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World War II Photo Gallery

World War II

In 1941, Lieutenant Colonel William "Wild Bill" Whaling, the executive officer of 5th Marine Regiment visualized and perceived the use for specialized missions encompassing reconnaissance at the division-level, which would be conducted above the normal infantry battalion-level in scouting and patrolling. He recommended to General Alexander Vandegrift the need of a special "Scout and Sniper unit" for the 1st Marine Division's operations on Guadalcanal. Upon approval, by February 1, each of the three companies were created for each regiment.

New Britain, December 1943
Forming the southern of the Bismarck Sea and the Bismarck Archipelago, the island of New Britain was focused for seizure by General MacArthur as it would mean control of the Vitiaz and Dampier Straits. Planning began and decision was made to first seize Arawe Peninsula, an island, a town, a plantation and the Japanese occupation forces situated on the southern coast, sixty miles south across island from Cape Gloucester. Cape Gloucester was tasked for seizure by Major GeneralWilliam H. Rupertus, the landing force commander of the northern elements.

General Rupertus turned to his scout company's chief, 1st Lieutenant John D. Bradbeer, to lead a team of several Marine scouts to conduct amphibious reconnaissance patrols of New Britain. D-Day was determined on December 26, 1943. They landed on New Britain on September 24, 1943, at night by rubber boats from three PT boats #110, #325 and #327 of Motor Torepedo Boat Squadron 21, bringing Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Kirkwall Smith, a former Australian coastwatcherwho knew the area, and two natives.

For nine days, they paddled throughout the prospective landing beaches, locating coastal-defense guns, sketched the beaches and evaded the Japanese patrols in the area. Upon time of return to their PT boat pickup, they couldn't establish radio contact, so they paddled out into the Dampier Strait until they were able to get contact by radio to arrange recovery. Bradbeer's patrol were able to uncover that Japanese troop strength on New Britain was about seventy-five hundred men.

Forty-five days later of November 1943, Bradbeer accompanied Lieutenants Firm and Smith, and Ensign Gipe (a Navy hydrographer) and their small team and again landed from three PT boats on other proposed beaches. However, never landing on the proposed landing beach, it was quickly negated due to the cliffs just inland from the beach.

By December 26, 1943, six days prior to D-Day, or D-6, Bradbeer and 1st Lieutenant Joseph A.L. Fournier split the recon patrol, taking their six Marines to reconnoiter remaining portions of the island; Bradbeer and his team went north, Fornier's team reconned the south. Hours later, they both confirmed the usability of the selected landing beaches, reporting them only lightly defended. Momentarily within a few more hours both teams were recovered by their PT boats. While returning, a Japanese barge opened fire onto Bradbeer's PT boat, injuring three of the PT crew personnel. US Navy Lieutenant Paul T. Rennell, the PT boat's captain, was able to break contact and evade the Japanese safely. The reconnaissance they provided was the third and the last preliminary amphibious reconnaissance for the New Britain operation.

Peleliu and the Palaus, September 1944
The III Amphibious Corps, led by Major General Geiger tasked MGen Rupertus's 1st Marine Division for the main assault landing on Peleliu. Originally, the 1st Tank Battalion's scout company were part of the "floating reserve", but was ordered ashore on D-Day, September 15, 1944. Early in the afternoon, the Company D (Scout) reinforced Colonel Herman Hanneken's 7th Marines to cover the 5th Marines. The island was declared secured on November 27.

Northern Okinawa, April 1945
On April 3, 1945, 1st Marine Division sent their scout company in front of their zone of action along the boundary of the 6th Marine Division to their north. The recon company, commanded by 1st Lieutenant Robert J. Powell, Jr., traversed by motorized patrols to the eastern shore of Okinawa, reaching the base of Katchin Peninsula by 1300. They received further orders to advance north up the east coast toward Hiazaonna. Along the way they encountered a lightly held tank trap, then returned to 1st Marine Division before dark. Colonel Edward Snedeker 7th Marine Regiment followed the recon action report of 1st Marine Division's Company D (Scout) and pushed across the island to the town of Hiazaonna, reaching it at 1830 on April 3, 1945.

1st Reconnaissance Battalion

Active: March 1, 1937 – present

Nickname: Black Diamonds

Motto: "Swift, Silent, Deadly"

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