Entry #55

“Sept 16 – Trip isn’t bad, play bingo all day. Convoy not very big, about 20 ships.”

Entry#55(2)

The black markings are digital only, used to cover up the next entry.

Alright so this entry was very interesting to me, as I learned that troops played bingo to pass time.

The following entry will be about the Battle of Morotai, and will probably be pretty long. The next entry takes place when he arrives there and should be posted within the next two days, it is just going to take me some time to type it all out, as I have some real life things going on at the moment, so sorry about that.

Entry #54

“Sept 15 – Left Wakde at 9:00 A.M. and headed North. (Morotai invaded).” 

Entry#54(2)

Alright so he is leaving Wakde to go to the Halmahera Islands, which was mentioned in a previous entry. He wrote “(Morotai invaded).”. This is true, historically the Island of Morotai was invade this day, September 15th, 1944, by allied forces to take it from the Japanese.

It became known as the Battle of Morotai. I will talk much more about this in the following entry, because he actually arrives there September 16th (the following day). For now I am going to leave it at this.

 

Entry #53

“Sept 14 – July, Aug, Sept list taken off boat. They were a bunch of happy guys.”

Entry#53(2)

Alright so this entry is referring to the group of soldiers that were supposed to get off the ship, to most likely go home during the months of July, August and September. They are just now getting to do this.

I find it interesting how Mike choose to write about what they were like, writing “They were a bunch of happy guys.”. Throughout his life he was always very observant, so to me this is interesting at least.

Entry #52

“Sept 13 – Got underway at 9:30 A.M. Arrived at Wakde that night to pick up convoy.”

Entry#52(2)

Alright so what I find interesting about this is he did not use military time, he wrote “9:30 A.M.”. In military time this would be 0930 eliminating the need to use A.M. or P.M.

So he said he “Arrived at Wakde that night to pick up convoy.”. Wakde is an Island about 225 miles east of Biak Island, which is where he was at before this.  Wakde is a fairly small island group within Indonesia. It was used as an airfield by allied forces.

WakdeIUsland

This is a modern image, an overhead view of the island. As you can see it is fairly small with the airstrip in the middle and a smaller, separate island to the bottom of it.

WakdeMap

Here is map, I opened it up in Photoshop to draw the line showing you where he went.


Here is more information on Wakde and where I found the map image of it

Here is information on the battle that took place to take it over from the Japanese, prior to Mike going there

Here is where I found the aerial view picture of the island

 

Entry #51

“Sept 12 (Heard the Wully wap at Biak but couldn’t see him.) – Boarded Liberty Ship Joe S.C. Blackburn.”

Entry#51(2)

Alright so before I get into what this is about, I would like to explain why I wrote “Heard the Wully wap at Biak but couldn’t see him.” I know this does not make sense to you, just know I’m right with you. I sat here for a while to try and figure out what the bit in parentheses next to the date says but cannot. I even tried using a magnifying glass and getting someone else’s opinion and still can’t. So I apologize for that. Below is going to be a zoomed in image of that part of the entry, if you can figure it out please comment below and I will update this accordingly. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Entry#51(3)

Now to the rest of the entry, this one is fairly straight forward. He wrote “Boarded Liberty Ship Joe S.C. Blackburn.”. If you remember from a while ago he has been on a Liberty ship before, as they are cargo ships, designed for transporting troops, vehicles, weapons, and ammunition. I could not find much about this specific ship except a record of when it was built and what happened to it after. You can read that here, (it’s about the 20th name down the page) if you’re really that interested in it. As for who it’s named after, I am not sure. There are a few people with the name Joseph Blackburn who lived during the 1900’s that have served in the military. I am guessing the S.C. part stands for South Carolina. I also apologize that I can not provide more information about this, if you can feel free to comment it below and I will update this accordingly. But just know the significance of this ship’s name is not too important, as it was a transport ship he will be on temporarily.

 

Entry #50

“Sept 8 – Had biggest raid yet, 12 bombers came over dropping bombs everywhere. They gave Biak hell also.”

Entry#50(1)

Entry#50(2)

The black scribble is digital only, covering the next entry.

Alright so from this point on the journal heats up a lot. The majority of entries from here on out for a few months are about the bombing that took place. This one was made me sit there and think for a few minutes after reading it, of it what it must have been like.

It’s hard to put yourself in the shoes of someone serving during WWII, but for a moment I ask you to:

You’re on a small island in the Philippines surround by unknown land and water, nothing is familiar to you as you’re from a small, poor American town. You’re just barley out of high school and are sitting with your brothers in arms all wearing military BDU’S (battle dress uniforms) holding your gun looking out at the surrounding jungle and periodically into the sky. The environment is full of anxiety, and the smell of gunpowder. All of the sudden you see twelve Japanese air crafts flying overhead, and all out hell breaks loose. On top of screaming and gun fire, around 40,000 pounds of explosives are being dropped around you.

I know that paragraph I wrote doesn’t convey it that well but I would like to try and get across how scary this must’ve been. The part about 40,000 pounds of explosives is just a guess, considering American bombers could hold around 4,500 I figured Japanese planes would be relatively similar, so I just multiplied it by twelve. To put 40,00 pounds into perspective, that’s around the weight of a blue whale.

Moving on, where he said “They gave Biak hell also” , if you remember from a few entries ago, he is still on Biak island, and is supposed to be moving North of Halmahera Island soon. What also strikes me about this entry is his use of the word “hell”. It is rarely used throughout this journal.