Bottcher Heroic Stand Marker - 32nd “Red Arrow Infantry” Division
At the entry of the town of Buna.Marker An inscribed roadside metal maker about 7 feet tall mounted on a concrete pedestal.
An excerpt from SSgt Herman L. Bottcher’s biography best describes what happened in this location:
Bottcher enlisted in the United States Army at the Presidio on January 5, 1942, just one month after the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in December 7, 1941. He was assigned to the 32nd Infantry Division a Michigan-Wisconsin National Guard Unit. The 32nd Division was sent to the South West Pacific Theater.
Bottcher's unit was sent to New Guinea in late 1942, as part of a US-Australian offensive against Japanese forces who had built extensive defenses around beachheads in the Buna area. On November 16, 1942, Australian and US forces began to attack Buna, Sanananda and Gona. Bottcher was promoted to Staff Sergeant and was appointed a platoon commander in G Company of the 126th Infantry Regiment.
On December 5, 1942, when G Company was pinned down by enemy fire, Bottcher led a 31-strong detachment forward against the attacking force. Wading across a creek under constant mortar fire, Bottcher led twelve volunteers through to the Buna beach. He stood up and threw hand grenades at the enemy knocking out several pillboxes enroute and was able to drive a wedge between Buna beach and Buna village. Bottcher, one eardrum broken by mortar blast, his hand cut by shrapnel, held that wedge. Bottcher ordered his men to dig in at once on the edge of the beach, which became known as "Bottchers Corner". He and his men fought against enemy attacks from both the village and the fortified beach which resulted in the death of over a hundred enemy soldiers. Bottcher's break-through completed the isolation of Buna village and is considered to be a turning point of the battle.[ According to a Time magazine article, by Australian war correspondent George Johnston, published September 20, 1943: "The American, Herman Bottcher, led twelve volunteers into the Japanese positions, built fortifications on the beach. Constantly under fire, Bottcher provided a diversion that resulted in Allied victory. By a conservative count ... Bottcher and his twelve men ... killed more than 120 enemy." Bottcher was awarded the battlefield commission of Captain and his first Distinguished Service Cross Medal. On December 20, Bottcher led a detachment of his men in an attack and that was within 20 yards of the enemy, when he stood up to draw the enemy fire upon himself so that his men could move forward. He was wounded twice and awarded a second Distinguished Service Cross Medal for his actions. He was sent to Australia, for treatment to his three wounds.
Bottcher, returned to his unit following the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944, with the rank of Major. There he received the news that the US Government, by a special act of Congress, had granted him U.S. Citizenship. Bottcher's men had spent 43 days behind enemy lines during the Battle of Leyte when, on December 30, 1944, a group of Japanese soldiers encountered Bottcher's men and attacked them with small arms fire and mortar rounds, one of which fell directly into Bottcher's position. The next day, Bottcher's men sent the following radio message: "Bottcher dead. Recon troop withdrawing west..."Captain (later Major) Dick Tucker, sent the following message to the news wires: "Major Herman Bottcher, veteran soldier in the fight against Fascism, hero of the battle of Buna and reconnaissance-troop commander, whose exploits had become legend among the men who were fighting the Pacific war, lay dead on a hill overlooking Silad Bay." Bottcher is buried in the Manila American Cemetery, Manila in Plot L Row 4 Grave 134.
Two Commanders of the 32nd Infantry Division were wounded during this operation.
The marker is written in English and reads:
SSgt Herman L. Bottcher, USA Platoon Commander 'G' Company, 126th Infantry, 32nd Division Buna Campaign: July 1942 - January 1943 –
With 18 men, one machine gun, and 'sheer guts under fire' SSgt Bottcher held off a Japanese force that flanked him on two sides and numbered in the thousands. Despite being out-gunned and out-numbered, Bottcher and his men so effectively fought the enemy that they were never able to launch a coordinated attack and secure the narrow beach of Buna, New Guinea. When the enemy finally grew impatient and attacked, Bottcher 'mowed them down like wheat in a field'. For bravery under fire, he was awarded the battlefield commission of Captain. Two year later, Captain Bottcher was killed in combat fighting in the Philippines.
With grateful appreciation
The American Legion remembers Capt. Herman J. Bottcher and 'G' Company Erected on behalf of the American Legion by Dominic D. Difrancesco National Commander April 1992."
126th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division
32nd Infantry Division
8th US Army
New Guinea (1943-1944)
Other images :