Stop The Rot
Our base camp was soon established with all facilities in operation, along the sandy beach. By this time the jungle rot had spread over such a large part of my body, that it was painful to wear clothing and move about. I knew I had no alternative but to answer sick call.I was immediately confined to sick bay after being "read off "for waiting so long to report my condition.
When my treatment began, Dr. Marsh (no relation) explained to me that the Medical Department had never encountered the tropical skin diseases that were afflicting troops in the south pacific. As a result they were resorting to trial and error methods in their efforts to find an effective treatment. So I became experimental with a different medication on the various parts of my body. Finally, after a few weeks without result, Dr. Marsh in desperation told me to go to the beach and lay in the water with my body submerged. Then, in a few hours to lay on the beach in the sun. I was to alternate water and sun throughout the daylight hours. My condition began to improve immediately to the astonishment of Dr. Marsh and myself. I was soon able to wear clothes and visit the platoon and squad areas of the Company but Dr. Marsh would not yet release me. I learned that we had received replacements and met the new members of my Squad. They were brothers whom I will call F.J. and W.J. and were friendly, outgoing and very enthusiastic about the Raiders. As their Squad leader I observed that they were close and very attached to one another.
Our Company was soon stirring with activity as O and P Companies embarked for the Segi Pt.- Viru harbor operation and N and Q companies were preparing for the attack on Vangunu. Dr Marsh gave me written authorization to remain with the rear echelon which, I destroyed and returned to Q Company. The jungle rot had almost disappeared and would never again be a serious problem.
I highlighted the Segi Pt.-Viru operation in the previous Historical Review. There are many excellent detailed histories of the advance and attack on Viru and it would be presumptuous of me to cover the same ground. I will list that material in the section I call The Good Stuff. I do however, want to make this statement. The advance of Col. Currin’s Raiders from Segi Pt. was an incredible military and human achievement and ranks alongside "Edsons Ridge" and "The long Patrol" in the annals of this nation’s wars.
On 9 July, as noted before, Currin’s Raiders embarked on LCI’s at Viru and went ashore 10 July at Tetere to reorganize and await the arrival of Major Clark’s command.
Major Clark's Command -Vangunu
For the reasons given above I will not supplement the account of the battle of Kaeruka or the subsequent events. I will however, add this lengthy note.
NOTE:[I debated with myself about adding this information but, finally I decided in the affirmative. Time will determine if my decision was sound. Before Q Company crossed the Kaeruka river I was instructed to send a man to the left ,once we were across, to make contact with N Company who were to cross simultaneously. This was a sound and normal procedure since my squad was the left flank unit of the company. Once across I moved down the line to F.J. who was on the left and gave him those same instructions. I also cautioned him to stay low behind the river bank until he encountered N Company personnel. We were under heavy fire so I moved quickly to the center of the squad to attend to the business at hand. During the course of the battle and the establishing of our defensive perimeter that evening F.J. did not return to the squad. I hoped that he was with N Company but was very uneasy because of his absence. While securing the area the following day his remains were discovered. I learned much later, that only one man of N Company succeeded in crossing the river due to intense enemy fire. Severely wounded he directed fire upon the enemies positions ,then returned to his Company’s lines where he succumbed from his wounds. I was never informed of the manner of F.J’s death. When we returned to Tetere W.J. held the hurt inside him as long as he could and then gave loud voice to the suspicions he was harboring. A battle raged in the soul of both of us for months. Eventually he came down to K Company for a visit. We had a long talk and a measure of peace came to us both. My purpose in this is : May the Marine Corps live forever, but may two brothers never again be assigned to the same squad or platoon.]
Following an interval of combat patrolling on Gatukai Island N and Q Companies returned to Vangunu, embarked on APD’s and arrived at Tetere 13 July. There the Battalion reunited again prepared to join the Northern Landing Force at Enogai Inlet.
This battle has also been analyzed and reported in great detail by many more qualified than myself. I will not attempt to supplement in any way their excellent work.
For myself, and perhaps others, the details of the battle are just a ghastly blur. But, the intense fury of it remains firmly anchored in my memory. In the history of this nation’s wars it may appear as small and insignificant. I believe however, in its savage nature it is comparable to the Cornfield and Sunken Road at Antietam, the Muleshoe at Spottsylvania, and in a sense the Union assault at Cold Harbor. Like those battles Bairoko is now history and enough has been said.
Early morning 21 July, the slow painful withdrawal to Enogai got underway. The wounded were evacuated and the Raiders of both Battalions took up again their defensive positions. Vigorous reconnaisance and combat patrols were resumed as well as a general consolidation of defensive positions. On a date I can no longer recall I was evacuated with others to the Naval Hospital at Tulagi with acute gastroenteritis where I made a slow recovery.
On 29 Aug. the 4th Raiders returned to Tetere on APD transport and a few days later boarded the USS American Legion arriving at Nounea, New Caledonia 8 Sept. The Battalion then took up quarters at Camp Allard at Mission St. Louis. When released from the hospital I rejoined the platoon at that location.
Rest & Civilization
During the next weeks, the Raiders were allowed to rest, enjoy the change of climate, and the sites and sounds of Noumea. Prices for food were outrageous and we were not exactly welcomed with open arms by the local populace. They were I believe, sick of the war, sick of the military presence of many nations and longed for the good old days.
We also received replacements and began integrating them into our units.On1 Oct. the persistent rumors we were hearing became a reality. The Battalion would be divided and in echelon travel to New Zealand for what I will call a vacation. As I recall Q Company was in the first echelon, boarded the SS Mormacport 1 Oct. at Noumea and arrived at Auckland New Zealand 3 Oct. On debarking, we proceeded by train to an Army facility at Mangere, where we were housed during our stay.
The Raiders crammed the next sixteen days with experiences they would never forget. The people of Auckland were kind, generous and treated us with a respect and honor I am sure we did not deserve. The food was glorious and my menu rotated between, steak and eggs, steak and chips and steak and oysters. Our vacation sped by, but those wonderful people of Auckland will forever be lodged in my memory. When we returned to the war we knew our efforts were worthwhile and appreciated.
On 19 Oct.we left Mangere, boarded the USS Tryon at Auckland, sailed and disembarked at Noumea 22 Oct. proceeding from there to our camp. Refreshed and renewed we were ready to train and prepare for our next mission. The Company was again strong in spirit, in great condition, resilient and ready for whatever the future might bring.
The next few weeks passed quickly and pleasantly and in mid December we were alerted for movement. The 4th Raiders embarked 21 Dec. at Noumea on the MV Bloem Fontain, sailed and arrived 24 Dec. at Tassafaronga Guadalcanal. During the following weeks, the 2nd and 3rd Raiders returned from Bougainville and the four Raider Battalions were in camp together for the first and last time as Marine Raiders.
Cut & Paste
After several administrative procedures to facilitate the planned changes the final action was taken.
The Raiders were "cut" from their Raider "folder" so it could be deleted and then "pasted" into the folder that became empty when the Fourth Marines burned their colors and submitted to surrender at Corregidor.