Taking A Breather

Photograph courtesy of Spencer Porter.
Photograph courtesy of Spencer Porter.

Spencer Porter sends in this interesting (and, to me at least, previously unseen) photo taken on Namur. His father, Sergeant Horace I. Porter, is standing behind the tree stump, at the center of attention for this little group. The photographer isn’t known; this shot may have graced the cover of Stars & Stripes although Spencer cautions “I never saw the actual publication so that may not be accurate.” (If any readers can confirm or deny, it would be much appreciated.)

At any rate, this photo depicts what is likely the 1/24 command post shortly after Namur was declared secure. The relaxed posture of most of the men – many with helmets off, the group in the right background standing upright in a cluster – suggests the battle is over in this sector, despite the burning building at far left. This building might be the one remembered by PFC Dwyer Duncan:

Several Japanese took refuge in the second block house and could not be talked out.  Finally the only American tank that I saw on Namur came in and fired point blank at the steel door with a 75 cannon.  The door broke and the tank filled the block house with a flamethrower.  Burning men ran out and we mercifully shot them.

– Dwyer’s Memories

The 24th Marines reported using flame tanks only in the mop-up process – and 1/24 recorded that “On 3 February, 4 Japanese snipers were killed.” Perhaps the aftermath of this fracas is attracting the attention of the group at the upper left.

It’s difficult to identify anyone in the photograph aside from Sgt. Porter. The Marine directly in front of him, half obscured by the tree trunk, has his name stenciled on his helmet – the letters “AHAN” are visible, so this may be Sergeant Donald Carnahan of the battalion supply section. The Marine to Carnahan’s left appears to be resting beside an M97 trench gun; Dwyer Duncan reports using one of these weapons on Namur. And the grinning individual to Porter’s left bears a resemblance to 1Lt. David Lownds, then a platoon leader with Company B – although he might as easily be 1Lt. Thomas Kerr, the battalion comms officer, who would have more business hanging around the CP. (A good way to tell the battle is over – this man has his field glasses out and around his neck. In combat this was tantamount to wearing a bullseye.)

Finally, there seems to be somewhat of an air of disorganization around this battalion CP. This might be due to the fact that they’ve recently lost their by-the-book battalion commander, Lt. Col. Aquilla Dyess, and are waiting to see how strict his successor, Major Maynard Schultz, will be.

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