ID number REL22423.001
Title American Army Dress Tunic : Master Sergeant LD Culp, 41st Infantry Division
Collection Heraldry
Object type Uniform
Maker Unknown
Date made 1940-1941

Description

Khaki tunic with button down epaulettes and a four button front. Patch pockets on the breast with flaps and exposed buttons. Internal pockets on the skirt with external flaps and exposed buttons. All buttons are gilt and feature the US eagle in relief. Sleeves have the rank of Master Sergeant First Grade and on the shoulder of the left is the patch of the 41st Infantry Division. On the lower cuff of this sleeve are four bars in gold wire with a green service chevron below at an angle of 45 degrees. On the left lapel is the circular gold insignia for the Infantry and on the right US. Above the left breast pocket is three rows of seven ribbon bars with the Combat Infantryman badge above. Over the right breast pocket is the cloth badge for service rendered after 8th September 1939.

Summary

Lester Donald Culp enlisted at Le Grande, Oregon on 25 September 1939 with E Company, 186th Infantry Regiment, 41st Infantry Division at the age of 24. Culp trained in Washington and California and with the declaration of war on 7 December 1941, his battalion was assigned beach defence and guard duty in the Fort Lewis region of Washington state. The 41st Division was destined for duty in the South West Pacific and were the vanguard of the combat units departing America. Thus Culp sailed for Australia from San Francisco in convoy aboard the SS Matsonia on 22 April 1942, arriving in Melbourne on 14 May. For the next two months Culp and his Regiment were bivouacked at Puckapunyal before receiving orders to move north to Queensland for jungle and amphibious training at Rockhampton (possibly at the Shoalwater Centre), where they were to remain for the balance of the year. The 186th were ordered to New Guinea, following in the footsteps of the 163rd Infantry, who had flown into New Guinea on 27 December 1942, and left Queensland aboard the "Bontiko" on 1 January 1943, arriving at Port Moresby and enduring heavy Japanese bombing whilst awaiting transport to the Buna and Sanananda battlefields. Culp's regiment reboarded the Bontiko which steamed via Milne Bay to Oro Bay, where they were disembarked for Semini, site of some of the fiercest battles around Buna, setting up a Headquarters Group. Culp states that they returned to Rockhampton at the end of July 1943 with "1,200 cases of malaria out of a regimental strength of 3,300 - I contacted malaria and dengue fever, which recurred many times for the next seven years. We were sent to Toorbul Point, about 30 miles north of Brisbane toward the end of 1943 for amphibious training. Attack transports to small beach assaults. I remember Christmas 1943 there in the wind and tremendous down pours of rain." Culp returned to America on rotation in early 1944 and was honourably discharged in September 1945 as a Master Sergeant.