"MIRACLE AT NOEMFOOR "
_________________
*

 

 

 

 

*

 

Recall the story of how Haywood Burbage was taking down grenades that had been set for booby traps. He would replace the safety pin and drop a grenade in the pocket of his fatigues. Suddenly, he heard the unmistakable pop of a timer set off. He tried to dig the grenade out of his pocket but it went off in his pocket. Dr. Watters noted that a major artery was still intact and decided against amputation.  Miracles happen and Burbage kept his life and leg.

Yesterday I received the enclosed letter and photo. Since it was your good work which made this exchange possible,  I thought you would like to see the letter and photos.

Don Abbott

(Don, I can't accept credit for what was a team effort - none of it would have happened without yourself, John Lindgren and Tony Sierra - Ed)

Julian Q. Watters, M.D.
Lake Arrowhead Station 2066
Waleska, GA 30183

Dear Donald,

Here is another chapter in the ''Mysteries of Noemfoor Island''.  I should term it, ''Miracle of Noemfoor Island." My wife and I met with Haywood Burbage and his wife two weeks ago and had a pleasant lunch together. We met in a little town about half way between Atlanta and Greenville, S. C. 

Enclosed is a photo of our meeting. (Haywood on the left.)   I am afraid that Haywood is not in the best of health. He has been losing weight and reports that he has some type of heart trouble. But he is walking and walks better than I do.

We wish you the best.

Regards.
Julian Q. Watters, M.D.

 

John Lindgren
to Bob Flynn
18 MAR 00

Subject: Burbage

 

Bob,

I didn't get anything on who came up with the Burbage's name. I finally found it in McNerney's Noemfoor journal. God bless the Irish! ttfnj.   I must have missed a message somewhere after getting Heyward Burbage's name on another message. Who supplied the name?

I eventually found his name and the date of his wounding. He was a member of A Company 504th PIR that later was designated D Company 503rd PIR. Burbage was a 3rd platoon mortarman who jumped at Nabzab. Later the organization of the rifle company was changed and the mortar squad in each rifle platoon was moved to a fourth platoon made up of three mortar squads. This change was made long after Burbage left the company. There is a 2nd Battalion Noemfoor history of sorts and what is more valuable, a well kept journal that often gives us great detail about events that happened long ago.

The company was at Namber Drome, a small coral surfaced airstrip, from August 2nd to August 27th. and after 20 August it was the only rifle company there. On 12 August, John Britten, the 2nd Battalion commander had told his company commanders "extreme vigilance will be maintained on the perimeter." This would mean that among other things the perimeter would be booby trapped during hours of darkness removed during daylight hours to prevent our own people from tripping them. At night, movement on the perimeter was forbidden and the booby traps were placed to warn of night infiltration but during daylight there was no prohibition on movement and booby traps posed a real danger to our own people. The normal procedure required the traps be picked up early in the morning.

This undoubtedly was why Burbage had the grenades in his pockets; he had been removing them. There were several types of booby traps but in the rifle platoons the hand grenade was the weapon of choice. The safety ring was much like a cotter key and the split ends were straightened a bit so it would slip out of place when pulled. A length of thin wire was tied to the ring and the grenade staked down or tied to a tree or rock and the wire stretched across a likely area of entry. To remove the grenade the pin was bent so it wouldn't pull out and put in a musette bag or as in Burbage's case in his pockets. The safety ring somehow was pulled out releasing the handle and starting a fuse that emitted a click and burned for about six seconds before the grenade exploded. He must have heard the click and I would guess he tried to remove the gathered grenades.

The incident happened 27 August, the day the company moved to their new camp. At 1230 the following entry was made; "Five men [with] blood type A were requested by the 71st Evacuation Hospital to give blood to Burbage, D Company wounded by grenades." 

ttfn
John

 

Tony Sierra copied this to us on 15 March

Subject: Haywood Burbage

I knew if Lindgren got into the Neomfoor act he would jog some ones mind. The trooper he relates about is named Burbage. He also was in D Company. After a day of patrolling, I believe by the entire D Company, we were ordered to set up a perimeter for the night. We were too far out to return before darkness. Several men, led by Burbage were sent out to booby-trap the area around the perimeter. Grenades were wired around trees with phone wire and wire was strung from grenade to grenade tied to the almost-pulled pin. The slightest tug anywhere on the wire would set the grenades off. In the early hours of daylight usually the same men went out to disarm and retrieve the booby trap. In the gathering up of grenades, Burbage fully reinserted the cotter pin and spread the tips apart, thus rendering the grenade supposedly safe. He then dropped the collected grenades into the deep pockets of the infantry fatigues we wore. Somehow one of the pins from a pocketed grenade slipped out and Burbage was unable to to pull it out before it exploded. Those of us around him were shocked and mesmerized. I for one could only hit the ground and wait for the boom. When it was over I sneaked into the brush and cried with shock.

Years later we heard Burbage had miraculously survived, returned home and raised a great family. I don't know if any of the troopers have been in contact with him. Maybe we can run him down, somehow. They claim his leg was saved.

Regards.
Tony Sierra

 

Tony Sierra
to John Lindgren
21 MAR 00

Subject: Burbage

Fox,

When the first call from Dr. Watters came requesting the fate of a 503rd trooper who had suffered a serious leg injury and who had the possibility of loosing his limb, I dug into my rusty mind and came up wiith two names, Red Cantrell and Burbage.  At that time I did not know Burbage's first name.   I submitted the two names to Whitman and some one else refined the choice to Burbage.  I did not know exactly the road both of these troopers had followed after their wounding, but I heard somewhere during the reunions that both had survived and were in fact still living.  Cantrell has isolated himself from the association and I guess so has Burbage.  I submitted some D company names, including yours, who might have better follow-up information and such has been the case.  I am happy that you and McNerney are so meticulous in searching out the detail records.  

Additionally I hope you can send me a copy of the D company roster (Moresby-Mindoro era) .  I also wish you could list the awards and medals the average 503 trooper is entitled to wear.  I hope this is not on overload on you, but I have a project going with troopers from other outfits and I need to settle these issues.

Regards
Tony Sierra

 

 

BOOZE AND BOOTY | THE TRUCK | THE CORREGIDOR BRASS TURKEY SHOOT | FT MILLS PLAQUE | BOB HOPE AT NOEMFOOR | NO SUICIDE CLIFF | 'DOC' BRADFORD | MYSTERIOUS WAYS | MY FIRST COMBAT PATROL | THE DEATH OF BENNY SLOWE | MIRACLE AT NOEMFOOR | THE DEATH OF KARSTEN HALL | SONGS & SLOGANS |WATER, WATER NOWHERE | NO SMOKING! | BRONZE STAR AT BANZAI POINT | ON THE BEACH AT CORREGIDOR | REUNION GOSSIP 1949  |  CORREGIDOR WHISKEY

 

 

 

 

         

OUR WEBSITES

AUTHORS

FEATURES

STAND IN THE DOOR!

FOLLOW

Corregidor Then and Now

Don Abbott

The Lost Road

Battlebook - Corregidor

Bulletin Board / Feedback Forum

503d PRCT Heritage Bn.

Gerry Riseley

Combat Over Corregidor

Japanese Unit & Troop Strength

503d WWII Honor Roll

Rock Force

William T. Calhoun

Amid th' Encircling Gloom

Ft. Benning Monographs

Taps

Coast Artillery Manila & Subic Bays

John Lindgren

The Rock Patch

503d PIR as a Case Study

Rock Force Honor Roll

4th Marines on Corregidor

George M. Jones

By Order of Maj. Kline

Engineers' Report - Corregidor

Site & Navigation Info

Bless 'Em All

James P. Lowe

 

 

 

503d PRCT Assn Official Website

Robert W. Armstrong

REFERENCES

FILM CLIPS

503D HERITAGE

Concrete Battleship

Verne White

1936 Corregidor Map

503d Jump at Nadzab

by Article Title

Battle of Manila

Jim Mullaney

2/503 Vietnam Newsletter

Cleaning Up Corregidor

by Author Name

Fall of the Philippines

(more)

1945 Jump Map

Interview - Clevenger

by List of Recent Articles 

 

 GO TO CONTENTS

The 503d PRCT Heritage Battalion is the Official Website of the 503d Parachute RCT Association of WWII Inc. Join with us and share the 503d Heritage and values.

So that the last man standing shall not stand alone.

 

 

Copyright , 1999-2011 - All Rights Reserved to The Corregidor Historic Society, 503d PRCT Heritage Bn. & Rock Force.Org
Last Updated: 29-03-11