Carl Thien passed away February 27, 2007
Carl R. Thien was born in New York, and retired to
Florida. He is the grandfather of Justin Taylan, creator of PacificWrecks.com. During the war, he served as a combat photographer
with the 201st CIC Corps which served in Australia, New Guinea and the
Philippines. Thien shares some of his recollections about New Guinea.
Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea
Thien participated in the combat landing during Operation Reckless at Hollandia on April 22, 1944.
The next day a few of us went ahead of the main party
and got to the shores of Lake Sentani where an area was chosen for I
Corps advanced Command Post. Some natives were recruited by Dee Paulus
and Sgt. Kambi to clear the area before the main body would arrive.
When we went back along the road to find the main body, it was decided
to try to make the Lake before dark and just hunker down till the camp
could be set up the following day.
As the chosen camp area was under a thick
grove of coconut trees, it was hard to spot from the air, and allowed
us a night of relative quiet except for the sound of "washing machine
Charley" flying through the night to search us out.
The camp area had been the home of a Dutch
planter and had a small bungalow near the shore of the Lake. This building,
with a large amount of cleaning made an ideal quarters for Eichleberger
and a few of his personal staff. Trails from the camp led in several
directions, including the main trail to the Jap-built airport designated
The day after we arrived, a crew of hundreds
of natives came into camp and started to cut underbrush and clear the
ground of debris left by the Japanese. A few bodies were buried and
abandoned supplies were distributed to the natives who helped in the
cleanup. Drums of gasoline were used by our motor pools, and bags of
rice were given to the natives. CIC was charged with examining all supply
dumps to look for booby traps, which led to our stocking up on Sakai,
crabmeat and coffee.
Japanese Radar Dish
Cook got a report from G-2 that an infantry unit had found what
they thought was a Japanese Radar unit on a hill overlooking Tanamerah
Bay. We went back down to the beach and finally up in the hills to find
the unit. It did indeed look like a portable Radar, so we picked it
up and brought it back to Headquarters. After careful examination by
some scientific types it was concluded that this was indeed, a Radar
set, but the lack of sophistication of the unit seemed to show that
Japanese research still had a long way to go before reaching the capability
of the American system.
Island Odyssey page 45-46
"[Captain] Cook got a report from G-2 that an infantry unit had found
what they thought was a Japanese radar unit on a hill overlooking Tanamerah
Bay. We went back down to the beach and finally up to the hiss to find the
unit. It did indeed look like a portable radar, so we picked it up and brought
back to Headquarters. After careful examination by some scientific types it
was conculded that this was indeed, a radar set, but the lack of sophistication
of the unit seemed to show that the Japanese research still had a long way
to go before reaching the capability of the American system."
Next, Thien participated in the battle on Biak Island, and a recon mission to Noemfoor Island. Then, returned to Hollandia for rest & recuperation prior to the Liberation on the Philippines.
PT 193 Mission to Noemfoor
Thien volunteered for a night mission aboard PT 193 to locate friendly islanders on the island, to assist American
forces in the upcoming invasion. After successfully completing the mission,
the PT Boat engaged three Japanese barges, setting them on fire and
sinking them, before becoming caught on a reef. The boat was scuttled
and the crew transferred to PT 331.
B-24 Crash at Hollandia
"One day, returning from a ride in an A-20, I was passing
a fuel dump near the airport when [B-24D 42-72954] returning from a bombing run,
was unable to reach the Sentani strip and crashed into hundreds of empty
fuel drums. A few other nearby soldiers went into the dump to do what
we could to help the downed flyers. Some of the empty drums were exploding,
and others were starting to burn, but we could see the flyers trying
to get out of the plane. We managed to bring three of them to the edge
of the dump before a regular crash crew arrived and got the rest out. Several had been wounded before the crash,
and couple more were badly hurt when when the plane grounded. The B-24
was still repairable after it was dragged out of the area and back to
the airstrip, and we saw it the next week being worked on. We heard
that most of the crew survived even though being severely wounded."
Thien landed at Lingayen Gulf on January 9, 1945 at San Fabian. His unit advanced to Rosales, where he was based for most of the war, going on missions around San Manuel and Villa Verde Trail. He participated in the liberation of Santo Thomas University and battle of Manila.
Destroyed Japanese 2nd Tank Division Luzon
One of Thien's missions was to photograph destroyed Japanese tanks immediately after they were knocked out of action. [Tank Photos]