COMPANY HISTORY OF THE 287TH SIGNAL COMPANY, 2ND E.S.B.
The 287th Signal Company was activated at 1201, July 13, 1942 at Camp Edwards, Massachusetts. 2nd Lt. R. E. Guering was assigned to the Company and was its first Officer and Company Commander. A cadre of 37 men was transferred from the 71st Signal Company and joined on the first day. T/Sgt Crawford was designated to act as First Sergeant. On July 18th, 2nd Lt. Robert C, Miller joined the company, and on July 20th, Capt. H. M. Panye joined the company and assumed command. On the same day, 2nd Lt. Charlee D. Whittaker, Leonard H. Johnson, Edward T. Rigney, Billy M. Gaddy, and Boris D. Beichek joined the organization. 2nd Lt. Guerin was transferred to the 286th Signa1 Company on July 24th, 1942, and on the same day, 2nd Lt. Pearce E. Jackson joined the company. Capt. Payne left on Special Duty, and was relieved of Command, 2nd Lt. Whittaker taking the post vacated. 1st Sgt. Crawford was transferred to the 286th Signal Company, along with 15 other Enlisted Men, on July 30th.
On October 7, l942, the entire unit of the 287th Signal Company, consisting of eight officers and 297 enlisted men, entrained at 0400 for a three-day train movement to Camp Carrabelle, Florida. We arrived at the latter named station on October 10, at 0500. Camp Carrabelle was not completed at that time, and the company assisted in completing installations in the company area as well as several other areas. On October 22nd, 1st Lt. Louis Polcari was assigned to the company, but did not join at that time. On November 7, 1942, the company again entrained, this time for Fort Ord, California, a five day journey. On this trip we utilized our own kitchen cars and cooks. Accompanying us were about 150 casuals from other units of the Brigade, who had already left, and about 30 Officers. The journey lasted until 1800 on November 12, 1942.
When the unit arrived at Fort Ord, California. On November 14th, 1st Lt. Louis Polcari joined the company, and on November 20th, 2nd Lt. Edwin M. Hanson was assigned to the company, arriving on November 22nd. From November 23rd to the 25th, the entire company took part in a two and a half day bivouac in the eastern part of the Fort Ord Reservation. Capt. Kelly was sent to the hospital on November 23rd, Lt. E. T. Rigney assuming the position of acting Brigade Signal Officer during his absence of 12 days. On December 17, 1942, T/Sgt Bell was appointed as Warrant Officer, Junior Grade, to act as assistant to the Brigade Signal Officer. 2nd Lt. Billy M. Gaddy was transferred from the company on December 27, 1942.
During the period of the 27th’s stay in Fort Ord, California all types of communications training were practiced, from wire laying and semaphore and blinker instruction (as well as practicing), to the radio code school conducted for all units of the Brigade. Hikes, with and without packs, were taken at least once a week. Later these hikes were increased to three afternoons a week ranging in distance from eight to ten miles. Much of our training time was spent in receiving and packing equipment for overseas Movement. Capt. Kelly was transferred from the station hospital at Fort Ord, where he had undergone an operation, to EAC Headquarters, Camp Edwards, Massachusetts, on January 23rd, 1943, and 1st Lt. Edward T. Rigney assumed his post as Brigade Signal Officer. The entire unit moved from Fort Ord Main Garrison to the East Garrison on January, 29th, living in six-man huts. Preparation for overseas movement was begun on the 1st of February, and on February 9th, the unit of 298 enlisted men and 9 Officers (2nd Lt. Morris Feintuch assigned for voyage) entrained at Fort Ord for the San Francisco Port of Embarkation, arriving that same night, and embarking on the U.S.A.T. Frederick Funston. The Funston left port on February 11th, for Brisbane, Q. Australia, arriving after an uneventful voyage on March 2nd, at 1100 hours. The company marched to the debarkation Camp, at Camp Doomben, and was billeted in tents until March 11th, when the company entrained for Rockhampton, Queensland, arriving the next day. We detrained and marched to the camp site, about 10 miles East of that Australian city. The unit immediately began to set up tents, and by noon of the 12th, began to mess at our own kitchen.
1st Lt. Whittaker was appointed Brigade Chemica1 Officer, and relinquished command of the company to 1st Lt. Pearce E. Jackson on March 17, 1943. Lt. Jackson organized the company into sections, assigning the officer most suited by his training to command in each section. Lt. Johnson was the Radio Maintenance Officer, Lt. Miller the Wire Officer, Lt. Hanson the Radio Operations Officer, and Lt. Thompson the Supply and Motor Transportation Officer. On April 19th, 1st Lt. Rigney was appointed to Captaincy. The Signal Company furnished communications from headquarters down to the regiments, and later, established radio contact with Brigade units at Cairns Queensland. Several short problems were held at Rockhampton with small units of Signal Company Enlisted Men participating. On May 27th, 55 Enlisted Men were detached to the 532d Engineer Specia1 Regiment, 58 Enlisted Men to the 592d Engineer Specia1 Regiment, and 57 Enlisted Men to the 592nd Engineer Special Regiment. 25 EM end one Officer, 2nd Lt. Robert C. Miller, had been detached with the Beadsman Detachment, APO 928, on May 24th, leaving the company with four officers present. This left the company with approximately 95 Enlisted Men out of the original 298 who disembarked in Australia. On June l4th, the 287th entrained for Cairns, Queensland, at 1130, arriving at Cairns on June 16th, at 0400. The unit was moved by truck to a camp site within the limits of Camp Heavey, about 15 miles from the city of Cairns northeast. After tents were set up, and the camp site made livable, communications were established from Headquarters to the regiments, and lines were laid from Brigade Headquarters to Cairns. Two message centers, one at Brigade Headquarters and the other at Operations Headquarter in Cairns were set up. A Brigade Command radio net was set up, with the 287th Signal Company station as net control station, and later a 6th Army Radio Station was operated by the Radio Operations Section. 2nd Lt. Leonard H. Johnson was promoted to 1st Lt. on July 24, 1943.
The 287th Signal Company embarked on board the S.S. William B. Allison at Cairns, Q., Australia at 1530 on August 14th, 1943, for New Guinea. The ship left Cairns the next day, shortly after noon, and arrived at Milne Bay New Guinea on August l9th. The Allison sailed with the 287th on August 20th, stopped at Port Harvey for a short time, and rounded the point between Port Harvey and Oro Bay, the eventual destination, at 1230 on August 21st. After several hours in port, the men and officers were unloaded by landing boats, and trucked to the new company area, overlooking Oro Bay, in the hills about nine miles inland from the beach.
On October 2, 1943, Captain Raymond J. Kelly joined the company and assumed command. During the month of October the company witnessed a number of night bombings. The climax came one morning when the Japs attempted a strong daylight attack on the Oro Bay area. They were intercepted by American fighter planes and were decisively defeated. The Japanese Imperial Air Force lost 47 planes while we suffered the loss of one plane. A small detachment of men consisting of T/3 Marvin Amunds, Sgt. Aubrey Gaulding, T/5 Robert S. Bell, T/5 Jacob K. Peterson, Pfc Wayne Fitchner, Pfc Maurice Harris, Pfc Howard Brunger, Pfc Florian Lisak, Pfc Cosmas Melchoir, and Pfc Edward W. Podwojskl, were attached to the 532d EBSR and participated in the landings at Lae and Finchhafen with the Aussie 9th Division. Sgt. Gaulding was wounded during the Finch operation and was awarded the Purple Heart. Lt. Leonard H. Johnson was transferred to the 912th Sig. Depot Co., APO 929. On December I9, 1943 WOJG Whiteford C. Bell, III, was promoted to CWO, USA. On December 26, 1943, Sgt. Grady Philips, Tec 5 Henry Taylor, Pfc Chester Butler and Pfc Richard Farrell , were attached to the 592d ESBR end participated in the landing with the 1st Marine Division on Cape Gloucester. The Marines highly praised the work of the Signal Company for their excellent communication.1st Sgt. Charles C. Bridges was transferred to OCS and on January 22, 1944 T/Sgt Earnest W. Sullivan was appointed 1st Sgt., on February 18, 1944, 2nd LT. Robert C. Miller was promoted to 1st. Lt. and on March 5, 1944 Capt. Edward T. Rigney, Brigade Signal Officer was promoted to the rank of Major.
On April 3, 1944 the 287th Signal Company prepared to move to a new station. Men and equipment were loaded on U. S. LST #466 at Cape Sudest, New Guinea at 1700 hours. We left Cape Sudest at 1800 hours the following day, and after an uneventful journey arriving at Cape Cretin at 0900 hours on 5 April 1944. We disembarked at 1300 hours and traveled twenty-two miles by motor convoy to the new area at Launch Jetty, New Guinea. At 1400 hours the company arrived and immediately began construction on the new camp. The radio station and message center were set up.
Lt. Pearce E. Jackson was transferred to the 58th Signal Bn. Unit #1 at APO 928 on the 6th of May, 1944. On that same day Lt. Louis Polcari was transferred to the 16th Signal Operational Bn., and Lt. Richard M. Cooper joined the outfit from the 16th Operational Bn. Lt. Cooper was appointed Wire Officer. 2nd. Lt. James L. Thompson was promoted to the grade of 1st. Lt. on the 22nd of May, 1944 and on June 1st, 1944, 2nd. Lt. Edwin M. Hanson his promotion to the rank of 1st. Lt.
Capt. Raymond J. Kelly, who had been attached to I Corps, participated in the landing at Hollandia-Tanamahara entering with the fifth wave. Shortly afterward he landed as Asst. Task Force Signal Officer in the Toem-/wadke operation. In the drive up to Maffin Bay, Capt. Kelly was Task Force Signal Officer under General Patrick.
On May 26, 1944 Lt. Cooper was placed on TD with 2nd ESB Support Battery and participated in the landing on Noemfoer Island. He commanded the second wave and earned a commendation for his work. On 4 Sept., 1944, 2nd, Lt. M. Cooper was promoted to the rank of 1st. Lt. Capt. Kelly was transferred into the 3rd ESB on the 9th of Sept., 1944 where he became Brigade Signal Officer. Lt. Robert C. Miller assumed command. While on D. S. with the 2nd ESB Support Battery, Pfc Joseph J. Urban and Pvt John Kalita participated in the landing on Noemfoer Island.
On the 26th of September, 1944, the company began plans to move. On the 29th, all Officers and EM present rode down to Finch Harbor in trucks and boarded the SS Samuel Barlow. At 0700 on the 30th of September, 1944 the S.S. Barlow steamed out of Finch Harbor for Hollandia after an uneventful journey, The Barlow arrived at Hollandia on the 2nd of October. Due to heavy seas, only a small portion of the company was able to disembark. Early the following morning, the remaining Officers and EM boarded LCMs and landed near our new area on Tjweri Beach, Humbolt Bay, D. N. G. Work on our new camp site began immediately. Our stay at Humbolt Bay was short and the Signal Company prepared to participate, for the first time, as a complete unit, with the 2nd ESB in a major operation.
October 12, 1944 at 1200 hours the 3 Officers, 1 WO and 61 Enlisted Men who were to participate in the initial landing boarded US LST #171 and US LST # 452– morale was very high! At 1600 hours the LSTs left the harbor at Hollandia and joined the rest of the convoy- destination unknown. LST #452 was the flagship of the LST Convoy with LST #171 being second in line. On October 18th the EM on LST #171 were briefed by Lt. Cooper, who explained the wire set up and announced that our destination was Leyte Island in the Philippines. The EM on LST #452 were similarly briefed by Major Rigney and Mr. Bell. At Approximately midnight on the night of the 19th, land was sighted, and at approximately 0300 hours, 20 October, 1944, the convoy steamed into San Pedro Bay. At dawn on the 20th, Navy Dive Bombers and Warships began shelling and bombing the beach. One lone Jap Betty flew over the convoy, but the heavy AA fire from hundreds of ships in the convoy kept it away.
When the company got together, we moved to our bivouac area, a short distance from the beach. Foxholes were dug and we prepared to spend our first night in the Philippines on the Red Beach near Palo, Leyte, P.I. All during the day Jap snipers were busy, but no damage was caused. At approximately 1930 hours, enemy planes came overhead, but no bombs were dropped. Later that evening the Japs hurled their first counterattack against the 24th Division lines which were a few hundred yards ahead of us, but the attack was unsuccessful. The following personnel of the 287th Signal Co. were slightly wounded during the landing operations: Lt. Cooper- shrapnel in the right knee, Tec 4 Dickensheets- shrapnel wounds in the back, hips, chest and legs. He was sent to a first aid station and eventually evacuated to New Guinea. Tec 4 Elendt- suffered shrapnel in the back and received first aid. Tec 4 Goings- shrapnel in the wrist requiring first aid. Tec 5 Bergquist- wounds in chest, right shoulder and face- evacuated to New Guinea. Pvt. 1st Class Criscuolo- shrapnel in the back, face, arms and legs- required first aid.
At dawn on the 21st of October 1944 at approximately 0500 hours, the Japs again counterattacked coming to within a hundred yards of our area, but they were repulsed. For the next day or so we were subject to sniper fire and occasional air alerts, but no damage was caused. Early in the morning of October 21, communications were set up and contact was established with our radio station back at Hollandia, D. N. G. The 287th Signal Company was one of the first units on Red Beach to have complete communications in. On October 22, our second echelon came in. They reported an uneventful journey. On the night of the 19th, 1944, the company was told to pack and prepare to move the following morning. At approximately 0900, October 24th, we boarded LCMs and moved to our new area. Enemy planes were over the Bay while we were moving to our new site and a number of aerial “dog fights” could be seen when U. S. Naval aircraft intercepted the enemy. We landed at Tacloban at 1100 hours and began setting up our new camp.
On October 25th our third echelon came in on the Barlow. At 1230 that same day, while we were still in the chow line, enemy planes came over and dropped a number of anti-personnel bombs in our area killing a number of men and wounding many others. Among those slightly wounded were two Signal Company men- Tec 4 Self who received shrapnel wounds in his right arm and Pvt. Tonge who was hit by shrapnel in his side. During the next few days we were subject to almost constant aerial attack. Then one morning a number of P-38s came in and, quickly, Jap domination of the skies during daylight hours came to an end. On October 27, 1944, Lt. Miller was relieved of his command and Lt. Thompson assumed command of the company. The Signal Company moved on 2 November, 1944 from Tacloban to Tanauan. Work on the new camp began immediately and communications were set up. On 19 November the remainder of the company (which had been left behind to handle our communications in New Guinea) arrived and, for the first time since leaving Australia, the Company was together again. On 19 November, 1944, T/Sgt Frank Frampton, Message Center Chief, received a direct commission as a 2nd. Lt., AUS as of 9 November, 1944. He remained with the Company as Message Center Officer.
On 24 November, the Company moved once more to Telegrafo, Leyte, P.I. Our first semi-permanent camp on the Isle of Leyte was situated on the beach near Telegrafo. Work began immediately and, with the help of Filipino laborers, things were under control in a very few days.
Purple Hearts were awarded to the following members of this Company for wounds received in action during the Leyte Campaign: Lt. Cooper; Tec 4 Elendt; Tec 4 Goings; Tec 4 Estabrook; Tec 4 Self; Tec 4 Dickensheets; PFC Criscuolo; and Pvt Tonge. Lt. Thompson was promoted to rank of Captain on 27 December 1944. On Jan 8 M/Sgt Aubrey Gaulding was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his work during the Lae and Finachaffen Campaigns. The 7th Sig. Co. was awarded the Meritorious Service Unit Plaque by Sixth Army on 9 January 1946. This award was in recognition for the fine work the company did prior to and up through the landings in the Philippines.
On board the LST 865 we received the news we had all been working and waiting for: Pres. Truman announced the war with Japan was over and proclaimed September 2, 1945 as VJ Day. On the 12th of September, 1945 the Company landed in Yokohama, Japan. We unloaded and immediately went by truck to our new location in the city of Yokohama. Thursday 13 Sept 45, Yokohama, Japan, building new camp, setting of radio station, msg. center, and switchboard. Advanced detachment still operating in town set-up. Living in four story building with a few lice and other bugs. Much talk about new point system and brigades return to states as unit. Weather; fair. Morale; good. On Sept 17 the advanced echelon started to set up their quarters in THE BARN (a ware-house located in back of THE NIHON ZOSEN CO. ship-builders and makers of the Jap SUICIDE BOAT). Radio station, msg. center, switchboard, and signal office set up in offices of above company with personnel and staff of hq & hq co. Company strength this day – 103. On Sept 21 all Officers and Enlisted Men of the advanced echelon were put on the regular company roster and moved to the Barn. Morale was high and there were many wise remarks as to our living conditions which were good compared to the jungles. Weather getting colder- need real courage to take shower, four Jap ladies doing our laundry for us. Many trips to town being made and fraternization is increasing every day. Main topic of conversation these days: “going home” and “Jap women”. Wire section very busy and radio net busiest yet with traffic going to Batangas, Leyte , and Korea– many OP msgs. About this time we experienced some bad weather and the BARN leaks pretty badly. Many puddles in building and beds. We can keep warm in mess hall only. SEFT 28. Much excitement in the Company today: First group of high pointers (those with over 90) leaving and with this latest announcement from the war dept. it looks like the company will be shot to hell soon. Nine men departed at 2 o’clock for fourth rep. depot: Headed for HOME!
On 30 Sept. Capt. Thompson and Lt Hanson left for casual camp. 1st Lt. Cooper took command of coy. brigade; definitely going home as a unit. No definite date set. On the 3rd of October 23 men left for rep. depot. Radio section is depleted and we had to borrow two from 542. Much excitement and handshaking as this gang leaves. And on 10 October, 24 more men were sent to rep dep. for trip home. Company strength now down to all of 35 men. October 12 finds us moving from the BARN up to join what is left of Hdq Company and to live in the office building. Pretty nice set-up; fire under tank for hot showers, laundry girls, and pretty good chow. Weather is now colder and the skies are clear. Our gang is small now and pretty quiet, except for the “70 pointers” who are expecting to go out in a few days. The Japs keep our building clean for us. We make many trips to the village in the evenings. We’re getting lots of new ratings and there is much sewing on of stripes. In the mornings we have calisthenics and close-order drills.
Editors note. This abrupt ending of the History of the 287th Signal Company and 2nd ESB is exactly as presented to us. I think it safe to assume that, eventually, the Company Historian rotated back stateside. If any of our readers care to comment or add to this narrative, feel free to do so.