Bougainville Field in Use, Seabees Did Job!
#1

Milwaukee Journal - Jan. 3, 1944.

 

BOUGAINVILLE FIELD IN USE, SEABEES DID JOB!

 

With U.S. forces on Bougainville - A 6,500 foot field for light and medium bombers, within less than 250 miles of Rabaul, and only 850 miles from Japan's mighty Naval base of Truk is now in operation in these northern Solomon Islands.

 

The airfield, at the base of the fuming volcano, Mount Bagana, was carved out of the heaviest of jungles and was dedicated Christmas day. Called Piva field, after the river village of that name. It is the second field to be established on the expanding beachhead which U.S. Marines first won November 1, 1943 with a landing at Empress Augusta Bay on Bougainville's west central coast. The Torokina fighter field of 4,200 feet, superimposed upon a swamp, has been used since Dec. 12. Torokina has been dispatching fighter planes for sweeps over Rabaul. Now they can screen bombers flying from Piva, a mere aerial skip and jump from Rabaul. The Piva field is the nearest one of the allies to Truk in the Carolines. The building of Piva was accomplished with heroics and utter dis-regard of danger.

 

Once tractors were leveling ground within a few feet of where a bomb disposal crew, under Marine Lt. Ed Curry of Boston Mass. was supervising the digging up of a string of Japanese duds and time bombs. Again a Japanese patrol harassing the Seabees got so close to the field that a Seabee was captured. When Seabee surveyors started laying out the field, they actually worked for several days beyond our lines. As they returned from work, they would chide the Marines. If you guys don't hurry up and take that country, we'll have the field finished before you get there.

 

The Bougainville fields put dive bombers and torpedo planes within reach of Rabaul. The Piva field was ready for bombers less than six weeks after the Seabees broke ground. The toughest job was in pushing roads through swamps to it, often under Japanese fire. Once that was accomplished. the clearing, grading and surfacing proceeded swiftly.

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#2
Once again, thank you for your great contributions to this site. I'm sure many, many of our readers are grateful for your Seabee stories.
Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
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#3

ARMY & NAVY REGISTER - JUNE 10 1944

 

SEABEE REGIMENT COMMENDED

 

A REGIMENT OF NAVY SEABEES HAS BEEN COMMENDED BY ARMY, NAVY, & MARINE CORPS OFFICERS FOR THE PART IT PLAYED IN REPELLING A SUSTAINED 17- DAY COUNTER-ATTACK ON BOUGAINVILLE.

 

THE SEABEES WERE UNDER COMMAND OF COMDR. L.V. CLARK DEICHLER, CBC, USNR.

 

TWO BATT., BIVOUACKED JUST OFF THE TOROKINA FIGHTER STRIP, WERE SUBJECT TO ESPECIALLY HEAVY FIRE.

 

IN ORDER TO REMAIN ALIVE, IN THE BIVOUAC AREA BETWEEN MARCH 8 AND 24, 1944, AN OFFICIAL REPORT STATED, IT WAS NECESSARY FOR ALL HANDS TO SPEND SOME OF THE DAYLIGHT HOURS IN FOXHOLES AND TO SLEEP IN FOXHOLES EACH NIGHT.

 

IN ONE 24 HOUR PERIOD, THE JAPS SCORED 11 DIRECT HITS ON THE CAMP OF ONE BATTALION AND DROPPED MORE THAN 110 SHELLS WITHIN 50 YARDS.

 

THESE COMBAT CONDITIONS DID NOT PREVENT THE SEABEES FROM COMPLETING ALL EMERGENCY REPAIRS ON THE PIVA FIGHTER STRIPS, WHICH HAD TAKEN A HEAVY BATTERING. DURING THE ENTIRE 17 DAY PERIOD, NO NAVAL FACILITY WAS OUT OF COMMISSION FOR MORE THAN 30 MINUTES.

 

AIRFIELD REPAIR GROUPS HAVE BEEN RECOMMENDED FOR APPROPRIATE AWARDS BY MAJ. GEN. R.J. MITCHELL, U.S.M.C., WHO WAS THEN COM. AIRCRAFT, SOLOMON ISLANDS, AND WHO IS NOW COM. AIR SOUTH PACIFIC.

 

THROUGHOUT THE ASSAULTS, THE SEABEES CONTINUED WORK ON A HOSPITAL, A PT BASE, BOAT POOL REPAIR FACILITIES, AND OTHER IMPORTANT NAVAL BASE STRUCTURES. THEY REPLACED INFANTRYMEN IN HANDLING RATIONS & UNLOADING CARGO. THEY FURNISHED A COMBAT TEAM OF APPROXIMATELY 400 MEN TO BE HELD IN RESERVE FOR FRONT-LINE DUTY.

 

THEIR WORK, IN THE FACE OF CONTINUED ENEMY OPPOSITION HAS BEEN ON THE HIGHEST ORDER AND REFLECT GREAT CREDIT UPON THE BATTALION PARTICIPATING, SAID REAR ADMIRAL O.O. BADGER, U.S.N. COM. SERVICE SQUADRON, SOUTH PACIFIC FORCE. THIS COMMAND, REAR ADMIRAL BADGER CONTINUED, TAKES THIS OPPORTUNITY TO COMMEND THE REGIMENT FOR THE EXCELLENCE OF THEIR PERFORMANCE.

 

THE SEABEES ALSO WERE COMMENDED BY MAJ. GEN. MITCHELL, CAPT. H.S. SEASE, U.S.N. COM. AIR CENTER, TOROKINA, MAJ. GEN. O.W. GRISWOLD, ARMY COM. OFF. AND CAPT. O.O. KEESING, U.S.N., COM. NAVAL AIR BASE, TOROKINA.

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