“(MORATAI) Sept 20 DT5 APO 926 – Arrived at Moratai in early morning. Jap plane came over but did no damage. Disembarked on 6 C ‘1’s and landed on beach. Had raid that night. Not many Japs on island but fear of Jap counter invasion.”
Alright so a fair warning ahead of time, this is going to be a long entry, as there is a decent amount of information I feel needs to be explained in order to understand what is going on.
So starting from the top, where it says “(MORATAI) Sept 20 DT5 APO 926”. As mentioned in the previous entry this one is going to have to do with the battle of Morotai and what took place there, as this was the island Mike goes to. Now before going further I am going to give a little perspective on where Morotai is on a world scale. For those of you who have been following this for a while might forget where in the world Mike actually is and for new people you might not have even heard of this place before.
Alright so as you can see by the up above images, this is a heavily zoomed out view. The starting point of the curved line is Pittsburgh Pennsylvania in the United States Of America, this was the closest major city to Mike when he first joined the military. The end point with the red marker is Morotai Island, which as you can see by the second image is approximately 8,677 miles (13,964 km) away from Pittsburgh. It is essentially on the other side of the world, in Indonesia, right below the Philippines. Which in our current world would take about 16 hours to travel to by airplane. So the point being, this was incredibly foreign and far away from his home.
The four above images are all zoomed in views of the actual island just to give you a better idea. If you find information like this useful please let me know and every few entries I will try to update you on where in the world he actually is.
So moving onto the rest of the title where it says “DT5 APO 926”. I am not entirely sure if this actually says “DT5” or “D + 5” or “Dt 5”. I am going to go about it if it says “DT5” , if this is incorrect please feel free to let me know in the comments below and I will update it accordingly. I am guessing it stands for Detachment 5, meaning that’s the Detachment he was part of. Now that is only a guess, if it is true then it just means that was the smaller group he was in.
Next we arrive at the part that says “APO 926”. “APO” stands for Army Post Office, this is just simply the Post Office number on the Island of Morotai.
Finally, we get to the actual entry. Historically the Battle of Morotai Island started on September 15th 1944 which was about five days prior to when he arrived. Meaning he was not part of the initial invasion of the island. The United States and Australia decided to invade this island in order to take it’s control from the Japanese, as it was in a very strategic geographical location. It could greatly assist the allied forces if they would need to invade Japan or any other island in that area of the world later on in the war. The allied forces heavily out numbered the Japanese forces, so it only took them about two weeks to gain full control of the island. Mike does not mention any combat or fighting that took place. This could mean that he was not part of it on this island or he just choose not to write about it. Personally I believe I am leaning more towards the second one, but that I will never find out.
The next few lines, “Jap plane came over but did no damage. Disembarked on 6 C ‘1’s and landed on beach. Had raid that night.” The first part talking about the Jap plane flying over, this was incredibly common during WWII, especially in the Pacific part of the war. The reason they didn’t bomb or attack could have been because they were surveying what was below them or it simply could have been a tactic of attempting to scare the allied forces below them. But normally when they flew over they did attack. The following line I am not too sure on what it is saying. I am fairly certain it says “6 C ‘1’s” but I am not 100% sure. Again feel free to correct me if I am wrong and it will be updated accordingly. If this is correct I think the “C ‘1’ part stands for a category 1 ship. Ships during this time were ranked by category, where the larger ships would be in a higher categorized number. Category 1 ships were very small (in comparison to aircraft carriers and combat ready ships) and were often used to transport cargo and troops short distances so the main ship did not have to, so it would make sense if this is what he was on.
If you managed to make it this far, don’t worry it’s almost over. The final part is very eerie, “Not many Japs on island but fear of Jap counter invasion.” Counter invasions were incredibly common during this time as they were essentially sneak attacks, both allied and axis forces did them. If you put yourself in Mike’s shoes this is where I think the eeriness comes home. So for a moment I ask you to do just that when you read the little paragraph I wrote below:
Picture yourself as an 18 or 19 year old male, fresh out of high school. You are almost 9,000 miles away from your small town home, family, friends and everything you’ve ever known. You are in the middle of the ocean on an island you probably didn’t even know existed prior to arriving there. After getting onto the beach you start to feel how uncomfortable this is. The air is incredibly tense and reeks of gun powder and sweat, and when combined with 90 degree temperatures creates an incredibly miserable time. In the distance you and your unit can hear the feint sound of gunshots and the occasional explosion but are required to stay put and guard your current location. Every second of every day and night the thought persists in your mind that at any moment the enemy could start attacking you. That any moment while you are trapped on this island could be your last, your body would fall to the sand, and your loved ones most likely would not find out until weeks or months later. You could take your last breath almost 9,000 miles away from everything you’ve ever known, surrounded by water, sand and the hell of what war is.
The map images are from Google Maps