Burr, Elmer John, 1st Sgt

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Last Rank
First Sergeant
Last Service Branch
Last Primary MOS
566-Duty NCO
Last MOS Group
Infantry (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1942-1942, 1st Battalion, 127th Infantry Regiment
Service Years
1928 - 1942

First Sergeant

Four Service Stripes

One Overseas Service Bar

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Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSG Clentis D. Turnbow to remember Burr, Elmer John (MOH), 1st Sgt.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Neenah, Wisconsin
Last Address
New Guinea

Casualty Date
Dec 25, 1942
Hostile, Died of Wounds
Multiple Fragmentation Wounds
Papua New Guinea
World War II
Location of Interment
Oak Hill Cemetery - Neenah, Wisconsin
Wall/Plot Coordinates

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
Congressional Medal Of Honor SocietyMedal of HonorWorld War II FallenThe National Purple Heart Hall of Honor
  1942, Congressional Medal Of Honor Society
  1942, Medal of Honor [Verified] - Assoc. Page
  1942, World War II Fallen
  1942, The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor

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Papua Campaign (1942-43)/Battle of Buna-Gona
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The Battle of Buna–Gona was part of the New Guinea campaign in the Pacific campaign of World War II. On 16 November 1942, Australian and United States forces attacked the main Japanese beachheads in New Guinea, at Buna, Sanananda and Gona. When the Japanese forces were within sight of Port Moresby, the Japanese leadership decided holding Guadalcanal was a higher priority, and they ordered their New Guinea forces to withdraw northeastward to the coast. Since arriving on the north coast in June, the Japanese had built hundreds of well-camouflaged, reinforced bunkers in mutually supporting positions blocking all available approaches. Combined with the forces who had returned from the Kokoda Track, the Japanese initially had nearly 5,500 seasoned troops on the northern coast. This rose to about 6,500 later in the battle. Both the Japanese and Allied forces were riddled by disease and lacked the most basic supplies, including medicine and food.[1] Some U.S. troops were reduced to a small portion of a C ration each day.

Allied Supreme Commander Douglas MacArthur and his staff received poor intelligence and vastly underestimated the number of defenders and the superior quality of the Japanese defensive system. MacArthur’s chief of staff Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland glibly referred to the Japanese fortifications as "hasty field entrenchments."

The navy rejected requests for destroyers, limited in number and already heavily engaged in convoying and protecting the Coral Sea, on the basis that the pre-war open sea routes to the battle area were blocked by Japanese forces at Rabaul and destroyers operating in the uncharted, reef-strewn waters of the inside passage between the mainland and D'Entrecasteaux Islands without adequate sea room to maneuver under air attack were too vulnerable and instead offered the smaller corvettes when a route through the passage had been charted.[2] MacArthur had in June planned for an attack on Rabaul, but the Japanese landings at Buna in July and attack on Milne Bay in August negated that plan to secure the northern sea routes.

The Allies had only a few mortar pieces and ammunition was so limited it was rationed. The Allies lacked tank support and they initially had only a single artillery piece, and air support was only partially effective. When the Allies attacked on three fronts, they were immediately stymied by the excellent Japanese defensive position. The Allies suffered heavy casualties and gained virtually no ground.

MacArthur repeatedly expressed his dissatisfaction with the U.S. 32nd Infantry Division's inability to defeat the Japanese. On 29 November, after 13 days of poor results and high casualties, Lieutenant General Eichelberger relieved Harding of command. Eichelberger later assumed command and only then fully appreciated the difficulty faced by the Allies in overcoming the Japanese forces. He learned that the majority of his troops had fevers and were sick with a variety of illnesses including malaria, dengue fever, bush typhus, and tropical dysentery. The Japanese received limited reinforcements and additional supplies until mid-December, when they were cut off. Although they had very limited food and no way to evacuate their sick and wounded, the Japanese resolutely continued the fight to the very end.

The Allied forces only made significant progress when they were finally given the tanks and artillery they had long sought. The first large supply ship, the Karsik, arrived at Oro Bay 11 December 1942 preceding the regular supply convoys of Operation Lilliput.[5][6] On 2 January, the Allies captured Buna, and on 22 January 1943, after prolonged intense fighting in extraordinarily difficult conditions, the Allied forces killed or captured almost the entire defending Japanese forces. Only a few hundred escaped to the north. Casualties on both sides were extremely high. General Eichelberger later compared the casualty ratio to the American Civil War. As a percentage of casualties, killed or wounded in action at Buna exceeded the better known Battle of Guadalcanal by a margin of three to one.
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
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Last Updated:
Apr 7, 2018
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  5 Also There at This Battle:
  • Doughtie, James Dewey, MAJ, (1933-1954)
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