I got my first good look at the southwest shoreline of Kyushu. The stretch just north of Ariake Bay could be called rugged, but the stretch north of that, closer to Miyazaki, defies English adverbs. Scandinavian languages may have a word for the shape of the coast, as it looks something like postcard pictures of Norwegian fjords. Deep parallel ravines cut into a long giant ridge, some of them carrying sizable rivers. A couple of the rivers have laid a small delta plain at the ocean edge, to which small towns cling, perilously close to falling into the ocean.
American troops have been trying to jump across some of these ravines for weeks, and their smaller nooks held suicide attack boats that took out the heavy cruiser Guam early on. My transport gave the coast plenty of space, allowing a pair of patrolling destroyers and their team of smaller boats plenty of room to work.
We unloaded at the middle of a long pier in the well functioning harbor of Miyazaki. We had to wait for a line of tanks to rush down the busy pier. At the end a ship was letting them off directly to drive one at a time to the shore. These were our new model of heavy tank*, much bigger than the Sherman. I had only seen it before on promotional tours in the States.
After the tanks were on their way, the pedestrians with me walked toward the shore. I walked the other way, right to the ship which had just let out the new tanks. Seamen were stowing rigging and getting ready to put up their ramp and get the lightened vessel ready to leave. I bothered a pair of them for a minute with standard questions about their ship.
Then I asked what they thought of that new tank. The sailors looked at each other quizzically for a moment, then one of them decided he had an answer. “I’ll tell you what I think of that tank – it had better be good.” Seaman Second Class Duane Surber re-hung the chain he was stowing and pointed up into the hold. “Those things are so big, we can’t quite get four of them across on the main deck. We could squeeze Shermans in five wide. We can’t carry barely half as many, and now we have to go all the way back to Manila to get more.” A big dent in the right bow door illustrated his next point, “That long ass gun is a problem, too.” My question answered I let them get back to work and made my way through the city.
[ The M26 Pershing tank had better armor and a bigger gun than the M4 Sherman. It was also slower, burned more fuel, weighed 30,000 lb more, and was three feet wider than the venerable adaptable Sherman.]