162ND INFANTRY, 41ST DIVISION, US ARMY
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2
On 7 July 1942, the 162nd Infantry at Camp Seymour in Australia, received orders from the 41st Division Headquarters to activate a Cannon Company. This was the first Cannon Company formed overseas. The US Army had learnt that mobility and firepower were two prime requisites for success in modern warfare.
The newly formed Cannon Company under the command of Captain Lee. L. Alfred faced some major hurdles. There were no officers and men trained in the operation of a Cannon Company and there was no Cannon Company equipment available in Australia. By the 15 August 1942, the Company reached full strength after acquiring the most suitable candidates from the rest of the Regiment and acquiring 67 replacements for the States.
Cannon Company left Camp Seymour and arrived in Rockhampton in central Queensland on 30 August 1942. They began to construct their new camp about 9 miles north of Rockhampton. (Was this at Camp Caves?)
Cannon Company began their jungle training on 1 September 1942. As they still did not have an Cannon equipment they were formed as a 60mm Mortar Company, comprising two Mortar Platoons and a Headquarters Platoon. After six weeks intensive mortar training they were again reorganised as a Rifle Company comprising two Rifle Platoons and a Headquarters Platoon.
After several weeks of rifle training they were again reorganised together with a Service and Anti-tank Company to form a Stevedore Company. They undertook rigorous training on day and night problems in supply and loading and unloading operations.
Between camp life and training, the soldiers managed to date the local girls in Rockhampton and visit the many hotels. When their training was complete the soldiers were give a week of rest and recreation at Wipoon Beach, 15 miles north west of the camp. (Do they mean Yeppoon Beach?)
They received new clothing and jungle equipment after they returned from their week's leave. All of their clothes bar one set were died a jungle green colour. One set remained as khaki which was to be worn on embarkation.
Photo: - from Vonda Posthumus
Men of Cannon Company, 162nd
Sgt. Lawrence Eerkes is in the middle row,
3rd row from the back, 2nd from the left
Warning this is a large file
On 8 February 1943, Cannon Company boarded a train with the rest of the Regiment at Parkhurst Railway Station. They travelled to Gladstone, which is about 80 miles south of Rockhampton.
They boarded the old Dutch ship "Von Hoirnskink" at Gladstone and two days later they anchored at Townsville in north Queensland. They stayed in Townsville for two days. While in Townsville they encountered their first air alert, but no enemy planes were sighted. By this time Townsville had been bombed three times by the Japanese.
They left Townsville on 14 February 1943 and arrived at Port Moresby in New Guinea on 17 February 1943. They set-up camp in a staging area near the Port Moresby Airfield. They worked as stevedores unloading Regimental supplies and equipment. They moved to Douglas Harbour where they unloaded Australian barges. After much enemy action at various locations they left Salamaua on 26 September 1943 and returned to Oro Bay. On 5 October 1943, they left Oro Bay headed for Australia.
They disembarked at Gladstone on 12 October 1943 and travelled to Rockhampton by train and re-established their camp in the same area they had occupied before they went to New Guinea. They were given a three day pass. Most of the men received furloughs to Sydney or Melbourne.
On 19 January 1944, Cannon Company was sent to Toorbul Point for amphibious training. Because of the difficulty of the training, the men renamed the area "Terrible Point". It was at Toorbul Point that they finally received their 105mm Howitzers M3. They returned to Rockhampton after finishing their training.
On 11 February 1944, a large group of replacements arrived. The Cannon Company then settled down to intensive training with their new weapons. On 20 March 1944, the Company left Rockhampton headed for Gladstone again where they boarded transports and set out for New Guinea. The men travelled on the Australian ship "Kaninaba".
They arrived at Finschaffen 5 days later. They spent the next nine days building their camp and preparing for their impending combat operations. On 3 April 1944, they boarded the Australian troop transport ship "Westralia". They made a practice landing with the rest of the Regiment below Lae at "Red Beach".
On 17 April the "Westralia" set out in one of the largest convoys yet assembled in the South West Pacific Area to take part in the landing at Humboldt Bay near Hollandia. After the beach was bombarded, they landed at Humboldt Bay on 23 April 1944. Japanese opposition was weak and scattered.
On 26 May 1944 troops of the 162nd Infantry together with troops of the 186th Infantry stormed ashore at Bosnek Beach on the southern side of Biak. Cannon Company went ashore the next day.
After some fierce battles, Cannon Company embarked aboard LST's and APA's on 27 January 1945. They eventually dropped anchor in Leyte Gulf, the Philippines on 6 February 1945. They debarked in San Jose Harbour, Mindoro Island in the Visayas on 9 February 1945 and set up their camp on the beach near regimental headquarters. They had originally thought they were headed to Subic Bay on Luzon.
The Company broke camp on 6 March 1945 and at 9.34 hrs on 10 March 1945, they went ashore at Mindanoa near Wolfe airfield. After more fierce fighting, the Company boarded an LST on the night of 1 May 1945 and at 0800 hrs on 4 May 1945 landed in teh vicinity of Parang in Central Mindanao. They moved 40 miles to Fort Pikit on 6 May 1945. After some time in Mintal and Calinan area they heard the news on 16 August 1945 that "Japan had surrendered".
On 16 September 1945, Cannon Company boarded USS Sherburne to proceed to Kure, Honshu, Japan to act as occupation forces. They relocated to Onomichi about 40 miles east of Kure during the first week in November 1945 where they performed the roles of Military Police. On 17 December 1945, Cannon Company received word that the 41st Division was going to be inactivated overseas and inside of two weeks the Company would cease to exist.
I'd like to thank Vonda Posthumus for her assistance with this home page. Vonda's father, Sgt. Lawrence Eerkes, was a member of Cannon Company.
Can anyone help me with more information?
"Australia @ War" Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 4 July 2004
This page last updated 02 September 2018