The 1st Marines leave Guadalcanal

Jim Goodin on Guadalcanal during WWII. He was with the 1st Marine Division. Originally he was a high altitude parachutist. He got malaria 36 times.

Jim Goodin on Guadalcanal during WWII. He was with the 1st Marine Division. Originally he was a high altitude parachutist. He got malaria 36 times.

Exhausted Marines laying up in the base area on Guadalcanal.

Exhausted Marines laying up in the base area on Guadalcanal.

The 1st Marine Division had arrived on Guadalcanal in August. Now the survivors were relieved by the the 23rd Infantry Division and they were leaving. The battle would continue until the final elements of Japanese resistance were mopped up in February 1943.

The 1st Marine Division had lost 650 killed in action, 1,278 wounded in action with a further 8,580 contracting malaria and 31 missing in action. They shipped out sometime in late December arriving in the New Hebrides on Christmas Eve. Amongst them was Robert Leckie, who told it like it was:

[W]e were sleeping alongside a road, waiting to embark the next day. On that day, they brought us our Christmas packages from home. We could not take them aboard ship with us, for we were not allowed to carry more than our packs and weapons.

Chuckler and I had already asked Lieutenant Ivy-League to carry our remaining boxes of cigars in his sea bag; officers would be permitted to carry sea bags. It puzzled us to see the reappearance of sea bags – strictly the issue of enlisted men – and it angered us to see them handed out to officers.

This was the first piece of discrimination which we encountered, the first flip of the Single-Sided Coin, whereby the officers would satisfy their covetousness by forbidding us things rightfully ours, and then take them up themselves, much as politicians use the courts to gain their ends.

So we devoured what we could of these Christmas gifts from home, and threw the rest away.

“Stand by to move out. Forrr-ward, harch!”.

As he tells it, "Too Many, Too Close, Too Long," is Donald L. Dickson's portrait of one of the "little guys, just plain worn out. His stamina and his spirit stretched beyond human endurance. He has had no real sleep for a long time ... And he probably hasn't stopped ducking and fighting long enough to discover that he has malaria. He is going to discover it now, however. He is through." Captain Donald L. Dickson, USMCR

As he tells it, “Too Many, Too Close, Too Long,” is Donald L. Dickson’s portrait of one of the “little guys, just plain worn out. His stamina and his spirit stretched beyond human endurance. He has had no real sleep for a long time … And he probably hasn’t stopped ducking and fighting long enough to discover that he has malaria. He is going to discover it now, however. He is through.” Captain Donald L. Dickson, USMCR

We ambled down to the beach, our gait, our bearded, tattered aspect unable to match the precision of that command. We clambered into the waiting boats. We stood at the gunwales and watched the receding shoreline.

Our boat putt-putted to a wallowing halt beneath a huge ship that listed so markedly to port that it seemed drunk. It was one ofthe old Dollar Line ships; the President Wilson, I believe.

“Climb up them cargo nets!” As we had come, so did we leave.

We were so weak that many of us could not make the climb. Some fell into the water – pack, rifle and all – and had to be fished out. Others clung desperately to the nets, panting, fearful to move lest the last ounce of strength depart them, too, and the sea receive them. These also had to be rescued by nimble sailors swanning down the nets.

I was able to reach the top of the net, but could go no farther. I could not muster the strength to swing over the gunwale, and I hung there, breathing heavily, the ship’s hot side swaying away from me in the swells, very perdition lapping beneath me – until two sailors grabbed me under the armpits, and pulled me over.

I fell with a clatter among the others who had been so brought aboard, and I lay with my cheek pressed against the warm, grimy deck, my heart beating rapidly, not from this exertion, but from happiness.

See Robert Leckie: Helmet For My Pillow. More background on the Marines on Guadalcanal.

The Marines leave Guadalcanal by assault craft for the ships waiting offshore.

The Marines leave Guadalcanal by assault craft for the ships waiting offshore.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Frank MacDonough February 25, 2014 at 6:31 am

During 1943 sections of the 1st Div USMC arrived at Melbourne and our family befriended two of them. One Sgt Richard Steinheim who now lives in Springflake NJ and his buddy PFC David Shipley who recently passed away in White Cottage OH.
Dick Steinheim is now 94 years of age and still corresponds with us to this day.
My wife and I visited him in 1969 when he looked after us though we were royalty.
They were with us for six months before they departed for Goodenough island and for battles further North. Great times were had with both of these great men and they were both wonderful representatives of their country.

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