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12 to 18 SEPTEMBER 1943








Images are courtesy of the
Emmett Lee Wester Collection





0700 hr

Lts. McRoberts and Bradbury lv out for patrol of Munum Rd.

0700 hr

Ivie and Luscomb plat to Erap to stay overnight.

0900 hr

Both chaplains conduct services. 

I located Father Powers over in front of an old native church.  It had a cross inlaid above the door with a queer inscription on it.  The next day he repaid me by sending a detail over and cutting out the cross.  John Cole, Mayor of Gabsonkek, would no doubt have gladly given it to him.  Little things like that don’t mean anything.  But one likes to know what’s going on.

1200 hr

A composite heavy weapons company taking weapons fr 1st and 2nd Bn- 2 plats (1) 12- 60 MM’s (2) 12- 81 MM’s.  Rumor has it that Major Woods cmdg., Lt. Cobb Ex Officer.

1200 hr

CO 2nd tp CO D, move all but one platoon to positions along trail fr AL to CD.

1210 hr

Tel conversation overheard on party line  w/ 2/4 field amb indicates they are moving two battalions in on Heaths plantation, expect casualties.

1439 hr

Pvt. Mulcahy, GSW, Pfc Bachus, malaria, evac Hq 2nd.

1500 hr

McRoberts and Bradbury platoon return nothing to rept.

1500 hr

   Capt. Padgett and Lt. Riseley pay an unofficial social call to 7th Div Hq down by the strip.  After practically stumbling over Gen. Vasey’s bunk and him in it at that, Capt. Padgett located a Capt. McLay (Aust) and ass’t G-2.  Capt. McLay said he was very sorry he couldn’t offer us a coconut but would we have some water.  We would.  Had we held out for it, I think he would have put the Billy can on.  Capt. McLay’s situation map was very simple in its indication of units.  “So it want be too cluttered up.”  The friendly troops were indicated in red and the enemy in blue.  1st map was Nadzab 3550 showing areas to within 1/2 mile of Lae.  503 arrow in vic of Nadzab w/ patrols to camp Diddy and Munum.  The airborne CA (AA) show at vic new strip and Aust and 503 patrols up to and beyond the Erap.  Movements toward Lae.  The 25th Aust Brigade down Markam road to contact w/ about 200 enemy at Wittakers plantation. 

On PM of 5 Sept 43, the enemy was observed to be moving troops from Heaths to Lae by MT, but on 6, 7 Sept 43, after no elements of 503 got to Heaths, the initial franticness of the enemy seems to have disappeared and he MT’s them back to Heaths.  A Bn of the 25th is cutting north and east of Yalu over the Atzera range with intentions of proceeding down Bumbu river toward Lae.  Small Div. patrols are also crossing to the Busu River.  The Engrs Bn which crossed the Markam w/ natives on 5 Sept 43, has proceeded down the Markam from Markam point-  The river is 600 yds here at this (Markam) point.  There are about 60 enemy on the other side of river.  The Engrs will cut a track from where they are to Wittakers plantation.  Info of enemy in this area:  A somewhat depleted 41st Div most of whom are malarious and have been at Lae for some 18 months now.  Captured enemy doc indicate that they feel they should be reld by garrison at Madang. 


(These “documents” are soldier bitching letters home.) 

  A div patrol reports finding 3 outboard engines in mouth of creek south of the Heaths.  Landing of the 9th Div at Lae.  The Div landed on coast beyond Lae on far side of Busu river.  They unfortunately hit Busu in flood and have been having tough going getting across.  As at yesterday one Bn had crossed the Busu, had arrived at New Yanga and Malalang mission plantation where they were reportedly meeting Jap resistance.  In the air  Div intel did not mention friendly air except that they were bombing hell out of Lae.  About dusk every night and about dawn every morning the bombing can be heard here.  The reason that the enemy has not bombed the position here at Nadzab will be discussed under the big picture.

 The big picture:

 G-2  “The enemy at Rabaul is too engrossed in activities against the Solomon Islands to be of much aid to Lae.  The enemy at Salamau is completely surrounded by two means of escape, water or to Lae along the track 60 miles along the coast.  Taking the coastal track would mean loss of all heavy equipment.  The strip at Madang seems to be used  only for refueling and rebombing.  (In other words it is not a base for maint of planes and pers).  The Wewak strip is a little too far to bomb our air positions here or at Tsilli-Tsilli, just as we are a little too far to bomb Wewak.  So the situation seems to have reached a stalemate.  The garrison at Madang is estimated at a division.  The possibility of their moving into the assistance of Lae are as follows:

 1- By barge down the coast.  Every day our aircraft sink supply barges up and down the coast between Lae and Madang.  2- By land on coast between Lae and Madang.  Precluded because no heavy equipment and to many wide mouth streams.  3- Across the range to the E by MT to a small village there and thence by foot, to attack the Nadzab positions from the west.  The area to the west is grassy (kunai) and our daily aerial patrols would quickly spot the movement of large bodies of troops in that area.  The estimated total time necessary for that move is 18 days. 

The look of the general situation: Jap at Salamau is lost.  Jap at Lae is surrounded.  (One possibility evidently not considered by anyone - A rear attack by enemy prcht troops west of Erap river to hold until relieved from Madang).  Anyway you look at it the Jap is in a mean way

1800 hr

A repted 147 C-47’s landed today- for 40 minutes, one each minute.




Images are courtesy of the Emmett Lee Wester Collection




0530 hr

Capt. Greco and 1st Sgt. Hostinsky left on a hitchhiking patrol down Markam Rd.  There are very definitely Japanese down Markam Rd.  Lt. Turinsky also left w/ patrol of 9 men destination Munus and the gardens above there.

0630 hr

Major Woods received a telephone call which struck disbandoment of the provisional mortar company which was just as well.

0640 hr

Lt. Parks is to report to regt relative to instr on moving Co F, forward to a defensive position at Ngasawampum.  Co D is moving to CD except for plat at Mac’s camp.

1020 hr

Lt. Luscomb returns from Erap patrol describes interview with natives who evidently were working for a couple of Japs.  “When airplanes came over (5 Sept 43)and boom boom Jap he run we kill im one Jap.”

1030 hr

Received note from Mr. Crawford, Regtl S-1, directing that two men injured on the jump should be carried as sk in qrs that day.  The only hitch was that he hadn’t checked with the medics on it- a high crime.  How anyone could be so stupid as to assume that a man with a broken leg could march with his company three miles, go on sick call and be marked qtrs., is unbelievable particularly when one considers the dilemma of a combat 1st Sgt on receiving such instructions.


From an administrative standpoint the operation has been poorly handled.  The fault lies in too many lazy man’s short cuts and ground rules being habitually used with the result that by the time the 1st Sgt gets to combat he has either forgotten the right way or is afraid to go by regulations knowing he will have to change it to please the ground rule boys.  Solution for lower units:  The Co Cmdr to call his shots according to regulations and stand on his responsibility as company cmdr.  If ordered to ignore it -  get a certificate fr cmdr so ordering for presentation to the I.G.

1300 hr

 Lt. Ross attached to Aust FA and living at CD (Charlie Dog) came over and loafed for a couple of hours.

1400 hr

  Capt. Lamar was by with the info that if Lt. Millikin runs a high temperature this PM Lt. Millikin will die.  The second bit of info is that he will move out day after tomorrow.  Forty-eight hours ahead is a long time to predict in this war.  It is also rumored that a resupply on soap and cigarettes, oil and patches is coming.  The soap will be nice but the men can’t wash their clothes now because of a Regtl order that all men must be in complete uniform at all times.  They are allowed to take off their belts and equipment, and while there has been no authority granted from higher headquarters it is said that men may lower their trousers while in a squatting position, providing they are actually transacting business.  As for shaving they didn’t bring any any blades and those that did didn’t bring soap.  The meanest hitch is that men are out of cigarettes.  However they are sent out in small groups which no doubt find a good creek or try to go up the Markam Valley Rd.,  where there are damn sure Japs, this keeps them busy and happy.

1500 hr

  The transports are and have been all day raising a bloody racket.  If 147 came in and landed yesterday, it will run into a good figure today.

1520 hr

  Lt. Turinsky returns from all day patrol to Munum and reports he got as far as the 3rd Bn.  This will qualify him for a patrol merit badge. (BS) (Boy Scout).

1600 hr

  Foley and Topar Co D, evac w/ Fuo.

1600 hr

  Repts fr Co D, indicate that a few natives are returning to CD village (now Co D, CP).  The leading question this brings up is who will occupy the only two beds in the village.  In as much as Capt. Bates has the edge on Louisiana maneuver fire power points (which didn’t however consider native spears) he will probably have them.  Besides the natives at Charlie Dog had been consorting with the Japs, and at least one of them frightened Pvt. McGinn.  (Pvt. McGinn, bloody soul, dug the grave, found it too small, wanted to cut his victim in two to make him fit.)

1800 hr

  Return of natives only a rumor.






0805 hr

  Capt. Lamar called 2/4 field ambu and reports that Lt. Millikin died of wounds.  (According to Army tradition Lt. Fishburn will probably be tried for manslaughter).

1045 hr

  Lt. Millikin buried.

1050 hr

  Word over telephone:  (Telephone to Lt. Powell near BK).  Pvt. Salmon of Lt. Bosserts platoon reports that a patrol of 27 and Lt. Bossert hit an enemy patrol about a (6 hours) days march above Camp Diddy and a Sgt. was killed and an Aust on way to evac.  This on a trail to Boana, ambushed by Jap patrol, the Aust w/ patrol was wounded and died later.  Bossert dug in and is holding his position and requests reinforcements.  He has a route of w/d.  Est enemy: 24, well dug in and have auto weapons.  Bossert is armed only w/ TSMG’s, carbines, M-1, no auto weapons.  Pvt. Salmon left there at 0630 this AM.

1130 hr

  Pvt. Salmon arrived to be interviewed by Capt. Padgett, S-3.

1155 hr

  Capt. McLay of G-2, arrived at Gabsonkek, is told of Bossert’s patrol and talks to Pvt. Salmon.

1155 hr

  CO 2nd to CO Regt.  Sgt. Wodjewdzic, Co B, killed in action about 1700 hr.13 Sept 43:, on patrol above Camp Diddy 5 hrs reported by Pvt. salmon, Co B. 

(This platoon of Bossert's was attached to 2nd Bn at last moment.  Sgt. Wodjewdzic was the 1st man of the 2nd Bn to be killed by the enemy.  Lt. Bossert buried him in the jungles that night with a few words to the disposition of his soul.  His is a lonely grave, but it is on allied soil.)

1200 hr

  Last units of 1st Bn enplane for Port Morsby.

1230 hr

 Patrol is being organized by Capt. Padgett to take to relieve Bossert.

1300 hr

  Sgt. Eubanks, Pvt. McDonald Co D, evac to Regt.

1300 hr

  Pvt. Kelly Co F, member of original test platoon, evac to 2/4 fioeld amb (menengitis) presumably contacted from a native carrier.

1430 hr

  Capt. Padgett lvs out w/ 8 men and rations to go to Lt. Bossert -  it has taken three hours to get permission from 7th Division for the patrol to leave. 


(Let the reader decide from the information at hand whether or not the CO 2nd Bn should have taken independent action.  Both Lt. Col. Jones and Capt. Greco were gone when info received.)

1630 hr

  Sgt. Creveling and one intel. man Regtl. and five Boongs move out to go pick up the remains of Sgt. Wodjewdzic. 

(They returned next day, empty handed.)

1900 hr

  Capt. Lamar showed up with a story that two Jap Divisions were moving down from Madang on a forced march.  This was regarded as very interesting in as much as our intelligence tells us that less than a division is garrisoned at Madang, that it would take them 18 days, that our aircorps could spot them at least 14 days ahead.  Capt. Lamar seems to have a better than aerial photo on the 12th it is rumored went out to bury an armo).

2000 hr

  Intercepted a telephone message from G-3 to some Major.  “The main effort has reached Edwards.”  "What about Bumbu?”  “Forget about the Bumbu, we’ve got some interesting captured documents and among them a field order.”

2030 hr

  Capt. Greco and 1st Sgt. Hostinsky return from self appointed 36 hr mission to the front.  The mission:  To kill some Japs.  Mission was accomplished.  Near Heaths they went to HHQ 25th Bn 25 Brigade and said they were just looking around.  They were assigned to Co A, commanded by a Major Robertson (13 September 43).  On the 13th the entire Bn was only able to advance two or three hundred yards.  (From Jenyn’s  down to Whitakers Creek) Co A, was astraddle of the Markam Valley Rd.  The Company CP w/ Major Robertson proceeded down the trail-  the company front was sometimes 50 yards sometime 25 moving through Whitakers Coffee Plantation-  the coffee bushes are twenty to twenty five feet high.  Contact between platoons was by 536 radio with perfect control.  Remarkable also was control between men.  The Australians move with full field pack and billikins just a rattling.  Artillery laison was maintained by laison officer-  a scared Lt. whom had to be placed in position by the Major.  On night of 13-14, the artillery gave the Japs at Whitaker Creek and Heaths hell.  The Jap did not reply with artillery.  Early in the morning of  14 Sept 43, Co A, moved across Whitakers Creek and proceeded forward to Heaths.  (Late in the PM of 13th  Co A patrol had moved to contact the 2/2 Engineers who had moved NW from the Markam River.  At the moment the Co A patrol entered the clearing around the crater that was Heaths house before our aircraft dropped a bomb smack down the chimney, a patrol from the 2/2 emerged on the other side.  Each sighted the other and both fired.  No one was shot.)  Beating the bush, encountering machine gun fire over their heads, stopping to fill their pipes, “It’s getting bloody F-----g  hot mate”,  and sustaining a few wounds, Co A, moved forward to Lane’s bridge.  Here an Aust Lt. walked within 15 yards of a Jap machine gun.  One burst blew his head off and left a helmet full of brains on the ground.  Major Robertson to a young soldier who had stopped to hug the ground “get up lad, it’s only a couple of bloody Japs”  To four soldiers and Capt. Greco and 1st Sgt Hostinsky, “Go around on the left.”  They went around on the left crossed the creek mounting some high ground overlooking the creek.  Finally they saw movement under a tree down below on the creek bank, they opened fire.  One Jap got out of his hole to run, kneeled on the parapet.  He was tumbled back by Capt. Greco’s carbine.  Covered by the four Aussies, the two Yanks, went forward to see what was in the hole.  Four Jap-sons-of-heaven went home, a mass of dirty rags and blood.  Co A, crossed Lanes Bridge, the Japs fell back to the next creek (at Edwards) and Co A, stopped for tea.  About 1400 hr the wandering children started for home.  Co A’s casualties:  18 wounded 2 killed.  Capt. Greco and Hostinsky picked up a few trophies off their dead Japs.  A large silk flag with red circle and covered with  Jap writing.  A watch each and numerous trinkets.  Lt. Col Jones was very unhappy but relieved at their return.  Capt. Greco knew that his last 36 hrs. had taught him more than his last 36 months.

2030 hr

  Capt. Greco, always interested in people, had a little human interest story:  I call it “The Coward.”  This one private in Co A (he said) was in action in the near east.  Just a year ago yesterday he was sentenced to a year and a day and a dishonorable discharge by a courts martial for cowardice in the face of the enemy.  Yesterday we held up near Lanes by a machine gun nest.  This soldier went wild.  He walked straight into the machine gun nest firing an Owens gun from the hip.  Every Jap in the nest was killed.  The private was wounded twice but refused to be evacuated.  He is being recommended for the Military Cross. 






1550 hr
 Capt. Mitchell to Capt. Padgett.  G-1 says 2nd Bn may move to Morsby (sic) tomorrow, may move tonight to #2 strip.

1700 hr


 The Bn starts moving the outward Co’s into Gabsonkek prior to moving out to #2 strip  early in the morning.  Co F, is out at NGASAWAPUM and it will take sometime to move them back.  So far they have contacted no enemy out there.  The 3rd Bn is position around Munum gardens (after having once been pulled out of position, sent to the strip to enplane and late in the afternoon of that day, see previous remarks, they received instructions to move forward.

2100 hr


  The companies are moving in now and are sitting around drinking tea and what little coffee they have preparatory to bedding down.





0400 hr 

  A few excited Sgts. are talking to Lt. Col. Jones insisting that there are some Japs around and with some story about how someone shot at a noise and they heard it groan.  Sgt. Tannehill wants to go right out there and get them.  But it seems that Col. Jones realized the chances in Hades of a patrol finding infiltrating Japs is a lot less than an infiltrating Jap’s hand grenade finding the patrol.

0530 hr

  Preparing to move out, camp fires and chasing equipment down.

0600 hr

  Start to move out.  Men are carrying their gear, fish spears, what the natives probably call spears, anti personnel M-1, “native" head dresses, and, from somewhere about four Jap rifles sprung up in the Bn which is unusual since we didn’t kill any Japs.  But we sure scared hell out of some.

0945 hr

  1st units, parts of Co F and E, take off from strip headed for Port Moresby.

1030 hr

  By now all the last elements of the Bn have arrived at the strip including Lt. Howard LMG section which had been attached to Co E and forgotten and had to be sent back after.  Lt. Cole ran around an hour wringing his hands and crying to the heavens about this.

1400 hr

  All of Co F, all of Co E, parts of Co D, parts of Hq 2nd arrived in base camp out of Port Moresby.  Showers, beards cut off, men move into tents, redrawing their bunks and bedding and were fed about 1600 hr.  The cook’s who didn’t go on the operation, not being jumpers, were found to be in fine fettle and to have well survived the battle of Nadzab.  Most of them (the cooks) for one more time, went to their tents to polish their jump boots and burnish the Post-Exchange-bought jump badges and write home about how many Japs had almost killed them and all the Japs they had killed for sure.


The remainder of the battalion that was in the movement flat didn’t care what the world thought.  They went to bed.

1500 hr

  A few of Hq Co and the Ex. O, S-3 and Adjutant, hiked a ride with couple Regtl Hq and Serv planes, saw Capt. Snavely, Regtl S-2, and he told me that the Jap had evidently retreated from Lae up the Bumbu (Ref: Nadzab 3550- see also 2000 hr 14 Sept 43) come out on the trail about 2000 yards north of Yalu and continued north westward toward Munum-Munum Garden.  Now 3rd Bn was at Yalu and Munum.  The reports were that 3rd Bn was having quite a field day, had killed many Japs and lost four killed while doing it.

1515 hr

  Stopped to refuel at Tsilli Tsilli which was the forward supply base for the operation.  Capt. Snavely gave me a bit of light on the S-2 preparation for the operation.  For three weeks before the big day he had had almost no sleep, had flown six times over the jump areas.  On the Friday before, in cold daylight a B-24 pilot told him they were going down to take a look at Labu, which is across the Huon Gulf from Lae.  They looked at Labu all right and then the pilot swung East right across the Gulf over the Lae airstrip.  Capt. Snavely, as do all of us, loves life.  He could see Japs working to repair the strip which had been bombed to hell by our air force, he could see Malahang wreck and the Busu where the Ninth Div was to make a crossing under fire later.  They passed the field and exchanged shots with Jap ack ack.  In reminiscencing about it he is very bitter.  He always wanted to be an old man.

1700 hr

  Landed at Ward Strip and found that the Australian Comforts Fund had hot tea and fruit cake for the two plane loads.  The tea ran out just before the Adjutant who was on the tail of the line got there.

1900 hr

  Co D, and the rest of Hq Co and a few spare parts had been down on the strip in the kunai all day.  The sun-beating down and no shade, only a little water brought early in the day by aircorps jeep.  Now dirty and worn and tired they prepared to spend the night.

2100 hr

  Detrucked in the forward base area.  No food.  Noticed that someone had taken all the mess kits out and spread them on the ground. under a tree beside this mess hall.  This is not good because Hq and D aren’t in yet.

3rd Platoon emplaned and returned to Port Moresby, New Guinea.









1020 hr

    Hq and D Co after spending one eventless night on the strip enplane for Port Morsby.

1600 hr


Hq Co and Co D arrive in company areas.

Co. flew from Markam Valley to Port Moresby, New Guinea.  6 Officers and 96 EM were present.













18 September 1943.





























Lt. Col., AGD

Asst. Adjutant General









But Lt. Gen Krueger had other ideas about the "able leadership."  See 17 Oct - 22 Oct.




0700 hr

  Lt. Cole is screaming to all the gods in the heavens that his company doesn’t have any mess kits.  Co D, traditionally hungry, isn’t complaining very much.  They got to the chow line first.


Lt. Millikin (DOW) will be awarded the Purple Heart as of the day he was wounded.  Certain key NCO’s are being recommended for commissions on basis of having been in combat, more because of general worth than performance on the operation.  1st Sgt. Hostinsky Co F, 1st Sgt. Gagon, Co E, S/Sgt. Vaughn Co F also Warrant Officer Bitala, Hq  2nd Bn Communication Officer.

1600 hr

  Received orders decorating the following for wounds received in action near Nadzab strip, Lae NG 5 Sept 43:, Pfc. Synkowski, Co F, Pfc. Randolph A. Carter Co D, Paul J. Baltivik Co F, Cpl. Albert W. Westberry Hq Co 2nd Bn, Pfc. Herbert G. Elmore Co D, Clp martin Seal Co D, Pvt. John M. Parker Hq Co 2nd Bn killed in action, will be awarded the Purple Heart posthumously.

1640 hr

  W/O Bitala walked up to the CP in battle gear, but with his face washed, just returned from Nadzab.  (Mr. Bitala had been left behind to wind up the communications)  “T was in Lae last night” he said “the place is in shambles.  It is demolished.  There are dead Japs smoking in the ruins of bomb shelters.  The famous flag which flew over the General Headquarters (Note:  There is an Australian Reward of £600 for this flag) was taken by the Ninth Australian Division.”

 Later newspaper reports say it was taken by the 7th.


Bn returned from Markam Valley Operation.  Gen. Krueger said to be in Port Morsby - all men put on coveralls.  Men in hospital today:  32 Mostly malaria.







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