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Pacific World War II Book Review  
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by Tom McLeod
Soft cover
188 pages
B&W photos
diagrams, bibliography, footnotes
ISBN: 0965598705
Cover Price: $55.00
Language: English

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Always Ready
The Story of the United States 147th Infantry Regiment

The story of the 147th the "Gypsies of the Pacific" has not been told in most books about the Pacific, despite their role in many critical battles, until Tom McLeod, the son of Captain Prentiss R. McLeod began researching his father's history, which expanded into the history of the entire unit, and the publication of this fine book in 1996.

Meticulously researched, the book begins with 147th's early roots, and connections to the Ohio National Guard, and earliest pioneers and militia men of the late 1700's, even before Ohio was a state to roles of these forefathers in American wars including the Mexican War, Civil War and WWI. The book also covers the 147th's pre-war development, and early deployment as an independent regiment from the 37th Infantry Division when sent to the South Pacific.

This pre-history is fascinating, and mirrors the WWII history of the unit, a unit not of professional soldiers, but rather men from the ranks of society who became professional soldiers and during WWII fought the Japanese in the Pacific on Guadalcanal, Emirau, Saipan, Tinian, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. These names are usually associated with the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) but no unit, other than the 147th participated in all these battles.

The main chapter details the US Army campaign on Guadalcanal, an in-depth narative told from both the American and Japanese sides. The author acquired the diary of former Japanese Lt. Toraji Matsumoto, a rare and stunning addition to the respective of the narrative. Toraji was the officer which directly opposed the 147th on the Bonegi River. Toraji's story begins with leaving Japan and ends with his return to Rabaul. He was one of a handful of survivors from the 'Yano' Battalion.

The book draws upon interviews with dozens of veterans of the unit, as both source material, and for direct excerpts from interviews, diaries and official reports. There are many photographs, maps and diagrams to tell their story. Also, there are many references including throughout, including number of patrols, timelines, and records of those killed and wounded, making it an essential reference.

As a narrative the stories contained reveal some of the most brutal fighting and interesting human interest stories. Aside from the combat on the battlefield, the 147th was also victim of little press, fighting aside Marines and the Navy, whose units commanded better public relations exposure. The 147th was often attached to various USMC units, or posted as garrison troops, and the company was further divided, giving veterans varied experiences but less of the name recognition that other units of WWII experienced.

Currently, there are less than 15 copies available. This is a book I am proud to have in my collection, and is an honor to the veterans of the 147th and their history. It is valuable as both a historical reference and narrative of one of the most interesting, and largely unknown units of WWII Pacific.

Interview with author Tom McLeod

Review by  Justin Taylan  

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Last Updated
September 21, 2023

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