From Papua's bloody Sanananda in early 1943, to Zamboanga’s matted jungles more than two years later, the 41st Infantry Division established a combat record second to none.
The men who wear a golden setting sun against a crimson background for a shoulder patch call themselves the “Jungleers,” and rightly so. The first complete division to reach the Southwest Pacific, they have done more jungle fighting than any other American outfit. So mercilessly have they scourged the Japanese that Tokyo Rose, when she spoke of the 41st, always referred to them as “The Butchers.”
The Jungleers reached Melbourne in April 1942, and had their first fight with the Japs, after flying over the Owen Stanleys, at Sanananda that December. Outnumbered, and with little or no naval or air support, the 41st had to rely on scanty supplies brought in by air over the Owen Stanley Mountains, and, when the fighting was finished, they came out in rags.
Six months later the Doughboys of the 41st went ashore below Salamaua for the “Foxhole Furlough.” Here they set a theater record—76 days of unrelieved jungle fighting. They presented a strange sight at the end of the campaign, most of them emerging from the bush wearing Japanese naval uniforms. Their own clothes had worn out long before, and only the capture of Jap clothing saved them from fighting in the raw.
In 1944, within 36 days, the 41st broke the grip the Japanese had held on New Guinea for two years. In a series of strides up 900 miles of New Guinea’s tangled jungle, the 41st, between April 23 and May 27, smote and conquered the foe at Aitape, Hollandia, Wakde, and Biak. By these brilliant successes, the pathway to the Philippines was cleared.
Many tactics our forces later used against the Nips were developed by the Jungleers in their New Guinea fights. The 41st Division was the first outfit to be opposed by Japanese tanks, and it was on Biak that the Nips first resorted to cave defenses. The 41st’s method of breaking up the cave defenses was employed at Saipan, Leyte, and Iwo Jima.
The Jungleers started their work in the Philippines on February 28, 1945, when they landed at Palawan, westernmost isle of the Philippine group. In 34 combat crowded days the Jungleers bettered their 1944 mark of four assault landings in 36 days by making the same number in 34 days. After Palawan, a second punch was delivered in the initial invasion of Mindanao. Elements of the Division then struck Basilan Island, and in three days secured it. On April 2 the 41st, quite at home on beachheads now, landed on the tip of Tawitawi and destroyed the Japanese there.
The 41st, originally composed of National Guardsmen from the Northwest, have a sign “End of the Oregon Trail.” They planned all along to plant it in the front yard of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, and their chance finally arrived as they came victoriously ashore in Japan as part of the Army of Occupation.
From Fighting Divisions, Kahn & McLemore, Infantry Journal Press, 1945-1946.
There are 41 soldiers of the 41st Infantry Division World War II still listed as missing in action.
|Private Murray Axel 162nd Infantry Regiment 02/08/1946|
|Private Walter L. Barger 163rd Infantry Regiment 01/18/1943|
|Sergeant Marvin A. Berg 163rd Infantry Regiment 01/09/1943|
|Staff Sergeant Chester A. Burnette 186th Infantry Regiment 09/29/1944|
|Private First Class Ivan D. Campbell 186th Infantry Regiment 10/12/1945|
|Private First Class Buner G. Cruce 186th Infantry Regiment 04/24/1944|
|Private Humbird Dunlap 162nd Infantry Regiment 05/28/1944|
|Sergeant Harold W. Elliot 186th Infantry Regiment 07/30/1943|
|Private Alexander Elliott 186th Infantry Regiment 05/27/1944|
|Private Clement W. Gill 163rd Infantry Regiment 03/03/1943|
|Private First Class Stanley J. Gorlewski 163rd Infantry Regiment 01/09/1943|
|Private First Class Walter H. Hadley 162nd Infantry Regiment 06/13/1945|
|Private First Class George W. Haines 162nd Infantry Regiment 05/28/1944|
|Technical Sergeant Harold T. Higginbotham 162nd Infantry Regiment 05/29/1944|
|Corporal Hugh M. Holmes 163rd Infantry Regiment 01/07/1943|
|Private First Class Raymond S. Jahnke 186th Infantry Regiment 03/12/1945|
|Private First Class Hurstle Jones 162nd Infantry Regiment 03/12/1945|
|Private Lester Jones 162nd Infantry Regiment 06/09/1944|
|Private Carl J. Keeling 162nd Infantry Regiment 03/21/1945|
|Private John R. Koprada 186th Infantry Regiment 04/22/1944|
|Private First Class Cecil T. Lentz 162nd Infantry Regiment 05/29/1944|
|Private First Class Edwin C. Mark 186th Infantry Regiment 10/15/1943|
|Private Raymond A. Marshall 162nd Infantry Regiment 04/09/1943|
|Private First Class Alley D. Massengill 186th Infantry Regiment 04/22/1944|
|Private John McMeel 163rd Infantry Regiment 01/06/1943|
|Private First Class George H. Mitchell 186th Infantry Regiment 04/22/1944|
|Private Fritz Molitor 163rd Infantry Regiment 01/20/1943|
|Private Thomas O. Monsted 163rd Infantry Regiment 01/09/1943|
|Private Robert L. Murphy 163rd Infantry Regiment 01/09/1943|
|First Lieutenant Rodney W. Orange 162nd Infantry Regiment 12/17/1945|
|Technician Fourth Grade William J. Reiling 205th Field Artillery Battalion 03/11/1945|
|Private Rex D. Riddell 162nd Infantry Regiment 05/28/1944|
|Private First Class Dennis E. Roberts 162nd Infantry Regiment 03/18/1946|
|Corporal Frank A. Rogers 163rd Infantry Regiment 01/09/1943|
|Private Gail D. Smith 205th Field Artillery Battalion 04/14/1943|
|Private Peter J. Theriault 162nd Infantry Regiment 05/29/1944|
|Private First Class Anthony L. Traslosheros 186th Infantry Regiment 04/22/1944|
|Private First Class Clifford Van Orden 186th Infantry Regiment 04/22/1944|
|Private First Class Peter J. Virseo 162nd Infantry Regiment 05/28/1944|
|Private Edwin R. Waters 186th Infantry Regiment 04/23/1944|
|Technician Fourth Grade Ray W. Wiseman 205th Field Artillery Battalion 06/10/1945|
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