131ST FIELD ARTILLERY REGIMENT
TEXAS NATIONAL GUARD
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2

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visits since 12 December 2004

 

The 2nd battalion of the 131st Field Artillery Regiment was part of the Provisional Field Artillery Brigade that was ordered overseas to the Philippines as part of the Pensacola convoy in November 1941. The Brigade comprised:-

All four battalions were armed at the San Francisco wharves with the 75mm field gun, M1897A4 on the M2 carriage (essentially ye olde French 75 on a modern, split-trail field carriage), but after a few months in Australia, three of the battalions were re-armed with the new 105mm howitzer. 

They were diverted to Brisbane, Australia in late 1941 after the news of the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. They were one of the first US Units to land anywhere in Australia after Pearl Harbor. 

When the Pensacola convoy arrived in Brisbane on 22 December 1941, Major General Julian F. Barnes was the senior officer and he established the first U.S. Headquarters in Australia, in the Lennons Hotel in George Street, Brisbane.  

The 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery was then shipped to Java, to combat the soon-expected Japanese invasion, where it fought with the mostly Australian Blackforce which was built around a pioneer battalion and a machine gun battalion, with the addition of a British squadron of light tanks (3rd Hussars). The whole of the 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery was captured by the Japanese. In Texas, they became known as the "Lost Battalion".

The 1st Battalion, 131st Field Artillery Regiment never made it to Australia and fought in north Africa, Italy and southern France. It was redesignated as 131st Field Artillery Battalion. The 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery Regiment was never redesignated.

 


 

ARTHUR "BUDDY" CLARK
2ND BATTALION, 131ST FIELD ARTILLERY REGIMENT
Copyright – Arthur B. Clark, Mark D. Clark.  No duplication without express authorization from the authors.

A member of the US Army’s 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery, Arthur “Buddy” Clark is now
completing his war history.  The following is reproduced with permission from those memoirs….

  

Chapter 18. Brisbane (December 23, to December 28 or 29, 1941)

 

We arrived in Brisbane on December 23, 1941.  Upon disembarking from the USS Republic we marched in perfect order through the city.  The Australians knew the Japs were moving toward them, and we were the first American contingent to land on the Continent.  Most of their own young men were off fighting in North Africa, and not only did we see lots of blond headed, blue eyed Australian girls, but everyone was appreciative of our presence.  The townspeople lining the streets cheered as we marched to the Ascot racetrack where we slept in tents that had been set up for us. 

The Australians were good natured, and we got along with them very well.  It wasn’t too hard for a bunch of kids with only a few months right out of High School to have a good time, and the Australian people were very accommodating.  The day after we landed I found myself in a crap game between a bunch of fellow Americans and Aussies.  We were playing in a tent, and I had converted some of my money to Australian Pound notes.  As I recall the conversion was about U.S. $3.27 to equal one Australian Pound.  Unlike American bills, Australian Pound notes varied in size according to their value.  All of the 2nd Battalion guys hailed from Texas, and so we came up with a system we Texans could all relate to.  It included nicknaming Pound notes after our home state’s newsletters.  The highest value note was Twenty Pounds, and as I recall it measured maybe 4 inches by 7 ½ inches so we nicknamed it “The Dallas Morning News.”  A Ten Pound note was about 3 ½ inches by 7 inches, and it was nicknamed the “Ft. Worth Star Telegram.”  Then there was the “Abilene Reporter News,” which equated to a Five Pound note, sized about 3 ¼ inches by 6 ½ inches.  Lastly there was a One Pound note, measuring about 3 inches by 5 ½ inches, and its nickname was the “Clyde Circular.”  So, I’d shoot and say “I’m going to shoot three Clyde Circulars,” and I’d drop the correct number of Aussie Pound notes.  Then somebody else would say, “Wait a minute, I’m going to cover that with a Fort Worth Star Telegram.”  It was pretty funny and soon all the Americans joined in.  The Aussies saw us laughing and having a good time and asked what we were doing.  We said, “Well, a Twenty Pound note is about the size of one our newspapers.”  They thought it was pretty funny too, even though they never used the nicknames when betting themselves.  We became fast friends with the Aussies, and we liked their sense of humor too.  That was also good, because I took everyone in that tent for around $700.  I was 19 years old, and that kind of money made me rich, more or less. 

All of us from the 131st F.A. were invited to share Christmas Dinners in private homes of our new hosts.  Later, we fought alongside the Aussies on Java and found them to be resourceful and committed soldiers.  Still, all the Allies on Java were under Dutch command, and when the Dutch capitulated we were all forced to surrender.  The Aussies and Americans were among the last because neither group wanted anything to do with stopping the fight or becoming captives.  Nevertheless, out of ammunition and with no place to go we were forced to surrender.  For the next 3 ½ years I was a POW, first at the infamous Changi Prison on Singapore and all too soon on the “Death Railway” in Burma and Thailand.  I was rescued by the American OSS on August 16, 1945.  Throughout all of that time I was around and worked with Aussies.  I have never lost my admiration for them.  A.B. “Buddy” Clark, Abilene, Texas U.S.A.

                      

 Arthur B. “Buddy” Clark, of the US Army’s 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery
Photo taken in Calcutta, soon after rescue from POW camp.

We were just 18 years olds headed to the great adventure when we enlisted.  When we landed on Australia we found the people warm and they cheered as we marched to Ascot race track.  We made quick friends with the Aussies, and they even invited us into their homes at Christmas.  Not long after we were on Java, fighting for our lives.  I spent 3 ½  as a POW on the Death Railway through Burma and Thailand.  I have always liked the Australians, and have fond memories of them to this day. 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Nelson Lawry for his assistance with this home page.

I'd also like to thank Arthur B. "Buddy" Clark and Mark D. Clark for their assistance with this web page.

 

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This page first produced 12 December 2004

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