Plymouth County

Capt. James R. Bowers





NEWS of the BOYS in the SERVICE

Mrs. R. S. Bowers writes that her sons, both of whom are lieutenants in the army, have notified her that they have reached their overseas assignments. Lieut. James R. Bowers, who is combat intelligence officer for his battalion, is in New Guinea. His address is Lieut. James R. Bowers O-443771, APO No. 31 B care postmaster, San Francisco, Calif. Lieut. Richard G. Bowers is in command of an infantry company in north Ireland. His address is APO No. 15178, care postmaster New York, New York. Newspapers are not permitted to designate the units to which men are attached.

Source: LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, May 5, 1944


In the item in Tuesday’s issue about the sons of Major and Mrs. R. S. Bowers, the Sentinel had their names reversed. Lieut. Richard Bowers went into France with the invasion and Lieut. James Bowers has been somewhere in the southwest Pacific for several months.

Source: LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, July 28, 1944

Lt. James Bowers is now on the Island of Moratai in the Southwest Pacific and Donald Bowers is in school at Fort Smith.

Source: LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, Dec. 26, 1944


Japs Were Unable To Imitate Southern Talk to Fool Yanks

Lt. James R. Bowers, son of Major and Mrs. Russell Bowers of Camp Chaffey, Ark., had a hair-raising experience while on duty in the New Guinea area recently—one he will remember for a long time. He is a member of the intelligence department and his work on patrol carried him up close to the enemy lines, in fact so close he could hear the Japs trying to imitate the American patrol leader, a southerner, who was giving orders to advance. However, this trick didn’t fool the Americans, as they recognized the mush-like talk at once.

Lieut. Bowers’ experience was printed in the True Magazine recently, as told to Will Oursler, the magazine’s Pacific correspondent.

In a recent issue of the Yank magazine, published for the men “down under,” Lieut. Bowers’ picture was on the front cover. It showed him wading ashore in making the landing on Morotai Island. Lieut. Bowers and another American soldier, were assisting a third member in getting ashore.
His story on patrol duty in New Guinea, as told to Will Oursler, follows. It was under the title, “Our Patrols Were Active.”

The communiqué would put it, “Our patrols were active.” No headlines. It would be one isolated fragment in the pattern of war. We would move west of our perimeter, in New Guinea’s Maffin Bay area, pushing though jungle trails. We must find out what was there; how many Nips, how well armed they were, the shape and character of the terrain.

We got an early start the next morning—a patrol of a couple of hundred men with machine guns, mortars and small arms, a thin tentacle probing into enemy lines. Clean out all the Japs you can, get your information and get back by night. It would be no picnic. Besides, it was raining heavily.

The first part, along the beach, was easy. No opposition. Then we reached the outskirts of an airdrome which the Japs had started to build before American forces, arriving in the area only a few miles distant, forced them to give the idea up. Just off the field a sniper opened on us. Our men ducked into the bush and our own guns fired a number of bursts. The sniper’s gun shut up.

The air strip itself was too exposed for our patrol to cross. We turned inland, hacking our way through jungle, with the plan of hitting a native trail running behind the strip. Only a few yards in front of me, a sudden explosion knocked me flat. I got to my knees and crept forward. I saw five men sprawled on the ground—two injured and three dead.

It had been a land mine. Our medics put the wounded on litters and started back. The dead we had to leave until our return later. We pushed on. From positions on a mountain a few miles away, the Japs opened up with mortars. And directly ahead, as we moved up the trail, three machine guns began firing at us. We hit the ground while elements of our patrol edged forward.

The Japs pinned us down for perhaps five minutes. All you could hear was the staccato barking of guns. Then silence. We crawled ahead and found three Nips dead by their guns. The trail behind the strip was intersected by a revetment. Our patrol had no choice except to cross the open area.

I was in one of the forward groups. We ordered the mean forward across the revetment. Our first two groups made it without trouble, slushing through the mud into the jungle trail on the other side. As the third group started to cross, the Japs, hidden craftily in trees and bushes, opened up with machine guns and small arms.

The squads which hadn’t yet crossed ducked back into cover, throwing themselves into the bush. We were split in half now, with the enemy on all sides.

Lieut. Jenkins King, of Georgia, and Lieut. Michael Metzger, of Kansas, had crossed the revetment and were attempting to keep contact with the men still on the other side. The area between the groups was under fire. It would have been suicide to run across.

There was a rustle in the bush. A Jap stepped onto the trail ten feet from Lieutenant King and tossed a grenade. King and other officers and men behind him hit the ground.

Miraculously nobody was injured. The Nip stood there on the trail. As King started to get up, the Jap drew a pistol and fired. The lieutenant, whipping out his .45 shot him dead.

Lieut. Metzger was still trying to keep contact with the squads waiting to cross the revetment. The Japs could hear Metzger calling to the men, and the fellows answering from the other side. Soon the Nips began to imitate our calls. “Hay, Mac,” one would squeal. “It is all right now,. Come along across.”

Nobody fell for it. Most of the men in the patrol were Southerners and several came from Laurel, Miss. Every time one of our men called to someone else in the patrol, he began his message with those two words, “Laurel, Mississippi.” The closest Jap could come to imitating that was “Raurar, Miffiffippi.”

The rest of our patrol pushed up the trail until they reached a narrow stream known as Sewar Creek. This was the limit of our investigation as it would take us several hours to get back and it was already late afternoon.

The Japs evidently were concentrating around the revetment because we met only minor opposition as we went up the trail.

It was still raining when we turned back. We waded in a foot of mud. The fight at the revetment had died down a little now. Our two groups were still cut off from each other. So now it was we—the returning squads—who had to run that gauntlet.

But there are ways to fooling the Japs. The evidently expected us to make one mad rush across. Each man was covered by our guns; any Jap who opened on him would be the target of a firepower.

Our worst problem was getting two wounded men across. We made litters for them and sent along extra men with the litter bearers—a kind of armed army to cross those fifty yards of space. The Japs fired when they saw these little groups, but their aim was bad.

It was a long, nerve-wracking business, getting the men across. Everyone knew as he started that it might be his last few seconds alive. You gave a greeting of relief as you saw him get to safety.

But now our trail was blocked with Japs. Snipers and Jap machine gunners blasted during almost the entire trek back. Bullets came winging at us interrupting the shadows, yet the shadows were on our side. They afforded cover and the welcomed night was closing in on us.

It was 10 o’clock that night when we reached our lines. We hadn’t eaten since morning—there hadn’t been any time to take our rations. Our fatigues were entirely covered with mud and blood. A number of men who started out with us that morning didn’t make it back. Others lay in field hospitals.

But we had done the job required. We were able to bring back the reports on the nature of the terrain, the general disposition of the enemy and other vital information. A few more pieces to line the jig-saw puzzle of war headlines. No excitement. This morning the precise language of the communiqué would state, “Our patrols were active.”

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, February 19, 1945

NEWS of the Boys in the Service.

James Russell Bowers, son of Major and Mrs. Russell S. Bowers of 629 Central Avenue, LeMars, has been promoted from first lieutenant to captain in his staff section of the 31st Infantry division in Mindanao, where he is now stationed. Captain Bowers, who left the University of Iowa in 1942 to enter the army at Camp Roberts, California, as an infantry lieutenant, now has 20 months overseas to his credit. He rose from an infantry platoon leader through battalion staff work to his division staff assignment in operations. He holds the Combat Infantryman badge, Asiatic-Pacific and Philippines Liberation ribbons and a bronze arrowhead for the assault landing on Morotai Island in September, 1944.

Source: LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, Oct. 23, 1945