William Vernon Gordon Bougainville WWII


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Bougainville WWII William Vernon Gordon
37th Infantry Division, 148th Infantry Regiment

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William Vernon Gordon Bougainville WWII

  1. 1. “Vern” Willliam Vernon Gordon United States Army 37th Infantry Division, 148th Infantry Regiment “Vern” Willliam Vernon Gordon Birth: 10 Jul 1912 Lincoln, Bingham, Idaho Married: Rayola Smith, 3 May 1933 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah Death: 23 Feb 1944, WWII Bougainville, North Solomons, Papua New Guinea Burial Service: 12 Mar 1944, Draper City Cemetery Draper, Salt Lake County, Utah Plot: C-1-4 November 9, 1943 148th Infantry Regiment, 37th Division Land on Bougainville The 148th Infantry landed first on Bougainville 8 Nov 43 and was followed by the 129th Infantry on 13 Nov 43 and the 145th Infantry which landed 19 Nov 43. Relieving the Marines there, the division took over the area perimeter defense, constructed roads and bridges, conducted patrols, and repulsed eight Japanese divisional attacks during March 1944. These included the 8 Mar 44 counterattack on Hill 700 which drove a salient in the lines of the 145th Infantry which wasn't reduced until 13 Mar 44 after heavy combat; the main counterattack of 11 Mar 44 toward Piva Airfield which hit the 129th Infantry; and the 23 Mar 44 general counterattack which penetrated the lines of 129th Infantry before it was defeated. The latter marked the last Japanese offensive activity in the Solomons and the division cleared the Laruma Valley during April 1944. The division remained on Bougainville until 14 Dec 44, conducting construction and combat activity up to 11 Oct 44 when it began training for operations in the Philippine Islands.
  2. 2. The island of Bougainville itself was primitive, remote, and rugged - an easy place for the Japanese to hide. It featured dense jungle, as well as a number of soaring volcanoes. Earthquakes were a frequent occurrence, as were torrential downpours. The jungle was thick, overgrown, and as one soldier recalled, "spooky."
  3. 3. Christmas Day on Bougainville (Author unknown) The booming artillery is deafening-so is the roar of the planes. Men are dying a thousand deaths-men are going insane. The blood runs freely as the trickling of a brook. The war goes on triumphantly and without a backward look. To Kill; To Kill-the urge within one is strong. "Peace on earth-Good will toward men"-where did I hear that song? Oh! of course-how stupid-today is Christmas Day. A day of hearty cheer-the world is deaf-it does not hear-it cannot hear Bougainville Landing at Empress Augusta Bay on Bougainville Why Bougainville? Most Japanese air attacks were launched from Rabaul, Bougainville and Buka, just north of Bougainville. Possession of these islands would give our air force advanced bases for their operations further north. Bougainville is approximately 125 miles long and 48 miles across at it's widest point. Approximately 60,000 Japanese occupied the island, mostly around Baku with it's airport and along the east shore with it's low-lying cultivated plantations and which would be the most logical point to attack. General MacArther chose the most illogical point of entry. Empress Augusta Bay was on the west side of the island and was separated from the east side by swamps, a network of rivers, and dense impenetrable mountainous jungle. Besides the immediate advantages to be gained by the capture of the beachhead area, there was an important strategic advantage. The Japanese, isolated from any support or reinforcement by the U. S. fleet and Air Force, would eventually have to come out of their retreat and, for the first time in the South Pacific, fight an offensive war. With defensive positions firmly established and a strong perimeter bristling with gun emplacements and fields of fire, the theory was, the Yanks could sit back and cut the Japs down like clay pigeons. The theory worked, but the Japs were not exactly clay pigeons.
  4. 4. The 148th landed on Bougainville with the 37th Division on Nov. 9, 1943. The American position at that time was nothing but green jungle and mud. First mission was to establish a defense perimeter for the beachhead. Bougainville Invasion Dec. 1943 to March 1944 http://blog.usni.org/2009/11/27/the-bougainville-invasion-part-3-december-1943- %E2%80%93-march-1944 Empress Augusta Bay The 37th Division was assigned the western sector of the beachhead, formerly occupied by the 3d Marine Division, the 37th extended its right flank and took over some 2,000 additional yards of perimeter.
  5. 5. On Nov.10th the push inland began with the right flank of the 148th moving 1,000 yard north. Snipers kept them on edge and there were 5 Jap plane attacks during the day. They advanced another 2,000 yards on Nov 15th. On Nov 21 they advanced another 1,000 yards; then the next few days were spent moving forward to the final defense line. Here on Nov 25th began the long arduous task of completing perimeter defenses, digging in guns, stretching barbed wire, and laying communications. Edward dug in his 37 MM antitank gun on the extreme left flank, next to and overlooking Empress Augusta Bay. That foxhole was his home for the next 8 months. While the infantry made it's way in stages to the final defense line, work in the rear was progressing rapidly on the installations for which the beachhead had been secured. A fighter strip had been built and they were clearing ground for a huge new bomber field. Thanksgiving passed. Days went by without any major excitement except the air raids. By this time the situation of the Japanese had become precarious. They had the protection of the mountains but their supply lines were cut, food diminishing, bombed daily, they were faced with the unhappy alternative of remaining in hiding and starving, or launching a full scale attack to wipe out the American forces on the island. They chose the latter.
  6. 6. The stage was set, and the curtain about to rise on some of the bloodiest, most fanatical Banzai attacks made by the Japanese in the South Pacific War. The players were the boastful warriors of the Japanese 17th Army, the cream of the Jap Militarists, pitted against a civilian army of battling clerks, farmers, mechanics, carpenters, schoolboys, and business men, molded into an efficient, blood-thirsty army by the blood-letting on New Georgia. The American beachhead was on a coastal plain about two miles deep, lying at the foot of the towering Crown Prince range of volcanic mountains. Patrols discovered that the Japs were assembling for a major attack on Hill 700 which overlooked the airfield William Vernon Gordon died February 23, 1944 on Bougainville The first artillery shell from the attacking Japanese landed at 6:27 on Mar 8, 1944. For the next three days the enemy pounded our lines, then on Mar 11th they launched an assault at dawn. They came in waves, a whole battalion attacking on a platoon front. Brandishing their prized sabers, screeching "Chusuto!" (Dam them), the Jap officers climbed up the slope and rushed forward in an admirable display of blind courage. The men screamed in reply "Yaruzo!" (Lets do it!) and then "Yarimosu!" (We will do it!). As they closed with the American doughboys, the leaders cried "San Nen Kire!" or "Cut a thousand men!" These battle cries were answered by the G. I.'s "Kill the bastards". Mowed down by the heavy fire from the dug in infantry, the Japs kept tumbling over the bodies of their comrades unwaveringly advancing toward the spitting guns. The attack was bloodily stopped by 8:00 and the dazed remnants of the enemy battalion had withdrawn, leaving fifteen hundred of their dead comrades stacked up in front of our lines. But the battle was not over. A different kind of battle developed. Twenty thousand Japs swerved to the right and dared to meet us in open battle, in flat land, hoping their valor, strength and courage would take the heart out of our troops. They underestimated the number and fighting quality of the American soldier. Early on Mar 15th another Banzai attack occurred. The leading platoons of shrieking orientals were hacked to pieces, but the rear units kept charging over the bodies of the dead. The Japs who attacked the 37th Division were not only fanatical, but desperate and indifferent to death. The tactics of the Japanese officers will always be a mystery. Time after time they attacked over the same ground, literally stepping over the bodies of their dead who had been cut to pieces, while the rear of their long columns were blasted from the earth by the thousands of rounds of American artillery. The nauseating task of burying those thousands of dead Japanese fell to the rear echelons of the division. Protected by infantry squads they completed one of the most odious tasks of the war. Bulldozers buried them in their foxholes and scraped out pits and scraped the reeking, mutilated remains in and covered the mass graves over again. The stench was overwhelming and the decaying human flesh turned the stomach. On Mar 27 1944 the shell-happy remainder of the Imperial Japanese Army staggered back across the mountains. They were killed or captured in the following months. Observers of most of the fighting in the Solomons were unanimous in their judgment that never before had such frightful and bloody fighting taken place between the Japanese and the Americans. The 37th Division alone killed 7,655 Japs and took 44 prisoners. The 37th lost 185 killed, 1,388 wounded (57 of those later died), and 4 were missing in action.
  7. 7. Bougainville- 37th Infantry Division Patrol
  8. 8. WILLIAM VERNON GORDON Service History 1942, Dec 19 - Inducted and sworn into the Army. 1942, Dec 26 - Leave Salt Lake city for Camp Roberts, California 1943, Jan 2 - Arrive at Camp Roberts, California for 13 weeks training. 1943, March 8 – Furlough Vern’s mother passes away, 1943, March 19 - 7 Day furlough attend wife’s, father’s funeral 1943, March 26 - Returned to Camp Roberts, Calif 1943, July 20 - Arrived at Fort Lewis, Washington for Advanced Training. Assigned to: 37th Infantry Division, 148th Infantry Regiment 1943, Aug 19 - Moved to Pittsbury Depot, Calif. Near San Francisco 1943, Oct 1 - Letter from Vern in Southwestern Pacific, with 37th on Guadalcanal 1943, Nov. 9 - 37th Landed on Bougainville 1944, Feb. 23 - Vern killed on Bougainville Island 1944, March 12 – Memorial Service at Draper, Utah Operation Cherryblossom - the invasion of Bougainville (November 1943-March 1944) http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/operation_cherryblossom_bougainville.html
  9. 9. HEAD QUARTERS 148TH INFANTRY APO 37 Office of the Chaplain April 18, 1944 Harriet M. Gordon Box 75 Draper, Utah My Dear Friend: I wish to express my sympathy at the death of your loved one. He gave his life courageously and in honor for his country and we all trust that his sacrifice shall not be in vain but that the peace for which he was fighting shall come to pass. It is my prayer that your confidence in God and His care for the souls of our dead will be a comfort to you. We will live in the hope of immortality so we can see our loved ones again. "Those whom we have loved long since and lost awhile." I regret to state that the body of your loved one has not and probably will not be recovered. He was killed in action in enemy territory. His unit had other casualties in attempting to recover the dead. At a later date a patrol was sent into this territory but was unable to locate and trace any of the bodies either buried or unburied. This makes an added burden to your sorrow, but let me assure you that everything was done that could be done to secure the bodies for proper burial. However a Memorial Service was held in his units and proper respect was paid to the sacrifice he made. William was a man who was well liked by the men of his unit and he will be missed greatly out here. We trust that we may have added courage to carry on for him. Any request or question that you may have concerning the personal effects of William may be directed to the Quarter Master General, Washington 25 D. C. Sincerely yours, Joel M. Wareing Chaplain (Major) 148 Infantry
  10. 10. Your tombstone stands neglected and alone. The name and date are chiseled out on polished, marbled stone. It reaches out to all who care. It is too late to mourn. You did not know that I exist. You died and I was born. Yet each of us are cells of you in flesh, in blood, in bone. Our heart contracts and beats a pulse entirely not our own. Dear Ancestor, the place you filled so long ago Spreads out among the ones you left who would have loved you so. I wonder as you lived and loved, I wonder if you knew That someday I would find this spot and come to visit you. Author Unknown Find A Grave http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=10473948 Willliam Vernon Gordon Birth: 10 Jul 1912 Lincoln, Bingham, Idaho Death: 23 Feb 1944, WWII Bougainville, North Solomons, Papua New Guinea Burial Service: 12 Mar 1944, Draper City Cemetery Draper, Salt Lake County, Utah Plot: C-1-4
  11. 11. YOU TUBE VIDEOS CONCERNING BOUGAINSVILLE WWII Operation Cherry Blossom - The Bougainville Campaign - WWII Pacific http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lZTV9Q72aQ Semper Fi: Marines In WWII, Ep.2 – Bougainville http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lFsZhtwh9Q NBC Radio Broadcast -- Battle of Bougainville, World War II, with pictures http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4T7t6cyey8 WW2: Crusade in the Pacific -10/24- Up the Solomon's Ladder: Bougainville http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jcd1YDxvUI8 Bougainville 1943-1945 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8q7AzGEukVU Bougainville 1944 to 1945 – Australians http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta8Cp6BM9CM Battle History of the USMC - Pacific Ep 4: Bougainville http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-GlOzkau_k American Infantry Troops, Bougainville Island, SW Pacific Ocean, Solomon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tGwxspA3yk HFYUILL-Bougainville 1944 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tr6bgH4GWxM Reconnaissance Mission - Bougainville (1944) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydGFR005IQw WW II - Crusade in the Pacific [Part 10/24] - Up The Solomons Ladder http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ejysc49MLfg The Battle For Hill 700 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsErxlhriPM WWII vet talks about Bouganville campaign http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4vh3NwyT7E You Tube video – Aircraft over Bougainville http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Im086TCu3I Bougainville Tactical Reenactment - 2010 (Photo Montage) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyMYlghya_E