Two Women and WWII: U.S. and Europe, Civilian and Military

February 22, 2016

LEFT: Clomanza Sells.

RIGHT: Virginia Shenowski (phonetic spelling from Clomanza’s memory)

Undated WWII era photo when Clomanza and Virginia were working together in Detroit in war industries.

(Photo processed by Geoff Baker.)

Clomanza (Sells) Shook is Cheryl A. Robinson’s step-grandmother, her maternal grandfather Charles Mitchell’s second wife.

Ninety-four year old Clomanza shared with Cheryl and me the details of her friendship with Virginia Shenowski (phonetic spelling from Clomanza’s memory) in Detroit during WWII.

Clomanza and Virginia met while working in factories producing war related material.

Clomanza described their work including at the U.S. Rubber plant.

She assembled parts for Boeing aircraft.

She trimmed rubber from gears.

She built gauges.

She described making self sealing fuel tanks by gluing three overlapping layers of rubber onto the fuel tanks.

Virginia and her worked together at some of the plants.

I told Clomanza that her work on the self sealing fuel tanks saved the lives of our air crews and gave our aircrews an advantage over our enemies.

When fuel tanks on Japanese aircraft, which were not self sealing, were hit often their planes would burst into flames.

When our self sealing tanks were hit, her work not only prevented our planes from bursting but also prevented loss of fuel allowing our the crews of our damaged planes to safely return to base.

Polish-American Virginia Shenowski went to Europe to volunteer to serve in one of the women’s units in the Polish armed forces in the Allied armies.

Polish women were eligible for all roles including combat but did not serve in combat.

Over 6,000 Polish women served in 45 military occupations including aircraft mechanics and armorers, intelligence, administration, domestic, clerical, medical and other technical services.

In non-combat roles transporting aircraft 257 served as pilots, 55 as navigators, 59 as radio operators and 25 as flight engineers.


Unidentified Polish woman in combat training at Gullane, Scotland

Fair use of still from the short film “Polish Girls in Action” of Polish women in combat training in Scotland.

Virginia and Clomanza corresponded.

Clomanza does not know in what role Virginia served.

Virginia’s letters to Clomanza have been lost.

Clomanza lost touch with Virginia.

This blog post is a tribute to Virginia’s and Clomanza’s lives, honors their service, and keeps their stories from being lost to history.

This is another moment when our families’ lives touched history.

More information on Polish Women in WWII

Polish Women at War

Polish women soldiers in Gullane (Scotland)

Minor revisions: March 2, 2016 and August 7, 2019.



Harold Arden Mitchell: 70th Anniversary of His WWII Death

May 3, 2015

Harold Arden Mitchell
Harold Arden Mitchell
July 21, 1922 to March 30, 1945

Undated photo from the collection of his brother Kenneth Mitchell

On March 30, 1945  Technician 5th Class  Harold Arden Mitchell, Company B, 1st Battalion, 137th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division, was killed in action near Bottrop, Germany north of Essen.

Black circle: Area in which the 137 Infantry Regiment was servng at the time of Harold Mitchell's death. Black cross: Netherlands American Cemetery Margraten, Netherlands where Harold is buried. Public domain base map  from the Department of History, U.S. Military Academy , West Point.

BLACK CIRCLE: Area in which the 137 Infantry Regiment was in combat at the time of Harold Arden Mitchell’s death.

BLACK CROSS: Netherlands American Cemetery Margraten, Netherlands where Harold Arden is buried.

Click on map for larger image.

Original base map in the public domain from the Department of History, U.S. Military Academy, West Point.

Harold Arden was born in 1922. He was married to Virginia and was 22 years old at the time of his death.

Harold Arden Mitchell is my wife Cheryl A. Robinson’s cousin and the nephew her grandfather, Charles Mitchell. Family called him Arden.

He is buried in the Netherlands American CemeteryMargraten, Netherlands.

Harold Mitchell's grave in the Netherlands American Cemetery Margraten, Netherlands. Flowers were placed by Frank Grubbels. Photo by Frank Grubbels.

Harold Arden Mitchell’s grave in the Netherlands American Cemetery Margraten, Netherlands.

Flowers were placed by Frank Grubbels.

Click on photo for larger image.

Photo by Frank Grubbels.

We learned of Arden Mitchell from Clomanza Shook, Cheryl’s step-grandmother. Clomanza was the wife of the late Charles Mitchel, Arden’s uncle and Cheryl’s grandfather.

From the information Clomanza shared we found the listing for Ar\den’s grave on the American Battle Monuments Commission site.

I forwarded the information to Frank Grubbels in Noorbeck, the Netherlands.

Along with taking the photos, Frank placed the flowers on Arden’s grave on behalf of Harold’s family.

Frank and I have worked together to share the story of the 38th Signal Construction Battalion which was stationed in WWII was stationed in Noorbeck, Frank’s hometown.

Links, sources, and more information:

Fields of Honor database entry for Harold A. Mitchell

137th Infantry Regiment Unit History Chapter 6: Central Europe

Report of Action Against the Enemy  137th Infantry Regiment  March 1 to March 31, 1945

Revised: May 17, 2015 with photo of Arden, the name of his wife, and correct date of birth.


Felix A. Cizewski and the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Dachau

April 24, 2015

Unofficial Archive of the Signal Corps in Northwest Europe in WWII

wmtesttbirdwm2Felix A. Cizewski’s copy of the Dachau Liberation Edition 45th Division News, pages 1 & 3.

Click on image for more larger edition.

Public domain images from originals donated to the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.

Seventy years ago, on April 29, 1945 after a battle with the SS guards “Task Force Sparks” liberated Dachau.

”Task Force Sparks” consisted of elements of “I” and “L” Companies, 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Division supported by elements of the 191st Tank Battalion.

While the combat units were liberating Dachau, my late father, Felix A. Cizewski, was in the 45th Signal Company on the road from Schrobenhausen about 39 miles (63 kilometers) by road north of Dachau to Haimhausen, about 8 miles (13 kilometers) northeast of Dachau.

Every member of the 45th Division at that time including Felix officially share the recognition as liberators by the United States Holocaust Memorial…

View original post 525 more words

FBI Director Erroneously Calls Poland A “Holocaust Accomplice”

April 20, 2015

Unofficial Archive of the Signal Corps in Northwest Europe in WWII

On April 15, 2015, FBI director James B. Comey delivered a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 2015 National Tribute Dinner entitled “Why I require FBI agents to visit the Holocaust Museum”.

While he accurately cited Nazi allied Hungary as Holocaust accomplice, he erroneously included Poland an accomplice.

I suggest that Director Comey join his agents on their training visits the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and spend time in the library to develop an accurate knowledge of the Holocaust.

Director Comey would then learn that rather than being an accomplice, Poland was the major victim of the Holocaust.

Among the reasons that  Director Comey’s error is so painful to Poland and Poles is Poland will never fully recover from the damage done by the Holocaust.

Poland will never again be a Slavic-Jewish nation.

Prior to the Holocaust, the population of Poland was about 10% Jewish and Poland was the world center…

View original post 443 more words

Anson Croman and the 20th Michigan in the Appomattox Campaign 150 Years Ago

April 10, 2015

Anson Croman, the 20th Michigan Infantry Regiment, and the American Civil War

Orange ellipse, lower right: Location of the 20th Michigan at Sutherland Station, Virginia in a support position for the troops that pursued and trapped Lee’s army at Appomattox. Click on map for larger image.

Public domain image from the United States Military Academy (West Point) History Department’s American Civil War Atlas

150 years ago over the night of April 2-3, 1865 Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia retreated from Richmond to link up with General Johnson’s Army of Tennessee just to south in North Carolina.

Pursuing Union troops blocked every road south so Lee’s army was forced to retreat to the west.

The IXth Corps which included the 20th Michigan supported the pursuit by protecting the Union’s southern flank. The IXth Corps was also quickly repairing the South Side Railroad to supply the pursuing troops by rail.

Anson Croman and the 20th Michigan Infantry Regiment were in a support…

View original post 289 more words

150 Years Ago the 20th Michigan Enters Petersburg

April 3, 2015

Anson Croman, the 20th Michigan Infantry Regiment, and the American Civil War

By the end of March, 1865, Union and Confederate forces faced each others along 37 miles of trenches from north of Richmond to southwest of Petersburg.

The Confederates had suffered major losses in an unsuccessful attempt to break out and escape followed by an unsuccessful effort to prevent the Union forces from outflanking those trenches about eight miles southwest of Petersburg.

The few Confederates remaining in the trenches hungry and at their breaking point.

On April 2, 1865, the Union attacked seeking a breakthrough at a weak point. the IXth Corps attacked from their positions just south of the Appomattox River and east of Petersburg. Anson Croman and the 20th Michigan Infantry Regiment were in the IXth Corps. They were position north of the attack ready to provide support.

The IXth Corps captured the Confederate Fort Mahone but was blocked by the Confederates from advancing further.

However, other Union units…

View original post 113 more words

Anson Croman and the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Fort Stedman

March 25, 2015


Orange arrow pointing to ellipse, upper center: March 23, 1865 position of the 20th Michigan at Battery Number 9 just north of Fort Stedman two days before the battle.

Click on image for larger version.

Original base map in the public domain with additions by The Siege of Petersburg Online

Since June, 1864, General Grant had been extending the Union siege lines southwest of Petersburg and north of Richmond. That had stretched the Confederate forces to the breaking point.

In January, 1865 the Union had captured Wilmington, North Carolina and closed the last major Confederate port. That cut off more of the few supplies that were still making it around the Union siege lines.

Robert E. Lee realized the Union siege of Petersburg and Richmond was about to result in the capture of both cities and his army.

He decided to launch an attack on the eastern end of the Union lines at Petersburg to open a gap for a break out to the south.

On the morning of March 25, Lee’s forces attacked and  captured Fort Stedman.

Union forces, including the 20th Michigan Infantry Regiment immediately counterattacked, closed the gap in their lines and recaptured Fort Stedman.


Sidney King’s mid-20th century painting of the March 25, 1865 Union counterattack at Fort Stedman.

The 20th Michigan would be at the edge on the lower right.

Public domain image from the National Park Service.

The 20th Michigan suffered five wounded.

The Confederate escape route to the south was now blocked and Confederate resistance to the Union siege was on the verge of collapse.


Fort Stedman today.

Public domain image from the National Park Service’s Petersburg National Battlefield

Links, sources, and more information:

1865: Anson Croman and the Civil War

If Anson Croman wrote letters home, none have survived. Therefore the best way to preserve the story of his service is by sharing the history of his regiment

Records document that Anson Croman was with his regiment from his 1862 enlistment until the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, Virginia in 1865.

The Musbachs and Robinsons are direct line descendants of Anson Croman and he is my 2nd great-grandfather-in-law.


70 Years Ago Felix and the 45th Signal Company Cross the Rhine

March 24, 2015


DUKW (amphibious 2½ ton truck) transporting a 105mm howitzer and men of the 158th Field Artillery Battalion, 45th Infantry Division over the Rhine. (See glossary below for meaning of DUKW.)

This may have been about the same place where the 45th Signal Company crossed and some of the DUKWs that transported them

No photos have been found of the 45th Signal Company crossing the Rhine.

Fair use of photo from the collection of Edwin Gorak

On March 25, 1945 the 45th Signal Company received a DUKW to use in the laying of communication cables across the Rhine.

Early on the morning of March 26 the construction section laid two cables across the Rhine. The telephone section crossed and established switching central on the east bank of the Rhine.

The conditions under which the men of the 45th Signal Company laid those cables were life threatening.

While the ground fighting had moved east, the Nazis were still firing artillery and rockets and launching air attacks at the Rhine crossings.

Along with the risk of drowning they also risked hypothermia, frostbite, or immersion (trench) foot. The water temperature was probably 32° F (0° C) and the March air temperature averaged about 41° F (5° C).  My late father Felix A. Cizewski would have been very aware of that as he had just returned to duty after recovering from severe frostbite 3 months earlier.

On March 27, the rest of the 45th Signal Company crossed the Rhine and set up the normal Command Post communications systems in Zwingenberg.

Several Nazi soldiers surrendered to members of the company.

The company reported that their trucks and other vehicles were in bad shape because of constant use. A jeep threw a rod.

I do not know in which section of the 45th Signal Company my late father Felix A. Cizewski served so I do not know if he crossed the Rhine on March 26 or 27.


What does DUKW mean?

D = built in 1942

U = amphibious 2½  ton truck

K = front wheel drive

W = rear wheel drive


The detailed information about the 45th Signal Company’s crossing of the Rhine is from the March, 1945 Company History which Dave Kerr obtained from the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.

A discussion with free lance writer Anne Gafiuk resulted in the addition of details of the life threatening conditions under which the 45th Signal Company worked.

The details with links about DUKWs was in response to a question from Jeff Spitzer-Resnick.

Links, sources, and more information:

Felix A. Cizewski and the Central Europe Campaign

Revised: March 26, 2015


An Open Letter to Professor Waclaw Szybalski

March 2, 2015


Professor Waclaw Szybalski D.Sc. Professor Emeritus of Oncology

Anna Ferens’ documentary on the life of University of Wisconsin Professor Emeritus Waclaw Szybalski premiered in Madison, Wisconsin.

Professor Szybalski’s research contributed to an understanding of the genetic basis of drug resistant bacterial infections and the development of multiple drug therapies. His DNA research is used in the development of cancer treatments.

Both the film and discussion included Professor Szybalski’s life in Poland. He shared his love of his home of Lvov, Poland which before WWII was a diverse city with a Slavic and Jewish Polish majority along with Ukrainians and others. He spoke of the Nazis’ extermination the Jews of Lvov then the Soviets’ ethnically cleansing Lvov of Slavic Poles by expulsions and murder. Lvov is now the almost 100% Ukrainian city of Lviv, Ukraine.

Professor Szybalski participated in the resistance. The Soviets were allied with the Nazis from 1939 to 1941 and occupied about 1/2 of Poland. Trains crossed occupied Poland with Soviet supplies essential for their Nazi allies to wage war. On their return trip, the trains were often filled with anti-Soviet Poles being deported to Siberia. Among the earliest acts of resistance were attacks on those trains.

He also participated in resistance against the Holocaust which moved me to write this open letter.

Dear Professor Szybalski:

During the questions and answers after the December 8, 2014 premier of “The Essence of Life”, you shared how you helped gather information on the location and layout of one of the extermination camps. That information was smuggled out to the Allies with a plea to bomb the camps and their rail lines.

The Allies did not bomb the camps for reasons unrelated to the information you and others supplied.

The Nazi’s and Soviet’s conquests of Poland placed most of the victims of the Holocaust beyond the reach of rescue by military action for most of the war. After 1939, about the victims’ only hope was for the Allies to militarily defeat the Nazis as quickly as possible.

At great personal risk you succeeded in gathering intelligence on the Holocaust and sharing that with the world.

Professor Szybalski, you did not fail.

Yours, Leonard H. Cizewski

Links, sources, and more information:


soon“The Essence of Life” Trailer

McCardle Laboratory for Cancer Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health:

50 years of gene therapy: the contribution of Professor Wacław Szybalski to science and humanity, Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences


Martin Gilbert, Auschwitz and the Allies: A Devastating Account of How the Allies Responded to the News of Hitler’s Mass Murder

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

Virginia Holocaust Museum

Assessing Atrocity


My nephew-in-law Marshall Begel was my editor for my open letter. He reviewed this for accuracy and clarity along with spelling and grammar.

In depth historical background and context are occasional features of my family history blog.

Revised: September 7, 2015


More D-Days 70 Years Ago: Ralph Robinson, Landing Ship Medium 34 and the Campaigns to Liberate the Philippines

January 29, 2015

Below deck on Landing Ship Medium 34
probably somewhere in the Philippines.

Date and sailors unidentified.

70 years ago after Ralph E. Robinsson and Landing Ship Medium participated in that other major D-Day, the landings at Leyte in the Philippines, they continued to serve in the campaigns to liberate the Philippines.

Ralph’s account from October, 1944 to January 1945 (Editing details in note at the end.):



On October 23, 1944 we saw the first Japanese dive-bomber. It dropped its bomb and missed. A few seconds later, it was hit by anti-aircraft and its engines began burning. Seeing that he was going down, he headed for an Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) with a Wildcat right on his tail, but nothing could stop him. He crashed right into the LCI which immediately burst into flame. It burned for about an hour and a half, rolled over and sank.

That gave us an awfully queer feeling. It was the first ship we had ever seen going down and we hoped it was the last.

After that day, it was one raid after another–morning, noon and night. There were certain things that stood out more though.

On the night of the first sea Battle of the Philippines, one of our light carriers was sunk.

(Ralph is referring to the three sea battles of the Battle For Leyte Gulf from October 23 to 27, 1944: Battle Of Surigao Strait, Battle Off Samar, and Battle Off Cape Engano (East Of Luzon).

It was about nine PM when the radio message came in that around twenty-four Wildcats would be landing on the unfinished air strips at Tacloban. At this time we had no land-based planes in the Philippines. The particulars were that we could identify them as they would have their landing lights on. In a short while they began coming in, landing one after another. We were not more than a mile off shore. We could watch everything that was going on.

As the last plane was coming in, he suddenly zoomed up and there was a large explosion in the center of the air strip. Immediately all the guns around opened up on him, and they shot him down back over the island.

That was one of the Japanese. They picked up our message immediately, sent out one of their own planes to follow our own planes in under cover of the darkness to join our planes, turn on her running lights and bomb our air strip that we were trying to build as quickly as we could. I could go on telling these things by the hour, but writing them all down would become very tiresome and lengthy.


All through the month of November we continued to unload Liberty Ships and weather out the air raids.

Landing Ship Medium 34.

Date, place and sailors unidentified.


About the first of December we loaded up with army engineers and equipment and prepared to leave for the invasion of Mindoro, but about then the second sea battle of the Philippines started. This blocked our passage to Mindoro, so we unloaded, and on the third of December prepared for another mission.

The Japanese were reinforcing their troops in Leyte through Ormoc on the other side of the island, so we were to take reinforcements to Bay Bay about forty miles below Ormoc.

The trip around the island was uneventful, but on landing we found that our navigation had been faulty. We had landed about Bay Bay, almost on the Japanese beach.

We landed about one AM and it was very dark that morning on the fifth of December.

The Army told us that we would have to pull off and rebeach at Bay Bay. Our commander told them that either we unloaded there or were taking our loads back to Dulag. We unloaded.

Kamikaze Attacks

About ten AM we were rounding the bottom of the island, and I was sitting topside leisurely watching our small convoy–three destroys, six LCIs and 12 LSMs. There was a spotty covering of clouds and the day was bright and hot. I happened to glance back and saw a plane diving at top speed not five hundred feet above a destroyer. It was Kamikaze. The destroyer never altered course or fired a shot as it all happened too quickly, but the plane exploded in the water, missing its target by at least a hundred feet.

Our GQ (General Quarters) buzzer sounded and then all hell broke loose.

Two planes headed for us almost at the same time.

Our guns got one about fifty feet from the starboard side of our ship.

The second one exploded and crashed a few yards from our bow. Gasoline, water and parts of planes were flying all over the place.

Then a third came in straight for our conn (area of the ship where steering and engine orders are given) from the starboard side. The skipper had stopped, and the Japanese shot in from our conn down over the lifelines on the port side, into the water and exploded. The ship lurched the other way.

This all happened in about five minutes, but it was almost lifetime. The attack continued on furiously. A plane had crashed into the stern of the LSM 20 and she was taking on more water than she could stand. A plane had crashed into the radio shack of the LSM 23, and she was burning from the splattered gasoline.

In about twenty minutes, the 20 began going down stern first. We began picking up survivors s and the planes were still coming in. Our ship picked up three men, two badly burned, and the third unharmed. They were blown off a destroyer by an explosion.

We had several other raids before the day was over. They hit two of the destroyers, one just behind the conn, and flame shot up the ship all the way to the bow. The second, at just about dark, was hit by two bombs midship, and we ended up towing that destroyer for four hours until she got one of her engines fixed.

Upon arriving at Dulag, we loaded again and left again, only this time for the invasion of Ormoc. We went out with twelve LCIs, four APDs (World War I destroyed converted to carry troops and land them, with attack boats that they launch), three destroyers, six LSTs and twelve LSMs. If those aren’t the exact numbers, it is close and to the best of my memory.

The morning of December seventh, we hit Ormoc with little opposition on the beach.

Only a few snipers were there, but while pulling off the beach, a few planes came over and one hit an APDs. It began burning badly. They had to abandon it and our destroyers sank it.

We found out then that when we were pulling in, three Japanese transports and three Japanese destroyers had been coming in. The were only about twenty miles away when we landed, but our planes went out and sank them all that day. We had been just in time.

We pulled out about ten leaving three LSMs and 1 LCI stuck on the beach Two of the LSMs and the LCI came back. The third LSM was sunk that day.

We had plenty of excitement that day, but we had better cover of our own planes. Out of sixty planes that the Japanese sent for us, forty were shot down by our planes, mostly P38’s. They kept coming in the rest of the day. Every twenty to thirty minutes we could expect three or four of them the rest of the afternoon. The sank one destroyer and hit an LSTs with little damage.

However, after those exciting times in such a short number of days, our ship had not been hit. No one was hurt on our ship so they decided we were ready to go on the invasion they had listed us for a week before.

Our fleet had chased the remainder of the Japanese fleet away and our way to Mindoro was clear.

This was a much longer convoy with several cruisers and aircraft carriers along. This was a much longer convoy with several cruisers and aircraft carriers along.

On the way up, two Japanese planes hit the cruiser Nashville. They had one hundred twenty-some killed and over two hundred injured.

Rescue Operations

Nothing else happened until D Day, December fifteenth. When, just as we were pulling off the beach, five Japanese planes came over and hit two LST (Landing Ship Tanks).

They started burning badly. As the LSMs started warming up to pull out, we got a call from the Admiral in charge to pick up survivors from one of the LSTs so we headed for her.

The ammunition on her began going off by then, and it looked like regular fireworks. The tracers shot out in all directions and splashed in the water. There were little streaks of fire all over the where oil and gasoline had poured out. The water was filled with men in life jackets, both Army and Navy.

We opened our bow doors and lowered our ramp and began picking up men from the water and PT boats.

In about an hour, the well deck was full of wet and frightened men.

Just as we began picking up the men, the “T” blew straight up with a huge explosion blowing a big black rolling smoke ring into the air about a thousand feet. It looked as though any men left on the ship when it exploded would be gone. But, I talked with many men afterward that were on her then and were not even bruised.

We picked up about five hundred men, mostly Army. We put all the Army men that could walk off on PT boats, and they were taken ashore as our troops hadn’t even met any Japanese on the beach yet.

We had ten casualties, aboard, nine Army and one Navy. They were all badly burned, and one had a broken back and almost died. We had most of the ship’s crew aboard and some were aboard a destroyer. The Navy men got their heads together, and as far as they could tell, none had been killed. The planes hit midship where she was loaded with eight hundred Air Force ground crew, aviation gasoline and five hundred pound aerial bombs–a hot load.

When we finally left, the convoy had been gone about two hours and we were all alone. It didn’t make us feel so good as we knew there was a continual threat of air attack. One lonely LSM wouldn’t be able to do much about it so we took out at flank speed, cutting all the corners the convoy had taken. The engineers put screw drivers in the governors and held them down. We caught up to the convoy without seeing another planes, and we felt greatly relieved. Our navigator figured we made seventeen knots, as far as I know, it is still the record for LSMs. That thirty-six hundred horsepower did its job.

The trip back to Leyte was quiet, and we were glad to be back. Even though they were still having air raids every day, the planes were more interested in the air strip and the larger ships than us.

We were still in Leyte at Christmastime . Christmas Eve we had a movie in the aft troop compartment.  It was the first movie I had seen since we had left Manus.  There was an air raid that night, but we did not go to General Quarters (GQ) as the planes were a long way off.  We never went to GQ any more unless it looked as though the planes were coming close to us.

Christmas Day was a day we had looked forward to for a long time like a bunch of kids waiting to open their packages.  To build up the feeling of surprise, the deck force, the ship’s control and the engineering force had each separately planned a program for entertainment of the rest of the crew.  A prize was to be given for the best program.  It wasn’t really much, but it was something to keep our minds off the Japanese, if that were really possible.

After a wonderful meal of turkey, sweet potatoes, ice cream, pie, and all the extras such as nuts, celery and cranberry sauce, we put on the program.  (I ate so much that I was uncomfortable for the rest of the day).  The program was really funny-one of our fellows sang a song that he had made up about the ship, another did a southern shuffle.  Between singing songs and imitating our engineering officer going to GQ loaded down with life jacket, two rifles, two forty-fives, a pair of binoculars, and a trench knife, the show was a success.

That night we had the usual air raid.



New Years (1945), we were still in Leyte Gulf, but we were getting restless, and the day was rather dull.  Although we had another big meal and the day off, the coming of the New Year didn’t seem much to look forward to.  It was just a time to rest and think about the last year and how much longer the war would last.

On January we left on a long, rough and tedious trip to Lingayen Gulf in a large convoy made up mostly of LSTs.  Our average speed was from three to five knots.  The LSTs were towing LCMs which took a terrible beating.  One lost its ramp and had to get underway under its own power and pull out.  Another, that had a LCM loaded in her, was swept by a big wave.  The LCM, including a truck that was in her, was swept out to sea.

Note on editing:

As are almost all wars, WWII was racially charged. My late father-in-law’s original language reflected that.

The Ralph I knew and loved valued civility and politeness. He strove never to hurt or offend.

To respect that and to avoid outmoded language from distracting from his story, I have made slight edits.

An unedited edition is on our family history web site at:


Photos by Ralph E. Robinson © The Robinson Family

Ralph E. Robinson is Cheryl A. Robinson’s late father and my father-in-law.

Links, sources, and more information:

Animated map of the naval battles of Leyte Gulf. The U.S. Invasion Fleet off Letye first appears in slide 12. Ralph and Landing Ship 34 are in the U.S. Invasion Fleet.

Battles that changed the course of history, Part 2. Filipino journalist Ignacio Bunye‘s account of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, January 11, 2015.

Ralph E. Robinson and LSM 34 in WWII


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