TASK FORCE 6814, US ARMY
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2
Task Force 6814 was hastily thrown together by the US Army straight after the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. It was brought together with personnel from right across the United States, with limited equipment and lots of new faces in unfamiliar roles.
Task Force 6814 comprised:-
Task Force 6814 travelled to Australia in a large convoy. Many of these ships were luxury liners that were hurriedly converted to a troop ship. The convoy comprised:-
SS Santa Elena
SS Santa Rosa
SS Island Mail
The convoy left New York Harbour on 23 January 1942. It was escorted by a number of destroyers and aerial escorts including the occasional blimp. During their voyage south to Panama there was a submarine scare. A number of depth charges were dropped on a suspected enemy submarine.
The Task Force produced its own newspapers, one of which was known as "Twin-Ocean Gazette". As many as 2,500 copies of this newspaper were printed daily when conditions permitted.
Colonel Edmund B. Sebree was appointed as the Chief of Staff of Task Force 6814 and flew into Panama to join the convoy. Col. Sebree's staff comprised:-
G-1 Lt. Col. Williamson
G-2 Lt. Col. Moore
G-3 Lt. Cole George
G-4 Lt. Cole Homewood
Training was carried out during transit to their still unknown destination. Some of the training included jungle tactics, tropical diseases and gunnery.
The Convoy arrived in Melbourne in Victoria, Australia on 27 February 1942. The troops were unloaded and dispersed to five major areas:-
Camp Pell in Royal Park
Melbourne, possibly in Camp Murphy in the Melbourne Cricket Grounds
Many of the troops were billeted in private households resulting in many long lasting friendships with Australian families. The troops were later overwhelmed with mail from Australian families after they had landed at Guadalcanal.
It was soon time to reload the ships to move to New Caledonia. The artillery units which had arrived in Australia without any guns acquired some British 18-pounders and 25-pounders which were loaded on to their ships. Two "Aussie" officers and a small experienced crew of NCO's travelled with the Task Force to New Caledonia to provide training on the new guns.
The following are the only units that remained in Australia after debarkation of the other units at Melbourne:-
43 Engineer General Service Regiment, less Band *
46 Engineer General Service Regiment, less Band *
694 Signal company (Hq & Hq Det) *
Weather Detachment *
13 Reconnaissance Squadron *
4 General Hospital *
A Task Force advance party flew out of Melbourne for New Caledonia on 6 March 1942. The convoy departed Melbourne on the same day headed for Noumea. They arrived in Noumea on 12 March 1942, minus the SS Erickson which arrived on 18 March 1942 after experiencing power problems on the first day out of Melbourne.
Task Force 6814 was reassigned as the Americal Division effective 27 May 1942. Americal is a combination of the words American and Caledonia. It was the only division in the American Army without a number at that time.
The 182nd Infantry Regiment of the Americal Division landed on Guadalcanal on 12 November 1942.
The 164th Infantry Regiment (North Dakota National Guard) were apparently the first U.S. Army unit to engage in offensive action in WW2 in any theater.
Under the Southern Cross
by Captain Francis D. Cronin. 1951
I'd like to thank Bill Picardy of Company "L", of the 182nd Infantry Regiment for his assistance with this home page.
I'd like to thank Scott Bloom, son of Jack Bloom, Americal Division, 132 nd Infantry, CO. "B", who travelled to Australia on the Cristobel.
Can anyone help me with more information?
"Australia @ War" Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 12 August 2003
This page last updated 02 September 2018