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Over the last couple of years, we’ve been happy to see our readership and engagement increasing as we keep sharing the stories about the Pacific side of World War II. Now we’d like to know a little more about what you and what you enjoy here. Since we publish books, we’d also like to know a little bit about your book buying habits. Below are two polls with one question each. If you want to elaborate on your choices, feel free to add a comment. We really appreciate your feedback. Come back next week for an exciting survival story!

Gusap and the Arrival of the Havoc

Digging into the IHRA blog archives, we rediscovered a post about the 312th settling into New Guinea.

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On December 28, 1943, the 312th ground echelon made its way to Gusap to rejoin the rest of the Group. They arrived at the beginning of the rainy season when razor-sharp kunai grass grew up to ten feet tall, insects, rats and snakes roamed freely, and the soil turned into thick mud with all the rain. The men spent countless hours digging ditches to drain the water from the camp. The 386th Squadron started calling themselves “The 386th Engineers” to try and lighten the mood while doing the hard labor. The Group had trouble getting sanitary water, which meant drinking chlorinated water from Lister bags and washing clothes in the muddy Ramu River. On top of that, skin fungus and malaria were two of the many illnesses the 312th had to contend with.They did manage to have fun by playing sports like basketball and volleyball; they also gambled.

With the…

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He Has Seen War

In 2011, HBO released an excellent documentary comprised of veteran experiences from the Easy Company and the 1st Marine Division. Not only do the veterans and their relatives talk about life before and during WWII, but also how it impacted their lives once they returned home. We came across it on YouTube and wanted to share it with our readers.

B-26s at Midway

In early June 1942, the results of the Battle of Midway had a crucial effect on the Pacific war…

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Within five months of the U.S. entering World War II, Japan, hoping to reduce America’s naval capabilities, had its eye on island of Midway. This little atoll, sitting 1000 miles northwest of Honolulu and 2195 miles east of Japan, was the last defense between Japan and the Hawaiian Island chain and an important U.S. staging ground for Pacific operations. Given this, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz ordered that the air and ground defenses of Midway should be strengthened immediately. During the early part of May 1942, the U.S. broke the Japanese code and discovered Admiral Yamamoto’s plans for a surprise invasion. The Japanese would be coming with four aircraft carriers, 11 battleships and 150 other ships. Clearly, Nimitz would need all the Allied air and sea power he could muster.

Midway Island Midway Island. Source: Wikimedia Commons

By May 30th, the U.S. Navy started sending out PBY Catalinas to search for the large…

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Black Sunday: Part 1

“It was the worst blow I took in the whole war.” –General George C. Kenney

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The 312th was back to attacking Hollandia with bombers from the rest of Fifth Air Force: B-24s from the 22nd, 43rd and 90th Bomb Groups, B-25s from the 38th and 345th, and A-20s from the 312th, 3rd and 417th (a new bomber unit). These 216 planes with 76 P-38 escorts from the 8th and 475th Fighter Groups would be in the air once again on April 16, 1944. The only 312th Squadron not flying along was the 386th.

Bad weather at Hollandia delayed the Group from leaving Gusap until 1055. The crews bombed their targets of barges, stores and fuel dumps in between Sentani Lake and Jautefa Bay. After making their runs, the 312th formed up and headed for Gusap. With decent weather for the first half of the journey back, the men were able to grab a bite to eat while they flew home.
Hollandia
This photo from the Black…

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Tragedy Above the Bismarck Sea

It has been 72 years since this fateful day for one B-17 crew participating in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea.

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On February 26, 1943, a Japanese convoy was spotted by Allied forces at Rabaul. At this point in the war, the Japanese were trying to build up their strength in New Guinea after losing control of the Solomon Islands. Fifth Air Force would try to keep a close eye on this convoy, but due to the weather, could not watch it for two days. On March 1st, the weather finally cleared up enough for a 90th Bomb Group crew to see the convoy on its way from Rabaul to Lae. The crew immediately reported the situation as well as the size of the convoy. With six troop transports, two vessels carrying aviation fuel, a boat full of Japanese marines, eight destroyer escorts, and 100 fighter planes, this was not a target to be missed. B-17s from the 63rd Squadron were soon sent to bomb the convoy, but were thwarted by…

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Operation Reckless

We are pulling another one from the archives this week, this time giving some background on Hollandia, the next target for the 312th. Don’t forget to read finish the story in part 2!

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Hollandia, located on the northern coast of Netherlands, New Guinea, was an isolated town captured by the Japanese in April 1942. From there, they built the Hollandia, Cyclops and Sentani airdromes and a satellite strip at the nearby village of Tami. Although Hollandia had its strategic value, it was not a major target until 1944. Fifth Air Force finished pounding Wewak, the main base for the Japanese Army Air Force, in mid-March of 1944. The Japanese turned Hollandia into their major base and started a tremendous build up to try and take New Guinea back from the Allies. The Japanese Army High Command figured that Hollandia was out of the Allies’ reach and that they were safe from any attacks.

Operation Reckless was in the works when the Americans broke the Japanese military code and discovered that the enemy felt secure. The Japanese had no idea that the newest P-38…

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Christmas in the Pacific Theater

We’re reblogging our post on holiday celebrations in the Pacific. Happy holidays to all of our readers!

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For the men of Fifth Air Force, Christmas was not necessarily a time to take the day off to celebrate the holiday. There were still missions to be flown as the Allies tried to take back the Pacific from the Japanese. Some of these missions, like those of the 386th Squadron (312th Bomb Group) in 1943 were patrol missions. While the 386th was on patrol that year, the 345th, 43rd and 38th Bomb Groups were participating in a major raid on Cape Gloucester.

Three days before bombing Cape Gloucester on the 25th, a 345th B-25, THUMPER, was shot down on a mission over Wewak. The plane crash landed 12 miles from Dumpu, with the crew coming out of the crash uninjured. For five days, the crew trekked along the Ramu River, with a batch of P-40s spotting the men on Christmas Eve. The next day, the crew was seen…

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