“Oct 7 – Had raid at 6 A.M. Plane dropped string of bombs some landing in our area. Blew up our latrine which is about 150 feet from my tent. Shrapnel all over. Two of the bombs were duds. One hit our gasoline trailer but didn’t go off, we were very lucky. Two infantry boys killed, their camp was next to ours. Everybody thought it was a night fighter.”
Before we get into this, I would like to warn you this post will probably be very long, as this particular entry is a lot longer than usual. I feel like there is a lot in this that needs to be explained and talked about, so thank you if you stay and read all of it.
So Mike starts off by talking about a “raid at 6 A.M.” that occurred, this is pretty interesting as up until this point they have been normally occurring in the evening .
We then get into the part where Mike wrote “Plane dropped string of bombs some landing in our area”. This immediately sticks out because he never really talks about the specifics of these bombings that occurred almost every day, so right after reading this line, I figured it would be different. What he means by “string of bombs” is that the plane flew overhead, probably fairly low and dropped a lot of bombs, in a line, like a “string”. They were also very close together, almost on top of each other, because of the frequency in which they were dropped, which made them appear as a “string”.
Here is an example of string bombing.
The next part starts out with “Blew up our latrine which is about 150 feet from my tent. Shrapnel all over.” A latrine is another word for their bathrooms. So whether or not it was intentional for the Japanese to destroy this, they did. The reason there is shrapnel everywhere is because once the bombs explode the outside shell is broken into tiny pieces which shoot everywhere. Not only does the initial explosion cause damage but the shards of metal from the bomb (shrapnel) also do, as they could wound / kill people. There is also shrapnel from any objects (vehicles, buildings, etc) that are destroyed.
The part of this line that sticks out is the distance the latrine was from his tent, which Mike wrote as “150 feet” . This is an extremely small distance to be from a bomb, as it’s about the same length as half a football field (50 yards). Which if you think about, is a fairly small distance to be from an explosion and shrapnel.
Mike next wrote “Two of the bombs were duds.” What this means is that out of all the bombs dropped, two did not explode upon contact with their target. In military terminology dud explosives are referred to as unexploded ordnance. There would be no way for me to even guess why these two did not go off, as it could be a number of reasons. I also do not have any knowledge on how aerial bombs worked during WWII so I don’t want to give incorrect information either.
Unexploded bombs are a very common thing throughout the world, especially in the Middle East and Africa, although they are usually in the form of landmines, making them even more dangerous, as they are often buried underground. But unexploded bombs from WWII are also fairly common. Here is an interesting BBC News article talking about the danger of these bombs and how there are still thousands from WWII all across Europe, Africa, and the Pacific theater. It’s pretty interesting, so I would recommend reading it if you were not aware of this.
Alright so let’s get back to the entry, Mike wrote “One hit our gasoline trailer but didn’t go off, we were very lucky.” I had to read over this line multiple times, to be sure I wasn’t seeing things. A bomb hit their gasoline trailer but did not explode. I have no idea how something like that would even be possible, and I’m sure Mike and the other soldiers were thinking the same thing, as if it did explode the gasoline trailer it would’ve been a massive explosion along with oil everywhere, starting a fire. Mike was a very religious man, as were a lot of young men serving in this war, so in his mind, he probably thought this was a bit more than luck.
To help you picture this better, here is an example of a gasoline trailer from WWII. It would’ve been attached to the back of a larger truck.
In the next line Mike wrote “Two infantry boys killed, their camp was next to ours.” The first interesting part is how Mike referred to them as “boys”, leading me to believe they were very young or either looked very young. This is incredibility sad but a notable part of this journal, as to the best of my recollection, this is the first time Mike mentions anyone in specific being killed. Leading me to also believe he may have knew these two people, at least more than others. But maybe not, it could just be he decided to include that because this day was very catastrophic and he wanted to write everything down that happened. Mike wrote “their camp was next to ours” , this means more people may have died, as their camps were probably very close to each other. Then again there is no way for me to be certain. I’m sure those two infantry soldiers are resting in Valhalla now.
We are now on the final part of this entry. Mike wrote “Everybody thought it was a night fighter.” In the previous entry , I wrote about night fighter’s and explained their significance throughout the first and second World Wars. If you do not know what they are I highly recommend go reading that. The reason the soldiers thought it was one, is most likely because this occurred very early in the morning, meaning it was low light, most likely with fog. Night fighters specialized in bombing during poor visibility conditions, so it would only make sense.
After this happened I would imagine Mike and the other soldiers spent all day cleaning up and rebuilding, preparing for more bombing that may occur that same day or the next day. This was probably one of the most horrific days that Mike has experienced so far.
Thank you so much to anyone who actually read all of this, hopefully you learned something or found some of it interesting.
Where I found the image of string bombing
Where I found the image of a gasoline trailer