05 May 2013

"Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels" Watch American Wounded Rest Before Carrying Them to the Rear

Image size: 1600 x 1201 pixel. 762 KB
Date: Tuesday, 1 December 1942
Place: Coconut Grove, Buna, Oro, New Guinea
Creator: Unknown

Wounded American soldiers of the 32nd Division are carried to the rear by "fuzzy wuzzy angels" the name for Papua New Guinea natives who helped the Allies by bringing up supplies and carrying back wounded. The battle for Buna, Gona, and Sanananda was a learning process for MacArthur's command, and he relieved US Army General Edwin F. Harding on December 2, 1942, replacing him with General Robert L. Eichelberger. MacArthur famously told him, "Bob, I'm putting you in command at Buna. Relieve Harding ... I want you to remove all officers who won't fight. Relieve regimental and battalion commanders; if necessary, put sergeants in charge of battalions and corporals in charge of companies ... Bob, I want you to take Buna, or not come back alive ... And that goes for your chief of staff, too." Eichelberger reorganized the dispirited Americans, and with superior air cover from the Fifth Air Force and additional troops of the 163rd Infantry Regiment, 41st Infantry Division, The Allies cleared the last Japanese resistance on January 22, 1943. The natives were invaluable during the Kokoda and Buna campaigns, carrying much of the supplies in and the wounded out. An Australian soldier is reported to have said: "They carried stretchers over seemingly impassable barriers, with the patient reasonably comfortable. The care they give to the patient is magnificent. If night finds the stretcher still on the track, they will find a level spot and build a shelter over the patient. They will make him as comfortable as possible fetch him water and feed him if food is available, regardless of their own needs. They sleep four each side of the stretcher and if the patient moves or requires any attention during the night, this is given instantly. These were the deeds of the 'Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels' – for us!" 

US Army Signal Corps, Library of Congress

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