“Sept 7 – Another raid, no damage”
“Sept 7 – Another raid, no damage”
“Sept 4 – Started packing for move, rumor that we’re going North of Halmahera”
Alright so this one took me about twenty – five minutes to figure out the final word of it. I can read most of his handwriting even though it might take me a bit. But this word was especially hard. So I tried zooming in with Photoshop, I tried looking at a map of the Pacific, I tried researching Battles that happened in the Pacific during WWII and finally came to the conclusion that it says “Halmahera.”
Halmahera is the largest island within the Maluku Island chain, which is in Indonesia.
I realized geography is very important in a project like this, so the reader can have a sense of direction, a sense of where Mike was actually headed. So I found this image and opened it up in Photoshop to give you a better idea of where this is on a world map. He is currently on the Island of Owi, right next to Biak Island, and said he is rumored to go to Halmahera. Halmahera is in the middle of the North Maluku Islands, and is about 550 miles away from where he was. The reason I am even going into detail about these is because he is going to be in the North Maluku Islands for quite a while, which you will find out more about in the coming entries.
If would like me to include more information about the locations and geography of where he was headed, please let me know by commenting and I will do so.
“Sept 2 – Got first issue of beer, sure was tasty.”
Alright so I am not very good at reading cursive, so after staring at this for about ten minutes, I am fairly certain it says “Got first issue of beer, sure was tasty.” If I am wrong I apologize, but that is what it looks like to me. If I am incorrect feel free to comment below and I will update this accordingly.
So to me this seemed interesting, that troops were issued beer. Now I know that alcohol and war has gone hand in hand since the ancient times, to take the troops minds off of the horror, and let them relax a little. But I had no idea it was actually issued to to troops, so I decided to research this. Below will be information on beer during WWII, so if you are not interested in that, I would suggest to stop reading here.
So as you can see, in the picture up above, those do not look like typical cans of beer. They are painted an olive drab color, which was done on purpose. This was actually done to camouflage them from enemy air crafts.
During this time the United States Department of Agriculture forced 15% of all beer production within the United States to be set aside for the troops. Currently the U.S. produces around 196 million barrels of beer per year, during the 1940’s it was most likely half this number, so 15% of that was still a pretty large amount. The beer given to troops was also much stronger than normal beer, and much stronger than the beer of the other allied forces.
“Sept 1 – Japs raided Biak.”
Alright so first off, just to give a little background, as this has not been mentioned in quite a while (my comments on the actual journal entry will be at the bottom, so feel free to skip down there if you are not interested in any of this). The year is currently 1944, this entry was written on September 1st, 1944, which was a Friday. From the best of my knowledge based off what he has written in the journal, he is currently on the Island of Owi, formally known as Pulau Owi. At the time it was an air field used by allied forces, and is within the Schouten Islands of Indonesia. It is around ninety miles east from the island of Biak, which was where a major battle took place lasting from May 27th 1944, to around June 22nd 1944, which mike wrote about in previous entries of his. You can check that out here if you’re interested. The island he is on and the ones around him are key locations of the Pacific War (the part of WWII that took place around the Philippines and Japan). Below you will find a picture of where Pulua Owi island actually is in the world.
Mike was part of the 5th Air Force, and had the duty as a dental assistant on the side of the other standard troop duties (fighting for and protecting your bass if need be, helping wounded, repairing vehicles and objects, guarding your base, taking over new areas, those types of aspects).
The reason I reiterated information I’ve already mentioned is for new people, or people that might not have read those older entries or people that may have just forgotten. Also because it’s been a few entries since he’s mentioned his location or what his duties actually are, so I figured it would probably be a good time to do so, I will try to do this sort of thing more often.
Now to the actual journal entry, “Japs raided Biak.” I tried to research this online, and could not find anything about the Japanese raiding Biak on this date, leading me to believe it was not very serious or large, most likely a minor battle if any at all. But then again I might be wrong, and I might not have researched deep enough, so I apologize that I can not provide more information about this. If anyone can, feel free to comment it down below and I will update this accordingly.
“Aug 30 – Rumor that we’re moving soon. June list went home.”
From my understanding rumors such as these, where troops would here they would either be going home or getting moved to another location were extremely common.
When he says “June list went home” I am guessing he is saying that the list of soldiers who were supposed to go home in June, just now went home, almost three full months later.
“Aug 24 – Saw Bob Hope show, Frances Langford, Jerry Colonna, Patty Thomas were with him. Jane enjoyed it. Snapped some pictures.”
Alright there is quite a bit to talk about in this entry, so it’s going to be longer than usual, most of it pertaining to the four people he mentioned in the first sentence. So if you are not interested in who those people were I would stop reading now.
The first few words of this entry are “Saw Bob Hope show” now after reading this I guessed that Bob Hope was a fairly popular person, maybe a comedian of some sort, at least important enough for Mike to mention him. I have heard the name before but know nothing about the guy. So after researching I found out who Bob Hope is.
He was born on May 29th, 1903 in London England and died on July 27th, 2003 in Los Angeles California. So he lived to be one hundred years old, which by itself is pretty impressive. He was a comedian, vaudevillian (basically a theater performance of random acts), actor, singer, dancer, athlete and author. He was a lot of stuff and was extremely famous throughout the mid 1900’s. His career peaked during the 40’s and 50’s as he was in several big movies at the time and hosted a lot of television specials and shows on NBC. He went on to host the Academy Awards nineteen times, write fourteen books, along with multiple other songs, televisions shows, movies and stage performances. He was also heavily into golf and boxing. So while all that might be interesting, you might be wondering how this has anything to do with World War II?
Throughout the span of World War II he hosted radio shows for American troops to listen to, usually about random stuff along with comedy, to try and take the troop’s minds off of their harsh reality. He also traveled around the Pacific during World War II and performed live shows to troops. He continued performing to troops all the way up until 1991, totaling him at fifty – seven tours. In 1997 he was declared an honorary veteran of the United States Armed Forces by Congress. Below is what he looked like.
Anyways those tours I mentioned, where he would travel around the Pacific Islands during World War II, that was how Mike saw him. He happened to come to the base Mike was at and performed for him and the other troops. I’d imagine all the troops were pretty excited, as he was pretty famous at the time and it took their mind off everything else going on.
Alright so now moving onto the other people he mentioned “Frances Langford, Jerry Colonna, Patty Thomas” that were also with Bob Hope. I am not going to go as in depth on these people like I did for Bob Hope, because this is long enough already.
Frances Langford was also an entertainer, actress and mainly a singer, accompanied Bob Hope during a lot of his tours to help him perform for the troops. She mainly did the singing part. She was mainly famous for her songs that went on the radio. Below is what she looked like in the 1940’s.
Jerry Colonna was also a musician, actor, comedian, singer / songwriter, actor and entertainer who frequently accompanied Bob Hope on his tours. He was know as a trombonist and Bob Hope’s sidekick in his shows. Below is what he looked like in the 1950’s.
Patty Thomas was an actress and entertainer who sometimes accompanied Bob Hope and was mainly know for her dancing during the performances. Below is a picture of her in the 1940’s.
Now to the last part, where he said “Jane enjoyed it. Snapped some pictures.”. I am not too sure if that word is actually “Jane”, that is what it looks like to me though. I am not sure if that was a friend of his, if that actually is what the word is. I apologize if I am wrong and that I can not provide more information to you, if someone can please feel free to comment it below and I will update this accordingly. He also wrote that he “Snapped some pictures.” This is very interesting, as I just made the announcement of how I will be posting all of his photos on this website, hopefully that one will be in it. Overall this entry was very interesting to me, as I learned a lot about some famous people of the time and the role entertainers had during World War II.
Thank you so much to anyone who has actually read this far, below will be links to where I found these pictures and all this information.
“Aug 14 – Japs said they would bomb and gas us out of Duri, were on alert all night. Their usual propaganda.”
Alright so after the words “gas us out of” there is what appears to be a four to five letter word. I am not sure what it is, to me and other people I’ve asked it looks like “Duri” so that is why up above I put that. I am not too sure what a “Duri” is of if it is even a word. I am very sorry I am not able to tell you what that word is, if anyone can figure it out feel free to let me know in the comments down below and I will update this.
I also find it very interesting how he referred to threats they made like this as “propaganda”.