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Troopships in the First World War

Troopships in the First World War


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Alaunia: In 1914 the Alaunia and the Andania, were used as troop ships carrying Canadian troops across the Atlantic. In the summer of 1915 both the ships were involved in the Gallipoli campaign. Later that year the Alaunia carried troops to Bombay. In 1916 the Alaunia struck a mine and sank two miles off the Royal Sovereign Lightship.

Andania: The Andania was used to transport the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and Royal Dublin Fusiliers to Cape Helles for the landings at Suvla. In 1918 she was hit by a torpedo a few miles from Altacarry Light (County Antrim).

Aurania: The Aurania was completed in 1917. She was employed in the North Atlantic, but after having made only seven trips she was hit by a torpedo 15 miles off Inishtrahull.

Ascania: When the war broke out the Ascania worked on the North Atlantic. On the eastward journeys, the third class areas were occupied by Canadian troops. In 1918 Ascania ran aground off Cape Ray.

Aquitania: Commissioned by the Royal Navy in 1914 the Aquitania first patrolled the Western Approaches but after colliding with a cargo ship it was decided that she was too big to be an armoured merchant cruiser. However she was used in the Gallipoli landings. In the latter part of the war she was employed as a hospital ship.

Campania: Built in 1893, the Campania was originally a record-breaking transatlantic liner. Campania was saved from being scrapped by the outbreak of the war. As most of the other Cunarders were being used by the Admiralty, the Campania was used for passenger trips. Eventually Cunard decided that she was no longer needed and put her up for sale. The Admiralty came to the rescue as they were looking for a ship which could be converted to carry seaplanes. Purpose built planes called Fairy Campanias were built and the ship had room for ten on her decks. The Campania was now the world's largest aircraft carrier. She was a great success, but unfortunately in November 1918, she sank after dragging her anchors and colliding with first Royal Oak and then Glorious in the Firth of Forth.

Carmania: Three days after war was declared, Carmania was converted into a armoured merchant cruiser. Both her and her sister ship, the Caronia were armed with 4.7 inch guns. In mid-September 1914 she sunk the German liner Cap Trafalgar. The Carmania was going to help at Gallipoli but she ran aground on the way and ended up just picking up survivors from three battleships torpedoed in the Dardanelles. The Carmania was the first Cunard liner to have turbines.

Caronia: The Caronia was the Carmania's sister-ship and was the first to be turned into an armoured merchant cruiser. On the 19th August 1914 she captured the German ship Odessa carrying a cargo of nitrate. In August 1916 she was repaired and given back to the Cunard Line. Both ships survived the war and in June 1919 the Caronia was returned to Cunard.

Franconia: At the start of the war Franconia continued her regular service from Liverpool to New York. Then in February 1915 she was turned into a troopship and was sent straight to Gallipoli where she took casualties to the safety of the Egyptian port. On the 4th of October 1916, bound for Salonika, she was torpedoed and sank. There were no troops on board and only 12 of the crew were killed.

Laconia: The Laconia was turned into an armed merchant cruiser in 1914. She was based at Simonstown in the South Atlantic which she patrolled until April 1915. Laconia was then used as a headquarters ship for the operations to capture Tanga and the colony of German East Africa (Tanzania). Four months later she returned to the patrolling of the South Atlantic. The Laconia was handed back to Cunard in July 1916.

Invernia: The Invernia was taken over by the Royal Navy and used for troop transport to Canada and the Mediterranean. She was sunk by a torpedo about 60 miles SE of Cape Matapan in Greece while carrying troops. Most of the crew were saved by the Rifleman or trawlers who were accompanying her.

Llandovery Castle: The sinking of this Llandovery Castle is considered one of the worst atrocities of the war. She was employed as a hospital ship and had her cross lights on when she was torpedoed without warning by a German submarine. Only 24 people survived out of the 258 people on board.

Omrah: With the outbreak of war Omrah was requisitioned by the government for troop transport. Work on her was completed in mid-September 1914. She carried troops to Colombo and then 40 prisoners to Egypt before being discharged from service in February 1915. Two years later she was again used for troop transport bringing troops from Australia to England. Then 40 miles SW of Cape Spartivento in Sardinia, she was hit by a torpedo and sank.

Ormonde: The Ormonde was being built when the First World War started and her completion was delayed because the ship builders were needed by the British Navy. In early 1917 there was a great need for troop ships and work started again on the Ormonde. She was completed in November and taken over by the Navy. After a short service she was returned to P&O in 1919.

Orontes: The Orontes was taken over by the government in 1916 as a troop ship and held this job until the end of the war. In the year after the war she was used to take Australian and South African troops home from England.

Orsova: Requisitioned as a troop ship in April 1915, Orsova carried Australian reinforcements to Egypt and Europe. In March she was hit by a torpedo in the English channel, luckily her captain was able to beach her at Plymouth. After a long wait she was repaired and was used to carry troops over from America. The Orsova was transferred to the Australian route for the last three months of the war.

Otranto: On the 1st August 1914 the Otranto was requested to become hospital ship but in the end became an armed merchant cruiser. On the 31st October 1914 she confronted Admiral von Spee's powerful fleet of German cruisers and two of the three ships with her, Good Hope and the Monmouth, sank but luckily she and the Glasgow escaped. She was then used for troop transport between Liverpool to New York. In October 1918 the Otranto was heading for Scotland with her convoy when she collided with the Kashmir. Some of the people on board were rescued by the Mounsey but she then ran aground and broke in half. Only a hand full of men survived out of the 400 which were still onboard. This was one of the worst misfortunes in the last few weeks of the war.


Troopships in the First World War - History

A number of existing troopships, as well as ships seized from Germany, were used to return troops from Europe to the United States after the Armistice. In addition, there were several foreign-flagged ships used only for troop returns.

Up until November 11, 1918, all efforts were made to send troops to Europe. Once hostilities ceased, the United States faced a huge logistical problem of returning the troops home again.

I have a copy of a book entitled A History of the Transport Service by Vice Admiral Albert Gleaves, U.S.N. It was published in 1921 and describes the incredible effort needed to transport millions of American troops both over to France and back home again. Several tables and illustrations from the book are available from my website, by following the links on this page. This information may help if you are looking for a particular ship or wish to see the statistics behind this major war effort.

Note that the Gleaves book's contents are available online: Online copy of A History of the Transport Service by Vice Admiral Albert Gleaves, U.S.N. You can download your own copy and learn more about this fascinating history, and the ships and men that were part of it.

Foreign Troopships Used for Returning Personnel

The following ships of foreign origin were used to return United States troops after the Armistice. Each line is formatted thus: NAME of SHIP (Nationality).


The Great Depression Hits

Work begins on the new Southampton dry dock, to be known as the King George V Graving Dock.

December 11

Work halts on Job #534 because of the Great Depression and an inability to secure further bank loans. The hull plating is 80% completed and the ship stands nine stories high.

July 26

The King George V Graving Dock is officially opened with King George V and Queen Mary steaming into the dry dock aboard the Royal Yacht, Victoria and Albert. The dock is the largest in the world at the time. It is 1,200 feet long, 135 feet wide at its entrance, 59 feet deep, holds 58 million gallons of water, and can hold any ship up to 100,000 tons.

January 1


Remembering World War I: American Troop Ships First Arrive in France

Shortly after the United States entered World War I, the commander of U.S. Convoy Operations was ordered to organize and begin escorting the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) to France. With the threat of enemy submarines, American ships crossing the Atlantic needed protection. Four cruisers, 13 destroyers, two armed yachts, and two fuel tankers gathered in New York Harbor in early June 1917 to serve as escorts. They would convoy 14 steamships and three navy transports to France with cargoes of soldiers, material, draft animals, and supplies. By the end of the war, more than 75 percent of American troops passed through New York Harbor on their way to Europe.

In little time, the transport ships had been gathered, fitted for carrying troops, equipped with radios, and armed. The United States even utilized German ships that had been interned, or seized after the declaration of war. The American government had to be flexible and efficient in order to get troops and supplies into Europe quickly. By June 14 the ships were deemed ready to sail.

The cruiser USS Seattle, and the destroyers USS Wilkes, Terry, Roe, and later, the Fanning served as heavy escort to the USS Tenadores, Saratoga, Havana, Pastores, and the DeKalb, a captured German armed merchantman. (Merchantman is a name given to a ship, tanker, or freighter whose intended purpose is the transportation of goods and supplies, not military troops). Their orders sent them toward the port of Brest, France. Late at night on June 22, torpedoes coursed through the convoy, narrowly missing several ships. Lt. T. VanMetre of the destroyer USS Wilkes used early passive sonar to discern the sounds of nearby U-boats. The ships scattered as planned and regrouped the morning of the 23rd. Marines on the DeKalb were aware of the attack but some soldiers missed the incident. A soldier of the First Division reported “Daily rumors spread that submarines were near, but no one saw them.” The Navy later remarked on the incident to Congress.

On the afternoon of the 24th the convoy rendezvoused with additional American destroyers stationed at Queenstown, Ireland. They escorted the ships toward France, where French aircraft could be seen patrolling for submarines. Because of U-boats off the port of Brest, they headed for Saint-Nazaire instead. The crowded troop ships arrived safely, giving the soldiers, sailors and Marines a great sense of relief.

On June 26th the landing began with Army stevedores going ashore to prepare for unloading. Company K of the 28th Infantry Regiment was the first AEF infantry unit to set foot in France. The rest of the 28th, and the 16th Infantry Regiment also came ashore that day, as did part of the 5th Marine Regiment. It was June 30th before the entire contingent could be brought ashore. Due to the cramped port, it took stevedores assisted by Marines a few day to bring all animals, materiel and supplies ashore.

First Units to Land at St. Nazaire in Order of Arrival:

• 16th Infantry Regiment
• 18th Infantry Regiment
• 26th Infantry Regiment
• 28th Infantry Regiment
• 5th Marine Regiment
• Army Field Hospital No. 13
• Ambulance Company No.13
• Company C 2nd Field Signal Battalion

The first units ashore marched three miles to Camp No. 1, a site hastily constructed by German Prisoners of War. The mayor of Saint-Nazaire welcomed the Americans, who awed the citizens of the small port town. Local French bands played in honor of the Americans, and American regimental bands returned the compliment. Shortly after arrival, the French requested that Americans march in Paris on July 4 as a symbol of the United States’ entry into the war. The 2nd Battalion of the 16th Infantry Regiment received a rapturous welcome in Paris from French citizens and government officials.


Troopships in the First World War - History

01 September, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, is remembered as the date the World War II started. But little is remembered about the date 16 September 1939 when Russia also launched its military movements into Poland. The nation of Poland became divided between these two war-time allies. The United States entry into the war was largely the result of Japanese aggression in the Pacific. Japan had hoped to gain German possessions in the Pacific Basin at the Treaty of Versailles, but came away empty handed. This did not settle well with the Japanese government. The United States. was at first a passive participant in the European war by furnishing ships, military equipment, etc. to the British but did not actively engage in combat. When Japan began an aggressive campaign in the Pacific, and President Roosevelt stopped oil shipments and scrap metal shipments to Japan, the Japanese High Command determined that war with the United States was inevitable. The strategy of the Japanese was to destroy the Pacific Fleet and allow time for a negotiated peace before the Atlantic Fleet could be re-directed to the Pacific theater.

Attack On Pearl Harbor This video of the attack on Pearl Harbor on 07 December 1941, Hawaii- with no warning. opens with the fleet of Japanese aircraft in flight in route to their prime targets - US aircraft (B-17s) parked at Clark Field and the Navy Fleet and support facilities at the harbor. The film clip also includes the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the resultant damage to the fleet. In response to this hostile action, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addresses the Congress and delivers his "a day which will live in infamy" war message. As he referenced their actions, a flashback of Japanese ambassador and colleagues visiting the United States prior to the attack is shown.

On Monday, 08 December, the United States declared War on Japan immediately after Pearl Harbor was attacked. Following quickly, on 11 December. Germany and Italy declared war on the United States in keeping with the Tri-Partite Pact with Japan.

Captured Japanese Pilot's View
Damaged Aircraft At Ford Island NAS

Although the 1st Cavalry Division was created as a result of a proven need for large horse-mounted formations, by the late '30s many thought the march of progress had left the need for the cavalry operations far behind. All doubt was erased with the surprise of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Immediately, troopers returned to the Division from all over the United States. They outfitted their horses and readied their weapons and vehicles in anticipation of the fight against the Axis.

1942 dawned with the Division fated to continue in the role of border patrol which its currently assigned regiments had performed during World War I. Although the Division was anxious for immediate combat, its first wartime mission was to continue border surveillance as a component of the Southern Land Frontier and the Southern Defense Command.

In May 1942, 1,250 1st Cavalry Division Troopers selected from the 5th, 7th, 8th, and 12th Regiments were transferred from Ft. Bliss, Texas as a Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) Cadre group to assist in the organization of the 91st Infantry Division at Camp White, Oregon. In April 1944, the 91st Division went overseas, arriving at Oran, Africa in preparation for the invasion of southern Europe.

Army Maneuvers - Louisiana 1942
By the summer of 1942, most of the commanders were reserve officers who had been in the division for more than a year. These highly motivated officers were the ones that remained with the unit throughout all of WW II. New tactical ideas, including aerial artillery observation, a specialized anti-tank company under division control, and the addition of armored vehicles to the reconnaissance units, were formulated in the planning phases of the third 3rd Army LOUISIANA MANEUVERS which were held near Mansfield, Louisiana from 04 August to 19 September. The maneuvers involved more troops than those of 1941. Time passed quickly because everyone was a veteran of large unit maneuvers on horseback. Learning from past years, special alloys of hardened material were welded to the horseshoes and they lasted much longer. The period following the LOUISIANA MANEUVERS became an extension of field exercises and unit testing which continued throughout the winter as rumors of deployment possibilities circulated around the post.

A major factor in the delayed deployment of the Division was rooted in the questionable need for a cavalry to support the execution of the current war plan. Army Command Forces relieve organizations of the 1st Cavalry Division and deployed them to the North African Campaign. For example, the 91st Reconnaissance Squadron who had joined the Division in November, 1928 designated as the 1st Armored Car Squadron. The Armored Car Squadron had remained with the Division through its various reorganizations and in 1941 it had been redesignated the 91st Reconnaissance Squadron. In 1943, it was deployed to join the African campaigns, fighting in the deserts of North Africa against the Germans and Italians in the Kasserine Pass and later, in Tunisia and Sicily. In the same time period, the 62nd Armored Field Artillery and the 161st Engineers left for the European Theater.

50 Caliber Machine Gun Unit
The reason that the Army had a continuing interest in horse cavalry operations in 1942 was simply that there was no fully developed strategy for fighting the war in the event of an invasion of the western hemisphere. If the Army, in a tactical situation such as the invasion of France by Germany, could have been guaranteed networks of good roads, ample fuel supplies, gentle familiar terrain and constant air superiority, it might have decided to get along without the horse cavalry operations. However, chances were, that the US defenses might be challenged on less than ideal terrain perhaps an enemy landing in Western Mexico or along the coast of Brazil, that was friendly to Germany. In such an event mounted soldiers, using sturdy, sure footed-horses, could prove invaluable.

An important operational factor of the horse cavalry was that it could quickly get around and over hazardous terrain such as hills, rocks, trees or desert, but the majority of actual enemy engagement is done fighting dismounted. On such ground, supported by its own artillery and armored units, the 1st Cavalry Division could lick its weight in enemy tanks. At the organizational core of the division were four mounted regiments, each composed of six rifle troops, one machine gun troop, one special weapons troop, and one headquarters troop. Each brigade, composed of two regiments, had another special troop of 37mm anti tank guns and 81mm mortars. In addition, special strong, mobile, mechanized units were being integrated as organic or attached to the Division to support the combat units, quartermaster units, medical corps, and engineer units, that now all rode on wheels.

New Addition - Cavalry Scout Cars
Near wartime "full strength" levels, the 1st Cavalry Division was equipped with one hundred forty-five armored reconnaissance cars, six hundred trucks of all sizes, and three hundred seventy motorcycles along with thirteen light tanks. Horses combined with the pool of vehicles could pull or carry a complete mobile arsenal of seven hundred .30 caliber machine guns, two hundred sixty five .50 caliber machine guns, five hundred sub-machine guns, sixty seven 37mm anti tank guns, twenty eight 81mm mortars, twenty four 75mm howitzers four thousand semi-automatic rifles, and ten thousand four hundred .45 caliber pistols. A recent addition to the arsenal included twelve 105mm howitzers.

However, even with the advantages of terrain mobility, the deployment of the cavalry divisions proved to be a thorny problem. The cavalry units remained unpopular with theater commanders because their horses and equipment required shipping space and logistic support far more than that of other units. However, the need for units in the Southwest Pacific led General McArthur to accept the 1st Cavalry Division on the condition that they be dismounted.

The Japanese Empire - Mid 1942
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese launched offensives against Allied forces in South East Asia, with simultaneous attacks on Hong Kong, British Malaya and the Philippines. The South-East Asian Campaign was preceded by years of propaganda and espionage activities carried out in the region by the Japanese Empire. The Japanese espoused their vision of a Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, and an Asia for Asians to the people of South East Asia, who had lived under European rule for generations. As a result, many inhabitants in the region actually sided with the Japanese invaders - except of course for the ethnic Chinese, who had witnessed the effects of a Japanese occupation in their homeland.

Hong Kong had surrendered to the Japanese on 25 December 1941. In Malaya the Japanese overwhelmed an Allied army composed of British, Indian, Australian and Malay forces. The Japanese were quickly able to advance down the Malayan Peninsula, forcing the Allied forces to retreat towards Singapore. The Allies lacked aircover and tanks the Japanese had total air superiority.

By the end of January 1942, the last Allied forces crossed the strait of Johore and into Singapore. In the Philippines, the Japanese pushed the combined Filipino-American force towards the Bataan peninsula and later the island of Corregidor. By January 1942, General Douglas MacArthur and President Manuel L. Quezon were forced to flee in the face of Japanese advance. This marked among one of the worst defeats suffered by the Americans, leaving over 70,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war in the custody of the Japanese.

In February 1943, the entire 1st Cavalry Division was alerted for an overseas assignment. Many of the proud cavalrymen would rather turn their stripes, bars, or stars than trade in their saddles for a seat in any vehicle to become "cushion pounders". On 28th February, each of the Mounted Regiments, 5th, 7th, 8th and 12th Cavalry held a dismount ceremony before they were stripped of their horses and with mixed emotions, began the process of turning in horses, saddles, and bridles.

The 1st Cavalry Division was then converted with equipment as an Augmented Leg Infantry Division. In the meantime, the troopers continued to feed and water their horses until the Quartermaster assumed control of them. Rather than return the horses to the remount stations, the majority of them were auctioned, at bargain prices, to owners of the large ranches around the El Paso area. For many years following the end of WWII - many of the cavalry horses, identifiable by the Preston Brand on their neck, were still serving out their duty to the ranchers.

Well ahead of schedule, the Division began the historic transition and retraining of the troopers in a mobile environment. As planned they began staging for movement to the Southwest Pacific theater as foot solders with the support of mechanized vehicles tanks, armored cars, trucks, bantam and scout cars. This modern cavalry division had gained tremendous advantages in rapid mobility, extended range and firepower.

The overseas deployment from Camp Stoneman, California to Brisbane, Australia was made in two echelons. The first body, elements of the 5th and 7th Cavalry Regiments, and the 8th Engineer Combat Squadron would be followed by the remaining units of the main body of the Division. The first echelon traveled by train to the embarkation port of San Francisco, California, arriving on 28 May. Later on 01 June they boarded the USS Maui , a converted troopship leased from the Matson Navigation Company. Traveling under blackout conditions and following the standard procedure of anti-submarine zig-zag maneuvers, the sea voyage took twenty-two days. Arriving in Brisbane on 23 June, Australia, they moved to Camp Strathpine, near the tiny locality of Pine Rivers, and began preparations for the arrival of the main body of the Division.

UNIT STAGED DEPARTED ARRIVED
HHT, 1st Cavalry Division 21 Jun 1943 26 Jun 1943 11 Jul 1943
HHT, 1st Cavalry Brigade 21 Jun 1943 03 Jul 1943 24 Jul 1943
5th Cavalry Regiment 20 Jun 1943 02 Jul 1943 24 Jul 1943
12th Cavalry Regiment 20 Jun 1943 03 Jul 1943 24 Jul 1943
HHT, 2nd Cavalry Brigade 18 Jun 1943 26 Jun 1943 11 Jul 1943
7th Cavalry Regiment 18 Jun 1943 26 Jun 1943 11 Jul 1943
8th Cavalry Regiment 18 Jun 1943 25 Jun 1943 11 Jul 1943
HHB, 1st Cavalry DivArty
61st Field Artillery Battalion 03 Jul 1943 24 Jul 1943
82nd Field Artillery Battalion 04 Jun 1943 23 Jun 1943
99th Field Artillery Battalion 23 May 1943 23 Jun 1943
1st Medical Squadron
7th Cavalry Recon Squadron 26 Jun 1943 11 Jul 1943
1st Antitank Troop
1st Signal Troop
27th Ordnance Company
8th Engineer Squadron 23 May 1943 18 Jun 1943
16th Quartermaster Squadron

Note: The data of the table above does not agree with the narratives.

By 18 June 1943, the last troops of the division departed Ft. Bliss, Texas for Camp Stoneman, California and later, on 03 July boarded the USS Montery and the USS George Washington , bound for Australia and their subsequent operations in the Southwest Pacific.

On 26 July, three weeks later, the Division arrived at Brisbane and began a fifteen mile trip to its new temporary home, Camp Strathpine, Queensland, Australia. The 1st Cavalry Division, comprised of 15,000 men, totally overwhelmed the civic minded elders of Pine Rivers (and its approximately 4,800 people), who welcomed their arrival. Helped by the troopers' enthusiasm and construction abilities plus Australian carpenters, woodsmen, road builders, and other experts, Camp Strathpine grew into a modern training operation.

  • Military Police Platoon (prison stockade area)
  • 302nd Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized)
  • 7th Reconnaissance Squadron
  • 603rd Medium Tank Company
  • 16th Quartermaster Squadron
  • "HHT", 1st Brigade
  • 5th Cavalry Regiment
  • 12th Cavalry Regiment
  • "HHT", 2nd Brigade
  • 7th Cavalry Regiment
  • 8th Cavalry Regiment
  • "HHB", 1st Cavalry Division Artillery
  • 61st Field Artillery Battalion (75mm)
  • 82nd Field Artillery Battalion (75mm)
  • 99th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)
  • 271st Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)

Camp Strathpine Troop Barracks
As soon as all units were established in their quarters, the 8th Engineers moved out, by train, to Waga-Waga, a small town sixty miles west of Sidney and located on a river well suited for stream crossing and swamp terrain training. The artillery units of the 1st Cavalry Division did live firing on a firing range at Flinders on Clear Mountain. Two live practice grenade ranges were located at Cashmere, one to the east of Four Mile Creek next to Area 3 and the other to the north of Winn Road. Two mortar ranges were located at Cashmere, one range being near One Mile Creek, just to the south of today's Ira Buckby Road West and the other across both sides of Winn Road. The target area was immediately to the south of the firing ranges. Both 60mm and 81mm mortars were used.

There were two infantry assault courses in the area, one being near the intersection of Forrest Road and Howze Road west of Area 4. General Infantry training and compass exercises were carried out near Samsonvale township and as far away as Samford, Whiteside and to the north of Petrie. The Division received six months' of intense combat jungle warfare training at Camp Strathpine in the wilds of scenic Queensland and amphibious training at nearby Toorbul Point north of Brisbane Moreton Bay, Port Stephens in northern New South Wales and Camp GanGan, another amphibious training site.

During the fall of 1943, more changes came to the Division. On 11 October, the firepower of the Division was improved by the activation of the 271st Field Artillery. In the reorganization of 04 December, weapons troops "D" and "H" were added to each of the regiments. The 7th Reconnaissance Squadron was reorganized into the 603rd Light Tank Company and the 302nd Reconnaissance Troop (Mech). The 302nd had a specific Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E) which incorporated a unique radio unit with troops of Lakota and Dakota Indian Tribes who used their ancient tribal Sioux language to communicate with other divisional headquarters troops. This secret organization, formed in the foothills of Australia and later to be known as "The Code Talkers" was recruited at the direction of General MacArthur. The close-knit group of individuals, Phillip Stoney LeBlanc, Edmund St. John, Baptiste Pumkinseed, Eddie Eagle Boy, Guy Rondell, and John Bear King took their task seriously. They saved many American lives using their language as an unbreakable code to fool the Japanese throughout the subsequent Island Campaigns.

Admiralty Islands - First Engagement
As part of the general plan of offense to be carried out in the Southwest Pacific, the Admiralties Islands located some 200 miles north and east of New Guinea had been targeted as one of the main stepping stones in the march toward Japan. Manus was the largest of the island group with Los Negros, the next largest, extended in a rough horseshoe curve to form Seeadler Harbor, the most extensive of several anchorages. This area was designated to became the first of many landing sites of the 1st Cavalry Division on their journey to Tokyo. On 19 December, an advance party of the 2nd Brigade and supporting units departed Camp Strathpine, Australia, arrived in Oro Bay, New Guinea on 20 December and opened an Advance CP. On 04 January 1944, the Division established its command post at Cap Sudest, New Guinea, and by 25 February the remainder of the Division had arrived in Oro Bay from Australia. It then began training for operations in the Admiralty Islands.

The front lines were not far away, and a few eager, enterprising troopers found their way into battle - with the US Marines who had recently invaded Cape Gloucester on the Island of New Britain. The fighting was hard and the Leathernecks needed supplies. Many tons of food, ammunition and other essential equipment were loaded on trucks of the 1st Cavalry Division that were driven on Landing Ships, Tank (LST) and moved to Cape Gloucester.

Many of the troopers who had driven the trucks to the supply dumps near the fighting wasted no time when they got there. They grabbed their weapons and moved up to the front lines. The Marines were startled to see the troops taking up positions beside them. They welcomed the help and added firepower. Several of the troopers received decorations from the Marines. However, Headquarters of the 1st Cavalry Division finally - and sternly - quickly put an end to the freelance fighting.

After a period of staging and training in New Guinea, it was time for the 1st Cavalry Division to receive its baptism of fire. On 26 February, with most of the elements of the Division in the vicinity of Camp Borio taking part in the 1st Brigade Amphibious Training Problem, word was received to stop all training. Immediate preparations were made for movement into combat.

The units of the 1st Cavalry Division selected to lead the invasion of the Island made final preparations for landing. These units included:

  • 2nd Squadron, 5th Cavalry Regiment
  • "B" Battery, 99th Field Artillery Battalion
  • 673rd AntiAircraft Machine Gun Battalion (Airborne)
  • Headquarters Troop, Reconnaissance Platoon, 1st Cavalry Division
  • Headquarters Troop, Communications, 1st Cavalry Division
  • 30th Portable Surgical Hospital
  • Australian New Guinea Administration Unit (ANGAU)
  • Air Force Supervisory Detachment
  • Naval Gunfire Support Party and Air Liaison Party
  • "C" Company, 583rd Signal Aircraft Warning Battalion, AF
  • 5th Cavalry Regiment, less 2nd Squadron
  • 99th Field Artillery, less "B" Battery
  • 1st Platoon, 8th Engineer Squadron
  • 1st Collecting Troop, 1st Medical Squadron
  • 1st Platoon, "B" Troop, 1st Medical Squadron
  • Signal Detachment, 1st Signal Troop
  • "C" Battery, 168th Anti Aircraft Battalion (Gun)
  • "A" Battery, 211th Anti Aircraft Battalion (AW)
  • 40th Construction Battalion, US Navy
  • "E" Company, Shore Battalion, 592 Boat and Shore Regiment

At 1400 hours the next day, the 2nd Squadron, 5th Cavalry began to load at Oro Bay. Half of the troops and their equipment were loaded onto three High Speed Transport (APD) destroyers, the USS Brooks, USS Humphreys , and USS Sands , which had been converted to troop ships. Nine other destroyers, each carrying an average of fifty-seven soldiers, transported the remainder of the landing force. The rest of the 5th Cavalry, moved by truck from Camp Borio to Oro Bay where they embarked on LSTs for their role as a support force if the reconnaissance succeeded.

At 0645 hours on 28 February, 1,026 troopers and their equipment, identified as Task Force BREWER consisting of three High Speed Transport (APD), destroyers the USS Brooks, USS Humphreys , and USS Sands , moved out of Cape Sudest, Oro Bay, New Guinea under the command of Brigadier General William C. Chase. They were under the escort of the destroyers USS Reid, USS Stockton , and USS Stevenson . At 0819 hours, six other destroyers, the USS Flusser, USS Manhan, USS Drayton, USS Smith, USS Bush and USS Welles joined the Task Force. Their destination was a remote, Japanese occupied island of the Admiralties, Los Negros, where they were to make a reconnaissance in force and if feasible, capture Momote Airdrome and secure a beachhead for the reinforcements that would follow.

Even as the Task Force was underway, it received supplementary reconnaissance intelligence from a patrol of Alamo Scouts, a volunteer organization trained to live off the land for weeks at a time and make use of natives familiar with the area and disposition of Japanese troops. Under cover of a diversionary bombing attack, they had landed a mile south of planned invasion area and reported that the enemy was still present in force in a large bivouac area on the southeast part of Los Negros. This information permitted refinements in the Naval Operational Orders to include three separate fire support areas in the supporting bombardment plans.

A rendezvous point, fixed at some twenty miles below Cape Cretin, was reached at 1326 hours. Here the attack group was met by the cruisers USS Nashville , and USS Phoenix and the destroyers USS Daly, USS Hutchins, USS Beale , and USS Bache , which had come from the Cape Sudest area. General MacArthur and the Commander of the Seventh Fleet, Admiral Kinkaid were aboard the USS Phoenix , The route lay through the Vitiaz Strait, between Long Island and the coast of New Guinea, then into the Bismark Sea. Unchallenged, the convoy arrived at a point about 10 miles south of Los Negros at 0600 hours on D day. The USS Phoenix, USS Daly , and USS Hutchins led out in column to conduct a reconnaissance approach toward Southeast Point. With the approach of daylight, two observation planes took off from the cruisers.

Invasion Sequence, Admiralty Islands
Over The Side To Landing Crafts

This video of the 1st Cavalry Division, is a film of combat activities of the 1st Cavalry Division during the Battle of Los Negros in Admiralty Islands. On orders from General MacArthur, the 2nd Squadron (dismounted), 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division conducted a Reconnaissance in Force mission at Los Negros,Admiralty Islands. The film clip opens with Spitfire aircraft from No. 73 Wing, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) attacking Japanese positions in the jungles near the beach, prior to their landing. Simultaneously, the US Navy warships bombard the area and B-25 bombers from the 345th Bomb Group, 5th Air Force, striffed and bombed the landing beach areas.

Just after 0800 hours on 29 February, under cloudy skys and a light falling rain, the 1st Cavalry troopers climbed down the nets of the APDs and into the Landing Craft, Medium (LCM) and Landing Craft, Personnel, Ramped (LCPR), the flat bottomed landing craft of the Navy. The landing at Hayane Harbor took the Japanese by surprise. The first three waves of the assault troops from the 2nd Squadron, 5th Cavalry reached the beach virtually unscathed. The fourth wave was less lucky. By then the Japanese had been able to readjust their guns to fire lower and inflicted many casualties during their landing. Troops under the command of Lieutenant Colonel William E. Lobit of Galveston, Texas, fanned out and attacked through the rain.

This video of the troop movements of the "Flying Column" to Manila opens with a close action scene of the troops as they engage the enemy forces. In a direct attack on the Japanese positions, they destroy Japanese fortifications. The 44th Tank Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division and supporting troops conduct a deadly advance, leaving smoke laden and bombed out areas. A camera span of the countryside shows wrecked tanks and other destroyed equipment in the fields. The film clip also includes a picture of the battle environment as units of the 44th Tank Battalion advance and cross a bridge over the Angat River. General Douglas MacArthur, following the troop movements, watches their entrance to Manila and advancement in the northern outskirts towards the main concentration camps.

The "race" for Manila was now between the 37th Division and the 1st Cavalry Division, with the cavalry in the lead. In addition to the 302nd Reconnaissance Troops, liaison aircraft of the field artillery battalion were used to conduct route reconnaissance and column control. Since the operation began, the reconnaissance units had been fortunate enough to find bridges and fordable crossings almost everywhere they went. The column was able to get around, over, and past each obstacle in its path. The 37th Division, on the other hand, was slowed by difficult crossings which forced it to either ferry its artillery and tanks across or wait for the engineers to build bridges. By 02 February, the Flying Column was dashing toward Manila, sometimes at speeds of fifty miles per hour, with individual units competing for the honor of reaching the city first.

During 02 February, the columns pushed south and the 2nd serial leading the way reached Plaridel early in the morning. As the serial crossed the wide Angat River, the 8th Cavalry ran into a Japanese Battalion which was dug in on high ground. Grinding out a tough advance, they broke through and continued on. By dusk, the 2nd serial was near Santa Maria. In parallel, the 1st serial crossed the Angat River at Sabang and spent several hours in a bitter fight with a small Japanese force. Following the battle, they turned east on Highway 65 toward Norzagaray.

Early in the morning of 03 February at 0430 hours, the 1st serial moved out. Driving on, they reached Norzagaray at dawn and found the town occupied by Filipino guerrillas. Not stopping, the column turned southwest toward Santa Maria and, fording many streams, reached it at 1500 hours. The 2nd serial, which had crossed the Santa Maria River at noon, moved along Highway 64 to the junction at Highway 52, an outpost manned by the Japanese. After fighting their way through, they left one troop behind to hold the intersection for the units that followed.

By 1630 hours, elements of the 1st Cavalry Division pushed into the town of Novaliches, in the northern outskirts of Manila, with only the steep-sided Tuliahan River separating them from the city proper. A squadron of the 8th Cavalry reached the bridge just moments after Japanese soldiers had finished preparing it for demolition. As the two sides opened fire on one another, the Japanese lit the fuse leading to the carefully placed explosives. Without hesitation, Lieutenant James P. Sutton, a Navy demolitions expert attached to the division, dashed out onto the stone arched bridge and cut the burning fuse. He disregarded the heavy Japanese fire and heaved the other mines and dynamite charges into the gorge under the bridge. The way to Manila was clear.

First Wave Los Negros, Admiralties

After landing, the Reconnaissance Squadron, reinforced with other Cavalry Division troops, advance into dense jungles. Troops cover the forward areas with machine gun and mortar fire. An out-take shows troops firing a field gun with "Bataan" written in chalk, on the barrel. Minimizing the level of forward threats, B-25 bombers fly very low over the edge of Momote airfield and drop bombs.

As soon as the each area is cleared, medics provide temporary life saving care including plasma to the wounded soldiers before they are transported to nearby hospital ships. The 1st Cavalry troops fought their way to the Momote Airdrome and had the entire facility quickly under control in less than two hours. The United Press would hail the Los Negros landing as "one of the most brilliant maneuvers of the war." The Associated Press would call it "a masterful strategic stroke."

Shortly after 1400 hours on "D" day, General MacArthur came ashore to inspect the battle damage and praise the cavalry troops' actions and accomplishments. He then ordered General Chase to defend the Momote Airdrome at all costs against Japanese counterattacks. He finally headed back to the beach where he presented the Distinguished Service Cross to Lieutenant Marvin J. Henshaw, 5th Cavalry, of Haskell, Texas. Lieutenant Henshaw had been the first American to land on Los Negros in the first wave, leading his platoon ashore through the narrow ramp of a Higgins boat.

Momote Airfield Photo - 14 Oct, 1943
Nightfall was coming when, as it was known, the enemy would counterattack. Early in the morning, around 0200 hours, the enemy came back in force. In the darkness the Japanese made it into the perimeter of the 5th Cavalry. Hand-to-hand fighting broke out near some foxholes. Tough fighting raged the next day and through the night. Japanese pressure on the invasion force remained desperate and intense. The music of the old cavalry charge could virtually be heard when the rest of the 5th Cavalry reinforcements hit the beach in Landing Ship, Tanks (LST) and other landing craft. In a coordinated action, the 40th Naval Construction Battalion (Seabees) landed on Los Negros Island in support of the 5th Cavalry. Their mission was to reconstruct the Momote Airdrome. Assigned to defend a large portion of the right flank, the 40th suffered heavy casualties while defending the airfield with the troopers of the 5th Cavalry. Along with the 40th, the consolidated 5th Cavalry Regiment soon secured all of the Momote Airdrome and spent the long night of 02 March, repulsing suicidal attacks, especially against the north and northwest sectors of the perimeter.

After a period of staging in New Guinea, the 12th Cavalry Regiment departed from New Guinea as a part of the combat reinforcements of the Admiralty Campaign. On 02 March, the 12th Cavalry embarked at Cape Sudest, New Guinea in four LSTs and moved to join the forward forces of the 1st Cavalry Division.

The Beginning Of War - Island Combat
The third day on Los Negros, 03 March, was a red letter day for the 1st Cavalry Division. It was the 89th anniversary of the founding of the 5th Regiment. There was little time for celebration the fresh, well equipped Imperial Marines were counterattacking and the worst was yet to come. Combat raged through the night of 03 March and the morning of 04 March. At one point the Japanese penetrated several hundred yards inside the defense perimeter near "G" Troop. The cavalrymen rallied and they wiped out the attackers. It was during the fierce night fighting that a member of "G" Troop, 5th Cavalry, Staff Sergeant Troy A. McGill of Ada, Oklahoma, with a squad of eight men, occupied a revetment which bore the brunt of a furious attack by approximately two hundred drink crazed enemy troops. Although covered by crossfire from machine guns on the right and left flank, he could receive no support from the remainder of our troops stationed at his rear. All members of the squad were killed or wounded except Sergeant McGill and another man, whom he ordered to return to the next revetment. Courageously resolved to hold his position at all cost, he fired his weapon until it ceased to function. Then, with the enemy only five yards away, he charged from his foxhole in the face of certain death and clubbed the enemy with his rifle in hand-to-hand combat until he was killed. At dawn one hundred and five enemy dead were found around his position. For his valiant action, Sergeant McGill received the Medal of Honor

On 06 March, the 12th Cavalry, along with the 271st Field Artillery Battalion landed on Los Negros Island with minimal resistance. Under cover of the B-25 bombing, they joined up with the 2nd Squadron of the 7th Cavalry Regiment to seize the Salami Plantation and Salami Beach, about three miles north of the Momote Airdrome. The Japanese, expecting an amphibious landing had their guns directed toward the beach. They were surprised by the ground attack from the rear,

The next day after landing, the 12th Cavalry joined with the 2nd Squadron of the 7th Cavalry and the 5th Cavalry and quickly went into action to seize the Papitalai Mission and Lombrum Point before the Japanese could complete building a well fortified defense. In retreat, the enemy left behind large amounts of their food and equipment. On 06 March, the 5th Cavalry went back into action to occupy Porolka and the first American airplane landed on the Momote Airdrome which had been repaired by the Seabees. The next day the 5th Cavalry pushed south and after executing a short amphibious landing assault, overran Papitalai Village.

On 08 March, members of the 12th Cavalry liberated a contingent of sixty nine Sikh solders of the British Empire Forces who had been captured in Singapore in 1942 and moved to Turk, Rabaul and finally to the Momote Airdrome on the Admiralties to be used as forced labor in the construction of defenses for the islands.

On 09 March additional forces arrived at Seeadler Harbor and the same day came ashore at Salami Beach. These forces included the 2nd Brigade, the remainder of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, the 61st Field Artillery, and a detachment from "A" Company, 69th Signal Battalion.

By 11 March, mop up operations were underway all over the northern half of Los Negros and attention was being shifted to a much bigger objective immediately to the west: Manus Island. Successful occupation of Manus Island depended upon control of the area around the coastal village of Lorengau, where the majority of the Japanese defenses were positioned. It was decided that taking the positions at minimum loss would require the establishment of forward artillery positions on some of the small islands west of Seeadler Harbor and north of Lorengau.

Teams from the 302nd Reconnaissance Troop and divisional artillery were sent out to scout three islands in enemy territory. Butjo Island was unoccupied. Bear Point was also unoccupied, but unsuitable as an artillery position. However, Hauwei Island proved to be a "hornet's nest" of Japanese. The 26 man reconnaissance team in a Landing Craft, Vehicle (LCV) was escorted by a Patrol, Torpedo (PT) boat for firepower and protection. Landing and moving inland, they were ambushed and had to engage in fierce fighting resulting in five killed in action, fourteen wounded and three missing in action. They battled back to the beach and reboarded the LCV.

An enemy shell hit the LCV, blowing out one side, and sank it. The PT boat commander had withdrawn without communicating his intentions. The survivors were in water about four hours before being spotted by a B-24, which sent another PT boat to rescue them. All of the survivors had been wounded. One of the men tied himself to a tree to shield himself from the friendly fire. He swam and waded from island to island the next day. Another of the men swam to a bell buoy and was recovered the next day.

The reconnaissance mission was costly, yet it revealed that Hauwei, a former coconut plantation, could support two battalions of artillery, providing a level of firepower that would save many American lives during the attack on Lorengau. The assault on Hauwei began on 12 March. Ships anchored inside Seeadler Harbor blasted the island. The 61st Artillery Battalion, firing from Mokerang Plantation near the southern tip of Los Negros, laid down a heavy barrage on the Japanese defenders. The Royal Australian Air Force strafed and bombed the beaches and inland areas shortly before the landing of the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry. By sundown, 13 March, Hauwei Island was cleared of enemy resistance.

Although the Japanese aircraft attacked the landing operations, they had little effect on the landing operations. Disembarking, the troops set out to provide protective cover for the others behind. Each of the landing craft carried Sherman tanks that quickly moved out to clear lines of attack in the dense jungles. Once the openings were cleared the troops moved out, even under small arms fire from the enemy, carrying supplies. Advancing through the jungle, providing covering fire with small arms, rifle, bazooka and rifle grenades, the landing party entered the Philippine city of Talcoban City to be greeted by the local civilians. Smoke - if you gotem !!

By mid afternoon, cargo ships were unloading rapidly. The 7th Cavalry, along with the 44th Tank Battalion, was assigned the mission of securing the Talcoban Airstrip that would be used as a US fighter-bomber base, Troopers of the 5th, 7th, 8th, and 12th Cavalry quickly fanned out across the sands and moved into the shattered jungle against occasional sniper fire.

P-40 Landing at Momote 15 Mar, 1944

The capture and defense of the Momote Airfield by the 1st Cavalry Division was a critical keystone for the follow-on plans and offence to the New Guinea Campaign. As soon as construction crews could rebuild the airstrip for US aircraft to operate from, a series of attacks would begin. 1.) The first, the 1st Cavalry Division would move to the Manus for a strong offensive engagement against the Japanese 2.) the second, a unit of 1st Marine Division moves from Gloucester to Talasea which is only 60 miles from Rabaul to attack the Japanese 17th Army 3.) The third is shown by an animated map illustrating the movement of the 163rd and the 127th Infantry planned landing at Tadji Airstrip and 4.) The 24th and 41st Division plan to land in Hollandia to capture three airstrips Hollandia, Sentani and Cyclops.

Admiral Nimitz and General MacArthur review the plans and alternate actions. The 5th Air Force will launch a major attack against Hollandia.. At the same time, the Australian infantry will begin movement and advance through the New Guinea jungles. The final scenes shows a briefing of the 1st Cavalry Division Soldiers, explaining the importance of team work.

At dawn, 15 March, the Manus Island invasion commenced with heavy shelling, naval bombardment and air attacks. Soon afterward, the 2nd Brigade, under the command of Brigadier General Verne D. Mudge, surprised the enemy by swarming ashore at two beaches near the Lugos Mission Plantation. By dusk the 1st Squadron, 8th Cavalry had advanced past snipers and scattered resistance and dug in on the western edge of Lorengau Airdrome, the last airfield controlled by the Japanese. The sixteenth of March was a day of heroes - and casualties - as troopers charged or crawled through heavy machine gun fire to wipe out the enemy positions. Lorengau Airdrome was captured the next day, after the 7th Cavalry moved up to relieve the weary 8th Cavalry fighters.

On 18 March, the 2nd Brigade crossed the river in force and drove the enemy from Lorengau Village. The objectives were Rossum, a small village south of Lorengau and Salesia Plantation. By 21 March, the 8th Cavalry had won control of most of the plantation, but the battle for Rossum was slowed by heavy jungle that the Japanese used to their advantage. After ninety-six hours of bitter combat the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry was relieved by the 1st Squadron, 8th Cavalry. The final push to Rossum was made behind heavy artillery fire and air bombardment.

With attention focused on the opening of new operations at Hauwei Island, the 5th and the 12th Cavalry began working their way south of Papitalai Mission through the rough hills and dense jungles in hand-to-hand combat. Tanks sometimes would give welcome support, but mostly the troopers had to do the dangerous job with small arms and grenades. Two final attacks wiped out the remaining resistance on Los Negros Island. On 22 March, two squadrons from the 5th and 12th Regiments overran enemy positions west of Papitalai Mission. Once again it was tough fighting with the terrain, overgrown with thick canopies of vines, favoring the Japanese. On 24 March, the 5th and 12th Regiments overcame fanatical resistance and pushed through to the north end of the island. On 28 March, the battles for Los Negros and Manus were over, except for mop up operations.

On 31 March, the 1st Squadron, 12th Cavalry moved from Lombrum Point to Mokerang Peninsula and on 01 April launched an attack on Korunist and Ndrilo Islands which lay just off the western tip of Mokerang Peninsula, Los Negros. After land, sea, and air forces had given those islands a hard pounding, the troopers, transported in eighteen native canoes, four captured Japanese collapsible boats, and sixteen engineer half boats landed unopposed. On 03 April, the 2nd Squadron, 12th Cavalry moved to Rambuto Island, southeast of Los Negros, to search out and destroy small bands of enemy soldiers. Because of the numerous coral reefs, the troopers carried their supplies and equipment as they waded ashore in waist-high water. On 07 April, the 1st Squadron, 12th Cavalry was sent on a combat mission to Pak Island where they met light resistance.

On 18 May 1944, the Admiralty Islands campaign officially ended. Japanese casualties stood at 3,317 killed. The losses of the 1st Cavalry Division included 290 dead, 977 wounded, and 4 missing in action. Training, discipline, determination, and ingenuity had won over suicidal attacks. The troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division were now seasoned veterans.

With the fighting at a lull, the men of the division had time to take stock of what they had just been through. There had been many heroic deeds and many unselfish actions. To preserve the history of accomplishments, traditions and spirit of the 1st Cavalry Division, they decided to organize a 1st Cavalry Division Association which would be open to all members of the division. There on the battlefield, the Association was chartered to promote fellowship, help troopers keep in touch with one another, and hold annual reunions.

General Swift, reassigned to command I Corps, left the Division. General Mudge received his second star and along with it, the command of the 1st Cavalry Division. Colonel Hugh F. T. Hoffman assumed command of the 2nd Brigade and was promoted to Brigadier General. Thus the Division command structure had evolved as the farsighted General Swift had arranged. Invasion planning for the next mission, the assault on the Philippine Island of Leyte, began to take shape.

The task force for the Leyte invasion consisted of the Sixth Army commanded by Lieutenant General Walter Krueger. Divisions designated for the A-Day assault were the 7th and 96th Infantry Divisions of the XXIV Corps and the 1st Cavalry Division of the X Corps. Initial plans were carried out by the movement of the 1st and 2nd Brigades from their base camps at Koruniat and Hauwei Islands to staging areas on the beaches of Los Negros Island. The Division Artillery staged for the combat movement directly from its base on Ndirlo Island.

Transportation, designated to become part of Task Group 78.2, was provided by the US Navy Fleet Command. They furnished seven Amphibious Transports (ATA), two Transports (AP), two Attack Cargo Ships (AKA), one Cargo Ship (AK), two Landing Ships, Dock (LSD), nine Medium Landing Ships (LSM) and two Liberty Ships. In addition to its regular organization, the 1st Cavalry Division was reinforced to include assigned elements as follows:

  • Detachments, "HQ" & "HQ" Troop
  • MP Battalion, (less 1 Section)
  • Detachment, 1st Signal Troop
  • "HQ" & "HQ" Troop
  • 5th Cavalry Regiment
  • 12th Cavalry Regiment
  • "A" Troop, 8th Engineer Squadron
  • "A" Company, 44th Tank Battalion
  • "A" Company, 85th Chemical Battalion
  • 302nd Reconnaissance Troop (less 2 Platoons)
  • 1st Collecting Company, 1st Medical Squadron
  • 19th Portable Surgical Hospital
  • 1st Section, 39th QM War Dog Platoon
  • "HQ" & "HQ" Troop
  • 7th Cavalry Regiment
  • "C" Troop, 8th Engineer Squadron
  • "B" & "D" Companies, 44th Tank Battalion
  • "B" Company, 85th Chemical Battalion
  • "A" Company, 826th Amphibious Tractor Battalion
  • 2nd Collecting Company, 1st Medical Squadron
  • 27th Portable Surgical Hospital
  • 8th Cavalry Regiment
  • 85th Chemical Battalion (less 4 companies)
  • 3rd & 4th Platoons, 302nd Reconnaissance Troop
  • "HQ" & "HQ" Battery, Division Artillery
  • 61st Field Artillery (General Support)
  • 82nd Field Artillery (5th Cavalry Direct Support)
  • 99th Field Artillery (7th Cavalry Direct Support)
  • 271st Field Artillery (12th Cavalry Direct Support)
  • 211th Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion
  • 592nd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment
  • 1st Section, MP Platoon
  • Provisional Replacement Squadron
  • 1460th Engineer Boat Maintenance Company
  • "C" Company, 262nd Medical Battalion
  • 595th Ordnance Ammunition Company
  • 695th Quartermaster Service Company
  • 969th Quartermaster Service Company
  • 992nd Quartermaster Service Company
  • 1st Platoon, 3818th Gasoline Supply Company
  • "HQ" & "HQ" Detachment, 496th Port Battalion
  • 276th Port Company
  • 277th Port Company
  • 820th Amphibious Truck Company
  • "HQ" & "HQ" Troop (less Detachments)
  • 1st Signal Troop (less Detachments)
  • 27th Ordnance Company and attached:
    • 109th Bomb Disposal Squad
    • Detachment, 558th Ordnance Heavy Maintenance Company
    • 292nd Ordnance Medium Company
    • "HQ" & "HQ" Detachment Quartermaster Battalion (Mobile)
    • 1st Platoon, 48th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company
    • 412th Medical Collecting Company
    • 603rd Clearing Company
    • 28th Malaria Survey Unit
    • 35th Malaria Control Unit
    • 52nd Malaria Control Unit, (1 Section)
    • 21st Medical Supply Platoon (Aviation)
    • 58th Evacuation Hospital
      • 588th Quartermaster Laundry Company

      Embarkation was completed by 2400 hours on 08 October followed by a naval rehearsal on 09 October. In the afternoon of 12 October, Columbus Day, the 1st Cavalry Division (Reinforced) sailed away from its hard earned bases in the Admiralties for the Leyte invasion, Operation KING II. On 15 October, Task Force 78, transporting the 1st Cavalry Division joined with Task Force 79, carrying the 7th and 96th Infantry Divisions of the XXIV Corps and the complete armada proceeded toward Leyte.

      Meanwhile, 738 ships of the Navy's Third Fleet sailed toward the Gulf of Leyte. Among the most powerful naval force ever assembled were eighteen aircraft carriers, six battleships, seventeen cruisers and sixty-four destroyers. The invasion force must have appeared awesome as it moved toward the eastern shores of Leyte near Tacloban.

      At about 0530 hours, when it began to grow light, on 19 October the invasion forces moved to assigned positions off the landing beaches. The invasion body was composed of two major thrusts the Southern Attack Group that was divided into two components Attack Group "Able", carrying the 7th Infantry Division Attack Group "Baker", carrying the 96th Infantry Division and the Northern Attack Group that was divided into three components the San Ricardo Group, carrying the 1st Cavalry Division, who were designated to land on Beach White, a mile long sandy beach extending southward from the base of Cataisan Peninsula the Palo Group, carrying the 24th Infantry Division, who were designated to land on Beach Red and the Panaon Group, carrying the 21st Regimental Combat Team (RCT), who were designated to land on Panaon Island off the southernmost point of Leyte. At 0900 hours, escort ships started giving the enemy at Tacloban a taste of things to come.

      At 0645 hours 20 October the flagship USS Blue Ridge signaled "Deploy" and the San Rocardo Group, under the command of Admiral W. M. Fechtler and transporting the 1st Cavalry Division, turned to follow the channel between Mariquitdaquit Island and Somar. Designated as Task Group 78.2, the San Rocardo Group consisted of the attack transports USS Fremont , USS Harris , USS Leonard Wood , USS Pierce , transports USS Herald Of The Morning , USS La Salle , attack cargoes USS Arneb , USS Electra , LSDs USS Oak Hill and USS White Marsh was supported by a Destroyer Screen composed of the destroyers USS Anderson , USS Fletcher , USS Lavallette , USS Jenkins and thirty-five various support vessels. By 0800 hours the TG had moved to its assigned position, seven miles off the beach transport area.

      This video of the 1st Cavalry Division, is a film of combat activities of the 1st Cavalry Division during the Battle of Leyte in 1944. Following heavy fire support which began at 0945 hours, landing operations began. Precisely at H-hour, 1000 hours, the first wave of the 1st Cavalry Division moves out for the beach. The planned landing site, at "Beach White" was between the mouth of the Palo River, to the south, and Tacloban, the capital city of Leyte. The film begins with the launch of their landing craft being launched from the ramp of the main transport followed by a close up of the troops on the landing craft. The next cutaway gives a broad view of the landing operations simultaneously underway and the extent of the naval bombardment provided to give cover to landing parties.

Leyte Landing Operations
MacArthur Returns To The Philippines
The fighting near the beaches was still underway when General MacArthur and Philippines President Sergio Osmena waded ashore in ankle deep water. MacArthur soon broadcast his famous message to the Filipinos: "People of the Philippines: I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on the Philippine soil - soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples . . . Rally to me! Rise and strike!" To the Philippine guerilla forces and the seventeen million inhabitants, it was the news they had long awaited.

Even before the smoke of gunpowder could clear, with fighting underway only two miles outside the city of Tacloban, General MacArthur, acting on his own, decided to restore the right to govern the island to civilian hands. On 23 October, in a brief ceremony at the steps of the provincial capital, he formally proclaimed the resumption of constitutional government to the hands of President Sergio Osmena. In a brief speech, MacArthur said "On behalf of my government, I restore to you, a constitutional administration by countrymen of your confidence and choice. As our forces advance, I shall in like manner, restore the other Philippine cities and provinces throughout the entire island."

The Japanese had been able to put an additional 20,000 combat troops ashore on the west side of Leyte shortly after the invasion by the First Team. In a counterattack, Japanese reinforcements had landed at Ormoc Valley, on the other side of the mountain range. They began menacing the X Corps flank from the southwest. Accordingly, the 1st Brigade advanced into the mountains to blunt the threat. The battle through the mountains was the outstanding achievement of the campaign. In record rains, which flooded the island, the supply lines were stretched to the breaking point. The Japanese had dug in on the reverse slopes of the knife-edged ridges, almost immune to artillery fire.

The missions of the 1st Cavalry Division in late October and early November included moving across the northern coast of Leyte, through the rugged mountainous terrain, and deeper into Leyte Valley. After the breakout and securing of the Tacloban Airstrip, the next day, the troops of the 8th Cavalry and the 302nd Reconnaissance Troop moved out on their mission to the island of Samar, leaving the 5th, 7th, and 12th Cavalry who moved out to both the swamps and the Japanese to the south, on a two prong approach drive to the north and northwest, clearing the Leyte Valley on the way. On 02 November the 1st Cavalry Division and the 24th Infantry Division attacked Carigara and captured it easily.

As the Japanese continued to pour reinforcements north through the Ormoc Valley, the menace of an infiltration from the mountains separating Leyte and Ormoc became increasingly apparent. To counteract this event, the 12th Cavalry was ordered to push into the high ground west of Leyte Valley and attack the defenses there. On 09 November the Regiment launched its attack at 0900 hours with the support of the 271st Field Artillery. This action began a long and bitter struggle which lasted nearly two months.

While the 12th Cavalry was attacking in the Mt. Pina - Mt. Badian areas, the 5th Cavalry began a probe on the southern flank of the enemy and by 10 November the 1st Squadron had occupied Hill 2926 - Mt. Pina Area. On 11 November the 7th Cavalry took over the defense of the entrance to the Leyte Valley. On 13 November, the 12th Cavalry ran into heavy opposition while pushing to the southwest from Blaud. Two definite Japanese forces were located on high ground above the Naguisan River. On 14 - 15 November the Division continued to secure high ground between Leyte Valley and Ormoc-Pinamapoan Highway.

On 15 November enemy resistance in front of the 7th Cavalry faded after a heavy barrage from the 82nd and 271st Field Artillery Battalions. The 2nd Squadron, 12th Cavalry Regiment got into an intense fight with the Japanese who were well entrenched on Hill 2348, about two miles east of the Ormoc Pinamapoan Highway. The battle for Hill 2348 continued the next day and threatened to be a bloody stalemate. Individual cavalrymen of "G" Troop advanced through heavy machine gun fire and began to silence the Japanese strongholds one by one.

Also on 15th November, the 112th Regimental (Cavalry) Combat Team was attached to the 1st Cavalry Division, and assumed responsibility for the Capocan-Carigara-Barugo area. During the next week the enemy fought defensive delaying actions. On 19 December, the two squadrons of the 12th Cavalry battled their way into the barrio of Lonoy, moving south the next day toward Cananga. The war seemed to speed up as the troopers could use conventional infantry tactics in the open countryside. On 18 November the 1st Squadron, 112th Cavalry relieved the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry in the Mt. Minoro area.

On 20 November, the rest of the 12th Cavalry became heavily engaged around Mt. Cabungaan, about three miles south of Hill 2348. The enemy had dug in on the reverse side of sharp slopes. Individual troopers were again faced with the task of searching out and destroying positions in the fog. Throughout the night of 21 - 22 November the 271st Field Artillery kept the Japanese on the northwest side of Mt. Catabaran awake by heavy concentrations of fire. Before the day was over, patrols from the 12th Cavalry had established observation posts within 150 yards of Cananga on Highway 2 in the Ormoc Valley.

On 26 November, both the 12th and 112th Cavalry Regiments launched attacks against their immediate opposition. The enemy positions that had given heavy resistance to the 112th Cavalry on the two previous days were seized in the afternoon after a pulverizing barrage from the 82nd and 99th Field Artillery Battalions. On 28 November the 2nd Squadron, 12th Cavalry launched another successful attack on Hill 2348 which took the form of a double envelopment. The 1st Squadron renewed their attack on positions on Mt. Cabungaan but sharp ridges held up their advance, The 112th Cavalry continued to move toward its objective.

Filipinos Carry Supplies
Throughout the battle, the supply chain was an example of complex difficulties that were solved. Hauling from the warehouse at Tacloban, motor transport moved cargo to Carigara, a distance of thirty miles, over muddy roads. There LTVs of 826th Amphibious Tractor Battalion picked up the supplies and hauled them westward three miles to Sugud through rice patties churned to a waist deep morass. At Sugud the supplies were man handled into one ton two-wheeled cargo trailers towed by TD-9 tractors that wound their way into the foothills to the supply base established by the 12th Cavalry.

On 01 December the 112th Cavalry engaged the enemy at the ridge south of Limon. On the night of 02 December, the battle for Hill 2348 reached its climax. The 2nd Squadron, 12th Cavalry suffered heavy casualties from the heavy machine gun fire, mortars, and waves of Japanese troops in suicidal attacks. On 04 December, the 2nd Squadron, 12th Cavalry attacked and overcame a position to its front with the enemy fleeing in the confusion. "A" Troop, of the 112th, in a drive to the northwest, made contact with the left flank elements of the 32nd Division. Thus the drive became an unremitting continuous line against the Japanese and enemy elements that were caught behind the line were trapped.

Throughout 07 and 08 December, patrols of the 5th and 12 Cavalry continued mop up operations. The 1st Squadron, 112th Cavalry moved out to locate and cut supply lines of the enemy who were still holding up the advance of the 2nd Squadron. On 09 December, heavy rains brought tactical operations to a near standstill and limited activity to patrol missions. On 10 December, the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry relieved the 2nd squadron, 112th Cavalry southwest of Sinayawan. Enemy action remained at a lull.

Having fought its way to the commanding heights of the mountain ranges after two weeks of laborious action, the Division now had to fight its way down into the Ormoc Valley and seize control of Highway 2. By 14 December the 12th Cavalry was continuing progress to the northeast from Mt. Cabungaan, meeting resistance from small enemy groups determined to initiate a delaying action. The 112th Cavalry continued its push south from Bonbon, along the Leyte River.

On 15 December, while the 5th Cavalry maintained the screen from Mt. Laao, on the south to Mt. Cabungaan on the northwest, patrols from the 7th, 12th and 112th Cavalry mopped up enemy positions that had been overrun on the previous days actions. On 21 December, the 12th Cavalry launched a coordinated attack fighting its way through the mountains and cutting the enemy supply line - Highway 2 and capturing Cananga. The 5th Cavalry followed the path of the 12th Cavalry, and assembled on high ground overlooking Highway 2.

On 22 December the 7th and 112th Cavalry, with the 32nd Division, swept aside the remains of the once formable "Yamashita Line" and proceeded south. On 23 December the 5th, 7th and 12th Cavalry, supported by the 61st Field Artillery Battalion, began a determined drive toward the west coast Leyte. The 112th Cavalry continued its mission of cleaning out stragglers and isolated pockets of Japanese in the rear areas.

The Division continued the attack west toward the coast over swamps against scattered resistance. By 29 December the 7th Cavalry had reached the Visayan Sea and initiated action to take the coastal barrio of Villaba. On 31 December after four "Banzai" attacks, each preceded by bugle calls, the small barrio fell. Joined by the 5th Cavalry who assisted in mop up operations, the 7th Cavalry moved on to reach the coast at Tibur. Meanwhile the remainder of the 12th and 112th Cavalry were moved by motor convey to the Leyte Valley to close in on their respective staging areas. The long wet Leyte/Samar campaign was over except for mop up operations.

Meanwhile on 23 October, in parallel with the above operations, the 8th Cavalry along with the 302nd Reconnaissance Troop had moved out to the neighboring island of Samar, the third largest island in the Philippines. They landed at La Paz and the threat of enemy reinforcements coming from Samar to aid enemy troops Leyte was dispelled. Elements of the 302nd patrolled extensively along the south and southwest coast of Samar, but failed to find any evidence of any enemy strength. At first, the 8th Cavalry advanced slowly north toward Hinabangan which was located on a main east-west road connecting Wright and Taft. By 07 December, Hinabangan was captured. The troopers pushed on and Wright was occupied on the 13th. Taking a left movement, the troopers raced westward toward Catabalogan, the capital of the island, which they secured on the 19th of December. With the aid of guerrillas the Wright-Taft highway was opened. Soon afterward, Taft fell, and the Samar portion of the campaign was over.

By 08 January 1945 the 8th Cavalry and the 302nd Reconnaissance Troop had returned from their actions on Samar Island and rejoined the main body of the Division. On 11 January 1945, when the Leyte-Samar Campaign ended, the Japanese losses were estimated to be nearly 5,937 killed in action and only a handful - three hundred eighty-nine had surrendered. With the last of the Leyte strongholds eliminated, the Division began preparations for movement to Luzon, the main island of the Philippines. Leyte had indeed been the largest campaign in the Pacific War, but the record was about to be shattered by the invasion of Luzon.

On 26 January the 1st Cavalry Division boarded Task Group (TG) 78.8, a LSD Reinforcement Group, under the command of Captain R. W. Cutler. The TG consisting of the USS Linenwald , USS Oak Hill , USS Casa Grande , USS Epping Forest , USS White Marsh and USS Shadwell and escorted by the destroyers USS Sterett and USS Wilson , formed convoys and departed for the Lingayan Gulf, Luzon Island, the Philippines. On 27 January, under heavy air coverage, the Division came ashore in the Mabilao area of Lingayen Gulf, Luzon without incident, and assembled in the vicinity of Urdaneta.

From 28 to 30 January, the Division relocated thirty-five miles inland and opened its Command Post at Guimba. On 30 January, the 302nd Reconnaissance Troop was given the mission of patrolling to the southeast, along the Pampanga River, to find crossings in order to secure the highway leading south from Cabanatuan. On 31 January the 112th Cavalry Regiment, who had supported the Leyte Campaign, was relieved from attachment to the Division. The final planning for the operations in the south and southwest areas of the island were reviewed and updated with the most recent findings of the reconnaissance teams.

Legend has it that General Douglas MacArthur was so impressed by the Cabanatuan raid, which was still in progress at the time, that he went immediately to the 1st Cavalry Division headquarters located at Guimba. On 31 January, General MacArthur issued the order "Go to Manila! Go around the Japs, bounce off the Japs, save your men, but get to Manila! Free the internees at Santo Tomas! Take the Malacanan Palace (the presidential palace) and the legislative building!". At the time of the order, nobody knew about the 1,300 or so military and civilian prisoners at the old Bilibid prison which was only a few blocks from Santo Tomas.

In an assessment of the situation, the Division Commander, Major General Verne D. Mudge. decided to attack on a broad front with three mobile tank columns because the positions of the Japanese were vague and the columns had to cross the wide Pampanga River, south of Guimba, en route to Manila. The resulting mission, and the participating units, were dubbed a "Flying Column" by General Mudge. The rescue operation was divided into three specialized "serial" elements,

  • Reconnaissance Platoon, 2nd Squadron, 5th Cavalry
  • Anti-Tank Platoon
  • Medical Detachment
  • "A" Battery, 82nd Field Artillery Battalion
  • "A" Company, 44th Tank Battalion
  • 3rd Platoon, "A" Troop, 8th Engineers
  • 1st Platoon, "A" Troop, 1st Medical Battalion
  • Reconnaissance Platoon, 2nd Squadron, 8th Cavalry
  • Anti-Tank Platoon
  • 1 section of .50 caliber machine guns
  • "B" Company, 44th Tank Battalion
  • "B" Battery, 61st Field Artillery Battalion
  • 1st Platoon, "C" Troop, 8th Engineers
  • 1st Platoon, "B" Troop, 1st Medical Squadron
  • 302nd Reconnaissance Troop
  • The balance of the 44th Tank Battalion
  • A Marine Air Control Group - Cpt Samuel H. McAloney
  • Communications link to Marine Air Groups 24 and 32
    that were used to provide aerial flank and advance
    cover for the cavalry columns during the mission.

At one minute past midnight, 01 February, the three serials, led by Brigadier General William C. Chase, moved out of Guimba to slice through 100 miles of Japanese held territory. The mission of the 1st Cavalry Division was to dash through the enemy lines and take only force as necessary to get to Manila, not to become embroiled in any large scale battle. At all times during the three day sweep, the nine Marine scout dive bomber patrol, operating as flank guards remained airborne at all times, roaming across the valleys searching every road and trail for signs of enemy movement. Whenever roadblocks were spotted, they reported on the situation and when permission was granted, cleared the area by precision bombing or aerial machine gun screens.

Early in the morning, the 5th Cavalry crossed the Pampanga river and encountered enemy resistance. By 1300 hours, the cavalry forces were locked in a bitter fight with the Japanese near Cabanatuan. The 8th Cavalry crossed the river south of town and turned north to catch the enemy in a pincers movement. By dusk, the 7th and 12th Cavalry had advanced and took over the fight from the lead units.

The Reconnaissance Squadron had swung farther south early on 01 February and approached the town of Gapan at 1330 hours. As the attack moved on to the bridge across the Penaranda River the commander, Lieutenant. Colonel Ross was killed. The commander of the 302nd Reconnaissance Troop, Captain Don Walton, took over the Squadron command immediately and the forces were able to secure the bridge and later, with the arrival of "G" Troop, 8th Cavalry, defended it so that the columns could continue their march.

Flying Column Closes on Manila
Flying Column Closes On Manila
At 1835 hours, 03 February, the rescue column crossed the city limits of Manila. "F" Troop, 8th Cavalry, under the command of Captain Emery M. Hickman, swept "like lightning" through the heavy Japanese sniper fire, to the White House of the Philippines in time to take control of the Malacanan Palace and save it from the torches of the desperate Japanese. As the gates were opened, cheering Filipinos emerged and helped the cavalrymen set up a defense perimeter around the palace grounds.

As the sun set over the ocean behind the advancing Americans, a single tank named Battling Basic crashed through the walls surrounding Santo Tomas University, the site of a camp holding almost 4,000 civilian prisoners. The Japanese guards put up little resistance. By 2100 hours, the internment camp at Santo Tomas was liberated and the prisoners, many of whom had been incarcerated for nearly two years, were liberated.

Late on the afternoon of 04 February, the 2nd Squadron, 5th Cavalry, was ordered to seize the Quezon Bridge, the only crossing over the Pasig that the Japanese had not destroyed. As the squadron approached the bridge, enemy heavy machine gun fire opened up from a formidable roadblock thrown up across Quezon Boulevard. The Japanese had pounded steel stakes into the pavement, sown the area with mines, and lined up old truck bodies across the road. Unable to advance farther, the cavalry withdrew after nightfall. As they pulled back, the Japanese blew up the bridge.

The next day, 05 February, went more smoothly. Once the 37th Division reached Manila, the northern section of Manila was divided into two sectors. The 37th Division responsible for the western sector and the 1st Cavalry Division responsible for the eastern sector.

Mopping up was in process when it was discovered that the Japanese Guard commander and 70 of his men had taken 200 of the internees as hostage and had moved them to the Education Building. With the hostage situation rendering a direct attack on the building impossible, a strong guard was posted and a defense of the area was organized. The next day, under a flag of truce, negotiations for the release of the prisoners began. Late in the afternoon, the Japanese Commander took the position that he and his men, along with their arms and equipment, were to be escorted to a point outside the city or else he would kill all the hostages and make a suicide defense of the building.

Considering the lives of the hostages more important than the capture of the Japanese Commander and his solders, the terms were agreed to. At daybreak, on 05 February, "G" Troop, 5th Cavalry closed in on the door of the Education Building to form an escort for the Japanese who filed out of the building. The small column and their escorts moved to a point near the Pasig River where the two forces parted, the Japanese moving out of sight south and the Troopers returning back to Santo Tomas.

A secondary objective, other than freeing the prisoners and looking out for the needs of the individual inhabitants, was to safeguard city functions such as water and power supplies of Manila as US forces entered the city. Manila's steam power generating plant was on Provisor Island, on the south side of the Pasig River, and elements of the 37th Infantry Division would not reach it until 09 February. Manila's water system lay northeast of the city, and securing and protecting it was one of the first missions assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division. The main features of the system were the Novaliches Dam, the Balara Water Filters, the San Juan Reservoir, and the pipelines that carried water among these and to Manila. From 05 to 08 February, the 7th Cavalry Regiment captured all of these facilities intact, despite some being wired for demolitions.

For the next three tough days, troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division battled with flame throwers, bazookas and every weapon on hand to clear the historic Manila Hotel, one of the finest hotels in the Far East and former home of General MacArthur. "A" Troop, 12th Cavalry led the attack, supported by medium tanks and one platoon of heavy weapons. In addition to the maze of tunnels running beneath the building, nearly every room of each floor was heavily fortified with sandbags and automatic weapons. Veteran troopers had to fight "room-to-room" in order to gain control.

By 10 February, the cavalry had extended its control south of the river. That night, the XIV Corps established, for the first time, separate bridgeheads on both banks of the Pasig River. Despite initial American euphoria, much fighting remained. Although the approach to the city had been relatively easy, wresting the capital from the Japanese proved far more difficult. Manila, a city of 800,000, was one of the largest in Southeast Asia. While much of it consisted of ramshackle huts, the downtown section boasted massive reinforced concrete buildings built to withstand earthquakes and old Spanish stone fortresses of equal size and strength. Most were located south of the Pasig River which bisects the capital, requiring that the Americans cross over before closing with the Japanese.

On 13 February, the 12th Cavalry reached the waterfront turning the axis of its attack to the North. During the Battle for Manila, a new type of combat was added to the 1st Cavalry Division repertoire, that of combat engagement in a modern city - urban warfare. They thrust south to the Pasig River, launching a drive through the city.

On 23 February, during this hard hand-to-hand fighting, a trooper of "E" Troop, 5th Cavalry, Private First Class William J. Grabiarz, was a scout with a unit that was advancing with tanks along a street in Manila. Without warning, enemy machine gun and rifle fire from concealed positions in the Customs building swept the street, striking down the troop commander and driving his men to cover. As the officer lay in the open road, unable to move and completely exposed to the pointblank enemy fire, Private First Class Grabiarz voluntarily ran from behind a tank to carry him to safety, but was himself wounded in the shoulder. Ignoring both the pain in his injured, useless arm and the shouts of his comrades to seek the cover which was only a few yards distant, the valiant rescuer continued his efforts to drag his commander out of range. Finding this impossible, he rejected the opportunity to save himself and deliberately covered the officer with his own body to form a human shield, calling as he did so for a tank to maneuver into position between him and the hostile emplacement. The enemy riddled him with concentrated fire before the tank could interpose itself. Later, the troops found that he had been successful in preventing bullets from striking his leader, who survived. For his valiant action, Private First Class William J. Grabiarz received the Medal of Honor.

One of the final assignments undertaken by the 8th Cavalry was to clear out the Japanese soldiers who had taken cover in the world famous "San Miguel Brewery" and had provided the earlier heavy sniper fire in the attempt to stop their drive to the Malacanan Palace. It is said that rather than dislodge the occupants using direct artillery fire (which may have also destroyed the inventory of the building), Captain Hickman ordered a fixed bayonet charge which easily put down the Japanese resistance. Soon after the "liberation" of the San Miguel Brewery, General MacArthur joined General Chase and the troopers in a pitcher of the brew before they moved on. By 03 March 1945, organized resistance in Manila was finally wiped out.

The next assignment given to the First Cavalry Division was the difficult task of cracking the Shimbu Line, a few miles east of Manila, and securing a front from Taytay on the North to Antipolo on the south. The goal was to prevent Japanese reinforcements from reaching Manila. Securing the Shimbu Line proved to be a different type of enemy engagement than previously encountered. The division had fought in the jungles of the Admiralties, the mountains and mud of Leyte, open country, and the street fighting of Manila. They were now engaged in eliminating the Japanese who were occupying fortified positions in the mountainous environments. The regiments of the division fought abreast as they destroyed the southern flank of the Shimbu Line. From north to south, the units involved were the 5th, 7th, 8th and 12th Cavalry. On 28 February, General Mudge suffered a serious wound in the abdomen while observing the demolition of a cave that had supposedly been cleared. From deep inside the cave, a diehard Japanese defender managed to lob a grenade that caught General Mudge and his party by surprise.

Brigadier General Hugh F. T. Hoffman immediately assumed command of the Division and carried out the mission. On 11 March, the 1st Brigade Combat Team captured dominating terrain features in and around Antipolo and began mop up operations. The high ground west of Antipolo was secured by the 2nd Brigade Combat Team. Once high ground had been taken, the troopers were relieved by the 43rd Infantry Division and given a week of rest before taking on a new assignment to help clear southern Luzon of organized Japanese resistance.

Targeting Pockets of Japanese
On 22 March, elements of the 1st Cavalry Division started their push south into the Batangas Peninsula. On 25 March, on the outskirts of Tanauan, they encountered well organized and mutually supporting enemy bunkers, caves and culverts. In the following 10 days of terrific fighting and under the cover of targeted artillery fire, the barrios of Tanauan, Talisay, Lipa, and San Pablo were taken by elements of the 5th, 7th, and 8th Cavalry Regiments. In the meantime, the 12th Cavalry Regiment was directing an attack on Imoc Hill, which was held by the Japanese.

On 03 April, operations against the final Japanese forces in the Mt. Malepunyo hills began. The 5th Cavalry joined with the 43rd Infantry Division on the eastern shores of Laguna de Bay, severing the main escape route to the north. By the 10th of April, the 1st Squadron, 5th Cavalry, reinforced by a platoon of tanks, entered Mauban of the Pacific to completely cut the Bantangas in half, isolating and trapping the Japanese to the south.

On 12 April, the 5th Cavalry began a drive southeast, down the Bicol Peninsula to clear it of Japanese and link up with the 158th Regimental Combat team. The two forces finally converged at Naga on 29 April, after "B" Troop, 5th Cavalry and a group of engineers made an amphibious assault across the Ragay Gulf at Pasacao.

On 24 April, the 2nd Brigade started its movement north to Siniloan in preparation for relief of the 43rd Infantry Division. Patrols found that the main enemy strength was concentrated around the Kapatailin Sawmill. Next to Antipolo, this position was the most elaborately constructed defense system encountered. On 07 May, after a heavy air bombing, the 7th Cavalry moved toward the sawmill and attacked. Elements of the 8th Cavalry joined in to conduct mop-up operations and consolidate gains. By 09 May, the Sawmill and Nursery areas were secured with only a few scattered remnants of the Japanese to contend with.

On 14 June, the campaign had turned into a rear area skirmish with patrols continuing to mop up stragglers and preventing movement of enemy forces. On 30 June 1945, when the Luzon Campaign was declared finally completed, the 1st Cavalry Division accounted for 14,114 of the enemy killed and 1,199 prisoners of war. At last, the troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division were able to enjoy a longer rest in Lucena, at the southern end of the Tayabas Province.

In July, a new era in the organizational change of the 1st Cavalry Division began with the promotion of Major General William Chase who immediately assumed command of the Division. Planning and training began for a mission that would promise to be more difficult than anything they had previously encountered. In this mission to bring the rages of war home to the Japanese. In Operation DOWNFALL, scheduled for 01 November 1945, the 1st Cavalry Division was to be among the first American Forces to invade the beaches of the main islands of Imperial Japan, Kyushu.

Operation OLYMPIC / CORONET
On 30 June 1945, General Douglas MacArthur was preparing invasion plans to drive the final bloody strike into the heart of the Japanese homeland. The operation was to be carried out under the overall code name Operation DOWNFALL. The first phase. Operation OLYMPIC, was scheduled to be set in motion on 01 November 1945. This was the invasion of the southern most principal Japanese Islands, Kyushu, to establish a base for a follow-up invasion, The second phase, Operation CORONET, the invasion against the main Japanese Island of Honshu and the decisive battle necessary to defeat Japan, was scheduled to be launched in March 1946.

MacArthur selected General Walter Krueger, commanding general of the Sixth Army, to command the Kyshu Invasion Force, consisting of three Army and one amphibious (Marine) corps, totaling 14 combat divisions. The 550,000 man invasion force would be delivered by approximately 3,000 ships, including 66 aircraft carriers and over 2,600 combat aircraft, under the command of the Fifth Fleet. The Third Fleet would support the invasion by blocking any enemy attempts to reinforce Kyushu from Honshu and Hokkaido.

Army Intelligence estimated that approximately 735,000 enemy troops occupied Kyushu and several small islands to the south. In addition, a force of 5,000 Kamikazes were also ready to descend on the invaders. The first phase of Operation OLYMPIC was scheduled for 27 October. The 40th Infantry Division and the 158th Regimental Combat team would seize positions in the Koshiki islands southwest of Kyushu, and on Tanega, Make, Take, and Io Islands south of Kyushu, where it was estimated 25,000 Japanese troops were dug in waiting for the invasion.

The 2nd, 3rd, and 5th Marine divisions would invade near Kushikene island, on the southwest coast and split into two elements. One would move toward Sendai and the other to the port city of Kagoshima. Meanwhile, the Eastern Assault Force consisting of the 25th, 33rd, and 41st Infantry Divisions, would land on the southeast coast and capture Miyazzki and the adjacent airfield. In a simultaneous attack, the Southern Assault Force, composed of the 112th Regimental Combat Team and the 43rd Infantry, 1st Cavalry, and Americal Divisions, would land at Ariake Bay and drive inland to capture Shibushi and Kancya.

Three days after the main invasion, the 77th, 81st, and 98th Infantry Divisions, would assault the southern coast of the island west of Kiaman-Dake and attempt to move north and west, bottling up the enemy forces on the southern tip of Kyushu. The 11th Airborne Division, would stand in reserve to support the assault divisions. If not needed as reserves, the 11th Airborne would also land at Kiaman-Dake and link up with the Marine Forces at Kagoshima.

Depending on the success of Operation OLYMPIC, The massive undertaking of Operation CORONET, a 4 month operation, would be launched on 01 March 1946. As many as 28 divisions were earmarked for this phase, including all six Marine divisions and the remainder of all US Naval forces in the Pacific. In all, nearly 5 million men would participate in the operation.

Estimates of the casualties in the battle for the main islands of Japan were addressed. The early stages of the landings would have been particularly bloody with both sides suffering a combined death rate of some 1000 men an hour according to one estimate. Recent intelligence estimates indicate that if Operations OLYMPIC and CORONET had been executed as planned, it would have been the largest bloodbath in American history. These recent estimates set estimated losses at more than one million with a death toll exceeding the number suffered in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf. Although American forces had superior fire power and were better trained and equipped than the Japanese soldier, the close-in, fanatical combat between infantrymen would have been mutually devastating.

Mission Readiness - "Fat Boy" The little enthusiasm of President Truman for a ground invasion of the main island of Japan and the casualties played a major factor in his approval for the use the atomic bomb. The dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima (06 August), Nagasaki (09 August) and the subsequent announcement of the surrender of Japan made all the invasion preparation superfluous. Operations OLYMPIC and CORONET, along with the training details and mission they encompassed, were soon forgotten along with speculation about a Pacific Theater experience that never came to pass.

On 12 August, the United States announced that it would accept the Japanese surrender, making clear in its statement that the Emperor could remain in a purely ceremonial capacity only. Debate raged within the Japanese government over whether to accept the American terms.

On 13 August 1945, the 1st Cavalry Division was alerted that they had been selected to accompany General Douglas MacArthur to Tokyo and would be part of the 8th Army in the occupation of Japan. Movement of the 1st Cavalry Division to Yokohama, Japan was under control of Navy Task Force (TF) 33, commanded by Rear Admiral John L. Hall. Preparation for loading out began immediately and continued night and day. A staging area was set up at Llipa and an advanced command post was set up at Batangas Bay. Soon, ships of the Navy Transport Division 16 began arriving.

On 14 August, the Japanese people learned of the surrender negotiations for the first time when B-29s showered Tokyo with thousands of leaflets containing translated copies of the American surrender terms. Later that day, the emperor called another meeting of his cabinet and instructed them to accept the Allied terms immediately.

On 15 August, the emperor's broadcast announcing the surrender of Japan was heard all over Japan. For most of his subjects, it was the first time that they had ever heard his voice. Over the next few weeks, Japan and the United States worked out the details of the surrender. By 16 August, leaders of Japan announced that their delegates would leave Tokyo for Manila on 19 August. It was now only a matter of days before the long-awaited moment of final surrender would become a reality.

le Shima, A Small Island Airstrip
On the morning of 17 August, a sixteen-man Japanese delegation boarded two white, green-crossed, disarmed Navy medium bombers and departed secretly from Kisarazu Airdrome, on the eastern shore of Tokyo Bay. After landing at le Shima, a small island airstrip three miles west of Okinawa, the Japanese passengers were immediately transferred by a separate aircraft to Nichols Field south of Manila at about 1800 hours that same day. Then the Japanese were taken to temporary quarters on Manila's Dewey Boulevard for meetings that continued through the night of the 19th and into the next morning. As General Sutherland led the discussions, linguists busily scanned, translated, and photostatted the various reports, maps and charts which the Japanese had brought with them. Allied Translator and Interpreter Section personnel worked through the night to put the surrender requirements of General MacArthur into accurate Japanese before morning.

On 18 August, the attack transports USS Brisco, USS Cecil, USS Highlands, USS Missoula, USS Rutland, USS St. Mary's, USS Talladega and the attack cargo ships USS Yancy and USS Whiteside began loading personnel and equipment of the 1st Cavalry Division for the last leg of their WW II journey through the Western Pacific Ocean. The loading was completed on the 23rd and as part of TF 33, they weighed anchor on the 25th. However, TF 33 had to turn back because of a tropical storm in the vicinity. The typhoon delayed the TF for only a day, as they weathered the fringes of the storm at Subic Bay before getting underway again and headed north along the east coast of Luzon through the China Sea.

On 28 August at 0900 hours, the first American landings in Japan were made by an advance party of 150 communications experts and engineers. Deplaning at the large navy airfield at Atsugi - Kanagawa Prefecture. twenty miles southwest of Tokyo, the group began setting up the operational facilities for the other aircraft that would bring the 11th Airborne Division to establish the American airhead in the Atsugi area. This advance group was followed three hours later by thirty-eight troop transports carrying combat forces along with necessary supplies of gasoline, oil and support equipment.

General MacArthur Arrives at Atsugi
On 30 August, the main phase of the airborne operation began at dawn. It was a great, though calculated, military gamble. The American elements, outnumbered by thousands to one, were landing in a hostile country where huge numbers of enemy soldiers still had access to their arms. The first plane, bearing a regular forty-man load, landed at 0600 hours. Practically every three minutes thereafter throughout the day, American planes landed on the huge Japanese airfield, gliding down with clockwork precision and without a single mishap. By evening, 4,200 combat-equipped troops of the 11th Airborne were on the ground and strategically deployed to protect the airhead against any eventuality.

The occupation plan was predicated upon the ability of the Emperor to maintain psychological control over his people and to quell any recalcitrant elements. It was thought that the majority of the Japanese people would obey the Imperial command to surrender peaceably. Shortly after 1400 a famous C-54, with the name "Bataan" in large letters on its nose, circled the field and glided in for a landing. General MacArthur talked to briefly to the Japanese and Allied newsmen, and then along with his staff paused momentarily to inspect the airfield. The landing party then stepped into a waiting automobile, an ancient American Lincoln - furnished by the Japanese, for the drive to Yokohama. Thousands of Japanese troops were posted along the fifteen miles of road to guard the route of the Allied motor cavalcade as it proceeded from Atsugi to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP) Headquarters temporarily located at the Grand Hotel in the great seaport city of Yokohama, Japan.

Surrender Of Japan - 02 Sep 1945 This video of the attack highlighting the surrender of Janan on 02 September opens with a broad view of the navy fleet moving toward Japan Preparations for the surrender began on 30 October with an advanced landing party of soldiers and marines. An overall view of the condition of the Japanese homeland defenses - aircraft, landing vehicles and artillery pieces reveled the inability of the Japanese to hold off a major invasion force. The Japanese wait for the arrival of an advance party, including General McArthur, to arrives by air. The aircraft, a B-29 aircraft lands and General MacArthur and his party holds a general press conference with the Japanese.

On the morning of 02 September, the long convey of ships steered into Yokohama Harbor with the leading ships in place in the inner harbor of Yokohama. As destroyers delivered participants from Yokohama to USS Missouri's port side, officers from nearby ships were arriving by boat and being piped aboard at the battleship's starboard side. Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Pacific Commander in Chief and the official representative of the United States at the surrender ceremonies, came aboard at 0805 hours.

Shortly before the Japanese were scheduled to arrive, spectators, the press and the Allied participants took their places. MacArthur, Nimitz and Admiral William F. Halsey walked past them to their own positions. At 0856 hours, the Japanese delegation began to come on board and participated in the signing of the formal articles of surrender on the deck of the battleship USS Missouri . After the conclusion of those ceremonies, all of the ships of TF 33 hauled down their battle flags and headed into the dock areas to start unloading operations.

The First Team was given the honor of leading the Allied Occupational Army into Tokyo. At 1030 hours, advance elements of the 1st Cavalry Division landed unopposed at the Yokohama docks. At that time, a reconnaissance party headed by Colonel Charles A. Sheldon, the 1st Cavalry Division Chief of Staff, went ashore to contact the advance party of Lieutenant Colonel Moyers S. Shore which had arrived by plane five days earlier to reconnoiter and select Assembly Area (AA) locations for the landing parties. The initial Assembly Areas were within five blocks of the docks. By nightfall, the troops of the 1st Cavalry Division were occupying staging areas throughout the Yokohama Harbor.

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Copyright © 1996, Cavalry Outpost Publications ® and Trooper Wm. H. Boudreau, "F" Troop, 8th Cavalry Regiment (1946 - 1947). All rights to this body of work are reserved and are not in the public domain, or as noted in the bibliography. Reproduction, or transfer by electronic means, of the History of the 1st Cavalry Division, the subordinate units or any internal element, is not permitted without prior authorization. Readers are encouraged to link to any of the pages of this Web site, provided that proper acknowledgment attributing to the source of the data is made. The information or content of the material contained herein is subject to change without notice.


Work and Patriotism

Posters like these linked shipyard productivity and patriotism. Produced by the Emergency Fleet Corporation, they reminded shipyard workers of the importance of their efforts and to do a good job.

Teamwork Wins, about 1918

United States Shipping Board, Emergency Fleet Corporation

Your Work Means Victory, 1917

United States Shipping Board, Emergency Fleet Corporation Gift of Frank O. Braynard

On the Job for Victory, about 1918

United States Shipping Board, Emergency Fleet Corporation

Plate puller, about 1918

Workers used this tool to align pre-punched holes in standardized hull plates before riveting them.

Gift of Capt. Raymond A. and Catherine M. Kotrla

Typical Wartime Freighter, 1919

The federal government’s massive investment in shipbuilding was a boon to American industry. In gratitude, the Association of Northwestern Shipbuilders presented this silver model to outgoing Emergency Fleet Corporation Director-General Charles Piez in April 1919.

Shipyard Volunteers

A push to recruit 250,000 additional shipyard workers in early 1918 led the Emergency Fleet Corporation to create the &ldquoU.S. Shipyard Volunteers.&rdquo Men who signed up to work in the yards were exempted from the military draft.

Shop-front sign advertising immediate wartime work, New York City, 1918

Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration

Shipyard volunteer’s button, 1918–19

Transfer from the U.S. Shipping Board, Emergency Fleet Corporation

Emergency Fleet Corporation badge and button

Transfer from the U.S. Shipping Board, Emergency Fleet Corporation

Gift of James D. Andrew Jr.

A Launching

To mark Memorial Day in 1919, the Hog Island shipyard launched five freighters in 48 minutes. Laura Andrew, wife of the yard’s ship-construction manager, christened the last of these, the Luxpalile, by breaking this bottle over its the bow. She received the broken glass in this box as a memento.

Five ships were launched in 48 minutes, Memorial Day, 1919.

From a scrapbook donated by James D. Andrew Jr.

Freighter American Merchant

Built at Philadelphia, 1920

A Standardized Ship

Hog Island produced 110 identical cargo ships and 12 identical troop transports. This model represents one of the transports. All of Hog Island’s ships arrived too late to play a role in the war. But the Liberty ships of World War II and the modular construction of ships today owe their success to the mass-production techniques tried and tested at Hog Island.


Troopships in the First World War - History

UB. - German coastal submarine

UC. - German coastal minelaying submarine

3 . Ship Information

Few of the characteristics are precise and often vary from source to source. This is partly due to how some are measured, but mainly to changes during operation or the career of the vessel. For example:

Warship displacement tonnage can be as varied as load, deep load, average load, legend, normal, and that is before you get into the complexity of gross and other tonnage used to measure merchant vessels.

Launch dates are usually precise, but completion can vary depending on how it is defined. Merchant ships are usually associated with a build year.

Apart from main armament (number of barrels x internal diameter of gun barrel or weight of shell), World War 1 ships often mounted a variety of secondary armament and as the war progressed, more anti-aircraft guns. These could change, often frequently, and few records were kept. As a main role of destroyers was torpedo attack, and for aircraft and seaplane carriers, the number of aircraft that could be flown off from sea or flight-deck, the numbers of these two weapons are included.

Speed in knots is usually the maximum. Ships rarely steamed at high speed because of the disproportionate use of coal or oil fuel. Also speed often dropped over time as vessels and engines aged. Economic cruising speed would be preferred.

Crews are usually quoted, if more than one figure is given, as peacetime, wartime, and as a flagship that additionally carried an Admiral and staff, at least for big ships. These numbers only ever appear to be approximate, with actual crew sizes fluctuating.

Even fates are rarely precise. The cause of a ship sinking are usually known, but sometimes only by post-war research, but times and positions can vary wildly - if your ship is sinking in heavy seas, recording such niceties no doubt gets overlooked. Of course, if a ship disappears without trace, that is another matter. Even sold and broken up dates vary.

In short, ship information is often approximate.

4 . Types of Vessels

WARSHIPS, including

B attleships

Battlecruisers

Monitors

Armoured cruisers

Old light cruisers (old 1st, 2nd and 3rd-class)

Light and scout cruisers

Aircraft and seaplane carriers

Kite balloon ships

destroyers

Old sloops

Old gunboats

Despatch vessel

Fleet minesweeping and convoy sloops

River gunboats

Minesweepers

Minelayers

AUXILIARY WARSHIPS, including

Armed merchant cruisers - mainly passenger ships, armed for patrol and convoy escort

Commissioned escort ships - mainly cargo steamships, armed for convoy escort

Armed boarding ships - armed steamships for boarding mainly neutral vessels for contraband control

Submarine decoy or Q-ships - disguised vessels of many types, powered or sailing vessel, equipped with weapons to sink U-boats

AUXILIARY PATROL, including

Hired yachts

Admiralty or hired trawlers

SUPPLY AND SUPPORT VESSELS, including

Depot ships

Admiralty oilers

Fleet messengers

Survey ships

Troopships (RIM)


History of Slovakia

The “Great War” grouped the rival countries into two major alliances: the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey) and the Entente Powers (Britain, France, and Russia). After the war began in 1914, Slovak politicians proclaimed so-called passive politics nevertheless, Slovak soldiers were drafted to fight for the Emperor on the side of the Central Powers. Heaviest casualties were reported at the Eastern Front in Halic and in southern Italy on Piava River, where almost 70, 000 Slovaks died in the battle. Fortunately, the war did not spread to the Slovak territories even though the Russian troops had seized the east of Slovakia (Bardejov, Zborov, Svidnik, Snina, Humenne, Medzilaborce) at the end of the year 1914. The Carpathian battles took place in winter 1914-1915. Slovak soldiers were humble but brave, modest and compliant therefore, they were often deployed to the most hostile territories of the frontlines. They suffered from starvation and cold weather and often fell prey to bullying army officers.

Any anti-war protest had been suppressed. Many Slovak nationals who opposed the War faced imprisonment for their beliefs or were constantly monitored by the police. Women stayed at home and worked in fields or in factories. Some merchants sold merchandise for high prices corrupted public notaries accepted bribes in return for a promise that a soldier would be temporarily released from the battle line. Thus a new social group of nouveau riche formed in Slovakia.

Public was appalled when church bells were melted to make cannons for the war. The towns supporting the Army trade prospered. At that time Slovak activists abroad were determined to end Hungarian supremacy and create a centralized state of the Czechs and Slovaks. Thus on May 30, 1918 the Pittsburg Agreement was signed in the United States (agreement signed by the Czech and Slovak associations about the autonomy of Slovakia in the newly formed Czechoslovakia). The Czech and Slovak resistance movement abroad had its seat in France. Its main representatives and founders were T. G. Masaryk and Slovak M. R .Stefanik – a politician, an astronomer, and a pilot who organized the Czechoslovak legions (voluntary troops of almost 100,000 soldiers serving abroad but especially in Russia.


Troopships in the First World War - History

Click on any year in the menu appearing above to load a page showing troopship crossings for that year. For updates to each year's listing, please consult the Dad's War site as updates to these copies of the pages will be sporadic. Clicking on the "Main Page" link in the above menu will always return you to this Introduction to return to Skylighters, click here.

Two special sections are unique to this site. The first is the Guide to Vessel Types, which contains information about ships used as troopships, including commercial ocean liners like the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth among others, but generally focusing on other vessels, such as the Liberty and Victory Ships. The second special section is the Vessel Image Gallery, which contains photographs of troopships collected from various sources.

Troopships used during World War II included commercial passenger liners, C2s, C3s, C4s, Liberty and Victory ships, and foreign ships taken over by the United States such as the Saturnia, etc. Click on a letter to jump to the part of the list containing ships whose name begin with that particular letter.The following is a listing of all known vessels used as troopships during World War II:

A. P. Hill
Abraham Lincoln
Acadia (Hosp.)
Acadia (Troopship)
Aconcagua
Adabelle Lykes
Admiral C. F Hughes
Admiral E. W. Eberle
Admiral H. T. Mayo
Admiral Hugh Rodman
Admiral R. E. Coontz
Admiral W. L. Capps
Admiral W. S. Benson
Admiral W. S. Sims
Afoundria
Agwileon
Agwiprince
Aiken Victory
Alaska
Alcee Fortier
Alcoa Patriot
Alcoa Polaris
Aleda E. Lutz
Aleutian
Alexander G. Bell
Alexander Lillington
Alfred Moore
Algonquin (Hosp.)
Algonquin (Troopship)
Alhambra Victory
Altoona Victory
Ambrose E. Burnside
American Legion
Amherst Victory
Ancon
Andes
Andrew Furuseth
Andrew Hamilton
Andrew Moore
Anne Arundel
Antioch Victory
Aquitania
Arawa
Archbishop Lamy
Argentina
Arlington
Arrow
Arthur C. Ely
Asa Gray
Athlone Castle
Athos
Azalea City

Baranof
Bardstown Victory
Belle Isle
Benjamin Contee
Benjamin Goodhue
Benjamin Huntington
Benjamin R. Milam
Bernard Carter
Betty Zane
Bienville
Blanche F. Sigman (Hosp.)
Blenheim
Bloemfontein
Blue Island Victory
Blue Ridge Victory
Booker T. Washington
Borinquen
Boschfontein
Brandon Victory
Brastagi
Brazil
Bret Harte
Bridgeport
Brig. Gen. Alfred J. Lyon
Brig. Gen. Asa N. Duncan

C. C. N. Y. Victory
Caleb Strong
Calvin Coolidge
Cape Bon
Cape Canso
Cape Cleare
Cape Cod
Cape Douglas
Cape Flattery
Cape Henlopen
Cape Johnson
Cape Meares
Cape Mendocino
Cape Neddick
Cape Newenham
Cape Perpetua
Cape San Juan
Cape Victory
Capetown Castle
Carl Shurz
Carlos Carrillo
Carnarvon Castle
Cefalu
Central Falls Victory
Chanute Victory
Chapel Hill Victory
Charles A. Stafford
Charles B. Aycock
Charles Goodyear
Charles Lummis
Charles W. Wooster
Chateau Thierry (Hosp.)
Chateau Thierry (Troopship)
Chirikof
Christopher Greenup
Clark Mills
Claymont Victory
Clevedon
Coaldale Victory
Coamo
Cody Victory
Colby Victory
Colin P. Kelly, Jr.
Colombie
Colorado Springs Victory
Columbia
Comet (Large)
Comet (Small)
Conrad Weiser
Contessa
Copiapo
Cornelius Gilliam
Cornelius Hartnett
Costa Rica Victory
Cranston Victory
Cristobal
Cuba K. Davis
Cyrus W. Field

Daniel E. Garrett
Daniel H. Hill
Daniel H. Lownsdale
Daniel Huger
Dashing Wave
David C. Shanks
David G. Farragut
David W. Branch
Day Star
Delarof
Denali
Dogwood
Dominican Victory
Dominion Monarch
Dorchester
Dorothea L. Dix
Duchess Of Bedford
Duluth

Edmund B. Alexander
Edward Bates
Edward Richardson
Edward Rutledge
Elbridge Gerry
Eleazar Wheelock
Elgin Victory
Eli D. Hoyle
Elihu Yale
Elizabeth C. Stanton
Emily H. M. Weder
Emma Willard
Empress Of Australia
Empress Of Scotland
Ernest Hinds (Hosp.)
Ernest Hinds (Troopship)
Ernestine Koranda
Ernie Pyle
Esek Hopkins
Esperance Bay
Ethan Allen
Etolin
Eufaula Victory
Eugene Hale
Evangeline
Exceller
Excelsior
Exchange
Exchequer
Exiria
Explorer
Extavia
Ezra Cornell

F. A. C. Muhlenberg
F. J. Luckenbach
F. Marion Crawford
Fairfax
Fairisle
Fairland
Fairmont Victory
Fayetteville Victory
Felipe De Neve
Felix Grundy
Fitzhugh Lee
Florence Nightingale
Florida
Frances Y. Slanger
Francis A. Walker
Francis L. Lee
Francis Marion
Franconia
Fred C. Ainsworth
Frede Rick Funston
Frederick C. Johnson
Frederick Lykes
Frederick Victory
Frostburg Victoy

Gatun
General A. E. Anderson
General A. W. Brewster
General A. W. Greely
General C. C. Ballou
General C. G. Morton
General C. H. Muir
General D. E. Aultman
General E. T. Collins
General G. M. Randall
General G. O. Squier
General H. B. Freeman
General H. F. Hodges
General H. L. Scott
General H. W. Butner
General Harry Taylor
General J. C. Breckinridge
General J. H. McRae
General J. R. Brooke
General John Pope
General Leroy Eltinge
General M. B. Stewart
General M. C. Meigs
General M. L. Hersey
General M. M. Patrick
General O. H. Ernst
General Omar Bundy
General R. E. Callan
General R. L. Howze
General R. M. Blatchford
General S. D. Sturgis
General Stuart Heintzelman
General T. H. Bliss
General W. A. Mann
General W. C. Gorgas
General W. C. Langfitt
General W. F. Hase
General W. G. Haan
General W. H. Gordon
General W. M. Black
General W. P. Richardson
General William Mitchell
General William Weigel
George B. Mcclellan
George Bancroft
George Davis
George F. Elliott
George Flavel
George G. Meade
George H. Dern
George H. Thomas
George Handley
George Leonard
George M. Bibb
George S. Simonds
George Shiras
George W. Campbill
George W. Goethals
George W. Julian
George W. Mccrary
George W. Woodward
George Washington (Large)
George Washington (Small
George Washington Carver
Georgetown Victory
Gideon Wells
Glenn G. Griswold
Golden City
Goucher Victory
Grenville M. Dodge
Gustavus Victory

Hagerstown Victory
Haleakala
Hampden-Sydney Victory
Hannis Taylor
Harry F. Rethers
Haverford Victory
Hawaiian Shipper
Haym Salomon
Helen Hunt Jackson
Henry Baldwin
Henry Bergh
Henry Dearborn
Henry Failing
Henry Gibbins
Henry Groves Connor
Henry Middleton
Henry R. Mallory
Henry W. Beecher
Henry W. Hurley
Henry W. Longfellow
Herald Of The Morning
Hermitage
Highland Brigade
Highland Chieftain
Highland Monarch
Hilary A. Herbert
Hood Victory
Horace Binney
Howard A. Kelly
Howard Victory
Howell Lykes
Hugh L. Scott
Hunter Liggett

Ile De France
Imperial
India Victory
Irvin Macdowell
Isaac Coles
Isaac Sharpless
Island Mail

J. B. Gorman
J. H. Kinkaid
J. M. Davis
J. W. Mcandrew
James B. Francis
James B. Houston
James B. Richardson
James Barbour
James Ford Rhodes
James G. Blaine
James H. Mcclintock
James H. Mcclintock
James Hoban
James Iredell
James J. Hill
James Jackson
James Mccosh
James Mccosh
James Monroe
James Moore
James O'Hara
James Parker
James Russell Lowell
James Turner
James W. Fannin
James W. Marshall
James W. Nesmith
James W. Riley
Jane Addams
Japara
Jarrett M. Huddleston (Hosp.)
Jarrett M. Huddleston (Troop Ship)
Jean Lafitte
Joaquin Miller
Joe C. Specker
Joel Chandler Harris
John B. Floyd
John B. Hood
John Banvard
John Blair
John C. Ainsworth
John C. Breckenridge
John Clarke
John Cropper
John Dickinson
John E. Schmeltzer
John Ericsson
John Fiske
John Harvard
John Harvey
John Hathorn
John Howland
John J. Crittenden
John J. Meany-
John Jay
John L. Clem (Hosp)
John L. Clem (Troopship)
John L. Motley
John Land
John Lawson
John Lykes
John M. Morehead
John Milledge
John Murray Forbes
John P. Mitchell
John S. Pillsbury
John Sergeant
John Stevens
John Sullivan
John Trumbull
John W. Brown
John W. Weeks
John Walker
Johns Hopkins
Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Elmer
Jonathan Grout
Jonathan Trumbull
Jonathan Worth
Jose Navarro
Joseph Alston
Joseph Gale
Joseph H. Hollister
Joseph H. Nicholson
Joseph Hewes
Joseph Hooker
Joseph Leidy
Joseph N. Teal
Joseph T. Dickman
Joseph T. Robinson
Joseph Warren
Joshua Hendy
Joshua Seney
Josiah Bartlett
Josiah D. Whitney
Junior N. Van Noy
Justin S. Morrill

Kemp P. Battle
King S. Woolsey
Kings Point Victory
Kingston Victory
Klipfontein
Kokomo Victory
Kota Agoeng
Kota Baroe
Kota Inten

La Crosse Victory
La Grande Victory
La Salle
Laconia Victory
Lake Charles Victory
Lambert Cadwalader
Largs Bay
Larkspur
Lehigh Victory
Lejeune
Leland Stanford
Leonard Wood
Leopoldville
Levi Woodbury
Lew Wallace
Lewiston Victory
Lincoln Steffens
Lincoln Victory
Lindley M. Garrison
Lock Knot
Louis A. Milne
Louis Mclane
Louisa M. Alcott
Lucretia Mott
Lurline
Luther Martin
Lyman Abbott
Lyon

M. I. T. Victory
M. M. Guhin
Madawaska Victory
Madison
Madison J. Manchester
Mahanoy City Victory
Maj. Gen. H. A. Dargue
Maj. Gen. Robert Olds
Maj. W. R. Weaver
Marigold
Marine Adder
Marine Angel
Marine Cardinal
Marine Carp
Marine Devil
Marine Dragon
Marine Eagle
Marine Falcon
Marine Flasher
Marine Fox
Marine Jumper
Marine Lynx
Marine Marlin
Marine Panther
Marine Perch
Marine Phoenix
Marine Raven
Marine Robin
Marine Serpent
Marine Shark
Marine Swallow
Marine Tiger
Marine Wolf
Marion Mck. Bovard
Mariposa
Maritime Victory
Marshall Elliott
Marshall Victory
Marvin L. Thomas
Marymar
Maryville Victory
Mataroa
Matsonia
Matthew Maury
Maui
Mauretania
Mayo Brothers
Medina Victory
Meteor
Mexican
Mexico
Mexico Victory
Milford Victory
Mirabeau B. Lamar
Montclair Victory
Monterey (Large)
Monterey (Small)
Monticello
Moreton Bay
Mormacdove
Mormachawk
Mormacmoon
Mormacport
Mormacsea
Mormacwren
Moses Austin
Mount Vernon
Muhlenberg Victory

N. Y. U. Victory
Nathaniel J. Wyeth
Nathaniel Scudder
Nevadan (Two Listings)
New Bern Victory
Newton D. Baker
Nicholas Gilman
Nieuw Amsterdam
Noah Webster
Noordam
North Coast
Norway Victory

Ocean Mail Octorara
Oneida Victory
Orduna
Orion
Orizaba
Otsego

Pachaug Victory
Paine Wingate
Pasteur
Paul Hamilton
Pennant
Perida Mcguire
Peter J.
Peter Minuit
Peter Silvester
Pierre L'enfant
Pierre Soule
Pittston Victory
Poelau Laut
Pomona Victory
Ponce De Leon
Pontotoc Victory
President Buchanan
President Coolidge
President Fillmore
President Garfield
President Grant
President Johnson
President Monroe
President Polk
President Taylor
President Tyler
Puebla

Queen Elizabeth
Queen Mary
Queen Of Bermuda

Rangitata
Rangitiki
Rebecca Lukens
Rensselaer Victory
Republic (Hosp.) Hip)
Republic (Troops
Reverdy Johnson
Richard Bassett
Richard J. Gatling
Richard Marsh Hoe
Richard O'Brien
Richard Olney
Richard R. Arnold
Richard Rush
Roanoke
Robert Dale Owen
Robert F. Stockton
Robert H Harrison
Robert M. Emery
Robert M. T. Hunter
Robert Treat Paine
Robert W. Bingham
Robin Doncaster
Robin Sherwood
Robin Wentley
Rochambeau
Rock Hill Victory
Rollins Victory
Roseville
Round Splice
Rushville Victory

Sacajawea
Samaria
Samuel Adams
Samuel Ashe
Samuel Griffin
Samuel H. Walker
Samuel Huntington
Samuel J. Tilden
Samuel Johnson
Samuel Livermore
Santa Barbara
Santa Cecilia
Santa Clara
Santa Cruz
Santa Elena
Santa Isabel
Santa Lucia
Santa Maria
Santa Monica
Santa Paula
Santa Rosa
Santiago Iglesias
Saturnia
Scythia
Sea Barb
Sea Bass
Sea Cat
Sea Corporal
Sea Devil
Sea Fiddler
Sea Flasher
Sea Flier
Sea Owl
Sea Marlin
Sea Partridge
Sea Perch
Sea Pike
Sea Porpoise
Sea Quail
Sea Ray
Sea Robin
Sea Runner
Sea Scamp
Sea Snipe
Sea Star
Sea Sturgeon
Sea Tiger
Sea Witch
Sedalia Victory
Seminole (Hosp.)
Seminole (Troopship)
Shamrock
Shawnee
Sheepshead Bay Victory
Siboney
Sloterdijk
Smith Thompson
Smith Victory
Solomon Juneau
Sommelsdijk
Spanish Bowline
Spindle Eye
St. Albans Victory
St. Mihiel (Hosp.)
St. Mihiel (Troopship)
St. Olaf (Hosp.)
St. Olaf (Troopship)
Stamford Victory
Starlight
State Of Maryland
State Of Virginia
Stephen A. Douglas
Stetson Victory
Stevens Victory
Stirling Castle
Storm King
Susan B. Anthony
Susan V. Luckenbach

Tabinta
Tabitha Brown
Tamaroa
Taos Victory
Tarleton Brown
Tasker H. Bliss
Texarkana Victory
Thaddeus Kosciuszko
Theodoric Bland
Thistle (Hosp.)
Thistle (Troopship)
Thomas Cresap
Thomas F. Farrell, Jr.
Thomas H. Barry
Thomas Hart Benton
Thomas Johnson
Thomas LeValley
Thomas Nelson Page
Thomas R. Marshall
Thomas Robertson
Thomas Sumter
Thomas W. Bickett
Thomas W. Hyde
Thurston
Timothy Dwight
Tjinegara Tjisadane
Torrens
Tristram Dalton
Tufts Victory
Tusculum Victory
Typhoon

U. S. Grant
United States Victory
Uruguay
USSR Victory

Vassar Victory
Virginian
Vulcania

W. J. Conners
Wakefield
Walter E. Ranger
Walter Forward
Walter Reed
War Hawk
Ward Hunt
Washington
Waterbury Victory
Waycross Victory
Webster Victory
Weltevreden
West Point
Westbrook Victory
Westerly Victory
Westminister Victory
Wharton
Wheaton Victory
Wiliam S. Halstead
Willard A. Holbrook
William & Mary Victory
William A. Graham
William A. Richardson
William B. Giles
William B. Travis
William Cushing
William D. Mosely
William D. Pender
William F. Cody
William F. Fitch
William Few
William Floyd
William H. Jackson
William J. Palmer
William L. Smith
William L. Thompson
William M. Evarts
William P. Mulholland
William Rawle
William S. Rosecrans
William S. Young
William T. Barry
Williams Victory
Wilson Victory
Winchester Victory
Winged Arrow
Wisteria
Wllliam Blount
Woodbridge Victory
Wooster Victory

Yarmouth
Young America
Yukon

Zanesville Victory
Zebulon B. Vance
Zebulon Pike
Zoella Lykes
Zona Gale

The list of troopships of World War II is from Roland W. Charles, Troopships of World War II, 1947.

Top of List
The ship in the background image is the SS Leopoldville.


Troop Ships

The following transport ships were used to convey the troops of the 5th/22nd, the 22nd Battalion plus other key elements of the AIF during the First World War. Although just a sub-section of the ships used by the Australians in the war they are nevertheless representative of the types of vessels used. The transport ships are listed in chronological order, helping to tell the story of an Australian Infantry battalion during the First World War from their departure from Australia, arrival in Egypt, Gallipoli, and France, and then for the return to Australia at the end of the war. For the full list of transports used by the 22nd Battalion, see the bottom of this section, plus for a more comprehensive list of the dozens of transports used as troop ships by the AIF during the war, please use the following links:

Flotilla Australia Digger History Australian Light Horse Studies Centre
HMAT Orvieto (A3) – carried AIF Commanding Officer in the first convoy, November 1914

Orient Line passenger steamship built 1909
12,130 tons, length 163m

After being refitted as a troop carrier, the Orvieto sailed as part of the first convoy of ships carrying troops from Australia and New Zealand for Europe during the First World War, departing Albany Western Australia on 1st November 1914. On board was Major General Bridges, Commander of the AIF, and his staff, plus the 5th Infantry Battalion. Also on board was the official war correspondent C.E.W. Bean.

On the journey the convoy stopped at Colombo to re-fuel, and the Orvieto took on board a number of prisoners from the German cruiser SMS Emden that had been engaged and put out of action by HMAS Sydney, a light cruiser of the Royal Australian Navy. She then proceeded to Egypt via Aden where the troops (and prisoners) disembarked.

On 8th March 1915 she was commissioned under the British Admiralty and performed mine laying duties along the east coast of Britain in the North Sea. In July 1916 she was placed on the Northern Patrol and over a six month period intercepted 30 foreign merchantmen which were sent into British ports for searching. In Spring 1918 she was placed on Atlantic convoy duties, and at the end of the war she was returned to the Orient Line. On 1st November 1919 she sailed for Brisbane and remained on the mail run until she was decommissioned in 1930.

Click on link for historical footage of the Orvieto departing Melbourne in 1914.

HMAT Kyarra (A55) – carried 1st & 2nd Australian General Hospital from Australia, November 1914 sunk in English Channel in May 1918

Australian United Steam Navigation Co.Ltd built in 1903
6,953 tons, length 415ft

The Fremantle registered Kyarra was a twin-masted schooner-rigged steamer built in 1903 by the W. Denny Brothers ship builders, Dumbarton on the river Clyde, Scotland. The name Kyarra was taken from the aboriginal for possum fur. On 6 November 1914 she was requisitioned and converted into a hospital ship (HMAT A.55 Kyarra) for the purpose of transporting Australian medical units to Egypt. The 1 st and 2 nd Australian General Hospital medical staff sailed from Brisbane on the 21 st November 1914 to Sydney where it set course on 28 th November for Egypt. The hull was painted white with a large red cross on the side.

In March 1915, Kyarra was converted into a troop transport. In May 1918 the Kyarra was on route from Tilbury, London to Sydney. She was carrying 2600 tons general and Australian mails, plus hospital supplies and medical staff and heading first for Devonport to embark 1,000 Australian wounded. She was armed with a quick-firing gun mounted on her stern as a defence against U-boats. In the early morning of 26th May 1918, the Kyarra had cleared the Isle of Wight and was moving fast through calm seas around Anvil Point just off Swanage, Dorset. Unknown to Captain William Smith German submarine captain Oberleutnant Johann Lohs was watching him through the periscope of UB-57. The Kyarra was struck by a torpedo portside amidships, sinking and killing 6 of her 126 crew members.

The wreck was not discovered until the late 1960’s. Today the Kyarra is one of the most well-known and popular wrecks for divers in southern England. The holds still contain perfume, champagne, stout, red wine, and vinegar bottles. Sealing wax, medical supplies, dentists porcelain teeth, collar studs, gold, silver and brass watches, pipes, fountain pens, lead printing blocks, printing paper, copper pipe, dinner sets, comic books, silk, fabric, brass picture frames and hockey sticks have all been found. Click on picture for U-tube dive video footage, courtesy of Swanage Boat Charters Ltd.

HMAT Ulysses (A38) – transported the 22nd Battalion from Australia to Egypt, May 1915 transported the 6th/22nd in October 1915

Owned by China Mutual SN Co. London
14,499 tons, average cruise speed of 14 knots

Launched in 1913, the Ulysses was the largest ship to serve as a troop carrier, and was leased by the Commonwealth until 15 th August 1917. On 8 th May 1915 she set sail from Melbourne with the first contingents of the 21 st and 22 nd Battalions and 6 th Brigade Headquarters. On a subsequent voyage on 27th October 1915 she transported the 6th reinforcements 22nd Battalion to Egypt. 2375 Pte Smith, 2464 Pte Bolger and 2469 Pte Edwards of the 5th/22nd returned to Australia on the Ulysses.

The Ulysses also sailed between Australia and England during the Second World War, again ferrying Australian troops and airmen to the front. The Ulysses was torpedoed by an unknown German submarine in 1942 and sunk off Florida after apparently disobeying an order that would have led her through safer waters.

HMT Scotian – transported the 22nd Battalion from Egypt to Lemnos, August 1915

Built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast and launched in May 1898

The Scotian originally sailed the North Atlantic routes from Europe to North America and was brought into war service in September 1914 to help augment the ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, first bringing troops of the Canadian Expeditionary Force to England. In August 1915 the Scotian was boarded by the 22nd Battalion at Alexandria, en-route to the staging island of Lemnos before heading to Gallipoli. The Scotian was finally scrapped in 1927.

HMT Southland – carried the 2nd Divison HQ from Egypt to Lemnos, September 1915 and torpedoed by U-boat

Red Star ocean liner launched July 1900 as SS Vaderland

11,899 tons, length 171m, speed 15 knots

HMT Southland initially operated as a liner between Antwerp and New York under British registry, but was re-registered in Antwerp in 1903. After the beginning of the First World War, Vaderland was re-registered in Liverpool and converted to a troopship, ferrying troops of the Canadian Expeditionary Force from Halifax to Liverpool. While under the operation of White Star–Dominion in 1915, she was renamed Southland to avoid the German-sounding Vaderland.

The Southland was later used in the Mediterranean to carry troops of the 6 th Essex regiment and two companies of 1/7 th Essex from Devonport to Gallipoli from 4 th July 1915 to 11 th August 1915, and later from Alexandria, the Australian 2 nd Division headquarters with the 21st Battalion. During its sail from Egypt to Gallipoli on the 2 nd September 1915 at 9:45am it was torpedoed by the German submarine UB-14 30 nautical miles (56 km) from Lemnos in the Aegean Sea. The ship did not sink immediately, and was eventually beached on Lemnos, and all but 40 of 1,400 men were able to leave in lifeboats and were picked up by other transports. Fourteen persons were killed by the explosion and twenty two were drowned including AIF 6 th Brigade Commanding Officer Brigadier General Linton.

The Southland was repaired and returned to White Star–Dominion for Liverpool–Quebec–Montreal service in August 1916, but on 4 th June 1917 was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine SM U-70 while 140 nautical miles (260 km) northwest of Tory Island off the Irish coast.

HMT Osmanieh – transported the 22nd Battalion from Lemnos to Anzac, Gallipoli, September 1915 sunk in December 1917 off Alexandria

Built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Ltd., Newcastle in 1906 and owned by the Kedivial Co.,

4,041 tons, length 110m, speed 17 knots

The Osmanieh was hired by the Royal Navy and used as a troop transport. In September 1915 she was used to transport the 22nd Battalion from the Greek island of Lemnos to Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula. On 31st December 1917, having sailed from Southampton with troops and medical personnel on board, the Osmanieh was sunk by a mine from the German submarine UC-34 at the entrance to the Alexandria Harbour. 198 persons were killed, including the Captain.

RMS Osterley – transported the 5th/22nd from Melbourne to Egypt, September 1915

Owned by the P & O SN Co, London

12,129 tons with an average cruise speed of 18 knots

The RMS Osterley was built by the London & Glasgow Shipbuilding Co on the Clyde in 1909. She was operated by the Orient Steamship Navigation Company on the United Kingdom to Australia service. During the First World War the Osterley was used as a troop ship by the AIF, and on 29th September 1915 conveyed the 5 th /22 nd Battalion to Egypt. Avoiding the German cruiser ‘Emden’ twice in 1914, the Osterley came through the war unscathed and was returned to commercial service in January 1919. During her time in operation the Osterley would run 59 voyages from the United Kingdom to Australia before being decommissioned and broken up in 1930.

HMAT Ascanius (A11) – transported the 22nd Battalion from Lemnos to Egypt, January 1916 transported 19th/22nd in May 1917

Built in 1910 by Workman, Clark in Belfast

10,048 tons, length 150.3 metres, speed 14 knots

The Ascanius was originally a passenger / refrigerated cargo steamship owned by the Ocean Steamship Company, Liverpool. She was leased by the Commonwealth and was part of the first convoy transporting the 3 rd Infantry Brigade to Egypt in November 1914.

In January 1916 and following the recent evacuation from Gallipoli, the Ascanius picked up and transported the 22 nd Battalion that had were waiting in Mudros Harbour, Lemnos, bound for Egypt where the AIF was re-grouping. In all she completed nine transport trips from Australia until her final voyage on 11th May 1917, which also included the 19 th reinforcements of the 22 nd Battalion.

After the war she resumed her refrigerated meat service, sailing between Liverpool and Australia. The Ascanius was re-employed as a troopship in the Second World War. Although torpedoed she made it to port and resumed service to Australia in 1946. The Ascanius was sold in 1949 and renamed the San Giovannio, and was finally scrapped in Italy in July 1952.

Llandovery Castle – transported the 22nd Battalion from Egypt to France, March 1916 sunk as Hospital Ship by German U-boat in June 1918

Built in 1914 in Glasgow for the Union-Castle Line

10,639 tons speed 15 knots

Launched in September 1913 and completed in January 1914, the Llandovery Castle initially sailed between London and East Africa, then London and West Africa. She was requisitioned in 1916 and was used to transport the 22 nd Battalion from Alexandria to Marseille in March 1916 as the AIF, and with the 2 nd Division at the fore, moved to France for the fighting on the Western Front. She was commissioned as a hospital ship on 26th July 1916, and assigned to the Canadian Forces, equipped with 622 beds and a medical staff of 102.

One of the more controversial events during the Great War was the sinking of the Canadian Hospital Ship Llandovery Castle by a German submarine, U-86, on 27th June, 1918. The ship was returning to England after having brought Canadian casualties back to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Being a Hospital Ship, it was clearly identified as such with a brightly illuminated Red Cross, was unarmed and running with full lights. On board, the crew consisted of one hundred and sixty-four men, eighty officers and men of the Canadian Medical Corps, and fourteen nurses, a total of two hundred and fifty-eight persons.

The Llandovery Castle was struck by torpedo at night, and despite difficulty the crew and medical staff were able to get into a number of lifeboats before she sank, and they started to pick up survivors in the water. The submarine came up and interrupted the recovery and went alongside the Captain’s lifeboat. The U-boat commander took Captain Sylvester on board and started questioning him along with a Canadian Medical Officer in the belief that the ship had eight American Flying Officers on board. This was denied and the Captain and Medical Officer were allowed back into the lifeboat. However with most of the U-boat crew now below deck in preparation for diving, orders were given to open fire on the lifeboats to destroy the evidence of the torpedoing. Only one lifeboat survived the attack. It was picked up by the destroyer Lysander on the morning of 29 June, 36 hours after the attack. Just twenty four people survived the attack on the lifeboats, including six members of the Canadian Army Medical Corps. All 14 Nursing Sisters on board lost their lives. For the Canadians this was the most significant naval disaster in the war, and given the status of the ship and the medical crew on board was met with outrage. After the war, the British initiated a War Crimes trial against the officers of U-86. The commander, Helmut Patzig could not be found and was never brought to trial. The two other officers, Ludwig Dithmar and John Boldt were tried and convicted. The men were sentenced to 4 years of hard labour, but escaped while underway to the prison. It is unclear if they were ever recaptured.

SS Castalia – transported many of the homeward bound 22nd Battalion (including 13 men of the 5th/22nd) returning to Australia April 1919

Built in 1906 by Barclay Curle & Co. Ltd of Glasgow

Operated by the Anchor Line, the SS Castalia was a passenger and general cargo vessel, accommodating 102 cabin class passengers. On 13 th April 1919 she sailed from Devonport with soldiers of the AIF returning to Australia. On board were thirteen members of the 5 th /22 nd that had sailed together from Melbourne on the Osterley four years previous. This group of thirteen represented the most number of 5 th /22 nd returning home to Australia together at the same time. Also on board was Lieutenant LW Harricks, Adjutant of the 22nd Battalion, and there are plenty of his personal photographs and other memorabilia from the journey home in his private collection provided by Jennie Marshall.

The Castalia survived both wars and was sold to an Italian line in 1949 running a service to Central America. She was subsequently renamed the Marengo and then Urania II in 1950 before being scrapped in Italy in December 1953.

SS Mahana – the ‘bride boat’ returning soldiers and wives to Australia and New Zealand, 1919/20

Built in 1917 by Workman Clark, Belfast.
11,796 tons, speed 13 knots

The S.S. Mahana was commonly referred to at the time as the “Bride Boat”, since many of its passengers were newlywed female post-war emigrants and their partners. Minnie Taylor from Twickenham was one such bride having just married 2394 Pte Stephens of the 22 nd Battalion. Subsequent sailings in 1920 would take young English women to New Zealand in search of a husband.

The Mahana, launched on 11 th January 1917, was taken up under the Liner Requisition Scheme in the April, three months before she was completed. She had the capacity to carry 1,500 passengers, but her 3rd Class accommodation for 450 passengers was removed in 1926 and she was converted for use as a cargo ship. During the War the Ministry of War Transport didn’t take up Mahana and therefore her war years were totally uneventful. In 1949 she was chartered by the Ministry of Food for use as a cold storage unit before being scrapped at Dalmuir in 1953.


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