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Seabees!

Discussion in 'Land Warfare in the Pacific' started by Thurman, Apr 14, 2006.

  1. Thurman

    Thurman Member

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    GUAM, MARIANAS 53rd NCB - SEABEES

    Early in June, 1944, the 53rd was attached to the First Provisional Marine Brigade, for the assault operation on Guam, in the Marianas group. Leaving a rear echelon of two officers and 79 men, the remainder of the Battalion embarked on two ships, on june 6, 1944. En-route to the island, plans for the Battalion's part in the invasion were carefully laid and gone over almost daily. Two special beach parties, composed of volunteers, were assigned to assist in the landing operations and unloading of supplies on D-Day, June 21.

    The remainder of the Battalion moved ashore on D-Plus-3, to set up their camp near Agat Village. Concurrently with the construction of quarters for themselves, the Bees were almost continuously occupied with the task of clearing debris from existing roads, clearing jungle, and constructing new roads to facilitate movement of supplies to the Marines at the front.LT. Commander Thompson's official report of the Battalion's activities on the Guam invasion is Quoted:

    At Guam, Marianas, two beach parties were assigned from the 53rd NCB. One officer and 17 enlisted men, euipped with several tractors, landed on D-Day (H-Plus-5 minutes), July 21, 1944, with special mission to assist unloading a Marine Battery of Sherman Tanks from LCM's and LCT's at the edge of the reef at Agat Beach. This task was finished within an hour under heavy enemy mortar and machine gun fire. Three of the Sherman Tanks dropped into bomb craters on their way in from the reef to shore and were submerged. This party volunteered to rescue these Tanks and succeeded in getting two of the Tanks safely to the beach in two hours, under heavy fire. A second beach party of five enlisted men was assigned the task of operating a North West Crane, mounted on a pontoon barge and anchored off the reef of Agat Beach, to unload gasoline and ammunition from LCT's to LVT's in support of assault troops. The barge was under heavy mortar fire for the first four days.. The remainder of the Battalion moved ashore on D-Plus-3 and established, maintained, and constructed roads and bridges in support of the assault troops. The Battalion's beach camp was under enemy artillery fire for four hours on D-Plus-3. The 53rd NCB maintained the only Seabee Demolition Squad on the island, consisting of a Chief Petty Officer and 13 enlisted men.. This squad cleared all beaches, roads and areas ahead of construction troops over a nine months period.

    While the 53rd NCB was attached to the First Provisional Brigade, during the initial landing on Guam, they were detached from the Marines on July 27, 1944, and assigned duty under the Fifth Naval Construction Brigade.
     
  2. Thurman

    Thurman Member

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    [​IMG]

    53rd Seabees leaving Guadalcanal for the Bougainville campaign.
     
  3. Thurman

    Thurman Member

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    [​IMG]

    Seabees & Marines (17th Marines), build a log bridge across a jungle stream on Cape Gloucester.
     
  4. Thurman

    Thurman Member

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    [​IMG]

    "CB" Bulldozer opening a trail from the beach on Bougainville.
     
  5. Peppy

    Peppy Idi Admin

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    Great thread Thurman. The Seabees have always been of interest to me, great info here, thanks.

    Peppy >>> likes to see the Seabees
     
  6. CHamilton

    CHamilton recruit

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    Hello Everyone
    I am new to your thread, and to be honest I am clueless as to how this works so bear with me.

    First of all, THANK YOU for your info. posted here. It is a lot to take in and grasp, but very helpful as I research my grandfathers Seabee unit number 1059. Thurman, you are a wealth of knowledge my friend, and I thank you. T.A you too have my heartstrings b/c you mentioned the 1059 on your post. I have some pictures scanned and the quality stinks, but I am willing to post them if I can figure this stuff out. I am glad to be Aboard. Thanks again all. God Bless the USA !!

    Oh, can someone tell me HOW to add pictures here?

    C~
     
  7. billlayton_50

    billlayton_50 Member

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    My Dad W. A. Layton MMC3 was stationed on Tinian, Is. 1944-45. Dad was a Decal Mechanic who installed Fairbanks Morris Decal Electric Motors to produce Electricity on the Island. I have photos of the Decal Electric Motors Unloading on Tinian, IS. If any one is interested please E-Mail me and I'll be glad to send them a copy via E-Mail. billlayton_50@yahoo.com Thanks Bill
     
  8. Phillies

    Phillies recruit

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    Sorry for replying to this thread 3 years later, but I was doing some research on my Grandfather and I came across this post and forum. My grandfather was in the 58th naval construction battalion and at the landing of Vella LaVella. I never thought I would be able to find such a detailed narrative about what he did and saw there. I just wanted to say thanks for the posting. And if anyone else has any more info or knows where I could get some more info on the invasion of Vella LaVella in August 1943 it would be appreciated too... Thanks



     
  9. NAREEVES

    NAREEVES Member

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    I would like to hear more stories of the Seabees and their work at Munda, New Georgia.
     
  10. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Here is some info on 4 battalions in that area:

    All of this comes from this site, which has similar items on many Seabee Battalions. Seabee Battalion List WWII
     
  11. NAREEVES

    NAREEVES Member

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    I would like to learn about the Seabees at Munda, New Georgia. This would be around August 1943.
     
  12. seabeegrandaughter

    seabeegrandaughter Member

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    Thurman~

    All of your information and stories are WONDERFUL. I am trying to find out more about the Seabees as my Grandpa was one in WWII. None of my family has ever showed any interest in it besides my husband and I. The conversation got started when my husband commented on his dark, yet recognizable, navy tatoos on his arms. He will talk about it when we are around, but you can tell that he has not spoken of it in quite awhile as he seems kind of excited to visit. He said that they were some of the first people ashore to see the destruction of the nuclear bomb that went off in Nagasaki. He said at that time, there was no mention of the dangers of radiation...this is how I know that my Grandpa is one tough SOB as he is 85--been exposed to high levels of radiation, and up until 2 years ago smoked 3 packs of Palmal cigarettes for 60+ years!!!

    What we are really curious about is to find out more about his "group" not sure what the proper term is, but we would like info if possible. My grandpa's name is Alfred Horner, but he goes by Guy Horner. How do I look up and try to find any info on him and his "group"?

    I am so very proud to part of this country. Both sides of the family for my husband and I have military service--my husband's cousin is now serving in Iraq, my Grandpa served in WWII, my uncle died for our country in Vietnam. I want to honor the military blood that is in my family and this is why I am seeking any and all info on my Grandpa. Any info that ANYONE could provide would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks :)
     
  13. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Here's an excerpt on the Seabees in Japan. If you know which unit your grandfather was in, we can look for information on that specific group. Good luck.



    HyperWar: Building the Navy's Bases in World War II [Chapter 31]
     
  14. Thurman

    Thurman Member

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    130th N.C.B. Seabees - Okinawa WW2

    Our role in World War Two did not begin until we arrived on Saipan to join the Second Marine Division for the invasion of Okinawa. Finally, after five warm dusty weeks, and a squalid Christmas at Iroqouis point, we shipped to Saipan in two advance echelons aboard the freighters, USS Alexander and USS Japara, and the main body aboard the old luxury liner of the twenties, USS President Johnson. Onto Saipan in Mid January 1945, (six months after the Marines) Japanese still in the hills, dumped mortar shells into a crowded Seabee movie across from our camp. We dug our first foxholes, filled them with empty beer cans, for bombings were infrequent and uneventful for us, although the advance echelon had been shaved from a bombed gas tank. Saipan meant two more months waiting. While the docks of Tanapag Harbor commenced piling up with supplies to equip the Second Marine Division for an amphibious operation, we began to catch up with the war. Looming ahead were common dangers drawing the attention of a thousand men into common preparations. shots for bubonic plague, cholera, and typhus; lectures on climate, animal life, snakes, pests and diseases, clothing impregnated with DDT: gas masks and ordinance gear handled with new affection, final lectures on mines, mortars, sanitation and water purification all heard wih new ears. It was no secret we were on the threshold of action, the largest amphibious operation yet attempted on Japan's doorstep. A general court-martial threatened the man who revealed our destination, but the secret was poorly kept. Every private and seaman on Saipan told you that it was Okinawa on April 1. We sent 320 of our musclemen with Marines aboard transports to perform as shore party teams on Okinawa beaches. Other small details went with Marine combat troops to work on sanitation and mosquito control. The remainder of the men and equipment, about 600 hundred of us, were loaded aboard two LST's. We had tons of equipment aboard but everyone had his mind on the fifty tons of explosives, high test gasoline, tnt and ammunition. Dress rehearsal was for fours days off Tinian with the entire Second Marine Division and supporting convoy. We had moved dozens of times in the last eighteen months, had mobility down to a science, but this was our first big league game. While the 320 men in shore party teams quarreled with gyrenes over food and six hour relays in a 3-in-1 sack aboard the transports, life on the LST's was comfortable, food excellent, bunks strewn all over the decks, in and under mobil cargo. We had lots of company standing off Okinawa on Easter morning. The fleet laid offshore pounding beach emplacements with it's big guns; cruisers and battlewagons out near the transports like bulldogs barking their guns under the nose of the Japanese shore batteries. It was still dark when we had our first brush with the Jap Kamikaze (suicide planes) which we were later to know so well. Amid the noise of spasmodic booming of the Navy's big guns, suddenly we heard the warning come over the speakers " Enemy aircraft approaching" most of us saw nothing until the 20s and 40s opened up, throwing up, orange and red spurts across a narrow strip of water. Some saw that bat shaped splurge of denser blackness hurtle into the dark convoy, but if the guns that opened up found their mark, they were too late, That Jap pilot dove to meet honorable ancestors via two bulheads of the LST in the lane next to us. Hit just above the water line, gasoline from the Kamikaze spewing flame over decks, the LST lit up the dawn. We stood by to pick up survivors as "Abandoned Ship" became the order aboard the ill fated vessel. Everything was unreal to the spectator, only the man in the water appreciated and felt the crisis. Later, we began to feel and appreciate vicariously, the experience of burning Marines caught in a flaming compartment, or of one sailor who, both arms shot off, leaped from the burning ship to discover he needed arms to stay afloat. Some we took aboard were horribly burned. Weeks before, the hour of invasion had been set, at eight o'clock, and promptly on the appointed hour the morning sea was cut into white ribbons by LCVP's streaking for the beaches fromoutlying transports. Two planes laid a wide smokescreen on the beaches, while guns from the fleet continued to speak their piece. No Japanese battery replied, they conitnued to protect their gun positions with stubborn silence. It was a successful fake invasion. A few yards before the beach, LCVP's turned around under cover of smoke screen and like chicks, steamed for their mother transports. That night we pulled out, the next morning we came back to emphasize our fake invasion, by doing the same thing again. Harrowing was our part of the fake invasion of the southeastern beaches, our worst ours came in the nature of pure nervous tension while we roamed around and around in the company of other landing ships , waiting to be called to the beaches. Happy we were when four short words came over the loud speaker, "Wer'e going in" we wanted to free ourselves from that volatile cargo. With the liberating message in our ears, we headed for the Western beaches of Okinawa, which had fallen easily to our main forces. The mouth of the Bishi-Gawa was reached just before noon of the 12th, and we drove that gaping mouth of the LST across the coral reef, opened the passageway, and hurried bulldozers, loaded trucks, and construction equipment across the reef. Small boats came alongside to receive the high test gasoline from cranes. Unloading operations continued all afternoon until the beachmaster ordered us away for the night. That night the Japs came over with their second large air raid since L-day, and the sky was brilliant with tracers, some of us ashore, with unloaded equipment, squeezed under chasis and wheels, narrowly escaped the shrapnel which fell like rain. The rest of us rode our dynamite through that night of fireworks. The next day we got ashore where we could run away for it. Work during the first weeks ash ore was hurried and confused; living was rough. A foxhole was something you dug with care, it was just not a hole in the ground. You took into consideration the prevailing winds, the rain and drainage, and when it was completed, you stood off and reviewed it from the viewpoint of a quick approach. Rains came everyday, often at the rate of an inch per hour. Foxholes seldom dried out. Work was pressed through air raids, stopping only when fire commenced. trucks bogged down on the way to supply four Army and two Marine divisions at the fronts with critical materials. Roads had to be raised from the sea of mud. Coral pits hummed with shovels and trucks, and we stayed with our machines until the flak fell. Yontan airfield grew in spite of harrassing raids; we saw it change from a small gravel field into hard white coral strips, wide and long, where B-29's could land and get repairs among innumerable shop structures. The roads we built solved genuine difficulties of front line supply; a few thousand yards of coral, a Bailey-Bridge or two, and thousands of vehicle hours were saved from long waiting at points of congestion. At a Marine evacuation hospital, we built bomb-shelters for wounded veterans. One shelter was completed too late, on the night of a big raid, when shrapnel filled the air a tent ward of patients took a direct bomb hit, and fourteen were killed who might have been flown out the next day. We knew the stakes were high and worked around the clock, harder and with less sleep than ever before. No spot on earth during World War Two was subjected to as many air raids per week as we were on Okinawa. The Destroyer picket line sixty miles offshore took ceaseless punishment at considerable cost of lives and ships. In one day 168 Japanese planes were shot out of the Okinawa atmospere. Every day we saw Kamikaze planes striking for ship or shore instillation; Every day saw a few Japanese planes get through our outer air defenses to harrass men a n d machines at work. By the end of July, we had gone "Condition Red" one hundred sixty-six times. To harrassing air raids were added the whistling mortar shells of one sly Jap "Whistling Willie. holed up in a cave, who sent his missiles whining over our heads onto Kadena airfield. Five degrees of any nights sky would have made a breath taking "Fourth of July" back home. The island was secured July 21, after eighty two days of long, vicious expensive struggle. The entrenched Japanese guns were silenced. But our role was not ended, with the destruction of the enemy. Men in motion through a twenty four hour work shedule, took no holiday, went to no rest camp, they shifted to a shorter, eight instead of twelve hour work schedule and plunged into the work of reconstructing damaged installations and expanding a base of further operations against the Japanese.
     
  15. Thurman

    Thurman Member

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    On 5 May, 1945, Roy E. Ellett, CM2c, and Quentin A. Carroll, MM2c, (130th NCB) did perform meritorious service in connection with military operations against the enemy on Okinawa Shima, Ryukyu Islands. Serious fires were blazing in native structures adjacent to an important supply road. One burning structure collapsed on the road, halting traffic and endangering personnel and military vehicles. Ellet, without considering his own personal safety, drove his bulldozer into the flaming structure. Despite the intense heat and choking smoke, he cleared the burning debris from the road, permitting military traffic to flow again. A strong breeze threatened to set afire an entire block of buildings at an intersection of the "utmost importance" Despite the intense heat blown into his face, Carrol, without hesitation and disregarding his own personal safety, drove his bulldozer up over an embankment, pushing flaming buildings back to a safe distance and smothering the burning debris with dirt. Due to his outstanding service, MM2 Carrol made it possible for the flow of military traffic to be resumed. So reads the recommendation for the Bronze Star medal signed and attested to by 1st Lt. Leon T. Struble, and USMC Sgt. Warren E. Brenfman, Headquarters, 1st Engineer Battalion, who witnessed the incident and heaped high praise on both Ellet and Carroll. During those first two weeks in May, the battle for the Shuri defense zone had reached a deadlock with the Japs holding the 1st and 6th Marine Divisions on their left, the Army's 77th Division on their center and the 96th and 7th Army Divisions on their right. Two strongly defended points, Chocolate Drop Hill and Connical Hill, had to be taken, in order to encircle Shuri and trap a portion of Jap General Ushijimas forces. It was during this critical stage that the construction and maintenance of roads solved the problem of supply for the five fighting divisions. Carroll and Ellett, heavy equipment operators went beyond the call of duty to uphold the Seabee tradition "Can-Do".
     
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  16. nandre

    nandre recruit

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    L Russo:
    I thank you for all your hard work in supplying the information on the battalions. My Dad was in the 47th. We are putting together a banner for my grandson's graduation from Marine bootcamp. This will be a nice addition. Thanks again.
     
  17. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Welcome to the forum Nandre. I'm glad I could be of help. Please introduce yourself in the New Member forum and tell us something of yourself and your father.
     
  18. billyg

    billyg recruit

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    Thurman: Your story about the CB's at Villa Lavilla is very interesting. My father was one of the wounded on LST 398 during the landing on August 21st or 22nd 1943. His military records indicate that he was transferred to USN Mobile Hospital #8 on Aug.22nd 1943. He was a loader on the forward 20 MM when LST 398 took a near miss forward from a Japanese bomber. The explosion on the shallow coral infested water caused the coral and shrapnel to be sprayed over the forward deck and gun mount. He was the only survivor from that gun mount and remembered well what happened. The concussion from the explosion caused the forward end of the ship to lift up out of the water. This action actually tossed the gun crew up into the air over the low gunwell. During that brief second, the guncrew was hit with the coral and shrapnel from the explosion. His leg was badly broken just below the knee and his right arm was badly damaged. He was carried to the Ward Room which was set up as an emergency first aid room. On 9/02/43 he was transferred from Mobile Hospital ship #8 to a Naval Base hospital at Guadelcanal. They could not save his leg and it was amputated at the knee but they were able to save his right hand and arm. On 9/8/43 he was transferred to mobile hospital #5 for transportation to a USN hospital in the USA. On 9/13/43 he was transferred from the Mt. Vernon to the Naval Hospital, Mare Island, California. On 8/30/44 he was discharged from the US Navy with an Honorable Discharge (medical). Stephen H. Garner was born in NC on May 26, 1915 and died April 18, 1999. He was very proud of his military service during WWII and attended several reunions of the crew of LST 398. I was able to attend with him on two accasions and met many of the men who served with him. Thank you for your story as it gives me the insight from a total different perspective than I have heard before and confirms everything he had related to us about that day.
     
  19. MAXWELLG

    MAXWELLG recruit

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    All:

    I'm new here and trying to research my Dad's service. All the St Louis Center has is a certificate of service but has not been able to provide his service record. Disclaimer: I'm the loose cog on this wheel--I had Dad's few momentos but failed to keep a copy when I sent the stuff to the museum at Port Huaneme.

    Here's what I remember:

    LT Adrian R. (Max) Maxwell (Civil Engineer)
    --Served on both Iwo and Okinawa
    --He was an Executive Officer (Company? Battalion?)
    --He came home from Okinawa on the last "Magic Carpet" voyage of the Saratoga, arriving via San Francisco to our home on Long Island, NY in time for my 3rd birthday in February of 1946
    --He told a story once of doing some underwater welding with a Master Chief, using breathing apparatus constructed from gas masks!
    --He told me he had seen Ernie Pyle's grave on Ie Shima--this makes me think he may have been in the 106th
    --One of his artifacts was a report detailing the damages to the unit's tents caused by a typhoon (but which island?)

    That's about all I can remember. The museum will look up the cruise book for just one unit and try to locate the artifiacts I donated in order to make me copies--but only one unit. Does any of the above info about my Dad ring any bells for anyone?

    Much thanks for listening,

    Greg (Max) Maxwell
     
  20. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    I can only help in one area (possibly), the worst typhoon event (for the USN) in WW2 was at Okinawa in Oct. of 1945. The Typhoon's name was Louise, it is listed on the internet, but not too much real data included.

    Sorry I don't have anything else to add. ::(:eek:
     

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