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History of the 82nd Chemical Mortar Battalion
Side trip: clearing Manila Bay
Along with the large island of Corregidor, the smaller islands in the bay formed the harbor defense dating from the American victory over Spain at the turn of the Century. Corregidor had been wrested from the Japanese in the most difficult of military maneuvers, a coordinated parachute and amphibious attack. The 503rd Separate Airborne Regiment and 34th Infantry of the 24th Division accomplished this (S.p.335).
The clearing of Bataan and the capture of Corregidor concluded the major operations involved in the opening of Manila Bay. The task of securing the bay area was not, however, completed until XIV Corps cleaned out the southern shore from Cavite to Ternate and XI Corps cleared the small islands between Corregidor and the south shore. (S. p. 351)
East across the water from the Bataan Peninsula, along the Cavite-Batangas Peninsula, lies Cavite, the American pre-war naval base tucked into the bay's northeast corner. About twenty miles south of Cavite was a Japanese garrison at the coastal town of Ternate. Very close to that site and approximately 500 yards off shore is Carabao Island, fortified during the years of American administration of the Philippines and designated Fort Frank in the harbor defense scheme.
On 19 February, a small guerrilla force under control of the 11th Airborne Division had found the Japanese positions at Ternate too strong to attack without artillery support. The 188th Glider Infantry, 11th Airborne Division, and its attached guerrillas, behind close support of the Fifth Air Force A-20s, a medium tank company, and 75-mm.and 105-mm. artillery, after two days of hard fighting secured the entire Ternate area. This action marked the completion of XIV Corps' share in securing Manila Bay. (S. p. 352)
The remaining small islands for XI Corps to secure were Caballo (Fort Hughes), a mile south of Corregidor (Fort Mills); Carabao (Fort Frank) hugging the Cavite shore; and El Fraile (Fort Drum, the Concrete Battleship), about midway between the other two. Carabao was to be a target for the 2nd platoon, Co. C's 4.2-inch mortars.
14 Apr 44 - 2nd platoon/C drove from its position in support of 1st Infantry Regiment, 6th Division, east of Manila to San Fernando, Pampanga, and down the east coast of Bataan to Mariveles (see modified map 5 at right - click to enlarge). (S. pullout V) The Battle of Bataan had been won by the 38th Division's 151st RCT and the 6th Division's 1st RCT on 21 February. (S. pp. 332-33)
While waiting at Mariveles for a Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) to transport the platoon to Corregidor, a local Filipino approached with two Japanese home-made grenades, glass bottles filled with yellow picric acid and fuzes protruding about six inches. Trusting that the big smile was genuine, as he held them out, Butler took one, lit the fuze and tossed it off the small pier into the bay. The underwater explosion shot a geyser of water and fish into the air. With great glee, the Filipino jumped into the water and grabbed as many fish as he could stuff inside his shirt. Before running back to his barrio he asked that we wait for his be right back. In a few minutes he returned with several others, some carrying baskets. After the second explosive was lit and thrown into the water, the resulting melee was a harvest of fish. The LCM arrived and took the platoon with its mortars on carts, ammunition on carts, and extra ammunition to Corregidor where we bivouacked overnight.
16 Apr 45 - As instructed by the 38th Division's G-3 Section, the 2nd platoon departed Corregidor to fire WP on Carabao Island from the beach of a cove hidden from Carabao (see modified map 7 at right - click to enlarge). (S. pullout VII) The OP was on the highest point of the Pico de Lora hills on the adjacent shore that rise to 2225 feet.
Telephone wire was pulled almost straight up from the mortars to the OP as Phillips and Butler dragged the SCR 300 radio up the narrow path for communication with Corregidor. With the guns dug in and having reported to the 38th CP, permission to register on Carabao was obtained. The order was given to fire one round of WP at 643 yards (the minimum range in TM 3-320, Change 5, 12 April 1944, Technical Manual), since Carabao was less than 500 yards from shore and the cove where the guns were dug in was within 200 yards of that nearest point.
To fire at 643 yards, the range table calls for a charge of 4½ rings at elevation 1,065 mils (59.9 degrees.) Time of flight is 14.5 seconds and the maximum ordinate reached is 850 feet (TM 3-320, Changes No. 5, War Department, Washington, D.C., 12 April 1944.) With the OP at 2225 feet elevation, the guns in a cove to the right rear of the OP were defiladed from the enemy and were firing well over the slope of the mountain near the water's edge.
Near miss by 4.2 in antiaircraft role
Mills had just reported On the way. Butler, lying prone under a tree on the peak, concentrating with binoculars on the target, was startled to pick up an aircraft below approaching the target from his left rear. Instinctively, he shouted into the phone Cease Fire! A U.S. Army Air Corps cargo plane lumbered slowly into view well below the OP. It appeared to be less than 300 feet above Carabao Island. From a cargo opening on the starboard side, two men were observed rolling 55-gallon drums out the door. The slow speed of the aircraft permitted them to jettison six drums on the rather small and narrow island. Whether the aircraft crew was aware of its close call with a 4.2-inch WP shell is unknown. The round, fortunately, passed well above the aircraft and exploded its great white smoke cloud on the beach beyond the slender ridge. The fuel from the drums, napalm or diesel, was burning and its black smoke was obscuring the target.
A quick radio call to G-3 determined that use of the aircraft was a onetime shot to burn the vegetation off the island and the 4.2s were to continue firing until the CO, 1st Battalion, 151st Infantry, at that time aboard a landing craft, was satisfied. With that, the 2nd platoon, Co. C., applied some field expedients (increasing elevation, decreasing propellant charge) until the whole island could be liberally covered. All visible portions of the wooded rock were hit; in places that were not visible, WP added white smoke to the black conflagration. See photo at right (click to enlarge) of carabao under fire. (S. p. 357.) The WP bombardment, serving as a smoke screen as well as incendiary hail, lasted for almost an hour as the 2nd platoon expended about 500 rounds.
Note: According to Smith: Troops of the 1st Battalion, 151st Infantry, on 16 April assaulted Carabao Island which, lying a mile off Ternate shore, was the last objective in Manila Bay. The 350 Japanese naval troops who had once garrisoned Carabao Island had withdrawn to the mainland at Ternate. (S.pp.356-57)
Among the sources cited by Smith is the 38th Division Report, Luzon, pp.61-64. Ternate, according to the scale of Smith's Map VII, is more like seven miles as the crow flies from Carabao Island. Ternate is in Cavite Province on the Batangas Peninsula which forms the eastern shore of Manila Bay. That is not germane to this account of 82nd CMB actions. More pertinent is the Fort Drum webpage.
The map on that page portrays the "Situation on Bataan January - April, 1942" and has the legend "Fort Drum was located on El Fraile Island, about 7500 yards south of Caballo Island. Fort Frank was located on Carabao Island 5000 yards southwest of Fort Drum and within 500 yards of (Calumpon in) Cavite Province shore to the south."
Back to Woodpecker Ridge
17 Apr 45 - 2nd platoon (Butler), rejoined the 1st platoon (Foster), Company C, in support of 1st Infantry, 6th Division's continuing efforts to break the Shimbu Line and secure Wawa and Ipo Dams. On this date, the 63rd Infantry, supported by Co. B, 82nd CMB, succeeded in securing the crest of Mt. Mataba. This success was accompanied by a renewed 1st Infantry effort to drive north toward Mataba along Woodpecker Ridge, so named because of the almost constant chatter of Japanese machine guns. The effort failed and, by the end of the day, it became evident that, until supporting artillery and aircraft could reduce many more defenses in the 1st Infantry's zone, the regiment could gain ground along Woodpecker Ridge only at the risk of prohibitive casualties. For the second time in two weeks, General Hurdis ordered the 1st Infantry to halt. (S. p. 396)
Hurdis had hoped to move immediately against Mt. Pacawagan and Wawa Dam, but he again faced personnel problems. The problem was solved by the 145th Infantry of the 37th Division coming out of Manila and the 20th Infantry of the 6th Division going into the city to take up garrison duties. General Hurdis directed the regiment (145th) to move on Mt. Pacawagan from the west; he ordered the 63rd Infantry to provide the new arrivals with fire support from Mt. Mataba; and he instructed the 1st Infantry to hold and patrol pending the outcome of the 145th Infantry's attack. The latter was to have the following support:
Division and Corps Artillery
3 105-mm.howitzer battalions
2 155-mm.howitzer battalions
1 155-mm.gun battery
1 240-mm.howitzer battery
1 8-inch howitzer battery
2 90-mm. AAA gun batteries
From the 63rd RCT on Mt. Mataba
5 M7 105-mm. SPM howitzers of Cannon Company
8 81-mm. mortars
8 4.2-inch mortars (B Co., 82nd CMB)
2 57-mm. AT guns
11 .50-caliber machine guns
12 .30-caliber heavy machine guns
The support fires almost pulverized Japanese defenses on the western and southern slopes of Mt. Pacawagan, yet the 145th Infantry, starting its attack on 21 April, could not secure a hold on much of the mountain until the 30th. (s. p. 397)
Reflecting on TOT
Before daylight and the launch of the 145th Infantry's attack on Mt. Pacawagan, the division and corps artillery listed above, probably firing through the corps' fire direction center, put on an awesome display of a Time On Target (TOT) artillery shoot. Those 100 or so guns, ranging from 105mm. (approximately 4.2 inches) to 240mm. (approximately 9.6 inches), firing from various directions and numerous distances, with great differences in weight of shell, time of flight, etc., were brought to bear, with proximity fuzes, into a huge sheet of dancing fire that hung in the predawn sky directly over the enemy positions. How long that fire lasted and how many tons of hot shrapnel rained down into the Japanese positions is, no doubt, on record in field artillery annals. That this almost pulverization continued to thwart the 145th Infantry for another nine days attests to the fanatical tenacity of the enemy. It brings to mind Vice Admiral Fletcher's assessment above: So, there is only one course left burn 'em up!
Following the TOT artillery shoot, B25s again laid smoke to screen 145th Infantry movements. The 82nd CMB mortars reinforced and maintained the screen throughout the day and fired HE in support of infantry attempts to advance on Mt. Pacawagan.
Once the 2nd platoon was again in firing position, supporting the 1st Infantry Regiment, 6th Division, most movement was afoot. Seldom in that mountainous terrain was it possible to use the trucks for displacement and they would be returned to the company CP for security. When the terrain permitted, Phillips retained his jeep to transport the SCR-300 radio, a trailer loaded with C-rations, ammo for pistols, submachine guns, carbines, the .50 cal. machine gun, two 60-mm. mortars, the bazooka and several 5-gallon cans of water. The 4.2-inch mortars and their shells were drawn on carts by hand. Fortunately, in that respect, the infantry was not making rapid gains and changing mortar positions was not as frequent as it would have been in a rapid advance. One advantage of the high terrain was that, in several situations, the OP was on the high point of a ridge and the mortars within easy walking distance on the reverse slope.
30 Apr 45 - Responsibility for further offensives against the Kobayashi Force and toward Wawa Dam passed from the 6th to the 38th Division. The Japanese force had lost about 3,000 men killed from 28 March through 30 April and had given up important defensive terrain. (Ibid)
1-3 May 45 - During XI Corps probing attacks the 145th Infantry, 37th Division, secured all those portions of Mt. Pacawagan having the greatest military value to both the Kobayashi Force and the 38th Division, to which the 145th Infantry was now attached.
Capturing Wawa Dam
19-20 May 45 - The 152nd Infantry continued enveloping maneuvers at Woodpecker Ridge while 38th Division engineers bulldozed roads to the front lines to permit medium tanks, flame thrower tanks, and half-tracks mounting multiple .50-caliber machine guns (quad 50s) to make their way forward. With this close fire support (the flame thrower tanks proved especially effective), the 152nd Infantry resumed frontal attacks along the ridge on 21 May. Japanese resistance began to collapse. The next day the collapse turned into a rout and, by 25 May, the regiment controlled the junction of the Marikina and Bosoboso Rivers. (S. pp. 402-03)
31 May 45 - By this date General Chase (Maj. Gen. William Chase, CG, 38th Div.) had ample evidence to conclude that the Kobayashi Force had withdrawn. Wawa Dam, he knew, was secure beyond the shadow of a doubt. (Ibid)
The May operations to secure Wawa Dam had cost the 38th Division, including the attached 145th Infantry of the 37th Division, some 750 combat casualties, 160 killed and 590 wounded. (Ibid)
A view of Wawa Dam and Japanese artillery sniping
As the 38th Division troops approached the dam, 2nd platoon mortars were dug in on a ridge that ended in a cliff on Mt. Binicayan southwest of the dam and some 1500 feet above it. That ridge sloped sharply upward before ending with the sheer cliff face. While the 4.2s were well above any direct fire weapons from caves in the cliffs on the north side of the river, Wawa Dam was not visible from that south side cliff. To avoid hitting the dam with HE and defeat the purpose of capturing it intact, it was necessary to pinpoint its location. Accordingly, Butler and Phillips, who had the SCR-300 strapped to his back, sought a vantage point.
Infantrymen, with a 37mm. cannon on a two-wheeled carriage, were firing on caves across the Montalban River. Those caves, however, were upriver (northeast) of the dam, which was not visible from where the 37mm. was firing. A grassy slope was found to the right of the main cliff face. That slope dropped about 30 degrees for 20-30 yards terminating in another sheer cliff face, from which it was possible to look around the corner of the main face and see the dam. From that height, it was like looking at a small-scale terrain model, but it definitely made possible registering the mortars and avoiding damage to that hard-fought-for installation.
The newly found OP site was almost directly on a line from the mortars to the dam and the range was such that anything between minimum and maximum would not endanger friendly forces. Mills was given an azimuth and a range of 1000 yards and directed to fire one WP round. The azimuth was good and the range a bit long. Range was dropped and the next round fell on the far bank of the Montalban safely below the dam. That point was marked Checkpoint 12 and another on the near bank became Checkpoint 11.
While the 4.2s were being registered, a Jap gunner was focusing on the grassy slope and probably saw Butler and Phillips through his excellent scope. The first round, estimated to be a 75mm., exploded in the center of the slope to our right rear. Instinctively, Phillips turned and ran up and left of center. Butler ran straight up a short distance right of center and hollered to Phillips, Drop the radio zigzag! Phillips dropped the radio and cut up and to the right while Butler raced up and left, grabbed the radio, and crossed up to the right. Two more rounds struck spurring us on one left of center and one right. As the second round struck, Phillips was flying across the center. With the third, Butler was back in the center, flung the SCR-300 over the crest and followed it in the same motion, after which he lay on his back and laughed his fool head off!
Seizing Ipo Dam
6-17 May 45 - (From Smith's pp. 407-414) The 43d Infantry Division, with the attached 1st Regiment of Marking's Fil-American Guerrillas, concentrated on seizing Ipo Dam to relieve the acute shortage of water in Manila. Moving forward in small increments, the guerillas to positions north of the dam and the American 103rd and 172nd Infantry Regiments of the 43rd Division to the south, General Wing's (Maj. Gen. Leonard F. Wing) troops prepared to launch a night attack upon Japanese forces entrenched above the dam.
The guerrilla force was commanded by Col. Marcus V. Augustin, a pre-war bus driver in the Manila-Antipolo area, whose nom de guerre was Marking. The 43rd assistant division commander, Brigadier General Alexander Stark, coordinated that northern wing of the attack.
During the night of 6-7 May, the attack was launched. Because the terrain had not been fully reconnoitered (patrols would have given away the attempted element of surprise), white phosphorous (82nd CMB 4.2-in. mortars) was employed to mark initial objectives. The initial plan had been to use the guerrilla regiment as a feint. However the surprise achieved was more than expected and the 103rd and 172nd (43rd Div.) were able to exploit that surprise and make excellent progress. This was slowed before long by the rough terrain and unseasonably early and heavy rain.
Overnight on 13-14 May, a guerrilla patrol crept down a hill from the north and crossed the Angat River via the dam. Too small to hold it, they returned to their regiment to report that the dam was intact and the powerhouse on the south bank was largely undamaged.
On the 17th, at mid-morning, a small patrol from the 103rd Infantry duplicated the earlier guerrilla feat and returned to report the dam intact. Shortly after noon another guerrilla patrol waded across the Angat below the dam and raised an American Flag over the powerhouse. Seeing that, the 103rd sent a large combat patrol to make contact with Marking's 1st Regiment. (S. pp. 407-414)
Relief at last short lived
With Wawa Dam secure and the fighting moving north toward Ipo Dam, McClelland moved the Company CP up to the barrio where the 2nd platoon had come under counter-battery fire earlier. The company headquarters, including the kitchen, found the barrio and the river behind it better than most sites they had been in.
Some further changes in XI Corps units were made, and the battalion to which the 2nd platoon had been attached was relieved. The 2nd platoon was directed to rejoin C Company at the barrio CP. Expectations were high that a rest period was in sight. In fact, Butler was told that half the platoon could go in to Manila that first night and the other half the following night. That meant two of the four squads would have a night to spend in the booming metropolis, girls galore, including WACs, and where the fleet was always in!
Unfortunately, until Ipo Dam was in friendly hands, water shortage in Manila was posing severe sanitation problems. Also, 55-gallon drums of captured Japanese methyl alcohol (wood alcohol) fuel were finding their way onto the burgeoning black market and being sold in any available bottle, capped with corks and wax, and being served in the numerous dives dimly lit by GI Coleman lanterns stolen and sold by GIs. Later, a couple of enterprising 2nd platoon GIs had gotten possession of an MP brassard and a Coleman lantern. They worked both sides of Rizal Avenue. One would sell the lantern to a shopkeeper, the other, posing as an MP would enter the shop practically on the heels of the first and confiscate the stolen US Government property.
North of the city, enroute to 82nd CMB Headquarters, was a traffic circle at the head of Rizal Avenue. In that circle is a huge statue, Boniventure Monument. A huge replica of a thermometer was affixed to the statue for all to see: the numbers of dead and blind from drinking wood alcohol. A XIV Corps newspaper at the time reported the deaths of nine nurses and navy officers who were partying aboard a ship in the harbor and had consumed the Japanese fuel.
Two of the four squads were chosen by squad leaders drawing straws and loaded on to one truck for the trip to Manila. The other two squads retained their trucks and the empty fourth one was kept back in the barrio. Butler and Mills remained in the barrio with two squads, one under Sgt. Focht, the other led by Sgt. Marinan.
The Loss of Sergeant Focht
Shortly after midnight, the 43rd Division, preparing for an early morning attack toward Ipo Dam, evidently wanted 4.2-inch mortar support. Butler's 2nd platoon, Co. C, was directed to move back into the firing positions it had vacated just hours earlier. Problem: it had been reduced to a 2-mortar section. The battalion that the 2nd platoon was to support had its CP on the ridge above the barrio where Co. C was located. The treacherous trail up to the crest of that ridge had been improved, but not sufficiently to accommodate trucks; they would have to go back to the saddle to regain the heights.
Butler and Phillips, with the SCR-300 in the jeep, ascended the narrow trail. The engineers had bulldozed a trail along the ridge to permit jeeps to traverse it. Meanwhile, Mills and a driver took the one remaining truck into Manila to attempt to round up the two relaxing squads, with not a hint of where to look. Sergeants Focht and Marinan, with their two squads, departed the barrio to ascend the ridge at the saddle and return to the earlier firing positions. That meant they would have to, traveling in the dark, find the correct trail from the road, cross 1,000 yards of open terrain, and make their way up through the saddle to the ridge.
Having located the infantry battalion S-3 and advised him of the two mortar squads enroute to the firing position, the S-3 designated objectives on his map and asked for a smoke screen on the mountains to the east. The smoke was to be started at 0600 and continued until further notice. Assuming that the other two squads would be available by then, the whole platoon would fire the mission.
Butler and Phillips drove via the ridge road to the saddle and through it to the firing position vacated the previous evening. There was no one there and we could not reach Sgt. Focht, who had the other SCR-300 radio. No contact; we waited an hour before returning to the infantry CP and attempted to reach Focht with the two squads or McClelland in the barrio, to no avail.
The hour for the smoke screen arrived and passed, still no contact with Focht, McClelland, or Mills. The infantry used its own 81mm. mortars and supporting artillery to start the screen, while calling for aircraft to lay the main part of it.
No telling what confusion was going on back in the barrio. Communication was finally established well after noon, at which time Sgt. Bonamo reported that Focht had been killed. The two squads had overshot the trail leading to the saddle. When they attempted to cross the open ground to return toward the saddle, they were taken under fire by Japanese artillery. Sergeant Russell A. Focht was killed, several of his squad were wounded, and the truck was disabled.
The loss of Technical Sergeant Mills
Later in the day, the 2nd platoon was directed to assemble at the barrio CP. Technical Sergeant Felix Mills had been transferred out", with no reason given and no details available except that he had returned about 0800 with the two squads he had rounded up in Manila and the two trucks.
McClelland obviously blamed Mills for the debacle and would listen to no extenuating circumstances. Later talk among the troops revealed that the two squads in Manila had dispersed so that they were broken into twos and threes. On locating one group, Mills would direct those two or three to help search for others and return to the trucks. With everyone who had been found searching for the missing throughout the numerous bars and joints, 0800 probably was a reasonable hour for the return.
By the end of May, the Shimbu Group was no longer an effective fighting force, a fact that General Yokoyama had recognized when, on the 27th, he had ordered a general withdrawal all across the western front. The group still had a strength of nearly 26,000 men, over half its total as of 20 February, but the survivors were the dregs, for XI and XIV Corps had decimated the best-trained and best-equipped units. About 13,000 of the survivors were left in organized units, the combat effectiveness of which is worthy of mention only in passing. Of the other 13,000, around 5,000 were undergoing whatever medical treatment the Shimbu Group was capable of providing. The final 8,000 were neither controlled nor controllable, having broken up into small groups to forage for food or try to make their way to northern Luzon. (S. pp. 418-19)
The 43rd Division continued its mopping up operations through 31 May, patrolling eastward across the Ipo River, northeast up the Angat from the dam, and throughout the area over which the worst fighting had taken place. During the last ten days of May, the 43rd Division killed or found dead approximately 725 Japanese and captured 75 others; the division's own losses were roughly 10 killed and 35 wounded. (S. p. 415)
During the last week in May, Co. C, 82nd CMB, was moved to positions in the Marikina Valley to again support the 38th Division in its mopping up operations and patrolling north and east of Wawa Dam. The 2nd platoon's mortar position was on a steeply sloping hill covered with terraced rice paddies. The last recollection of that period is that the platoon was dug in about halfway up the hill when the torrential rains started. Water flowed like waterfalls from one terraced paddy to the next and threatened to wash the mortars off the hill.
Shortly thereafter, the 82nd CMB was regrouped in its base camp north of Manila. There was no immediate prospect of further action, as the Monsoon Season grew stronger. Much talk and preparations were under way for the impending invasion of Japan. Jeeps were seen in Manila bearing the code name OLYMPIC stenciled in white. Olympic (the invasion of the Japanese southernmost large island of Kyushu), the first step in the overall Operation DOWNFALL the conquest of Japan was to be preceded by the 40th Division's seizure of several small islands off the southern Kyushu coast on October 27, 1945.
With war in Europe winding down, a point system for rotation to the U.S. was instituted. Based on total service, months in combat and dependents, Capt. LeRoy Croxton, the battalion S-4 was to be the first officer to leave the 82nd. Butler, who had more total service and same combat time but was single, was selected as Croxton's replacement. With a promised promotion to captain, Butler agreed to stay six months after Croxton's departure and was moved up to understudy Croxton. For his first assignment, he was given a template of an LST and documents showing the space requirements for all types of vehicle to be placed in the tank well of the LST. He was directed to develop a loading plan for his long-time-combat related comrades in Company C, who were scheduled to move to Cebu in the Philippines. Once there, the company would be attached to the 43rd Division, part of the XI Corps under Lt. Gen. Charles Hall's Southern Assault Force. That large southern island of Japan, Kyushu, was to be invaded on 1 November 1945.
Toward the end of July, the 82nd CMB was given a quota of two officers to go home for 45 days Rest, Relaxation, and Recuperation (Triple R). At lunch in the battalion officers' mess, Lt. Col. Tolman made the announcement and directed that all officers place their name on a slip of paper to be provided by the adjutant who would collect them in a hat and supervise the drawing. The results: Lt. Butler from the S-4 section and Lt. Joe Schneider of Company D. The Colonel reminded Butler of his agreement to remain an additional six months, Butler argued that he would be back in 45 days and the six months could run from that time. That was agreed upon and the two lucky winners, as soon as orders could be cut, prepared for movement to the Replacement Depot (Repple Depple).
While awaiting a ship to the States, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. Three days later a second fell on Nagasaki, which convinced the emperor to save what he could WWII was over!
Most of August was spent in the Repple Depple, as all available ships were moving north for occupation duty rather than the dreaded invasion. September saw a slow boat trip aboard the Dutch freighter, Tjesedana, which had to pull into Kwajelein for several days of engine repair. When the captain heard the news of Japan signing the surrender on 2 September 1945 aboard the U.S.S Missouri in Tokyo Bay, he joyfully announced it over the PA system. Although he had been running since 1939 without weather (exterior) lights, he chose to continue that practice for another ten nights, in case some Japanese subs hadn't gotten the word and until the ship would be in safer waters.
A copy of the declassified Top Secret Official Bombing Order, July 25, 1945, is found at the Bombing Orders website of the 1st Cavalry Division and bears a 1996 copyright. However it contains a statement: Readers are encouraged to link to any of the pages of this Web site, provided that proper acknowledgement attributing to the source of the data is made. The source is Cavalry Outpost Publications, a registered trademark.
Recollections the parting shot
In addition to the above reported happenings with the 82nd CMB, the following recollections attempt to fill in the battalion history. Inasmuch as no written history beyond that already described is known, the remainder of this writing consists of Butler's memoirs aided by Brooks and any others who may wish to contribute in the future.
Where possible, such remembrances have been tied to the actions of units described in other cited works. Some have no such relationship. We didn't always know what units were going in and out of the line and where boundary lines were. Targets of opportunity were just that, without reference to any supported unit.
Contributions from former Capt. Robert J. Brooks are presented here. He was among the first officers in the battalion and initially commanded Co. A before moving to the battalion staff and went on to Japan to engage in occupation duty. There appears to be little opportunity to integrate his experiences with those of Butler or other sources already cited. Without reference to notes and strictly from 55 years of memory, the following statements are made with only the desire to inscribe in history the valiant contributions of the 82nd CMB to Victory in WWII.
Hopefully other living veterans of the 82nd CMB and/or their descendants will become aware of this history. On the chance that such happens, their contributions will be included herein.
MemoirsEating can be dangerous to your health
Knowing mortar position from OP
Grenades in perimeter defense
A Fiji awakening
The element of surprise, a principle of war
IQ and leadership
Eating can be dangerous to your health
by Jack Butler
Throughout the 27 month's in the Pacific there are only two recollections that may be called pleasure in eating. One is the trip to Luzon aboard the USS Knox, where powdered milk was reconstituted by powerful blenders vs. the hand-whipped Army trick. The Navy even had the capability to make ice cream! Powdered eggs took on a whole new life aboard the Knox.
The second recollection is of McClelland, during that twelve days' march from Lingayen to Clark Field, bringing forward a large-sheet pie made from canned Queen Ann cherries. Some units on Bougainville were known to let those cherries ferment for weeks to become cherry brandy so it shouldn't be a total loss!
Flies, food and death - No, the recollections associated with food are downright frightening. Brooks, in one of his contributions that follows, Chemical Warfare, tells of the heavy infestation of flies. Several times on Luzon, following close on the infantry's heels, eating was done in close proximity to bloated Japanese corpses. In that heat, it doesn't take long for a corpse to swell and explode, and green horse (blow) flies swarmed constantly. You learned to sit cross-legged with the mess kit in your lap, waving the left hand constantly while shoveling whatever with a spoon forget about knife and fork!
The end(s) run - The 12-day hike, referred to in Chapter 3, during which we survived on a 9-day load of C, D and K rations supplemented by a few raw eggs (sucked on the march) and fresh coconuts, is remembered mostly for its end. We were going from both ends and the small packets of toilet paper were at a premium.
Death in the chow line - Worst of all was the day with an infantry company, when that company's mess truck brought up the chow and set up the line on a small knoll. The Lister bag was hung on its three tent poles arranged in tepee fashion to support the weight of the water. The bag was filled from several 5-gallon water cans and the troops filled their canteens from the three or four nozzles around the bag. After going through the chow line, most sat anywhere they could on the ground and were eating when one went back to the Lister bag to get a canteen-cupful of water. A Japanese mortar shell landed, probably just in front of him, and most of us sitting around were hit by pieces of flesh and bone and sprayed with blood and water. No other injuries are recalled. That unlucky soldier apparently absorbed most of the shrapnel, and the heavy canvas, rubber-lined, water-filled bag and its poles deflected the rest.
Courtesy pays - Another food-related event came about as Butler and Phillips were starting to descend the ridge in the jeep enroute to Company C CP. The trail dropped sharply down into a narrow valley and, passing through trees on both sides, climbed another ridge.
Having turned to the right to start the descent, the infantry's ¾-ton weapons carrier bringing the day's hot meal was seen descending the opposite ridge. With only one road and choosing not to delay the chow, we waited for the ¾-ton to complete its trip to where we were. When it was about to emerge from the trees and start across the valley, explosions were observed and the truck was stopped. Hungry infantrymen had also been anxiously watching the descending chow truck.
Supporting the infantry and present on the ridge was a half-track from division AAA, mounting quad 50s (the Duster), which was hurriedly dispatched with a squad of riflemen aboard. When it reached the bottom, a storm of .50-cal. rounds from all four barrels shredded trees on both sides of the road while the riflemen scoured the edges of the woods. The two men in the cab had been killed. Two others in the back escaped the grenade attack.
For the next several days, so long as that road was to support the troops advancing north toward Mt. Pacawagan, an infantry squad was stationed in those trees. They patrolled both sides of the road without further incident. It may have been two infiltrating Japs who pulled off that ambush. If the Duster didn't get them, they probably gave their future attention to other less secure areas.
Knowing mortar position from OP
by Jack Butler
Observation posts (OPs) often were shared by the 81mm. infantry and the 4.2-inch chemical mortar observers. If we could, two OPs were established and manned by observers for both weapons. That way, we each had company and greater security. Targets that were too close for the 4.2 minimum range would be engaged by 81s, and those too distant for 81s by the 4.2s.
Early one morning, both observation parties left the 81mm. mortar firing position on foot, pulling wire down through a tangle of trees and undergrowth to another high point about 500 yards to the front. Upon reaching the desired location, communications to both firing positions were established.
The 81mm. observer, having the shorter range, would register his weapons first. He pulled out his compass, the standard 360-degreee job, and shot a back azimuth to where he thought his mortars were. They could not be seen from the OP and we had traversed a tangled maze, so he is given credit for an uncanny sense of direction, not so (unless he was suicidal) for range estimation. Adding 180 degrees to the back azimuth, he ordered one round of smoke at X yards.
Unlike the 4.2-inch mortar fired from a rifled tube, 81s are fin-stabilized and fired from smooth-bore tubes. Those fins give the shell a definite whoosh-whoosh sound if you are where they want to be. Everybody dove for cover and the smoke round detonated where the 81 man called for it.
Grenades in perimeter defense
by Jack Butler
It was one of those many times when the infantry was spread very thin over large areas. About all they could do was hold the high ground and continue the yo-yo advance up one hill, down another, all the while reaching higher heights. The 2nd platoon, Co. C, was on its own little hill, unable to get trucks into most of the terrain, but still having range to support the infantry.
The 4.2s were dug in just below the crest, the two 60mm. mortars, two BARs, one .50-cal. MG and one bazooka higher up on and forward of the crest. Other than the 4.2s, all those weapons had to be sited so they could have line of sight against any attacker.
Readying for firing, shells were removed from containers and stacked by the tubes. Except for the covers of the wooden boxes, in which the shells were shipped two to a box, the containers were kept for ease of stacking shells on the carts. The platoon was instructed to toss the covers down a narrow, steep trail that ran down the back of the position and was bordered on both sides by grass and thick scrubby bushes.
Butler, Mills and Phillips usually dug in along the rear center of the perimeter (in this instance straddling the high point of the trail) where the radio and telephone were located. With a box of fragmentation grenades open and handy, we were alerted by something or someone slipping on the wooden covers down the trail. A half-dozen grenades were lobbed down the trail and the two 60mm. mortars quickly turned and dropped two rounds each at between 20 and 50 yards down the trail.
Two days later, Carlisle visited the platoon position and relayed a story that a diary taken from a dead Japanese identified the hill we occupied. The translated diary claimed to have destroyed the big mortars below the crest and the small ones higher up.
A Fiji awakening
(Referring to the 1st Fiji Regiment on Bougainville)
by Bob Brooks
Dawn was near. The landing craft were stealing toward the sandy shore under cover of the remaining night. Emplaced on each was a 4.2 mortar with a stack of WP alongside. The mortar crews, poised to lay a cloud of smoke across the beach, were to screen the amphibious landing of our assault force.
In the darkness above the Island ahead, we could see the familiar glow of the volcano, mostly orange but with tones of red, pink and purple, and with a lazy flow of dingy darkness stretching away from the crater in the bashful breeze. It was a scene of pristine serenity and beauty.
Around us in the shadowed belly of each craft were huddled groups of black, sinewy bodies with bowed heads, grim faces painted in fierce designs of many colors, and fuzzy hair with locks tied up all askew. The bodies were bare but for the briefest of loincloths. Hanging from the waist were knives and bolos and grenades.
They carried little else. These were the jungle-fighting Fijis already famous for stealing into Japanese jungle camps, even in the night, destroying everything living or useful, and coming back victorious and casualty-less. There was an aura of primitive viciousness about them.
Suddenly the tip of the morning sun broke through the horizon. Like the burst of a giant 4th of July rocket, it sent rays streaking into the sky in all directions, creating a dramatic, breath-taking, soul-stirring sight that only the awesome forces of nature could produce. And suddenly out of the stillness came a whispered voice beside my ear. It exclaimed in a wondrous tone, Isn't that a magnificent sight! It had a distinct Oxford accent, precise, clipped, with each final consonant distinctly pronounced. I turned my head, and found myself staring directly into the fiery eyes of the wildest, fiercest Fiji face I had ever seen.
by Bob Brooks
That beer we stowed away as ballast in the bowels of the Mighty Mun was better than gold in the jungle. It could buy anything. Electric generators from the Seabees, BARs from the Infantry, machine guns from the Marines, raisins from the Quartermaster. Raisins? What better, for raisin jack!
The BARs and machine guns were prized additions to our arsenal, keys to a secure perimeter. The Table of Equipment generated at Edgewood or the Pentagon without the benefit of battlefield experience under the high-mobility, fire and movement concepts of WWII, contemplated our security being a function of the infantry to which we were attached to give mortar support. So, aside from the 4.2, our assigned weaponry was the sawed-off carbine (30 cal.) for the men, and the Colt .45 for the officers. I carried both. Early on we had to do with the cumbersome Enfield.
But the infantry was always too busy with their own perimeter defense, and in Bougainville, their final protective line, to pay any attention to our defense at the mortar emplacements or going and coming. That meant it was up to us to protect ourselves at all times. It did not take long for our platoon and section leaders to make a habit of factoring in such things as local terrain, the enemy's natural avenues of approach, the need to be constantly aware of the potential for enemy counterattack or infiltration, or sniperfire. And to allay those concerns, the beer-bought automatic weapons were just what the doctor ordered.
Even Dr. Menninger said the beer was worth its weight in gold, in terms of morale. I was young then and had no idea who this guy was, as he addressed a gathering of reps from all XIV Corps units. Chaplain Jensen, a strict, tea-totaling Southern Baptist, charged out snorting.
by Bob Brooks
It was east of Manila. We were chasing the remnants of Japanese units who wouldn't give up. Along the way, we had seen their ditched vehicles, automobiles out of gas, bicycles with broken wheels, small tanks turned pink from fire (mortar, artillery, flamethrower? - we couldn't tell), motorcycles.
We could see them on a distant treeless mesa, just like the one we were on. Ours was covered with flies and we had no reason to believe theirs was not the same.
You will recall we were motorized. So a hot meal had been trucked up to us. The kitchen crew, forewarned, had set up a mess line under a tent screened against the flies. But there was no room for us to eat inside. The best we could do was to keep the mess kit covered and, in a flash, try to swish a spoonful of food into an open mouth before a fly could get under the mess kit cover or into the open mouth. The flies always won the race.
Being in the Chemical Corps, someone had come up with the bright idea of having an insecticide sprayed over the area from the air. And sure enough, along came a DC-3 lumbering over us just before chow time. We shouted and waved our arms, and succeeded in getting the flatulent plane to let go the gas in its belly. Out came this large brown cloud, as the plane passed overhead and then turned away and headed home.
But the wind had its own ideas. At the spur of the moment, it decided to swish the brown cloud over to the Japanese hill. I could just imagine their scurrying around for gas masks. Who said we never used chemical warfare in WWII!
The element of surprise, a principle of war
by Bob Brooks
They sent us to train in the treeless desert of West Texas. It was hot and dry, the stars were big and bright, and on a clear day you could see forever. Hueco Tanks, a hill miles away, seemed only spittin' distant. Storms, though infrequent, were gusts of violent wind and billows of pelting sand. Ponchos, wrapped around head and shoulders, served to protect eyes and face from the sandblast at night. Every plant had quills or stickers.
They sent us to fight in the primitive jungles of the South Pacific. It was hot and dank. The Southern Cross and other awesome southern hemisphere constellations were blocked from view by the dense foliage. A hill just ten yards away was camouflaged by trees and undergrowth. Rains, often of typhoon proportions, came daily in the rainy season, covering the ground ankle deep and soaking everything not raised and covered. Ponchos served their intended purpose. Every plant had stickers or pickers.
Talk about surprise! It was not only on the enemy.
One objective in the training phase was to develop mortar crews who could hit a target on the nose whether 300 yards away or 3 miles. Based on experience in World War I and after, a forward observer on a hill near his mortars could, with accurate distance estimation, some mathematical triangulation and a couple of data tables compute the azimuth, exact elevation angle for the mortar, and the exact amount of propellant charge needed to hit any target he could see: azimuth, gun elevation angle, and propellant charge.
But often in the jungle, some never having been trod upon by human foot, you couldn't see the target until you were practically in front of it. There were thick trees everywhere at the gun position, at the forward observer's post, at the target. And their umbrellas were in layers, one above the other, some 30 feet high, some perhaps 100 feet, and in between, to say nothing about the dense undergrowth. Even in the bright of day in some places, you could hardly tell the sun was out.
At the treetops, branches were inextricably intertwined, and lashed together by thick, thorny vines. Tarzan would have needed steel reinforced leather gloves. At the base, these trees were enormous, especially the banyan, which sprouts multiple trunks and has thickened trunk fins much like the buttresses of the Gothic cathedral. They commanded a base area of 30 or 40 feet around, and even more. Just to clear a field of fire at the mortar position was a major operation.
As to the forward observer, he had to learn a completely different technique. Yes, there were hills in the jungle, but none offering a view of both target and gun position. The forward observer somehow had to steal up to within talking distance of the target; figure out on a map or aerial photo the locations of his mortars, himself, the front-line troops and the targets; compute the range and azimuth between mortar and target; call for a round of WP; hold his breath until the thing came whistling by; then from the puff of smoke among the foliage ahead, zero-in on the target.
The scale of the map or photo, especially its accuracy, came into prominence as the potential for error, even the slightest, could compound the fright factor in bringing in the first round or jeopardize the front-line troops or patrols being supported. This was especially the case where the photo was to supplement or enhance a map and the two did not have the same scale.
This matter of accuracy was vital where the targets were draws or close-in approaches to our defensive lines, or for defilade fire areas, or enemy positions against which we were to provide close support of an Infantry assault. The 4.2 was favored by the infantry in any situation, because it had pin-point accuracy compared with other heavy weaponry and, with its high angle of fire, was the best high explosive delivery system for jungle warfare, to say nothing of its spectacular WP capability.
Infantry mortars of 60mm. and 81mm., smoothbore weapons, were not nearly as accurate as the rifled-bore 4.2 and provided only 28% to 52% of the firepower per round. Artillery rifles and howitzers, because of their relatively flat trajectory, were practically useless in jungle warfare. The same can be said of tanks regardless of size, except for mop-up operations after roads and bridges could be developed.
Not even aerial bombardment could compete with the 4.2. At times when the 82nd units were attached to Marine Corps units, the Marines were able to bring in dive bombers whose target designations and fire control were jointly governed by forward observers of the 82nd and the supported Marine Corps unit. Even when we on the ground were able to hit (identify) targets with colored smoke from mortar fire, the dive-bombers with their heavy bombs were not accurate enough to be effective in striking jungle-ensconced targets.
Not all of the 82nd's fighting was in the jungle. There were missions in open areas and cities. One such was at Clark Field on Luzon, where the enemy had withdrawn into caves up in the mountains west of the air field, and had aimed their artillery on our narrow corridor of approach in the march toward Manila, and had a clear view of our every move. Their devastating artillery fire stalled the American drive to the south.
Infantry assaults up the mountainside proved ineffective. As did artillery, since nothing but a direct hit on a cave opening was of any use and there was little of that in shooting at the well-camouflaged side of a mountain. But the 4.2 is an area weapon and its crews were facile in the use of WP as a wound-inflicting weapon.
White phosphorous on bare skin bores deep holes into the wound consuming for its continued combustion oxygen from the surrounding flesh. At Clark Field the enemy was bare-footed or barely sandaled. Thus there was no absolute need for direct hits on cave openings. Barrages at night to light up the neighborhood splashed WP particles all over. Captured documents revealed that the enemy considered WP our most devastating weapon and that it so enervated and devitalized their troops in the mountain caves at Clark Field that their stronghold was soon overcome. Thus by virtue of the 82nd's 4.2, the major obstacle north of Manila in the western sector of General Douglas MacArthur's return was wiped out.
IQ and leadership
by Bob Brooks
It was mid-1944. We were on Bougainville and I was again temporarily in command of Co. A, Capt. George Green having moved up to S-3 for the time being. A squad leader had to be selected. My choice for the promotion was a man from somewhere in the Appalachian hill country Kentucky, Tennessee or Virginia. He had an IQ of 77, barely above the minimum to qualify for the draft. I can't remember his name.
In my nearly six years of exposure to problems of leadership in the military, I had seen cases where a promotion converted the man into a headstrong tyrant and killed his leadership qualities. Here, under the stress of touch-and-go combat and a hostile geographic environment, I wanted to name someone with true leadership ability. This was especially important in the 82nd, because, as corps troops, we served almost entirely in detached service; and a squad could be sent out on its own to support an infantry mission, far away from the platoon commander or company commander or battalion commander.
The squad leader had to be able, not only to have his squad function as a proficient, effective support unit, but also to be able to advise infantry commanders how best to employ the 4.2 mortar support. The infantry knew about the 4.2 by reputation if at all, as the use of the chemical mortar to provide high-explosive support was something relatively new to them.
The squad leader on a detached mission would also be responsible for selecting the mortar site, moving his unit into position, clearing the field of fire, setting up local security, establishing liaison with the infantry and other adjacent entities, sending out forward observers, maintaining communication with all concerned: forward observer, supported infantry command, his own battalion leader and others for continual in-flow of food, ammunition, medical attention, evacuation of wounded, maintaining morale under severely stressful conditions, etc., etc.
Could someone with an IQ of 77 do this? It took an IQ of 110 to become a shavetail. I was 22 years old and didn't know much about IQ measurement. I did know that my candidate for the promotion was at ease in the jungle, couldn't get lost, could form in his mind map images of locations in unfamiliar territory, could hear jungle sounds like a native animal, could handle windage with aplomb, whether with rifle or mortar, and knew how to move noiselessly through thick underbrush.
In his relationships with the men in his squad, my guy seemed to possess the ability to understand his buddies, what their current motivations were, how to interpret and deal with their moods and temperaments, how to diffuse potentially serious interpersonal altercations. He got the promotion and proved to be a real leader.
I now know: that the mathematics and verbal IQ crept in during World War I, when Lewis Terman of Stanford University developed a test to measure words and numbers intelligence of U.S. service personnel; that, in 1983, Howard Gardner of Harvard published Frames of Mind, depicting a wide spectrum of intelligences, including not only verbal and mathematical but also spatial, kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal and intrapsychic; and that Daniel Golman, also of Harvard, published Emotional Intelligence in 1995, further exploring the existence and genesis of an even wider variety of intelligences. I take personal pleasure and comfort in knowing that Goleman's thesis was proved in the crucible of war 31 years earlier.
Occupation duty in Japan 1945 to 1947
Prior to the first A-bomb on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, Co. C had departed for Cebu in preparation for the invasion of Kyushu, the southernmost of three main islands of Japan (Kyushu, Honshu, and Hokkaido from south to north.) The second atomic bomb, dropped on Nagasaki on 9 August, signaled the end. The 82nd CMB would live to perform peaceful pursuits and most would return to lives they had despaired of ever seeing again.
The author returned to the States shortly before the battalion embarked for Japan and has no knowledge of the occupation duty. Appendix A includes the 82nd CMB at various locations in Japan between 2 September and 5 November 1945. The Department of the Army Lineages and Honors page, in Chapter 1 above, shows the 82nd CMB Inactivated 20 May 1947 in Japan."
Perhaps the existence of this history will become known to other living veterans of the battalion or their descendants and lead to further recordings of events not covered herein.
AppendixesA. Chronology of 82nd CMB and its elements
B. The 82nd Jungle-Fighting Chemical Mortar Battalion
C. Mortar gunboats: amphibious employment of the 4.2-inch mortar
D. Rescue at Cabanatuan
E. Selected general orders
H. The author
Appendix A - Chronology of 82nd CMB and its elements, 1942 -1945
Arrival Location Departure 25 Apr 42 Fort Bliss, TX 8 Mar 43 11 Mar 43 Camp Polk, LA (Maneuver Area) 25 Apr 43 26 Apr 43 Camp Swift, TX 12 Jun 43 17 Jun 43 Camp Stoneman, CA 27 Jun 43 19 Jul 43 New Caledonia 4 Oct 43 5 Aug 43 Co. B, Det. Svc. XIV Corps, Guadalcanal 7 Aug 43 7 Aug 43 Co. B to New Georgia; Co. B ret. Guadalcanal 3 Mar 44 3 Nov 43 82CMB (-B) to Guadalcanal 29 Oct 43 15 Dec 43 Co. A to Bougainville; Co. A dep. Guadalcanal 12 Dec 43 15 Jan 44 Hq. Co., Co. D, Med. Det. - units dep. Guadalcanal 13 Jan 44 4 Feb 44 1st Plat & Co. Hq., Co. C - units dep. Guadalcanal 1 Feb 44 5 Feb 44 2nd Plat Co. C - unit dep. Guadalcanal 1 Feb 44 3 Mar 44 Co. B Guadalcanal; Co. B dep. Guadalcanal 24 Apr 44 26 Apr 44 Co. B to Bougainville; Cos. B & C dep. Bougainville 22 Nov 44 28 Nov 44 Cos. B & C to Cape Gloucester, New Britain 9 Dec 44 28 Nov 44 Co. A - unit dep. Bougainville 11 Dec 44 28 Nov 44 Co. D - unit dep. Bougainville 12 Dec 44 28 Nov 44 Hq & Hq Co + Med Det Units dep. Bougainville 22 Dec 44 9 Jan 45 D-day Cos. A, B, C, D to Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, P.I. 11 Jan 45 Hq. Det. to Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, P.I. 23 Oct 45 11 Jan 45 Co. C dep. Pugad Baboy, Manila, Luzon, P.I. 31 July 45 4 Aug 45 Co. C to Liloan, Cebu, P.I., for invasion of Japan 30 Aug 45 4 Aug 45 Co. A dep. Pugad Baboy, Manila, Luzon, P.I. 18 Aug 45 4 Aug 45 Co. B dep. Pugad Baboy, Manila, Luzon, P.I. 4 Sep 45 18 Aug 45 Co. A to Lucena, Tayabas, Luzon, P.I. 23 Aug 45 2 Sep 45 Co. A to Yokohama, Japan for occupation 5 Oct 45 9 Sep 45 Co. C to Atsugi Airfield for occupation 30 Sep 45 14 Sep 45 Co. B to Yokohama, Japan, for occupation 5 Oct 45 30 Sep 45 Co. C to Tokyo for occupation 6 Oct 45 5 Nov 45 Hq & Hq Co. to Yoshida Airfield, Ibaraki, for occupation
The 82nd Jungle-Fighting Chemical Mortar Battalion
Mortar gunboats: amphibious employment of the 4.2-inch mortar
Rescue at Cabanatuan
Appendix E - Selected general orders: awards
HEADQUARTERS 6TH INFANTRY DIVISION
GENERAL ORDERS NUMBER 45 5 Apri1 1945
SECTION V - AWARDS OF BRONZE STAR MEDAL
By direction of the President under the provisions of Executive Order No. 9419, 4 February 1944 (Sec II Bull 3 WD 1944) a Bronze Star Medal is awarded by the Commanding General 6th Infantry Division, APO 6, to the following named officer and enlisted men:
Corporal CLARENCE J. HARDEN, JR., 37210449, Chemical Warfare Service, United states Army. For heroic achievement in connection with military operations against the enemy near Mount Bayangan, Luzon, Philippine Is1ands on 17 March 1945. When the rifle company to which he was attached as forward observer of a 4.2 chemical mortar platoon was ordered to withdraw under an intense barrage of enemy 150mm mortar fire, Corporal HARDEN, with disregard for his own safety, remained at his observation post until the latest possible moment and directed the friendly mortar fire to cover the withdrawal. He successfully maintained radio contact with his gun positions throughout the action and upon arriving at a new position, he rapidly and efficiently established a new observation post and registered in his mortars for perimeter protection. His courageous devotion to duty under enemy fire is deserving of high praise. Home address: Mrs. Delphine Harden, Mother, Protection, Kansas.
By Command of Brigadier General HURDIS:
BRUCE PALMER, JR
Chief of Staff
/s/ Martin C. PERTL
/t/ Martin C. PERTL
Lt Col, AGD
A TRUE Copy
/s/ Clarence H. PRATT
/t/ Clarence H. PRATT
1st Lt, CWS
HEADUARTERS XI CORPS
6 June 1945
Bronze Star Medal Awards
By direction of the President, under the provisions of Executive Order No. 9419, 4. February 1944 (Sec III, Bull 3, WD, 1944) a Bronze Star Medal is awarded by the Commanding General, XI Corps, to the following named officers and enlisted men:
Sergeant Neal Glenn, 34440463, Chemical Warfare Service, United States Army. For heroic achievement in connection with military operations against the enemy on Luzon, Philippine Islands, on l6 April 1945. Sergeant Glenn, acting in the capacity of forward observer for a platoon of 4.2" chemical mortars, exposed himself to enemy fire without regard to his own personal safety, under a determined counter attack by a platoon of Japanese, in order to reach his radio and direct the mortar fire of his platoon. While engaged on this mission, Sergeant Glenn was wounded but remained at his post directing mortar fire until morning, when he was evacuated. Sergeant Glenn's proficiency and coolness in directing mortar fire, in spite of his injuries, helped materially in stemming the attack by the enemy. Home address: Mrs. Dorothy A. Glenn (wife), 1331 3d Street, Macon, Georgia.
Sergeant C1arence J. Harden, Jr., 37210449, Chemical Warfare Service, United States Army. For heroic achievement in connection with military operations against the enemy on Luzon, Philippine Islands, on 4 May 1945. Upon arrival of the 4.2" chemical mortar platoon at its new position and in which Sergeant Harden was a squad leader, it was met by a concentrated thirty-round barrage of enemy mortar fire that seriously wounded Sergeant Harden and a comrade. Although the platoon was ordered to retire, Sergeant Harden voluntarily remained to render first aid and comfort to his wounded companion, whose right arm had been blown off. He assisted in applying a tourniquet and evacuating him to an aid station, even though under fire from the Japanese mortar barrage and in extreme pain from his own wounds. Sergeant Harden's coolness under fire and his complete disregard for his own personal safety and comfort were in keeping with the highest tradition of the military service. Home address: Mr. Clarence J.Harden, Sr. (father), (NSA), Protection, Kansas.
Private First Class Sanford L. Knight, 34704324, Chemical Warfare Service, United States Army. For meritorious achievement in connection with military operations against the enemy on Luzon, Philippine Islands, from 9 January 194.5 to 22 April 1945. Home address: Mrs. Etta L. Knight (mother), 14 Randolph Street, Roanoke, Alabama.
Corporal Robert H. Vanderslice, 36424474, Chemical warfare Service, United States Army. For heroic achievement in connection with military operations against the enemy near San Rafael, Luzon, Philippine Islands, on 4 May 1945, Corporal Vanderslice, acting in the capacity of Instrument Corporal for a platoon of 4.2" chemical mortars, without regard for his own personal safety remained to the last minute at an untenable mortar position, after having been ordered to retire, to render first aid to a fallen comrade who had been seriously wounded. Under a fierce barrage of 90-mm mortar fire from the Japanese, Corporal Vanderslice, with the aid of a companion, applied a tourniquet to the injured man's right arm, which had been blown off, and helped evacuate him to safety. Inasmuch as the Japanese mortar barrage was started upon the platoon's arrival at this spot, digging in was impossible, leaving Corporal Vanderslice in an exposed position. Corporal Vanderslice's coolness under such an intense barrage of fire and his disregard for his own personal safety in order to aid a wounded comrade, is indicative of his high soldierly qualities. Home address: Mrs. Helen Vanderslice (mother), 325 Linden Street, Buchanan, Michigan.
BY COMMAND OF Major General HALL:
J. A. ELMORE
Brigadier General, GSC
Chief of Staff
/s/ PAUL OED
/t/ PAUL OED
DISTRIBUTION: D & F
A TRUE COPY
/s/CLARENCE H. PRATT
/t/CLARENCE H. PRATT
1st Lt, CWS
Appendix F - Dedication
... to all U.S. Army Chemical Warfare Service (later Chemical Corps) troops during all conflicts, especially to those of Chemical Mortar Battalions (4.2-inch mortar) and gunners who manned that weapon on the newly-created (WWII in the Pacific) mortar gunboats in support of the several amphibious landings from Peleliu to Okinawa. Those gunners were from Chemical, Infantry, Marine, and Navy units, all trained by Chemical Warfare Service personnel.
Special Remembrance to Our Fallen Comrades
From DA, TAGO, Departmental Records Branch, A.G.O., Historical Records Section, History of Eighty Second Chemical Battalion (MTZ) for the period 1Jan 44 thru 31 Mar 44.T/5 Ivor R. Bradbury, 35308985, Company C, Bougainville
PFC James A. Davis, 34286306, Bougainville
PFC Otto T. Hill, 38121544, Bougainville
PFC John S. Martin, 34422036, Bougainville
PFC Merle E. Scott, 37424290, Bougainville
Sgt Paul C. Ware, 34242099, Company C, Bougainville
From the same source for the period 9 Jan 45 thru 20 Jun 45
1st Lt Sidney Diamond, O1036120, Company C, Zambales Mts., Luzon
Sgt Russell A Focht, 33345925, Company C, Sierra Madres, Luzon
Others killed in line of duty, not shown in above AGO records:
Pratt (first name unknown), Co. C - killed in truck accident on Guadalcanal 1943, reported by Butler.
PFC Stewart W. Rolubold, 35356681, Co. C - died on Bougainville 1944, listed among wounded in above records, reported to have died by Wm. Mackey, his buddy through Louisiana maneuvers and beyond. Sgt. Ware (KIA) was their squad leader. Mackey states Rolubold and Ware were both hit in the same action.
Bunch (first name unknown) Co. A - died of injuries sustained in demolition of Banyan trees for field of fire on Bougainville 1944, reported by Brooks.
No mere 1,000 years in Heaven Eternity in Valhalla
See you on the Far Shore...
Appendix G - AcknowledgementsThese acknowledgements recognize the contributions of many people who have studied and written about World War II for over the half-century and more since it ended. While a major objective of this writing is correcting perceived errors and/or omissions by some authors, as they pertain to or ignore the 82nd Chemical Mortar Battalion (CMB) in the years 1943 to 1945, those writers were not in positions to know anything about that CMB. They wrote from incomplete records available to them; nonetheless, they have provided the inspiration for this attempt to fill a void at a very late date when few people are alive who might care.
Primary and positive recognition must go to Bruce Elliott for the fabulous job he has done in building a great website United States Army Chemical Mortar Battalions of which this history is a part. As you can see on the site's homepage, it contains a listing of all 25 CMBs that participated in World War II. Only upon visiting the site was it realized that there was no official history for the 82nd CMB. A need to fill that void and set the record straight was recognized. Bruce, a retired Army colonel, saw much action in Europe and again during the Korean War with the 2nd CMB. The 2nd was the only CMB to serve in combat during both WWII and in Korea. Bruce continues to maintain and update the CMB website, a great service to all who served in any of those battalions.
Acknowledgement is also extended to the following authors, not for any positive contributions but for their lack of the same. First is Stanley A. Frankel and his e-book, Frankel-Y Speaking About World War II in the South Pacific. Frankel was a lieutenant in the 37th Division on New Georgia, after which he was selected to attend a chemical warfare school in Brisbane, Australia. Evidently the course lacked any mention of the 4.2-inch chemical mortar. On completion of two weeks in Australia, he returned to the 148th Infantry on Guadalcanal where he remained as regimental adjutant and was promoted to captain. His writing about the 37th Division's fighting on Bougainville is based on reports and visits from his rear area (Guadalcanal) vantagepoint (F., Chap.10). He makes no mention of 4.2-inch mortars in the Bougainville Campaign, which anyone who was on the line in March 1944 on that island could not but have known about. Evidently, the reports he relied on were incomplete regarding the supporting fires given to the 37th Division.
Another interesting book is Harry A. Gailey's Bougainville: The Forgotten Campaign 1943 - 1945. Gailey, at the time of his writing in 1991, was a professor of history at San Jose State University. He presents an excellent study of the fighting on Bougainville and the difficulty of the terrain. He does mention the 4.2-inch mortars, but refers to them as the regiment's 4.2-inch mortars (G. p. 150). The largest mortar organic to a regiment was the 81mm. In bore size, a 4.2-inch mortar is equivalent to a 105mm artillery piece. The 4.2 weapons belonged to the 82nd Chemical Mortar Battalion which was assigned to XIV US Army Corps and was placed under the operational control of the 37th and/or Americal Division, as needed.
Moving on to the Philippines, first acknowledgement goes to Stanton (Shelby L. Stanton, WWII Order of Battle (New York: Galahad Books-division of LDAP, Inc., 1984), p. 274.) He has the 82nd Chemical Mortar Battalion entering the Philippines on 11 Jan 45. D-Day for the invasion of Luzon was 9 January 1945, when the four 4.2-inch weapons companies landed: A & B with the 37th and C & D with the 40th Infantry Divisions. The Department of the Army, Lineage and Honors webpage verifies this for the 82nd Chemical Battalion (the same information can be found at the top of Chapter 1 of this history). Campaign participation credit listed there includes World War II: Northern Solomons, Bismarck Archipelago, Luzon (with arrowhead) and, under Decorations: Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, Streamer embroidered 17 OCTOBER 1944 TO 4 JULY 1945. The arrowhead for the Luzon Campaign indicates a D-Day landing.
Also, reporting on the Luzon Campaign, retired Major General James D. Delk has published The Fighting Fortieth in War and Peace, a history of the 40th Division. The 40th is the California National Guard formed in 1917 for WWI. Delk retired in 1992 after 42 years of military service, including over 23 years of active duty. He rose to the grade of sergeant first class and attended Officer Candidate School (OCS). He later had almost eighteen years of command, culminating with command of the 40th Division [James D. Delk, The Fighting Fortieth in War and Peace (Palm Springs: CA: ETC Publications, 1998), back dust cover]. Obviously, Delk started his career with the 40th in 1950, five years after WWII ended. Safe to say, he was not a participant in the invasion of Luzon. His failure to mention the 82nd Chemical Mortar Battalion and its support of the 40th from the beach at Lingayen Gulf to the Zambales Mountains above Clark Field and Fort Stotsenburg will have to be chalked up to poor record keeping. Like Gailey, Delk makes a passing reference to 4.2-inch mortars, but seems to believe they were organic to the 160th Infantry Regiment. Describing action of the 3rd Battalion, 160th, as it encountered intense automatic fire from caves and pillboxes above Bamban near Clark Field, he writes: Help was brought to bear using M-10 3" tank destroyers and M-7 105mm self-propelled howitzers added to the regiment's 60mm, 81mm and 4.2"mortars (D. p. 122). Surprisingly, Delk does mention the 80th Chemical Mortar Battalion in support of the division during the Negros Campaign later in the spring of 1945. (D. p. 199)
Returning to a positive note, thanks are expressed to Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Peter Hiltner of the recently (1 July 1988) reactivated and redesignated 82nd Chemical Battalion at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Hiltner has researched and contributed some of the detail found in the following pages regarding the historic Battle of the Perimeter on Bougainville in 1944. Note: As of December 30, 2000, Hiltner had been transferred to Korea.
Finally, very positive recognition is extended to the spirit of the late Major Howard Carlisle, first commander of Company C, 82nd CMB, in 1942. The then-lieutenant Carlisle took the company overseas to the South Pacific and rose to the grade of major as battalion S-3 (Operations) officer following the action on Bougainville. One of his writings that only recently (July 2000) came to attention, Lines From Luzon: With the 37th and 40th Divisions, has been copied verbatim into this history. Howard died in 1996.
Appendix H - The author
Jack Butler, Lt. Col., USA (Ret) began a 26-year military career when he joined the 106th Infantry, 27th Division, New York National Guard in 1938. Having completed three 2-week summer encampments, plus an extra week in the fall of 1940 as result of President Roosevelt having declared a National Emergency, he was promoted to corporal. The triangularized 27th Division was Federalized and called to active duty, minus the 106th Infantry, in October for one year at Fort McClellan, Alabama. The 106th had been redesignated 186th Field Artillery and spent the next three months in uniform training and reorganizing at its home armory at Atlantic and Bedford Avenues in Brooklyn. The new corporal, equipped with the Whistle, Thunderer M1 was charged with conducting Close Order Drill through Brooklyn streets to Prospect Park and traffic be damned! The armory drill floor was occupied with gunnery training for the 155mm howitzer.
On 27 January 1941, the regiment moved by subway and New York Central trains from Brooklyn to Madison Barracks on Lake Ontario, twelve miles west of Watertown, New York. Few of the Brooklyn boys were drivers, there being little need or wealth among them for automobiles during the years of the Great Depression. The few who were fortunate to have had jobs driving trucks in those years became driving instructors and a massive "drive" was made to make the rest of us "truck-literate." Inasmuch as deep snow covered the entire post and the surrounding farms and village of Sackets Harbor, driver training was conducted on the frozen inlet from Lake Ontario. Artillery spotter planes, equipped with skis, also took off and landed on the ice.
June saw the regiment and its full complement of 4-ton prime movers, other trucks and howitzers engage in a successful motor march to Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont, from which it later rolled south through the Blue Ridge Mountains to engage in the Carolina Maneuvers for about two months. That valuable training completed, the 186th FA returned to Fort Ethan Allen. The night before reaching the fort was the most challenging of the entire maneuver; most of it was spent extricating trucks, guns, and caissons from the morass that developed after a late, heavy rain saturated the field at Martinsville, Pennsylvania, where the regiment had bivouacked. Sometime after midnight, Colonel Garrison recognized the need to get his regiment back on the road. The huge 6-ton wrecker was able to winch itself out to the asphalt road by anchoring its cable to heavy trees on the far side. From there it became an anchor for other vehicles and interior vehicles stretched their winch cables to those closer to the road, pulling and being pulled. The column, hundreds of mud-caked trucks, caissons, and trailers manned by weary, dirty troops roared late on Saturday night, 6 December 1941, through Burlington streets crowded by a cheering populace in a festive, pre-Christmas mood.
By Sunday afternoon, 7 December 1941, the nation was at war. The Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor and we were in "for the duration." By August 1942, Butler, having advanced to Staff Sergeant and been selected for Officer Candidate School (OCS), was on his way to Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland. On 14 November 1942, 2nd Lt. Butler was assigned to the newly formed 82nd Chemical Battalion at Fort Bliss, Texas.
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