As I was working my way through my father-in-law’s WWII memorabilia I found four membership cards from Officers’ clubs in the Pacific. These are certainly good examples of ephemera; articles made for short-term use. Why Erwin kept these I do not know. I do know that in the Pacific it did not take the U.S. Navy long to build bases on islands that they secured from the Japanese. No base would be complete without an officers’ club! Each of the locations represented were associated with either unusual or well-known events. (Clicking on the thumbnails below provides a larger picture).
Manus Island. This island was one of the Admiralty Islands that Gen. MacArthur wanted to take for strategic purposes in Operation Brewer. One of the most significant events that occurred at Manus Island was the explosion of the ammunition ship the USS Mount Hood (AE-11). The ship was obliterated when its cargo discharged. All crewmen on board were killed and so were many sailors on nearby ships.
Koruniat Island. This is another small island that was secured from the Japanese in Operation Brewer. Reportedly, it had the distinction of one of the most unlikely beach assaults in WWII. On April 1, 1944, components of the 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, stormed the beach at Koruniat after being transported by an unlikely flotilla that included 18 native dugout canoes, four captured Japanese collapsible boats, and 16 engineer half boats. The landing was unopposed and the island was secured by noon that day. The membership card for Koruniat has the rules of the club on the back.
Ulithi Lagoon. The Ulithi Atoll was the site of one of the largest moorings of ships in the Pacific, as can be seen in this video. It is also the location of a historic photograph of the so-called Murderer’s Row showing the might of the U.S. Navy’s 3rd Fleet aircraft carriers.
Samar Island. This island in the Philippines was the site of one of the most famous naval engagements during the war (The Battle off Samar). Task Unit 77.4.3 (“Taffy 3”) commanded by Rear Admiral Clifton Sprague met a Japanese unit that far out matched his firepower. The Japanese force contained 23 ships including battleships, heavy and light cruisers, and 11 destroyers. Taffy 3 had 6 light carriers and 7 destroyers/destroyer escorts. The heroism of the destroyers and destroyer escorts is legendary. The USS Johnston (DD-557) led the charge and was eventually sunk as were the USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) and the USS Hoel (DD-533). Cmdr Ernest E. Evans, captain of the USS Johnston was never recovered after she sank. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
These old officers’ club cards represent a respite from the horrors of war that were experienced by these brave service men and women. They serve as a reminder that the time spent by the officers in these clubs was followed by sacrificial service as leaders of their brave charges.
des pac cafe