THE NOMINAL ROLL OF ALL MEMBERS
This Nominal Roll was compiled by Carl Johnson and published in
“MUD OVER BLOOD” – Stories from 39th Australian Infantry Battalion 1941 – 1943, Kokoda to Gona
Published by History House – Phone +61 (0) 425 770 230 or www.armybooks.com
Fatality: DOI 11/1/43
Scrub typhus “Died of other causes”By Capt Alan Moore July 2006.
He was a rather useless character. I did have him as my platoon runner, not because of any outstanding ability, but to keep him out of the way of things he could mess up. He was actually shot in the stomach by a trigger happy Yank in the middle of the night for no reason at all and died of the wound.The information in Mud Over Blood, by Carl Johnson, is certainly incorrect. Whilst Jackie, as we knew him, is recorded as being in B Company, this could have been correct at some time, but was not the case when he was in my 18 platoon D Company in the Gona and Sanananda campaigns. We were all moved around quite a bit as our numbers decreased and different lots were combined to make cohesive sections or platoons.I had Jackie as my platoon runner in the campaigns on the New Guinea North coast. Whilst that may not sound anything special, a platoon runner was a very important member of the platoon. Mostly, the only communication between a platoon commander and his Company commander going up, or between the platoon commander and his section leaders in the other direction, was by word of mouth. This often required quick dashes through dangerous territory. Jackie was older than the rest of the platoon and I felt had the stability to understand and carry a message correctly.When we were in a position known as Huggins Road Block on the Sanananda Road, after quite a few days of grovelling in mud and not making much progress but being shot at the whole time, we were relieved for two days “rest” and moved back a few hundred yards to guard the artillery guns. On our second night, a party of Americans, with no active service experience but supposedly front line soldiers, moved into the same area prior to being committed to front line activity.
During that night some Japanese tried to infiltrate the area and managed to spike one of the guns. Whilst we had our drill to deal with such occasions, the raw Americans, without having an actual target, let fire with everything they had. The Japs replied and there were bullets flying everywhere. During this activity Jackie was wounded. I think it would be reasonable to say that no-one really knows whose bullet hit him. In my reckoning he was certainly ‘wounded in action’, was stretchered out the next morning and died of his wound.
It is probably because of the uncertainty of what actually happened that one record shows that he “died of other causes”.
I remember when he was being carried out he said in his usual quiet voice “I’ve got my homer, I’ll be enjoying my leave while you poor buggers are stuck in this rotten joint’. That was not to be.