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The 36th Battalion: a record of service of the 36th Battalion with the Third Division in the Pacific

Chapter Seventeen — For Gallantry

page 107

Chapter Seventeen
For Gallantry

The following awards were given in recognition of the gallantry displayed in operations against the enemy during the action in the Treasury Islands.

Military Cross: Second-Lieutenant L. T. G. Booth

At approximately 1030 hours on 27 October 1943, he took part in the assault on the Japanese headquarters. At this time, the beach and the LSTs were being subjected to very heavy and accurate mortar fire from a high ridge west of the Saveke River. Casualties were being suffered by the unloading parties and the unloading operations on the beaches were in danger of being disorganised. Second-Lieutenant Booth was ordered to attack and capture the mortar posi-tion. Only a general indication of the direction from which the fire was coming could be given. Second-Lieutenant Booth led his platoon up a very steep ridge in face of heavy machine-gun fire and rifle fire.

Although the enemy was in considerable force on this ridge, Second-Lieutenant Booth succeeded in driving the enemy from the ridge and captured two 75 mm howitzers which had also been shelling the beaches. Both guns' barrels were hot when taken. Realising that the enemy still had a mortar in operation higher up on the ridge, Second Lieutenant Booth left one section to hold the gun positions and pushed on up the ridge.

After an advance up a very steep ridge the platoon encountered a strong position surrounding the mortar. Despite being outnumbered, page 108a determined attack was made on the enemy with tommy guns and grenades and the position was captured. The enemy fled, leaving ten dead around the position.

With the mortar was approximately 500 rounds of mortar ammunition and a large quantity of grenades and small arms ammunition. One light machine-gun was also captured. Second-Lieutenant Booth destroyed the mortar and howitzers and withdrew. His platoon suffered seven casualties, wounded, in this action. Second-Lieutenant Booth showed himself an officer of outstanding courage and initiative and the successful termination of the unloading of the LSTs was due in no small measure to his action.

Military Medal: Corporal F. A. Armstrong

On 5 November 1943, Corporal Armstrong, as a member of a fighting patrol from his battalion, was acting as a point scout with Sergeant Ilala, a native guide, when a Japanese fired at Sergeant Ilala. The native sergeant's rifle jammed when he tried to return the fire, but Corporal Armstrong ran toward the Japanese and shot him at close quarters. The Japanese was not killed, however, and fell down a cliff; and in following him a strong Japanese party armed with one light machine-gun, rifles and grenades was discovered in a series of caves on the sea shore. In the ensuing action, in which ten Japanese were killed and one captured, Corporal Armstrong displayed an absolute disregard of personal safety and by his courage and leadership inspired his section.

One of the enemy was hidden in a cave from which he was able to shoot and kill Sergeant Baird. Fire could not be brought to bear on him and when grenades were thrown into his cave, he scooped them out. Corporal Armstrong then took two grenades, and crawling down the cliff to a little ledge above the cave, he pulled the pin from a grenade, held it for three seconds and then tossed it into the cave. He repeated this with the second grenade and then jumped into the cave to find the Japanese dead. Had it not been for Corporal Armstrong's action, the casualties suffered by the patrol would in all probability have been heavier.

page 109

For Distinguished Service
Military Cross: Captain K. E. Louden

Captain Louden has ably commanded his company at all times. He commanded it during the landing on Mono Island on 27 October 1943, when it landed on the left flank in the face of machine-gun fire. The main enemy force on the island was then across the Saveke River. Captain Louden personally lead his company across the river in an encircling movement, driving the enemy from their headquarters area on to the hill.

He then held with his company an extended and difficult defensive position for five days. During this time, his company withstood the greater part of the enemy's attempts to penetrate the brigade perimeter during the nights. In the day time and later at Malsi, he organised and personally led patrols in order to locate the enemy. At all times he set an example of courage and leadership.