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Which ship(s) embarked 148th?

December 8 2010 at 6:03 PM
Melmoth the Wanderer  (no login)

Hello,

When the 148th FA went with the Timor relief convoy & put to sea on the 14th/15th of February 1942--Is it true that some elements of the 148th were aboard the little vessel TULAGI?

TIA,

MthW

 
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Bob1942
(Login Bob1942)

Re: Which ship(s) embarked 148th?

December 9 2010, 4:34 AM 

Hi MthW,
According to the Australian Merchant Navy website the Tulagi did indeed carry some of the U.S. Army 1 Bn. 148 Field Artillery Regt. When the Tulagi returned to Darwin on the 18th the U.S. Army troops were still onboard the following day during the Japanese air raid. An extract from Tulagi's Log said that the Tulagi got underway "and ran aground on soft mud in Crocodile Creek, in order to save life and vessel. Immediate disembarkation of the U.S. troops still aboard commenced using lifeboats and rafts."
Bob1942

 
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Nelson
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Re: Which ships embarked 148th

December 9 2010, 11:10 PM 

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

http://www.merchant-navy-ships.com/index.php?id=30,0,0,1,0,0

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.

Nelson

 
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Melmoth the Wrascal
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Battle of the Bands at Darwin

December 9 2010, 11:42 PM 

Hello,

In my investigations recently I came across a pleasing little anecdote re the cruiser and the F.A.--

When the ships were at Darwin in mid-February they were on either side of an L-shaped pier, with the F.A. embarking on an unnamed transport on one side, and HOUSTON tied up replenishing supplies on the opposite(either then from or left behind earlier by CHAUMONT and/or GOLD STAR; this included a lot of spare USMC uniforms destined for the Philippines which never made it, BTW--CA-30 had lost her laundry service facilities in the Feb 4th bombing, as it turns out, and her guys were short of clothing)...during the embarkation of the 148th, the F.A. band played non-stop, in their clean, neat uniforms...HOUSTON's replenishing took less time, and her bandmen, thrown into the role of temporary stevedores, dirty, sweaty, and in whatever they had that passed for uniforms (most likely T-shirts and shorts) couldn't endure standing by idly...They ran down to their compartments, grabbed their instruments, and coming back up, joined in the fun, playing along with the 148th F.A. band by looking over their shoulders to read the music...

Related (& sketched as well) by a CA-30 officer who was there as one of the rare lighter moments during this otherwise all-too-grim campaign, and certainly indicative of the spirit these young guys had even then.

FWIW.

MthW

 
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Nelson
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Re: Battle of the Bands

December 10 2010, 12:07 AM 

> Related (& sketched as well) by a CA-30 officer who was there as one of the rare lighter moments during this otherwise all-too-grim campaign, and certainly indicative of the spirit these young guys had even then. >

Roger that, and amen.

Nelson

 
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Nelson
(no login)

A brief history of the 148th Field Artillery

December 10 2010, 7:34 AM 

Yeah, that should have been Koepang (nicht Koebang), West (or Dutch) Timor.

Turns out I have notes taken from Shelby Stanton's World War II Order of Battle on the history of the 148th Field Artillery Regiment and its two constituent battalions. Alas, two of the main questions, the location of the regimental headquarters and the identity of the formation's commanding officer during the first months of 1942, remain unanswered.

Until September 1940, the 148th Field Artillery consisted of two national guard battalions: 1st Battalion, Idaho National Guard, and 2nd Battalion, Washington National Guard. On the first of that month, 2nd Battalion, including HQ and HQ Battery and firing Batteries D, E, and F, and the regimental Medical Detachment, were transferred to the 248th Coast Artillery, Washington National Guard, becoming similar elements in that seacoast defense formation. See

http://www.cdsg.org/HDPSdata/248thCAR.htm

That transfer of course necessitated the organization and training of a new 2nd Battalion, 148th Field Artillery, and very likely prevented its being ordered to the Philippines with the older and more experienced 1st Battalion in November 1941. Both the 148th F.A. Regiment and the 248th C.A. Regiment were inducted into federal service on September 16, 1940, with the former a part of the 65th Field Artillery Brigade, 41st Division, at the time a square formation, having four infantry regiments brigaded in pairs.

The 148th Field Artillery, less 2nd Battalion, was selected to be shipped to the Philippines, along with the entire 147th Field Artillery Regiment, formerly South Dakota National Guard, and 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery, formerly Texas National Guard. Some sources show 2/131st Field Artillery attached to the command of the 148st Field Artillery as that formation's new second battalion, although such attachment may have been for administrative purposes only. The three former national guard F.A. battalions from the Pacific Northwest embarked on USAT Willard A. Holbrook, while 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery, went aboard USS Republic (AP 33). All four battalions were armed with the M1897 75mm field gun mounted on the M2 split-trail carriage, which permitted not only high-speed truck towing, but much greater elevation and deflection than the older guns previously in national guard hands. Both transports departed the San Francisco Port of Embarkation in late November 1941, becoming part of the Pensacola convoy west of Oahu. Following their arrival in Australia in late December, the three F.A. battalions from the Pacific Northwest were deployed in the vicinity of Darwin, while 2/131st Field Artillery was sent on to Java aboard MV Bloemfontein and its eventual capture there by the Japanese army.

The participation of 1/148th Field Artillery in the would-be Timor expedition has been chronicled in my previous posting. The troops of the battalion suffered some casualties, including three men KIA, as they were still shipborne when the aircraft of the IJN struck Darwin on February 19, 1942. Some of the artillerymen, particularly from B Battery, took part in salvaging their guns and vehicles from the holds of the sunken or stranded vessels after the raid. In late April or May of that year, the artillerymen of the three battalions traded their 75mm guns for the new 105mm howitzers.

On June 17, 1942, HQ and HQ Battery, 148th Field Artillery Regiment, were disbanded. First Battalion became the independent 148th Field Artillery Battalion, and 2nd Battalion, which had arrived in Australia in April, became the independent 205th Field Artillery Battalion. [In his history of the 148th Field Artillery Regiment, Bill Heath fixes the redesignation date as July 17, 1942, and this discrepancy needs to be clarified.] Both 105mm howitzer battalions would see action, among other places, in New Guinea and the Philippines; 148th F.A. Battalion ended the war in Manila, while 205th F.A. Battalion found itself at Zamboanga.

Nelson

 
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Jim Broshot
(Login JimBroshot)

148th Field Artillery

December 10 2010, 8:38 AM 

At this late hour I thought I would add to the confusion.

Courtesy of my former brother-in-law I own a copy of THE JUNGLEERS A HISTORY OF THE 41st INFANTRY DIVISION, by William F. Mcartney (1948). The reorganization of the division as a triangular division in January and February 1942 is discussed briefly at page 19, where it is said, "The 148th Regiment became the 205th Battalion, which remained with the 41st Division, and the 148th Battalion, which eventually became a part of I Corps Artillery in the Southwest Pacific Theater." No other dates, no other details.

FIELD ARTILLERY BATTALIONS OF THE U.S. ARMY - Volume 1, by James A. Sawicki (1977):

"148th Armored Field Artillery Battalion" (a postwar re-designation) - originally organized 1st Battalion, 148th Field Artillery, "1st Battalion reorganized and redesignated as the 148th Field Artillery Battalion and assigned to the 41st Infantry Division, 17 July 1942 [?]."

"205th Field Artillery Battalion" - originally organized as 2nd Battalion, 148th Field Artillery, "reorganized and redesignated as the 205th Field Artillery Battalion and assigned to the 41st Division (subsequently the 41st Infantry Division), 17 February 1942."

I note that Stanton gives the formation dates/places for

148th FA Battalion as 17 Jun 1942 Australia [1st Bn, 148th FA]

205th FA Battalion as 14 Feb 1942 Port Angeles Wash [2nd Bn, 148th FA] and doesn't depart from San Francisco Port of Entry until 22 Apr 1942.

and that 41st Division is redesignated as 41st Infantry Division on 17 Feb 1942

And if you want see a massive work about the prewar US Army, a prequel to Stanton's book, and a work still in progress, check out the CARL site (Volume 2 has an entry for 148th Field Artillery)

US Army order of battle 1919-1941, volume 1: the Arms: Major Commands and Infantry Organizations, 1919-1941, Steven E. Clay.

US Army order of battle 1919-1941, volume 2: The Arms: Cavalry, Field Artillery, and Coast Artillery, 191941, Steven E. Clay.

http://www.cgsc.edu/carl/resources/csi/csi.asp#usaoob



 
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Edward
(no login)

Photos of 147th Field Artillery - Darwin Area - 1942

December 10 2010, 4:28 PM 

There are currently 10 photos from the collection of CWO Earl Bonacker of the 147th Field Artillery being offered on ebay as individual pictures.

These auctions end in 9-12 hours

Seller's name is sirgilbert1593

The dates given for the B-17D and P-40E plane crashes are not correct.

Edward

 
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Nelson
(no login)

Re: 148th Field Artillery

December 10 2010, 6:30 PM 

Comments on your comments.

First, it's widely acknowledged that given the enormous amount of detailed information Stanton published, there are errors aplenty in his chronicling. Second, his first edition (a blue book) has rather more errors than the second edition (a red book), and my just posted info, alas, comes from the blue one. Third, as if that isn't bad enough, one of the errors made is mine, not Stanton's (see below). One mistake not mentioned by you is that when part of the old square 41st Division, there were included three field artillery regiments--146th, 148th, and 218th--totaling six battalions making up the 66th Field Artillery Brigade. Unfortunately, the entry for the 148th F.A. Regiment indicates the 65th F.A. Brigade, almost certainly a typo, which I didn't notice until after I had posted mine. The 146th and 218th F.A. Regiments' entries have the correct 66th F.A. Brigade, as does the Wikipedia site on the 41st Infantry Division.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/41st_Infantry_Division_(United_States)

In the order of the other info you presented:

> The 148th Regiment became the 205th Battalion, which remained with the 41st Division, and the 148th Battalion, which eventually became a part of I Corps Artillery in the Southwest Pacific Theater. >

Otherwise unadorned by the dates of occurrence, I believe this is the straight skinny. Of interest is that while the HQ and HQ Battery of the 148th Field Artillery Regiment were ostensibly abolished on June 17, 1942, according to Stanton, the HQ and HQ Battery of the 147th Field Artillery Regiment much later became those for I Corps Artillery when its former 1st and 2nd Battalions became the independent 147th and 260th F.A. Battalions. Yet another interesting assertion is that the 260th F.A. Battalion became in time a truck-driving outfit.

Thus James Sawicki's 1977 statement, "1st Battalion reorganized and redesignated as the 148th Field Artillery Battalion and assigned to the 41st Infantry Division, 17 July 1942," is simply wrong. When the old 41st Division was triangularized as the new 41st Infantry Division, it not only lost one infantry regiment, but two field artillery battalions, its artillery contingent now consisting of four independent F.A. battalions: 146th, 167th, 205th, and 218th (again see the Wikipedia website cited above).

Now what doesn't make sense is the survival of the old 148th F.A. regimental HQ and HQ Battery after that headquarters had been divested of its former 2nd Battalion (now the independent 205th F.A. Battalion) in mid-February 1942. Perhaps that would account for its seeming absence in the reinforcement convoy to West Timor, although by that time the convoy was in the Timor Sea under fierce enemy air attack. Some of these artillery headquarters became simply logistical commands, e.g., 26th Field Artillery Brigade HQ in Java (unlike 2nd Bn, 131st Field Artillery, it was evacuated to Australia at the eleventh hour).

And yes, 205th F.A. Battalion arrived in Australia in mid-May 1942, not April 22nd of that year, which was its date of departure from the SFPoE. My careless error.

Which leaves us the question of when 1st Battalion, 148 F.A. Artillery, became the independent 148th F.A. Battalion, either June 17, 1942 (Stanton), or July 17, 1942 (Heath & Alvarez, and Sawicki, among other sources), and intuition tells me that Stanton is once again wrong on this one.

Thanx for the CARL citations.

Nelson

 
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James P. Campbell
(Login eibba2mij)

Side notes

January 25 2011, 1:12 AM 

My father, Patrick W. Campbell, who was a gunner with 205 F.A. Writes; Feb. 1942 41st Div. changed from square to triangular. Battery "E" 148th F.A. became Battery "B" 205th F.A. Became part of 162nd RCT. Sailed from San Francisco 25 April 1942, arrived in Melbourne, Australia 13 May 1942

 
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Kit
(no login)

Attempt to reinforce Sparrow Force

December 12 2010, 4:29 AM 

It seems two things are being asked of me, on which one I'm going to fall down badly (but probably with some semblance of a good excuse). Despite extensive looking, I don't know which anti-tank troop accompanied the February 1942 reinforcements to Sparrow Force on the island of Timor. I did find confirmation of sorts at

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Mauna_Loa

This website devoted to SS MAUNA LOA, sunk shortly thereafter at Darwin, does indicate an AT troop was part of the February 1942 reinforcements for Sparrow Force, citing A.B. Feuer's AUSTRALIAN COMMANDOS: THEIR SECRET WAR AGAINST THE JAPANESE IN WORLD WAR II (Stackpole), an American book to which I have no real access.

Nelson is correct that B Troop, 18 Anti Tank Battery, was included in the original Sparrow Force arriving Timor in December 1941. Its sister C Troop was part of Gull Force at Ambon, and of course was lost there. To be complete, 17 Anti Tank Battery, less C Troop, went to Rabaul, New Britain, and Kavieng, New Ireland (I'm assuming the battery was distributed between the two garrisons). There remain two problems in "figuring out" much more.

Firstly, the Australian War Memorial has little on the AIF's anti-tank units: click on the Second World War "Artillery units" and you'll get only the field [artillery] regiments displayed. Secondly, although the usual organisation of an AT battery was four troops, there were lots of exceptions at different times during the war. Some batteries had the standard four, but others had three or five. Sometimes a troop had been detached for good purpose, while other batteries, particularly early in the Pacific war, simply lacked the necessary ordnance to be filled out to four troops. Assuming, however, that each AT battery involved with 23 Brigade in the islands defence phase beginning in December 1941 had the requisite four troops somewhere, then the most promising candidate in the reinforcing convoy would be either A or D Troop, 18 AT Battery, or C Troop, 17 AT Battery. I shall keep at this task.

A bit more on the sinking of USAT PORTMAR. She was part of Convoy GP55 - ten merchantmen, three LSTs, and five corvettes as escort - steaming between Sydney and Brisbane in June 1943. Likely because her repairs after the damage received during the Darwin raid of 19th February of the previous year had not restored her to full health, she frequently straggled. In attempting to regain her position on 16th June, she passed LST-469, making a sweet overlapping target for lurking I-174, which put a single torpedo into each vessel, easily sinking PORTMAR, laden with ammunition and petrol, and damaging the landing ship. While her sisters vainly attempted to find the enemy sub, corvette HMAS DELORAINE rescued the 71 survivors (two KIA) from PORTMAR and successfully took LST-469 in tow, which was subsequently repaired. There were two significant outcomes of this attack: a serious dust-up resulted from the poor intercommunication between the RAN and RAAF units on the scene, and this was the last enemy attack off Australia's east coast.

Kit

 
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Jim Broshot
(Login JimBroshot)

Re: Attempt to reinforce Sparrow Force

December 12 2010, 5:39 AM 

"Secondly, although the usual organisation of an AT battery was four troops, there were lots of exceptions at different times during the war. Some batteries had the standard four, but others had three or five."

Although in Appendix B12 of THE BRITISH ARMIES IN WORLD WAR TWO AN ORGANISATIONAL HISTORY: Volume Five, The Australian Army, by David A. Ryan et al, the anti-tank batteries of the divisional anti-tank regiment are shown with three troops each with 4x 2pdr AT guns (each regiment has four batteries).

This source also says 17th and 18th Anti-Tank Batteries were formed from brigade anti-tank batteries of the 8th Australian Infantry Division.

 
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Kit
(no login)

Australian AT batteries and troops

December 12 2010, 6:57 PM 

"Volume Five, The Australian Army, by David A. Ryan et al, the anti-tank batteries of the divisional anti-tank regiment are shown with three troops each with 4x 2pdr AT guns (each regiment has four batteries)."

Yes, that appears to be true, although there were always the exceptions to the rule. Also, there seems to have been more variation in the British Army in Europe as the war wore on, given the need to juggle 6 pounder and 17 pounder troops in the same battery, sometimes giving rise to six-troop batteries. In the Australian Army in the Pacific Theatre, however, with the interiority in both quality and quantity of Japanese tanks and the relative rarity in encountering them, the establishment you've described is correct. Whatever the organisation, there were the basic 48 anti-tank guns in each AT regiment, sometimes in three batteries of four 4x gun troops, but mostly (as you've revealed) in four batteries of three 4x gun troops.

4th Anti Tank Regiment (later redesignated 2/4 Anti Tank Regiment, and then 2/4 Tank Attack Regiment) is a good case in point. Three of its batteries, 13, 15, and 16 Batteries, each having three 4x gun troops, went to Malaya, whilst 14 Battery remained behind to defend Darwin. There is this interesting passage in the Fortress Singapore chapter of Neil Smith's TID-APA: THE HISTORY OF THE 4TH ANTI-TANK REGIMENT (1992): "A further adjustment saw 13th Battery rearranged as a four rather than three troop establishment with two troops of 2 pounders, one troop with Bredas and a troop with 75 millimetre guns.....On the 6th February, 13th Battery's fourth or X Troop as it was called, with its four 75 millimetre guns was placed under command of 15th Battery in the 22nd Brigade area." The designation of "X Troop" could imply the troop's transient, temporary, or "unofficial" nature as an add-on, or it could have been because of its ordnance, those elusive American 75mm guns. I'm dubious about the last suggestion, as other batteries in the regiment were equipped with a few of the same model 75mm guns, without the troop affected being designated X Troop. Rather, I think X Troop reflects its temporary nature: just an unofficial fourth troop being stuck on for the moment while the need persisted.

Yes, I should have realized all of the above as standard practise in the Australian Army.

Kit

 
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Frank Watson
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Australian Troops

May 8 2011, 1:23 PM 

Hi Nelson

Just been reading the comments in regard to 148th field artillery. I can remember my father talking about the 148 years ago. Have just checked my dads war service record and it shows that he volunterred on the 2nd of february 1942 to join Special Forces.

The unit my father joined in Darwin was the Composite Brigade Signals AIF. he was given a new service number DX693. I believe that the convoy that sailed on the 14th of february 1942 was either bombed on the way to Timor or on the way back to Darwin on the the 18th of February 1942.

Frank Watson


 
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Lex Anderson
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148th FA in Darwin

October 26 2011, 3:40 AM 

October 25, 2011

My 92 year old father was there with the 148 FA.
Sgt. Edward C. Anderson was on ther Tulagi and saw the face of the Japanese pilot looking down into the Tulagi as he banked his plane over the ship to look into the cargo hold (it was full of troops from the 148th. Plane came back around and skipbombed the Tulagi. Did a radio interview with ABC News in Darwin just two weeks ago.

 
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Nelson
(no login)

Re: Australian troops

October 26 2011, 4:50 PM 

Frank,

So sorry, just now read your posting (because Alex's reply moved this thread forward). Let me provide a precis of the events overtaking the Timor convoy, starting with a barebones of Houston's RECONSTRUCTED deck log. Go to

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/ships/logs/CA/ca30.html

which has two reconstructed logs for Houston, apparently one "official" and the other not, perhaps taken from a diary. I trust the dates on neither one. The former has the convoy departing very early on February 15, 1942, and encountering a patrolling enemy four-engined flying boat later the same day, with a single run made by the aircraft, but no bombs dropped. The heavy air attack occurred the following day, with a near miss on SS Mauna Loa, wounding two men (both transferred to Houston's sick bay). The latter has the convoy departing on the 12th, with the four-engined flying boat picking up the convoy on the 14th and making its run, but dropping bombs, which fell far short. According to this account, the major air attack took place on the 15th, comprised of both medium land-based bombers (most likely Mitsubishi G4M 'Bettys') and flying boats (at this stage in the war would have been Kawanishi H6K 'Mavises'). The two accounts manage to agree on three things: (a) The single P-40 showing up after the single flying boat appeared overhead, in response to the request for air cover, was ineffectual. (b) The convoy was ordered back to Darwin on the 16th and duly reversed course same date. (c) The ships arrived back in Darwin on the 18th, Houston refueling and standing out same date (and we know what the following day would bring for Darwin).

I think the most reliable account for precise dates is by Walter G. Winslow (1984), The Ghost That Died at Sunda Strait, pp. 100-103. He reports Houston arriving at Darwin on Feb 11, 1942, and departing with the troop convoy--USAT Meigs, SS Mauna Loa, SS Port Mar [Portmar], and SS Tulagi, escorted also by USS Peary, HMAS Swan, and HMAS Warrego--on the 14th, which is the conventional belief. On the following day, "about noon", the convoy was spotted by the four-engined flying boat, which was a rude shock to all, as apparently they felt themselves safe within the confines of the Timor Sea. Winslow reports two bombing attacks by the [Mavis], its bombs falling well shy; the difficulty attracting the attention of the single P-40 sent; and finally the pursuit chasing the enemy aircraft toward the horizon (with the flash and a lot of black smoke indicating something had happened out there). Thus far in the account, Winslow makes only one obvious error, actually a repeat of one I've read several times: the American troop contingent included both the 147th and 148th Field Artillery Regiments, when it fact it was just 1st Battalion, 148th F.A., including the regiment's headquarters elements.

Everyone's fears were realized the next day, the 16th, when at about 1100 hrs the convoy was attacked, according to Winslow, by a total of either 45 or 50 bombers (difficult to discern which), 36 of which were twin-engined land bombers (likely Bettys). Near misses on Mauna Loa killed one man and wounded two others, which I believe is the correct version. Winslow corroborates that the 930-odd 5-inch shells obtained from damaged Boise (CL 47), after she had left SWPA, were far more effective than the old shells Houston had been lugging around for who knows how long. There were unconfirmed reports of several enemy aircraft shot down, almost certainly exaggerated, if not out and out untrue. The convoy did turn around later in the day (the 16th) and arrived at Darwin two days later. On a personal level, Winslow reports the successful launching of Lt. Jack Lamade's SOC to fly to Broome--the subject of another thread in this forum--but the shredding of the fabric on his own aircraft by the concussion of the AA guns before he could be launched, which of course doomed him and his observer not all that long afterward to capture and being PoWs for the remainder of the war. All in all, I think Winslow's lucid account is among the most reliable of those commonly available, which includes this cogent observation (p. 101): "....the Allies continually underestimated the enemy's capabilities, especially in the air."

Again, my apologies for this late response five and a half months later.

Nelson

 
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Nelson
(no login)

MV TULAGI

October 26 2011, 7:15 PM 

Lex,

I called you "Alex" in my previous posting, so my second apology of the day.

> Sgt. Edward C. Anderson was on the Tulagi and saw the face of the Japanese pilot looking down into the Tulagi as he banked his plane over the ship to look into the cargo hold (it was full of troops from the 148th). Plane came back around and skipbombed the Tulagi. >

Just to point out that all reports, because of the effectiveness of Houston's 5-inch AA fire, confirm that the bombing was done from a fairly high altitude, including that done by the Kawanishi H6K 'Mavis' flying boats (the lone Mavis appearing on February 15th bombed from about 10,000 feet). Although introduced by the Italians in the Mediterranean in late 1941, skip bombing was something the USAAF developed rather more extensively two years later in the SWPA. I cannot affirm absolutely that the IJN did not already do something similar--we have all seen those photos of Mitsubishi G4M 'Bettys' flying in low to attack U.S. shipping in the Solomons, though I have always assumed they were torpedo attacks, not skip bombing--but I do think this tactic was an American innovation in that theater of war. Undoubtedly there are longer and more detailed histories of skip bombing, but Bruce Gamble's Fortress Rabaul: The Battle for the Southwest Pacific, January 1942-April 1943 (Minneapolis: Zenith Press, 2010; ISBN 978-0-7603-2350-2) includes a decent account of its development. You do not declare one way or the other, but do let the record show that Tulagi was not damaged until three days later at Darwin. See

http://www.merchant-navy-ships.com/burns-philp/mv-tulagi/

In my previous I wrote, "Winslow corroborates that the 930-odd 5-inch shells obtained from damaged Boise (CL 47), after she had left SWPA, were far more effective than the old shells Houston had been lugging around for who knows how long," but is ambiguous. I intended to state that the heavy cruiser FIRED 930-odd 5-inch shells at the high-flying enemy bombers. She obained rather more from the ordnance stock in Tjilatjap after Boise's departure for the States.

Nelson

 
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Ron
(no login)

USAT Portman

March 24 2012, 5:50 PM 

Nelson, and others,

I found your comments to be interesting as I just recently purchase photo scrape book (someone in the 148th Artillery) that has photo's of the events that you have been writing about. it shows the ships in Darwin Harbor on 19 Feb 1942 under attach, photos of the USAT Portmar, the recovered guns being cleaned and other photo's of the 148th rail movement across Australia. It also has some photo's of some of the personnel later in the war. Overall a very interesting photo album. Feel free to contact me at my email address if you want to discuss the album.

 
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Margaret
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The Convoy to Timor, before Darwin attack (Feb 1942)

August 23 2012, 9:16 AM 

I just found something interesting in relation to the convoy from Darwin to Timor in mid-Feb 1942, that I'm hopeful that some of the experts here can respond to.

At the Naval Historical Society of Australia website http://www.navyhistory.org.au/category/navy-day-by-day/1942/, in the February 17, 1942 entry, it states the following:

"Waves of Japanese aircraft bombed a convoy escorted by HMA Ships SWAN, WARREGO, VOYAGER, ARMIDALE, and CASTLEMAINE, in the Timor Sea. Despite the concerted attack the convoy reached Koepang, (Dutch Timor), with urgent supplies and troop reinforcements."

My question is on the last sentence: is there any evidence at all that the convoy -- or parts of the convoy -- actually reached Koepang?

I've read in some Action Reports that the convoy dispersed on February 16, and then re-grouped later before heading back to Darwin. So I am wondering if some ships might have actually reached Koepang, before regrouping with the rest of the convoy.

Any thoughts?

 
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Melmoth the Wanderer
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News to me

August 23 2012, 5:38 PM 

The convoy--defended heroically by HOUSTON--turned back (allegedly on orders from ABDACOM) and nothing got through...The ships returned to Darwin where those remaining were attacked on the morning of the 19th, and "the rest is history..."

IIRC, there were quite a few Japanese heavy naval units at sea in and around Timor at the time--in addition to their clear air superiority--and they could have made mincemeat of any convoy so lightly protected in the region.

 
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