17 June 2013

US Army 43rd Infantry Division, 172nd Regiment Lands on Rendova

Image size: 1600 x 1290 pixel. 792 KB
Date: Wednesday, 30 June 1943
Place: Rendova, New Georgia, Solomon Islands
Photographer: Major Robert Jacquot

The XIV Corps Western Force's 43rd Infantry Division, 172nd Infantry Regiment began landing on Rendova at 0700 Hours. The man looking toward the camera is Wilbur O. Root. He was Company A, 43rd Infantry Division of the 172nd Vermont Regiment. As per 11 July 2011, he is 89 years old living in Upstate New York. Wikipedia said that the man in question is Army Private First Class Clayton Sholes, but this is wrong (claims of other individuals in this picture have yet to be proven). He was 1st Scout, Company B, 172 Batalion, 43rd Division, United States Army. Two months after this photo was taken, he was wounded by shrapnel on Munda (New Georgia) and subsequently evacuated to Auckland, New Zealand. Clayton Sholes died at the age of 93 in August of 2012. He lived in the town of Ada, northwestern Minnesota, for most of his life except his service in the United States Army. The image of himself looking toward the camera was confirmed by him numerous times in his life including details of WHO took the picture, which was a Navy photographer. This image, which is now widely circulated on the internet was searched for, and found in 1994 (pre-internet) at the National Archives by his grandson. The archivist who helped his grandson find the image told him the orignal negative hadn't been viewed for thirty years. She also confirmed that the person who took the photograph was a Navy photographer because of the way it was catalogued at the National Archives. Source: Clayton Sholes, Grandson Jon Van Amber. Now back to the story! There was confusion and disorganization, but the 172nd quickly overwhelmed a 120-man Japanese detachment and established a 1,000-yard-deep beachhead. All troops were ashore in half an hour. Moving supplies ashore and inland quickly became the main problem. As rain turned the ground into red clay mud, heavy traffic ruined the island's single mile-long road, making it so muddy that a bulldozer sank! Inadequately marked supplies, dumped on the beach by troops wading ashore, piled up and became intermixed. So many trucks became mired in the mud that US Army Major General John H. Hester, the New Georgia Occupation Force (NGOF) commander, had to stop their shipment to the beachhead, and movement of supplies off the beach became slow and laborious. The Rendova landing surprised the Japanese commanders on Munda and Rabaul, who had no counterattack force ready. Artillery fire from Japanese batteries on Munda, therefore, was the only Japanese response until late morning, when air attacks began. Three air attacks on June 30 damaged only US Navy Rear Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner's flagship, the transport USS McCawley (AP-10), which was accidentally torpedoed and sunk by American PT boats later that evening. A Japanese air strike against Rendova two days later killed 30 men, wounded more than 200, and exploded fuel dumps. An attempted encore performance on July 4, however, provided the Americans with more gratifying fireworks. Sixteen Japanese bombers appeared unescorted. A mere eighty-eight rounds of antiaircraft fire brought down twelve, and waiting fighters shot down the rest. Reinforcements, the majority splashing ashore on Rendova, continued to disembark at all four beachheads until July 5, when virtually the entire NGOF was assembled. The first phase of Operation "Toenails" had succeeded. 

NARA (National Archives) FILE #: 080-G-52573---WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 1176--- original filename is HD-SN-99-02835.JPEG


  1. I attended Mr. Root's funeral mass last night at All Saints on the Hudson church in Mechanicville NY. He was my grandparents neighbor for fifty years. Nice man, nice family. rest in peace sir.


  2. Will Root's brother Tom also served in the same unit. They grew up and joined up from Castleton, Vermont. There were seven or eight, or nine all together that all joined up at the same time from Castleton, before the war started upon President Roosevelt's call for beefing up the services prior to Pearl Harbor. My father, Charles M. Brough (Castleton, Vt,) was one of the group that all joined together. They were on the Attack Transport S.S. Coolidge which was sunk by mines off Espiritu Santo Island on their arrival in theater. They fought at Guadalcanal, Northern Solomons, New Guinea, Philippines. My father was wounded badly at Ipo Dam, outside Manila.

  3. My Uncle, PFC Maurice Gibault was also in Company "A" 43rd/172nd with his brother Edgar. Maurice was killed 12 July 43 New Georgia and Edgar was wounded but not sure where. Paper says Rendova?

  4. My grandfather, Frank Cooper Chief Electrician Mate CEM, was in the first wave onto Rendova with Company B of the 24th Navy Construction Battalion along with the 172nd Army team and the 9th Marine Battalion as the amphibious attack group of Task Force No. 31.