Private James Joseph Farley


James Joseph Farley
4620 Maypole Avenue, Chicago, IL
Father, Mr. Thomas C. Farley
January 14, 1942
October 9, 1942
Guadalcanal B/1/2 Private KIA
Purple Heart
Lost at sea, Sealark Channel
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial

Birth and Early Life:
James Farley was born to Thomas and Julia Farley of Chicago, Illinois around the year 1924. He grew up surrounded by siblings on West Maypole Avenue, worked as an usher in a nearby theater, and graduated from high school in 1941.

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
After enlisting on January 14, 1942, Farley was sent to MCRD San Diego. He had a harder time than most in boot camp, and was confined to a hospital in San Luis Obispo for several weeks; by the time he was allowed back on active duty the rest of his recruit platoon had long since graduated.

Wartime Service:
Private Farley was sent to the Second Marines at the eleventh hour; within weeks of his arrival, his battalion (First Battalion; Farley was a member of Company B) boarded the USS President Jackson for a two-month sail across the Pacific. After leaving the United States, Farley set foot on land only once before making an awkward and embarrassing mock landing on the island of Koro. There was no time for a second rehearsal; the ships weighed anchor and steamed off for the Solomon Islands.

At dawn on August 7, 1942, Private Farley made his first combat landing on August 7, 1942; his company assaulted Florida Island in support of the landings on Guadalcanal just a few miles away. They encountered no live enemy and quickly secured their objective. Later that day 1/2nd Marines re-boarded their landing craft to return to the USS President Jackson, but Company B was diverted and ordered to make a landing on Tanambogo under cover of darkness. Planners hoped that the assault would relieve some of the pressure on the Paramarines fighting on nearby Gavutu, but the Japanese discovered the company’s boats and opened fire. Only a third of the men, mostly from First Platoon, made it to shore; the rest were driven off. The role that Farley’s Second Platoon played is unknown, but they likely never touched dry land on Tanambogo.

Company B rejoined their battalion on now-conquered Tulagi a few days later. For the next two months, they garrisoned the tiny island. There were no Japanese to fight and little else to do; the men occupied themselves by building shelters, constructing fortifications they would never use (at least one company built a double line of barricades from sharpened eight foot logs, simply to stay busy), standing guard duty, and battling boredom. The first cases of malaria and dysentery were reported, and the worst cases evacuated.

Date Of Loss:
On October 9, 1942, Lieutenant Floyd E. Parks called his platoon together for a briefing. They were finally leaving Tulagi and heading for the fighting on Guadalcanal – and would be making a combat landing at the village of Aola, thirty miles from the nearest friendly forces. Most of the Marines welcomed this break in the monotony, and spent the day packing up their few belongings and combat loading their packs.

That evening, Second Platoon climbed into a Higgins boat tethered to a YP craft that would tow them the twenty miles from Tulagi to Aola. Night had fallen by the time they reached the center of Sealark Channel; the plywood Higgins boats groaning and creaking under the strain of their load. Each YP boat towed four Higgins boats lashed together in a chain, which meant the first boat in the chain took the most stress.

James Farley and his platoon were unfortunate enough to be in the first boat. When their YP suddenly increased its speed, the plywood hull of the Higgins boat split in half, dumping Second Platoon into the channel. Loaded down as they were for a combat landing, many of the Marines never had a chance to get out of their gear. Fourteen Marines of Second Platoon – including teenaged Private Farley – drowned in the channel, vanishing without a trace.

Next Of Kin:
Father, Mr. Thomas C. Farley

Status Of Remains:
Lost at sea.

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.

4 thoughts on “Private James Joseph Farley

  1. James Joseph Farley, son of Thomas and Julia Farley, was my cousin. His mother, Julia, was my the sister of my grandmother, Mamie Schmitz.. There was an official sign honoring James J. Farley on a corner lamp post just above or just below the street sign probably on Maypole Avenue in the block where Jim Farley had lived. On Memorial Day when we lived a few blocks away on the West Side, my family would go to the memorial sign, stand underneath, and I would play “Taps” on the saxophone while my brothers Jim and John would play the drums. We probably played the Marine Corps Hymn, too, on those Memorial Days. I was born in 1944, John in 1942, and Jim in 1946. We never met Jim Farley, and by the time we used to assemble by the sign on Memorial Day, his family had moved to Los Angeles. But we went anyway. I always wondered how Jim Farley died and have looked on the Internet and in Guadalcanal books several times. This is the first time I ever discovered how Jim Farley, my cousin, died. Thanks to all the people involved in creating this website and gathering this information. Signed: Jerry Crimmins, Chicago, Illinois.

    1. Mr. Crimmins, thank you for sharing your memories. I think you might be interested in the book “Guadalcanal, Tarawa and Beyond: A Mud Marine’s Memoir of the Pacific Island War.” The author, William Rogal, served with A/1/2nd Marines, and has a vivid description of crossing from Tulagi to Guadalcanal in the Higgins boats. His company made it across intact, but he mentions the loss of the B Company platoon.


      1. Geoffrey, whoever researched the Marines career and death of Pvt. James Farley is very dedicated. Thank you. I’ll check out the book you recommend.

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