John Williams  Bougainville Recollections

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A member of ACORN 13, 18 years old on Bougainville. Photo January 15, 1944 on Bougainville and 2004 photo today. Williams shares some recollections and photos of his service and events from the war.

ACORN 13
ACORN 13 trained at Port Hueneme and Point Mugu in California. We departed there in early August 1943 aboard a Liberty ship named the Young America. After stopping at Pago Pago in American Samoa and Esperitu Santo in the New Hebrides we debarked at Guadalcanal in late August 1943. I was a radioman.

About 12 of us were assigned Temporary Additional Dudy (TAD) with the First Marine Amphibious Corp Signal Battallion for the landing on Bougainville. We departed Lunga Point on Guadalcanal aboard the USS President Adams (APA19) and went ashore on Bougainville on November 8,1943.

Missions From Bougainville
We stayed withe the Marines until Christmas Day 1943 and were then returned to duty with ACORN 13. By that time the Airfield was up and operating. ACORN 13 operated the Torokina Airstrip which was buily by the Seabees with Pierced Planking.

Our unit operated the tower we fed and quartered the American pilots, we armed and fueled the planes and any other duties necessary to operate an airbase. B-24 Liberators maxed a fuel load at Henderson Field and stopped over these strips to load a full load of bombs on their way to Rabaul. The Torokina air strip was put into operation the first part of December, 1943.

I do remember a very badly damaged B-24 coming in suddenly and landing on our strip. There was an F4U warming up at the south end of the runway and the bomber came in so low that it hit the prop of the Corsair and knocked some of cylinders out of the engine.

Sorties of F4Us, TBF torpedo bombers and SBD dive bombers were flown off the strip.  Our main target was Rabaul.  Also the Aussies flew the old P40s from there.  Boyington took off from that field the day he was shot down over Rabaul.  That happened in January or February 1944.

Bougainville Quakes
I remember there was a big moutain range running down the middle of the island. We were on one side and the Japanese (Aussies called the Nips) were on the other side. We would have an earthquake every so often. The first one was a little scary but we got used to them. The were just little shakers, but it is still a strange feeling to have the ground move under your feet. It would rain and we would be ankle deep in sloppy mud and a short time later it was dusk. The soil just soaked up the rain like a sponge.

Japanese Counter-Attack
We only occupied a very small part of the island and the Japanese were on the other side of the mountain that ran down the center. During March of 1944 the Japanese counterattacked, and started shelling us from the mountains and hit us pretty heavy. The put the Bomber air strips out of operation for about a week.Acorn 13 left the island in May of 1944 and shortly after that I was transferred to a destroyer for the rest of the war.

 

 
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