6th Special N.C.B. March 8, 1944
IP: 24.228.227.98


6TH SPECIAL SEABEE "STEVADORES" CONTINUE UNLOADING AMMUNITION AND FUEL OIL DESPITE BLACKOUT AND JAPANESE ARTILLERY FIRE.

DURING A JAPANESE COUNTER-OFFENSIVE ON BOUGAINVILLE IN THE SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA, "STEVADORE" GANGS OF THE SIXTH SPECIAL NAVAL CONSTRUCTION BATTALION CONTINUED THE DISCHARGING OF AVIATION GASOLINE AND AMMUNITION FROM A SUPPLY SHIP. THE SEABEE CARGO WORKERS OPERATED UNDER FULL LIGHT WHILE THE REMAINDER OF THE AMERICAN HELD PERIMETER WAS UNDER FULL BLACKOUT.

REALIZING THAT THEIR LIGHTED AREA ON BOARD THE SHIP AND ON THE UNLOADING BEACH WOULD BE AN APPARENT TARGET FOR ENEMY ARTILLERY, THESE 6TH SPECIAL SEABEES NEVERTHELESS CONTINUED THE UNLOADING OPERATION IN ORDER TO PROVIDE U.S. ARMY FORCES WITH OFFENSIVE MATERIAL. WHILE ENEMY SHELLS LANDED WITHOUT DAMAGE IN THE OCCUPIED AREA, NONE OF THE SHELLS STRUCK NEAR THE SHIP. ON THE FOLLOWING NIGHT A LONE JAPANESE BOMBER WAS SIGHTED AND THE 6TH SPECIAL "STEVADORES" JOINED THE NAVY GUN CREW MANNING THE ANTI-AIRCRAFT BATTERIES.

"6TH SPECIAL VETERAN" MEMORIES OF MARCH 1944".

In March 1944, the Japs made an assault to drive us off the island, which they almost accomplished. They overran
the two outer defense lines in places but were stopped by the third line, with the exception of a few that
managed to slip through. Previously the Marines had secured the beachhead area and had already moved on, and
the area had been turned over to the Army.

A call was made for re-enforcement and in a few days the harbor was full of troop, cargo and combat ships. As
it turned out the troops were not used at that time, but we did unload the badly needed ammo, bombs, and
gasoline. We were put on an 18-hour day - 6 on and 12 off. We had to go to work 6 hours earlier each day when
you think in terms of a 24 hour day. It was impossible to get your system adjusted to this, (18 hour day), but we
lived through it with very little complaining at a time like this.
On one occasion at the height of the push we were unloading 500 pound bombs onto Ducks (a 2 1/2 ton
amphibious truck nicknamed "DUCK"), which would take their loads to the beach and right on to the fighter
strip. The planes (Douglas dive bombers) would load up and head for the enemy line. The enemy was so close
we could see the planes from the ship dive to drop their bombs. The planes would come out over the harbor
from the air strip and one plane accidently dropped her bombs not far from the ship we were working on. The
pilot immediately turned around and went back for another load. A detachment of men from our battalion were given a section near the beach to man a second line of defense in case the Japanese ever broke through.

During the push a few of the enemy broke through the lines into our territory, hiding out during the day and coming out at night to find something to eat in our mess halls. Several were captured or killed. One of our men a cook - was killed with a knife as he went into the mess hall early one morning.

If for any reason we left the camp other than work (and sometimes then), we had better have the M1 with us.
When we went to bed that rifle and my knife were ready and within reach.


While unloading 5-inch shells (projectile) weighing nearly 100 lbs. apiece from the ship's hole just forward of
the bridge, we placed the shells in a cradle made for this purpose, holding about 75 or 80. We set this load down
on the steel deck of the barge; the men there would disconnect the slings from one side of the cradle and have
the winch operator raise the cradle spilling the shells rather than removing them by hand one by one. This made
a lot of noise and the sparks did fly, but it did save valuable time. The skipper of the ship came out on the deck
above all excited and said harshly, "You can't do that, you will blow up my ship." I replied, "Skipper, there's a
war going on right over there and those people need this ammunition." We continued right on. The shells, minus
the fuse, were loaded with explosive powder.

At the time the Japanese were making their big push - some nights we would go to sleep with the five inch guns
and the 105MM Howitzer going continuously and we would wake up next morning with them still going. We
had learned to sleep with the noise. One of the 105MM was not far back of us; the concussion would shake our
tent when the gun was fired.

After the enemy had been pushed back into their area, Rice and I went up on a high ridge at the most forward
defense line overlooking the enemy territory. The army men told us about two of our men being stationed as
lookouts in a huge tree nearby before the Japs made their push. and the last thing that was heard from them (by
phone) was that one had been killed.

On re-taking this ridge the enemy who had dug in under this lookout tree had to be burned out by a gasoline pipe rigged by "Seabees". While standing there talking and surveying out into enemy territory, we turned around and to our surprise we were looking directly into the muzzle of a 105 gun, camouflaged in the edge of the bushes.

After this enemy assault was over we received a letter of commendation from Admiral Chester W. Nimitz,
Commander in Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet for a job well-done in stopping the Japanese. Later this became known as the "Second Battle of Bougainville."



Replies:
There have been no replies.



Post a reply:
Name:
Email:
Subject:
Message:
Link Name:
Link URL:
Image URL:
Check this box if you want to be notified via email when someone replies to your post.



Create Your Own Free Message Board or Free Forum!
Hosted By Boards2Go Copyright © 2020