11 - 17 JUNE 1944




11 JUNE 1944



Chow back to normal. 

It was announced during the morning that we would start a regular training schedule the following day.  This was the same as an announcement that combat missions in the near future were off.  This is really hard on morale. 


One might think that there would be a sense of relief when a mission is called off, but just the opposite was true.  Special trained, elite units, as the 503d was,  became highly keyed up when combat becomes imminent.  Call off the combat and a sense of frustration always develops.  It is as though they have been falsely promised, and the promise had now faded.  Never was the morale so low as when a mission had been called off.



Tonight regt. put on a stage show directed by our Special Services, Capt. William J. Rose.  He had an orchestra consisting of a piano, a base fiddle, and a violin.  Rose sang “On the Road to Mandalay” and “ Begin the Beguine”.  He has a good voice and sang well.  Lts.  Knowels and Klatt sang several songs.  Knowels started singing one song such as we quite often sang, but he was stopped, because the words were too obscene and vulgar.  The chaplains were present.  He cleaned up his act and went on. 

Our morale was low.  There had been too much on again and off again.  After the first couple of days when we turned in our parachutes morale took a nosedive.  I am sure this show was ordered by Colonel Jones to raise morale.  It was a good try but failed.  This was demonstrated when Rose asked all the men to rise and join him in singing the Regimental song.  When he started to sing the men got up and left. 


John Lindgren and I were at the Boston reunion, July, 1989 and we were talking to Bill Rose, our regimental special services officer at that time. We brought up the show he put on at Hollandia under the coconut trees at Ebli’s plantation.  "Even to this day I feel a sense of disappointment when I remember that show," he told us.  "Colonel Charles Lindberg was at Hollandia at the time of the show, and I felt sure that if I had asked the colonel, he would have come to our show and spoken to us.  I didn't  get around to doing this and felt that I missed the chance to put on a good show.   I feel sure we would have enjoyed seeing and hearing Colonel Lindberg that night.  We probably would have behaved better."  


(Lindberg had been an Army Air Corps Colonel,  but President Roosevelt had refused to reinstate Lindberg's commission which Lindberg had resigned in 1939 so as to pursue his anti-war America First agenda.  Nonetheless, Lindberg's fame was not tarnished amongst the troops, and he was widely regarded throughout the theater. Lindberg flew missions ostensibly as a civilian consultant, an extraordinary recognition by the men that what the brass in Washington didn't know wouldn't hurt them.) 


No one looked forward to the return to the daily grind of training.  The monotony hour after hour.  You trained and trained, then the job you had trained for seemed near at hand, but it was cancelled and back to the jungles.  To be honest, though, although the platoon leaders hated the training routine as much as anyone, once in combat I doubt that there was any platoon leader that did not feel at times that he wished there had been more training.  You look around and see men bunching up or failing to take other normal safety precautions, you felt like we need more training.  Then too deep down we knew everyone did not know all the basics." 

For example, time and time again we went through the principles of map reading.  Soon after we started this series of training, the 1st platoon assistant platoon leader, Emory Ball, was giving a map reading class.  He picked out one of the men, who later transferred to another company, and told him to demonstrate a method of orienting a map.  He handed him a map and a lensatic compass.  The man was at a complete loss.  The bad was that Colonel Jones and Lt. McRoberts had just walked up.  To say they were unhappy is a gross understatement.  This man was one of the chief bitchers when the map reading class was announced.  He could not see why we had to keep taking that old map reading over and over again.  I doubt  very seriously if we ever over-trained, even if we thought we did.

At this time we were beginning to get news from Europe, and the big news was the invasion of France proceeded by the great airborne landings.  This probably added to our woes since our brother units in Europe were all seeing great action and we were training again.  This was not a command failure.  There were just no suitable operations requiring the use of parachute troops in the Pacific.

We were losing a few men at this time or had lost them since Australia.  They had been with the outfit for some time.  George Barnes was the 1st platoon sergeant.  He had been a squad leader at the time of the Nadzab jump.  He seems to have gone while we were at Dobodura.  Some of the officers were going, too.  At this time people seemed to just disappear.

There were probably more rumors flying around here than at any other place we were ever in.  Heavy fighting was taking place on Biak and many rumors concerned this action.  Then there were many rumors concerning Jap counterattacks.  At this stage we did not know how much damage had been suffered by the Japs.  Rabaul was still considered as a great Japanese stronghold, and the Japs were expected to sally forth at anytime. 

In reading back it seems that victory was assured by this time, but to us the issue was still in doubt.  In looking ahead toward Japan we had a lot of territory to capture.  Then even the Philippine Islands seemed far away.  Never was there any doubt in our minds that the Japs would not fight to the bitter end defending every inch of their homeland.  This was a logical opinion, because then Jap soldiers were so fanatical in their warfare that very few ever surrendered.  In our minds we could not see an end, just a war that would go on for years and years.




12 JUNE 1944


 Trained hard this morning.  Everyone made a five mile march this afternoon.  Battalion held a smoko at 2030 tonight in the mess area.  We were served coffee, ritz crackers, and pretzels.  Everyone enjoyed this treat, and it was a real treat. 


This sounds like an exaggeration, but it was not.  When you don’t have anything, the smallest things can be appreciated.  Items such as this seldom made it past the rear base echelon.



13 JUNE 1944


Training all this morning, cut grass, and policed the area this afternoon. 


Even in bivouac area in the tropics we had to cut that grass in keeping with age old Army traditions.





14 JUNE 1944



Trained all morning.  At noon we were alerted for a move to a beach at Humbolt Bay.  Now the rumors are that we will embark on ships headed for Biak. 


They asked for twelve of our battalion officers to ride back and forth on trucks to make sure the drivers came back to our area to haul more of our unit.  It seemed some of the drivers had a habit of disappearing.  I volunteered.  We left about 2100 hour arriving at a bald hill, we called Pancake Hill, about 2300.  I do not know where this name came from.  It probably was a name our engineers who cleared the area came up with.  It was a long, rough, dusty ride on a road that had not been completed.  In places it was a narrow one lane road cut into the side of a mountain with an almost sheer drop to the lake below, Lake Sentani.  Engineers were working 24 hours a day to construct this road into a regular two lane travel-way.



15 JUNE 1944


Co. left and moved to Pie Beach, Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea.  Boarded LCT and moved to new area at Hollonick Beach 47 miles away.

The company moved from Eberly Platation by LCT to Hollenkany and set up bivouac at Cape Kussoc.

"After midnight the trucks returned to their area and Lt. Buchanan od D. Co. picked up eight of us-  Ed Flash, John Lindgren, Nicholas Margaritis, Jim Gifford, me,  and others making a total of nine in the Jeep.  We arrived back at Ebli Plantation at 0130.  At 0430 "F" Co. loaded up and went to pancake hill.  My stuff had all been packed and moved to the road ready to load.  Sidney Brock turned up with a can of peaches from somewhere.  We ate these and talked until 0330.  When we got to the hill we found that we were not going to Biak.  The 24th Inf. Div. was going to Biak to reinforce the 41st Inf. Div.  We were moving into the 24th’s area.  The grumbling and complaining started anew. 

Once more “one step ahead of the WAACS and one step behind the Japs”. 

Each man was issued a piece of steak, real steak, for breakfast.  We cooked this on a stick over an open fire.  It was a wonderful breakfast.  Then we went to a nearby creek and bathed.  Soon our Bn. moved to Pie Beach, loaded on LCM’s, crossed the bay, and landed near 6th Army Headquarters.  Trucks picked us up and took us to Cape Kassoe.  Some were left to guard 6th Army HQ.  Cape Kassoe was a beautiful area with white sand beaches and many coconut trees.  The area was muchly walled off by coral cliffs a few hundred yards inland.  On the east these cliffs arched to the sea cutting off easy travel that way. 

  Actually these cliffs made travel along the beach east virtually impossible. The area was a cool place with a breeze blowing all the time.  This was the closest place I saw in New Guinea to the beautiful sandy beaches backed by coconut trees which the movies like to show as Pacific island paradises.


       The 2d Battalion History discloses the fact that a mission was planned by the 6th Army for the 503d on Hollandia.  The regiment was to  relieve and take over the sector assigned to the 34th Infantry, to secure Tami Airstrip,  to effect a perimeter defense around the advance echelon of 6th Army Headquarters and to prevent the Japs from escaping to the Sarmi-Babo area.




16 JUNE 1944


Co. performed Guard Duty at 6th Army Hq. Lt. Gen. Krueger’s command.


Major Britten received word of his promotion to lieutenant colonel today.  We built a camp and policed the area today.




17 JUNE 1944


Bn. ordered me to take a squad on a two day patrol today.  I took Sgt. Wuertz and his 2nd squad.  Attached to this patrol were two intelligence scouts, two 511 radio operators with radio and a medic.  We moved out south, climbed the lava cliffs and mountains in heavy rain forest on the south side and descended to flat, densely covered, wet terrain.  The rain forest was very heavy here, but the trail we were following led to a broad, well used trail generally running east-west.  We moved east on this trail all day.  That night we bivouacked by a huge bomb crater filled with water.  That night passed uneventfully despite all the noises of the jungles.  The men were calm.

My orders were to find a lake near the coast and to determine if there was any Jap activity around this lake.











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