Finding aid (Word)
Robert H. Mugalian served in the Southwest Pacific during World War II. As an Ensign, he commanded USS LCT 373 during Operation Oboe II, the third Allied landing on Borneo, on 1 July 1945. LCT 373 was one of ten LCTs to take a squadron of Australian Matilda tanks to the beach in the sixth wave. Promoted to Lieutenant (jg), he continued his service with the 7th Amphibious Force until the end of the war.
The third Allied operation in the drive to capture the island of Borneo, Operation Oboe II was slated to land at Balikpapan on 1 July 1945. Seventh Amphibious Force commander Rear Admiral Daniel Barbey selected Rear Admiral Albert G. Noble's Task Group 78.2 to make the run to the beach. The 7th Division, I Australian Corps, commanded by Major General E. J. Milford, was assigned to make the landing.
At 0700 on 1 July 1945, following a month of minesweeping and air strikes, seven cruisers and destroyers began a two-hour bombardment of the landing area. A signalman's error sent the first wave in ahead of schedule, and it arrived on the beach at 0855, five minutes before H-Hour. Another 16 waves followed, the last landing on the beach 1055. All 17 waves made landfall without taking a single casualty. By sunset, 10,500 troops (two brigades), 700 vehicles, and 1,950 tons of supplies had been landed. A third brigade came ashore the following day.
On 5 July, supported by a preliminary bombardment, troops landed at Point Penjam, which had been abandoned by the Japanese the night before. Conditions at Balikpapan quickly stabilized, and on 7 July Admiral Noble departed for Leyte. The Australian 25th Brigade continued to move inland from Balikpapan toward Samarinda. By 22 July, Japanese opposition on the island had been overcome at the cost of 229 Australian casualties.
Robert J. Cressman, The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2000): 331.
Samuel Eliot Morison, History of United States Naval Operations in World War II vol. 13 (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1959): 267-76.
Scope and Content Note
This collection contains materials related to LCTs and their use in the Allied landings at Balikpapan during Operation Oboe II in July 1945. There are two series. In the first are documents describing the configuration of LCTs and the Navy's official crew specifications for the craft.
Series II contains clippings, operational planning documents, and Mugalian's description of Oboe II. Also in this series are 39 photographs taken during Oboe II showing tanks loaded onboard LCTs, the use of destroyers and cruisers offshore, and troops approaching and landing on the beach at Balikpapan. The photographs were numbered and described by Mugalian.
This collection should be cited as Papers of Robert H. Mugalian, Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C.