South Sea Scouts

The Ol' Officer's Mess

The Ol’ Officer’s Mess

This is basically a follow-up to the post, Fiji Guerrillas, which can be reviewed first if you so desire.

At the end of 1942, the Americans on Guadalcanal had requested more Fiji guerrilla troops and this was met by the dispatch of 2 further units – 1 Commando Fiji Guerrillas and 1 Battalion Fiji Brigade Group.  Both of these landed on 19 April 1943.  Commanded by C.W.H. Tripp, they would now be labeled the South Sea Scouts, made up of 39 New Zealand officers and NCO’s from the Southern and Eastern Independent Commandos and 135 Fijians from the same units.

 

28 Tongans, under Lt. B. Masefield, increased the strength of Tripp’s unit to 203 before it went into action on New Georgia.  During this time, 200 Solomon Islanders were absorbed into the unit and changes were made in the organization.  Each platoon became a patrol, commanded by a New Zealand sergeant with a New Zealand corporal as his second-in-command.

WH2IP-CommP004a

On New Georgia, US units of 14 Corps had established a beachhead at Zanana at Roviana Lagoon and the Fiji patrols went ashore.  This started the slow and exhausting move through dense forest country to Bariki River.  The final advance of 4 miles on Munda airfield was to be made on narrow, boggy native tracks.

Conditions and territory, the worst as yet, hindered all action.  The Tongans under Masefield became valuable assets as the barriers and thin trails were stoutly defended by the Japanese strong-posts.  Between Zanana and the airfield was a swamp cut by the outlets of the river, but a patrol of Tongans, led by Sgt. B.W. Ensor, reconnoitered territory behind the enemy lines and discovered a good bridgehead site at Laiana, close to Munda.

001 (800x643)

Tripp’s unit was assigned to clearing the islands in the Roviana Lagoon, which proved as easy task.  Patrols were then allotted to the units of the US 43rd Division, 169th Regiment on the right flank and others to the 172nd Regiment – both combat teams.  On 23 July, the US 37th Division relieved the 43rd and the fresh troops continued with the commandos, in point, to direct the artillery.

By 2 August, the US #rd Division, 25th and the Scouts moved in as the Japanese retreated to Ondonga, fighting as they went.  A general evacuation of the enemy was planned for Kolombangara.

The data here was developed from information attained from NZetc.victoria.ac.nz which I received from Ann at Silkannthreads.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – ...Oh, you're also lost in the jungle?

booby (601x800)

“Even if this is a booby-trap, can you think of a better way to go?”

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Arbuckle – Wichita, KS; US Army, WWII, CBI, Merrill’s Marauders, Bronze Star

Ida Briggs – E.Stoneham, ME; US Navy(’42-’43), US Army (’43-’44), WWII, Nurse

Ronald Clemons – Convoy, OH; USMC, Captain (Ret.)6MCl-1qX-1

Rodney Eielson – North Haven, CT; US Navy, WWII, USS Hampton

Burke Hensley – Banning, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th A/B Div.

Herbert Holt – Fayetteville, NC; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, 187th RCT

Douglas Kendall – Taumarunui, NZ; NZ Army # 69019, WWII, PTO, Suva/Fiji

Darby Morin – Big River First Nation  , CAN; US Army, Afghanistan, 10th Mountain Div., Sgt.

Robert Olson – Montana; US Army, WWII, ETO

William Walsh – Salem, NH; US Navy, 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 December 3, 2015, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. PENTRU TOTI PRIETENII MEI MINUNATI O SEARA SPLENDIDA DE IARNA SI CU MULTE BUCURII ALATURI DE CEI DRAGI !
    To all my friends SPLENDIDA WINTER wonderful evening and much joy with your loved ones!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. These Scouts are definitely not to be confused with the Boy Scouts, in the maritime section of the movement, in the south!
    That was a valuable (but no doubt extremely risky) bit of scouting behind enemy lines by the Tongans and Ensor.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So interesting… 🙂

    Like

  4. As an Aussie I have no trouble admitting that the Kiwis have always punched above their weight.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The use of Fijians and Tongans shows the diversity of peoples who all had a hand in defending the Islands of the South Pacific, there are many more races who played a role in the war throughout the South Pacific.
    Great historical research gp.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it’s a pretty good list, one that even Wiki tends to group-up with Commonwealth classifications. I know I have a pretty good summation somewhere, I’ll have to re-locate it. Thanks for bringing that up, Ian!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Judging by their rugby team, the Fijians and Tongans would have been only too pleased to join in with a jungle war against the Japanese. I also love the cartoon about the booby trap!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks. I live on the doorstep of these events and never knew any of it.

    Like

  8. Yes, agree a struggle with those kind of conditions. Survival was so strong. Excellet!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It makes sense to use Fijians and Tongans. They knew jungles and that kind of territory.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m always impressed with the resiliency of our warriors.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Such a complicated little spec on the ocean. I love the jungle painting.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. “24TH N.C.B. SEABEE VETERANS STORY – NEW GEORGIA – May 1943 – Oct. 1943

    MAY 27TH – WE BOARDED THE U.S.S. PRESIDENT JACKSON, A TASK FORCE TRANSPORT AT NOUMEA, NEW CALEDONIA.

    MAY 28TH – 6:00 AM GOT UNDERWAY, AT 7:00 AM. WE ANCHORED JUST OUTSIDE THE MINE BELT AT NOUMEA.

    MAY 29TH – TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY MEMBERS OF CASU 8 NAVAL AVIATION UNIT CAME ABOARD OUR SHIP FROM HIGGINS BOATS. FROM THIS DATE UNTIL JUNE 6TH, WE CRUISED IN THE WATERS AROUND NEW CALEDONIA PRACTICING INVASION LANDINGS WITH FULL BATTLE GEAR. TWICE DURING THAT TIME WE MADE OVERNIGHT LANDINGS, UNLOADING AND RELOADING ALL OUR EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES, SOME 1000 TONS.

    JUNE 5TH – OUR CONVOY WAS FORMED. FOUR NAVAL TRANSPORTS, USS PRESIDENT JACKSON, USS PRESIDENT ADAMS, USS PRESIDENT HAYES, USS MCCAULY, AND ONE LIBERTY TRANSPORT THE ALGOCAD.

    JUNE 6TH – 6:00 AM GOT UNDERWAY BOUND FOR GUADALCANAL 1000 MILES NORTH. ABOUT 7:00 AM SIX DESTROYERS JOINED US AS ESCORT. NOTHING UNUSUAL HAPPENED UNTIL ABOUT 5:00 A, THE MORNING OF JUNE 8TH WHEN OUR GUN-WATCH SPOTTED AN ENEMY AIRCRAFT PRESUMABLY AN OBSERVATION PLANE. I FORGOT TO MENTION THAT THE JACKSON WAS THE FLAG SHIP IN THE CONVOY, AND HAD A REAR ADMIRAL ABOARD SO NATURALLY ALL ORDERS WERE DISPATCHED AND RECEIVED ABOARD HER. EXACTLY AT NOON THE SAME DAY, GENERAL QUARTERS WERE SOUNDED, WHICH MEANT THAT THE CREW “MAN” THEIR BATTLE STATIONS. NINETEEN ENEMY BOMBERS AND NINETEEN FIGHTERS WERE PICKED UP BY THE RADAR EQUIPMENT ABOUT 100 MILES STRAIGHT AHEAD AND WE COULD EXPECT AN ATTACK ABOUT 1:00 PM, BUT NOTHING HAPPENED. THIS TIME AS OUR NAVY AND ARMY FIGHTER PLANES FROM GUADALCANAL INTERCEPTED THE ENEMY. INCIDENTALLY WE RECEIVED A LATER REPORT THAT ALL THE ENEMY WERE SHOT DOWN WITH NO LOSS TO OUR FIGHTERS.

    IT WOULD HAVE BEEN FOOLHARDY TO THINK THAT BECAUSE THE ENEMY DID NOT REACH US UP TO THIS TIME, WE WERE SAFE AS THEY WERE WELL AWARE WHAT A VALUABLE PRIZE OUR FORCE OF ABOUT 10,000 MEN, SHIPS AND EQUIPMENT WOULD HAVE BEEN. EVERYTHING SEEMS TO HAPPEN AT 6:00 O’CLOCK.

    WE WERE UNDER ATTACK THAT NIGHT BOTH FROM THE AIR AND SEA FROM 6:00 PM TO 1:00 AM THE 9TH, WHEN GENERAL QUARTERS IS SOUNDED ABOARD A TRANSPORT, ALL TROOPS LAY BELOW, SO AS NOT TO GET IN THE WAY OF THE CREW ALSO FOR THEIR OWN PROTECTION. I WAS IN CHARGE OF ONE OF OUR COMPANIES MACHINE-GUN CREWS AND WAS FORTUNATE IN SEEING THE WHOLE WORKS THAT NIGHT, AS I WAS ON TROOP GUN-WATCH, WHICH MEANT THAT I STAND BY, DURING THE BATTLE TO ASSIST THE REGULAR NAVY CREW IF NECESSARY.

    DURING THE NIGHT BATTLE IT IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO DETERMINE WHICH SHIPS SCORE BITS, HOWEVER, I SAY MANY AIRCRAFT HIT WHICH SEEMED TO EXPLODE AND VANISH, ALSO, SAW ONE JAP DESTROYER OR “TEN-CAN” FOLD UP. A TORPEDO HITTING HER AMID SHIPS AND ANOTHER LIST SHARPLY TO PORT AND SINK HAVING HER BOW COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY. ALL SECURE FROM 1 AM ON.

    JUNE 9TH – WHEN WE AWOKE THIS MORNING AND ON TOPSIDE WERE SURPRISED TO SEE AN ESCORT OF FOURTEEN SHIPS, BATTLESHIPS,CRUISERS,DESTROYERS AND ONE AIRCRAFT CARRIER, ALL OF WHICH STAYED WITH US UNTIL WE ARRIVED AT GUADALCANAL.

    JUNE 10TH – NOTHING UNUSUAL.

    JUNE 11TH – 10:00 AM ANCHORED KOLI POINT GUADALCANAL, IMMEDIATELY STARTED TO DISEMBARK TROOPS AND EQUIPMENT, TWO COMPANIES OF 9TH DEFENSE BATTALION MARINES, AND COMANY “D” 24TH CB’S STAYING ABOARD.

    JUNE 12TH – 4:00 AM GOT UNDERWAY, ONE HOUR LATER ANCHORED LUNGA POINT. STARTED TO LOAD TROOPS AND EQUIPMENT OF 169TH INFANTRY, U.S. ARMY. 4:00 PM GOT UNDERWAY AND RETURNED TO KOLI POINT WHERE WE LOADED ENOUGH EQUIPMENT FOR COMPANY “B”, RE-EMBARKED ON THE HAYES WITH THE EQUIPMENT.

    JUNE 13TH – 4:00 AM GOT UNDERWAY, CRUISING BETWEEN TULAGI AND GUADALCANAL UNTIL 3:00 PM THAT DAY WHEN WE HY-TAILED IT OUT BECAUSE ON AN AIR BATTLE NORTH OF GUADALCANAL IN WHICH 33 JAPANESE PLANES WERE SHOT DOWN. OUT LOSSES 2 FIGHTERS. JUNE 13TH WAS THE ANNIVERSARY OF TOJO’S SON BEING KILLED AT GUADALCANAL AND THIS AIR FORCE WAS PART OF A HIGH FORCE THAT THE JAPS HAD INTENDED USING TO BOMB GUADALCANAL IN RETALIATION FOR TOJO’S SON’S DEATH.

    JUNE 13 – TO JUNE 16TH OUR CONVOY CRUISES IN THE WATERS BETWEEN THE SOUTHERN SOLOMONS AND NEW HEBRIDES.

    JUNE 16TH – ABOUT NOON WE AGAIN ANCHORED AT KOLI POINT, GUADALCANAL. THAT AFTERNOON THE MEMORABLE AIR BATTLE TOOK PLACE, LASTING FROM 3:00 PM TO 5:30 PM AND IN WHICH NINETY SEVEN JAPANESE PLANES WERE SHOT DOWN AND ONLY SIX AMERICAN AND THREE OR FOUR OF THOSE PILOTS SAVED. AGAIN AT 6:00 PM THAT DAY WE GOT UNDERWAY FORE SOME MORE PRACTICE. WE CONTINUED TO PRACTICE, UNTIL JUNE 26TH WHEN WE LEFT NEW HEBRIDES FOR GUADALCANAL. BY THIS TIME WE BELIEVED WE WERE GOING TO SPEND THE REST OF THE WAR PRACTICING.

    JUNE 29TH – 10:30 AM ANCHORED KOLI POINT. TOOK ABOARD MORE EQUIPMENT AND 17 DAYS MAIL, ALSO DIS-EMBARKED TEN OF OUR MEN FOUND UNFIT FOR COMBAT.

    JUNE 30TH – AT 6:15 AM OUT TROOPS STARTED DISEMBARKING AT TEN DIFFERENT POINTS AND ISLANDS HITTING ALL THEIR PLACES SIMULTANEOUSLY. COMPANIES ‘B” & “D” OF THE 24TH CB. LANDED ALONG WITH 1000 MARINES ON WHAT IS NOW CALLED JACKSON BEACH RENDOVA. THERE WERE APPROXIMATELY 300 JAPS ON THIS ISLAND AND WERE COMPLETELY TAKEN BY SURPRISE. THEY MUST HAVE THOUGHT WE WERE RE-ENFORCEMENTS FOR THEM, AS SOME WERE SITTING ON THE BEACH EATING BREAKFAST. AS SOON AS THEY REALIZED WE WERE AMERICANS THEY STARTED TO RUN. THE MARINES WERE UNDER ORDERS TO TAKE NO PRISONERS. THE SEABEES FOUGHT RIGHT ALONG WITH THE MARINES. I HAD CARRIED PART OF A MACHINE GUN, MY RIFLE AND 200 ROUNDS OF AMMUNITION ASHORE AND FULL PACK. AS SOON AS WE LANDED I DISCARDED THE MACHINE GUN AND PACK. BY 1:00 PM THAT DAY ALL THAT WAS LEFT OF THE JAPANESE WERE A FEW SNIPERS, WELL HIDDEN AND WHO GOT IN SOME DIRTY WORK BEFORE THEY WERE KILLED. PERSONALLY I FIRED ABOUT A HUNDRED ROUNDS AT THEM, BECAUSE THEY WERE DROPPING LIKE FLIES AND WERE MUCH TOO FAST ON THEIR FEET AND BELLIES. LATER I HELPED BURY FORTY OF THEM IN ONE GRAVE. THE MARINES LOST FIVE MEN AND WE LOST ONE IN THE ATTACK. OUR BATTLESHIPS AND CRUISERS AND DESTROYERS WERE FIRING ON JAPANESE SHORE INSTALLATIONS ALL THAT DAY. ABOUT 4:00 PM, I WITNESSED THE U.S.S. MCCAULEY BEING SUNK BY A DIRECT HIT FROM A JAP TORPEDO BOMBER.

    THE AIR WAS FULL OF JAPANESE AND AMERICAN FIGHTERS, DOG-FIGHTING AND SIX ZEROES CAME IN LOW OVER US STRAFING. ALONG WITH THEIR SEEMINGLY POOR MARKSMANSHIP THE DEAR LORD WAS REALLY LOOKING AFTER US AS THEY DIDN’T TOUCH A MAN. AS SOON AS THE ISLAND WAS SECURED WE ALL STARTED CUTTING COCOANUT TREES TO MAKE A ROAD TWO MILES LONG TO HAUL THE 155MM GUNS OVER. WE WORKED UNTIL DARK AND SOME OF US DUG IN FOR THE NIGHT BUT NO ONE SLEPT.

    UP BEFORE DAYLIGHT AND TO WORK ON THE ROAD. ABOUT 9:AM THE SOLDIERS WHO WERE ON OUR SHIP CAME ASHORE WITH FIXED BAYONETS WANTING TO KNOW WHERE THE JAPS WERE. A MARINE HAD MADE A U.S.O. SIGN AND HUNG IT ON A NATIVE HUT AND TOLD A BUNCH OF SOLDIERS THE SEABEES HAD ALREADY BUILT A U.S.O CLUB FOR THE DOGGIES WHICH ALMOST CAUSED A FREE FOR ALL. BUT THEY PITCHED RIGHT IN AND HELPED WITH THE ROAD WHICH WAS COMPLETED BY 2:00 O’CLOCK AND THE BIG GUNS, TWELVE OF THEM SET IN POSITION. THOSE GUNS SHOOT A SHELL ALMOST AS LARGE AS A 7 INCH AND ARE FOR LONG RANGE. THESE WERE MANNED BY MARINES. THEY BEGAN ALMOST AT ONCE TO SHELL THE AIR-BASE ON MUNDA WHICH KEPT UP ALL THE TIME I WAS THERE. WE ALSO HAD A NAVY BOAT POOL GROUP WITH US WHO OPERATED THE LANDING BOATS. THEY ATTEMPTED TO LAND SOLDIERS ON MUNDA THAT NIGHT BUT WERE UNSUCCESSFUL.

    WE TOOK THINGS EASY THE REST OF THE DAY, JUST WATCHING THE DOGFIGHTS. WE ALSO, SET UP A CAMP OF SORTS. THAT NIGHT WE CRAWLED IN OUR PUP-TENTS SOAKING WET AND ALTHOUGH THERE WAS ENEMY AIRCRAFT OVERHEAD ALL NIGHT AND THE ARTILLERY KEPT FIRING I KNOW I SLEPT. WE ALSO HAD SET UP A SMALL GALLEY AND DURING THE NIGHT JAP SNIPERS SNEAKED THROUGH AND BLEW IT UP WITH HAND GRENADES.

    JULY 2ND – AFTER BREAKFAST OF RATION C, WE AND THE SOLDIERS STARTED CARRYING SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT AWAY FROM THE BEACH.

    I ATE DINNER AT 12 NOON AND JUST AT 1:00 PM. I WAS STANDING WITH ANOTHER SEABEE COUNTING WHAT WE THOUGHT WERE ALL OUR OWN BOMBERS COMING IN OVER THE HILLS. I REMEMBER COUNTING 28 WHEN I SAW A BOMB RELEASE. FOR WHAT SEEMED LIKE HOURS BUT WAS ACTUALLY ONLY A FEW MINUTES ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE. OUR RADAR EQUIPMENT WAS OUT OF COMMISSION. AND WHAT LATER PROVED TO BE 48 BOMBERS ACCOMPANIED BY 48 FIGHTERS SLIPPED IN ON US.

    AS SOON AS I SAW THAT FIRST BOMB RELEASED I HIT THE DECK. WAS LYING FLAT ON THE GROUND OR RATHER IN A MUD PUDDLE. FIRST I FELT A BURN IN MY RIGHT SHOULDER, WHICH PROVED TO BE A SMALL PIECE OF SHRAPNEL. THEN I THOUGHT SURELY MY LEFT SIDE WAS CAVED IN. WHEN IT WAS OVER I WAS SURPRISED THAT I COULD MOVE, THEN SLOWLY GOT TO MY FEET. I LOOKED AROUND AND THERE WERE DEAD, WOUNDED AND DYING EVERYWHERE. TWENTY FEET FROM ME WAS A BOMB CRATER BIG ENOUGH TO BURY A TRUCK IN, AND THE CONCUSSION FROM THE BOMB BURSTING MUST HAVE BEEN WHAT MESSED UP MY SIDE. I WAS SPITTING QUITE A BIT OF BLOOD BUT SEEMED TO NAVIGATE OK. MEN SEEMED TO GO CRAZY SCREAMING AND RUNNING EVERY WHICH WAY. I HELPED REMOVE THE WOUNDED FOR ABOUT HALF AN HOUR, AND THEN I MUST HAVE PASSED OUT AS SOME TIME LATER, IT WAS HARD TO BREATHE AND I KEPT SPITTING BLOOD. I WAS TOLD LATER THAT I HAD BEEN GIVEN MORPHINE, ALSO BLOOD PLASMA, LATER ON TWO MORE. I WAS REMOVED TO AN L.S.T. SHIP WHICH WAS USED FOR EVACUATION. WE WERE TO SHOVE OFF THAT NIGHT BUT BECAUSE OF THE NAVAL BATTLE GOING ON WE STAYED THERE UNTIL UNTIL 10:30 AM, JULY 4TH, DURING WHICH TIME I WAS AFRAID I WAS GOING TO CRACK UP, AS SO MANY DID. THERE WERE OVER TWO HUNDRED WOUNDED ABOARD, AND IT GIVES ONE THE MOST HELPLESS FEELING TO JUST LAY THERE AND KNOW THAT A BIG BATTLE IS GOING ON AROUND YOU AND NOT BE ABLE TO SEE A THING. IT WAS REPORTED THERE WERE 13 JAPANESE SHIPS SUNK IN THAT AREA IN TWO DAYS AND GOD ONLY KNOWS HOW MANY AIRCRAFT.

    JULY 4TH – AT 10:30 AM WE SHOVED OFF FOR GUADALCANAL ARRIVING THERE AT 7:00 AM, JULY 5TH 1943.

    JULY 5TH – WE WERE TRANSFERRED TO AN ARMY RECEIVING HOSPITAL AND AT 12:20 PM TOOK OFF IN AN ARMY TRANSPORT FROM HENDERSON FIELD FOR BUTTONS, NEW HEBRIDES, 700 MILES EAST. I HAD NO CLOTHES WHEN I LEFT RENDOVA AND THE ARMY GAVE ME A PAIR OF PAJAMAS AND A BLANKET. IT WAS THE FIRST TIME I HAD EVER MADE AN AIRPLANE TRIP IN PAJAMAS. THERE WERE TWO OTHER WOUNDED ABOARD, BUT I WAS THE ONLY STRETCHER CASE. ARRIVAL NIGHT IT WAS FOUND THAT I HAD FOUR PIECES OF SHRAPNEL IN MY LEFT LEG, TWO IN THE RIGHT LEG, AND TWO IN MY BACK.

    JULY 29TH – LEFT NEW HEBRIDES ABOARD THE U.S.S. PINKNEY A HOSPITAL SHIP AND ARRIVED AUCKLAND NEW ZEALAND, AUGUST 2ND. LEFT AUCKLAND OCTOBER 3RD FOR WELLINGTON, 400 MILES SOUTH WHERE WE BOARED THE S.S. NEW AMSTERDAM, OCTOBER 4TH ARRIVING UNITED STATES OCTOBER 16, 1943.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. It looks really difficult to get through that dense jungle. Full marks for the determination of those units.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: My Article Read (12-3-2015) | My Daily Musing

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