In the spirit of the holiday season (and because I did much enjoy the late 1930s photo of Houston
at Pearl), I'll provide a bit longer answer to Melmoth the Wonker's question.
There are various sources out there that specify the distribution of the American and Australian troops aboard the four merchantmen in the February 1942 convoy bound for West Timor, but I'll cite Bill Heath and Gayle Alvarez, The 148th Field Artillery Story, World War II
, 2nd edition. Heath was a member of 1st Battalion, 148th Field Artillery Regiment, and Alvarez is or was a staffer with the Idaho Military Historical Society. In Chapter II: "On February 14, the 148th packed its gear and boarded ships in the harbor. HQ, A, and Service Batteries were on the M.V. TULAGI and were commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James Patterson, who had been our commanding officer from the time we left Fort Lewis. B and C Batteries were on the S.S. PORTMAR and were led by Major George A. Whitely." 'Tis clear from the rank of the C.O. that Heath means the battalion commander, and the HQ Battery referred to is that of 1st Battalion. Now when this battalion shipped to the SW Pacific, it was specified as the 148th Field Artillery Regiment, less 2nd Battalion, which means the regimental HQ and HQ Battery went with 1st Battalion. Where that headquarters was and what its status remained in February 1942, I'm uncertain, so I don't wish to state more than I know. I expect Shelby Stanton's Order of Battle
book can clear up that uncertainty and very likely I checked on this point previously, but I do not have the book with me and do not remember what the fate of this F.A. regimental HQ became. I believe it was abolished at the time its two constituent battalions were reorganized as independent F.A. battalions, or maybe even before, but perhaps someone with Stanton at hand can provide more reliable info.
As for the Australian troops, Heath writes, "....the U.S.A.T. MEIGS and M.V. MAUNA LOA carried the the 2/4 Pioneer Battalion, [2nd] Australian Imperial Force, and a troop of Australian anti-tank guns and gunners." That roster is clearly incomplete and perhaps even wrong. One of the sites for MV Tulagi
includes a more complete roster:
*Austr. Headquarters, Sparrow Force (11 all ranks)
*Austr. 2/4 Pioneer Battalion (1008 all ranks)
*Austr. 2/40 Infantry Battalion, reinforcements (50 all ranks)
*Austr. Sparrow Force Signals Section (31 all ranks)
*Austr. 2/12 Field Ambulance (11 all ranks)
*And their stores
There is no mention of an anti-tank troop, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. When the original Sparrow Force was landed two months before at Koebang, West Timor, it was built around 2/40 Infantry Battalion, with requisite signals and ambulance sections, and B Troop, 18 Anti-Tank Battery, among other units. These elements were doubtless decimated during the combat before Lieutenant Colonel Leggatt surrendered most of his force in West Timor in February, not long after the convoy carrying reinforcements, and escorted by USS Houston
and three small boys, turned back to Darwin on 17 or 18 February 1942. Thus it 'splains the presence of such elements among the intended reinforcements, and I would not be surprised if another AT troop accompanied the Aussies, as Heath maintains, but to date, I've not been able to identify it. Kit? Anyone?
Two other points: After the February 19 air raid on Darwin, the badly damaged Portmar
required substantial repairs at American army expense, and thereafter was commandeered and became USAT Portmar
; she was sunk by a Japanese submarine off the Australian coast in mid-June 1943. Tulagi
served as a USAT as well for a finite period, but was mustered out in January/February 1944, and was back in British service when torpedoed and sunk by in the Indian Ocean by U-532
in late March 1944. Her survivors experienced a long and terrible ordeal before finally being rescued.