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Recorded November 2022
November 6, 2022:
A letter from Arnold R. Monsrud of Roseau was published in the October 18, 1945, issue of the Roseau Times-Region. I’ll read what was published under the heading “Roseau Navy Man tells of Nippon Landing”.
An interesting letter was written by Arnold R. Monsrud, MOMM3/C to his folks here under the dating of September 25, at 8 PM. We have been given permission to use it, and because it is of such great interest, we are happy to reprint it:
“Today is the 24th at home, and Tess’s birthday, and has become the date that I’ll always remember as when I first put foot in Japan. Yep, I did it and it was a thrill, too, but I guess it would have been more so if this war hadn’t ended and we had gone in under fire. We were scheduled to go in on this very beach in October if the war hadn’t ended.
Guess I had better start at the beginning and tell you how it all went. It was all identical to a full war-time landing, except for the fireworks.
We got up at 6 this morning with the mountainous shore of Japan in sight. At about 8:30 we sailed up to the beach under the cover of battleships, destroyers, and planes. We were the fourth LST to make a landing but were preceded by small boats discharging infantry from APAs (troopships). The small boats grounded short of the shore and the infantry waded to land. They formed into companies and marched down the beach and to their camping areas. They were in full battle dress, with full field pack and all, and were prepared in case there should be any shooting.
A big number of LSTs went in shortly after the infantry began landing and started unloading in a hurry. Trucks, jeeps, tanks, mobile guns, cannons, ambulances, bulldozers, tractors, road graders, etc., rolled out onto the beach and in an hour, there was nothing but vehicles and men as far as one could see. I never dreamed that so much stuff could unload in such a hurry.
The beach was soft, and the going was tough. Everything was getting stuck and the bulldozers were more than busy pulling and pushing stuff through. I’m afraid that this would have been a tough invasion under fire as things were congested and it was impossible to move things very fast. Everything on the beach would have been exposed to the big guns in the hills and there is no question but that the casualties would have been heavy.
By mid-afternoon, we had unloaded our 300 troops and their equipment. Most of the other ships were unloaded by then, too, but we had to wait for high tide at 7 this evening to back off the beach. You see, we landed on the beach – that is, ram the ship bow first as far as we can go toward land at high tide. Then the tide goes out and we are left sitting right on the bottom while we unload. When the tide comes in again we float quickly, being of a lot less weight, and it’s no trouble to back off and get back into deep water. As soon as we pulled away from the beach tonight, ships went in and took our place. Then tomorrow morning these will pull off and more will go in to replace them. This will go on for several days until all ships are unloaded.
This is a very large operation. There are about seventy LSTs, about the same number of LSMs (landing ship medium), and a lot of troopships to unload. About 100,000 troops will land with complete battle equipment, so you can imagine the size of this occupation. There is so much to it that I can’t describe it in detail, but I think I have given you the highlights of it.
Large factories, mostly steel mills, are all around right down to the water’s edge. They have been bombed and partially burned, but are for the most part still standing. There are dozens of tall, round brick chimneys about 150 feet high still standing, although cracked from bomb blasts. The Japanese have as modern-looking factories as I’ve seen anywhere.
This morning Japanese civilians were visible among the scattered trees a ways off the beach. By noon they were closer, and this afternoon they were standing all over the beach getting a big eyeful of the landings. I’m sure they must really feel ‘so sorry’ now. They are very docile and quick to smile and I’m quite sure they are thoroughly licked.
No women showed up because ‘the Americans are beasts and will attack them,’ but it won’t take them long to find out the truth, and they take up leading a normal life. The kids were afraid at first, but after some gum and candy, they became a nuisance. I didn’t have much time to spend ashore, but I had a few minutes to get some pictures. I took one of two Japanese soldiers with an interpreter, and they were pleased to pose.
Some of the boys went to Wokayama, which is about six miles away. They said that there was a lot to see, but they felt uneasy being among the Japanese. However, the Japanese were very nice to them and acted very whipped. Just the same there may be some fanatics around. In a couple of days, everything will be well policed and then possibly we will get liberty so we can go ashore and see a little more of Japan while we have the chance.
All the ships broke out new flags today of extra large size. Ordinarily, the ships’ flags aren’t so very big, but today the Stars and Stripes were certainly showing.
Newsreel men and newspaper reporters covered the doings and our ship was photographed. Maybe you will see it in the pictures or may read of it in the newspapers. Be sure and save me all the clippings regarding these landings in this area, as they will be of special interest to me.
You may get to see the newsreel B, and if you do, the ships near us were (all LSTs) 877 to our right, 1104, 874, and 863 to the left in that order. Of course from the beach, the 877 would be to the left, and so on. The numbers might help in spotting my ship.
Mentioning Okinawa reminds me that we got a battle star for our twenty-some days and sleepless nights of air raids there. I don’t ever want any more stars – a lot of the fellows can tell you that better than I.
It’s cool here – in fact cold, but I like it. It reminds me of good old Minnesota weather. For the first time in months, we have to sleep under blankets. Ordinarily, we used to sweat most all night long and our bedding would be wet in the morning. The Philippines and that territory are surely hot.
I don’t know where to next, but if we don’t go after more stuff from here, it will be for troops going to the States. I hope it will be the States and I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I know we will get there this year, but I hope to see you all by March. “
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