The Pain of Survival and Aunt Michie – Part I

August 1945 in Japan… A day in the life of people who felt the Bomb…

Masako and Spam Musubi

img_0152_1_original Uncle Yutaka and darling little Aunt Michie in Hiroshima. Circa 1918.

Life in Hiroshima was uncertain and grueling in 1945 – especially for women and children.  It is a fact that nearly all the men up to the age of 35 had been taken by the Japanese military.  For many, it was truly day to day.

Little food, clothing and medical care.  It all went to the military…and then there were the B-29’s and the bombings.  Devils associated with being on the losing side of war.

But at 8:15 AM on August 6, 1945, my Aunt Michie’s already tough life would be cast into wretchedness to test her mortal soul.  She was in her farm’s field clearing old crops on that hot summer morning.  There was an intense flash of light then the atomic bomb’s shockwave traveling close to the speed of sound slammed into her.  She was catapulted and…

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Able Seaman Harry Leader DSM MID

Able Seaman Harry Leader served on MTB 622.

Jim L'Esperance 023

Excerpt from this Webpage

Harry was one of only 10 survivors when MTB 622 was lost off the coast of Holland on the night of March 9th/10th 1943. Severely injured, he was rescued by the crew of the German naval craft VP 1300, spending many months in Dutch and German hospitals before being incarcerated in a POW camp deep in Germany. Still suffering from his wounds he, with three others, decided to try and escape from the POW camp after hearing of a proposed forced march of the inmates deeper into Germany.

Harry Leader

The news that Harry Leader had ‘crossed the bar’ and now rests in calmer waters was received with a great sadness.

There will always be very warm memories of Harry; having then only very recently been discharged from hospital, he had appeared to be his old self, even after quite a prolonged stay; but true to his character he did not disclose any details of his suffering or illness.

Harry will certainly be missed by all those who knew him—especially those members of the London Branch Committee—who sometimes were the butt of many ribald comments emitting from the irreverently titled Stokers Mess. He, being an active and leading member of this group, had the ability and wit of always being able to find a quick and humorous remark for whatever was being discussed at the time, sometimes raising a smile from his selected ‘target’—but his banter was always made without malice.

His broad cockney accent assisted his particular brand of charm, this also added to an ability to display a very warm nature and great love of being among those whom he called his ‘shipmates’.

Although being a fully paid up and active member of ‘our Stoker’s Mess’, Harry was not a member of the Engineering Branch of the RN. He had ended his naval career as an A/B Seaman having been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

Harry was one of only 10 survivors when MTB 622 was lost off the coast of Holland on the night of March 9th/10th 1943. Severely injured, he was rescued by the crew of the German naval craft VP 1300, spending many months in Dutch and German hospitals before being incarcerated in a POW camp deep in Germany. Still suffering from his wounds he, with three others, decided to try and escape from the POW camp after hearing of a proposed forced march of the inmates deeper into Germany.

After several hair-raising ‘incidents’ they managed to reach the advancing Allied army. Harry was to feel the generosity of the American troops for a number of weeks before eventually being repatriated back to the UK.

Harry thoroughly enjoyed the friendly banter between Home Waters and Mediterranean war theatre crews—both fully represented at the London Branch meetings.

For many, Harry will be remembered as a true friend, but also it should be remembered that he stands among the ranks of this country’s heroes.

He will be sadly missed by his beloved wife Gwen, his son-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandson Harry.

Lest We Forget

Survivors of MTB 622

At first I had found some information here about MTB 622 when I began my search.

Jim L'Esperance 023

Details

general

nationality:      British
purpose:      war
type:      torpedo boat
subtype/class:      Fairmile D class motor torpedo boat
propulsion:      motor vessel (diesel)
date built:      1942
status: unknown

details

weight (tons):      118  grt
dimensions :      35.1 x 6.1 x 1.5 m
engine:      4 x Packard 4M 2500 petrol engines
armament:      2 x 6 pdr (2×1), 4 x 20mm Oerlikon (2×1, 1×2), 4 x .303 Vickers K gun (2×2), 4 x light boat depth charge,
power:      5000  h.p.
speed:      29  knots

about the loss

cause lost:      gunfire – shelled
date lost:      10 March 1943
casualties:

about people

builder: Brooke, J. W., Lowestoft
owner:  British Royal Navy – Admiralty – RN, London
captain:
complement:      21

about the wreck

depth (m.):
orientation:
protected:
war grave:

updates

entered by:      Lettens Jan
entered:      23 March 2012
last update:      Lettens Jan
last update:

It was not enough to satisfy my curiosity.

So I looked for more information to find more clues.

MTB 622
ex-MGB 622
details: see MGB 622
Based at HMS St Christopher.
Destroyed by gunfire from German destroyers off Terschelling (10.03.1943).

Commanding Officer     23.11.1942-(02.1943)     T/Lt. F.W. Carr, RNVR

First Lieutenant     00.11.1942-(02.1943)     T/S.Lt. J.N. Snowden, RNVR

Third Officer     00.11.1942-(02.1943)     T/A/S.Lt. A.W. Smith, RNVR

MGB 622

Fairmile “D” type.
Builder: Brooke Marine (Lowestoft).
Ordered: 27.04.1941.
Completed: 10.11.1942.

Then more information…

http://www.naval-history.net/WW2BritishLosses3Coastal.htm

No.622 (95t, 10/42), sunk by surface craft in attack on convoy off Terschelling, Holland, March 10, 1943

More again about a sailor aboard MTB 622…

A casualty…

DANIELS, Edwin F, Ordinary Seaman, C/JX 351170, MTB.622, 10 March 1943, ship loss, MPK

http://www.bmpt.co.uk/obituaries_topic324_page2.html

This information about Ordinary seaman Daniels led to this one…

http://cfv.org.uk/veterans/newsletter/london-branch-march-2012

Casualties of War

The oldest known member to have died while in service with Coastal Forces is Stoker 1st Class Richard Thomas Rusbridge of HMS Hornet, who was aged 63. The youngest known casualty was Ordinary Seaman Edwin Frederick Daniels, who died on 10 March 1943, aged just 16, when his boat, MTB 622, was sunk by German destroyers off Terschelling.

By an unhappy coincidence, this was the very boat London Branch member Harry Leader (deceased) served on. Harry was fortunate to survive the sinking, but was severely injured in the process, and taken prisoner by the Germans. After an initial period of hospitalization, Harry found himself transferred to a POW camp in the heart of Germany, from where he was to eventually escape, making it all the way back to Allied lines! Harry was later awarded the DSM for his efforts in fighting the fire onboard MTB 622.

Then I found some more information on a forum with these messages written in 2007…

Terschelling, 9-10 March 1943

Posted by: BrianV (IP Logged)

Date: October 08, 2007 06:52PM

Hi all,

according to a British claim, German V-boote 1247 and 1248 were in action against MTBs 617, 622 and 624 that night, with one of them being badly damaged.

Chronik der Seekrieg only mentions that the MTB’s torpedos missed units of the 21st M-Flottille and no gun action with V-boote.

Convoy #410 was 15 nm off Wangerooge that night, but her escort did not include either of the mentioned V-boote

Can anyone confirm the British claim of damage?

Thanks, Brian

Re: Terschelling, 9-10 March 1943

Posted by: Axel van Eesbeeck (IP Logged)

Date: October 08, 2007 11:48PM

Hallo Brian

The MTB attacked a convoy near Terschelling. MTB-622 was sunk. The survivors were rescued by V-1300 (Loodsboot Nr. 17 / Pilote 17) So I think the escort came from the 13. V-flotilla (but I’m not sure)

I have no damage on V-1247 and V-1248 for that day and here something for the 13.03.1943

13.03.1943: Versenkung des norwegischen Frachters Hermod (1495 BRT) – MTB-617, MTB-624 und MTB-628
13.03.1943: Versenkung des deutschen, ex. belgischen Frachters Liège (4398 BRT) – MTB-617, MTB-624 und MTB-628

That’s all I have

Best regards

Axel

Re: Terschelling, 9-10 March 1943

Posted by: BrianV (IP Logged)

Date: October 09, 2007 06:47AM

Hello Axel,

thanks for the answer. Convoy #419 was escorted by M.,3, 4, 14 and 37, V.803, 805, 807, 1300 and DB-4.

The British claim they came across an outer screen, apparently not part of the convoy, may an offshore patrol, and attacked it, but they may just have confused the whole matter.

I am aware of the sinkings of Hermod and Liège on 13/3. Strangely, Chromik der Seekrieg only mentions the loss of Hermod. BTW, she was Swedish, not Norwegian.

Thanks again, best wishes,

Brian

So there was 10 survivors with one who probably did this drawing of MTB 622 for Jim L’Esperance.

Jim L'Esperance 023

This is another sailor who was a survivor.

http://cfv.org.uk/veterans/obituary/harry-leader

Harry Leader

Able Seaman Harry Leader DSM MID

1923–2010

CFVA 1747

LEDOUX, W/C Hugh Charles (C911) – Distinguished Flying Cross – No.425 Squadron

Richard Koval has this picture of Wing Commander Ledoux on his Website.

Ledoux

He has one more picture of Wing Commander Ledoux that he does not know of. Before I show him, I will tell you more about Wing Commander Ledoux using this citation found on Airforce.ca.

LEDOUX, W/C Hugh Charles (C911) – Distinguished Flying Cross – No.425 Squadron – Award effective 5 July 1945 as per London Gazette dated 17 July 1945 and AFRO 1558/45 dated 5 October 1945. Born in Westmount, Quebec, 4 June 1916; home in Montreal. BA from Loyola University. Commissioned on enlistment, 7 November 1938. Awarded Queen’s Coronation Medal, 23 October 1953 (Group Captain, Air Defence Command). Postwar appointments included being CO of North Bay (June 1954 to July 1958) and SASO at No.1 Air Division, 1959.No citation other than “in recognition of gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations against the enemy”. DHist file 181.009 D.1730 (PAC RG.24 Vol.20607) has recommendation submitted December 1944:

On 7th August 1944 this officer piloted a Halifax bomber on his first daylight attack over enemy troops southwest of Caen, Normandy, France.

As the run-in on the target was being made, cancellation of bombing was given by the Master Bomber. Immediately after leaving the target, the starboard outer engine failed, A flight of seventy-five miles was made into the North Sea where the bomb load was jettisoned.

The shortage of petrol was obvious and Wing Commander Ledoux captained his aircraft to the nearest English emergency landing base. Upon reaching this base, the weather had closed in and the aircraft was redirected to Mepal aerodrome. On the landing approach, another aircraft cut in front and an overshoot was necessary.

Undaunted by these circumstances, this cool and skilful pilot by his superb airmanship executed a safe landing with only a few minutes’ petrol left, without injury to the crew, and possibly saving valuable equipment.

Wing Commander Ledoux’s outstanding devotion to duty, dogged determination and exceptional dashing courage is worthy of high praise.

Now for the other picture.

425phalendupuis

I will let Richard comment on this one…

Jacques Morin, the last airman to touch ground in WWII Redux

I have a new reader on this blog.

Richard Koval.

I wonder if Richard knows this…

Believe it or not…

Jacques Morin was the last airman of 425 Alouette Squadron to touch ground in WWII.

His plane was the last one to touch down after the last raid.

The Alouettes’ parting fling at the foe was a daylight crack at gun batteries on Wangerooge in the late afternoon of 25 April, which came a week after a similar and even more satisfying blow at Heligoland, that flak and fighter outpost which had for so long been shown a hateful respect by bomber crews. When Command had done its deadly work, both islands were little more than cratered shambles. No 425’s last crew to bomb Festung Europa was led by Flt. Lt. L.R. Paquette, whose bomb-aimer, Flying Officer L.J. Mallette, pressed the bomb-release button at 1720 hours. The last to land after a flight over enemy territory was captained by Flying Officer J.E. Marcoux. When he eased “T”-Tare on to the Tholthorpe runway at precisely 1950 hours, the Alouette show in the heavy bombing campaign of the Second World War was a fait accompli.

(Source)

Since he was the tail gunner, he was the last airman to touch ground.

Nuncie « Nick » Leone RCAF 405 Squadron

This picture comes from his private collection. Everything I wrote about him on my other blog comes from his private collection. He was willing to share it with my readers. 

Jacques Morin is not pictured here on a Lancaster. It’s another tail gunner. 425 Alouette converted on Lancasters in early May 1945 too late for operations over Germany.

You can visit my other blog and enjoy all the pictures Jacques Morin shared. I have written more than 180 posts since April 2010.

Just click here.

Footnote

Richard, I am so glad you’re back.

http://www.6bombergroup.ca/

Richard commented…

Richard Koval has been found!

After a frustrating series of attacks on the 6 Group website, we had decided to give it a rest. We had 3 attacks in a very short period of time in which the site was infected with malware that infected the computers of our visitors. Not a nice situation at all. In the meantime our domain name expired and we couldn’t access it to renew as it was through our former host who was no longer interested in hosting as the malware was causing a lot of grief.

We are now live again at www.6bombergroup.ca. Thanks to everyone for the concern and kind words about the site.

Richard & Tee

Enjoy!

Click here to reunite with Bomber Group 6