IN AUSTRALIAN WATERS DURING WW2
On 21 May 1943, a number of Landing Ship Tanks (LST's) were bought in to the beach at the Strand in Townsville, adjacent to Fort Kissing Point. This would have been in the approximate location of the current Rock Pool on The Strand. USS LST-334 was one of these LST's. Charles J. Michel, Sr., who was a Chief Petty Officer on LST-334 said that they were in Australia for repairs to the ship and also to load the ship to take supplies to the Islands. George Rahall, a Gunnersmate 2/c on board LST-334 told me they were in Townsville for three weeks in June 1943.
United States L.S.T. Landing Craft
Point, Townsville in the
location of today's Rock Pool. USS LST-334 features in the foreground.
They unloaded heavy military equipment and earth moving machinery. Steel matting was placed on the sand to allow the large machinery to be moved across the soft sand. It was then transported to the large American warehouses and workshops located between Aitkenvale and Mount Louisa.
United States L.S.T. Landing Craft
including USS LST-334
at Kissing Point, Townsville in the location of today's Rock Pool.
Photo: Peter Dunn
The same location today. Quite a different view.
USS LST-334 in the above photograph, was commissioned on 29 November 1942. LST-334 participated in the following operations:-
On 15 August 1943, the partially Coast Guard-manned LST-334 and the fully-manned LST-167 participated in the landings at Vella Lavella. For weeks they both assisted with the supply of the troops ashore.
LST-334 was apparently damaged by dive bombers while it was in the Solomons area (07 d. 43' S., 156 d. 40' E) on 30 September 1943. LST-334 earned four battle stars and the Navy Unit Commendation for its World War II service.
USS LST-334 was 328 feet long with a beam of 50 feet. It was armed with:-
It was powered by two General Motors 12-567 Diesel engines reaching a speed of 12 knots.
The Library of Virginia US Army Signal Corps Photograph Collection
1 January 1943, LST-334
(foreground) and LST-390 (background) between Piers 4 and 5
Newport News VA, loading 3/4 ton 4X4 Dodge command reconnaissance cars,
to be shipped to Cactus and the SWPA
United States L.S.T. Landing Craft at Kissing
in the location of today's Rock Pool in early 1943
Note the old timber and mesh swimming enclosure
towards the right of the photograph
United States L.S.T.
Landing Craft at Kissing Point
in the location of today's Rock Pool in early 1943.
USS-LST 334 can be seen at the far left.
Landing Craft Infantry, Large, LCI
unloading at Kissing Point.
One LST can be seen at the far left of the photograph.
LST's unloading area at Kissing Point, Townsville
Charles J. Michel, Sr. from Reserve in Louisiana was a Chief Petty Officer onboard LST-334 during WW2.
George Rahall was a Gunnersmate 2/c on board LST-334 (Flotilla 5). He said LST-334 was amongst the first LST's to enter the Pacific. He can remember the Excelsior Hotel in Townsville and drinking lots of Gordon's Gin. George will be 80 in October 2004 and is in great health and motorcycle touring is his avid pastime!!
The following history of USS
LST-334 is from a Veteran's Newsletter
called Scuttlebut. It was kindly sent to me by Vicki Michel.
HISTORY OF U.S.S. LST 334
This ship was commissioned at Norfolk Navy Yard and practice runs beaching at Hampton Rds., Little Creek, VA, until it got underway enroute from Norfolk to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on 23 January 1943.
Moored in Berth B01, NOB, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Left Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and arrived Limon Bay, Canal Zone on the eighth of February. On 14 February we moved to Coco Solo, Canal Zone and stayed there until we proceeded through the canal on the 23rd of February. After going through the canal we moored at Balboa, C.Z. until the 25th of February 1943, when we got underway for Bora Bora, Society Islands.
Dropped anchor at Bora Bora Harbor, Society Islands and stayed there until 25 March when we got underway and arrived in Pago Pago, Samoan Isles on 30 March 1943.
Left Pago Pago, Samoan Isles on 2 April and beached at Nickel Works Beach, Noumea, New Caledonia on 10 April 1943. On 12 April we moved to Cumbea Bar, N.B. and he following day Admiral R. K. Turner, USN, and party came aboard to watch the launching of the LCT 461 off our ship. 19 April we got underway and beached on Guadalcanal Island, British Solomon Islands. On the 25th we made a run to Tulagi Harbor, Florida Island, B.S.I. and returned to Guadalcanal on the 28th. 19 April we got underway for Noumea, N.G. On the 30th one enemy bomber was sighed and the U.S.S. DARING opened fire on the plane. The bomber dropped four bombs and the splashes were signed about three miles ahead. The plane got away and no ships were damaged.
Anchored at Noumea, NC, and the next day we beached at Nickel Works Beach. On the 7th we retracted from the beach and dropped anchor a little ways off the beach. The same date Lt. (jg) Raymond E. WARD, USN and Lt. George AYLWARD, USNR, were detached from this vessel. Lt. (jg) Charles J. HAWKINS, USNR, assumed command of this vessel. Ensign Alfred M. SEGAL, USNR, reported aboard for duty. We got underway the 14th of May for Townsville, Australia and arrived on May 21, 1943.
and July 1943
Left Townsville, Australia and arrived at Woodlark Island on June 29. Stayed there for a couple of days and went back to Townsville arriving there on 9 July. Toward the end of July we got underway for Milne Bay, New Guinea.
Arrived Milne Bay, N.B. August 1, and stayed there overnight and proceeded to Woodlark Island, arriving there August 3. Left Woodlark Island and arrive at Noumea, N.C. on 10 August. Left Noumea on the 19th of August.
Arrived in Segond Channel, Espiritu Santos, New Hebrides and went into drydock. Left drydock on the 3rd of September and got underway on the 4th. Arrie Tagoma Point, Lengo Channel, Guadalcanal on the 8th. Moved to Tulagi Harbor, Florida Island. Got underway on the 12th and beached at Slot #6, Kukm Beach, Guadalcanal. On 13 September we got underway and beached odn Lilio Beach, Munda, New Georgia Island, B.S.I. on the 14th. Got underway the same day and beached at Slot #7, Kukum Beach, Guadalcanal. Bot underway on the 17th. On the 18th of September sounded general quarters at 0250 upon sighting anti-aircraft fire from Reedova Island, and enemy plane sighted bearing 336 (T), elevation 15,000 feet. Searchlights ashore picked up a single enemy plane flying directly overhead. The plane apparently was not aware of the shipís presence, and since he was out of range we held our fire. One piece of shrapnel, about one inch long struck the life jacket of STOCKNER, Harry R., GM2c. There were no injuries aboard and the plane disappeared. We beached at Olsenís Pier, Munda, unloaded, retracted and got underway the same day. Arrived at Purvis Bay, Florida Island on the 19th. September 24, we got underway for Velta Lavella, B.S.I. and beached at Molu Beach on the the 25th. Unloaded and got underway for Guadalcanal and anchored of Kukum Beach on the 26th.
Beached at Ruravai Beach, Vella Lavella Island on the lst. At 0925 the ship was attacked by Japanese dive bomber (AICHI 99) coming out of the sun at the stern. They were identified in sufficient time to give adequate warning to the sun crews. Two direct bomb hits sustained. The first penetrating the main deck and tank deck to lie unexploded in A-415-W, the other rupturing the side of frome #19. One plane is believed shot down and another possible. The attack lasted about one minute. Approximately 900 rounds of ammunition were expended (all types). One casualty: RAJOWSKI, Roman A., 647 50 64, MoMM2c, suffered fracture of the left elbow. Smoke of an oil fire was observed issuing from point on port bow where LS 448 was hit by bombs. At 1421 the ship was unloaded and we retracted from the beach. Underway on set course when at 1435, the ship was attacked by about 11 Japanese dive bombers, diving out of the sun off our starboard bow. Planes were identified in time to give the gun crews some warning. Diving formation was broken up by 40MM gun fire. No direct hits were scored. A near miss scored about 30 yards off point quarter, shook the ship considerably and caused water spray over conning station and after section of ship for nearly half a minute. The attack lasted from six to 10 minutes. During the attach the U.S.S. LST 460 was about 10,000 yards ahead. U.S.S. DD 509, 3000 yards off our port quarter, U.S.S. DD 511, 3000 yards off our port bow. Both destroyers fired continually during the attack, both were attacked also at the same time, and several planes were brought down by them. Three planes were believed shot down by this vells, another possible. No casualties. Lt. C. J. HAWKINS, USNR, C.O.
Was later awarded the Silver Star for todayís action.
On the 11th of October we went into drydock at Expiritu Santos, N. H. to make repairs caused by the bombs on October 1. Came out of drydock on the 23rd and on the 17th we moved to Luganville Bay, Espiritu Santos, N. H. Got underway on the 24th.
Anchored off Lyons Point, Guadalcanal on the lst. Beached at Carter City, Florida Island, B.S.I., on the 3rd and at Kukurn Beach, Guadalcanal on the 5th. On 9 November, 23 got underway and beached at Torokina Island, Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville Island. Retracted from beach that evening and got underway. Sounded general quarters when enemy planes were reported in the vicinity. Four bombs were dropped astern the convoy and no damage was inflicted. The enemy plane was shot down by an escort and fell in flames into the water about 2,000 yards ahead of port bow. Moored at water hole, Purvis Bay, Florida Island on the 13th. We moved to Hutchinson Creek on the 18th. Got underway the 19th and arrived at Teteri, Guadalcanal on 20 November. Got underway on the 21st and anchored in Hutchison Creek on the 15th.
Got underway the 2nd of December. On the erd at 2001, red flare was observed bearing 310 (T), distance 4000 yards. 2002, blinding white float light falling about 3,000 yards distance and bearing 310 (T) 2003, AA fired observed 305 (T), distance about eight miles. 2006, AA fire and two white flares observed 300 (T), distance estimated five miles. 2011, plane observed orbiting off port bean, distance estimated five miles. 2011, plane observed orbiting off port beam, distance 2,000 to 3,000 yards, elevation 40 degrees.
2014, blanket of tracer fire observed from Treasury Island. 2015, AA fire on port quarter, 190 (T). Several flares dropped on port perimeter of task force. Plane observed just forward of port beam, distance 1,200 yards, fired on by destroyer and USS LST 447, later shi being on our port beam. Plane disappeared off port beam. 2024, emergency turn to port of 60 degrees. Torpedo planes picked up by radar on starboard beam. 2025, ship jarred by underwater force. No damage. 2027, USS TERRY advised that she had observed torpedo passing astern of her. 2030, executed 60 degrees turn to starboard. 2034, plane observed coming in from ahead of 600 feet elevation, ships starboard guns opened fire. Plane passed and turned away at about our beam. No hits observed 2038, observed plane falling in flames about our port beam, distance about 3,000 yards. 2039, second plane seen to fall in flames off port beam. 2041, AA fire seen about eight miles distance, direction 285 (T). Radio report from USS TERRY that plane was headed directly for LST from dead ahead. 2045, plane observed about 500 yards to starboard making parallel run from bow to stern. Starboard guns opened fired at elevation approximately 15 degrees. Plane about 400 feet off water, identified as a Betty. No hits observed. 2055, Chief engineer reports no damage to ship as result of attack. 2103, AA fire observed in direction of Treasury Island. 2107, plane observed overhead. 2127, searchlight and AA fire observed from Treasury Island. 2147, AA fire observed, direction 310 (T), distance 15 miles. 2210, AA fire observed 150 (T), distance about 12 miles. 2210, red flare observed 020 (T), distance 2500 yards. 2220, USS TERRY fired several bursts low across water on her port side. Plane observed flying 50 feet above water, distance 2,000 yards. After AA fire plane turned and retreated. 2315, secured from general quarters.
Beached at Torokina Beach, Bougainville and unloaded on December 4, and got underway the same day. 6 December arrived in Hutchison Florida Island, B.S.I. 7 December moved to Carter City, Florida Island. 13 December got underway and beached at Kukum Beach, Guadalcanal. 22 December moved to Purvis Bay, and moored alongside a repair ship getting repairs. 28 December got underway.
Beached at Purato Island, Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, and got underway on 1 January. 3 January beached at Koli Point, Guadalcanal, Ensign John William MC COY, USNR, reported board for duty on the 9th of January. Got underway the 10 and arrived at Auckland Harbor, New Zealand on the 18th. Went into drydock on the 23rd and left drydock on the 27th. Got underway 30 January.
On the 10th of February arrived at Guadalcanal, B.S.I. and unloaded by beaching. After unloading, proceeded to Hutchison Creek, Florida Island and anchored. On 13 February Lt. C. J. HAWKINS, USNR, turned command of the ship over to Lt. (jg) Jack J. REED, USNR. Got underway on the 15th and beached at Ondonga Dock, Ondonga, New Georgia, B.S.I. On the 15th got underway and proceeded to Green Island and unloaded. Took on 150 natives and a few trucks to take back to Guadalcanal. Returned to Hutchison Creek, on the 14th.
Got underway the 3rd of March and arrived at Green Island on 6 March and got underway the same night. Arrived Pruvis Bay 9 March. 21 March Lt. R. J. KRAMMER, detached as engineering officer to take command of the USS LST 398. 25 March we got underway.
Arrived Hutchison Creek, Florida Island on the 3 April. 10 April got underway enroute from Hutchison Creek to Pearl Harbor, T.H. Arrived at Walker Bay, Pearl Harbor, T.H. on April 26.
Ensign James C. SANDERS, USNR, reported aboard for duty on the lst of May. Ensign Walter B. NELTBURG, USNR, reported aboard for duty 7 May. 13 May lt. (jg) Jack J. REED, USNR, was relieved as commanding officer of this vessel by Lt. Robert S. BLIEDEN, USNR. Lt. (jg) J. J. REED, USNR, to take command of the USS LST 127. 21 May while moored at Berth Tare 6, Navy Yard, Pearl Harbor at approximately 1505 an explosion occurred on the USS LST 353 in Berth Tare 8, followed by fire which spread to vessels berthing adjacent to her and those in berth 10 astern of her. Aboard the vessel, decks, bulkheads, and ready boses were wet down. Shortly after the initial explosion, this vessel was shifted to another berth, removing her from the danger area. Food and shelter were provided to those who were in need thereof due to the explosion. 22 May entered drydock for emergency, temporary hull repairs to enable ship to replace LSTís which were damaged in West Loch explosion. Left drydock on the 30th of May.
1 June got underway and arrived at Eniwetok on the 13th. 14 June got underway and steamed toward Saipan as part of the rear echelon. Reversed course, several times, and were finally ordered back to Eniwetok when Guam invasion was postponed. Arriving at Eniwetok on the 25th.
15 July got underway and arrived at Guam the 21lst of July and stayed off Asan Point, Guam, observing gun fire on Guam. The night of 21 July was replete with flares, star shells and gunfire, accelerating the advent of daylight. At daybreak, ranged along the coastal waters of western Guam were several of our battlewagons and cruisers, both light and heavy, together with more numerous destroyers and LCI(G)s. All in accordance with design and ability, poured salvo after salvo into the enemyís shore positions none of which appeared to respond in kind. Overhead, relays of planes, fighters and bombers, as well as the isolated scout, flew on in large flights or singly to their assigned bombing, strafing, patrol, spotting or reconnaissance missions. No where appeared any enemy aircraft to oppose or engage either our air or surface units. We stood off Asan Point astern of transports and large cargo ships until twilight at which time the task group reformed in accordance with a prescribed night retirement plan circled to westward of Guam until dawn. At sunrise or thereabouts, we returned to a distance of about five to eight miles off Asan Point where we were ordered to lie to. The practice of lying to or steaming that vicinity was pursued until 15 July when upon order of CTG53.16 at 0832 we beached on a coral ledge approximately three quarters of a mile off shore between Asan Point and Point Adelup, Guam. About six hours later we retracted without having discharged either cargo or passengers. On the following day at 0740, we beached again in approximately the same spot. Here, all rolling stock was discharged and one officer and 20 enlisted men from the Lion Six were disembarked. On the 18th unloading of bulk cargo was commenced by 60 enlisted men of the 59th U.S. Naval Construction Battalion under the supervision of two officers from that organization. About mid-morning the remaining passengers were debarked. Due to adverse conditions, progress in unloading was extremely slow. The use of trucks was precluded as few ere able to negotiate the water covered coral route from ship to shore. LVTs of the Third Marine Division were pressed into service. Notwithstanding their size, a disadvantage in that only two at a time could be brought into the tank deck as opposed to twice the number of trucks, their cargo capacity was smaller than that of trucks further curtailing unloading speed. This routine was pursued until 1948 when enemy artillery carried the battle to us, and the three adjacent LSTs causing the retraction of all from the beach. After lying to as previously, we rebeached in the early morning on the 19th, and resumed unloading which was again disrupted int the later afternoon by hostile artillery fire. Retracted at 1636 once more because of this fire. About two hours later we rebeached, but soon a heavy storm set in lashing the island and brought operations to a standstill. At 2320 the storm having greatly lessened in intensity, we gain retracted and proceeded to lie to as previously. On the 30th at 0635, we rebeached in previous area and reinstituted unloading operations which proceeded until 2000. After remaining beached the entire night on the 31st unloading cargo was completed. We retracked to lie to and subsequently retire for the night pursuant to previous practices. Unloading to the last, was a tremendous struggle and moved at a snailís pace. Plaguing us frequently throughout the whole unloading effort were squalls, high winds and heavy running seas. In order to keep the ship on the beach on these occasions, one or both engines were run ahead at speeds varying from one third to stand. On 29th, Lt. (jg) George J. LOVAS, USNR, executive officer was detached by Cincpac to return to the continental limits of the United States for reassignment. Got underway on 31 July.
On 10 August 23 got into Eniwetok. Left for Pearl Harbor on the 11th. Arrived in Pearl Harbor on 22 August and got underway for San Pedro, CA, on the 26th.
Arrived San Pedro, CA, the 6th.
On 5 October the following officers report aboard for duty: Ensigns Vernon J. CASTLE, USNR, and Thomas A. CONROY, USNR.
On 3 November we went into dry dock at West Coast Shipbuilding and Drydock Corporation.
On 1 December left dry dock and moored in San Pedro Harbor. 27 December made shake down run off San Pedro.
Got underway on the Sunday the 6th and arrived at Port Heuneme, CA, to load two pontoon causeways, leaving the same day and arriving Seattle, WA, on the 13th of January.
I'd like to thank Gary Priolo from Navsource Naval History for his assistance with this home page, particularly with technical history of LST-334 and the photo on 1 Jan 1943 of LST-334 in Newport News, VA, USA.
I'd like to thank Vicki Michel, daughter-in-law of Charles J. Michel, Sr., who was a Chief Petty Officer on LST-334. Vicki's father was a member of the 11th Airborne stationed in the Philippines during WW2.
I'd like to thank George Rahall, a Gunnersmate 2/c on board LST-334, and his daughter Barb Penley for their assistance with this home page.
Can anyone help me with more information?
"Australia @ War" Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 11 July 2004
This page last updated 11 September 2018