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Info on Tech 4 Edward L Kelly New Guinea WWII

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I have some information on my father. I have gotten some info from the archives in St louis but most was burned in that fire back in the 70's. His Separation papers (form 53-55) reveal he was on Task Force 6814 arriving Australia Feb 1942- and he served in New Guinea and received the Asiatic Pacific Service medal with 1 Bronze Star. (The Bronze star was a surprise to me- I never knew Dad had gotten a Bronze Star) I believe he was with either the 43rd or the 46th Engineer General Service Regiment but no documentation yet. Mom talked bout Dad being with the Engineers. He reenlisted in 1947-  He also served in the Korean War and then in the 60's he became a CWO III and served at Fulda Germany - I believe with the 354th Engineers. Right now I am looking documentation his New Guinea service.

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Hi...

You might want to contact the V.A. and ask for your father's VA file.  This MAY be distinct from the files in St. Louis.    In my reading of files,  I found  basic information, including the trail from assignment to assignment.  In my father's,  I actually found the evacuation tag that had been attached to his clothes when he got sick.

The bronze star, if it was part of the APS medal would indicated he participated in one landing.  If he was awarded a Bronze Star Medal, know that it was a dual purpose medal:  for combat or for service.

You can contact the National Archives on line and inquire into the records of the two Engineer outfits you mention.  Sometimes you can find rosters.

Finally, check the US Army's WWII history series, the so-called Green books.  These are now on-line too.  You can check the volume on the Engineers in the Pacific as well as the campaign history for the area.  They might give you the background information you need to ask more specific questions.  Here is what I found on the task force you note.  Down near the end of this list you will see the engineer regiments mentioned as having stayed in Australia.

************************************************************

FROM:  

TASK FORCE 6814, US ARMY
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2

 

Task Force 6814 was hastily thrown together by the US Army straight after the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. It was brought together with personnel from right across the United States, with limited equipment and lots of new faces in unfamiliar roles. 

Task Force 6814 comprised:-

  • Hq & Hq Det, Task Force (including attached Division Surgeons's office)
    Hq & Hq Co, 51 Infantry Brigade
    132nd Infantry Regiment (Illinois National Guard)
    182 Infantry Regiment
    754 Tank Battalion
    180 Field Artillery Regiment (155mm), less 2 Bn
    2 Bn, 123 Field Artillery Regiment (155mm)
    70 Coast Artillery Regiment (AA, Mobile), less Band
    3 Bn, 244 Coast Artillery Regiment (155mm)
    3 Plat, Btry G, 244 Coast Artillery Regiment (155mm)
    101 Quartermaster Rgt, less 2 Bn, section Car Plat, section Motorcycle Plat and Maint. Plat
    Co A, 82 Quartermaster Battalion (LM)
    2 Plat, Co B, 89 Quartermaster Regiment
    2 and 3 Plats, Co A, 96 Quartermaster Bakery Battalion
    1 Bn, 108 Quartermaster Regiment
    216 Quartermaster Company (Mobile Shoe and Textile Repair), less plat
    705 Quartermaster Truck Company
    1 Bn, 101 Engineer Regiment
    810 Aviation Engineer Battalion (Negro)
    811 Aviation Engineer Battalion (Negro)
    22 Ordnance Medium Maintenance Company
    51 Ordnance Ammunition Company
    73 Ordnance Depot Company (two storehouse sections)
    676 Ordnance Company (platoon)
    9 Station Hospital
    52 Evacuation Hospital
    109 Station Hospital
    101 Medical Regiment (less one collecting co, one ambulance co, and Division Surgeon's office)
    67 Pursuit Squadron
    58 Interceptor Control Squadron (section)
    3 Quartermaster Aviation Supply Company (detachment)
    Army Airways Communications System detachment
    26 Signal Company
    121 Signal Radar Intelligence Company
    175 Signal Repair Company (radio and wire repair sections)
    162 Signal Photo Company (unit)
    65 Materiel Squadron (including attached medical personnel)
    26 Military Police Company (platoon)
    502 Army Postal Unit
    Finance Detachment
    2 Chemical Decontamination Company (detachment)
    43 Engineer General Service Regiment, less Band
    46 Engineer General Service Regiment, less Band
    694 Signal company (Hq & Hq Det)
    Weather Detachment
    13 Reconnaissance Squadron
    4 General Hospital

Task Force 6814 travelled to Australia in a large convoy. Many of these ships were luxury liners that were hurriedly converted to a troop ship. The convoy comprised:-

  • SS Argentina

  • SS Barry

  • SS Cristobel

  • SS Erickson

  • SS McAndrew

  • SS Santa Elena

  • SS Santa Rosa

  • SS Island Mail

The convoy left New York Harbour on 23 January 1942. It was escorted by a number of destroyers and aerial escorts including the occasional blimp. During their voyage south to Panama there was a submarine scare. A number of depth charges were dropped on a suspected enemy submarine.

The Task Force produced its own newspapers, one of which was known as "Twin-Ocean Gazette". As many as 2,500 copies of this newspaper were printed daily when conditions permitted.

Colonel Edmund B. Sebree was appointed as the Chief of Staff of Task Force 6814 and flew into Panama to join the convoy. Col. Sebree's staff comprised:-

G-1    Lt. Col. Williamson
G-2    Lt. Col. Moore
G-3    Lt. Cole George
G-4    Lt. Cole Homewood

Training was carried out during transit to their still unknown destination. Some of the training included jungle tactics, tropical diseases and gunnery.

The Convoy arrived in Melbourne in Victoria, Australia on 27 February 1942. The troops were unloaded and dispersed to five major areas:-

Many of the troops were billeted in private households resulting in many long lasting friendships with Australian families. The troops were later overwhelmed with mail from Australian families after they had landed at Guadalcanal.

It was soon time to reload the ships to move to New Caledonia. The artillery units which had arrived in Australia without any guns acquired some British 18-pounders and 25-pounders which were loaded on to their ships. Two "Aussie" officers and a small experienced crew of NCO's travelled with the Task Force to New Caledonia to provide training on the new guns.

The following are the only units that remained in Australia after debarkation of the other units at Melbourne:-

43 Engineer General Service Regiment, less Band *
46 Engineer General Service Regiment, less Band *
694 Signal company (Hq & Hq Det) *
Weather Detachment *
13 Reconnaissance Squadron *
4 General Hospital *

A Task Force advance party flew out of Melbourne for New Caledonia on 6 March 1942. The convoy departed Melbourne on the same day headed for Noumea. They arrived in Noumea on 12 March 1942, minus the SS Erickson which arrived on 18 March 1942 after experiencing power problems on the first day out of Melbourne.

Task Force 6814 was reassigned as the Americal Division effective  27 May 1942. Americal is a combination of the words American and Caledonia. It was the only division in the American Army without a number at that time. 

The 182nd Infantry Regiment of the Americal Division landed on Guadalcanal on 12 November 1942.

The 164th Infantry Regiment (North Dako

 

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Please read my research section first before you contact anyone! :-)

 

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