1/8 Landings & Casualty Dates
Thu May 30, 2019 09:07

Hello all,

The recent identification of PFC John T. Burke (B/1/8) from Tarawa's MIA list raised a subject I hadn't previously considered. Burke was originally reported as MIA from his organization on 20 November 1943.

I'd always believed (and read in the original unit record of events) that 1/8 went ashore on the morning of 21 November 1943 after spending about twenty hours in their boats offshore. However, their muster rolls list a number of casualties sustained on 20 November some of whom were witnessed on land. I have copies of the battalion's Record of Events, and that document doesn't mention anything about a partial landing; I would think the number of casualties implied by the muster rolls (see below) would have merited at least a passing reference.

In addition, the muster rolls don't report any *WOUNDS* sustained on 20 November only missing and KIA which also doesn't make much sense.

I'm wondering whether there was an error in the muster rolls (which eventually led to casualty cards and IDPFs) recording 20 November instead of 21 November, or if there were indeed some elements of the battalion that landed ahead of the others and I'm just not aware of it.

Here are the casualties and their status, which the muster roll claims occurred on 20 November:

Pvt. Edward J. Heffron (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
PHM3 George E. Mareina (Missing) (declared dead November 1944)
HA1 Hayward H. Skaggs (Missing) (declared dead November 1944)

2Lt. Mark Tomlinson (KIA)
PlSgt. Joe Gurley (KIA)
Cpl. Herman L. Way (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
PFC Kenneth F. Eckhardt (KIA)
PFC Samuel B. Elliott (KIA)
PFC Jay C. Harris (KIA)
PFC Cecil R. Jones (KIA)
PFC Thomas J. Norton (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
PFC Fernand L. Ouellette (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
Pvt. Hugh Plumlee (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
Pvt. Floyd R. Smith (KIA)
Pvt. Loren A. Smith (Missing)

2Lt. Augustine V. Jauregui (KIA)
Sgt. Ulysses S. Phelps (KIA)
Cpl. Alexander Krotow (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
Cpl. Stephen J. Mayer (KIA)
PFC Robert E. Bemis (KIA)
PFC John T. Burke (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
PFC Gene W. Cox (KIA)
PFC Raymond P. Cywinski (KIA)
PFC Victor M. Daman (KIA)
PFC John E. Duffy (KIA)
PFC Michael A. McManus (KIA)
PFC Francis J. Monick (KIA)
PFC Anthony A. O'Boyle (KIA)
PFC Perley W. Sargent (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
Pvt. John J. Creech, Jr. (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
Pvt. Walter O. Reeves (KIA)

GySgt. Glenn Happe (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
PlSgt. Eugene Siwak (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
Sgt. Herbert L. Cannaday (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
PFC Francisco Benvenuto (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
PFC Paul R. Garrity (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
PFC Billy J. Harry (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
PFC Braxton I Moreau (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
PFC William R. Sams (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
PFC Laurence D. Young (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
Pvt. Marvin D. Button (Missing, to KIA March 1944)

Cpl. John S. Spence (KIA)
PFC Patrick J. Coots (KIA)
PFC Willie R. Graves (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
PFC Thomas R. Harris (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
PFC Lewis E. Ross (Missing, to KIA March 1944)
Pvt. George F. Patrick (KIA)

Discrepancies noted:
Cpl. Jessie L. Birdsong, official date of death 11/20/1943, on muster rolls as 11/21/1943
PFC A. P. Russom, official date of death 11/20/1943, on muster rolls as 11/21/1943
Pvt. Harry L. Hanlin, Jr., official date of death 11/20/1943, on muster rolls as 11/23/1943

There are also a couple of eyewitness statements that call the 11/20 dates into question. For example in "Faithful Warriors" Dean Ladd recalls being assisted in the water by PFC Duffy during the landings on 11/21, when according to the muster roll Duffy should have been already dead. Ladd cites Bill Crumpacker who witnessed the deaths of Duffy and Lt. Jauregui, and John Murdock who witnessed the death of PFC O'Boyle all, apparently, after landing on 11/21.

Murl Bright in "Why Marines Fight" confirms landing with A/1/8 on 11/21 and that Lt. Tomlinson was killed that day.

I'm inclined to think that 11/20 was simply applied as a blanked finding of death date for anyone from this outfit listed as MIA, but am unsure as to why the same would be applied to those killed outright.

Any insights from the experts would be appreciated!

    • Re: 1/8 Landings & DatesTom Godwin, Thu May 30 23:32
      Agree with George. I have found a number of errors in the rolls over time. November roll had the following for a private in my dad's squad who was WIA: E. 20, recd GSW back in action against enemy on ... more
      • Re: 1/8 Landings & DatesGeoffrey, Fri May 31 12:16
        Thanks for the insights, Tom & George. I agree, the old records are not always accurate; it's not the first time I've come across such errors. However, it's rare I think to have one on this scale... more
    • not an expert butGeorge E Proulx, Thu May 30 14:11
      I would bet on this being a clerical error based on bad info at the time. I know in my own case, I am not mentioned in the unit journal as ever having reported for duty in Vietnam but I am noted as... more
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