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15 - 21 AUGUST 1943


15 August 1943


Time drawing nearer, preparations increase.








16 AUGUST 1943


The first tentage will be struck today.





17 AUGUST 1943


Final preparation planned. Time of initial entrucking will be 0430 18 August 1943. 207 officers and men of Hq. & Hq. Co. 2nd Battalion with reinforcement from HQ & Service Companies.



18 August 1943


 At 0700 hours the first plane carrying the first tactical load of parachute jumpers from Australia took off at Cairns airport. Weather, slightly cloudy, cool, some mist. Troop commander, 1st Lt. John M. Cole. (Capt. Padgett, Battalion S-2, Battalion S-1 also aboard. Morale: Attitudes: Eventually, why not now. Men seem to be doing some thinking regarding the possibility of dying.


Morale :  Attitudes :  Eventually, why not now.  Men seem to be doing some  thinking regarding the possibility of dying.

0710 hrs.

Present altitude 2000.

0712 hrs

Australian coast is vanishing.

0725 hrs

It looks as though we were flying just above an endless snow field.  (Flying just above cumulus clouds but below stratus clouds). At the edge of one horizon, just off the left of the tail can be seen a line which is probably the receding Australian shore.  Behind somewhere are the other planes.  From its early days in September 1940, the original 501st Prcht Bn at last moves to a forward base from whence she will move to find the enemy.  There are no test platooners aboard this plane of 22.  But  S/Sgt Lee L. Thompson and other cooks (nonjumpers) who have helped cook the first meal the 501st ever ate here.  (Remember, the 501st Prcht Bn became the 2nd Bn 503d).

0730 hrs

Beginning to see water underneath again.  Capt. Padgett is in the tail of the ship.  He has his maps out and is figuring on his slide rule.  He seems to be enjoying himself. 



Plans and Training People make a big thing about engaging in intellectual activity of a mysterious type.  It is their stock in trade.  Wilburn E. "Bitsy" Grant studied under Padgett and in time became his assistant.  Bitsy did just fine until there came a time when he was pushed to the wall by Joe S. Lawrie.  Lawrie was Regimental Executive Officer under Colonel Kinsler.  Every man and officer in the regiment knew that even though Lt. Col. George M. Jones was commander of the 2nd Bn, and was not Regimental Officer, that Colonel Jones in fact did rank Joe S. Lawrie, who was also a Lt. Colonel.  There came a time in the tour, when the regiment needed masking tape to tape up the jump planes.  Lawrie called Bitsy before him and demanded to know why Grant had not been able to obtain masking tape.    “I’ve looked everywhere for masking tape, “ is the legendary Grant reply, “and I haven’t been able to find any.  I even drank a barrel of glue, ate a barrel of sawdust and tried to get some that way, but it didn’t work.”

Grant came back to join my club of Mess Officers, Ex mess Officers, and Assistant Platoon Leaders.  In other words Lawrie got him fired.

0735 hrs.

I can recognize in the water what appears to be a swampy shore.  At first islands.  WE are edging along the shore of what appears to be a long peninsular off the port tail.

0737 hrs.

Off the port wing on the horizon there is a thin line—might be mountains.  Capt. Padgett is looking intently out the starboard tail.  More long islands off starboard tail and wing.

0740 hrs

Just occured to me that the “long islands” are undoubtedly the Great Barrier reef.

0945 hrs

Lt Cole stood up and counted the plane load to see if we were all there.  A typical Coleism.  His uncle was at one time the President of Czechoslovakia.  Benes?

1015 hrs.

Landed at Ward Strip, Port Moresby, New Guinea.  Set up camp 17 miles from Port Moresby.  The Australians named this “17 Mile” which is a way the Australians have of not wasting anything.  This plane, under Lt Cole, was the first of tactical parachutist to arrive in New Guinea.

1045 hrs.

Co’s D, E, and F arrived at Ward Strip, coming from Cairns, Queensland by air.  Lt. J. Dick, now in the S-4 business, goes with 5 men forward by air to what I  assume is a second forward base.  Supplies which are flown by air are also being moved forward. 

(This may have been a place called Tsilli-Tsilli—it is pronounced  “Silly-silly” and it may have only been a military base, National Geographic Atlas of the World does not show it.  Nadzab, on the other hand, is shown plain and clear.)

1800 hr.
0800 hr

All organized Jap resistance has been cleared in the area patroled by 503rd with exception of 20 Japs reported near Menoekwari, 1st Bn is investigating that.




19 August 1943






20 August 1943


The balance of the regiment arrived today by boat and is being fed by this Bn. Housing: Pyramidal tents, each one housing 6 men or 4 officers.  Everyone has his parachute with him, and takes great care to keep it off the ground and dry. There is a mild rain, a heavy dew.



21 August 1943


Saturday.  Work on camp continues.  The parachutes being kept by each person in his tent will not be too good if kept this way long.  The danger of a wet parachute is that it may not open, or that it may be slow in opening.