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The Lost Battalion
2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery Regiment
36th Division, Texas National Guard


Under Construction
This page is currently under construction.  I hope to have it completed soon.  Until it is completed, please excuse any strange things you may see, or links that may not be complete.  I hope you are enjoying your visit.  Thanks... Roy

On 22 November 1941, with the United States observing an uneasy peace, the 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery Regiment, under the command of Lt. Col. Blutcher S. Tharp of Amarillo, Texas  boarded the troop transport USS Republic (AP-33) in San Francisco.  The soldiers knew their destination only by the code name, “Plum”. 

USS Republic
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USS Republic

The 28,000-ton USS Republic was built in 1907 in Belfast, Ireland for a German Steamship Company.  The U.S. confiscated the ship during World War I and commissioned it President Grant (SP–3014) in 1917.  In 1920 the President Grant was transferred to the U.S. Army and renamed USAT Republic, then in July of 1941 the Republic was transferred to the Navy and commissioned USS Republic (AP–33).  Her armament consisted of one 5” and four 3” mounts. 

Complete History of the Republic

USS Republic, Pearl Harbor, 15 Aug 1942
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USS Republic Offloading Troops at Pearl Harbor
This Phot
o taken on a Later Trip
15 August 1942

The 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery on board the USS Republic reached Pearl Harbor on 29 November 1491.  In Pearl, the Republic joined with three other transport and cargo ships and the cruiser USS Pensacola to form a convoy for the remainder of the trip to “Plum”.  The convoy sailed west on 30 November leaving behind a peaceful Pearl Harbor.  Once at sea, destination “Plum” was revealed to be the Manila Bay in the Philippine Islands.   

USS Pensacola (CA-24)
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USS Pensacola (CA-24)

On 7 December the peace was shattered at Pearl Harbor by the surprise Japanese attack.  That same day, the USS Republic, en route to “Plum” (the Philippines) had recently crossed the equator, and the men of the 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery along with the sailors of the Republic were beginning the traditional ritual of initiating those men crossing the equator for the first time, into the “Mysterious Realm of Neptune Rex.”  Officers and enlisted men alike were initiated.  During the ceremony, normally quite joyous, the Republic’s captain announced that Pearl Harbor had been attacked, and that the U.S. and Japan were at war.  The ships of the convoy increased their spacing and began wartime zigzagging.

In mid-December the convoy carrying the Texans arrived in the Fiji Islands for fuel and supplies.  After replenishment, the the convoy sailed for the Philippines.   En route, news was received that the Japanese had invaded the Philippines; the convoy was ordered to sail instead to Brisbane, Australia.  The Texans of the 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery arrived in Brisbane on 23 December 1941.  The battalion spent Christmas in Brisbane, but before 1941 ended, was aboard another ship, this time the Dutch icebreaker SS Bloemfontein

Political Map of S.E. Asia, 1940
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Political Map of Southeast Asia in 1940

The 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery, aboard the Bloemfontein made a brief stop at Port Darwin before sailing for the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) island of Java and arrived in the Javanese port of Surabaya on 11 January 1942.    The reality of war became all too real to the Texans as the harbor was strewn with partially sunk ships and the docks  heavily damaged by Japanese bombs.  The 538 Texans of the 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery Regiment disembarked in Surabaya, Java and were placed under direct command of the Dutch government.  It was an unceremonious welcome to World War II.

From Surabaya, the Texans moved inland to a Dutch military post (Camp Singasari) near the town of Malang.  Meanwhile the Japanese were landing troops on the Island of Borneo (now Kalimantan) located just North of Java and later in January on the nearby island of Celebes (now Sulawesi) and by early February, both islands were securely in Japan’s possession.  During February of 1942, the Japanese also invaded and captured the Islands of Sumatra, Bali and Timor, and were poised to take the main island of Java, the Texans’ new home. 

Meanwhile... Battle of Sundra S

USS Houston (CA-30)
USS Houston (CA-30)
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HMAS Pearth
HMAS Perth
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Under ConstructionThank you for your patience.  I am continuing to compile information and will post it soon.

Roy Mark       





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