Solomon Islands Invasion of New Georgia Island
James Glynn Brann aboard DD 114 USS Talbot
It was on the evening of the fourth of July that we left the Guadalcanal headed for Rice Anchorage on New Georgia Island with thirteen ADP's which are destroyer troop transports escorted by four new destroyers. At twelve o'clock that night we held general quarters. Far ahead we could see two of our Cruisers bomb barding the place before we made our landing. There were approximately eight Japanese shore batteries that opened up on our cruisers when they commenced firing that was our intentions to get their positions so our cruiser could knock them out.
About one o'clock we arrived at our destination. We eased in to the bay and got the word to lower all boats into the water and take on troops.
We had native guides to show us where to land the first landing and from then on it was just a continuous string of boats in and out. We landed about one hundred and fifty yards up a small river.
By the time we made our first load the Jap shore batteries had spotted us and first shot some flares up over our heads to get our location but our destroyer escorts opened fire to draw their attention until we were unloaded. By four thirty we were unloaded.
Before we left Guadalcanal every ship got the word to leave three of their boats and crews when they landed, to move supplies as the troops pushed ahead but as things turned out it got too hot to hang around and pick up their one remaining boat so they pulled out and left all their boats behind. About dawn on the fifth of July we had all of our Higgins landing boats unloaded. So as it was, our ship had left the officer in charge of all the boats behind. He was in my boat so we made all the boats and gave each boat crew the word as what to do, we all went up the river until we found a good place and hid our boat.
We cut palm bushes to camouflage our boats and ate breakfast and then each boat put on one man to watch while the rest slept. Everything went well that day except four Japanese observation planes I sighted flying around taking pictures. Everything was quiet that night also.
But the next morning about nine o'clock fourteen Jap dive bombers came over and dropped one bomb apiece. We thought they had spotted us for nearly every bomb hit in the river, without damaging any of our boats. Only one man was wounded and it wasn't bad. From then on we all stayed near the rocks so we could take cover in case any more came around.
July 7 we begin to get a little news about our troops at Munda Japanese held air base.
Natives of the island were hired to carry supplies up to the front, of course each bunch had a native which could speak English and we would get all the news from him when he would return from the front.
We also had first raider marines working their way down to Enogai Point, an imperial Japanese marine camp.
They were pretty rugged, but they were no match for those fighting marines of ours.
There was three six inch shore batteries on Enogai Point which shelled us up at Rice four miles away, the night before the marines struck them, they fought hand to hand battle for about half a day before they killed all the Jap's there on the point.
On the eighth we got orders to send five boats with rations down to Enogai. We had to wait until 6:30 P.M. until the tide came in enough to get out of the river. 7:30 P.M. was the time our little friend the Jap with the old sea plane had picked for the last three days
to come around and visit and we were afraid he might run across our boats on his way over but they made it OK, but each night he kept getting closer to our camp with his bombs, he was coming regular three times each night. It was really bad on our nerves at night.
The next night five more boats went to Enogai and I went along also. After our troops secured Enogai they moved on to attack Bairoko Harbor two miles below Enogai Point. Our scouts had reported about six hundred Jap's at Bairoko Harbor, but when our troops attacked them they had gotten reinforcements some way, and there was a terrific struggle, but at last our boys had to retreat.
The Jap's were using 90MM mortar shells, and our troops took a terrible beating for one solid night, but next day we sent some soldiers down to draw their attention while the marines retreated to a safe distance.
That evening there were about twenty five of our dive bombers came over to blast the Jap's out of Bairoko. They dive bombed them for about ten minutes.
We were only two miles from Bairoko and we could see the planes when they released their bombs. At first there was some anti aircraft fire from the Jap's, but did no damage. After they had unloaded all their bombs they formed a circle and strafed the harbor for about fifteen minutes. After they were through medium bombers came over and laid some big eggs on them. They should have got results for they jarred us plenty ten miles away. The next day they pounded them off and on all day and also the next day.
But as each night came around the Jap's always sent their little friend around with his four eggs to give us and he was dropping them plenty close too, several men were hurt and a few killed. That night he killed five marines, and their comrades were so angry they mounted several machine guns on a Higgins boat and without orders went down into Bairoko Harbor.
They went right down into the harbor and fired about a thousand rounds of machine ammunition into the camp without getting any return fire so returned to Enogai Point.
Next day they began to bring in several casualties to be sent out by PBY's, so we loaded our boat with stretchers and walking patients and went out to meet the planes. Three of them came in with three corsair fighter planes, two of them got loaded and pulled out with the fighters following but the one we were loading had more men than they could carry and the skipper was trying to get them all aboard. There were several bombers bombing and strafing Bairoko so we were not expecting any trouble until we heard a plane roar down in a dive and open fire.
I looked around quickly and saw the bullets plowing a path across the water straight for us. Well I was so surprised and frightened I just dived into my gun mount automatically but he was a little off for he just missed our boat to the starboard side and ripped across the wing and starboard pontoon of the plane. It was a Japanese zero fighter plane and he went over so fast I didn't get a chance to fire but we shoved off and headed for the beach hell bent for leather at the same time the PBY was so frantically trying to get off the water but he was to heavily loaded so he was to late the zero came over again and right down, I think he missed the camp all together.
Well we got under way and made it safely back to Tulagi and I spent the next few weeks recuperating and getting rid of my jungle itch and dirt.
Well I have had several exciting experiences since then and I hope to write about them too some time.
I am writing this several months afterward so that is why I couldn't give the date on everything but maybe you can understand some of it, for I know that I will never forget my nineteen days on New Georgia Island.
James Glynn Brann's personal experience Phase II of the Solomon's campaign written while he was aboard the USS TALBOTT in 1943 Transcribed by his daughter, Linda Brann Dunlop