1ST MARINE DIVISION
"THE OLD BREED"
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS (USMC)
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2

 

Patch for the 1st Marine Division

 

The United States Marine Corps (Department of the Navy) acted as land combat troops and were involved in autonomous amphibious operations.

The 1st Marine Division received that designation whilst it was stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on 1 February 1941. At that time it comprised:-

 

ARRIVED NEW ZEALAND

The advanced echelon of the 1st Marine Division commanded by Major General Alexander A. Vandergrift arrived in Wellington, New Zealand from the USA on 14 June 1942. On 26 June 1942, Major General Vandergrift received his initial warning order of a projected Guadalcanal-Tulagi landing invasion.

On 2 July 1942, the Intelligence Officer of the 1st Marine Division left Wellington for Australia to gather data for the Guadalcanal-Tulagi landings. The Rear Echelon of the 1st Marine Division arrived in Wellington, NZ on 11 July 1942.

There were three main Marines Camps near Wellington, two of which were occupied by Marines of the 1st Marine Division:-

 

GUADALCANAL

On 12 August 1942, Lieutenant Colonel Frank Goettge, Intelligence Officer, led a 25 man reconnaissance patrol along the west bank of the Matanikau River on Guadalcanal. They were ambushed by the Japanese and only three men escaped alive.

On 18 September 1942, the 7th Marines, of the 1st Marine Division landed at Kakum on Guadalcanal from ships of Task Force 65. Other Marines of the 1st Division arrived in various other ships. Does anyone have the details?

The 1st Marine Division was involved in many bloody battles with the Japanese of Guadalcanal. As this web page is about their time in Australia during WWII I will not be covering these battles.

On 29 November 1942, Washington approved the relief of the 1st Marine Division by the 25th Infantry Division. On 8 December 1942, the 3rd Infantry Regiment and the 132nd Regimental Combat Team arrived at Guadalcanal to begin relieving the 1st Marine Division.

On 9 December 1942, the 1st Marine Division was transferred operationally from ComSoPac (Admiral Halsey) to CinCSWPA (General Douglas MacArthur) and began to embark at Guadalcanal for Australia.

 

5TH MARINES LEAVE GUADALCANAL FOR BRISBANE

USS Crescent City (AP-40)

The War Diary for the USS Crescent City (AP-40) shows that the ship travelled to Guadalcanal in company with USS President Jackson (AP-37), and USS President Adams (AP-38) with a destroyer escort. USS Crescent City anchored off Lunga, Guadalcanal on 9 December 1942 and shortly later commenced embarking working parties of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. Equipment and personnel of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines was then loaded. The USS Crescent City got underway later that day and joined formation with USS President Jackson and USS President Adams plus a destroyer escort.

The USS Crescent City moored starboard side to Hamilton Wharf in Brisbane at 1750 hours on 13 December 1942. War Diary entry for the USS Crescent City states on the 14 December 1942 "Moored alongside Hamilton Wharf, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, in company with USS President Jackson, USS President Adams and USS President Hayes". The USS Crescent City started disembarking the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines at 0730 hours on 14 December 1942. (Note:- The USS President Hayes had picked up Marines in Noumea. See below)

 

USS President Adams (AP-38)

The USS President Adams (AP-38) anchored off Lunga Point, Guadalcanal at 0500 hours on 9 December 1942. It finished embarking Marines of the 5th Marines and their equipment at 1300 hours that same day and then got underway for Brisbane. The USS President Adams moored port side to Brett's Wharf, US Army Transport Docks, Brisbane at 1504 hours on 13 December 1942. It began disembarking 5th Marines and their equipment on 14 December 1942.

 

5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division arrive in
Brisbane at Hamilton Wharf on 13 December 1942 on board the USS President
Adams (AP-38) for some R&R after fighting a Guadalcanal

 

USS President Jackson (AP-37)

The USS President Jackson (AP-37) anchored off Guadalcanal at 0601 hours on 8 December 1942 and immediately unloaded troops and equipment of the 2nd Battalion, 132 Infantry, US Army. It then moved closer to Lunga Point, and "received aboard some units of the Fifth Marines." It then retired off Lunga Point for the night. It anchored again off Guadalcanal on 9 December 1942 and commenced loading men and equipment of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. It was underway enroute to Brisbane in convoy at 1429 hours later that same day. The USS President Jackson moored alongside Hamilton Wharf at midnight on 14 December 1942 and commenced unloading men and equipment of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines at 0635 hours on 15 December 1942.

 

7TH MARINES LEAVE NOUMEA FOR BRISBANE

USS President Hayes (APA-20) - 7th Marines 11 December 1942

The War Diary for USS President Hayes shows the ship was anchored in Berth A-2, Great Roads, Noumea, New Caledonia and at 0345 hours on Friday 11 December 1942 it took onboard 27 Officers and 379 Enlisted Men of the 1st Division, 6th Regiment, 7th Marines for transport to "Adobe" (the Naval code word for Brisbane). The ship was underway unescorted for Brisbane at 0758 hours that same morning.

The USS President Hayes moored starboard side to Berth No. 2, Hamilton Wharf, Brisbane at 2000 hours on Sunday 13 December 1942. The Marines commenced disembarking at 0915 hours on Monday 14 December 1942 which was completed by 0935 hours.

The USS President Hayes moored starboard side to Hamilton Wharf Berth No 2 with the assistance of Tug "Carlock" at 1931 hours on Sunday 13 December 1942. The Marines started disembarking from USS President Hayes at 0915 hours on Monday 14 December 1942 and were transferred to Camp Cable near Mount Tamborine outside of Brisbane.

 

CAMP CABLE

The 1st Marine Division occupied their camp area at Camp Cable from 10 December 1942 to 7 January 1943. This was the camp area recently vacated by the 32nd Infantry Division (US Army) and other units.

The 155th Station Hospital at Camp Cable admitted 6 litter and 40 ambulatory Marine patients on 13 December 1942. They were all suffering from malaria. Two of the patients died, one on 10 December 1942 and another on 15 December 1942. There were 142 Marines being looked after by the 155th Station Hospital on 17 December 1942 rising to 275 Marines a few days later on 19 December 1942. On 22 December 1942 there were 410 Marines in the hospital and 457 on 23 December 1942.

Camp Cable was in a semi-tropical area and was apparently infested with the anopheles mosquito. The female of this breed are carriers of malaria. Once aware of the unsatisfactory conditions at Camp Cable for his men, General Vandergrift wasted no time, and sent his officers out to locate a more suitable camp location for the war weary men of the 1st Marine Division.

When the American Ambassador and civilian and military authorities in Melbourne heard of their plight, General Vandergrift was informed he could move the 1st Marine Division to the Melbourne area. Admiral Halsey's South Pacific Command offered the USS West Point to transfer the 1st Marine Division personnel at Camp Cable from Brisbane to Melbourne.

In the meantime, 84 US Army patients at the 155th Station Hospital were transferred to other hospitals to cope with the increasing number of Marine patients with malaria. Marine patients numbered 595 at the 155th Station Hospital on 25 December 1942. Medical staff were increased at the hospital to cope with the increase in patients.

From 25 to 29 December 1942, 50 E.M. and 1 Officer from the 28th Surgical Hospital and 96 E.M. and 5 Officers from the 135th Medical Regiment were transferred to the 155th Station Hospital to cope with the growing number of patients. Another 12 US Army patients were transferred to other hospitals to further help cope with the influx of Marine malaria patients. On 27 December 1942, some 52 Marine malaria patients had returned to duty, leaving the number of Marine patients at 725.

29 Dec 1942    770 Marine patients

31 Dec 1942    745 Marine patients

On 7 January 1943 there were 789 patients in the 155th Station Hospital with the majority of them being Marines from the 1st Marine Division.

 

There were a number of Marines buried at the US Armed Forces Cemetery in Ipswich west of Brisbane as follows:-

NAME OF MARINE DIED BURIED
Oscar Morris Henderson (Merchant Marines) 15 Dec 1942 28 Dec 1942
Private Thomas F. Burns Jnr. (354123) 19 Dec 1942 23 Dec 1942
Private First Class K.R. Drew (332567) 31 Dec 1942 22 Jan 1943
Private First Class Charles H. Dietrich (325165) 3 Jan 1943 9 Jan 1943
FICK James L. Hall (247638) 9 Jan 1943 15 Jan 1943
Private First Class Leslie J. Skurr (353783) 24 Jan 1943 29 Jan 1943

NOTE:- The Cemetery Records do not confirm that they were members of the 1st Marine Division but it is most likely that most of them were members.

 

11TH MARINES LEFT GUADALCANAL FOR BRISBANE

USS Hunter Liggett (APA-14)

The War Diary for the USS Hunter Liggett on the Fold3 web site shows the USS Hunter Liggett taking on board 1,636 troops on the 15 December 1942 which included 61 Officers, 16 Warrants and 1,519 Enlisted Men of the 1st Marine Division. The ship left Guadalcanal at 1523 hours on 15 December 1942 headed for Brisbane and was accompanied by USS American Legion with USS O'Bannon, USS Fanning and USS Southard as escort.

The USS Hunter Liggett arrived at the Hamilton Cold Storage Dock at 1942 hours on Saturday 19 December 1942 with the assistance of the tug "Carlock". Troops were disembarked the following day, Sunday 20 December 1942 and transported to Camp Cable.

 

USS American Legion (APA-17)

War Diary for the USS American Legion (APA-17) on the Fold3 web site shows that the ship was anchored off Lunga Point, Guadalcanal at 0633 hours on 15 December 1942 and commenced embarking Marines at 1148 hours. The ship got underway at 1425 hours and joined the Convoy headed for Brisbane where it moored at Hamilton Docks in Brisbane at 1930 hours on 19 December 1942. and commenced disembarking the Marines at 0600 hours on 20 December 1942. All troops were disembarked by 0715 hours that same day.

 

MORE MARINES LEAVE GUADALCANAL FOR MELBOURNE

As Camp Cable had proved to be an unsatisfactory location for the 1st Marine Division, future evacuations from Guadalcanal headed for their new camp area in Melbourne.

 

USS President Jackson (AP-37)

The War Diary and Operational Log of the USS President Jackson states that at 1100 hours on 5 January 1943, the following Officers and Enlisted Men of the US Marine Corps boarded the ship:-

3rd Battalion, 7th Marines - 40 Officers and 880 Enlisted Men

Battery C, 1st Battalion, 11th Marines - 7 Officers and 123 Enlisted Men

2nd Platoon, 3rd Platoon, Co B, Tank - 1 Officer and 57 Enlisted Men

H & S Companies, 7th Marines - 15 Officers and 153 Enlisted Men

Adc. Co. & Headquarters Co - 5 Officers and 20 Enlisted Men

Battery H, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines - 7 Officers and 125 Enlisted Men

2nd A-T Platoon, Weapons Co., 7th Marines - 1 Officer and 37 Enlisted Men

TOTAL 76 Officers and 1,395 Enlisted Men

The USS President Jackson weighed anchor that same day and joined company with Task Group 62.6 which included USS Hunter Liggett, USS President Adams, USS President Hayes, and USS Crescent City (later left the convoy headed for Espiritu Santo), with an escort of 5 destroyers comprising USS Hovey, USS Mead, USS Manley, USS Gansvoort and USS Frazier. Destroyer USS Grayson joined screen and became the senior destroyer. Their destination was Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

USS President Jackson moored starboard side to Station Pier, Melbourne at 1907 hours on Tuesday 12 January 1943.

At 0600 hours on Wednesday 13 January 1943, 550 Officers and Enlisted Men of U, R, and L Companies, Headquarters and Service (H&S) of the 7th Marines disembarked. At 0915 hours on 13 January 1943, 130 men of C Battery disembarked.  At 1000 hours the remainder of the 3rd Battalion disembarked. At 1045 hours 135 men of H Battery disembarked. The unloading of all troops and cargo was completed by 2000 hours.

 

USS President Adams (AP-38)

The War Diary for the USS President Adams on the Fold3 web site shows the 7th Marines and their equipment started boarding USS President Adams at 0558 hours on 5 January 1943. The ship was underway from off Kukum, Guadalcanal at 1332 hours on 5 January 1943 headed for Melbourne.

USS Crescent City and USS Frazier left the formation at 1530 hours on 6 January 1943 and proceeded to Button (Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides).

The USS President Adams arrived at Station Pier in Port Melbourne on Tuesday 12 January 1943. USS President Adams moored on the opposite side of Station Pier to USS President Jackson at 2000 hours on 12 January 1943.

1,424 members of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines disembarked at 1302 hours on 13 January 1943.

 

USS President Hayes (APA-20)

USS President Hayes anchored off Tenaru River, Guadalcanal at 0604 hours on Tuesday 5 January 1943.  They commenced loading Marine Combat Team equipment at 0604 hours. 68 Officers and 1,242 Enlisted Men of the 7th Marines boarded from 0838 hours. They completed loading the Marine Combat Team equipment at 0935 hours. USS President Hayes was underway at 1330 hours that same day with the other ships of Task Group 62.6 enroute from Cactus (Guadalcanal) to Snowman (Melbourne).

USS President Hayes anchored in Hobson's Bay, Melbourne at 1623 hours on Tuesday 12 January 1943. H.M.A. quarantine officials went onboard at 1815 hours. Underway again at 1913 hours and moored astern of USS President Jackson, starboard side to West Outer Berth, Station Pier in Melbourne at 2031 hours.

Marines commenced disembarking at 0605 hours on Wednesday 13 January 1943. They commenced discharging Marine Combat Team equipment at 0755 hours. 18 Marine patients of the 17th marines (reinforced) were transferred to the 4th Army General Hospital in Melbourne. The disembarkation of the Marines was completed at 1235 hours.

 

MARINES AT CAMP CABLE LEAVE BRISBANE FOR MELBOURNE

The USS West Point anchored in Brisbane Roads, Moreton Bay on Tuesday 5 January 1943 in readiness to transport the 1st Marine Division to Melbourne. A comment in the War Diary for 5 January 1943 states "Positions not available".  The War Diary entry for Friday 8 January 1943 states the ship was still anchored in Brisbane Roads, Moreton Bay and embarked about 9,000 marines on that day.

The USS West Point remained anchored in Moreton Bay until Sunday 10 January when it got underway headed for Melbourne escorted by the USS Bagley.

The USS Bagley had moored at Newstead Wharf on 6 January 1943 and sailed to met up with USS West Point in Moreton Bay on 10 January 1943. All Marines except Marine patients had then left Camp Cable headed for Melbourne on the USS West Point.

The USS West Point moored port side to the East side of Prince's Pier, Port Melbourne on Tuesday 12 January 1943 and USS Bagley moored port side to USS Ralph Talbot at Nelson Pier, Melbourne Harbour Trust Dockyard, Williamstown.

The 1st Marine Division arrived in Melbourne for rehabilitation on 12 January 1943 on board the USS West Point, USS President Hayes, USS President Adams and USS President Jackson. Thus the only "Invasion" that Melbourne had during WWII had begun!! 18,200 Marines had arrived in Melbourne!

Arrangements were made by Base Section 4 Headquarters (Melbourne) in conjunction with the Marine Advance Echelon to billet the Division in the general areas around Melbourne as follows:-

 

Melbourne Metropolitan Area

Camp Murphy 1st Mar
Co D 1st Med Bn
Camp Robinson Div Hq Bn (less Det and Cas Co)
1st MT Bn (less Co B and Co C)
1st Serv Bn
Hq and Serv Co 1st Med Bn
Camp Pell (Convalescent) Co E 1st Med Bn
Cas Co Div Hq Bn (later transferred to Mount Martha)

 

Balcombe - Mount Martha Area

Balcombe Det Div Hq Bn
5th Mar
1st Amph Trac Bn
Co A 1st Med Bn
Co D 1st Tk Bn (Sct)
Mount Martha 7th Mar
17th Mar
Co B and Co C 1st MT Bn
Co C 1st Med Bn

 

Ballarat Area

Ballarat 11th Mar
1st Tk Bn (less Co D)
1st Spl Wpns Bn
Co B 1st Med Bn

 

Ian Berick told me that H & S Battery, 1st Battalion, 11th Marines arrived at Victoria Park, Ballarat on 12 January 1943. A, B & C Batteries also arrived at Ballarat the following day.

 


Photo:- via Viv Martin

In the Ballarat Gardens around Lake Wendouree there is a plaque that reads:-

"A TREE THAT LOOKS AT GOD ALL DAY
AND LIFTS HER LEAFY ARMS TO PRAY

UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
1st MARINE DIVISION

THIS TREE IS TO COMMEMORATE THE
FRIENDSHIP ESTABLISHED BETWEEN
THE UNITED STATES MARINES AND
THE CITIZENS OF BALLAARAT DURING
THEIR SOJOURN IN EARLY 1943"

 

Some of the 1st Marine Division moved into Balcombe Camp at Mount Martha, Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. The Marines would carry out practice beach landings from the "Manoora" near the Dromana cliffs.

The 1st Marine Division commenced their training period in Australia on 18 January 1943. During the first 4 weeks they concentrated on disciplinary drills, re-organisation, re-equipment and recreation.

The 5 February 1943 "Station List and Operational Distribution of Troops - 44th Edition" issued by Headquarters, United States Army Service of Supply, Southwest Pacific Area APO 501, shows the following  entry:-

 

5 FEBRUARY 1943

BASE SECTION 4  (Melbourne)

COMD UNIT OFFICERS ENLISTED MEN LOCATION
C Marine Division (estimated strength) 865 17,335 Camp Robinson
Camp Murphy
Camp Martha
Camp Ballarat
Camp Balcombe

 

Future editions of this Station List showed the following numbers of Marines at the same 5 camp locations shown above:-

52nd Edition of 23 April 1943        1,078 Officers        18,449 Enlisted Men
56th Edition of 23 June 1943        1,082 Officers        18,320 Enlisted Men
60th Edition of 23 August 1943     1,022 Officers        17,406 Enlisted Men **

          ** (less 17th Marine Engineer Regiment & Detachments)

 

From the 15 February 1943 until 27 March 1943 they continued with the same theme, plus the addition of small unit tactics. Particular emphasis was placed on physical conditioning for all personnel. In April 1943, landing exercises were undertaken by the Fifth Marines and the Seventh Marines in Port Phillip Bay.

As part of the re-equipment, their 1903 Springfields were replaced by the M-1 rifle. During April, May and June 1943, range qualifications were carried out using their new M-1 rifles at Williamstown Rifle Range.

During the third training period from 10 April 1943 to 30 June 1943, tactical training was progressive and culminated in large scale Landing Team and Combat Team exercises, using live ammunition for all weapons. A restricted training camp was established in May 1943 near Rowville, about 30 miles from Melbourne CBD. This was occupied by the 1st Marines, less 1 Battalion which remained at Camp Murphy and rotated duty with those in the field.

Training from 1 July 1943 until 30 September 1943 consisted of a review of the elementary phases and additional exercises of 10 days duration in the field by Combat Teams employing all supporting units. In the final phases of the field exercises, supporting overhead fires augmenting rifle and machine gun and mortar fires by Infantry units, added realism to the operations.

In March 1943, the 19th Construction Battalion (Seabees) headed for Australia from Noumea in New Caledonia and was ordered to report to the Commanding General, 1st Marine Division which was still undergoing a training and recuperative period at Balcombe Camp after their bitter campaign at Guadalcanal. The Seabees conducted heavy equipment schools for the Marines and did construction in and around the Marine camp. Toward the end of their work the USMC rifle instructors invited experts from the 19th Seabees to a match, primarily to demonstrate fire superiority of the Marines. It became known as the "Battle of Melbourne". The 19th was placed first, while the Marine instructors came second and third. The 19th Seabess were designated as the 3rd  Battalion of the 17th Marine Engineering Regiment by the 1st Marine Division. They were immediately placed into training under the supervision of Marine Corps instructors in readiness for combat engineering. In July of 1943 the 3rd Battalion of the 17th Marines was ordered to Cairns in far north Queensland to work with the US 6th Army Engineers. They began several projects to build the port of Cairns for use as a large Army Operations Base. Work included a power plant , a railroad spur, roads ,docks, campsites, a large swamp drainage project , drilling water wells, building the engineering office and igloo type warehouses. In October 1943 they left aboard the H.M.A.S. Westralia for Goodenough Island to rejoin the 1st Marine Division.

Whilst in Australia the band of the 1st Marine Division adopted the song "Waltzing Matilda" and it soon became the official song for the 1st Marine Division.

 

Patch for the 1st Marine Division

 

Origin of the 1st Marine Division Patch

 

Lt. Col Merrill B. Twining, the Division's Operation Officer, came up with an idea with assistance from Captain Donald L. Dickson, Adjutant of the 5th Marines, for a Patch for the 1st Marine Division. During a flight from Noumea to Brisbane, Twining was travelling with the Commanding Officer, General Alexander A. Vandergrift, who asked Twining what he was sketching. He showed the General their idea and explained that the stars were the Southern Cross which was always prominent in the sky in this part of the world. The General looked at it and scribbled the word "Approved" and signed his initials A.A.V.

A few days later Twining was called into the General's office in Brisbane and was asked where the new patch was. Twining, like many other Marines had caught malaria and told the General he had only gotten as far as starting to draw 6 sketches each with a different colour scheme for the patch. He revisited the General a few days later with his completed sketches. The General approved the one that he liked and this then became the official patch design for the 1st Marine Division.

Twining ordered 100,000 patches from the Australian Knitting Mills, a subsidiary of an American producer of woven products. The new patch went on sale in February 1943 just 3 weeks after if was finally approved by General Vandergrift.

 

Medal of Honor recipients at Camp Balcombe, on 21 May 1943 earned through heroism
 on Guadalcanal. Left to right:- Major General Alexander A. Vandergrift, Colonel
Merritt A. Edson, 2nd Lieutenant Mitchell Paige and Platoon Sergeant John Basilone.

 


Photo:- Peter Flahavin

Plaque dedicated to the 1st Division of the US Marine Corps
on the entrance gates to Camp Balcombe

 


Photo:- Peter Flahavin

Plaque dedicated to the 1st Division of the US Marine Corps
 on the entrance gates to Camp Balcombe

 

On 31 August 1943, the 1st Marine Division was alerted for movement from the Melbourne area to advanced staging areas in New Guinea and the Ferguson Island group. During the latter part of September 1943 and the first part of October 1943 this movement was effected as follows:-

The document titled "Marine Corps Historical Reference Pamphlet - A Brief History of the 11th Marines" states that the 7th Marines and 1st Battalion and 4th Battalion of the 11th Marines left Melbourne on 19 September 1943 and sailed to Cape Sudest, New Guinea arriving there on 2 October 1943. The remainder of the 11th Marines arrived there on 24 October 1943 to prepare for the Cape Gloucester landing. This document states that the staging areas for the 1st Marine Division were as follows:-

"Station List of Troops in Southwest Pacific Area - 60th Edition" dated 23 August 1943 issued by Headquarters, United States Army Forces in the Far East, shows the following  entry:-

Units Officers Enlisted
Men
Location Notes
1st Marine Div (3rd Bn & Dets of 17th Marines 25 971 Cairns  
1st Marine Div   20 Brisbane Probably patients at 155th Station Hospital
1st Marine Div - less 17th Marine Engr Regt & Dets 1,022 17,406 Camp Robinson
Camp Murphy
Camp Martha
Camp Ballarat
Camp Balcombe
 
17th Marine Engr Regt (less 3rd Bn) 78 1,552 enroute Googenough Is.  

NOTE:- The 3rd Battalion, 17th Marines based in Cairns were under the operational control of USASOS whilst the remainder of the 1st Marine Division was under the operational control of the Sixth Army under General Krueger.

 

By 23 October 1943, the last of the 1st Marine Division's troops had left Melbourne. For the next 2 months, units conducted advanced training in the staging areas, where they practised landing maneuvers using LST's, LCI's, LCT's and Amphibious Tractors.

 

"Station List of Troops in Southwest Pacific Area - 64th Edition" dated 23 October 1943 issued by Headquarters, United States Army Forces in the Far East, shows the following  entry:-

Units Officers Enlisted
Men
Location Notes
1st Marine Div (Det) 2 25 Brisbane Probably patients at 155th Station Hospital
1st Marine Div (3rd Bn, 17th Marine Engr Regt 24 845 Cairns  
1st Marine Div (CT A less 3rd Bn, 5th Marines 241 3,564 Milne Bay  
1st Marine Div, 3rd Bn, 5th Marines 43 830 Milne Bay  
1st Marine Div (CT C) 255 4,815 Oro Bay  
1st Marine Div, 1 FA Bn (75mm) 31 542 Oro Bay  
1st Marine Div (less Hq & Hq Gp, CT A, CT B, CT C, 17 Marines Engr Regt, 1 FA Bn (75mm) & Det) 101 1,099 enroute Goodenough Island  
CT B 236 3,870 enroute Goodenough Island  
Hq & Hq Gp 197 500 enroute Goodenough Island  
17th Marine Engr Regt (less 3rd Bn) 89 1,618 Goodenough Island  

 

On 26 December 1943, the Western and Eastern Assault Groups of the 1st Marine Division landed on Green and Yellow Beaches, Cape Gloucester and secured the main beachhead. They were supported by the Fifth Air Force, Marine Fighter Squadrons 214, 216, 222, 223, and 321 plus a naval bombardment.

 

"Station List of Troops in Southwest Pacific Area - 69th Edition" dated 8 January 1944 issued by Headquarters, United States Army Forces in the Far East, shows the following  entry:-

Units Officers Enlisted
Men
Location Notes
1st Marine Div (Det) 2 25 Brisbane Probably patients at 155th Station Hospital
1st Marine Div (Rear Ech) - 27 Repl Bn 94 950 Goodenough Island  
1st Marine Div (less CT A, CT B, CT C, & Det & 17 Marines Engr Regt, and 1 FA Bn (75mm)) 267 1,057 Cape Gloucester  
CT A 315 5,436 Cape Gloucester  
CT B 105 4,892 Cape Gloucester  
CT C 255 4,815 Cape Gloucester  
FA Bn (75mm( 31 542 Cape Gloucester  
17 Marine Engr Regt 119 2,330 Cape Gloucester  

 


Photo:- Peter Flahavin

Plaque unveiled by Colonel Mitchell Paige in the Melbourne Cricket Ground
which was dedicated to the 1st Marines of the First Marine Division, USMC.

 


Photo:- Peter Flahavin

US Marine Corps veterans of the G-2-1 section
at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in August 2002

 


via Peter Flahavin

8th January 1944 edition of the Australasian showing members of
the 1st Marine Division, US Marine Corps in Melbourne

 


via Peter Flahavin

Marines on leave in Melbourne

 


via Peter Flahavin

Marines on leave in Melbourne in 1943
Does anyone recognise the building in the background?

 


via Peter Flahavin

1st Marine Division marches past Melbourne Town Hall in 1943

 


Photo:- Peter Flahavin

Outside Melbourne Town Hall in 2003

 


via Peter Flahavin

1st Marine Division marches past Melbourne Town Hall in 1943

 


Photo:- Peter Flahavin

Outside Melbourne Town Hall in 2003

 

REFERENCES

Special Action Report - Cape Gloucester Operation - First Marine Division 1943 1944

155th Station Hospital Unit History

Marine Corps Historical Reference Pamphlet - A Brief History of the 11th Marines

World War II Gyrene - Dedicated to the U.S. Marine 1941-1945

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Ian Berick, David Payne, Alan McGrady, Dub Allen, Peter Flahavin, Russell Miller, Viv Martin and Karen Nunan for their assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

I need your help

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 4 June 2003

This page last updated 10 October 2016