MARKHAM VALLEY REPORT OF OPERATIONS

26 OCT 1943 

 

 

EXTRACT ONLY

     A.P.O. 929

 

Headquarters
503d Parachute Infantry
26 Oct. 1943

 

SUBJECT :  Report of Encounter with Enemy Forces.

TO :  The Adjutant General, U.S. Army, Washington D.C.

            In compliance with paragraph 10, AR 345-105, dated 18 November 1929, the following report of the Parachute activities in operation against Japanese forces in the Markham Valley, 5 September 1943 to 19 September 1943, is hereby submitted.

            1.  General :  The 503d Parachute Infantry was employed in conjunction with the 7th Australian Division and the 9th Australian Division in an air-sea and ground offensive against Japanese forces in the Markham Valley, New Guinea 5 September 1943 to 19 September 1943.  The mission of the 503d Parachute Infantry was to seize the Nadzab E/L Strip and prepare it for use in landing of Airborne Australian troops and to close the western inland approaches of the Markham valley.

           2.  Departure : Due to the splendid co-operation of the Fifth Air Force and the 54th troop Carrier Wing, all departures were effected smoothly.  All planes had been properly fitted for parachute drops, viz, doors taped and all excess accoutrements removed from the interior prior to arrival of the troops. 

            The troops arrived at the airfield and were at their assigned planes two hours prior to take-off.  During this period, parachutes and equipment were fitted an the individuals.  Fifteen (15) minutes prior to take-off, all men were seated in the planes with parachutes and full equipment on.

            At 0825 hours, 5 September, the take-off was started.  The rendezvousing of the eighty-tow (82) transports required forty-five (45) minutes.  When all elements were in formation, the flight to the drop area was started.

            3.  FLIGHT AND DROP :  The flight was flying three (3) battalion columns in a formation of six (6) planes echeloned to the right rear and thirty (30) seconds between elements.  After flying for one (1) hour, the first check point (Tsili-Tsili) was passed.  At this point, all men were stood up in the plane and equipment checked.  Twelve (12) minutes later, the Markham River, the second check point, was passed and the men stood in the door.  In three (3) minutes the troops were jumping and in four and one-half (4˝) minutes, eighty-one (81) transports were emptied.  Each battalion landed on their assigned jump fields and proceeded immediately to their assembly areas.

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            4.  GROUND ACTION :   The ground action proceeded as planned.  The 1st battalion, 503d Parachute Infantry seized the Nadzab E/L Strip and commenced its preparation to receive airborne troops.  The 2d and 3d Battalions, blocked all approaches from the North and East and established a network of extended patrolling.  Very little activity was encountered.  The 2/2 Australian Pioneer Battalion joined the 1st Battalion at 1800 hour, 5 September 1943, to take over the preparation of the strip.  The original strip was 1500 feet long and had remained unused for twelve (12) months.  This strip was improved and extended to 3300 feet.  The 1st battalion then set up a perimeter defense around the strip to protect the 2/2 Australian Pioneer Battalion and the natives working with them.  The Airborne troops, in C-47 airplanes, began to land at 1000hour, 6 September 1943, 23˝ hours after the jump was made.

            On 8 September 43, the 25th Australian Brigade had arrived and had replaced our 3d Battalion who were then withdrawn to the vicinity of the strip.

            The Australians continued their push down the Valley and on 14 September 43, the 3d Battalion was sent forward to protect their L of C and to prevent enemy infiltration to their rear.  The main body of the Japanese Forces had at this time evacuated LAE and were withdrawing to the Northwest.  This body encountered the 3d Battalion at 0600 hour, 15 September 43, and the Battalion immediately set up a defensive position to prevent their breaking through.  A detailed account of this action is attached herein as Inclosure # 2.

            The vigorous and aggressive patrol action of this unit resulted in a few encounters with enemy patrols.  The Japanese patrols always withdrew and in several instances, large amounts of equipment was abandoned.

            5.  EVACUATIONa.  The 1st Battalion was evacuated by air to Port Moresby on 14 September 43 after the arrival of the 25th Australian brigade with instructions to prepare for another mission.

             b.  The 2nd Battalion and regimental Headquarters Division was evacuated on 17 September 43.

               c.  The 3d Battalion was evacuated on 19 September 43.

            6.  MISCELLANEOUS :  a.  The morale of the men was excellent.  The general attitude was one of determination.  The men were disappointed in that they had been ordered not to be used were Infantry could be employed and were required to remain behind while the Australians pushed down the Valley.

               b.  One (1) plane load of fifteen (15) men did not jump because the crew chief was taking off the door, it blew out and was hanging on the side of the plane.  It would have endangered the life of every man who would have tried to jump.

               c.  One (1) man did not jump as he fainted when the men were preparing to jump.  No man refused to jump on this mission.

            7.  RESULTa.  The prescribed mission assigned to the 503d Parachute Infantry was carried out most successfully.

               b.  The casualties were as follows :

                   Killed in action   -   Eleven (11)

                  Wounded in action   -   Forty-three (43)

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

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                  N  O  T  E  S                 

 

 1. “doors taped” refers to the practice of using masking tape to cover the rough recesses around the C-47's door to prevent any fouls in which either uniform or equipment might be caught.   Jerry Riseley tells of Wilburn E. "Bitsy" Grant's  unsuccessful attempt to procure masking tape.  Colonel Joe S. Lawrie was Regimental Executive Officer under Colonel Kinsler. There came a time in the tour, when the regiment needed masking tape to tape up the jump planes and none could be found.  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.”

2.  "Tsili-Tsili" is pronounced, at least by the Americans, as "silly-silly".  The 5th Air Force established an air base here.  The 5th Air Force commanding general, Major General George Churchill Kenney, did not approve of an air base at Silly-Silly, so he renamed it Marilinan which made it all the more delightful to the GI’s, both men and officers to call it Silly-Silly.

 3.  Inclosure # 2 referred to under “4.  GROUND ACTION”, third paragraph, is not with this report, and we do not know if it is still in existence.