Higgins Boats

Pacific Paratrooper

Higgins boat

President Eisenhower said: “If Higgins had not designed and built those LCVPs (Landing Craft, Vehicle and Personnel), we never could have landed over an open beach. The whole strategy of the war would have been different.” And as Colonel Joseph H. Alexander, USMC (Ret) said, “The Higgins boats broke the gridlock on the ship-to-shore movement.  It is impossible to overstate the tactical advantages this craft gave U.S. amphibious commanders in World War II.”

Clearly, the half-wood half-steel “smallboat” meant a lot to the War. These assault or LCVP boats would land troops and material on invasion beachheads. Their designer, Andrew Higgins, was positive there would be a need among the U.S. Navy for thousands of small boats—and was also sure that steel would be in short supply. In an common moment of eccentricity, Higgins bought the entire 1939 crop of mahogany from the Philippines and stored it on his…

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The Burma Jeep

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1943 Ford GTBA G622

The Ford GTB, called the “Burma Jeep”, was produced during WWII and was used primarily by the US Navy and Marine Corps and used exclusively in the Pacific Theater during World War II, many used on the “Burma Road”.  Its Ordinance Standard nomenclature number was G-622. Ford produced the low silhouette, short and maneuverable GTB in five models collectively called the G-622.

Total production of the 1-½ ton models was over 15,000 units, including these variants:

  • GTB truck, Cargo
  • GTBA truck, (US Navy)
  • GTBB truck, Wrecker, (Rare, only 50 produced)
  • GTBS truck, Bomb Service with crane (US Navy)
  • GTBC truck, Bomb Service with crane (USN, improved)

The Burma Jeeps were powered by a Ford 6-cylinder flathead gasoline engine producing 90 horsepower. They were 1-½ ton capacity, 4-wheel drive with a 4-speed transmission and a 2-speed transfer case. The Burma Jeep on display at Estrella WarBirds…

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Occupation – Sub Clean-up

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By definition, a midget submarine is less than 150 tons, has a crew of no more than eight, has no on-board living accommodation, and operates in conjunction with a mother ship to provide the living accommodations and other support. The Japanese Navy built at least 800 midgets in 7 classes, but only a fraction had any noticeable impact on the war. Their intended purpose initially was to be deployed in front of enemy fleets, but their actual use would be in harbor attacks and coastal defense.

The Japanese midget subs were not named but were numbered with “Ha” numbers (e.g., Ha-19). These numbers were not displayed on the exterior and operationally the midgets were referred to according to the numbers of their mother ships. Thus, when I-24 launched Ha-19, the midget was known as “I-24tou” (designated “M24” in some texts). The “Ha” numbers were not unique either; some Type D’s…

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Smitty, Still in Japan

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Japan 1945

No matter where he is or what he’s doing, Smitty will be seen touring the sights. In Japan, he also did his best to absorb the culture that surrounded him.

Smitty’s travels

Inside the above brochure, Smitty wrote, “Right after we left this place, it burnt down. This was really a million dollar joint! Wow! The girls here, by the way, are very nice. I like these people much better than the Filipinos.” (Just to remind the reader, and in all fairness, Smitty had lost his best friend to a Filipino Japanese sympathizer (makipilli) with a grenade booby-trap in his cot)

In October 1945, General Pierson was transferred back home. He was replaced by General Shorty Soule who had commanded the 188th regiment in both training and combat. He was later promoted to assistant division commander of the 38th Division and at this point he began to head…

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Luxembourg American Cemetery

Just a Common Soldier (A Soldier Died Today)

by A. Lawrence Vaincourt

He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.

And tho’ sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we’ll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
And the world’s a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,

Michael, my son.

For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world…

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11th Airborne Division’s End of WWII Honor – part (2)

Pacific Paratrooper

General Swing, Commander of the 11th A/B, brought with him on the plane a large American flag and a banner painted, “CP 11th Airborne Division” to be fastened onto the roof of airplane hangar. He was dressed in battle fatigues and “11th A/B” was stenciled on his helmet. He carried a .38 pistol and a bandoleer of .38 caliber shells draped across his chest. (As ready for combat in Japan as he was on Leyte and Luzon.) A Japanese officer approached him as he departed the plane. The officer saluted and introduced himself as Lieut-General Arisuye, the officer in control of the Atsugi sector. He then asked the general what his current orders would be and Gen. Swing lost no time in telling him.

American POWs had been left unguarded at their prisons just days before. Two hours after Gen. Swing’s arrival, two POWs walked into the CP. (command post)…

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Home Front – WWII Sweetheart Jewelry

Pacific Paratrooper

Anne Clare, The Naptime Author, was kind enough to allow me to steal this article off her site, so Pacific Paratrooper could deliver a sweetheart of a post!  Please go visit her and enjoy her other historical posts!

Does your family own any jewelry from World War II? Curator Kathleen Golden shares a few sweet pieces from our collection.

In honor of Valentine’s Day and the giving of trinkets and baubles, I thought it would be fun to share a collection of objects in the Division of Armed Forces History called “sweetheart jewelry.” Sweetheart jewelry first became popular during World War I, as a means of connection between wives, mothers and sweethearts back home and the men fighting overseas. It was one of many things that soldiers either made or purchased, along with pillowcase covers, handkerchiefs, compacts, and the like. But while the practice began back then, the concept…

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