Note: The following is one of a series of articles looking at events in the history of Bulloch County.
Troops from Bulloch County arrived at Auckland, New Zealand on Oct. 7, 1943 and after a stay of one month, they shipped out on the Dutch Island Steamer the Bosch Fontaine.
They arrived at New Caledonia. Here, the men received orders to set up defensive positions around the island’s air bases, so they boarded a truck and headed up into 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 was a fearless driver. His comrades swore he never 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. They had been granted some much-needed R&R in Auckland, New Zealand.
They all took rooms in the house of a widow, Dulcey Watson. She adopted them as if they were her own. Well rested, they shipped out again, this time first on the USS Rochambeau, for Finchhaven, New Guinea.
Next, they boarded the USS Lindsay, which dropped them right in the thick of battle at Morotai, Netherlands East Indies. Army engineers had already set up gun emplacements for the Bulloch troops.
They discovered the Japanese attacked non-stop. Their base was from where the B-24 bombers and fighter escorts attacked the Japanese. Up to 10 American bombers were destroyed on the ground every night.
Several American fighters were shot down while defending the field as well. The Japanese attacked the field every night. They used their Betty’s (Mitsubishi Heavy Bombers) and their Zero escorts (fighters).
Bulloch Boy Sgt. James “Ebb” Hagan, devised a way to illuminate the Japanese planes with searchlights. This way the American P-38 and P-40 fighters could pick them off like targets in a shooting gallery from above.
Japanese soldiers crossed the Straits of Halmahera at night, and planted satchels of explosives to blow up the Bulloch troops’ guns. Another Bulloch Boy, Deacon Jones, built a still and kept a steady flow of spirits flowing.
Jones traded spirits for native items, which he then traded for fresh meat and fruits for the tables of the Bulloch troops. On July 20, 1945, Bulloch troops advanced even further.
They set up shop on the island of Leyte in the Philippines. They set up camp at Dulag, near the Lever Brothers Cocoanut Plantation, 40 miles from Tacloban, the capital.
Here, the Bulloch troops assumed a defensive stand. After the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, on November 14, 1945, the Bulloch Boys boarded USS Navy Attack Transport Hugh Rodman to head home.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history who provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail him at email@example.com.