3:41 | Finally back home, Turner Harris could not find a job, so he reenlisted and became a Navy recruiter. After a while, he took a civilian job, but the Navy lured him back in with clandestine work, although he didn't realize that was what it was. He was working for Communications Support Activities, a Naval signal intelligence agency.
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He decided he would rather ride than walk, so Turner Harris volunteered for the Navy in 1942. His journey started out rough in an open rail car with cinders blowing on him. After basic training, he was sent to radio school and eventually assigned to the USS New Orleans, a heavy cruiser.
Turner Harris joined the crew of the USS New Orleans just as repairs were completed. The Radioman was assigned to Radio Room 3, deep in the ship. His first action was off Wake Island, where he felt, but could not see, the artillery fire from shore. After the battle, he asked his Chief for a big favor.
The MPM Circuit was a continuous feed from Honolulu, one coded message after another, 24 hours a day. Radioman Turner Harris translated the Morse code for the decoding officer, then was on to the next message. That was also his battle station so he spent a lot of time there. He was on a heavy cruiser that was bombarding Japanese held islands.
Two planes roared right across the bow of the ship. "Those are Jap planes," said Turner Harris, and he watched one of the kamikazes damage two aircraft carriers. At the Battle of Okinawa, his ship bombarded the island for 59 days, all the while fighting off Japanese attacks with anti-aircraft fire and smokescreens.
It became known as the Turkey Shoot because of the incredible numbers of downed Japanese planes. That was the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the next battle, Leyte Gulf, broke the back of the Japanese in the South Pacific. Radioman Turner Harris credits the American Hellcat pilots with his survival in those battles.
Turner Harris went through three typhoons during his Pacific tour. The first two didn't amount to much, but the third one was deadly. He describes the sight of the giant swells and how he avoided injury, at least until he went to fetch sandwiches.
Turner Harris had to go to the head but there was a long line, so he sat down for a moment on a ladder at the edge of the ship. He heard a plane in distress and turned to watch it hit one of the masts and explode. The next thing he knew, he was over the edge and hanging on for dear life.
He had been a Radioman for the Navy and when Turner Harris was called to active duty during the Korean War, they sent him to Adak, Alaska, where he monitored Russian Morse Code for Communications Support Activities, a Naval signal intelligence agency. He missed his wife, but the chow was good.
Marine recruit Walter Marshall left the cold of New York for sunny San Diego and boot camp. It was tough, but he loved it because he was already used to discipline. His first stop in the Pacific was New Zealand, where he was treated wonderfully by the locals. It was a good life there, but the men knew what they were headed for.
He could not see anyone else. In the predawn, he gathered up his parachute and began a futile search for his unit and his gear, including his weapon. Canadian paratrooper Dennis Trudeau joined with an American captain he found on the road and they made their way toward the small Normandy town which was his target. Suddenly, there was the ominous whistling of aerial bombs right on top of them.
Two engines were out, a third smoking, and they were were losing airspeed and altitude, but they were flying level and pointed home. Then time ran out for the B-17 and Don Scott had to slip down the hatch into the slipstream. Part 2 of 3.
It was their third mission over Berlin and they were heading home. Four German fighters pounced on the B-24 and it was engulfed in flame and going down. Clyde Burnette fought for consciousness as the other crew in the back of the plane bailed out. He woke in free fall with no idea how he had made it out, and soon he was in German custody. Everyone made it out of the plane except George "Danny" Daneau, the nose turret gunner, who went down with the aircraft.
When he jumped on D-Day, Canadian paratrooper Dennis Trudeau was way off target, but he finally found his unit in the small town of Varreville. Assigned to clear out a German pillbox near a bridge that was scheduled for demolition, his situation went from bad to worse when the bridge was blown.
After a nerve-wracking mission to bomb Tokyo and a typhoon, B.E. Vaughan and the destroyer O'Brien suffered a second kamikaze attack which killed all three of his hometown pals who served with him on board. Then, began the grim task of collecting the personal belongings of the dead and preparing them for burial at sea.
The first operation for the 4th Division was the landing on Roi-Namur. Lawrence Snowden remembers that, though it was an easy victory, valuable combat experience and important lessons were imparted on the Marines.
His father was a captain in the British Merchant Navy and Jack Litchfield was determined to follow in his footsteps. He left behind the air raids in Liverpool and went to sea as a radioman, but his third voyage turned to disaster when a German torpedo slammed into the freighter.
After the hard fought battle of Tarawa, Walter Marshall trained in Hawaii for the next operation, the invasion of Saipan. Once again, it was chaotic, with units split up and men moving up into leadership when called upon. This was a big advantage over the Japanese with their rigid command structure.
The British prisoners were well treated on board the German cruiser that sank their cargo ship. This came to an end when they were sent to Japan to be imprisoned there. Jack Litchfield watched as the first group of men went down the gangplank and promptly received a beating. When they arrived at the prison camp, the Japanese commander had some sobering words for them.
Tarawa was an atoll that had a fishing and coconut oil operation before the war. After 76 hours of US Marines versus entrenched Japanese, there was not much standing. Walter Marshall was lucky enough to come in on an amphibious tractor. Most had to wade through hundreds of yards of coral reef. Once ashore the enemy had to be removed from fortified pillboxes and spider traps.
POW Jack Litchfield went to work every day in a steel factory near the prison camp in southern Japan. His favorite task was taking the cart to exchange empty oxygen cylinders because he frequently had to wait, which gave him a much needed break. He was interned for over three years and near the end of the war, he noticed that the Japanese foreman was making something new on the anvil.
The men headed to Saipan were already on edge, especially the Marines who had participated in the previous invasion of Tarawa. Then, as they waited on board ship in the dark, someone dropped a grenade. Having survived that, they next faced a very difficult task, going over the side and down a rope net to board bobbing and heaving Higgins boats.
If you were sick, you either got better or you died. There was no medicine for the prisoners and Jack Litchfield had an infected leg injury which could have killed him. He was fortunate that one of his Japanese captors took some interest. Men were dying all around the camp from illness and malnutrition and, unknown to them, they were in the target zone for the secret American super weapon.
It was a hard lesson. Walter Marshall learned it in the Marines in the Pacific. Don't get too close to anyone. That meant that he, and anyone else in the unit who'd learned that lesson, was alone in a crowd. And in the middle of combat, any one of these solitary warriors could arise to the occasion.
You could trade cigarettes for food in the prison camp, but Jack Litchfield explains why that could be a bad idea. The food supplied by his Japanese captors was meager, but at least it contained something he was very fond of. The men had access to a bath house, though there was not much soap, and it was there that a showering guard uttered something that causes a laugh til this day.
He was ready for the Marines after a disciplined, patriotic upbringing, a stern principal at his school and training in the National Guard. Walter Marshall was also influenced by movies about the Marines, especially the uniforms. When war broke out, he was already aware of conditions in Europe, as told to him by Jewish friends.
Allena McLaughlin was married, but she had no children so she volunteered for the Army Nurse Corps near the end of World War II. After her basic training, she began to care for soldiers and was destined for postwar Europe, but an unexpected visit to the doctor changed all that.
Former POW Jack Litchfield says his Japanese captors were two faced. You never knew when their mood would change. He did receive a personal kindness from a civilian boy who worked with him on his work detail. After the war ended, and the freed men were waiting for repatriation, the town was open to them and they took every advantage of their new role as victors.
In 1938, twenty one dollars a month made a real difference. That's what George McLaughlin received when he joined the National Guard. His unit was activated in early 1941 and he rapidly became a very young Master Sergeant. When he was sent to Alaska, it was decided that the tents they were assigned were not adequate, so they milled the lumber to build barracks.
The Japanese defenders on Tarawa were very good soldiers, Imperial Marines experienced in Manchuria. They would rather commit suicide than surrender and hundreds did. Walter Marshall hated them during the war, but time has changed his perspective. Not long after it was declared that organized resistance had ceased, he was shot through the thigh and had to be evacuated. Before that happened, he got to see the heroic actions of future movie star, Eddie Albert, a Navy Ensign at the time.
He'd always wanted to fly airplanes, so when war came in 1941, high school student James Tabb was tested and approved as an aviation cadet. Upon graduation, he was inducted and sent to Miami Beach for basic training. It was a pleasant place for training, where Hollywood stars and movie making were to be found, but off in the distance, you could see merchant ships burning at night. (This interview made possible with the support of KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
The Japanese civilians usually paid no attention to POW Jack Litchfield, but one day, as they huddled in an air raid shelter, he received intense, hateful glares from them. What he didn't know and would find out later, is that the first atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima. He also found out something later regarding the targeting of the second bomb that made him feel lucky to be alive.
He was finally on his way to flying, but aviation cadet James Tabb kept playing a waiting game at each level of training. First some college, then some flight training. All the while, the Allies were progressing in the fight and the need for new aviators was lessened. There was this new plane, however, the B-29. (This interview made possible with the support of KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
As he readied for the next operation on Tinian, Walter Marshall received the word that he had enough points to go home. He was carrying a bullet in his leg and had a fractured vertebra and the latter condition was destined to plague him for a long time. Determined to make a better life for his children, he ignored the pain and worked on.
The Air Corps had changed James Tabb from pilot training to B-29 engineer training. It was the most advanced aircraft yet designed, with electronic controls throughout. Just as he was ready to deploy to Saipan, the big news about America's secret weapon changed everything. (This interview made possible with the support of KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
Captured by Germans but held in Japan, former POW Jack Litchfield returned to his Liverpool home four years after he went to sea as a lad. He felt lucky to be alive, having learned that the second atomic bomb had been originally targeted in the vicinity of his prison camp. As time has passed, it has all proved to be a positive experience in his life.