TSgt. Allan #13

Letter #13 "The Jap Invasion"

It was well known that Australia couldn't possibly defend the whole north coast of Australia and a Jap invasion seemed imminent. So, according to the "Rainbow Plan" (formulated twenty or thirty years before) the 49th Pursuit Group's training exercises were canceled and hurriedly sent to Darwin. Along with a few of the 8th Pursuit Group we were to be the "patsies" until MacArthur built a defense line half way down the country. Where the hell was Mac? What could he do? He was holed up in the Philippines surrounded by Japs! Us 1,000 or so guys would still be the patsies until he could get several million men and proper equipment to our area. We could not begin to stop those 100,000 Japs, the cream of the Nippon fighting forces. The best we could hope for would be that we might slow them a little when they stumbled over our dead bodies!

The day the invasion warning was sounded all hell broke loose! Men were running around all over, scared shitless, not knowing what to do or where to go! Of course the line men were with the aircraft, and presently here came all the pilots, with at least a pair of shorts on, roaring into the inserts in all manner of conveyance -- jeeps, peeps, staff cars, or 6X6 trucks -- hell bent for election towards their airplanes. All the p-40s that could be mustered took off about ten seconds apart, some closer, almost chewing off the tail group of the one in front. The prop wash almost caused crashes. They dispersed in all directions -- left, right, zooming up, or straight and low -- anything to get out of those prop washes. I expected momentarily to hear a great explosion as our planes also took off from both ends of the strip. The few T.H., P.I., and Java oldsters finally got them under control. The Coral Sea Battle was the end result. We didn't know whether we would ever see our planes or pilots again!!!

Most of the men were issued some sort of weapon. The squadron didn't have all that many, and they were told to make every shot count! Talk about a bunch of scared rabbits. I was given a Thompson sub machine gun. I had never had one in my hands before; consequently never had fired one before! It, along with several drums of ammo flopping around on my rear end, weighed me down so I could hardly walk. However, it was never more than an arm's length away from me. It was in my bunk with me at night. When crewing, it was leaning against a tire or laying on the wing.

Beached Jap Ship

 Beached Ship in Lee Harbor, N.G. 1942

The Coral Sea Battle eliminated most fears of an invasion, after a time. Soon, I didn't fear the enemy as much as our own men. I knew what to expect from the Japs. Most of our men had an itchy trigger finger and wide open bloodshot eyes! I suppose I wasn't much different! Not too long after this we received orders to proceed to Port Moresby in New Guinea.

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