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Captain Robert (Shaggy Bob) Clampett

SX3169 Captain Robert (Shaggy Bob), born 1920, served in the Middle East, Australia and New Guinea with the 2/27th Battalion in the period December 1940 to December 1945.

He wrote extensively to his family every two weeks or so. In these letters he apparently details many daily military and training routines, recreations and sports, the weather and the changes it dictated to their lives, the importance he attached to receiving mail from his family and friends, his personal finances, information on others in his battalion and other soldiers known to his family. He appears to be especially aware of the role of the censor and sensitivities of his family receiving details of his activities.

As commanding officer of `A' Company, 2/27th Battalion, Captain Clampett played a leading role in the defence of Shaggy Ridge (so named because of Clampett's nickname) in the Ramu Valley campaign in October 1943.

Shaggy Ridge

After sixty-five days, the Japanese had been thoroughly defeated in the Finschhafen area and what was left of their forces retreated northward. While the 9th Division was pursuing the Japanese along the coast, the 7th Division was, on the other side of the Finisterre Range, preparing for an assault on Shaggy Ridge which would open the way to the sea and join up with the coastal drive at Bogadjim. Rising sharply against the skyline, Shaggy Ridge was a knife-edged mountain range broken by three conical outcrops. Of these, the most important tactically was known as The pimple and it was a rocky pinnacle sprouting perpendicularly from the main mountain spur. Strong posts and foxholes made it a formidable fortress within which two other conical outcrops, a few hundred yards away, became known as Intermediate Snipers' pimple and Green Snipers' pimple.

Australian soldiers of the 2/27th battalion at Shaggy Ridge - in the background The first soldier (on the right) is believed to be Pte (later Sgt) Jack Bradley
On the morning of 27 December 1943 before the infantry attack, about 3500 25 pounder shells were fired at Shaggy Ridge. A squadron of Australian Boomerangs and American manned Kittyhawks bombed and strafed every Japanese strong post. Men of the 2/16th Battalion (21st Brigade) began the ascent and crawled over loose shale along a track so narrow that it afforded barely enough room for two men to move abreast. The Japanese was fought hand to hand and from dug-out to dugout. The Australian attack was halted near the summit of The pimple where a strong Japanese pillbox barred their approach. The next day the pillbox was blasted by high explosives supplied by the engineers and by the morning of 28 December the Japanese had been thrust from The pimple but still held the northern half of Shaggy Ridge.

 The Pimple  Shaggy Ridge

In early January 1944, the 15th and 18th Brigades relieved the 21st and 25th Brigades. Following air and artillery support the 18th Brigade attacked on the morning of 20 January. The 2/12th Battalion moved up the steep ridge to assault Prothero I and, after close-range grenade duels, the 2/9th Battalion captured Green Snipers' pimple. Fighting continued all night on the thickly wooded slopes and several counter-attacks failed to budge the 2/9th Battalion. The Japanese made a desperate attempt to escape from Shaggy Ridge but the escape bid failed in face of the steady fire of the dug-in Australians.


The pimple
Shaggy Ridge
The capture of Shaggy Ridge completely eliminated Japanese domination of the Ramu Valley. The link up of Australian troops with American troops at Saidor on 10 February 1944 marked the end of the five month Huon peninsula campaign. With the Huon peninsula firmly in Australian hands the Americans began to assume an increasing role in the fighting in New Guinea. The 7th and 9th Division were withdrawn to Australia where after a well deserved rest they began preparations for the final campaigns in 1945.


Go here for further details of this campaign and the original textOpens in a new Window

Go here for details of the Shaggy Ridge attack as well as information on the regiments involvedOpens in a new Window


Jungle Patrol {motion picture} Australia : Commonwealth Department of Information {production company}, {1944}.
1 film reel (20 min.) : sd., b&w ; 16 mm. 703 feet.

Narrator: Peter Finch.
Credits: Director, script, Tom Gurr ; photography, J. W. Trerise ; William Carty ; production manager, Jack Allan ; editor, Frank Coffey ; sound, Walter C. Bird.
Summary: Produced by Movietone staff for the Dept. of Information this notable propaganda film presents itself as the story of eight Australian soldiers in New Guinea, illustrating the dangers and difficulties of jungle warfare as the group makes its way up the Ramu Valley to capture Shaggy Ridge. Tom Gurr's script personalises the story with an interesting use of second person narration, and Peter Finch's controlled low key delivery contrasts with the dramatic footage of the campaign. The film was well received at the time with Smith's Weekly (1 April 1944) writing that it ranked "with anything that the war has produced." After the war the film was chosen by the British Ministry of Information for inclusion in a special series of propaganda films shown in liberated European countries.
FLM <A12095982> C7262

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