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Bulloch History with Roger Allen

Troops from Bulloch County arrived at Auckland, New Zealand on October 7, 1943 and after a stay of one month, they shipped out again, this time on the Dutch Island Steamer the Bosch Fontaine. They arrived at the island of New Caledonia, where they received orders to set up defensive positions around the island’s air bases. They boarded a truck and headed up the mountain roads for their camps up in the foothills surrounding the capital, Noumea.
A Brooklet boy, Obren Creasey, was given the job of ferrying the men back and forth into town. He became well known for his fearless style of driving, which several of his comrades swore that his feet never once touched the brakes until they reached Noumea or got back to camp.
His skill became legendary amongst the men, who bragged that despite the valleys being littered with wrecked vehicles, Obren and his riders always survived. In January of 1944, the Bulloch troops shipped out again onboard the USS Sea Barb for some much needed R&R (rest and recuperation) in Auckland, New Zealand.
The entire group got rooms in the house of the Widow Dulcey Watson who adopted the Bulloch boys as if they were her own. Well-rested, they shipped out again, this time first on the USS Rochambeau, for Finchhaven, New Guinea. From here they boarded the USS Lindsay, which dropped them right in the thick of the war at Morotai, Netherlands East Indies.
The Army engineers had already set up gun emplacements for the Bulloch troops, who found that the Japanese attacked almost non-stop, for this was a forward base from which the B-24 bombers and their fighter escorts were attacking the Japanese-held Philippines. Accordingly, as many as between 6 and 10 American bombers were destroyed on the ground every night and several American fighters were shot down while defending the field as well.
The Japanese attacked the field every night, with their Betty’s (Mitsubishi Heavy Bombers) and their Zero escorts (fighters). One Bulloch County man, Sgt. James “Ebb” Hagan, devised a method that used the searchlights to actually illuminate the Japanese planes from the ground in such a way that the American P-38 and P-40 fighters could pick light targets in a shooting gallery from above.
To make matters even more unpleasant for the Bulloch troops, Japanese soldiers were crossing the Straits of Halmahera regularly to plant satchels of explosives with which they intended to blow up the Bulloch troops’ own guns, that were keeping the Japanese Air Force at bay.
Another particularly talented Bulloch resident, Deacon Jones, was said to have built a still from which he kept a steady flow of spirits flowing. This precious commodity, it is said, was used to trade with the natives and other Allied forces, in return for which Jones was said to have procured a steady supply of fresh meat and fruits (which were in high demand and short supply) for the tables of the Bulloch troops.
On July 20, 1945, Bulloch troops advanced even further, setting up shop on the island of Leyte in the Philippines. They were camped at Dulag, near the old Lever Brothers Cocoanut Plantation some 40 miles from Tacloban, the capital. Here, the Bulloch troop set up guns on the beach for a defense that was cut short with the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.
On November 14, 1945, the the Bulloch troops boarded the new USS Navy Attack Transport Hugh Rodman for the shores of the United States. They were finally homeward bound.

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look at Bulloch County's historical past. E-mail Roger at roger dodger53@hotmail.com

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