James A. Pounds

593rd Boat & Shore Regiment

Our unit, the 593rd Engineer Boat & Shore Regiment went over in late 1943, we were thirty five days aboard an unescorted liberty ship from California to Noumea, New Caledonia where the shop pulled in for three days of repair and then we were on our way to Milne Bay, New Guinea.  

Overseas
The cadre of our our regiment were men from a Brooklyn National Guard from Piktin Avenue to Far Rockaway, my being from Alabama took me several months to learn their dialect, and yes they had a time with the funny way I talked also. Campstonemen was something else - it rained every day and we went for long hikes over those hills every day. We rode the ferry down to Fort Mason then to the transport. We left San Francisco on a very rainy night and it sure hurt to pass under the Golden Gate bridge and start wonder when and if we would ever return through that portal.

  Bunkspace sure was close on those troop transports and I tried to stay on deck as much as possible. We only had two meals a day, you would get in line for breakfast, finally get a bite to eat, wash your mess gear and get back in line for supper. When the seas got really rough the mess line was much shorter.

   When we arrived at Mine Bay, New Guinea, we dropped off part of the regiment and the remainder of us went straight to Goodenough Island My stay on the island was only two weeks and my company pulled out for Finschafen. Our next assignment was Arawe, New Britain, then Hollanida, Aitape, Wakde Island, Biak and Noemfoor Island.

  From Noemfoor our first battalion, which was the boat battalion moved out to stage on Morotai Island for the three landings with the Australians. The first landing was on Tarakan Island in the McKassar Straits in northeast Borneo. Then came the landings at Labuan Island and Brunei Bay and the last and final landing at Balikpapan, in Dutch Borneo.

  From Borneo I went to Batangas in the Philippines, where we made preparations for the landings on Japan, but the bomb made a combat landing unnecessary, thank the Good Lord. Then when the war was over I had to make the landing in the north island of Hokkaido with the 77th Division as they became the occupation troops for that portion of Japan. Finally, I was able to get home with a hundred and five points just in time form Christmas.

Goodenough Island
We arrived on Goodenough with both woolen and kakhi uniforms, the woolens were promptly buried and forgotten. I was fortunate enough to get to Australia a couple of times and I remember "OP" rum, in fact the first that I had was called "Red Lion", bottle in an old rusty looking glass bottle that looked as if had been buried for a hundred years.

  My buddy Moe, offered me a taste, saying have one, its good stuff, I had a small snort, swallowed in down, and after I finally got my breath I managed to ask what the hell that stuff was. Our landing craft would first be used to take troops and material into the beaches for D-Day and then they were assigned unloading duties. You can imagine what good stuff came in for was GI alcohol, nearly every boat crew had a small container tucked away some place on the boat, usually in the double bottoms.

We didn't have "Little Orphan Annie" we had "Tokyo Rose" the day we landed on Goodenough Island she came out with the name of the unit and our regimental commanders name. I have often wondered where she got her information. Was it from Japs the remained behind and radioed this information in, if so hoe did they get the specifics? The atabrine [Malaria treatment] story how troops thought it would ruin the family jewels and all the sort of rot. I always took the little yellow pills but then when we moved up to Japan in the cold weather, I still had malaria with chills and fever.

Wounded and Return to the Front
  My operations Sergeant and I got wounded on one of the D-Day landings, two Jap five inch shells hit our landing craft, just fortunate that they both hit in the engine room. They picked us up out of the water and sent us back to the 47th Field Hospital at Milne Bay that sat way up on a hill at the end of the harbor. When we were discharged, they put is on a troop ship on our way back to our outfit and we disembarked at Hollandia and were promptly ushered to a "repple depot".

  The next morning I was called out and told that I would remain there on extended TDY in order to assist in the construction of a camp sewer and water system. The next morning I had a confab with my sergeant "Doc" and we made plans to desert back to our outfit. Doc went out and found a jeep that seemed unattached at the time and took off for Sentani airfield, from here we managed to get back to our unit. I reported to the battalion commander and he said don't worry they won't come up to the front to find me.

Washing Machine Charlie
Old "Washing Machine Charlie" was an aggravating jackass. If we were lucky enough to get a movie going he would always come over and stop the show. I don't know how many times I saw a portion of the movie "Wuthering Heights" and never did get to see the whole thing. Yes I saw the "Pirates of Penzance" while I was in Brisbane. Never! Accept a ride in a canoe that doesn't have outriggers. Those leeches were something else, in only a few minutes your feet and legs could be covered with them.

At Finschafen I saw a native sitting on a large bomb working on the fuse ring with a hammer and a screwdriver. I have often wondered if he made it. I didn't stop to explain to him why he shouldn't be doing that sort of thing.

The natives were paid for killing Japs and I am so glad that you did. I too had the opportunity to be privy to an exchange of ears for money and materials thought it strange that the only took the ear. They brought the ears in pinned down to a large piece of bark and they were salted, to preserve them to suppose, so their investment would not fall apart before they could cash them in for money. I went to the little island of Romberporn, in the northwest section Geevlink Bay, southwest of Noemfoor Island to help the natives on the island defend themselves from the marauding Japs and I witnessed an exchange of ears for money.

 

  Discussion Forum Daily Updates Reviews Museums Interviews & Oral Histories  
 
Pacific Wrecks Inc. All rights reserved.
Donate Now Facebook Twitter YouTube Google Plus Instagram