War Stories

Cacti in the Navy?

by Frank L Marks


Incidents leading up to the reason for the story "Getting Ready Destination unknown"

1. San Francisco, Cal. 2 week of Oct. 1942, a division of Marines was loaded on a ship from the President Lines, on pier 45, at the Embarcadero. This Shipload of marines were be the replacements for the 1st Marine Division who were in the first contingent of American fighting force that land in the Soloman Islands on the Island of Guadalcanal.

2. Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Nov. 25th the 35th Inf. Reg. Loaded onto a ship sailing for parts unknown. We thought at first we were headed for the Aleutians because we were attired in winter gear. Two weeks out this was exchanged for fatigues and headed for the South Seas.

3. Just before the 1st of Dec. the President ship stop at Noumea, New Caledonia to pick up the orders for the troops heading to replace the 1st Marine Division. On leaving New Caledonia the ship's Captain unknowingly put the ship into a mine field that protected the Island of New Caledonia. The ship sank immediately with a huge number of casualties.

4. The 1st Marine division sailed from Guadalcanal Dec.1st leaving Guadalcanal undermanned, needing new troops badly.

5. The ship carrying the 35th Inf. Regiment docked at Noumea, New Caledonia on the 14th of Dec. for their orders. (Lt. Gen.s Stanley Larson and Lee Cagwin both thought our original orders were for us to go to New Guinea under the Command of Gen. Douglas McArthur) Because of the desperate need for replacement, the orders we received, were for us to go under the command of Navy Admiral Bull Halsey and proceed immediately to take the place of the 1st Marine division.

Now, all said and done, the 25th Inf. Div. was under the command of the Navy from the date we recieved our orders at New Caledonia in Dec. 1942 until we were again on New Caledonia in 1944. Mid Aug. of 1944 Bull Halsey reviewed our troops and bade us farewell as we were finally being assigned to army under the command of Gen. Douglas McArthur. Being under the command of the Navy for those 18 months, wouldn't that make us part Navy?