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On This Day…November 9th.

9th November 1942. Troops loading mines onto an Avro Lancaster as they prepare to lay them in the North Sea..

The installation of a gun in number 2 turret of battleship USS North Carolina (BB55), New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, on the 9th November,1940.

Marines landing at Bougainville, November 9th, 1943 –

Bougainville was as hostile and inhospitable a place as anywhere on earth. It was disease ridden, over run with rats, hotter than hell, and so swampy that trenches were virtually impossible to dig.
The campaign was to be long and costly, lasting to the very end of the war. The Japanese were embedded in both ends of the island with the Marines in the middle. Below is the citation of Private First Class Henry Gurke (November 6, 1922 – November 9, 1943).

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to

PRIVATE FIRST CLASS HENRY GURKE

UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For extraordinary heroism and courage above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the Third Marine Raider Battalion during action against the enemy Japanese Forces in the Solomon Islands area on November 9, 1943.

While his platoon was engaged in the defense of a vital road block near Empress Augusta Bay on Bougainville Island, Private First Class Gurke, in company with another Marine, was delivering a fierce stream of fire against the main vanguard of the Japanese. Concluding from the increasing ferocity of grenade barrages that the enemy was determined to annihilate their shallow, two–man foxhole, he resorted to a bold and desperate measure for holding out despite the torrential hail of shells.

When a Japanese grenade dropped squarely into the foxhole, Private First Class Gurke, mindful that his companion manned an automatic weapon of superior fire power and therefore could provide more effective resistance, thrust him roughly aside and flushing his own body over the missile to smother the explosion.

With unswerving devotion to duty and superb valor, Private First Class Gurke sacrificed himself in order that his comrade might live to carry on the fight. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.

/S/ FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT

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The Seeandbee was launched on this day in 1912. Originally built as a Great Lakes luxury ‘side-wheel’ steamer cruise ship for the Cleveland and Buffalo Transit Company, she was converted into a freshwater aircraft carrier trainer and renamed USS Wolverine (IX-64). Although refitted for the advanced training of navy fliers in carrier take-offs and landings, she was clearly not a true aircraft carrier as she had no hangar deck and her shallow draft restricted her to enclosed waters. The first aircraft landing on USS Wolverine occurred during September 1942 and from 1943 until the end of the war Wolverine (along with her sister ship USS Sable) were used for the training of more than 17,000 pilots.

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Yesterday I posted a photo of troops in a lading craft during ‘Operation Torch’, in North Africa. Here, a flier is seen dropping a message capsule as it flies over the USS Augusta (CL/CA-31), November 9th, 1942.


7 responses to On This Day…November 9th.

  1. More great photos (and text) that we appreciate and enjoy.
    Well done, Doc!

  2. Thanks, Jeff. Glad you enjoyed them.

  3. The two Marines on Bougainville were manning a .50 caliber weapon. Both eventually died, the gunner of wounds received.

  4. Tom, it all reminds me somewhat of a psychological thought experiment that posits whether jumping on a grenade IS brave if you know you’d be killed if you did nothing. To me the sacrifice is made by instinct (some call it the ‘hero’ gene) and people like Henry are very special human beings.

    I’m off to do more research now, Tom. Hell, I used to build models…

  5. Freshwater carriers!

  6. Yep, @roofrat – who’d have thought it? Freshwater Carriers…couldn’t make it up.

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