By Martin Kidston
200 pages, 6” x 9”, 43 b/w photos, 1 map(s), index, appendix, hardcover
Note: The book’s front cover photo shows the troops of the 163rd Infantry Regiment, 41st Division, hitting the beach from Higgins boats during the invasion of Wakde Island, Dutch New Guinea on March 18, 1944.
Author Martin J. Kidston has written the compelling, and until now untold, story of courageous young Montanans in the Pacific during World War II. Kidston shares the soldiers’ sometimes humorous, often chilling, and always fascinating accounts of the years they spent fighting the Japanese after the historic bombing of Pearl Harbor. The stories are collected from personal journals, news stories, and survivor interviews. Kidston also recounts how the 1,500 young men left their hometowns in Montana and adapted to combat in the jungles of the South Pacific, the coast of Australia, and the islands of the Philippines. The young Montanans of the 163rd Regiment of the Montana National Guard had some of the longest service of any soldiers in WW II. Called up for training by President Roosevelt in September 1940 they were shipped to Australia after Pearl Harbor and fought through horrid conditions in the jungles and swamps of New Guinea and the Philippines. After the Japanese surrender the 163rd was assigned to occupation duty in Hiroshima, Japan and many did not return home until 1946. Because of ignorance of the effects of radiation poisoning many these survivors of the deadly combat in the Pacific died too young from being stationed too close to ground zero for the first atomic bomb.
“Martin Kidston is in the ‘X’ ring with this carefully documented account of the 163rd Infantry Regiment in the steamy, infested jungles of the Pacific. Meeting and vanquishing the seasoned troops of the Japanese Imperial Army provided the very first major victory in that theatre of operations. This documentary of gallantry, service and sacrifice gives the reader a good look at his friends and neighbors who went to war, and those who didn’t come back.”
R. F. (Bob) Morgan, Curator Emeritus, Board of Trustees, Montana Historical Society
“This history of the 163rd Infantry Regiment, Montana National Guard, 41st Infantry Division, excellently showcases the contributions of Montanans in patriotic service to our nation from 1940 to 1946. Those young men who came from the cities, towns, Indian reservations, and rural areas of the Treasure State did us proud. This work helps to finally tell the story of their successes and sacrifices in the Pacific theater in World War II.”
Raymond K. Read, Director, Montana Military Museum
“Drawn largely from personal interviews, Martin Kidston’s moving account of the 163rd Infantry Regiment’s actions in the Pacific theater during World War II allows us to remember and honor the remarkable men of this Montana Regiment.”
Robert R. Swartout, Jr., Professor and Chair, Department of History, Carroll College