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Thread: Seabee question(4oth Const. battalion)

  1. #1
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    Default Seabee question(4oth Const. battalion)

    My Great Grandfather was with the "Navy Seabees 40th Construction Battalion"
    in the Pacific during WW2.

    He died in action on March 4, 1944. I'm trying to find out exactly where this took place. I have photos of his time in the service and I know some of the details but not sure on the exact location. Somehwere near Guadalcanal/Manus island etc...

    I know that he was helping build an airstrip and they were told the Japs were not present but they were and I think they were attacked and he was killed.

    Anyone know more details about this.

    thanks..

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Seabee question(4oth Const. battalion)

    Quote Originally Posted by GREENCOUNTRY View Post
    My Great Grandfather was with the "Navy Seabees 40th Construction Battalion"
    in the Pacific during WW2.

    He died in action on March 4, 1944. I'm trying to find out exactly where this took place. I have photos of his time in the service and I know some of the details but not sure on the exact location. Somehwere near Guadalcanal/Manus island etc...

    I know that he was helping build an airstrip and they were told the Japs were not present but they were and I think they were attacked and he was killed.

    Anyone know more details about this.

    thanks..

    Your great-grandfather would have been involved as part of the support echelon of Task Force Brewer (the assault echelon being the fighting troops) in the invasion of the Admiralty Islands. However, by 3-4 March Seabees were operating as infantry as outlined here:

    The 3 March Japanese attack on the American perimeter started about 2100. Although the entire American line was engaged, the weary soldiers of the 2d Squadron, 5th Cavalry, once more bore the brunt of the enemy assaults. Withering fire from the cavalrymen killed scores of Japanese, but the enemy pressed his attacks throughout the night. Fire support from artillery, mortars, and naval guns played a crucial role in breaking up the Japanese onslaughts. The captain of the destroyer USS Mullany brought his ship close enough to the shore to, in his words, "hit 'em with a potato" as his gunners directed intense barrages at advancing Japanese formations.

    Throughout the evening the cavalrymen reported hearing the Japanese relaying false commands in English. An unsuspecting mortar section abandoned its position when it heard an American voice directing a retreat. Other soldiers reported that the Japanese were tapping into telephone lines and giving false orders and reports. One mortar battery refused an urgent plea in clear English to cease firing when the caller was unable to identify himself. Most other spurious communications were also ignored.

    Heroism, such as that displayed by Sgt. Troy McGill of G Troop, was not uncommon. His squad was defending a revetment about thirty-five yards in front of the main perimeter when the Japanese launched an attack. Soon, all but McGill and one other soldier were killed. The sergeant ordered his companion to escape to the perimeter while he continued to defend the position. When his rifle jammed, he used it as a club until he was killed. Subsequently, McGill was awarded the Medal of Honor for his courage and selflessness.

    Near dawn, the Seabees left their foxholes to reinforce the battered cavalrymen along the perimeter. As they advanced' they encountered a Japanese soldier inside the perimeter who had taken over a U.S. machine gun position. A few Seabees quickly dispatched the enemy and recovered the position, while their compatriots manned another gun position near the beach. The night engagements were a harrowing experience for everyone inside the perimeter.

    By daybreak on 4 March the worst of the fighting was over. Although sporadic mortar and artillery fire continued for some time, the Americans had withstood the best the Japanese could throw at them. Over 750 enemy soldiers lay dead on the field of battle, as compared to 61 Americans. There were no prisoners. The Japanese had obeyed orders to commit suicide rather than surrender.
    http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/...cks/index.html

    More here: http://www.first-team.us/tableaux/chapt_02/
    http://www.history.army.mil/books/ww...-losnegros.htm

    You might be able to get some information about your great-grandfather here http://www.wwiimemorial.com/default....subpage=search
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 03-24-2010 at 08:45 AM.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

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    Default Re: Seabee question(4oth Const. battalion)

    Thank You for the information, I appreciate that very much !

  4. #4

    Default Re: Seabee question(4oth Const. battalion)

    40th Seabees at Los Negros

    In March 1944, on Los Negros island in the Admiralties, just north of eastern New Guinea, the 40th Seabee Battalion was assigned to the 1st Calvary Division of the Army. Its objective was to put the unused and much bombed Japanese airstrip at Momote into operation. The army captured the airfield, all right, but while the Seabees were at work on it, the Japanese counterattacked in greater force than anyone suspected was present. Two Seabee officers and 100 men took over a sector of the perimeter and occupied a trench that they dug with the battalion's ditch digger. They armed themselves with automatic rifles and knives, and set up a truck mounted 20 mm gun behind them. Meanwhile other Seabees landed and started to grade and clear the runways and taxiways in the midst of battle. Others drove bulldozers into the jungle to clear fire lanes for Army guns, using the blades now to clear a lane and again raised as a shield, behind which they fired at the enemy. In the Japanese assault, the Seabees distinguished themselves by capturing two machine gun positions and a Bofors gun. They took 47 casualties, with nine killed. General Macarthur awarded them the Army's Distinguished Unit Badge, and President Roosevelt gave them the Presidential Unit Citation

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    Default Re: Seabee question(4oth Const. battalion)

    My Father Lee or "Lino" was in the Seabees in the South Pacific. The only photo I have is of him is with a helmet, no shirt and a machete taken somewhere in the Admiralties. He served from 1944-1946 and was at Morotai, Leyte, Lingayen Gulf, Mindanao etc. He has alzheimers now and can’t help me research his Naval experience. He has said he was with the 40th Seabees but I can’t verify that. Even with his discharge papers and his card, I haven’t been able to identify which class at NTS Sampson he was in or what batallion of Seabees. He also served on USS LST 744, of which I can’t find any photos or crew list. Any help or advice is greatly appreciated.

    Regards,
    SteveO.

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    Default Re: Seabee question(4oth Const. battalion)

    Any chance you can post some of the photo's you have? Would be interested in seeing them. My Dad was also a Seabee. He was in the 122nd NCB.

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    Default Re: Seabee question(4oth Const. battalion)

    My Father (I was a "late in life child. They had me around 40 years old.) was in the 46th Seabees. I'm not exactly sure how the Navy battalion system breaks down. Could someone please explain? I know that he was in the first echelon to hit the beachhead of the Admiralty Islands and was one of the men who received the commendation (as per his WWII book called "The Anxiety)." Everything I read talks about the 40th Seabee Construction Battalion being on the beachhead of the Admiralty's? Is that separate from the 46th?

    I didn't ask my dad a lot of questions about his service. He was very private about it. I have read the diary he kept from the his time on Guadacanal, so I know that they were pummeled with air raids quite continually and several times a day. He also suffered somewhat from PTSD, so we just never asked him about it. Most of the nightmares were of taking the beachhead of the Admiraty's. It was very traumatic for him. He lost a lot of buddies there I think. He did say he was very blessed to have been one of the survivors of that.

    I never even knew he had received the accommendation until after he died and I read the Anxiety. Anything anyone would like to share would be appreciated.

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