THE CONFORSOLS

Posted By : manager

Posted : January 30, 2024

By Rick Hatcher

In the fierce July-August 1943 fighting in the Solomon Islands Campaign (the battle for Guadalcanal, the most famous) US forces established an airfield on New Georgia Island. Not long afterward a chain of events led to the establishment of the Confederate Forces of the Solomon Islands or CONFORSOLS.

The idea began to take hold in early November 1943 when Atlanta, GA native USN Lt. John S. Hill observed that they were surrounded by (coconut) plantations on New Georgia Island in the South Pacific. USNR Lt. Joesph Bryan of Richmond, VA wrote his father about their location and he in turn related it to Douglass Southall Freeman, author of the books “R. E. Lee” and “Lee’s Lieutenants.” In early November Freeman sent Bryan a small Confederate flag with a “commission” to “claim and colonize in the name of Jefferson Davis.” The flag was attached to a dowel and placed in a jelly jar on the desk, of the commanding officer USMC Col. William O. Brice of Winnsboro, SC. Soon very Southern names including “Dixie Belle,” “Traveller,” & “Scarlett O’Hara” began to appear on the squadron’s planes.
On the 16th, before an inspection by Lt. Commander John E. Lawrence, from Boston, MA, Marine Staff Sgt. James L. Moore from Starkville, MS put up a sign that read: I SMELL YANKEE! When Lawrence and Bryan saw it, they both laughed so loud that it drew Col. Brice’s attention who also laughed.

By evening news of the incident had spread across the island and the next day the Colonel’s office was inundated by Army, Navy, & Marine officers & enlisted men, all insisting the Confederacy organize its forces with Brice as commanding officer. He refused initially, but when he was shouted down, he yielded to their demands and accepted the position. He then issued Gen. Order No. 1: CONFEDERATE FORCES SOLOMONS HEADQUARTERS OF THE COMMAND 17 NOV. 1943 Effective at once, the following enemy priorities are assigned: Yankees first, Japs second. W. O. Brice Colonel, CSA 

The only requirement for membership in the CONFORSOLS was Southern birth or residence, but this was not strictly enforced and the organization grew to embrace those who could prove Southern affiliation in other ways. The membership included, among others, two soldiers from South Island, New Zealand, a USMC major from Southern California, and a soldier who lived on the south side of his town in Nebraska.
Meetings were held after the beer ration was issued, loaded on a plane that flew to an altitude of 16,000 ft., and rapidly descended to chill the beer. The usual order of business began with the recitation of one or two stanzas from “I’m a good old rebel” and then included members’ fictitious ancestors’ conversations with Gen. R. E. Lee.

The CONFORSOLS conducted three “missions” before disbanding. The first occurred on the 83rd anniversary of South Carolina’s secession – December 20, 1943. That day two dive bomb-ers, each displaying a Confederate Flag, raided a “Yankee fortress” (a Japanese airfield). Each plane dropped its bombs and a dozen beer bottles stuffed with notes like “Revenge for Gettys-burg!” One can only imagine what the Japanese thought if any of the messages were translated. The next “mission” was by sea on New Year’s Day 1944. The CONFORSOLS landed on Wana-wana (Vonavona) Island, planted a Confederate Flag, and claimed it in the name of “Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.” Their final mission was on General Lee’s birthday, January 19, 1944, with a bomb and beer bottle raid on the “Yankee fortress.” A wire service reporter heard of the raid and wrote an article about it which not only “got quite a play at home.” but made it to the Secretary of the Navy’s office. To avoid possible adverse repercussions the CONFORSOLS met a final time and disbanded. 

This article is based on an account from Joseph Bryan III’s book: The Sword Over The Mantel The Civil War and I (McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1960).

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