As the 9th Division advanced rapidly towards Lae it became apparent that it would not be possible for road building to keep pace with the advance, given the nature of the ground that had to be negotiated. Supplies could be moved forward only as far as Aluki, where a DID was established. A road from there to the Apo fishing village was supposed to be completed on the second day but the engineers found the ground to be traversed swampy and three creeks that would have to be bridged. The situation worsened after torrential rains began on the night of 6 September, flooding the swamps, turning the tracks into quagmires and damaging a large quantity of broken-down perishable commodities.
The 532nd EBSR was called upon for help. In the early hours of 7 September, 5 LCMs and 6 LCVPs were sent forward from Red Beach laden with supplies, rations and ammunition. Five LCVPs and three LCMs were unloaded near the Apo fishing village and one LCM at Singaua Beach, where a small dump was established in the nearby Copra Shed. This was no simple matter for the amphibian engineers, for their landing craft were not equipped with chartrooms or navigational equipment and, owing to a shortage of non-magnetic steel, their compasses were none too reliable either. Nonetheless, they somehow managed to make their way in the dark, avoiding the dangers of uncharted reefs and submerged rocks and landing on the wrong beach. The uncharted reefs turned out to be there alright and rendered the approach to the beach too dangerous for regular use.
On reflection, there is quite a bit of military jargon here. A DID is a supply dump; an LCVP is a 36 foot landing craft; an LCM is a 50 foot landing craft. The EBSR Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment are Americans, while the 9th Division The Rats of Tobruk are Aussies.
The text weaves three different (but overlapping) accounts into one: one by the 9th Division service corps, one by the 9th Division engineers and one by the amphibian engineers. There is a little additional material. I try to explain (but not too well) why sailing a landing craft in the dark is a bad idea. But on reflection it doesn't convey the extraordinary efforts of the Australian and American engineers. Nor does it make clear that Americans didn't have to put themselves in danger like this.
The damage to the perishables referred to in the first paragraph was incurred during the unloading referred to in the second. Here, the phrase needs to be moved down somehow without breaking up the narrative. Some of the phrases still read stilted to me; it should all flow, and seamlessly, ie without anyone noticing where the accounts switch.