TSgt. Allan #14
The anti-personnel bomb ole' Tojo used appeared to be a regular 50 pounder, but the nose fuse was activated by a three or four foot long "broomstick," which, in mental image, made it look like a swordfish. The "stick" was the first thing to touch the ground, and the fool thing exploded about eight or ten inches above the surface it hit. It left a slight depression in the ground, about six inches deep and about three or four feet in diameter. All the shrapnel was above ground, and was mostly old nails, bolts and nuts, rocks, other odd pieces of scrap steel, and, of course, razor blades. In one little hole I once found a small piece of steel, with "U.S. Navy"stamped on it! These things would cut a person's legs off if he was not in a trench or his head off even if he was in a trench with his head sticking up looking around at what was going on! I imagine all that iron and steel was sent to Japan (via our scrap) in the years between the wars!
At a certain time we were told to get packing again. New Guinea was to be our next area of operation. I thought some about that! That was getting too close to the wily Jap. But, what the hell -- who want's to live forever?
Darwin Harbor: Waiting a day for the ship to load was a lazy day. It was hot and I'd rather be doing something besides just sitting and sweating. We were rather irked, being there early, and the ship was still being loaded. The water at the docks were very inviting, and someone said, "Let's go swimming." Everyone peeled down to his shorts, ran along the dock and dove in. Wonderful! Late in the afternoon, it was swimming time again, and we raced along the dock edge again. I looked at the water and realized something was different. Also, the shark net (I don't know how in the world I knew what they were) strung along beneath the different sections of docks had holes in them a submarine could have driven through! Anyway, I dove in; it was a long ways down for the tide was out! When I came to, two Aussie soldiers were holding me up. I immediately knew how stupid I had been. In the shallow water, I had hit bottom. with my head, and blood was streaming down to my .toes. I regained consciousness very quickly and realized what a lucky bloke L was! I had hit a patch of sand instead of rock or coral the whole bottom was made of. The Aussies took me to the medical tent and looking around I saw a few men who were not lucky enough to hit sand. They had deep lacerations and gouges from fore head to chin---and I don't know where else! I will never forget the look of Bungo:s face; he no longer had a face! It took several years, but, the white sanding on my face gradually disappeared.
In due time, everything was on shipboard and it seemed to take the longest time to get there --where ever "there" was! We stopped for three days at Thursday Island where we did a little exploring but never far away from the ship. Every direction one looked, there were breweries and soda pop bottlers. They must have been suppliers to the whole "Pacific rim," as it is known today. Most of all, we couldn't understand why we were stuck here if the Japs "needed" us so badly! Afterwards we learned why. Just after leaving Darwin, the Japs were in danger of taking Port Moresby. So, we had to waste time, until the outcome of that situation was resolved. Usually, I was a member of the advance echelon -- to prepare for and receive the flights when they were to occupy a new base of operations.
The Jap infantry had succeeded in gaining a foothold on this side of the Owen Stanley Mountains by coming down that dreadful one-man path, the "Owen Stanley track" -- many carrying bicycles yet. They planned to ride them on the streets of Moresby, I guess! They could see the bay at Moresby, and for some reason or other started to retreat, and the few Aussies took right out after them. Bean, Andy and I took a short trip toward the track, in the foothills, until stopped by a guard. In the course of conversation, he said ammo was in such short supply each rifleman was given one clip of live shells each and said when that was gone, he was on his own and to make every shot count!
The tide was turning about then! (I have read in military books that no one was able to figure out why the Japs did an about face when they had Moresby in their fingers!) We got the word then to move on -- while the Japs were in apparent retreat. We set sail again, and in a few days, we were in New Guinea. American ground troops were not here yet and would not be for sometime! On the way to Moresby one night, the ship started to rumble and shake something awful. Oh, God, I thought. After every one was awake we learned we lost a propellor, and here we were in the middle of nowhere, going around in circles! And easy meat for a Jap sub! As it happened, there was Jap sub, and he was trying to get an angle bead on us! But, at flank speed and with all the shaking and noise-making, we outdistanced him, leaving old "buck teeth" gnashing his mustache! We beat hin into Moresby by a hundred miles! This was a short time after the battle of the Coral Sea, and this sub just happened to be still lurking around.
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June 6, 2000