The French infantryman was considered a bayonet specialist

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

Dunlap can’t resist poking some fun at the French:

The French infantryman was considered a bayonet specialist rather than a rifleman and as such was equipped with long bayonets and lousy guns.


The Lebel was one of the better-known bayonet handles of its day.


There were modifications of stocks and sights on all, and at least some carbines had an unusual front sight, which was a double blade affair, with open center — the mark was caught between the blades rather than over a single sighting point. It simplified holding over on stationary targets, but I do not think it would be much good on moving ones, or in bad light.

Above the bolt rifles, France had a semi-automatic rifle left over from World War I, the M1918, which I suspect would have caused a furor in infantry tactics had they perfected it a year or so earlier and if they had had the sense to use it as a rifle rather than a supporting weapon. For 1918 it was good; for 1940, not so good. It was a gasoperated five-shot autoloader, caliber 8mm Lebel.


I do not believe either was ever made in numbers, and they were dropped after World War I because they were too expensive! The French have always been “thrifty” folk.

On submachine guns the French were hopeless.


French machine guns were quite sad.

Shooting in the army is discouraged

Saturday, May 18th, 2019

Dunlap shares some of his thoughts on pistols:

In the Pacific pistols were chiefly valuable against infiltrating Japs sneaking into our areas at night, and in foxholes or close-quarter fights handguns were easy to point and shoot in a hurry. I saw dozens of .45’s carried loaded and at full cock at all times in front areas of the 1st Cavalry Division, with the thumb safety in place. The men claimed that in a pinch it took too long to cock the hammer. It is a fact that the Colt type .45 is not too handy to cock with the thumb of the gun hand. For that reason I believe that the German P.38 was a desirable military arm because of its double-action feature.

My greatest objections to the U.S. .45 pistol were that it was both hard to shoot and inaccurate. For some reason — size of butt, psychology — I don’t know exactly what, it is much harder for the average man to hit a mark with a .45 autoloader than with almost any other handgun. He may take a .45 revolver and do fairly well, but give him the pistol and he is a lost ball in high weeds. With only a little practice (and some intelligent instruction) the pistol can be mastered well enough to be an effective short-range weapon, but as a rule, the soldier does not get practice. Shooting in the army is discouraged. Too much bother handling the range; use too much expensive ammunition; dangerous anyhow — may shoot somebody.

A lot of people will be insulted by my stating the gun is inaccurate. Most of them will probably be either target shots or ex-soldiers who had experience with good pistols. I am talking about service pistols, the kind of production-line tool issued to the military personnel, not a Colt commercial arm or a gunsmithed prewar Colt Army gun. The average issue .45 pistol will shoot about 20″ groups at 50 yards, and that is not good enough for me. Include the human error in the deal and the result is even worse.

None of the military pistols is perfect. The Polish Mod. 35 is probably the most rugged gun; the Luger the most accurate; the P.38 Walther the fastest to get into action; the Belgian GP the best-fitting and most effective for battle use because of its 13-round magazine; and the U. S. M1911 & 1911A1 the largest caliber, if you consider that an asset. I do not — I think .36 caliber big enough, which is a personal opinion only.

The Polish pistol should have a slightly smaller butt; the Luger is unreliable and the weakest of the 9mm high powered pistols; the P.38 has its butt proportions not so perfect, and its safety-hammer release is liable to breakage; the grip tang on the Browning is not large enough to protect large hands; the Colt has too many parts in the recoil system — link, floating guide, etc.

The .45-caliber 1911 now has a reputation as an extremely easy-to-shoot pistol with good accuracy — and carrying the gun loaded, with a round in the chamber, and cocked, with the safety on, is standard practice.

I cannot think of a better way to screw up a road junction

Friday, May 17th, 2019

Dunlap discusses .50-caliber Brownings:

For destroying thin-skins (unarmored vehicles) it was really the ticket, and often the boys used them on Nips in fairly open country, spraying tracers and the explosive incendiaries over the landscape at a great rate. Machine gunners told me that they could do phenomenal shooting at great ranges, using optical sights or firing indirectly, as do artillery pieces, but I do not know of any place in the Pacific where such use was made of these guns. Europe was much better suited to that sort of gun work, for I cannot think of a better way to screw up a road junction than to work a .50 up to within a couple or three miles, set it in a hollow, camouflaged, and every so often throw a few armor piercers or incendiaries over to the crossing. The blue-tipped incendiaries explode on contact, with flash, report and puff of smoke. All ground guns could fire single shots at choice and very accurate fire was possible. Even full auto-fire was not hard to control.

It can really mow things down

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Dunlap felt that the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was a good gun, but it required too much shop maintenance for use as a field weapon:

The BAR should not be considered a light machine gun, such as the Bren or the Breda 30 or the Degtyarov, but rather an automatic shoulder weapon, a flexible infantry arm only a half-step above the M1. I believe Browning intended it to be this kind of arm.


It fires from an open bolt and its strong spring jolts the gun enough to make accuracy rather a matter of hope than holding. Beyond 200 yards the BAR is mainly valuable as a harassing weapon; up to 200 it can really mow things down, in the hands of a good man. That is important, too; I think it takes longer to make a good BARman than a good rifleman. He needs plenty of practice with live ammunition.


One thing sure, if a man has any tendency to flinch, a Browning will intensify it. It took me two years to get used to shooting BARs, but I finally was able to master them, being able to completely control them.

There were times when real machine guns paid off:

Too, there were times in the early Pacific warfare when watercooled .30s paid dividends, but after the Nips woke up to the fact that nine out of 10 of their banzai charges ended with them running out of soldiers, business was not so booming.


For aircraft use, the faster a gun fires, the better.

The bazooka is a fine example of the Ordnance procedure

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

The bazooka is a fine example of the Ordnance procedure, Dunlap says:

In its original form it was light, cheap and simple. If it worked, fine. If it did not, you threw it away and forgot it. Then the modifications began; a tube let go somewhere so henceforth they were wire-wrapped for strength. I don’t think that would help much if a rocket did pop in the barrel, but the ammunition was bettered also, and they seldom did. That was not very bad, for an alteration (wire-wrapping, I mean!). Then the battery holes in the wooden stocks had to be drilled out for standard size flashlight batteries rather than make the boys carry smaller ones as originally specified. So after that batteries were always stuck in the wood. Then a plastic optical sight was put on, it becoming opaque in three days. Extra guards were put on the front to keep some of the rocket trail from the operator and several types of front sights appeared. Then it was redesigned completely, into a two-piece type, coupling in the middle and with a magneto-principle trigger mechanism doing away with batteries. And a strap-iron shoulder piece. By now it was so heavy and cumbersome no soldier could carry the damn thing more than 50 yards on level ground. The last I heard was that they were trying to make it out of aluminum in order to get the weight down to a reasonable one-man load again. The intervening one-piece jobs were useful though, and the cavalry appreciated them. When they short-circuited and became helpless, they still served until repaired; being just the right length for corner poles on pyramidal tents.

The one great fault of American ordnance is that it can never let well enough alone

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

As designed, the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) weighed less than 16 pounds, Dunlap notes, and was semi- as well as full-automatic. That was back in 1918:

When World War II broke, the gun weighed 19.4 pounds, was full-automatic only, and called the M1918A2 (between the two were three or four experiments in remodeling, including the 1922 machine rifle, one of the worse abortions). The one great fault of American ordnance is that it can never let well enough alone on any item. Rather than redesigning or adopting a new type, the original model is “modified” time and again. With each improvement the BAR got heavier and harder to handle, until even the boys up high began to blush (they got the weight below 20 pounds for the books by forgetting to count the adjustable butt rest, or monopod, a holdover from the machine-rifle job, and used for holding the guns nice and pretty for field inspections).

What if he stops running the instant the gun goes off?

Monday, May 13th, 2019

Dunlap didn’t have much faith in long-range rifle fire:

Beyond 450 or 500 yards effective rifle shooting at humans is at the very least half luck, and do not believe anything else. Slight mistakes in range calculation mean considerable variation in points of impact. If the guy is moving at all, he can move enough to make you miss him during the time the bullet is in the air! I know all about leading a running mark, etc.; what if he stops running the instant the gun goes off?


The Springfield was considered the most accurate rifle we had, even though the average service rifle was no bargain as issued. Using M2 ball ammunition I was never able to make a Garand shoot better than 8″ groups at 200 yards, and, frankly, two-thirds of the Springfields would not do much better. I do believe, however, that if I had at least 10 new M1s to cross-check against each other, and switch parts here and there to change tolerances, it might be possible to get groups close to 4″, or two minutes of angle, although it might be necessary to experiment with handloaded ammunition or M1 ball service or National Match government loadings.


They all change their points of impact fast, as the thin barrel heats up, and the fact that the handguards and gas cylinder assembly are fastened to it and interfere with its vibration or whip, does not make for high accuracy.

Submachine guns did a lot of work in the jungles

Sunday, May 12th, 2019

The Thompson .45 submachine gun underwent three or four changes during the war, in the interests of production manufacture and simplification, but essentially remained the same, Dunlap explains:

Like the M1, it was a weapon I did not like but ended up respecting. Here again, weight was the drawback — the original M1928 model went 10.8 pounds without magazine and the simplified M1 and M1A1 models ran 10 pounds even, without clips (the M1A1 was the same as the M1 except that it had its firing pin machined on the face of the bolt, integral with it, while the M1 had the older style movable firing pin and “hammer”).

The stocks of all three had too much drop, which made accurate automatic fire from the shoulder almost impossible, since the guns could climb up an off the mark easily.


Effective range of these guns was about 75 yards in the hands of the average soldier. This because the trigger-pull on the gun was 14 pounds maximum, 10 pounds minimum, and it fires from an open bolt, making accurate semi-auto fire very difficult.


Submachine guns did a lot of work in the jungles where often only the approximate direction of an enemy would be known and it was desirable to rake an area with bullets. For investigating the tops of coconut palms it was a highly useful tool, and good for hosing dugouts or clearing bunkers at times, but grenades were smarter and safer for the latter jobs.

Insects ruined more carbine barrels than rust

Saturday, May 11th, 2019

The weight of the M1 Garand rifle was to a great extent responsible for the popularity of the .30-caliber carbine. The carbine had other strengths, too, Dunlap explains:

The carbines’ best feature was their non-corrosive ammunition. Because of it the barrels and gas pistons and cylinders could take a lot of neglect and still keep the arm operating perfectly. M1 rifle barrels were always pitted, but the carbines usually looked good inside.

Insects ruined more carbine barrels than rust or lack of cleaning did together. It is a fact! In the Pacific land areas lives a kind of wasp we called mud-daubers, and they love to set up an apartment in a .30 caliber barrel — they will take a .45 or .50, but prefer .30’s. By carrying in mud and secreting some sort of liquid they plug a barrel and if that plug is not discovered and removed within 12 hours, a ring starts to eat into the barrel steel at its top; in 36 hours it will be the depth of a land, cutting both lands and grooves equally, which meant classification as unserviceable by ordnance when inspected or reported. Oil in the barrel made no difference. If the plug was not discovered and the rifle or carbine fired, the barrel usually bulged and was unserviceable anyway.


In the Pacific the carbines were more reliable and gave less trouble than the M1’s, although in North Africa and in Italy they were not rated so highly.


The troopers often complained that it took all 15 shots to down a Jap, but I suspect that this was usually because they always shot the Nip 15 times anyway, whether he went down on the first or last round.

The non-expanding bullet would not do much damage unless it hit a vital spot, which was not always easy. Heck, you can kill a man with a .22 Short if you can shoot him in the brain, heart, or spine.


A military load should render a man hors de combat with almost any hit.


If our carbine cartridge had been the .38 Super Automatic Colt pistol case, using a .35 or rather, .36 caliber 125-grain bullet at about 1,500 FPS — the soldier would have been a lot better off in battle. Such a bullet would carry a great deal more shocking power than the 1,975 FPS 110-grain .30 caliber carbine bullet.

Killing the enemy is not always as desirable as merely making a casualty out of him. Even the Japs realized this, if a special military report I read is true. According to it, a non-com or two from a 24th Division unit on Leyte stated his outfit suffered many casualties at one location, encountering Japanese riflemen who shot them up. Most of the Americans were shot in the hip or upper leg with 6.5mm bullets, not a fatal wound but one which called for a minimum of two persons to evacuate, besides getting the shot-up soldier out of the battle for months, if not permanently. The opinion was that the enemy was deliberately attempting to cause such serious wounds in order to tie up the additional personnel necessary to care for the men, thereby delaying our advance. Each such hit removed from three to five men from the immediate opposing force, while a man killed was just one less.


Our officials scoffed for years at the Italians and Japs for putting bayonets on everything and claimed everyone else’s automatic weapons had too high a rate of fire (our carbine now can empty itself at about 850 to 900 RPM — is definitely much faster than the Thompson, comparing cyclic rates). The bayonet business is silly, except for guarding prisoners, for which a repeating shotgun with 00 Buckshot loads is better, and the regular military shotguns have bayonet studs themselves for full-size prodders.

So far as the automatic feature is concerned, I am for it. We really have something, but I am not sure what. The guns were a lot of fun to shoot and came out just a little too late for real use in combat. The full-automatic feature did not affect the ballistics of the cartridge any but did increase the effectiveness of the arm by allowing it to deliver three or four bullets close together on one squeeze of the trigger, rather than one. I think these models would have been ideal for jungle fighting, where the heavier Thompsons were popular.

The cartridge remains a full-jacketed, fairly high-velocity .32-20, which has not been considered a suitable deer cartridge for years. I consider a man in the class of a white-tailed deer as a meat target, taking about the same amount of energy to stop. Except that deer usually get shot with expanding bullets which mess up more flesh. A man is tougher game physically than he thinks. I am no big-game hunter so maybe I will get a lot of argument. As in killing deer, men seldom suffer identical wounds and results always vary somewhat. I have two friends who received Jap bullets in their chests on Luzon; one recovered and went back to his outfit in a very few weeks and the other was discharged after spending about eight months as a sick boy. Just 1″ or 2″ or a change of angle made the difference, though both were uncomplicated lung punctures so far a simple description goes.

One of the clumsiest singleshot arms since muzzleloading days

Friday, May 10th, 2019

“In my opinion,” General Patton once said, “the M1 rifle is the greatest battle implement ever devised.” Roy Dunlap did not share the General’s opinion:

I do not like the M1 rifle and never have, but it proved a much better weapon than I thought it would.

Any gas-operated arm must be kept reasonably clean to reliably operate and the majority of malfunctions in the field proved due to either worn gas cylinders or worn (undersize) pistons on the end of the operating rods. The cylinders are rust-proof, but the pistons rusted if not cleaned daily, wearing undersize rapidly and allowing gas to leak so that the operating rod would not move far enough to the rear to correctly function the action. Barrels did not last long. Noncorrosive ammunition would have been a godsend in the Pacific War. I never saw an M1 barrel shot out but saw thousands rusted out.

The Garand has two faults, to my mind — it is too heavy and it must be loaded with the eight-round charger clip. The latter means you either load it with a full eight-round clip or you have one of the clumsiest singleshot arms since muzzleloading days. I admit that with the complete dropping of our bolt-action rifles using the fiveround Mauser clip and the issue of all U. S. rifle ammunition in the M1 clip this objection is practically nullified, but the fact remains that it is very difficult to keep the M1 rifle fully loaded when firing sporadically. If, say five cartridges of a clip are fired, three remain in the gun, and the five expended ones are well-nigh impossible to replace in the rifle. In action, soldiers simply released and ejected partially-emptied clips and reloaded with full ones in an attempt to keep full effectiveness as long as they could. In some outfits it was customary to empty the rifle — blazing away the remaining cartridges — after the sixth round was fired. It is of course easier and faster to empty the rifle by firing than by stopping to use two hands to hold the bolt back and press the clip release. Infantry fighting is not always correctly pictured, and a lot of people have very little understanding of some phases. Often it was almost man-to-man scale on a life and death basis game of hide-and-seek. In jungle warfare visibility usually was limited and sound played an important part. Japs on Guadalcanal learned that the “ping” of an ejecting M1 clip meant a momentarily-empty rifle and American infantrymen died because of it. Aberdeen was in a slight furor for awhile, trying to silence the noise, make plastic clips, etc.

Probably in Europe such ammunition and loading troubles were not so important, for conditions were different and supplies more plentiful and accessible. The boys could burn out a clip whenever they saw something move, and have another always handy. In the Pacific a lot of the island fighting was in patrol activity where combat conditions could be likened to nothing except big-game hunting — with the game liable to shoot first. Engagements were often short skirmishes or ambushes — exchanges of a few shots, where rifles were used to back up automatic weapons, reversing the usual roles of the weapons. Against a number of scattered, camouflaged targets the Thompsons and BARs were uneconomical, but they could drive the enemy to cover or make him reveal himself getting cover, to be eliminated by riflemen. Where automatic arms in numbers existed, it was of course possible to simply spray the landscape with bullets and relegate the rifle to mopping up on running Nips, or distant shots.

The weight of the blasted rifle got me down — 10 pounds is about two and a half too much for an army rifle if the soldier is to carry it under his own power. Gun writers are always harping on the subject of keeping hunting rifles light in weight, but nobody ever seems to worry about the infantry rifle avoirdupois. The average deer hunter lives a life of ease compared to a combat soldier, yet he wants seven-pound rifles and would be aghast at the thought of going out wearing heavy boots, a three-pound hat, a belt loaded with assorted pouches and 80 rounds of ammunition, and probably a 30-pound pack.


The Garand’s sights and stock are in my opinion better than those on any other standard military rifle in existence. One of its best points is that it is very easy to teach a man to shoot with; far easier than with the 1903 Springfield.


Garands did not like the desert, but no other arms did either.


In the Pacific islands it was naturally necessary to keep the sand out of M1’s around the beaches, but inshore in the jungles and mountains they did OK.

They never really learned how to use what they had anyway

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Dunlap periodically dips back into the alleged topic of his book:

The 1930’s were a period of great research in small arms all over the world, resulting in the U. S. of the adoption of the M1 or Garand rifle; in Germany of the Walther development of the double-action pistol and of the Spandau or roller-bearing machine gun bolt locking by the rotating collar systems; in Italy of the Breda machine guns and Beretta pistols; in England of the Mk. IV or No. 4 rifle and the Bren gun; and in Japan of their gas-operated machine weapons and their 7.7mm rifles.


Where [the Japanese] cut their own throats on small arms was when they allowed their national poverty to influence them. They would make good ammunition, and pack it in flimsy crates, which dissolved under rough transportation and bad weather. They made fair ammunition, but tried to avoid waterproofing it, so a lot of it went bad in the jungle, as happened often with grenades and mortar shells. The brass in their small-arms ammunition was poor, and in my opinion is the reason why they had a different case for machine guns than for rifles.


As a Mauser military bolt-action, the Japanese Model 38 modification is one of the very best. The Nips improved a good many features of the original German bolt system, incorporating some ideas not found in any other arm. The bolt stop, for instance, does not contact and batter the rear of the left locking lug, as in other Mausers, including Springfields and Enfields. A second small lug is located directly behind the locking lug (11/16″ between rear surfaces) and this contacts the bolt stop.


The ejector cut in the Arisaka’s left locking lug is angled so that it does not touch the rear surface therefore the full area of the lug remains unmarred, making for theoretically better locking and wear, since there are no grooves or burrs to carry grit or dirt into the locking recesses and cause undue wear.


The Arisaka locking lugs are set back from the face of the bolt and rounded on their leading edges. As in the Mauser 98 bolt, this location is a claimed advantage in that the lugs being well back from the bolt face, they are less liable to break or crack diagonally from the face of bolt to rear of lugs.


The design of bolt mechanism prevents rearward escape of gas, giving almost positive safety to the eyes and face.


The bolt has the fastest and easiest takedown of any rifle yet encountered.


Firing pin, striker and cocking piece are combined in one part, hollowed to receive the mainspring inside it. This principle is familiar in machine guns and other automatic weapons, but not seen in bolt rifles very often.


Unless the rifle is rusted or otherwise out of good condition, it is possible to set and unset the safety by a simple rotating motion of the ball of the right thumb, and it can be operated in complete silence. I am inclined to give the Japs the blue ribbon on this feature, feeling it is the best safety of any military rifle in accessibility, reliability and ease of operation.


When the Pacific jungle fighting proved that leather was poor stuff, they were ready with a really good substitute, rubberized canvas. Not only rifle and light machine gun slings were made of this material, but also belts, cartridge pouches, bayonet scabbard frogs and at the last, pistol holsters. Water, mold, mildew, bugs — nothing bothered the stuff.


The famous Japanese no-smoke, no-flash sniper cartridge was their ordinary 6.5mm reduced charge, consisting of a pointed 137-grain cupro-nickel or gilding-metal jacketed bullet, pushed by a scant 30.0 grains of flake nitro-cellulose powder, which appears and acts very similar to that used in the German service cartridge.


In the ordinary cartridge, either reduced or full load, the flash was practically eliminated by the long barrels which completely burned the powder of the charge. I know from experience that it was just about impossible to spot any smoke from a shot, even in pretty good light.


The flake type of powder is a little less inclined to smoke than our own tubular-grain types, but most of the “smoke” from a modern rifle is really vapor caused from the meeting of the gases with colder air. In warm air, or especially in warm dry air, the smoke of any firearm is decreased appreciably.


Now for the Model 94 (1934) pistol! Here the Japs got even for their good work on the preceding handguns; this is the only thing the Japs made that is as bad as the backslapping saps in this country said everything Japanese was. It does not have a single redeeming feature and is a good example of how a pistol should not be made.


The little-known Japanese officer’s pistol, the 7mm Nambu, was a beautifully made junior-size true Nambu, with grip safety, the one off-set recoil spring, and the same locking system. The 7mm was originally intended to be an officer’s weapon, and the 8mm to be the enlisted men’s sidearm. This idea was too silly to last long even among the medieval-minded samurai worshippers, so did not get far.


For practical field use in close-up infantry fighting such as went on in the jungles and mountains of the Pacific war where both sides could not park very long at any one spot because of mortar use, the Japanese machine gun was not so good. The gun itself weighed 61 pounds and the tripod 61 more — a total of 122 pounds which is about 90 too much, and is undoubtedly the reason the Japs liked to get our 1919A4 Brownings, weighing only 30 pounds and which one man could carry over his shoulder like a rifle.


During the war the Japanese developed several nice items in the weapon line but did not get production on any of them to amount to anything. By the time they were able to build first-class equipment the B-29’s were over Japan and they could not even protect their factories. By the time they were able to build good enough antiaircraft guns and fighter planes to combat the bombers, there was not much left to protect or build them with. They never really learned how to use what they had anyway.

The ride through the Japanese capital was both interesting and instructive

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

The ride through the Japanese capital was both interesting and instructive, Dunlap found, as “our fire bombs had burned three-quarters of the city”:

In fact, just about everything inflammable was destroyed. Very little high explosive had been dropped on the city itself, so all the roads and bridges were in use, most of them completely undamaged.


Ruined lathes and other machines stood deserted, evidence of the effectiveness of strategic bombing.


Not so many had the horn-rimmed spectacles of the propaganda boys and the cartoonists, but some did. A few looked more Caucasian than Oriental, and I saw quite a few with rosy complexions, with no sign of yellow. The “yellow” business is overworked of course. A proportion of Chinese and Japanese have yellowish coloring, but most are just brown. We got a kick out of the color scheme, for we, the whites, were darker than the Japs and a lot of us had atabrine tans making us as yellow as the yellowest!


The kids were just kids. They enjoyed the parade and laughed and waved. After awhile some of the men began to wave back. Regardless of color or race, kids have the same ideas and do not have any “nationality” politically. You cannot get mad at a grinning sprout who thinks soldiers are swell and candy even better, even if you have been trying to catch his big brother or his old man in the sights of a gun for a couple of years.


Samurai style swords were in fair demand, although not as popular as pistols. We had only a few good ones (older blades, property of private officers, probably), most being army issue type, with metal handles.


Legitimate old swords have long handles, about 12″, and the scabbard will always be of wood, covered with leather. The handles, whether decorated or not, have wooden bases, formed of two pieces, inletted to accept the tang of the blade and held on with just a wooden peg or pin. Usually the name of the sword maker, date, name of owner, etc. is written on a piece of paper under one of these wooden handle halves. Not always, but it was the old custom to do so. The blades of swords were of course beautiful.


A few explosive bombs had been used against the modern buildings, without too much success. Tokyo’s recent buildings were of the earthquake-resistant architecture and therefore could take a beating.


A pretty good deal, as the yen was valued at 62/3¢ — 15 to the dollar.


I saw sailors doing a brisk business in cigarettes and candy, at terrific prices. The Japs had had no place to spend their money and were crazy to get sweets or good tobacco, or food. During the war their civilian ration of sugar had been about one tablespoon per month. Despite their low pay rates, they were paying as high as 30 yen ($2.00) for a pack of cigarettes and about the same for chocolate bars.


Japanese police guarded the palace and directed traffic on most busy corners. All wore blue uniforms and carried their little dress swords, symbols of their authority to the Japanese. The swords were a straight, unsharpened ceremonial type, with knuckle-guards like a saber, comparable to our “lodge” swords, though smaller. In no case did they have the old short fighting sword, which resembles the two-handed samurai long weapons.

Getting home and out of the army meant the real end of the war

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

The end of the war in Europe meant that Dunlap’s division in the Philippines would be greatly strengthened — to invade Japan:

The war was picking up, even though the replacements got younger and dumber.

Then Japan surrendered, and the men didn’t feel much emotion about it:

No one thought of celebrating much because we knew it would be months before we would get home and to us getting home and out of the army meant the real end of the war.


The point system was in full swing and a third of the “old men” were gone by the middle of August. I was shy two points, so had to stay. The cavalry was throwing Purple Hearts and Bronze Stars around promiscuously, to give most of their combat men a chance to get enough points to get home before the division left the Philippines. I was now sorry I had not collected a Bronze Star on that last flying column deal. That southern Luzon trip was a sore point with those of us who had been on the contact party with the expedition, for every man who went on it — except us — got the award. Even the guy who brought our mail up to us after we had been on the road a week got one! Of course we did not do anything to deserve any kind of medal, but neither did anybody else on that excursion. Five points was five points. Bronze Stars meant less and less as the war went on, and by the end they had far less value among the soldiers than the Combat Infantryman badge. Company clerks got them for keeping the typewriters clean; or getting fresh eggs for the captain. All officers gave them to themselves; every officer I knew of had one. That is no exaggeration.

Make the top sergeants act as bartenders

Monday, May 6th, 2019

Dunlap’s finally settled in a former government experimental station for coconut prodcuts, in southern Luzon, with an officer’s club and an NCO club, which was open to anyone:

By putting the liquor on a military basis and making the technical sergeants — and the top sergeants — act as bartenders everything was kept under a fairly sensible schedule. Prices were lower than in the native joints, we had ice, electric lights, and it was not necessary to worry about the next day, for individual capacities were known and watched.

Buildings lost either way

Sunday, May 5th, 2019

Dunlap saw Manila burn — for weeks:

What the Japanese could not burn, they holed up in, so we blasted them out. Buildings lost either way — either the Japs fired or demolished them or we blew them apart dislodging Nips.


A lot of naval depth charges were used for both demolition and antitank mines, and what happens to a Sherman tank when it runs up against that much TNT in one package is a caution.

Then they moved on:

Two of my old squad in the MP’s were killed in the city, and several other MP’s as well. They were practically a reconnaissance outfit by now, under a new officer who wanted to see the war first-hand at all times (he eventually went home with a hole in him, and the boys went back to regular schedule, on which they had a better than 50-50 chance of finishing the war).


I feel us rear-echelon men should be better taken care of. Rifle bullets I can take or leave, if necessary; bombs don’t bother me too much; planes I did not worry about; but artillery is unpopular.


Our trouble started when some dim-witted Air Corps colonel parked his personal B-25 (not a bomber, but an aerial limousine) right in front of us, not 50 yards from my tent. It was mirror-shiny and could be seen 30 miles, let alone three. Naturally the Nips could not pass it up, so they threw three or four shells at it about 10 o’clock that night. Luckily, all went over both the plane and us.


When my company left Alabang and headed south to keep in touch with the troops we began to see for the first time towns destroyed by the war. I say the war, and exclude Manila because these towns and small cities had been burned before our invasion, and not specifically because of it. Southern Luzon is covered with these ruins, as about nine out of 10 towns are gone. Nearly all had been burned because of the guerrilla movement. If the town was big enough to be strategically important, the Japs put a garrison in it and the Filipino guerrillas destroyed it to get rid of the Japs; if the town was small, the guerrillas moved in and the Japs burned it to get them out. The community lost either way. These were not jungle villages, but semimodern cities up to 40,000 in prewar population.


The boys made quite a haul in loot, in an indirect way, here. There were many diamonds in the ruins of the church, from the rings and earrings of the murdered Filipino women, and by going through the ashes in one of the rooms it was possible to find them. Unfortunately for me, I did not find out about it until it was cleaned out. After the company moved up, it was a common pastime to go through the ashes of some of the destroyed homes and find coins. Evidently there had been forgotten hoards in a lot of houses, for the boys found Spanish coins dating as far back as the 17th century.