April 23, 2020

PHOTO: Pass in Review and Airdrop at Lipa Airstrip, June 1945

11th Airborne Division show at Lipa Airstrip, 1945. Photo credit:  US National Archives.
11th Airborne Division show at Lipa Airstrip, 1945. Photo credit:  US National Archives.
By June 1945, the Japanese occupation in Batangas was over and done with. Forces of the Japanese Imperial Army had been pushed up north. Meanwhile, the 11th Airborne Division, nicknamed the “Angels,” which had been instrumental in the liberation of Batangas, was encamped in Lipa for much needed rest and recreation before operations in Aparri and then shipping out to Okinawa.

In June, the Angels staged at least two pass in reviews at the Lipa Airstrip, and the photo above1 of the airdrop above the concrete tarmac was probably during the first, described in detail by Major Edward Flanagan in a book below:
The late General Joseph W. Stilwell — Vinegar Joe of Burma fame — visited the Division at Lipa on 9 June 1945 and a review was held in his honor. It was one of the most spectacular that we had staged so far. Lipa Strip made a perfect area for a review without any crowding. Just as the command "Pass in review" was given, nine C-46s came over and dropped 324 paratroopers on the field directly behind the troops. The air was saturated with jumpers — a double stick of eighteen men from each plane. Then the paratroopers assembled and passed in review behind the Division. The air fleet of Division Artillery, not to be outdone, came by an “a” column of Vs. The nine L-4s and two L-5s followed the C-46s and each dropped a man on the field. Then came the gliders cut loose over the reviewing stand. They landed on the east side of the runway, close to the troops, and discharged a battery of artillery which passed in review at the end of the column. During the ceremony General Stilwell presented decorations to men selected from each unit of the Division. We held another review on 19 June for Lieutenant General Oscar W. Griswold, XIV Corps commander, under whose command the Division proudly served during most of the Luzon campaign.2
The above photo has been downloaded from the United States National Archives, cropped and reduced in size to 2000 x 1553 pixels for quicker download over lower bandwidths. It has been processed using graphics editing software to improve overall quality.

Its original caption at the United States National Archives is:

“AIRBORNE SHOW. Airborne review of the 11th Airborne Division in Luzon. Show was part of an award ceremony during which men of the divison were decorated for their part in the Philippine Campaign. 1945.”



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Notes and references:
1 The photo was downloaded from the United States National Archives.
2 “The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division 1943-1946,” by Major Edward M. Flanagan Jr., published 1948 in Washington.

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