Conrath Project Updates 2022
A recent development in the Ted Conrath project has been making contact with David of the YouTube Channel "Guadalcanal: Walking a Battlefield." As Ted had been at Guadalcanal as part of the 164th infantry, it has always been an area of research that needed to be filled out. David, who currently lives in Australia, is a former Marine and walks the island of Guadalcanal, filming important landmarks often providing overlays of photos from 1942 when the U.S. was in a bitter conflict with the Japanese.
David was kind enough to take some interest in Ted's artwork and was able to identify several locations on Guadalcanal in Ted's paintings. He first noticed a jeep road heading up a ridge. This painting sits beside my bed, and I had often looked at this particular mark, marveling at the decisive cut into the paint, cleaved with one sweep of a knife or even a thumbnail.
From there, we were able to match up several hill patterns with Ted's third battalion's movements late in November of 1942. This part of the battle is often overlooked in deference to the early battles by the Marines at Alligator Creek. But it was this area that Ted painted. (We think.) And upon further research, it became apparent why: his men were forced into a frontal assault on the entrenched soldiers of the Japanese Army high in the hills of the island. Between them were steep ravines of death. Ted's company was ravaged over three days into a stalemate. The Marines were brought in and passed through their line only to meet the same result. In the 1970's, a sign on Guadalcanal still stood, marking the lines held by Ted's 164th.
With David's help, the narrative arc of the book has been given real shape. I finally have a scene for the paintings.
This discovery led to a true skin-raising set of events: I was able to track down a survivor of the Battle of Guadalcanal, who was in Ted's battalion. He will be 99 this year. Colonel Richard Stevens. I spoke with him over the phone, and it is something I will never forget. He was able to place Co. K, Ted's company, on hill 81 during the crucial press for Koli Point. Colonel Steven's memory is phenomenal, and we have plans to chat more next week.
In November of last year, the Eberbacher Geschichtsblatt published a 31-page article I'd written for them on Ted Conrath, finding his paintings, and the research I'd done into his family of artists. The historical magazine was put together with tremendous care and meticulousness, crafted and curated by Dr. Marius Golgath. He and I had been corresponding and working together on this for over a year. He took my article and translated it into German.
After its publication, journalist Jutta Biener-Drews, wrote an article on it in the regional paper the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung. That was then picked up by World Today News, which translated it into English.