTAH when the moved the Presidio from San Fransico to UTAH because they thought it was going to be invaded. She was a Secretary for all the High ranking personal and she was in on the meetings when they were talking about how to protect the West Coast which the meeting was TOP SECRET she was the only person there to take shorthand. So she wrote the Paper plans on the invasion of California and Oregon, Washington state.
    My Dad said that they needed planes, personal, better food, but that was war. The 13th Air Force(JUNGLE AIR FORCE) was a small unit but they hurt the Japanese in every Raid.


  3. There are very few veterans still alive and capable of giving a good interview of their experience of the Pacific war. One of these is Leo Bundschuh, a gunner in B-24s in the 2nd Squadron, 22d Bomb Group. Here, at age 92, he gave this interview for the Fremont News. The video interview of his training, his flight to Australia, and his service as a gunner to the end of the war is excellent.


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