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HISTORY OF COMPANY C, 543rd ENGINEERS
Co. C, 543rd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment, 3rd Engineer Special Brigade
In the spring & summer of 1942 The Joint Chief of Staffs found that the Germans & Japanese had taken the land masses and islands. The only method to attack & retake these areas was with Amphibious Forces. So the Army created the Amphibious Command At Camp Edwards Mass.
The 1st Brigade went to North Africa, later Europe.
The 2nd Brigade went to the South West Pacific.
The 3rd Brigade, Made up of the 533rd, 543rd, & 593rd, EB&SR Went to the South West Pacific.
The 4th Brigade went to the South West Pacific.
The 543rd was formed in the fall of 1942 at Camp Canduit a part of Camp Edwards in Mass. After formation people were sent to several schools . Higgins Boat Operators in New Orleans, Marine Diesel Mechanics School & others.
Some of Co. "C" people with others took about 50 LCMs down the intercoastal water way to Florida. These 50' tank Lighters were used to train the 28 Division & other units through the winter of "42-43.
Co. "C" Moved to Camp Gordon Johnson at Carrabelle Fl. for the winter. In April "43" Co. "C" moved to Ft. Ord Ca. by rail, the cooks prepared our meals in baggage cars, no diner.
From early April until early Jan. of "44' we trained at Ft. Ord , Monterey, Point Lobos & Carmel. Whalers Cove was a ideal harbor for anchoring & maintaining our boats. We did a training problem in the outer harbor of Monterey Bay for dead reckoning navigation between the buoy's at night & in the fog. Some of the LCPLs & LCVPs even made coastal runs to L A , Oceanside & even to Mexico. These were in preparation for our work over seas, Where we made trips of up to 1,100 mi. in our moving of troops & material.
We made a trip by truck into the Mojave Desert to Leach Lake for Anti Aircraft gunnery training (this area became Ft. Irwin Army desert training center.)
In Jan."44' we went to Camp Stoneman for embarkation to the South West Pacific We sailed on the New Amsterdam with about 15000 troops. They fed 2 meals a day, I slept in the old theater with bunks 7 high.. We went to New Guinea by way of New Zealand & Australia. Arrived in New Guinea at Milne Bay. LCMs were 50' landing craft & were cumbersome to load on ships, so only a few could be transported at a time. A way was made for the "M" boats to be cut up & shipped in sections, so a number of the "M' boats could be shipped in the same space. We went to work in a small ship yard, this yard had 3 assembly ways. We all went to work as welders, fitters, unpacking or whatever. We were building boats for the whole brigade plus navy, Australians etc. Our top output was 150 in a month. We were there about three months then started taking convoys of LCMs up the coast of New Guinea. These would haul cargo & people all through the Dutch East Indies.
Our duty was Haul Cargo, Troops, Unload Shipping including a number of landings.
Jan. 1945 we loaded out on a Navy convoy at Biak, and went to Mindoro Is. in the P.I. We trained and prepared our boats for a landing at Zamboanga on the Island of Mindiano in the P.I. This landing was March 10, 1945. We spent about 3months in the southern P.I. Then we moved Co. "C' to Leyte about 600 miles under our own power. We were expecting to stage for landings in Japan. In Aug. we took a number of boat crews up to Batangus near Manila. The boat yard we had worked in on New Guinea had moved to the P.I. These boat crews picked up new boats for the landings in Japan, which thank God we never had to make.
Sept. 18, left Leyte for the occupation of Japan , We landed at Aomori, Northern Honshu about a week later. By the end of Oct. the boat crews had moved ashore & were waiting for shipment stateside on the point system. It was time to go home. Others may remember things in a different way but I won't disagree as this all took place about 55 years ago. I do have my "Senior Moments".
----- Oliver R Smith, Coxwain
See also the Logbook of the Lucky Lady, a LCM (Landing Craft Mechanized) of the 543rd transcribed by her last coxswain Steve Johnson, T4, Co. C, 543rd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment, 3rd Engineer Special Brigade, US Army, WWII
Photographs and stories of the 543rd in the Biography of Oliver R. Smith, Coxswain, Co. C, 543rd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment, 3rd Engineer Special Brigade, USA
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