June 1943 (2)

The jungle of New Georgia

The jungle of New Georgia

On New Georgia there were no trails or roads.  When a passage was cut, a company-size unit of men would turn the footing into a sea of mud.  The only large, flat area was a former copra plantation around the Munda airfield.  Charts were another problem.  They were pre-WWII and some dated back to the German Admiralty of the 1890’s.

solomon_islands_allied

21-30 June – Operation Toenails began with air and naval bombardments on Japanese land positions.  The waters were mined to prevent the enemy from bringing in reinforcements.  Col. Michael Currin’s Raiders of the 4th Marines landed first and then were relieved by 2 other infantry companies.  Sergi Point was taken and they began heading toward Viru Harbor, going through the thick Kunai grass filled with enemy snipers.  Sgt. Anthony Coulis, of P Company, remembered hacking at the grass for 12 exhausting hours to go 7 miles, “How I lived through that day, I’ll never know.”

Viru Harbor

Viru Harbor

More US troops landed at Viru and pushed the enemy back from their defensive positions.  As they headed into the jungle, they moved going in the exact direction of the Raiders.  By the 30th, the US 43rd Division took the island of Rendova, within artillery range of New Georgia, making it a valuable step on the drive to Bougainville.

Minorou (Noboru) Sasaki

Minorou (Noboru) Sasaki

The US Naval site said this campaign was needlessly complex and often led by Army officers who had little or no knowledge of the terrain and whose troops were woefully inexperienced and physically unprepared.  These Americans also had the misfortune of facing one of the most wily and resolute Japanese generals of the CBI and Pacific War, Minorou Sasaki.

23-30 June – the Troubriand Islands off the Papuan Peninsula of New Guinea were invaded by the 41st Division at Nassau Bay unopposed.  A battalion of the US 32nd Division landed 20 miles (32 km) south of the Japanese positions at Salamaua.  These troops were to meet up with the Australian 3rd Division, who were still holding the airfield at Wau.  General Imamura had fallen for MacArthur’s ploy and split his defenses at Lae by sending troops south to hold Salamaua.  This would lead to his ultimate defeat.

USA-P-Rabaul-5 (1024x746)

30 June – was the D-Day for Operation Chronicle.  The Woodlark Force – units of the 112th Cavalry, the 134th Field Artillery Battalion and the 12th Marine Defense Battalion – 2,600 troops, landed at 2100 hours and began unloading the LST’s.  Nearly simultaneously, 2,250 of the Kiriwina Force were landing.  Unfortunately, the water was extremely shallow and the LCT’s became grounded about 200-300 yards from the beach.  This made unloading extremely difficult and slow.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – nws450402wingert

 

willie

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Farewell Salutes – 

Alexander Barker – Rye, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Major

Creighton Chestnut – NZ; NZ Army # 206368, Korea, Cpl.BFC at sunset (800x543)

Wayne Hubener – Ashland, MA; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Kenneth Jones – New Smyrna Beach, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 152nd Artillery

Frank Magaro – Dillsburg, IL; USMC, Korea, Echo Company

Maurice Moore – Nova Scotia, CAN; RC Navy

Dwaine Nickeson – Hartford, CT; US Army Korea, Vietnam, Major

Jamie Pettigrew – AR; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Paul Taylor – Huntsville, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 navigator

John Woollems – Wichita, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on November 19, 2015, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 70 Comments.

  1. I think what made this generation such a remarkable one is the things they had to go through would push any man beyond his limits. Yet, they did it because they had to and because others were counting on them to do it. These are people who have experienced every manner of hardship that could be brought upon a man. Because of this they learned to appreciate life and the remarkable freedom they living in the USA.

    Too many generations since then have taken this freedom for granted and simply have not got a clue of what it means to serve one’s country…and we can start with most of our elected officials with that comment!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You landed on point once again!! Honestly, YOU should be writing this blog – not kidding – you always cut straight to my message! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I’m great for adding my two cents but I honestly don’t have the dedication to devote the time you are putting in to research out these events. Besides, I like reading YOUR blog! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t expect my friends here to also do research unless they can or want to, Mrs P. I like it when I instill curiosity in people and an eagerness to learn, remember and honor this generation – and that’s why I’m here!! And I follow so many other types of blogs, because I have interests other than war. I think that’s the great part of blogging, we get to satisfy all the different facets of ourselves – while we meet wonderful people such as yourself!!

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  2. https://zitroneblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/
    Wünsche dir ein glückliches week-end lieber Gruß Gislinde

    Liked by 1 person

  3. No matter how well anyone writes about fighting for your life in these SWP islands, no reader – well versed or otherwise – can ever understand how wretched the climate and surroundings were. No matter what you tried to grab, your hands were sweaty, grimy and raw from the constant moisture. If you got dysentery, your uniform was always covered in diarrhea. Mosquitoes. Malaria. Only they know.

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  4. The cartoons look great but come up (even when I open them individually in a new tab) too small to read the captions.

    Great to read about the campaign, well done all ’round~!

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  5. Interesting post. I too was wondering when I saw “Operation Toenails” how they came up with that name and others at times.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Makes me ashamed of myself for complaining about driving in the pouring down rain for the last 3 days [visibility 1/4 mile]. I must be getting old. It didn’t used to be a problem in DC where I just aimed the car and went! I’ll have 5 hrs to spend with the Veterans in LR on Monday while Tom has extensive testing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That will be great, Sheri – of course you will tell them ALL Hello for me and give a handshake or hug!!
      Will these test, do you think, find the real problem behind Tom’s symptoms?

      Liked by 1 person

      • ALL of them – there you go, being funny again. I’ve discovered another unit at the VA that desperately needs volunteers but they must have speciaized screening first. The adult day care is in place and from what I know is sub-compartmentalized. The family must provide transportation and the patient may stay 6 hours. Now – how to get funding or to make happen – donations, etc. for transportation and the centers to be open for a minimum of 10 hours and hopefully 12. Six hrs just isn’t enough! The primary focus at the present time is for the caregiver to have respite time. [Sounds good to me but could I really send Tom — I just don’t know].
        The tests won’t fix anything. It’s diagnostic to see what may already be there. I’ll include in e-mail.

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        • What I find amazing is how much attention children can draw. If an elementary class were start trying to raise money for the veteran project, call the newspapers, and things start to happen – just an idea for the donation process to start rolling. The children get so dedicated and ‘into it’ that no one can resist!!

          Liked by 2 people

          • Wow – what a great idea. You know we already have the foster grandparent program going on at the VA. Only we are working it a little differently. Instead of an older individual taking on a child, we allow the cildren to pick their foster grandparent.
            We’ve set the program up so the parents are 100% involved from the beginning. However, we’ve had no incidents and this is where we’ve gotten permission for the kids to bring in their pets and such. We have families taking the foster grandparent home for the weekend, out to dinner and the movies or whatever veteran is able to do within their medical condition. Most of the Veterans in this program spend significant time with the families – birthday parties, weddings, you name it! Also, ALL of them go with families for the holidays.
            I’m sending a message to the children’s coordinator right now with a copy of your reply attached. We have families with 5 and 6 children that have each adopted a VA grandparent. The women veterans are also being included and this made me very happy. Thanks so much for the suggestion. My own veteran will not be able to go to his appointment tomorrow – the psoriatic arthritis has gone wild this weekend and is now covering his entire body. We see the doc on Tue. If Tom doesn’t improve significantly, I’ll be moving my office nearer to our bedroom. He no longer has enough strength for me to hear him if he needs me and I don’t have a doctor dog to come get me (however I’m working on that). I need a fuzzy face in my life!

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  7. I’ve been to remote Amazonian areas in So. Amer., and there were paths, motorized canoes, and no war. And it was still brutal with heat, humidity, bugs, mud, and tropical surprises. I can only imagine the immense fortitude and determination it would have taken these troops to endure this mission. Great post, GP, as usual.

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  8. We’re conditioned to think of these men as heroes in battle – and they are – but we forget about the interminable slogs through hostile terrain and weather, no matter where in the world they have executed missions. It’s as if they are/were pulling double duty on every deployment. All the more reason to take care of them when they come home. Thanks, GP

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  9. I love learning about the things that history lessons covered by saying “this happened” and that’s it. Operation Toenails? Who comes up with the names?

    Liked by 2 people

  10. So many folks forget that each and every mound of sand in these island chains had to be taken from the Japs, not just the big islands like Guadalcanal or Iwo Jima. I am re-watching the “Pacific” this week (I typically watch Band of Brothers and The Pacific at least twice a year) and Episode 4 really was something: The Island of New Britain and the fighting around Cape Gloucester was savage: not just the combat, but the weather and conditions..In the interviews one vet said the mud was so bad there due to all the rain that an entire bulldozer was swallowed up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve seen photos that come close to showing equipment being swallowed; until our recent flooding here in the US, I doubt many people could understand the depth such terrain. Our new crazy weather sort of gives a small peek into it. Thanks for taking the time to stop in Steven.

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  11. So much going on all the time, it is a wonder that they were able to keep it all together, and actually know what was happening.
    Fascinating stuff, GP, thanks for posting.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Enjoyed the post and comments so far! Also – that second comic has a Star Wars feel – (with the buttons too large) or maybe I just keep seeing Star Wars stuff this week!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. 24th N.C.B. at Rendova, & Munda, New Georgia.

    The battalion was divided into two echelons, the first to participate with a task force of Army, Navy, and Marine units in establishing a beachhead: the second to carry the heavy equipment and household gear to Guadalcanal for staging when the beachhead would be ready to receive it. The second echelon left Noumea, New Caledonia on May 25, 1943 and after a five day trip on four LST’s established a bivouac on Guadalcanal. There the men made their first acquaintance with the darkness of coconut groves, the fever of malaria, the urgency of operations on the beaches of a staging area. It was to be seven weeks before the battalion was to be reunited.

    The first echelon, under the command of the Officer-in-Charge, Commander Horace R. Whittaker, on the 7th of June sailed from Noumea harbor aboard the converted President liner, U.S.S. Jackson and the U.S.S. Hayes. With them, and on other ships, the U.S.S. Adams, and the U.S.S. McCawley, were the 172nd Infantry Combat Teams and Boat Pool 8. On the tenth of June came the tautness of the first air raid at sea, then a day in Guadalcanal, then two weeks of training on the beaches of New Hebrides. On the 29th of June the task force was back at Guadalcanal. There it was joined by the attack cargo ships, U.S.S. Libre and Algorab, embarking the Marine Ninth Defense Battalion and additional men of the Twenty-Fourth.

    At dawn of the morning of June 30, the task force stood off Rendova. There was a light drizzle, later to turn to rain. A few miles away Japanese coastal guns at Munda airfield opened up. A Destroyer returned the fire and the guns were silenced. The men stood quietly around the decks and then were over the sides into the landing craft. There were the shots of snipers as the boats neared the beaches of Rendova; the brief fight, the confusion and uncertainty of the beaches; and as the day wore on, the back breaking labor of unloading supplies. Overhead were the corsairs with the Marine pilots standing between the beaches and the persistent Japanese air attacks.

    There was the nervousness of the first bivouac, the eerie sounds of a wet tropical night, the constant bark of uncertain rifles. Dawn found the roads collapsing, the urgency, the back-breaking labor of coconut log corduroy over which to move the 155mm guns, the ammunition, and vital supplies. At the beaches the LST’s came in, each to be unloaded by hand between dawn and dark. It was to go on day after day. On July 2, the Japanese planes broke through. That grim night the battalion mourned the death of twenty-one men. On July 4, they broke through again, and again the battalion was hard hit. Through all of July on Rendova, with few respites, continued the rains, the heavy labor at the beaches, the nightly air raids, and the mud.

    On July 18 the second echelon arrived and established its camp on Kokorana. At last, on August 5, the airfield at Munda was taken. The next day the battalion began moving to Munda, until on 15 August, the entire unit was bivouacked three quarters of a mile north of the airfield. The 73rd battalion moved in to take over construction of the airfield on which our equipment had set to work at once. The battalion turned to the construction of vital roads, of coconut log crib quays at the beaches for LST’s and pontoon lighters, of a tank farm, distribution system, and tanker berth for aviation gasoline, of a base hospital, a widely dispersed bomb dump, a splinter proof radio communications center- rough work and fast work to make Munda a base. The 73rd made great progress on the airfield, the first plane landing a week after construction started.

    First came the Marines with their Corsairs, SBD’s and TBF’s. Then came the Army bombers. Air raids became infrequent. Munda was in full tactical operation. As we passed the first of the year the work abated. Scuttlebutt ran wild “we were going home”- we were going to New Zealand- we were on our way. And then at last came final word. We were to have a rest. It was to be New Zealand. But there was something we wanted to do before we left. Quietly the battalion marched to Munda cemetery, there to say good-bye to the two officers and twenty-five men who had given their lives for their country.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Looks as though I should have had you write the post, John. I simply try to keep the details at a minimum being as (just as you show) so much does go on at the same time. I appreciate your loyalty to this site and most definitely to the SeaBees of US Navy!!

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  14. “SEABEE OFFICERS HONORED FOR THEIR PART IN RISKY MARINE PATROL”

    WHEN THREE CIVIL ENGINEER CORPS OFFICERS WERE NEEDED TO JOIN A MARINE RECONNAISSANCE PATROL ON A DANGEROUS VISIT TO A Japanese HELD ISLAND IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC, VOLUNTEERS INCLUDED LT. WILLIAM T. MALEY, CEC, USN. LT., CLEVELAND R. HORNE, JR., CEC, USN, AND LT. (JG) JOHN H. HARKER, CEC, USNR ALL OF WHOM WERE ATTACHED TO SEABEE BATTALIONS STATIONED AT ADVANCED BASES IN THE AREA.

    FOR THEIR ACHIEVEMENTS WHILE ON THIS MISSION, LT. MALEY AND LT. HARKER HAVE BEEN AWARDED THE SILVER STAR MEDAL. LT HORNE HAS RECEIVED A CITATION FROM ADMIRAL HALSEY.

    THE PARTY’S HAZARDOUS ASSIGNMENT WAS TO OBTAIN INFORMATION CONCERNING TERRAIN, HYDROGRAPHIC CONDITIONS AND HOSTILE DISPOSITIONS ON THE ENEMY HELD ISLAND. IT’S MEMBERS KNEW THEY WERE ENTIRELY ON THEIR OWN, THEY COULD EXPECT NO OUTSIDE ASSISTANCE FROM ALLIED FORCES. THE DATA THEY GATHERED IS EXPECTED TO BE OF CONSIDERABLE VALUE IN THE CONDUCT OF FUTURE OPERATIONS.

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  1. Pingback: My Article Read (11-18-2015) (11-19-2015) | My Daily Musing

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