THE ADJUTANT'S JOURNAL
1 - 4 SEPTEMBER 1943

SEPTEMBER 1943

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1 September 1943

 


 

"Hardrock" Hamel gets familiar with the Nambu Heavy Machine Gun - a Model 92 7.7-mm (0.303 inch) Heavy Machine Gun.  It is a gas-operated, strip-fed, full automatic, air-cooled, modified Hotchkiss-type weapon, and was the standard Japanese heavy machine gun.

 

Japanese Weapons in the hands of the regt S-2 are released to Lt Cole for instruction in their operation.  Capt. Padgett with the aid of silhouettes, give talk to bn instructing on friendly aircraft operating  in this area.  They are:  C-47, P-38, P-39, P-40, P-47, cubs, B-17, B-24, B-25, A-20, A-26.  All pers in the bn have had their teeth classed for identification.* Lt. Col. Jones got in the jeep and took the driver off to look for a flat area with 6 foot tall grass.  There will be bn inspection tomorrow and lecture by the CG 7th Australian Division.  This is the famed “we fought for you in Greece and Crete” outfit.  To which  our reply was “Fought hell, you ran for your lives in Greece and Crete.”  Which was not exactly true.  For the operation, we will be attached to the 7th Australian Division.

 

* This is to assist the graves registration people. 

 

 

 Paratrooper Dodson does his best 'Private SNAFU' impersonation, illustrating the fastest way to get a shattered thigh.

 

The correct way.


(Above) TYPE 89 HEAVY GRENADE DISCHARGER 
- a short ranged mortar desired to be fired braced on the ground, the "knee mortar" gave the Japanese infantryman a huge advantage in short-range firepower. The best an average GI might throw a grenade is around 100 feet, 35 yards. The Type 89 could place a grenade up to twenty times that distance. They were cheap, light, simple, not primitive, extremely dangerous and utterly ubiquitous.  The 503d had a mortar platoon in each Company, normally with three 60mm mortars. The  Japanese would have a 50mm mortar launcher in each squad. The US standard launcher weighed in at about 43 lbs, whereas the Type 89 weighed in at 12 lbs. They were easy to use, robust, and in the control of an experienced man, amazingly accurate. It was initially called a "leg mortar" because it was carried strapped to the leg. In captured documents, "leg mortar" was mistranslated as "knee mortar".   It was fired by a toggle string, not by dropping the mortar round down the weapon's barrel. How many allied servicemen broke their thigh using trophy examples of this weapon is unknown,  so hopefully this is not a photograph of an idiot about to get himself a self-inflicted wound.

 

 

 

2 September 1943

 

The 503d Prcht Inf fell out on parade with full battle equipment, jump suits, jump boots, helmets, covered with camouflage nets, special ammunition pouches made especially for this outfit.  We are inspected by Major General Blamey.  Gen. Blamey is tall, lean, lined faced, and speaks more like an Englishman than an Australian.  He said he was proud to have us with him.  He paused and appeared to be reading. The 503d will jump, take an airfield, clean the field and hold it for the airborne landing of the 7th Australian Div.  Then the general waxes bitter against the Jap.

   I have never seen a man in so high a position so bitter.   “Kill them all,” he said.  Received a warning order that Gen McArthur might possibly  inspect tomorrow. 

 

 

 

3 September 1943

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   At 1017 telephone call was received saying that General McArthur was in the regimental area and that all men would put on coveralls.  At 1019 General McArthur and party ambled alongside the CO S-3 tent wherein is the famous sand table.  And within were the Bn Cmdr, the Ex, S-3 and 4 Co cmdrs.  They smell him coming and came out as fast as possible for people pretending to accidentally come out.  Lt Richmond, the combination actg S-4, asst S-3, and general duties officer had to edge all the way from the CP tent, about 30 yds, but he made an admirable edge and arrived in time to have his picture taken along with the aforementioned.  General McArthur is very publicity minded and always is accompanied by a corps of photographers.

   The regimental commander made it possible for each officer to have a bottle of liquor.  This caused much singing and heart to heart conversations.

   Shoe polish was issued but none used.  The jungle equipment was issued late today: 1 water proof clothes bag, 1 water proof match box, with compass, 1 jungle flashlight extra bulb and battery, 1 tube of dermouflage (OD), 1 jungle medical kit and two safety pins, water proof adhesive plaster 1” (5 yds), 1 iodine applicator, 5-1 inch adhes absorb compress (.7 yds), 8 tablets Sulfadiazine, 5 gram sterile sulfanilamide powder, 1 can footpowder, 1 small plastic bottle of halazone tablets, 1 of atabrine, 2 of salt.

   Ration K, D, are at Bn Hq awaiting distribution.

   The Officers of the Bn were taken to the sand table a company at a time.  Co Cmdrs  gave parts of the field order.  The Regtl order has not yet been issued.  Point of interests after LaVanchure had seen the table and heard the plan he said, this is the identical plan I heard three weeks ago from Lt. B-G-P*.  Lt. C-U-T* 3rd Bn also knew and told a lot about it.  Some one trusted junior officers too far.  Regtl moved in on  B-G-P* and the Regtl Surgeon layed the charge of insanity against him and Lt. D-S-A* who were sent for observation last week only to be returned marked “no disease”.  The Regtl Surgeon Major Gall, known as the Iron Claw**  is known for rather questionable methods.

 

  *Name Omitted
**He proudly had that title painted on his ambulance at Gordonvale, Qld.
   
 

 

4 September 1943

 

  Copy of notes taken at Bn Cmdrs meeting of all officers 0900-1100.
1100 hr

Regtl formation and Col. Kinsler announced that Cpl. Co D won the lottery first jump after himself and about six hundred pounds Australian.  Capt. Mitchell won lottery, officers, and eighty pounds. 

   All day long a platoon at a time was on the sand table and each soldier shown just what was expected from him.  About 1700 hr the Aust trucks began to roll up and everybody said it must be trucks for the move down in the mule area except that lot of soldiers turned up for chow in their jump suits and later in the evening a jump master meeting in which the whole business was rehashed and the newspapermen introduced all the way around and told we were American Parachutist instead of allied parachutist like we were afraid the papers would write us up.

 

Jumping with the 503d would be a Section of 2/4th Artillery Battery under command of Lt Pearson, members of the Australian 7th Division A.I.F. They would provide artillery support with two "25 Pounders."  The 33 men in the Section had two days hasty Parachute Training prior to the big day, at which time 2 of the originals were injured and ruled out. They were replaced on the day by two that had not jumped at all.  After hitting the Landing Zone, they had one of their guns up and firing within 2 hours of the jump, a creditable performance in the long kunai grass.  

Those gunners of the 7th Australian Division, A.I.F., didn't know then that they were setting the pace for another Australian unit to join with the 503d, some 22 years later on another foreign airstrip when 1st R.A.R., whose lineal history goes back to the 7th Australian Division, A.I.F., were to join with the Sons of the 503d P.I.R. at Bien Hoa, Vietnam.

 

 

 

 

MISSION BRIEFING NOTES
BN COMMANDERS MEETING

0900-1100 4 SEPT 1943

 

EXTRACT ONLY

A.P.O.704

Headquarters, 2nd Bn
503d Parachute Infantry
4 September 1943

BRIEFING NOTES

Prelim: All officers and men restricted no localities mentioned by name.  Mission:  Take and secure by air an airport. 

Info:  Very little activity a few enemy known to be in area.  Patrol by 100-200 Japs daily to town (bn CP).  29 Aug 43  6 Japs seen at town S of Bn CP town.  Armed 30 cal LMG’s and rifles, large number of enemy troops can be brought in from big town is miles up coast.  Est str Nip gar there:  6000 w/ aircraft, 

Approaches: Half on road only passable except jeep.  3½ hrs to NE of Bn CP village. 

River:  one mile wide 20 ft. deep mire of trees, grass 4 to 6 ft.  Now is dry season wind SE to noon.  Reverses then velocity 6 to 8 miles time of Sunrise 0612, sunset 1812, except village uninhabited take natives and sent to regt, shOot hostile ones, one Co of native troop friends to NE of Bn CP, make every effort to take prisoners, dead, require both hands fingers laced behind head shhot at any move, destroy carbons of all messages, captured documents and material to regtl S-2, no looting of dead or souveniring, passwords give slowly and distinctly.

No.

Challenge

Reply

 1

Loger

Label

 2

Lively

Filly

 3

Railway

Trolley 

 4

Lazy

Lullaby

 5

Lambs

Wool

 (This in effect until new one ordered bu no.)

   Bn rept hourly plus thirty to regt, no rept during dark unless chg situation other extensive operations will be taking place at samt time, our aerial base is 15 minutes up this river, support by 5th AF, end of info.

   Mission:  503rd Prcht Inf jump 2 day H hour capture airdrome and village establish regtl line of res on road to big town.  Prepare airstrip at once, 2nd Australian Pioneer  Bn 5 miles down river and will move in when this regt jumps. 

   Troops engaged:  This regt 2/4 Aust FA jump 2/2 Aust Co and attachments Aust Div w/ 600 natives 2/4 ambulance, mission 1st Bn and Demo less rifle platoon jump as shown commence preparation of landing strip till held by 2/2 Eng, one Co protect native workers also unload planes, 1st Bn CP near Regtl CP, 2nd Bn plus demo jump as shown and capture CP village and defend area N and NW.  3rd Bn less platoon, capture village on shore of big river deny infiltration from big town, drop 22 dummies 10 miles down road, one platoon will jump to cover hump of remainder of Bn, specific duties of certain officers, Capt. Caskey mark out drone, Lt. Horner combat S-4, Lt. Buchanan captured transportation, RHQ and Service will jump w/ 1st Bn, upon landing  Aust ambulance aid station to be brought to regt, Aust field artillery will jump w/ 1st Bn.  Prepare to fire mission on call, road to big town and RJ’s all around, Bn will call for by No. Air support 54 TR CR wing will T this regt and attached 3500.  B-25 straff CP town 3 flights A-20 smoke as shown (around edges of jump field) B-17 will bomb T 4 & 5, B-17 will be available for 4 1/2  hrs, Kelly, Rambo, Cates will be liaison officers w/ aircraft (will not jump).  One sq P-39’s available on call, 3 B-17’s for resupply 3 to 10 gliders loaded 2 supplies may be used if necessary.  C-47’s will be loaded at forward serial base.  Aerial diversion:  22 dummies 10 or 20 miles big town, camouflage discipline to be strictly maintained, land mines and concertinas on call, report location to regt after planting units will cause false front to be established.

    To Co E your no. one plane man Col. Kinsler, 2 lottery winner, 3 radio operator, 4 Col’s orderly, No. two plane Lt. Col. Jones w/ bundle, nothing larger than location of platoon will be shown on any map, recommendations for Honors will be made till called for.  Will be issued 24 trucks and 24 planes T spotted in front of Bn area, 7th Div will convoy T to Wards Drome each truck to individual plane, issue maps to EM then, not before.  Planes take off approx flying time 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hrs.  Stand up on big river, jump master ask pilot to give red stand up light at big river peel off and approach from SSW, trail beyond woods Go!  Entire Bn assemble in woods to SW E Co east F HQ D.  Jump field is high Kunai grass, maybe two to four feet, compass 225 degrees to assembly area, not under fire:  Roll up chutes bring to assembly area, also resupply bundles initial drop, 2 Co’s will have orange, two yellow take off on leaving assembly area.  Reason for helmet markers assist in assembly, avoid straffing by own aircraft prep ops:  H minus one minute jump areas and surrounding villages will be bombed, straffed and smoked H plus five to H plus twenty bomb shore and CP village 4 B-25’s will fly around for one and one half hours to bomb on call CO’s:  Check personnel and rept on CP that you are moving out, Co E w/ 1st section LMG’s Hq Co move out 1st take south trail to CP village contact 1st Bn at shore, village, move to designated area, Co F w/ 2nd sec LMg move E on coconut road take CP village and move to designated defense area, Hq Com Mortars follow along coconut road, mortars move to area (clearing) 1500 yds down coconut and to right E Bn Demo will accompany mortars (81’s).  Co D responsible for security of rear and tracks to north of coconut road and then move to D area to NW of CP village in wood, aid station, close to CP, resupply dropped in grass NW of CP village.

   Ex staff follow Co F, Co F move out fast as possibly Lt. Col. Jones w/ Co F Col. Kinsler w/ Co E; caution:  Possibility of own troops shooting each other, use orange flags for identification of patrols, in defense at night, booby trap trails, 81 mm’s move to area NE of Bn CP for defence movement of forces in the dark a point of doubt.

   Priority of fortifications, road blocks at obs and mines, fox holes, auto, weapons, fields of fire, op’s camouflage, medical annex, Bn surgeon rept location med. bundle Bn RSP casu’s evacuation by covered route w/ each litter cases one medic casu repts each 6 hr period until H plus 48 Bn casu repts each hr, no rept, no casu, jump casu evac assembly area, name, rank, and ASN’s Co’s.  Mosquito repellent before derm, 1 atabrine per day, chlorine all water, cemetery will be established, more air support 4 1/2 hrs. of 4 B-25 over Bn area request to regt thereafter four hours time required for aerial aid Bn furn plan for air support, call by radio green blinking B-25, 450 rds 50 cal per gun, 12 fragmentation bombs per 8 straffing mission 3, bombing friendly troops 300 yds no nearer indicate front lines with orange and white panels.  Plane 6 will carry Courtney-London Times, plane 7 Mr Driver did which is dept of info (Aust).  Mr. Marian Aust B’casting Co none will jump.

   Signal annex Co radio calls Hq is H at; D, Hello; E, Henry; F, Hall; platoons add one two or three LMG Hat one and two Mortars Hat.  Dist of radios; 511-1 each rifle Co, 2 Bn CP, 536-5 each rifle Co.

   Details on net.  Certain signals three blasts, shot, and call out air, mechanized, or Prcht attack.  Mass sections will be ready to move forward on call leave 2 behind.  Each Bn prepare bundles, 12 blankets, 12 shelter halves w/ ropes and pins.  2nd Bn prepare 39 reserves will be worn, new morning report will taken w/o unit designation, minus one day.

S-1  periodic daily rept due 0700 and 1700
S-2      “      “     “    “     hourly
S-3      “      “     “    “     0700
s-4      “      “     “    “     1700

   Journal will be maintained to and include Co misc.  Ball and Chain chutes. 

 

End of meeting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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