The seas throughout the three days of the trip were calm.
Second day, one engine failed in our ship and we watched the convoy gradually leaving us behind with a destroyer standing by and naval tugboat attaching a towline. It's mighty lonely like that. Again under our own power we closed with the convoy at 1600 hours when the first Nip air attack began, low flying torpedo and skip bombers sneaking in with the sun behind them. No fighter cover, but ack-ack brought down one bomber and only one ship hit.
In a glorious sunset a wave of nip bombers attacked but were met by our fighter escort of Lightenings and ack-ack. A direct hit on a low-flying Nip made a spectacular sight as it catherine-wheeled in flames along the surface before it sank. Long streams of smoke from high-flying plane and disentegrating explosions here and there were cheered by our lads, watching from the deck, although Standing Orders were that they should be below decks.
Several ships, including the cruiser carrying the C.O. of the attacking forces, Brig. Gen. Dunchel were hit by Kami-Kazi planes nip planes loaded with bombs suicide crash-diving into their target. Our number seemed to be up when one of these planes screamed down from a few thousand feet towards our ship or the destroyer about 100 yards to port, but a lucky direct hit drew flames from its tail and, out of control the Nip hit the sea about 30 yards away, sinking without exploding. Some of the lads maintained they saw the white ceremonial robes of the pilot as the plane hit. I understand these pilots are detailed for crash-diving and given a funeral ceremony before taking off. The Nips were driven off or shot down, leaving behind several crippled and burning ships we hope the night will be quieter.
We share the ships watch and on duty that night with wind and choppy sea, it was interesting to watch the radar screen and see the excellent formation maintained by the invisible blackened-out ships
U-1 four battlewagons and six flattops are within sight astern when there is an alert and convoy almost stops. Floating mines were sighted.Tin-cans (destroyers) accounted for these and with P.T.'s careered around ahead and reported "all clear".
U-day in the dark pre-dawn we eat our last decent meal for a while, check all gear, drivers check engines of trucks on deck and heavy equipment in the well-deck and final test of water-proofing of motors for mobility in landing in 3 or 4 feet of water. We had been roused by shelling and saw its result, a blazing Nip destroyer now completely harmless.
Although the vicinity of the landing had been well done over by navy shells, and bombing on U+1 our escort ships poured in salvo after salvo, and waves of bombers hit the area.Three Yank submarines have joined us.
In the first light the ships leave convoy formation where all vulnerable targets such as ammunition and petrol-carrying ships are on the outside and smaller L.C.I. towards the centre and astern.
About four miles offshore L.C.I. are in front circling before their dash in waves about 10 abreast to the beach. LST's, including the four carrying our Squadron slowly circle waiting for the last wave of L.C.I to leave the beach.
Our ears are deafened by the terrific concussion of incessant 4½" rockets exploding in the beach area.As each L.C.I. rushes the beach, it pours out bracket after bracket of these rockets until it beaches.
We are reassured to see the small ships are able to beach within about 20 yards of the waters edge, and the G.I's scramble ashore only waist deep.
In our last landing, our L.S.T. beached, drawing 3 feet of water at the bow, dropped its ramp and our enthusiastic R.A.A.F. Defence (Officer gave the lads a laugh when, with full (kit he yelled, "follow me", to his R.A.A.F. Guards, and jumped into 6 feet of water. There was a deep channel between the ship and shore.
Our Ships beached in line just twenty minutes after the infantry, bow doors opened, ramp down and the first bulldozer tracked ashore through the 2'6' of water and immediately commenced pushing up a sand ramp, to disembark other vehicles.
But meanwhile Nip bombers attacked in force, crash-diving and bombing the slowly moving convoy standing offshore waiting their turn to beach.
They were like sitting ducks and many direct hits were scored. The carrier planes mixed things with the Nips accounting for many, and the sky, cloudless and still, was pockmarked with ack-ack explosion, round puffs of smoke, the streaming smoke trails of shot-up planes and the denser black clouds rising high from burning ships.
Our L.S.T. shook with a bomb, near miss twenty yards astern, and then a streaming Kamikaze plane tried to plunge through the open bow doors of our beached ship. Fortunately he missed but tore off a wing and spun and crashed amongst our men, most of whom bad taken cover under vehicles on the beach.
Casualties were light but four fatal.
Again the Aussies were first to unload ship. The American Skippers prefer transporting us even if is only because their ships are usually first unloaded and off the beach to sea again.
There were strafing, bombing and suicide attacks continued throughout the day, interrupted by spectacular dogfights.
Land based American fighters from Leyte could remain over our area for such a short time, having to conserve sufficient fuel for the return flight, that most of the air scrambles fell to the carrier based planes.
Softening up of the area was so thorough that ground resistance was not formidable, but air attacks continued throughout the night. Portable searchlights and quickly erected gun emplacements were our only protection apart from ack-ack fire from ships still off the beach. By U+1 at midday, I had located our campsite three miles from the beach, across flat country with creeks and swamps running parallel to the beach, and then - my survey section joined the other section and the American surveyors who had already pegged the centre line of 6000 feet by 150 feet airstrip.
With all varieties of heavy earth-moving equipment, working in three, eight hour shifts round the clock, the Aussie and American unit had the strip and one taxi-way and dispersal area completed and the first aircraft landed early on U+5.
At any time, day or night, "Bettys" "Tojos" and "zeros" were at us, trying to interrupt our work. Interruptions were so frequent that orders were issued to work on through the "Red" alert until planes were actually attacking, except at night, when all floodlights were doused on the "Red alert" being fired.
My tensest moment occurred on U+3 when I was surveying in cleared flat land about the centre of the strip and the "Red" alert sounded and ack-ack opened fire on two low flying planes approaching the centre of the strip. It's rather difficult to lie flat on open ground and feel protected by a tin hat from the approach of strafing planes. But there wasn't any strafing.They were two new type Yank navy planes and "unidentified" by our forces.Orders were to fire on all unidentified planes as Jap paratroop counter-attacks were expected hourly.
On U+5 the first planes to land were Corsairs, Lightening, and Douglas transports, and did they pour in?
Mid-day gave us the most spectacular dogfight I have seen. Zeros versus Lightings (P51) and there were dozens of them at a terrific height. Extra fuel tanks were jettisoned first by the planes and looked strange end-For-ending it to earth. Slipstream vapours, tracer bullets and smoke from plunging planes everywhere. Nine Zeros and seven P51's. Bit the dust or drink, one P51 pilot parachuted and two crash-landed on strip.
The Nip counter-attack did not eventuate until the night of Boxing Day 1944, U+11 at 1800 hours, when the landing and naval counter-attack were "contained" by our forces after a very hectic night,
This appears to be a talk Stewart McGlashan gave of his experiences of the Mindoro landing and enemy attacks.