Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for March 29 - April 4, 1945.
Field-Marshal Montgomery has ordered a security silence on all place names in his zone of operations. "The silence has been imposed because the rapidity of the advance in the present operations is such that to give details would be of definite value to the enemy," he said.
Correspondents state that the next few days are expected to bring news of big Allied gains. British tanks on one sector of the Second Army front advanced 20 miles on Wednesday. Gains of six to 20 miles were made all around the southern sector of the British front.
GERMANS FLEE IN NORTH
German forces are fleeing in disorder on some sectors of the Western Front as the Allied armies continue to make massive advances. General Patton's men have driven 160 miles into Germany. They are 175 miles from Berlin and 110 miles from the border of Czechoslovakia. Field-Marshal Montgomery's push in the north is gaining speed and the break-through area is being steadily widened. In one sector spearheads have cut through to a point 70 miles from the starting line without a shot being fired. Tactical planes yesterday and last night smashed at enemy transport withdrawing on roads in north-western Germany and Holland. It was one of the greatest holocausts of transport since the air onslaught on the Falaise gap in Normandy. Pilots' reports indicated that the Germans are carrying out a large-scale evacuation of Holland. "The days of the rocket coast, of E-boat lairs, and of hunger and disease in Holland seem to be drawing to an end," a Reuter report states.
HITLER TOLD WAR LOST
Members of the German High Command are reported to have told Hitler that a continuation of the war was impossible for Germany. They did so at a Council of War that began at Hitler's headquarters on Friday and continued until Saturday morning. The final result of the conference was not reported. A report of the meeting published in the Stockholm Tidningen, stated that the High Command declared that: German troops in the West were not under the control of officers. Volkssturmers (Home Guards) were capitulating without attempting to fight. Stocks of petrol were exhausted and there was not sufficient food for the troops.The same signs of disintegration could be expected when the Russian offensive opened. The German Army commanders said they were prepared to negotiate for an armistice if the Nazi Government withdrew. According to a Berlin report received in Switzerland, Hitler told the Council of War that he was prepared to give up the sole leadership and form a Fuehrer's Council, that would be headed by Marshal Kesselring (German Commander in the West), Hitler, and Schoener, with Himmler, Goering, and Admiral Doenitz (German Naval Commander-in-Chief) as members. Hitler, it is reported, told the generals that they could negotiate with the Allies while he and Himmler answered for internal order in Germany. The generals refused to accept the proposal. The final result of the meeting was not reported.
THE ISLANDS CAMPAIGN
Australian casualties in the islands campaign since it was taken over from the Americans in November number 1108. For four months of fighting in the most difficult terrain, against an enemy who has had ample time to dig in, this is not an excessive figure, and suggests that General Blamey, or whoever is directing the operations - it is one of the minor mysteries of a confused situation that the public is not permitted to know who is responsible - has conducted the advances skilfully and economically with due regard for life. Fighting at Buna and Gona showed how expensive a precipitate assault upon Japanese entrenched positions could be. In New Guinea, New Britain, and Bougainville we have wisely been content to proceed cautiously, and though that has necessarily slowed down progress we are gradually reaching our objectives. The Japanese casualties are estimated at more than three times the Australian, but the fact that only 101 prisoners have been taken is a reminder that the enemy is still fanatically resolute.
CASUALTIES IN ISLANDS
Casualties suffered by the Australian Army in New Guinea, the Solomons, and New Britain since November, 1944, when the Australians took over from the US forces, up to March 17, 1945, were revealed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin). They are: Killed 374, wounded 711, missing 23, total 1108. Japanese casualties during the same period were: Killed 3489, prisoners of war 101.
JAPANESE FIGHT SAVAGELY
The latest battle in the vicinity of Wade's Creek has forced the Japanese back 800 yards to their main Hongorai defences. The infantry advanced, but in characteristic form the Japanese emerged from foxholes and fought back savagely. After an hour's fighting, some of it hand-to-hand in which the bayonet was used, the enemy fled across the creek, leaving their position littered with dead and wounded. Although the Japanese have been driven back, there is no chance of them accepting defeat. The full force of the Australian advance is developing south of the Puriata as our spearhead impacts against the rising strength of the Japanese defences of the Hongorai River. The form of the attack is three drives, ranging from the coast to well down the centre of Bougainville. The middle force is the leading spearhead, with equally strong screens protecting the flanks. Only now has the nature of future Japanese resistance been sounded. The result is a series of mostly sanguinary battles. In a 2000-yard advance beyond Slater's Knoll, the Australians have fought eight engagements, in two of which the bayonet was finally resorted to. The Japanese have lost heavily. It seems there is no limit to the price the enemy will pay to stand off our advance beyond Hongorai. Every strategic feature or track bend is incredibly fortified with a characteristic maze of Japanese strongpoints, and logged pillboxes interlaced with chains of trenches.
HOLD ON NEW BRITAIN
With the latest advance, the Australians now occupy two-thirds of New Britain and all Japanese on the island are compressed in the Gazelle Peninsula. More than 30,000 enemy troops are still on the island, and have had three years in which to build immense fortifications. Australian mountain and heavy artillery fired more than half a ton of shells a minute in a 15-minute barrage on Sugi, an important high feature in the Wide Bay area. On capturing the ridge, infantry found six Japanese obviously killed by shell fire, the area pitted with shell holes, and mouths of pillboxes blown in. During the Wide Bay campaign 15,000 shells were expended on enemy targets. Patrols moving inland found many Japanese gardens. One patrol surprised 15 beaten Japanese who had sneaked back to obtain taro. Because of the difficult terrain the patrol was forced to fire from some distance, but wounded two of the enemy.
Carrier pigeons played an important part during the battle by carrying messages from the most forward points in the remote jungle to battle headquarters. Taken out in cardboard boxes by outer patrols, the pigeons carried back messages of enemy positions pin-pointed by patrols. About 40 birds were used in the campaign, and they recorded some good times in spite of the adverse conditions. Frequently after the arrival of a bird, artillery barrages opened up and silenced enemy heavy mortar posts, which were used mainly to harass advancing troops. On one occasion a bird carried a war correspondent's dispatch to headquarters so that it could be forwarded more quickly to the mainland.
Australian troops, using tanks for the first time on Bougainville, smashed a serious threat to our defences on the southern sector of the island, states an official communique. An incomplete count of enemy dead shows the largest number killed in any engagement in the campaign. In the Tokinotu area the Japanese had begun aggressive tactics and although beaten off, kept attacking sometimes several times a day. Simultaneous attacks were launched on three of our positions on the track between Tokinotu and Kiru Hiru. One position was surrounded, and the enemy made four bayonet charges on another position. Total of Japanese dead and wounded mounted with each attack, but we suffered casualties. Then the Australian tanks appeared and our infantry moved in and routed the Japanese.
Four representatives of the Newcastle Morning Herald are among 195 war correspondents, including 33 Australians, who have been awarded the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Ribbon. They are George Johnston, Axel Olsen, John Loughlin and Frank Dexter. In awarding the Ribbon, General MacArthur paid tribute to the correspondents' long and meritorious service in the South-west Pacific area. He said they had added lustre to the difficult, dangerous and arduous profession of war correspondents and had shared hardships and dangers with the US troops.
ACE IN 'G FOR GEORGE' CREW
Second Pilot of the Lancaster bomber, "G for George," which will take investors of £100 in the Third Victory War Loan for flights is Flight Lieutenant F. P. Smith, DFC, of Newcastle. He has had 160 operational hours, and wears the famous Pathfinder badge, gained for leading bombers to their targets and dropping flares. "G for George" begins a State tour in Sydney on Saturday.
Pilot Officer Maxwell Ell, elder son of Mr. and Mrs. C. V. Ell, of Stewart Avenue, Hamilton, has just returned to Australia. While on leave in the US, hospitality on a grand scale was extended to him by the business executives of The Home Journal of the Dictaphone Corporation. After serving in the New Guinea campaign, Pilot Officer Ell was sent to Canada for further training. He was awarded the Gold Identification Bracelet for being the most successful flier in his class at a Canadian air school. Before enlistment he was in charge of the book department of his father's business in Hunter Street, Newcastle.
HOTELS CLOSE ON ANZAC DAY
The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) said that the Commonwealth Government would again provide, under the National Security Regulations, for all hotels and wine saloons in Australia to be closed on Anzac Day. No organised sport or race meetings could be held, and all theatres would be closed until 1pm. Where State laws provided stricter observance of Anzac Day, those laws would stand. Anzac Day, in all States, would be a public holiday under State laws and, in cases where the Minister directed persons to essential work, appropriate compensation would be paid. The Newcastle District Council of the Returned Soldiers' League decided to protest to Mr. Curtin and the three district members of the House of Representatives against the closing of hotels on Anzac Day. Delegates from New Lambton said that the branch felt strongly about the closing of hotels, but the President (Mr. R. Bates) said he was sure the prohibition was not aimed against the returned soldiers, but to prevent young civilians from desecrating the day.
Jack Ernest Johns, Pelican Flat; Darrell Ainslie Sutton, Stockton; John Patrick Welch, Stockton; Cecil James O'Connell, Maitland; Leonard James Archbold, Kurri Kurri; Russell Clarence Gordon, Hamilton; Charles Bell, Lambton; Leonard M. Sharp, Hamilton; Clarence James Butler, Pelaw Main; Neil Robertson Henderson, Cessnock.
Private William Carlyle Adler, Newcastle; Private Cyril Vernon Knight, Stockton; Private Ronald Fisher, Lambton, POW; Warrant Officer Alfred William Howe, Abermain.