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William Osborne file photo [32841]

William Osborne

Given NameWilliam
Born13 Dec 1913
Died17 Feb 1985
CountryUnited States


ww2dbaseWilliam Lloyd Osborne was born in Prescott, Arizona, United States in 1913. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1936. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the US Army in 1940, inititally serving with the 7th Infantry Division, and later deployed to the Philippines as a company commander with the Philippine Scouts at the rank of captain. After Japan defeated US forces in the Philippines in 1942, Osborne and Lieutenant Damon Gause of the US Army Air Corps worked with Filipino partisans to arrange for a 22-foot boat with a diesel engine, aboard which, with only a map torn out of a National Geographic magazine and their standard-issue infantry compass, the pair made their way to Australia. Osborne was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross medal by General Douglas MacArthur for his service in the Philippines. He was later relocated to Fort Benning, Georgia, United States as a jungle warfare instructor at the infantry school. When the US Army called for volunteers for a secretive mission, he volunteered. Charles Hunter, the senior volunteer for the operation, hand-picked Osborne as one of the two officers who would assist him in organizing what would be named the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), later more popularly known by their unofficial nickname "Merrill's Marauders". After training at Camp Deogarh in Central Provinces, India, Lieutenant Colonel Osborne was made the commanding officer of 5307th's 1st Battalion. He participated in the grueling campaign through the dense jungles of northern Burma toward Myitkyina, during which he had proven himself as a capable leader on the front. Upon the successful completion of the Myitkyina campaign, the 5307th was reconstituted as the 475th Infantry Regiment, a component of the MARS Task Force, at the rank of colonel. He retired from military service in 1966, with his final posting being the assistant chief of staff of the US 6th Army stationed in San Francisco, California, United States. He moved to Monterey, California, United States. He passed away in 1985 and was buried at the Monterey City Cemetery.

Gavin Mortimer, Merrill's Marauders

Last Major Revision: Jan 2024

William Osborne Interactive Map

William Osborne Timeline

13 Dec 1913 William Osborne was born in Prescott, Arizona, United States.
25 Mar 1944 Lieutenant Colonel William Osborne of 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) sent a platoon to attack the Japanese along the Kamaing Road as a diversion for another group of his troops to advance down the trail toward the main objective, Shaduzup, Burma. Meanwhile, Men of Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr.'s 2nd Battalion departed the village of Ngagahtwang at 0500 hours, many wounded in tow. Colonel Charles Hunter, whose radio is broken, surveyed the field in an L-4 aircraft and spotted McGee's column. Realizing the many wounded after landing and speaking to McGee, he ordered the aircraft to return without him, and to quickly return with litters to help evacuate the wounded. Hunter scolded McGee for foolish field decisions, but McGee told him that some of the tactical decisions were made by Frank Merrill directly, thus deepening the chasm between McGee/Merrill and Hunter. Finally, on 3rd Battalion's front, Japanese troops attacked in force, destroying the radio set carried by Lieutenant Logan Weston of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon, thus rendering him without communications; he made contact with Lieutenant Warren Smith also of 3rd Battalion, who assisted with Weston's retreat.
17 May 1944 At Myitkyina, Burma, Colonel Charles Hunter ordered Chinese 150th Regiment to attack the airstrip west of the city, and ordered 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) under Lieutenant Colonel William Osborne to capture the ferry terminal at Pamati one mile southwest of the airstrip on the Irriwady River. The Chinese attack began at 1030 hours and the airstrip was captured at 1200 hours, with most Japanese troops falling back into the city aboard trucks. 1st Battalion Red Combat Team remained at the ferry terminal and White Combat Team moved to the airstrip to reinforce the Chinese. At 1530 hours, Joseph Stilwell learned of the success, and gleefully noted in his diary that this capture would embarrass the British. When informed of the capture, Louis Mountbatten was angered by Stilwell's decision to hide this offensive from him. Nevertheless, Mountbatten gracefully sent a message to Stilwell to praise his leadership and to congratulate the success. Stilwell, however, did not think of sending any messages to the commanders in the field to thank them. Colonel Charles Hunter, the tactical commander, was surprised that his superior Frank Merrill failed to show in the first group of aircraft to land at Myitkyina Airfield; instead, Merrill sent a team of engineers to repair an airstrip even though Hunter had already reported that the airfield was captured in tact. Merrill also failed to send any badly needed food and ammunition. Shortly after capturing the airfield, Hunter ordered K Force of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) to move toward the airfield with speed. On the Japanese side, troops were quickly gathered at Tingkrukawng to the northeast and would arrive at Myitkyina within 24 hours.
10 Aug 1944 In Burma, US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) was reconstituted as the 475th Infantry Regiment, with Colonel William Osborne as its commanding officer.
17 Feb 1985 William Osborne passed away in Pebble Beach, California, United States.

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More on William Osborne
Event(s) Participated:
» Invasion of the Philippine Islands
» Battle of Myitkyina

Related Books:
» Merrill's Marauders

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