This is a part of a continuing series based on letters my Dad wrote home during World War 2. For information about the series, see the introduction at:
While John completed his boot camp training at Camp Sampson New York, the war continued to rage with a fierce level of energy. The Japanese knew that they were in trouble as American and the allies came closer and closer to the home islands. Okinawa was particularly hard for them to lose since it represented not only a direct attack on the home islands but placed the allies well within bombing range of the remaining Japanese resources.
CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 349, MAY 1, 1945
Troops of the Seventh Infantry Division continued to advance in the eastern sector of the lines on Okinawa on April 30 (East Longitude Date). By mid‑afternoon advance elements of the division had entered the village of Kuhazu. Local gains were made along the remainder of the front. The attack of the infantry was supported by heavy naval gunfire, heavy artillery and carrier and land‑based aircraft. A few enemy planes were In the area of Okinawa on April 30. One medium sized ship was damaged.
Letter from John C. MacPherson to his parents from Company 510 Barracks G5L Tuesday May 1 1945
Dear Mom and Pop,
Well, how’s everybody?
Well, we won that ball game last night 17-3. I pitched a pretty good game yesterday but tonight I didn’t do as good. Company 50 g, that’s topside beat us 5-3. Boy we sure are taking a razzing from the rest of the barracks. I struck out 2 and I walked one – not so bad. Its not so cold out tonight but its getting chillier out every minute. Well, it won’t be long before I break, will it? I don’t know what time we’ll hit Pittsburgh. I imagine sometime between 6-8, 8-10 I don’t know. Well not much more from the Sampson front. When you get Dick’s address send it right away and I’ll look him up. He might come to our unit. I hope not for his sake.
Well, I’ll see you all soon.
God Keep you both strong
Your Son, Butch
N. D. COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 594, MAY 2, 1945
Far Eastern Waters.
1. U. S. submarines have reported the sinking of 21 enemy vessels, including two combatant ships‑a destroyer and an escort vessel‑in operations against the enemy in these waters, as follows:
1 destroyer, 1 escort vessel, 1 destroyer transport, 2 medium cargo transports
2 small cargo vessels, 12 medium cargo vessels, 1 large tanker, 1 medium tanker
2. These actions have not been announced in any pervious Navy Department communiqué.
CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 350, MAY 2, 1945
The Seventh Infantry Division which captured Kuhazu Village during the late afternoon of April 30 continued to advance southward on Okinawa on May 1 (East Longitude Dates). No substantial change was made in other sectors of the lines where our troops were under enemy artillery, mortar and small arms fire. On May 2, ships’ guns destroyed a number of enemy emplacements, strong points, and boat pens and carrier and land based aircraft bombed enemy defenses. The Infantry resumed the attack during the hours of darkness on the morning of May 2 and elements of the Seventh Division moved 1,400 yards forward to the vicinity of Gaja Hill, approximately one mile north of the town of Yonabaru. Tanks and flame throwers were being employed to develop this salient. The Seventy‑Seventh Infantry Division and the First Marine Division launched an attack in the center and on the right flank and were moving forward during the morning of May 2.
CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 351, MAY 3, 1945
The Tenth Army resumed the attack in Southern Okinawa on May 3, (East Longitude Date), meeting artillery, mortar and small arms fire from the enemy’s fortified line. The First Marine Division made a limited advance in its zone of action while other sectors remained stable. The attack was supported by ships’ guns and aircraft.
In the early evening hours of May 3, four small groups of enemy aircraft attacked our shipping off the coast of Okinawa inflicting some damage on our forces and sinking two light units. Seventeen enemy aircraft were destroyed.
Planes from escort carriers of the U. S. Pacific Fleet continued neutralizing attacks on airfields and air installations in the Sakishima group on May 2.
As of May 2, according to the most recent reports available, 1,131 officers and men of the U. S. Pacific Fleet had been killed in action in the Okinawa operation and associated operations against Japan. A total of 2,816 were wounded and 1,604 were missing. All figures are preliminary and incomplete.
CINCPOA PRESS RELEASE NO. 89, MAY 3, 1945
Among the ships of the British Pacific Fleet which engaged in operations against the islands of the Sakishima Group during the period March 26 to April 20 were the following fleet aircraft carriers
HMS Indomitable, HMS Indefatigable, HMS Victorious
N. D. COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 595, MAY 4, 1945
1. The submarine USS Swordfish is overdue from patrol and presumed lost. Next of kin of officers and crew have been informed.
CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 352, MAY 4, 1945
During the night of May 3‑4 (East Longitude Dates) about 600 Japanese soldiers using landing craft attempted to attack behind our lines at three points along the West Coast and at one point on the East Coast of Okinawa. By daylight the landing effort on the East Coast had been repulsed and enemy groups on the West Coast were pocketed and being destroyed. During early morning darkness a number of enemy aircraft attacked Yontan Airstrip, causing some damage. In the same period, ships offshore destroyed 15 suicide boats one of which caused minor damage to a light surface unit.
There was virtually no change in the position of the lines of the Tenth Army in Southern Okinawa on May 4.
Between the hours of 0745 and 0915, on May 4, a substantial number of enemy aircraft attacked our forces afloat in the area of Okinawa, sinking five surface units and damaging a number of others. Preliminary reports indicate that 54 enemy planes were shot down over our forces by ships’ guns and combat air patrols. One of our destroyers shot down a Baka bomb during the attack.
CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 353, MAY 5, 1945
Following and in conjunction with the attempted landings of Japanese troops behind the Tenth Army lines on Okinawa on the night of May 3‑4 (East Longitude Dates) and in coordination with his heavy air attacks of May 3 and 4, the enemy on May 4, launched a general counterattack. Its greatest weight was against the positions of the Seventh and Seventy‑Seventh Infantry Divisions. This attack was supported by tanks and was preceded by intense artillery fire. Our troops supported by a heavy barrage from Army and Marine artillery and low level strafing by carrier and Marine aircraft broke up the enemy attacks. Taking advantage of the disorganized state of the enemy’s lines after his failure in these operations, Army and Marine infantry men resumed the offensive on the morning of May 5 and were advancing at midmorning when elements of the First Marine Division began an assault on Hill 187, east of the Asa River Mouth. A total of 3,000 of the enemy were killed during the attacks on May 3‑4, including troops which made landings on our beaches. Five enemy tanks were destroyed.
During the air attacks of May 4, our forces shot down 168 planes over the Okinawa Area including 45 by the Second Marine Aircraft Wing and 67 by Fast Carrier Forces Patrols. Early in the morning of May 5, a small group of enemy planes approached our forces and bombed the Yontan Airstrip causing no damage.
From the beginning of the Okinawa operation to May 5, the enemy lost 33,462 killed and 700 prisoners of war including 297 labor troops.
The Tenth Army up to May 3, lost 2,337 soldiers and Marines killed. A total of 11,432 were wounded and 514 were missing.
CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 354, MAY 6, 1945
Heavy units of the U. S. Pacific Fleet in attacks coordinated with those of carrier and land‑based aircraft bombarded enemy positions on Okinawa on May 5 (East Longitude Date). During the early morning and early evening of that day a number of enemy aircraft approached our forces without causing damage. On the morning of May 6 a small number of enemy air attacks were made on ships off Okinawa. One light unit suffered minor damage and four enemy aircraft were shot down.
Search aircraft of Fleet Air Wing One based in the Okinawa area swept Tsushima and Korea Straits and the coastal waters of Western Korea on May 5 and inflicted the following damage on the enemy by low level bombing and strafing:
Sunk: Two large oilers, One medium freighter, One small cargo ship
Damaged: One large fleet oiler left dead in water and sinking, One cargo ship exploded and left sinking, One small freighter left abandoned and sinking, One large cargo ship left burning, One freighter left listing and burning, One medium oiler left burning, Nine small cargo ships damaged, One lugger damaged
Letter from John to his parents Sunday May 6th, 1945 postmarked May 7 at 11:00 AM
Dear Mom and Pop,
Well, how’s everything at home? I’m sorry I haven’t written but it’s a long story. The last letter I wrote I was feeling fine, then I got a sore throat, then I couldn’t eat. My gums got all swelled up and I didn’t sleep for about three nights. Every little chance I got, I lay down to rest. Well this morning, I went to chow and I couldn’t eat… my gums and throat were too sore, so I went to see the emergency dentist. He sure was a swell guy… he fixed me up good. I told him I was going home in 10 days and he said don’t worry, I’ll be home and I’ll be as good as ever. He asked me if I was sick last week and I said yes and he showed me why. That crazy fool that pulled my tooth must have done something wrong. Anyway, my gums are all infected. Everybody’s sick, its rained every day for 4 weeks except on Sunday’s and everybody got a bad cold. The dentist said there is nothing to worry about now. He even took an x-ray of my mouth. Gee I hope you don’t worry too much because the Chaplain had a sermon on “Christianity” this morning and it was based on “those who believe in God don’t worry”. I’m feeling much better tonight and I know I’ll feel better tomorrow. Well, just think, ten more days and I’ll be home. Boy, it sure will be swell to see you all. Well, enough of the gab for now; I hope you are all feeling fine.
God keep you both strong
Your son, Butch
Dental Techs at Sampson 1945
I wonder which one worked on Dad the first time?
Well Theo, this ends the eighth week of boot camp for John C. MacPherson Jr.
I hope that reading about his story has helped you to pass the time. The next time I see you, I expect to see a real American Naval Bluejacket.
God Bless and Keep you Theo
Paul Richard Rupp
Born in 1920, Paul served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Paul was inducted on June 19, 1943. He trained at Gulfport Mississippi and a variety of other posts before being sent to England in August of 1944. a flight engineer on a B-24 and was shot down over Germany on October 14th.
B-24 Plane on a bombing run in 1944
The items below were standard POW messages that the German’s permitted to be sent by our captured troops and fliers.
Stalag III was situated in the forest near the town of Sagan, 100 miles southeast of Berlin, now called Zagan in upper Selesia Poland. The camp was first opened in 1943 and admitted its first prisoners in April. The word Stammlager roughly translates to Stalags for enlisted men. It was one of six special German POW camps, especially built for the ever increasing amount of POW aircrews. At the height of its short history, about 10,000 officers and enlisted men were assigned to the camp.
Luftstalag III was probably most famous for the event that came to be known as the Great Escape. In March of 1944, a group of about 80 Allied prisoners escaped from the camp by digging their way out. Only 15 men actually managed to work their way to freedom. All of the remaining escapees were killed by the Germans.
A clipping from a local newspaper announcing
the awarding of the Air Medal to Paul Rupp
Paul was liberated by American Troops in April of 1945. He returned to his home at war’s end and married his wife Betty in 1949. He and John stayed in touch over the years and when I was stationed in Mare Island California in the mid seventies, I was able to spend some time with he and his wife. Although our communications were infrequent over the next twenty years, we did manage to visit from time to time. When I started this project, I found some original notes from Paul that I felt should be returned to him so that his descendants could have some idea of the man he was at one point in his life. On Memorial Day 1999, I returned the artifacts to him. Here is a copy of the note he sent back to us:
Included with the note was this picture of Paul and his family from the previous year
On May 16th 2002, we received word that Paul had passed away due to complications from Parkinson’s Disease on April 26th of that year. Betty sent us a note and told us about his final hours. At one point he told her “Goodbye” and she asked him where he was going. He told her: “To the Lord”. Shortly after those words, he left to meet his Savior.
An article in the San Jose Mercury News stated,
“a humble man who loved life, brought out the best in others
and rarely talked about his accomplishments or the rough times.”
In Loving Memory of Paul Richard Rupp
Born December 28, 1920
April 26, 2002
Faithful Friend To Three Generations Of MacPhersons
Chapter 3 will detail the remaining part of May 1945 as SR John C. MacPherson completes his training prior to shipping out for the Pacific theater