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Camp 6

 Summary of the locations of Camp Six

  • The Camp Six training camp opened September, 1944, at Hwaan (now Huafeng) [lat. 25-01, long. 117-31], Fukien (now Fujian) Province

  • The Camp Six Intelligence facility opened September, 1944, in Changchow (now Zhangzhou) [lat. 24-31, long. 117-39], Fukien Province

In early September, 1944, Camp Six opened two sites in Fukien (now Fujian) Province.  The training area was at Hwaan (now Huafeng) [lat. 25-01, long. 117-31], up the Nine Dragons River, or Chiu Lung Kiang,  (now Jiulong), 50 miles northwest of Amoy (now Xiamen), in Fukien (now Fujian) Province.  The second site was an intelligence hub that occupied American-styled houses in Changchow (now Zhangzhou) [lat. 24-31, long. 117-39], 35 miles south of Hwaan and 25 miles west of Amoy.

Camps Six, Seven, and Eight were placed to exert control over the harbors and other strategic key points along the east coast of China from Swatow (now Shantou) in the south to Hangchow Bay (now Hangzhou Wan) in the north.

The operating area for Unit Six extended from Swatow northeasterly to a point half-way between Amoy and Foochow (now Fuzhou); a distance of 190 miles.

Camp Six controlled Coast Watcher Net #4.  Of special interest was the harbor of Amoy, located on the west side of the island; it was “one of the very best harbors on the coast of China” (Miles, 1967, p 67).

For the first month the Americans of Camp Six were quartered in a small village about one mile from Hwaan.  They lived on the second floor of a house; the first floor was occupied by several Chinese families and an accumulation of pigs, ducks, and chickens.

Lieutenant S.I. Morris, an architect as a civilian, designed the Hwaan complex and was the first commander of Unit Six; LT Carl W. Divelbiss was the first executive officer.  The day after moving to the new quarters LT Morris was relieved by LCDR William J. Birthright.

On October 18, Camp Six-at-Hawaan opened.  It was a Chinese temple remodeled to include offices, sick bay, armory, radio shack, mess hall and galley.  Nearby a U-shaped building became the living quarters.

To the south was a view of the picturesque valley of the Nine Dragons River and to the north the Pistol and rifle ranges were an easy walking distance.  The DF (direction finder) was a long walk from camp.  It was alleged that the operator was concerned about a prowler at the DF shack until the Chinese corporal of the guard proved that the intruder was only a ghost.

The site was isolated with no neighbors within a quarter of a mile.  The camp had the appearance of a mountain resort; there was even a nearby sandy beach which was used as an open-air bath house until the completion of a building that housed the officer’s head and showers for the officers and enlisted men.

A system of bamboo pipes was engineered to bring to the camp water which then was filtered through sand and could be heated, in gasoline drums, for the showers.  There was sufficient water to operate a sanitary meat-packing operation that included a cool-room in which to hang and age meat.  Bos’n H. R. Duncan and Pharmate J. F. Simon were accomplished butchers: steaks, chops, and roasts graced the table.

The men held tournaments in volleyball, ping pong, and cribbage.  There was serious talk of building a still that could convert bijou to bourbon.  Lieutenant E. H. “Ernie” Coleman, who ran sick bay, found an upright piano for camp and then wrote the music to May yo gwanchi (meaning “never mind”).  The original words were by LTJG M. R. “Mac” Lovell, Jr, LCDR R. “Bob” Halparin, and LT G. G. “Andy” Andreasen.

"May-yo gwanchi dung-e-dung","Ma ma fu fu wo boo doong".

That s what they say in Shang-hai.

 "How boo how and quay de en", "Wo ai nee and Swey bi-en".

You'll get the drift by and by.

"Wo ai nee" means I love you. Say it sweet and low.

If she tells you "qua qua Joe", that s all you need to know.

Should she answer "wo boo yow" Take your hat and leave her now.

"May-yo gwanchi dung-e-dung","Ma ma fu fu wo boo doong".

 

[The Camp six verse claimed no author(s)]

 

“May yo gwanchi”, “dung e dung”, “ma-ma fu-fu”, “wo boo doong”,

That’s what they say in Hwa-an.

“How boo how” and “quai de en”, “Jug-guh, jug-guh”, “swey bi-en”,

So goes the war with Japan.

Not so very long ago, I was clean and pure.

Now I live on chow that grows in honey pot manure.

Doing things the SACO way, rates per-diem day by day.

“May yo gwanchi”, “dung e dung”, “ma-ma fu-fu”, “wo boo doong”.

 

And the favorite party song was Old MacDonald had a farm that in Chinese became Sang Lao Shen Shung Ta Yo Tien.

Classes in .45 caliber automatic and aircraft and ship identification started at Hwaan on September 8; not only had weapons and ammunition not arrived but the rifle and pistol ranges were not completed.  One thousand students completed the work and an additional 500 were taught map reading.  By mid-October, 1944, the program expanded to include the .38 caliber revolver, carbine, Thompson sub-machine gun, musketry, the grenade, demolition, scouting and patrolling, and first aid.

Mineral spirits normally were not available and weapons were maintained with vegetable oil which molded.  Guns had to be cleaned at least weekly or else the mold would clog the barrel and seize the mechanisms.

Camp Six-at-Hwaan never had more than eight officers and averaged only 20 Americans.  By the first quarter of 1945, six student classes and two officer classes had been completed and weapons issued to 2,052 Chinese.  Select men were trained in the Lewis Automatic Machine gun.

Unit Six also trained Chinese for laying mines in coastal waters.  The Japanese transports steamed close to shore to avoid the Allied submarines.  In April, ENS “Matty” Mattmiller taught swimming in the Nine Dragons River and then underwater demolition to the best swimmers.  As sort of a graduation exercise they went to Amoy Harbor and on May 7 sank a 1,000 ton freighter.  The training programs ended in June 1945; the last class consisted of 80 colorful Chinese pirates.

In July, 1944, COMO Miles had visited Changchow; he always was on the lookout for suitable sites for base camps.

[W]e reached the city and were able to rent some houses from Talmadge College.  Our excuse for renting them was that they were to be used by “visitors interested in the National Youth Group.”  We were actually planning to put an intelligence net headquarters there but our boys were mostly young enough, I thought, to fit this “advance billing,” and nearby was a very good site for our proposed Camp Six. (Miles, 1967, p 257)

On October 8, 1944, LT Divelbiss moved from Hwaan to Changchow to be the officer-in-charge of the Intelligence operations.  The unit took over the rented buildings on the Talmadge College campus.  The enlisted men were in a dormitory-like structure and the officers occupied a house. The former residence of the college president became sick bay and supply.

In March, 1945, the  Changchow intelligence unit – its duties included the oversight of Coast Watcher Net #4 – became part of  ComNavChEC (Commander, Naval Group China Eastern Command) and was separated from Unit Six command.

On March 22, 1945, a navy privateer airplane on a bombing mission was downed in Amoy harbor.  Don Bell, a noted radio announcer and war correspondent, was among the seven survivors.  They were saved by friendly pirates and smuggled through Japanese lines to Changchow.  Instead of reporting the facts of the daring escape, Mr. Bell announced that he had been rescued by fishermen.

In February, 1945, LT Dick A. Plank, Gunner's Mates Danny West (1st c), and A. M. “Ski” Wachoski (2nd c) set up the Unit Six demolition unit across the river from and southwest of Changchow.  They occupied large a U-shaped compound.  Across the front of a courtyard was a wall and gate. The sides of the “U” were one-story rooms used by service personnel and storage.  The end portion was two-stories and included large dining room, galley, quarters for the Americans, and a workshop.

During the month of April they built mines out of 55 gallon gasoline drums filled two-thirds full with 250 pounds of TNT each.  Granular TNT was melted in a wok over an open flame and poured into the drums where it solidified.  Periodically the cooking TNT caught fire and had to be extinguished by tossing on a blanket.  LTJG C. S. Robinson built switches out of short pieces of glass tubing with the ends melted shut to form a sealed capsule containing several drops of mercury and two wires at one end.  The mines were to be laid with the empty end down and moored by heavy chain.  If they broke loose they would flip over, the mercury in the capsule would move to the wires and close the circuit for the blasting cap and they would self destruct.  There was an international treaty against floating mines.

On May 20, LT Plank’s crew boarded a sea-going junk and played hide-and-seek with Japanese patrol craft for several hours in the coastal waters north of Amoy.  They laid 10 mines at 600 foot intervals across the normal shipping lanes; water depth was 15 fathoms.

At the end of June, 1945, the Japanese evacuated Quemoy (now Kinmen) and Amoy Islands and headed for Swatow, 120 miles to the southwest.

      This was welcome news but I found it hard to believe.  No knowledgeable Navy man would prefer Swatow to Amoy, for the place had a silt-filled, shifting harbor channel which was troubled by swift currents and offered poor holding ground for anchored ships. (Miles, 1967, p 501)

An estimated 3,700 Japanese troops along with 100 horses and heavy field pieces were preceded by several hundred plain clothes men.  They had been denied the maritime route by Allied command of the air and of the sea lanes.  For three weeks the Chinese 75th Division and groups of Home Guards along with a few Americans from Unit Six and LT J. A. Meyertholen (he was commander of Intelligence Net #4 in Changchow and officially “separated” from Unit Six) waylaid, attacked, and delayed the Japanese.  Air support was provided by navy planes from the Philippines and Okinawa; the pilots received targets by voice contact from the grounded Americans.

Scattered units of our own varied troops waylaid the Japanese from every angle, ahead and behind.  Sometimes our Chinese mingled, as if by accident, with the leading plainclothesmen of the Japanese and, in view of the limited radio communication that was available to our men, it was remarkable how successful our planes were in not strafing our own men.  They would buzz for targets and then, in plain language, report for confirmation.

 “I saw green uniforms and horses,” some pilot would say. “Friend or enemy?”

 “Enemy,” Big Joe Meyertholen would reply. “We don’t have any horses.”

The plane would drop its bomb or complete a strafing run and, as it headed back for “home,” would be likely to report “Two good runs.”                     

 

Throughout the fighting, reports were sent to us at headquarters at frequent intervals and, as General Tai sat tensely listening, he often showed his excitement and surprise.

 “But these combined troops,” he said, “these Chinese with a few Americans—are acting like Americans.  They are making their own decisions and then they notify headquarters what they have done instead of asking for constant directions!” (Miles, 1967, p 503)

The Japanese casualties were estimated to be 1,500 killed or wounded; they had burned their dead which made an accurate count impossible.

When Japan sued for peace in mid-August, Unit Six, Chinese and Americans together, landed on Amoy Island and went straight to the Japanese headquarters at the Sea View Hotel.  The national flags of China and the United States as well the SACO “What-the-Hell?” pennant were raised.  No shots were fired.

Don Bell, the correspondent who had been rescued by Unit Six, took that opportunity to formally thank them; he sent 27 cases of beer to the Sea View Hotel.

 

Cited reference:

      Miles, M. E., 1967, A Different Kind of War, Doubleday & Co, Garden City, NY. 629 p.

 

Provided courtesy of Charles H. Miles on November 20, 2010

 

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