American’s Aussie Memories
The “Commands” article on the 2/9th Australian Imperial Forces Battalion in the April 2006 issue of World War II reawakened some memories of my service in the G-2 drafting section of General Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters. I thought your readers might enjoy this picture I took during the war of Australians of the 7th Division marching through Brisbane.
One of our functions was to prepare Japanese and Allied troop positions on maps of the battles being fought on the north coast of New Guinea and in the Philippines. These maps were produced on a mimeograph machine, along with written material describing the strength and identity of the enemy units. They were then sent on to troops in the combat area.
These battles, though small and obscure compared to those in North Africa and Europe, were fought in terrible terrain and climate conditions. They took place at locations nobody had ever even heard of. Buna, Milne Bay, Lae, Madang and Sanananda were mentioned in your article, but some of the other places we should not forget were Gona, Finschhafen, Wewak, Nadzab, Hollandia and Biak.
The Reichsmarschall’s Final Resting Place
Gilberto Villahermosa’s article about Hermann Göring, “The Reichsmarschall’s Revelations” (September 2006), has a great punch line. Following his suicide in prison, Göring was cremated at Dachau and his ashes were dumped in a trash can. I can add that the ashes were then dumped in the Isar River near central Munich and probably sifted downstream to the sandbar next to the Deutsches Museum.
That information was revealed to me by a Counterintelligence Corps (CIC) officer when I mentioned to him that while in Munich in 1946 I had witnessed a convoy of a dozen ambulances protected by a heavily armed Third Army escort that included jeeps with mounted .50-caliber machine guns. The convoy, it turns out, was traveling across Munich’s Marien Platz en route to Dachau for the cremation of Göring and the Nazis executed following their convictions by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal.
Forest Falls, Calif.
Thanks for the interview with Hermann Göring. It was originally conducted in July 1945 by Major Kenneth W. Hechler, with Captain Herbert R. Sensenig serving as interpreter. Twenty years later, then-Professor Sensenig taught me German at Dartmouth and also related his experiences with the former Reichsmarschall at “Ashcan,” which was located at the Palace Hotel in Morndorf, a luxury spa in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Sensenig stated that all the interrogators were impressed by Göring’s sheer intelligence. When struggling with complex legal terms, Sensenig found that Göring could repeat the exact terms in German and then render them in flawless English—when he chose to cooperate.
Ashcan included a compound surrounded by high walls and manned by armed guards. There were walking paths and clumps of trees within, so prisoners could get exercise. Soon after the former Luftwaffe chief arrived, senior American officers visited on one pretext or another, but in reality they were just tourists wanting to lay eyes on Göring. He was flattered at first, but soon wearied of their attention.
One day he was walking in the compound when yet another gaggle of officers demanded access. By this time the jailors were also exasperated and told the officers that the Reichsmarschall was in the compound. They searched for Göring but without success. The guards pled ignorance, and finally the group left empty handed. Thereupon, Göring jumped down from his tree and the jailors and prisoners had a good laugh.
James F. Tent
Bar Sergeant Had a Name
I enjoyed Gareth J. Prendergast’s article, “Scaring Them to Death: The BAR,” in the June 2006 issue. In the penultimate paragraph he mentions Company E, 2nd Battalion, 145th Infantry Regiment, 37th Infantry Division. This summer, I had the distinct pleasure of visiting with the veterans of Company E at their annual reunion. O.E. Hawkins, Tom Miller, Jake Koppler, Brant Johnson and Mike Guerra were the only World War II veterans able to attend. They had all been at Bougainville’s Hill 700, and two had been wounded there. All five agreed that the “unnamed sergeant” who held off the Japanese frontal assault on his pillbox with a BAR and the help of some 60mm mortar rounds was Dick Thompson. He was the mortar section sergeant at that time. My father, John Tranovich, was a .50-caliber machine gunner with Company H, which served on the same perimeter alongside Company E.
Thanks for an opportunity to provide some recognition to Sergeant Thompson and the men of the 37th Division who held the perimeter at Bougainville.
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