The Umurbrogol Pocket: 29 September-15 October1
PROBLEM AND SOLUTION2The imminent conclusion of operations on northern Peleliu and the island of Ngesebus once again shifted the focus of attention to the center of Peleliu, where Colonel Nakagawa still held out in his final strongpoint, the Umurbrogol ridges. In this area, nature and the Japanese appeared to have conspired to block access to any force intent on seizing the fortress. The terrain was such that it was practically impossible to make an accurate measurement of the dimensions of the pocket, though the closest estimate described it as 1,900 yards north to south on its eastern side, approximately 1,200 yards long in the west, and, on the average, 550 yards wide from east to west. (See Map 12).
A scrutiny of the terrain in which the final operations on Peleliu took place clearly indicates the difficulties inherent in assessing the size of this relatively small pocket. The ridges of the Umurbrogol system were higher, longer, and more densely compressed than the hills occupying the northern portion of the island. Even though the highest elevation among the coral ridges was only about 300 feet, the sides of such hills were, as a rule, extremely steep and fissured. Many had razor-back summits devoid of any cover or concealment. Deep draws and gullies, the floors of which were often interspersed with coral boulders and outcropping, were commonplace. The "chaotic jumble of steep coral ridges"3 defies accurate description, though it has been said that:
The exotic-sounding name Umurbrogol Mountain became associated with some of the most unpleasantly exotic terrain on the face of creation. . . . But words are inadequate, photographs not much better. One has to see it fully to believe it.4
A participant in the battle was to recall many years later:
Our language just does not contain words that can adequately describe the horrible inaccessibility of the central ridge line on Peleliu. It was a nightmare's nightmare if there ever was one. Unfortunately, during the planning stage of the campaign we did not fully realize the nature of the ground so it caught us pretty much by surprise when we actually came upon it. Nothing in our planning studies and subsequent development of plans led us to realize how terrible it was. The maps
Map 12: Umurbrogol Pocket
we had were lacking badly in accurate terrain configurations, and the relatively few aerial photos we at Corps Headquarters were permitted to receive did not give us much of a clue, probably because the vegetation hid the exact nature of the ground from our photo interpreters and the rest of us. So, we were somewhat unprepared for what actually existed. I think this led both naval and ground force commanders to make overly-optimistic predictions of the effectiveness of fires and capabilities of troops. The fact that the Marines and Army troops were able to capture the Umurbrogol Pocket at all is a tribute to sheer guts, tenacity, and unmatched bravery.5
This, then, was the ground that the Japanese had pledged to defend to the death. Nature had done its share to aid the defending force, for the numerous hills in the pocket contained an undetermined number of caves, which the Japanese had skillfully exploited for the defense. These caves, mostly natural formations, lacked the size and sophistication of defenses on northern Peleliu, which had borne witness to the ingenuity and skill of Japanese naval engineers and miners. In contrast to the Navy, the Japanese Army had been primarily interested in adapting the terrain to defensive combat. As a result, the Army caves were constructed as covering or mutually supporting positions. Most of the Army caves were small; however, the few larger ones were ingeniously employed for the emplacement of heavy weapons. Out of the almost perpendicular coral ridges the Japanese had blasted a series of interconnecting caves, whose destruction was to prove by far the most difficult feature of the entire operation. The caves varied in size from simple holes, large enough to accommodate two men, to large tunnels with passageways on either side which were large enough to contain artillery, 150mm mortars, and ammunition. Some of the latter caves were equipped with doors that had been camouflaged.
All of the Japanese defensive positions, carefully chosen and well camouflaged, had excellent fields of fire. For all practical purposes they were immune to naval gunfire, bombardment by artillery and mortars, or bombing and strafing. Enemy small arms fire was particularly accurate, indicating thorough training in rifle marksmanship. Marines frequently were killed or wounded by enemy fire from positions 200-400 yards away.
The most outstanding landmarks and prominent elevations within the Umurbrogol Pocket were: Walt Ridge, occupying and dominating the southeast corner of the pocket, parallel to the East Road. Boyd Ridge, north of Walt, and separated from it by a depression which was 70 yards wide; an unnamed ridge which ran between Boyd Ridge and the 321st Infantry Trail; the Horseshoe or Horseshoe Valley, also known as Five Brothers Ridge. West of the Five Brothers was another valley, known variously as Main Valley, Little Slot, and finally as Wildcat Bowl. This depression was enclosed to the west by the China Wall, to the southeast by a jagged ridge known as Five Sisters. Another narrow depression, ominously designated as Death Valley, separated the Five Sisters and China Wall from
the coral ridges dominating the West Road. Except for slight variations, all of the Umurbrogol ridges extended from northeast to southwest or from north to south.
While the situation of the Japanese in the pocket was serious, it was by no means desperate. Colonel Nakagawa was able to report on 28 September that his Peleliu Area Unit main force was about the size of two and a half battalions.6 The Japanese garrison was not running short of food or ammunition, though individual prisoners occasionally reported a shortage of water. Such a lack of water was eliminated when heavy rains came to Peleliu on and after 28 September, in advance of far more severe weather that was shortly to hit the island. For the Japanese this rain was a godsend, and they trapped enough water in underground cisterns to last for months. Nor was the Umurbrogol Pocket as isolated as appeared at first hand, for unknown to the Marines, Colonel Nakagawa's command post maintained constant telephone communication over a sub-oceanic cable with General Inoue on Babelthuap. Throughout the prolonged operation on Peleliu, the existence of this cable was never suspected by the Americans.7
Though the Japanese in the pocket undoubtedly were aware that their annihilation was merely a matter of time, such realization did not affect an obviously high state of morale, During the last days of September, the 7th Marines attempted on several occasions to bring about the surrender of the enemy through leaflets and broadcasts over a public address system. In each instance, no positive results were attained, and the regiment was forced to report that the effect of propaganda leaflets had been absolutely nil. As a final resort, a prisoner was dispatched into the pocket to entice his compatriots to give themselves up. This maneuver produced mixed results. The first cave visited by this emissary, who was armed only with rations and cigarettes, was occupied by Japanese Army personnel who not only refused outright to consider his request but threw a hand grenade at him. Undaunted by such a discouraging reaction, the emissary visited a second cave, occupied by nine laborers. There a more friendly reception awaited him. The laborers listened and, emerging from the cave unarmed, surrendered to the Marines.
During the period from 22-27 September, the Japanese defending the Umurbrogol ridges had escaped the full wrath of the American assault, which at that time was directed against the northern portion of Peleliu and Ngesebus. In fact, no offensive operations were launched against the pocket during this period. The Japanese, on their part, remained generally quiet in the daytime and launched sporadic sorties against the American lines only under cover of darkness. During the lull in the fighting in this sector, elements of RCT 321 remained deployed along the northern fringes of the pocket near the 321st Infantry Trail, and the 7th Marines held the ridges adj scent to the West Road between the airfield and the trail. Korean laborers surrendering at the northeastern tip of the pocket near Hill
B on 27 September estimated that 3,000 Japanese remained in the Umurbrogol ridges.
In spite of the large number of Japanese remaining in a compact but extremely well-defended bastion the 1st Marine Division estimated on 29 September that:
enemy resistance, except for the griml- defined pocket in the high ground north of the airfield, came to a virtual end. . . . Despite continuing resistance, for all practical purposes, Palau Operation was completed!8
On the following day, CTF 32 reported that Peleliu, Angaur, Ngesebus, and Kongauru had been captured and occupied, and that base development had been initiated and could proceed without enemy interference.
All hopes to the contrary, the bloodletting that marked the battle of Peleliu was far from over. Once again, tattered and grimy Marines would have to assault cave after cave with rifles, bayonets, and flamethrowers before the finish to one of the bloodiest operations of the war could be written. Conquest of the unyielding fortress could be achieved only through relentless and aggressive force applied against the weakest part of the pocket. Once this weak spot had been uncovered, aggressive action on the part of the Marines would do the rest.
THE 7TH MARINES ON THE OFFENSIVE9Nearly a week had passed since the 1st Marines battered itself against Bloody Nose Ridge and the 7th Marines failed in the attempt to penetrate into the Umurbrogol from the southeast. As September drew to a close, the 1st Marines was preparing to leave Peleliu, handing to the 7th Marines and Army troops the task of overcoming whatever resistance remained on the island. The only gains made in the central area of Peleliu during the last week of September were in the north. There, men of the 321st Infantry Regiment had made a small advance southward from the trail bordering the pocket to the north. The Japanese still retained control of the dominating hills.
Even while operations on Ngesebus Island and in northern Peleliu were progressing in high gear, General Rupertus orally ordered 2/321 to move to Ngesebus to relieve elements of the 5th Marines on that island. On 29 September, 1/7 relieved the remainder of RCT 321 along the northern perimeter of the Umurbrogol pocket. The men of the 321st proceeded to the northern tip of Peleliu to assist the 5th Marines in subduing that portion of the island. The 7th Marines assumed responsibility for operations throughout the Umurbrogol pocket as of 29 September. The movement of troops took place while heavy rains and winds were buffeting the entire island, and roads turned into quagmires which impeded all movement. In fact, throughout 28 September and part of the following two days, the weather remained foul, and heavy rain squalls with strong westerly winds stopped unloading on the western
beaches and retarded unloading on the eastern beaches.
On 29 September, the northern perimeter of the Umurbrogol Pocket ran slight]y south of the 321st Infantry Trail, which it paralleled for about 400 yards. This line, designated as Phase Line X, passed through West and East Roads and angled southeastward from the 321st Infantry Trail to skirt Boyd Ridge in the northeastern tip of the pocket. Passing through extremely broken terrain, it was not a solid front line but a series of outposts deployed on the more elevated ridges. The most prominent terrain features directly south of this line were two hills known as Waitie and Baldy Ridges, which formed the northern anchor of the Japanese pocket. To the east of Walt Ridge, the extensive swamp bordering the pocket was considered so inaccessible to friend and foe alike that the Americans committed no troops in this area. Consequently, the ring of encirclement was manned only from the north, west, and south. In order to make as many men of the infantry battalions available for the assault as could be mustered, elements of the supporting arms helped hold the containing line.
Initially, the southern perimeter of the pocket was assigned to the 7th Marines Weapons Company, which moved into positions facing the mouth of the Horseshoe across the swamp. The company left flank skirted the base of Hill 300 and the Five Sisters. Along the west side of the pocket, a variety of units consisting of Marine artillerymen, engineers and pioneers, and personnel from amphibian tractor battalions manned a containing line. which extended for about 750 yards between the western terminus of Phase Line X and Bloody Nose Ridge. At night these lines were strongly reinforced by personnel from division headquarters. Along the northwestern edge of the pocket, 2/7 occupied containing lines, which had remained substantially unchanged since 21 September, when the battalion had first moved into these positions.
General Rupertus assigned the mission of reducing the Umurbrogol Pocket to 1/7 and 3/7. Both battalions were to attack southward from Phase Line X at 0800, 30 September. On the left, 1/7 was to attack along the East Road, secure the ridges dominating the road, and maintain contact with 3/7. While these preparations were being made, a company of the 710th Tank Battalion, together with units of the 1st Marines were readying for departure from Peleliu on 29 September.
An air strike against the pocket was scheduled for 1530, 29 September, aimed at shattering the complacency of the Japanese in the Umurbrogol. Because of inclement weather and poor visibility, it first appeared that the strike would have to be called off, but then it was decided to attack as scheduled, despite the weather. In a way, the strike, the first of many, was unique because the Corsairs were able to make the run from the airfield to Bloody Nose Ridge in only 15 seconds. Frequently the planes never even bothered to raise their wheels.10 Over the pocket the aircraft released napalm bombs. Shortly thereafter, heavy explosions and a pall of smoke obscured the pocket, while
fires on the hillsides and in the depressions raged unchecked. This is how aerial warfare looked to the Marine aviators on Peleliu:
After an observation hop to ascertain the facts about this incomparable cave country Major Stout's division was briefed at the division CP and took off at 1515 with 1,000 lb. bombs. The whole show could be seen right from our ready tent and from the tower top you could see right into the draw. Smoke bombs were used on the deck for a reference circle and Stout's flight laid them in without difficulty. It was a bit ticklish, but none landed or ricocheted outside the 400 yards area or the caves. . . . Sixteen planes returning from a bombing mission against Babelthuap took a good look at the damage done by Major Stout's flight in the horseshoe next to Bloody Nose Ridge and reported it was considerable.11
Regrettably, this impressive display of low-level bombing, though it must have rocked the Japanese in their caves, failed to diminish their capacity to resist. Prisoners captured later said that the only effect of the bombs was to make a big noise.12 On the subject of air attacks, Colonel Nakagawa had only this laconic comment to make: "The enemy plan seems to be to burn down the central hills posts to ashes by dropping gasoline from airplanes."13
The disappointing results of this napalm strike and those that were to follow were probably due to the fact that the division concept of the proper employment of this weapon was in error. Based on incomplete reports of the Saipan operation, the 1st Marine Division felt that napalm would prove to be an excellent area weapon, highly effective in burning out areas of heavy foliage. There was no evidence to support this theory, and when used in this fashion, napalm was not effective.14
The night of 29-30 September was marked by numerous Japanese attempts to infiltrate the positions held by the 7th Marines. At approximately 2300, small enemy raiding parties, using hand grenades as their principal weapon, attacked company and battalion command posts, causing much confusion and a number of casualties. This infiltration was aided by a heavy rain which fell throughout the night. By 0100, four of the infiltrators had been killed in the 1/7 sector and quiet returned. At 0600, a Japanese occupying a foxhole within the battalion CP, was captured.15 The 2d Battalion, in anticipation of enemy infiltration attempts during the night, had strengthened the perimeter with 85 men from the 1st Pioneer Battalion and stretcher bearers from the 16th Field Depot, but the enemy limited himself to harassing the Marine lines with mortar fire. Japanese infiltration attempts against 3/7 resulted in the death of one Marine, the wounding of three others, and the killing of four Japanese.16
That these were not haphazard or random attempts at infiltration is illustrated by a Japanese view of the raids, expressed by Colonel Nakagawa on 30 September:
We are attempting to defeat the enemy by using our close-quarter combat tactics to the utmost. Last night two close-quarter combat units from the 15th Infantry Regiment,
2d Battalion, put 70 enemy personnel on the casualty list. The enemy's total loss for last night's attack was one hundred and scores of casualties, and a great deal of provisions and ammunition was captured. Besides this, enemy losses may be greater for 10 close-quarter combat parties are still hidden in enemy territory.17
Company B of 1/7 jumped off at 0800 on 30 September and in little more than two hours accomplished its assigned mission to seize a ridge just west of the East Road, at the northeastern tip of the pocket. From this vantage point, the company was to support the attack by Company A as it headed down East Road for the next ridge 100 yards to the south. The heavy rain, which already had forced cancellation of an air strike earlier that morning, also interfered with the jumpoff of Company A, whose attack did not get under way until 1245. The intervening time was used to good advantage by an engineer demolition team, which sealed all of the caves in the area seized that morning. When visibility improved, Company A attacked down the East Road, supported by three tanks and a LVT flamethrower. Following a mortar barrage against the second hill, Company A was able to continue the advance down the East Road, even though it drew machine gun fire from enemy positions further south. One of the tanks and the LVT eliminated the enemy machine guns and the forward movement continued. As a result, an advance of 300 yards to the south was achieved. Company C, previously held in reserve, was committed to occupy the newly seized territory. At 1530, the 7th Marines halted the advance and set up a defensive perimeter for the night. In addition to the ground captured, the Marines had destroyed an enemy mountain gun18 and a number of machine gun positions during the advance.
While 1/7 was pressing the attack down the East Road, 3/7 extended its line eastward in order to reduce the front of 1/7. Shortly before 1100, 3/7 received orders dividing it into two separate task organizations, one for the defense of the ridge line along the West Road and the other for support of the attack of 1/7 against the northern perimeter of the pocket. The commander of 3/7, Major Edward H. Hurst, took direct charge of a force consisting of Company L, one platoon of Company K, and part of Headquarters Company. The battalion executive officer, Major Victor H. Streit, was to employ the remainder of the battalion for the defense of the ridge line. During the afternoon, Company L aggressively patrolled forward of its lines, particularly against the hill designated as Baldy, but rain and fog made it necessary to withdraw the patrols for the night.19
In stationary positions parallel to the West Road, 2/7 occupied a ringside seat when at 0700, 30 September, VMF-114 carried out an air strike against the draws to the front of the 2d Battalion. The strike, conducted by 19 aircraft, attacked the horseshoe called "Death Valley," and dropped 20 half-ton bombs into an area only about 100 yards square. In the words of the aviators:
Again we were to bomb targets less than 1,100 yards from the airplane line. The Japs attempted to confuse our men by putting up white smoke against our colored smoke lines. However, it all went off well and 14 perfect hits were scored in an area skittishly small even for dive bombing with releases as low as 500 or 600 feet. Two bombs were duds and two bursts were made in the air after ricocheting off the ridge. Plenty of margin of safety and our bomb pattern adjudged satisfactory. After half the runs had been completed we got direct information from the regimental CP as to the exact position of each hit which made the balance of the bombing that much safer and more effective. A rain squall coming in from the north almost upset the show, but finally only delayed it for 10 minutes.20
Despite the accuracy of the air bombardment, the strike failed to achieve any conclusive results. Japanese resistance continued undiminished, and even before noon the 7th Marines Weapons Company reported that it was receiving rifle and machine gunfire from the area bombed earlier in the day.21 Bombardment from the air was followed by a mortar barrage against the Japanese, who for the remainder of the day retaliated by subjecting 2/7 to heavy sniper fire. Snipers to the rear of the battalion, presumably members of the raiding parties that had infiltrated during the previous night, also harassed the supply lines of the battalion.22
Even though the gains made by the 7th Marines during 30 September appeared promising, there was increasing evidence that the battalions could not sustain the pace of the attack for long. On the last day of September, for instance, the effective strength of 1/7 was only 90 men. Dysentery, as much as enemy action, was responsible for this reduction in combat strength. The men blamed the intestinal disorders on the presence of an excessive number of large flies, which allegedly had been drawn to the area by the presence of a large number of unburied Japanese dead.23 To some extent, progress of 1st Division troops was slowed by growing combat fatigue and the shortage of personnel, the result of heavy casualties.24 The combat efficiency of 3/7 also was estimated to be below 50 percent for the first time, the decrease being attributed in part to an increase in the sick rate.25 The situation on Peleliu was perhaps best summed up by the division itself:
The early days of October brought with them a change in the complexion of the combat activity that had occurred during the previous month on Peleliu. The campaign had now become a battle of attrition ‹a slow, slugging yard by yard struggle to blast the enemy from his last remaining stronghold in the high ground to the north of the airfield. This drive constituted within itself almost a separate operation, the rugged, almost impassable terrain requiring more time to clean out than previously had been spent in clearing all the southern Palaus.26
The morning of 1 October dawned inauspiciously with continuing unabated rain and high winds. Once again the 7th Marines prepared to advance into the Umurbrogol pocket from the north. The zone of action consisted of a series
of precipitous coral ridges concealing an undetermined number of enemy well armed, adequately supplied, and with no apparent intention of surrendering. The seizure of Baldy Ridge was an essential step towards the further exploitation of the surrounding ridges.
At 0720 the left flank of Company L, 3/7, began to advance in an attempt to straighten the lines prior to a general attack on Baldy. The company gained about 75 yards during the first hour of the advance, but at this point the Marines were halted by heavy machine gun and small arms fire. Because of the precipitous slope and the strength of the enemy position on the peak, it was considered unwise to assault Baldy Ridge from the front, and 3/7 made no further progress for the remainder of the day.27
The 1st Battalion fared little better in attempting to link up with 3/7, though Company B reported visual contact at 1034. A friendly 155mm barrage against enemy positions on Baldy Ridge during the afternoon had to be lifted because shell fragments were landing in friendly lines.28
Aside from the limited advance of the 7th Marines on 1 October, the main activity for the day was the reorganization and movement of units. In the course of the morning, the 710th Tank Battalion relieved the Marine 1st Tank Battalion. The latter, together with the 1st Marines and 2/11, completed loading and stood by for departure. The next day the 1st Marines sailed for Pavuvu, the first echelon of troops to depart from Peleliu.29
At 0800, 1 October, 3/5 relieved 2/7 in the containing line along the southwestern perimeter of the Umurbrogol. In driving rain Companies E and G, 2/7 moved down to the West Road, where they were loaded into DUKWs and driven to the battalion bivouac area north of the airfield. Battalion headquarters and Company F returned via the trail running down Bloody Nose Ridge. After two continuous weeks in the line, the battalion was scheduled for a brief rest and hot food.30 On the same day an additional squadron of Corsair fighters, VMF-122, landed on the island. Despite heavy rain and poor overall visibility, the American troop movements did not escape Japanese detection. Shortly before 2000, two enemy float planes approached Peleliu, dropped two bombs in the vicinity of Purple Beach and departed, causing neither damage nor casualties.31
In order to forestall a stalemate similar to the one that had previously checked the advance of the Marines into the Umurbrogol and because of the dwindling strength of his battalions, General Rupertus decided to launch a massive attack against the pocket on 3 October. Instead of continuing the lagging advance from the difficult terrain in the north of the pocket, the division commander planned to shift his main effort to the southeast and seize the remainder of the East Road and adjacent
ridges in the southeastern part of the pocket. Once the initial objective had been achieved, the enemy strongholds in the pocket were vulnerable to attack from the flanks.
On the basis of earlier observations, it was strongly suspected that Colonel Nakagawa maintained a highly flexible reserve which could be rushed at very short notice to any threatened point within the perimeter of the pocket. As a result, the attack of 3 October called for a coordinated series of efforts from different directions. The 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, attacking northward, was to seize Walt Ridge. Attacking southward, 3/7 had the mission of taking Boyd Ridge. Once having captured their objectives, both battalions were to shift their advance westward into the center of the pocket. To forestall a head-on collision between the two battalions, different jumpoff times were assigned. The 3d Battalion was to remain in position until 2/7 had seized the objective and could indicate its position with smoke.
While the Japanese were preoccupied with this new threat, 3/5 was to extend its front to the east and attack the Five Sisters in the southern portion of the pocket. The 5th Marines Weapons Company, supported by armor of the 710th Tank Battalion, was to move into Horseshoe Valley and up East Road in order to support the attack of 3/5. The depleted 1/7 was to relieve the regimental weapons company in the containing line during the morning of 3 October. The ranks of 3/7 were reinforced with an engineer company, a platoon of the regimental weapons company, and a detachment of 52 men from the 1st Amphibian Tractor Battalion. Two tanks and one LVT flamethrower were also attached to the battalion.32
During the remainder of 2 October, the units to take part in the attack on the following morning regrouped as scheduled. The 3d Battalion, 7th Marines relieved 1/7 along the northeastern perimeter of the pocket. To make additional manpower available for the attack, detachments of artillerymen took over the line previously held by 3/7.
Before effecting the relief of 1/7, Major Hurst, commanding 3/7, conducted a physical reconnaissance of the 1st Battalion lines. The relief commenced shortly after 1500 in driving rain and was not completed until 1845.33 Major Hurst established his command post on a ridge adjacent to East Road about 300 yards behind the lines. At the CP of 2/7, preparations for the attack were also under way. Mindful of the heavy casualties that the Japanese had inflicted on 2/1 and 1/7 on 19 and 20 September in the same area, Lieutenant Colonel Spencer S. Berger, 2/7 commander, was taking every precaution to keep history from repeating. Initially, Berger conducted an aerial reconnaissance of the area, after which he and his staff carried out a ground reconnaissance. The intelligence officer reconnoitered the swamp to the east of East Road to ascertain whether a covered route of approach could be found. He soon discovered that it was not feasible to move a battalion through the
morass;34 the approach would have to be made in single file over a narrow trail, which was fully exposed to observation and fire from the enemy in positions on the high ground. During the evening of 2 October, the battalion commander held a pre-attack conference at his command post, where he directed that all requests for mortar fire would go through a central fire direction center. For this attack a provisional rifle company was to be formed from the regimental weapons company and attached to 2/7.
Throughout the day, hostile eyes had observed unusual movements outside the pocket, and Colonel Nakagawa duly reported: "It seems that the enemy acted as if preparing for an attack on our surrounded garrison units in the central hills."35 The Japanese did not have long to wait. At 0630 an intensive barrage by the 155mm guns and the massed fire of 81mm mortars of five battalions rocked the pocket, causing Colonel Nakagawa to report that "all through the night of the 2nd, the enemy fired 40,000 artillery shells from their positions on land and ships at our defense posts."36 During the closing phase of the bombardment, the mortars fired smoke shells in order to screen the advance of 2/7.
Less than half an hour after it started, the preparatory fire ceased and Company G moved out in a single file across the swamp leading towards Walt Ridge. By 0730, having advanced under cover of the smoke, the first platoon had secured a foothold on the southern end of the ridge and was making good progress. Up to this point Japanese resistance had been negligible, but once the Marines gained the ridge, they began to draw heavy fire not only from their front but also from the Five Brothers to the west, across the Horseshoe. Company E was ordered to advance through the right of Company G and continue the attack. Both companies became pinned down by heavy enemy fire and when casualties mounted, tanks and halftracks attached to the weapons company moved into the Horseshoe to cope with the Japanese on the Five Brothers and the western slope of Walt Ridge. At the same time, LVT flamethrowers proceeded up the East Road to neutralize Walt Ridge from the east. At 0900, the advance bogged down when the Marines drew murderous crossfire upon reaching the top of a high vertical cliff, which was separated from the adjacent hilltop by a saddle. Two out of every four men attempting to get across were hit, including the commander of Company G. At this point, the supporting tanks discovered a large cave with a concrete front at the foot of one of the Five Brothers. The cave was promptly neutralized, and its 60 Japanese occupants were killed.
While the two companies held on to their precarious hold atop the southernmost slope of Walt Ridge, Company F, bypassing the scene of the most bitter fighting, advanced northward on the East Road and prepared to assault Walt Ridge at a point north of the saddle where the advance of the two remaining companies had bogged down. The leading elements of company F had barely begun the climb when the company was ordered to pull back from the ridge and await further orders.
By this time, the tanks and halftracks supporting the infantry action in the Horseshoe were beginning to draw heavy mortar, artillery, and small arms fire. One halftrack was hit. Casualties mounted and it became increasingly difficult to evacuate the wounded. The tanks on the right flank along the crest reported that they were out of ammunition. The advance of the 2d Battalion had reached its limits. Having seized the southernmost crest of Walt Ridge, the 2d Battalion decided to consolidate, marking the northernmost positions with purple smoke, which signalled the 3d Battalion to begin the advance from the north.37
The attack by 3/7 began at 1020, when Companies K, I, and L moved out in that order. After crossing a ravine, which was covered by enemy small arms fire, a squad of Company K advanced 100 yards by 1130 and was halfway up a ridge paralleling the East Road. The rear half of the lead platoon was unable to get across the ravine because the enemy had stepped up his rate of fire. The remainder of the platoon detoured around the swamp to the east of the road and approached the ridge from that direction. By 1500, the entire company had gained the crest of Boyd Ridge. Accordingly, the battalion commander decided to send Company I through the swamp to effect a juncture with Company F of 2/7 and to build up a solid line on the left of Company K. Within the hour Company I established contact with Company F, but had to break it in order to stay tied in with Company K. In the end, Company I had to refuse its left flank, retaining only visual contact with Company F but remaining tied in with Company K on Boyd Ridge.
Following the successful capture of Boyd Ridge on 3 October by elements of the 3d Battalion, 2/7 continued its advance over the crest of Walt Ridge. At 1350 Company E moved through the right flank of Company G over a newly blasted trail, which the engineers had completed, while Company F advanced northward over the East Road. In midafternoon, Company F received the cheering news that elements of 3/7 were only 75 yards to their front. Shortly after 1600, the company tied in with 3/7 on the right and Company E of 2/7 to the left. At this point, elements of 1/7 relieved the exhausted men of Company G on top of Walt Ridge, and the company went into battalion reserve. Evening of 3 October found Companies B, E, and F on the crest of Walt Ridge, with Company F echeloned down the slope, where it tied in with the left of 3/7. Shortly before 1900, the attack was halted for the night. The provisional rifle company to the left of 2/7 was relieved by 1/7, which withdrew from positions forward of the causeway to the line previously held by the weapons company.38
In an action entirely separate from the operation taking place along the eastern perimeter of the Umurbrogol pocket, 3/5 attacked during the morning of 3 October from the south towards the Five Sisters with the objective of distracting the attention of the Japanese from the activities of the 7th Marines. Companies I and L ascended four out of the Five Sisters, while Company K,
supported by a tank, moved into Death Valley. There the difficult terrain, combined with increasing enemy resistance, prevented any further advance. In the course of the afternoon, 3/5 drew such heavy small arms fire from undetermined sources that the battalion withdrew and set up a line of defense about 100 yards from where it had jumped off in the morning.39
The multiple attacks of 3 October had resulted in the capture of Boyd and Walt Ridges as well as the opening of the East Road. Even then the road could not be considered safe for traffic as at least two sections of it remained under enemy fire. The 2d Battalion made these gains at a cost of 24 killed and 60 wounded against approximately 130 Japanese killed.40 The 3d Battalion lost 4 killed and 25 wounded against 22 enemy dead.41
On 3 October the Japanese were not the only enemy that the Marines had to contend with, for the weather had also taken a turn for the worse. The onset of unfavorable weather was particularly detrimental to Marine aviation on Peleliu, as VMF-114 reported:
No flights today of any kind. Two divisions stood by in the ready tent which nearly blew away in a 45 knot wind. Half of our maps were torn to shreds and the skipper came around with a dozen men to stake down the tent, before it was completely ruined. Huge breakers were pounding the beaches. Two LSTS tied up to what was once our pier on ORANGE Beach were pounding the coral and most of the shipping had been retired to Kossol Passage to ride out the storm. Most units ashore were put on two meals a day to stretch the food a little further. The water situation was not critical, but gasoline, bombs, and food were running short as nothing was being unloaded anywhere on the beaches.42
The discomfiture, which the inclement weather imposed on the Marines, promised to be a great boon for the Japanese on Babelthuap. Never slow to exploit an advantage, General Inoue and his staff felt that the time was ripe for another attempt to reinforce the Peleliu garrison.
We prepared to move the three battalions remaining at Babelthuap and the one battalion at Koror, together with group headquarters, to Peleliu around 2-3 October. We learned through a report that a typhoon was headed in the direction of Palau and planned to move during the storm which we knew would neutralize the American carrier-based planes. However, the typhoon did not approach the Palaus, and we did not have an adequate number of barges, so we cancelled this plan.43
Not all of the 1st Marine Division casualties occurred at the perimeter of the pocket. Death also stalked the quiet sectors of Peleliu. A case in point was the West Road, which represented the more vital artery between northern and southern Peleliu. For several days prior to 3 October, a stretch of the road known as Dead Man's Curve had come under intermittent sniper fire from the ridges dominating the road from the east. The snipers had filtered out of the pocket
into the caves along the jungle-covered bluffs adjoining the road in the vicinity of Wattie Ridge. The 1st Division Military Police Company, responsible for traffic control on the West Road, was so depleted that it was unable to eliminate this menace.
During the afternoon of 3 October, Colonel Joseph F. Hankins, who occupied the dual position of Provost Marshal and commander of Headquarters Battalion, decided to take a personal look at the situation. Armed with an M-1 rifle, the colonel drove up the West Road in his jeep. Eye witnesses have testified as to what happened next:
Colonel Hankins appeared at the curve in the road where the Military Police were regulating the one-way traffic. An LVT had become immobilized across the road directly in the open and two or three trucks were jammed up in the near proximity of this LVT. The men, under the heavy fire of small arms from the nearby cliff had deserted their vehicles and taken refuge on the reverse slope of the road. Colonel Hankins proceeded to the middle of the road in order to restore traffic to normal condition and had actually gotten the crews back on the vehicles when he was struck by a sniper's bullet and killed instantly.44
Colonel Hankins was the highest ranking Marine casualty sustained on Peleliu. Upon learning of the death of his provost marshal, General Rupertus pulled a company of 2/5 out of division reserve and ordered it into the high ground dominating Dead Man's Curve to eliminate the troublesome snipers once and for all. The company advanced for about 75 yards, supported by elements of the 11th Marines and eliminated the snipers temporarily. It later became necessary to station three medium tanks at the curve with orders to fire in the general direction of the cliffs whenever sniper fire recurred.45
Colonel Nakagawa appeared generally unimpressed by the converging attacks of 3 October. He acknowledged receiving the heavy artillery preparation against the pocket but claimed that his garrison unit, by accurate firing and close quarter combat, had inflicted sufficient losses upon the Marines to force their withdrawal.46
On the morning of 4 October, strong winds and high seas continued unabated and nearly reached typhoon proportions.47 Two LSTs, tied up at the Seabee-built causeway off Beach ORANGE 3, were driven ashore and no other craft was able to reach the beach from the supply ships. For American personnel on Peleliu, "the rains had a glooming effect. The lightless sky turned the whole island gray. Dust-coated dungarees turned stiff, hard and unpliable when they dried out, and when they were wet they were very heavy."48
Owing to the unfavorable weather and the extreme exertion of the previous day, the 7th Marines limited operations on 4 October to consolidating and expanding its positions. For the first time the East Road was open for supply and evacuation, though the Japanese still interfered with traffic from positions in the Horseshoe, in the draw between Walt and Boyd Ridges, and in a very
narrow draw between Boyd Ridge and the adjacent ridge to the north.
Company 1, supported by Company F of 2/7, mopped up in the draw separating Walt and Boyd Ridges, using tank support to good advantage. This movement resulted in a physical linkup of the 2d and 3d Battalions. The three knobs and a ridge to the right front still separated Company K atop Boyd Ridge from 13aldy. The seizure of the three knobs and the adjacent ridge would permit an attack against enemy positions on Baldy from the rear.
Up to this point, the operations of 3/7 had followed a normal course. Yet a tragedy similar to the one that had befallen Captain Pope's men on 19 September was about to strike the 7th Marines. Once again all the necessary ingredients were present: fanatical Japanese silently lurking in caves, awaiting their opportunity to strike; eager Marines, determined to advance and wrest yet another ridge from the grasp of the defenders. The first act of the drama opened routinely enough, when at 1430 Company L prepared to seize the three knobs, a mission that was accomplished in less than an hour with unaccustomed ease. Instead of halting the attack for the day, Major Hurst, sensing a weak spot in the Japanese defenses, decided to press the advantage by seizing also Hill 120, which represented an ideal jumpoff position for an attack against Baldy Ridge from the flank and rear. A company of engineers relieved Company L on the three knobs. The latter company prepared to resume the assault.
At 1530 the company began the advance up the long axis of the ridge, paralleling the lines of Company K on Boyd Ridge barely 100 yards across the draw. Once again progress was uneventful. Shortly after 1600 the lead element, one platoon, reached the top of Hill 120, where it discovered and eliminated several Japanese positions.49 Just when it appeared that capture of Hill 120 had been accomplished, the platoon on the ridge began to draw fire from Baldy Ridge and suffered several casualties. The men sought cover on the eastern slope of the crest, only to run into a hail of automatic weapons fire from enemy positions on the lower slopes of Boyd Ridge. As men were hit and fell, it became apparent that the platoon was caught in a merciless cross fire from which there was no cover or concealment. Neither was there any route of retreat, for Japanese along the lower reaches of Hill 120 and the three knobs contributed to the massacre. Enemy cannon and mortars joined in the cacophony of death.
For the men trapped on the ridge, the only way out was down the face of the cliffs and out through the draw, but even then they would have to run the gauntlet of enemy fire. One of the first to be killed was the senior noncommissioned officer, a gunnery sergeant. Other Marines quickly shared his fate as Japanese bullets found their mark. In a matter of minutes, dead and wounded dotted the ridge and only a few men remained unhurt. The ferocity of the enemy fire did not spare the three corpsmen that had accompanied the platoon, for only one left the ridge alive. While searching for a way out, the platoon
leader was hit and fell to his death in the gorge below.
Without any visible means of escape, the trapped men reacted instinctively. Unable to see their well-camouflaged assailants, the Marines fought back as best they could. Their predicament had not gone unnoticed. From the adjacent draw, Captain James V. Shanley, commanding Company L, known by the nickname "Jamo," was desperately seeking a means of rescuing his men. He ordered a tank up the narrow valley, but the terrain precluded the effective employment of armor. The tank eventually became a precarious shelter behind which some of the wounded could find cover. It could not take an effective part in the fighting and was helpless to stem the slaughter. From the crest of Boyd Ridge, men from Company K watched in silent rage the carnage taking place before their eyes. In desperation they began to hurl white phosphorus grenades into the gorge. Dense smoke mercifully began to obscure the scene of death and violence.
On the crest, the few men still able to maneuver did what they could to get the wounded off the ridge. There was no easy way out, and despite the smoke, Japanese bullets were still finding their marks. This is the picture that presented itself to an observer of the action:
The wounded crawled behind rocks or just lay motionless, bullets hitting them again and again. Others cried pitifully for help and begged their comrades not to leave them there. Medical corpsmen worked bravely and efficiently, each of them dragging men to the ledge. One of them stood up to cry: "Take it easy! Bandage each other. Get out a few at a time. . . ." He was shot and killed. Those men who could move threw away their weapons because they couldn't climb down the cliff speedily without using both hands. And as they climbed down, some were hit and fell to the ravine floor. Others slipped and fell, suffering severe cuts from the jagged and sharp coral. . . . One of the wounded who lay on the floor of the ravine tried to help another across the open draw to the safety of the tank. The lesser wounded put his arms around the other and the two hobbled across the open draw. They could not make it. They dropped helpless there in the open draw, and the Japanese opened fire on them.
This was more than Shanley could stand. Although a lieutenant tried to hold him, Jamo ran out from under cover into the draw, swept one of the men into his arms, carried him back to the tank, laid him down tenderly and ran out into the tire-swept open ground again for the other. He did not reach him. A mortar shell fell before Captain Shanley got there. Shrapnel tore through Shanley, wounding him mortally. When he saw Shanley fall, a second lieutenant, Shanley's exec, rushed out. He had just reached Jamo when the chug-chug of an antitank gun was heard. He fell at Jamo's side, dead.50
Only a few of the men made it across the draw. By 1820 it was all over. There were 11 men left out of the 48 that had ascended the ridge, and of these, only five from the leading platoon of Company L emerged from the draw unscathed.51 Colonel Nakagawa's comment on the day's happenings was short and to the point:The enemy's plan seemed to be to attack Kansokuyama (main post of the southeastern part) with flame throwers as well as Suifuzan Hill (main post of the northern part ). Our garrison unit by accurate firing and close quarter combat inflicted
losses upon the enemy who then withdrew.52
The disaster that had befallen Company L was to have further consequences, for it resulted in the evacuation of the summits of the three knobs and the withdrawal of Company I. At the end of 4 October, Companies I and L, 7th Marines, were down from an authorized strength of 470 Marines for the two units combined to a total of 80, The 1st Battalion could barely muster more than 100 men fit for duty; and the 2d Battalion reported in at 30 percent efficiency.53 Clearly, the 7th Marines, owing to the heavy losses it had sustained, was no longer able to function as an effective combat unit on the regimental level. General Rupertus therefore ordered the 5th Marines to relieve the 7th on 5 October.54
Since D-Day, the 1st Marine Division had sustained a total of 1,027 Marines killed, 4,304 wounded, and 249 missing, a total of 5,580. The division estimated that it had killed slightly more than 10,000 of the enemy and had captured 214 Japanese and Koreans.55 Both opponents were paying a premium price for possession of the uninspiring Umurbrogol ridges. The next chapter in the contest would be written with the blood of the 5th Marines.
THE 5TH MARINES IN THE FINAL ATTEMPT56The relief of the 7th Marines by the 5th Marines took place during 5 and 6 October. As a result, there was relatively little action on Peleliu during this period. The 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, received orders at noon, 5 October, that it was to proceed aboard trucks to the bivouac area of 1/5 at Purple Beach. The battalion completed the move by 1530, and 1/5 took over the positions of 1/7 at the eastern perimeter of the Umurbrogol pocket.57
Throughout the remainder of 5 October, 2/7 engaged in continuous combat as the battalion prepared to eliminate additional caves along the East Road. Tanks supporting the infantry in this effort blasted caves on the East Road and in the draws, killing an estimated 50 Japanese in one cave alone. At 1655 the commander of 1/5, Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Boyd, arrived at the 2/7 CP to make arrangements for the relief of the battalion and to look over the positions. The relief of 2/7 was effected on the morning of 6 October. The move did not proceed peacefully. Company F, en route to the West Road where trucks awaited the men, came under heavy fire from the draws on both flanks. Tanks had to be moved up to cover the men as they crossed the draws. While coming down the ridge, Company E drew enemy mortar fire and had several casualties. Once it had reached safety, the 2d Battalion proceeded to a rest area north of the Peleliu airfield.58
Relief of 3/7 by 2/5 was accomplished without incident at 0800, and the weary
men of 3/7 moved into bivouac about 2,000 yards northeast of the air field.59 On the following day the battalion received orders from the regimental commander to provide garrison forces for the islands covering the northeast water approaches to Peleliu.60
For the 7th Marines, all heavy combat activity on Peleliu had come to an end. To the 5th Marines, responsibility for the final drive into the Umurbrogol was the continuation of heavy combat, which the regiment had by this time been involved in for more than three weeks. The severe losses, the unfavorable climate, and the primitive conditions that governed the Peleliu fighting had sapped their strength. As noted by a member of the 5th Marines regimental headquarters staff during most of the Peleliu operation, the regiment:
. . . had been the last outfit to leave New Britain. Many were veterans of Guadalcanal. The division had optimistically said that the 5th would be one of the first outfits to leave Peleliu, and yet after securing the northern end of the island everyone knew that we would be committed again. Now once again the 1st and 7th Regiment were for the most part gone or leaving and the 5th was back at it again. The men and the officers were superb during this last phase but very, very tired.61
This weariness was not confined to the Marines on Peleliu, for there is some evidence that the enemy was not entirely happy with conditions on the island. One Japanese sergeant recalled:
Though we had much jungle training, we did not have the training to cope with the rocky terrain of this island. In addition, we were not used to the climatic conditions. . . .62
Colonel Harold D. Harris, Commander, 5th Marines, decided to use a different approach in the conquest of the Umurbrogol ridges. All previous attempts to penetrate the pocket had encompassed an attack from the north, northeast, east, and southeast. Even though both the 7th Marines and RCT 321 had sought an approach from the vicinity of the 321st Infantry Trail, the objective in each instance had been possession and control of the East Road. The idea behind the new drive from the north and northwest was to nibble away at the Japanese positions in a slow but deliberate and inexorable advance, which in due time would achieve the desired result at a minimum cost in personnel and matériel.
Once the relief of the 7th Marines had been completed, 1/5 occupied a line parallel to the East Road. This line was approximately 1,200 yards long and included both Walt and Boyd Ridges. The 2d Battalion was deployed along the northern perimeter of the Umurbrogol pocket facing Baldy Ridge. Along the southern perimeter, 3/5 had reverted to regimental control and occupied a bivouac area south of the pocket between sorties against the Five Sisters. Along the western perimeter of the pocket, parallel to the West Road, supporting troops continued to man the containing
line. Many of these men were volunteers that had come forward to lend a hand to their embattled comrades by bringing up supplies and serving as stretcher bearers. Others were noncombatant souvenir hunters who were turning out in such numbers as to become a major nuisance. The situation was quickly brought under control when the souvenir-hunters found themselves abruptly shanghaied into the lines by orders from higher authority.63
The first offensive action by the 5th Marines occurred within a half hour following the relief of the 7th Marines on the morning of 6 October. Company E of 2/5 attacked the northeastern perimeter of the pocket in substantially the same area where only two days previously Company L of 3/7 had met such a severe reverse. This time conditions favored the attacking force. The weather had cleared and the island was beginning to dry up after the prolonged drenching. The direction of the push was into the area west of the East Road, but unlike the abortive attempt of the 7th Marines, the efforts of the 5th were based on a firmer foundation and the rear of Company E was secure. The company advanced to the three knobs and seized two of them. (See Map 13.) Once again the Japanese let loose with everything they had. Even though any further advance was impossible in the face of such concentrated fire, the Marines managed to maintain their foothold on the two knobs, while bulldozers carved out an access road for gun and flame tanks once the drive to the south got under way. What amounted to a sheer cliff was thus demolished to facilitate a subsequent attack against a ridge which formed the western spur of Baldy.64
The tactical importance of this spur was twofold. First, as long as it remained in enemy hands the Japanese possessed a clear field of fire to the West Road. Second, at the center the spur connected with Baldy Ridge and thus constituted a direct route to this objective. As a result, capture of this spur was essential as an initial step towards the seizure of Baldy. The task of securing the spur fell to a platoon of Company G, 2/5 commanded by 2d Lieutenant Robert T. Wattie.
On the morning of 9 October Company G launched a frontal assault on Baldy. Lieutenant Wattie's platoon seized the spur which henceforth bore his name and became known as Wattie Ridge.
Lieutenant Wattie led his men southward along the crest of the spur for about 100 yards but drew such heavy fire that the position became untenable. At dusk the platoon was forced to withdraw from Baldy but retained possession of the two knobs that had been seized earlier in the day. The approach of night did not herald the end of the fighting for 2/5. Friendly mortar fire rocked the Japanese positions and covered the entire area from the three knobs to the top of Baldy. The Japanese retaliated by infiltrating. Hand grenades exploded all night long, but the morning of 7 October found the men of
Map 13: Drive From the North
2/5 still in possession of the ground seized the preceding day.65
There is evidence that the plan of Colonel Harris to have the 5th Marines move slowly and deliberately did not meet with approval at division headquarters, where the desire for a quick conquest of the island was still paramount.66 It was not unnatural for the regimental commander to attempt to resist such pressure, of which, in his own words, there was plenty. On the division level the attitude prevailed that:
. . . troops frequently have a feeling that a constant and unreasonable pressure to hurry things up is being applied from above. Sometimes, if a pressure is not exerted a battle (especially an extremely bitter one ) may be allowed to deteriorate into a stalemate simply because of the peculiarities of mass inertia. . . .67
Any idea that the Japanese contained in the Umurbrogol were the disorganized remnants of the island garrison was dispelled by captured orders which were interpreted to show that, as late as 1 October, the enemy still was well organized and determined to take full advantage of his almost inaccessible positions. To the Japanese, the Marines appeared to be "exhausted" and "fighting less aggressively."68 The Japanese retained a series of OPS, a mobile reserve of company strength, and close-combat units specializing in night infiltration and combat. These units had been organized specifically to destroy American tanks, LVTs, mortar positions, and other important targets. In addition, each unit within the pocket was charged with gathering and evaluating information, maintaining its own security, and carrying out liaison with higher, adjacent, and lower echelons. Japanese artillery and automatic weaPons had standing orders to impede traffic on both the West and East Roads.69 On 6 October, the 1st Marine Division estimated enemy strength at 300-600.70
Throughout 7 October, 3/5 kept the Japanese occupied in the southeastern perimeter of the pocket. Following a heavy preparation by mortars and 105mm guns, Company I, supported by six tanks of the 710th Tank Battalion, advanced northward and entered the Horseshoe. Both infantry and tanks raked suspected enemy positions with fire, especially those along the lower slopes of Walt Ridge on the right and Five Brothers to the left. The Marines of 1/5 on the crest of Walt Ridge gave fire support to the advance. In the course of the day, a fire team of Marines was assigned to protect each tank. The armor was also supported by two LVT flamethrowers and a platoon of the 1st Engineer Battalion. The total advance of Company I for the day amounted to 200 yards. It represented the furthest inroad into the Umurbrogol pocket from this direction. The attack had successfully reduced Japanese cave positions that had thwarted earlier advances, though their seizure was only temporary. When the tanks ran short of ammunition later in the day and had to withdraw, the infantry also had to pull back. An attempt by Company I to bypass the
Horseshoe and penetrate into the valley separating the Five Brothers from the China Wall, in the very heart of the pocket, drew such fierce resistance that the attack never really got off the ground.71 Towards the end of the day, the battalion returned to its bivouac area north of the airfield.
In the 2/5 sector, the nibbling process continued. Patrols from Company E descended from the knobs and fired bazooka shells at the most prominent Japanese caves, while a 60mm mortar on the ridge north of Boyd Ridge registered on the terrain that the company would soon traverse. Two LVT flamethrowers and three tanks were attached to the battalion. Their effective employment in large measure would depend on the completion of a trail to higher ground where the armor could blast the Japanese positions within the pocket once the attack of 2/5 got under way.72
Another two days were to pass before Colonel Harris dispatched the 2d Battalion against the menacing crest of Baldy Ridge. During 8 October, pressure against the pocket was maintained by artillery fire from the north and south. Improvement in the weather enabled Marine aviation on Peleliu to participate once more in the devastation of the Umurbrogol Pocket. A shortage of aviation gasoline still prevailed because the severe storm had curtailed all logistical support. Rough seas and heavy surf precluded the use of landing craft. As a temporary expedient, gasoline in drums was floated over the reef and guided to the shore by swimmers.73
Peleliu-based aircraft stepped up their attacks on 8 October. Twenty aircraft of VMF-114 participated in the first strike, which began at 0700. Each Corsair carried a 1,000 pound bomb. The mission was repeated at 1300, and once again the sound of exploding bombs reverberated throughout Peleliu. The pilots of VMF-114 did not limit themselves to inflicting death and destruction on the Japanese; they also dropped leaflets to the cave-dwelling Japanese officers with the following message:
Officers of the Japanese forces:
As you can see if you look at the planes, the material and the ships, your best efforts are not impeding our work. American planes not only bomb you at will, but they also bomb Babelthuap and the other islands north of here. Perhaps you can see the flames. Your comrades to the north have all they can do to help themselves, so how could they help you?
You honor and respect your men, but how can they honor and respect you if you make them die needlessly? Thousands of brave Japanese soldiers before you have realized the futility of death in such circumstances; they will live to raise families and help build a new Japan.
You still have this choice‹raise a white flag and come out unarmed. We will give you water, food, shelter, and medicine for your wounded.74
Even though Colonel Harris expressed satisfaction with the results of the two air strikes, the effect remained difficult to estimate "because with each aerial attack the Japs only burrowed deeper into their vast caves."75 Just as before, the effectiveness of leaflets remained substantially nil. The Japanese did not entertain any thought of surrendering.
A sign discovered in a Japanese dugout carried the message: "Defense to the death. We will build a barrier across the Pacific with our bodies."76
Along the northern perimeter of the pocket, the preparations for the capture of Baldy Ridge neared completion. Just off the West Road along the northwestern edge of the pocket, heavy weapons were emplaced near the command post of 2/5 to support the battalion attack. Major Gordon D. Gayle, commanding officer of 2/5, directed the fire of a battery of 105s against positions in and around Baldy Ridge and the hills to the south. The heavy shells, fired pointblank into the ridges, pulverized the coral until the very shape of the hills underwent considerable change.
Still worried about the possibility of Japanese counterlandings from Babelthuap, General Rupertus ordered a reinforced company of RCT 321 to seize the island of Garakayo, situated about 7,000 yards north-northeast of Peleliu. The soldiers, reinforced by 10 LVT(A)s from the 3d Armored Amphibian Battalion, were to land and annihilate or capture all enemy forces on Garakayo Island, and destroy enemy defenses.77 After having seized and occupied the island, the soldiers were to establish an outpost. In addition to denying the use of Garakayo to the Japanese, the garrison was to prevent the movement of enemy forces from the north to reinforce Peleliu and Ngesebus and, at the same time, prevent the enemy from escaping northward from the two islands.
The Army troops landed on Garakayo as scheduled early on 9 October. There was little opposition, By late afternoon the soldiers had patrolled the entire coastline of the island and had reached some of the hills in the interior. The troops encountered numerous caves, observation posts, and machine gun emplacements showing signs of recent occupation but found them unmanned.78 A total of five Japanese were found on the island and killed.
On Peleliu, the 5th Marines continued to probe the perimeter of the Umurbrogol pocket. There, elements of 2/5 succeeded in seizing a ridge west of Baldy and in knocking out a number of caves. Even though the Marines had to abandon some hard won ground, their artillery did seal some of the caves that had forced the withdrawal. Each Japanese position eliminated in this manner would reduce Marine casualties when the final capture of Baldy Ridge was attempted on the following day. The bulldozer that had started work on a trail into the Umurbrogol two days earlier continued to work until it had gone within the time allotted as far as it could‹midway down the ravine between Boyd Ridge and Ridge 3, a semidetached razorback south and slightly east of Baldy Ridge. In preparation for the attack scheduled on the following morning, VMF-114 carried out an additional air strike against the Japanese pocket.79 The planes dropped twelve
MARINES OCCUPY RIDGE in the Umurbrogol shrouded by smoke from aerial bombing and artillery fire. (USMC 95258)
MARINE TANK-INFANTRYT TEAM advancing into the Peleliu ridges during final phase of the operation. (USMMC 97433)
1,000-pound bombs on target but failed to observe definite results.
The attack of 2/5 against Baldy Ridge jumped off on the morning of 10 October, preceded by an artillery barrage, which began at dawn and continued until shortly before 1100. At this time Company G jumped off with the mission of securing the southern spur of Baldy Ridge and advancing as far north as possible over the ridge. After a sharp skirmish with the Japanese defenders, the Marines carried the crest and swept northward until they had secured the entire ridge. Company E, jumping off shortly after noon, seized Ridge 120 southwest of the three knobs. This time the devastating fire that had cut Captain Shardey's company to ribbons was no longer in evidence, and the Marines were able to consolidate their gains, The importance of the terrain that had been seized was further underscored at approximately 1600, when 50 enemy troops came through the lines of Company G and surrendered.80 Because Companies E and G were tied in only by fire during the coming night, heavy artillery and mortar fire was maintained throughout the night to cover the gap and discourage any enemy counterattack. A platoon from Company F joined Company G as reserve. The interdictory artillery fire in some instances was laid as close as 25 yards to Marine lines to keep the enemy from moving in and throwing hand grenades. No counterattack materialized.
In the course of 10 October a minor mystery was solved. For several days artillery shells from an unknown source had been landing on the southern tip of Peleliu. These had been reported as enemy shells whose place of origin was the subject of considerable speculation. The solution to the vexing problem turned out to be easier than anticipated: it was definitely established that the shells were our own, that they came from positions on the northern end of Peleliu, and that they had been directed into the Umurbrogol pocket. Apparently, some of the shells had ricocheted off the hills and continued on to the southern part of the island.81
The morning of 11 October saw the continuation of the slow, dogged advance that had marked the progress of the previous day. With nearly all of Baldy Ridge and Hill 120 in American hands, the way was open for an attack on Hill 140, which dominated the terrain between Baldy Ridge to the northeast and the Five Brothers to the south. In addition to representing the deepest inroad yet made into the heart of the Umurbrogol pocket, possession of Hill 140 would provide the Marines with a base they could use to fire directly not only on the northernmost of the Five Brothers, but also into the Horseshoe, and down the draw separating Walt and Boyd Ridges.
Preparatory to launching the attack on Hill 140, Company G seized the remainder of Baldy Ridge, though a few strongpoints still remained in enemy hands on the slopes. The advance continued until the Marines came up against a ravine separating Baldy Ridge from Hill 140. Along a parallel line to the east, Company E attacked along the
eastern slope of Ridge 3 until it encountered heavy small arms fire from enemy holdouts on the slopes of Baldy Ridge and the northern slope of Hill 140. Company G moved downhill, neutralizing one cave after another and thereby easing the situation of Company E, which was still exposed to heavy fire from Hill 140 to the southwest. At this point Colonel Harris committed Company F, which passed through the lines of Company E and attacked towards Hill 140 through a ravine separating Ridge 3 and the objective. The men bypassed the strongly defended northern slope of Hill 140 and attacked the formidable elevation from the west. The attackers made rapid headway, and by 1500 Company F had occupied the objective.
During the remainder of 11 October the Marines of 2/5 consolidated their newly won positions and eliminated many Japanese caves on the hillsides. In the words of the official report: "The enemy was very thick throughout our newly occupied areas, and the mopping up was a bloody procedure, 60 of the enemy killed in a very short time."82
The evening of 11 October found 2/5 in full control of the newly seized ground. Company E occupied Ridge 3, Company F remained on top of Hill 140, and Company G was firmly entrenched on Baldy. The drive of the 2d Battalion into the very heart of the Umurbrogol pocket not only achieved its objective but did so at a minimum cost in lives. In fact, the capture of Hill 140, one of the key bastions of the entire Japanese defense system, was attained at the cost of 2 killed and 10 wounded. In commenting on the day's activities, Colonel Nakagawa did not mention the loss of his vital bastion in the northern part of his pocket; instead, he limited himself to the statement that ". . . all through the day there were heavy engagements with the enemy and our armies standing face to face. . . ."83 Colonel Nakagawa was forced to admit in his report for the following day that the American drive had made progress. In keeping with the Japanese tendency of reporting only the brighter side of things, he added that ". . . the enemy penetrated our front lines but were repelled by night attack. . . ."84
To be sure, there was a Japanese counterattack against Hill 140 during the following night, combined with Japanese attempts to infiltrate the American positions. Nevertheless, conditions on Peleliu had undergone a radical change since the men of the 1st Marine Division had first attempted to enter the Umurbrogol. The situation had reversed itself and the Marines were in possession of the dominating heights, at least in the northern perimeter of the pocket. As a result, the Japanese counterattack made no headway, and at no time did it threaten the hold of the 5th Marines on the newly captured heights.
Important changes in the American command structure occurred on Peleliu on 12 October. Indirectly these resulted from the passing of control of operations in the Palaus scheduled for the next day, from the U.S. Third Fleet and Admiral Halsey to the Headquarters, Forward
Area Central Pacific (Task Force 57) under Admiral Hoover, scheduled for 13 October.85 At 0800, 12 October, General Geiger moved his command post ashore on Peleliu and declared the assault and occupation phases of operations on the island ended.86 "Its termination was to mark the passage of command from the task force afloat to an area commander. It did not signify that active combat had ceased. The battle on Peleliu was far from being over."87 In accordance with this order R(3T 321 and Garrison Force, consisting of the 16th Field Depot and other supporting units, passed under IIIAC control. RCT 321 assumed responsibility for the eastern arm of Peleliu, and the Island Garrison Force became responsible for the area south of the Umurbrogol pocket.
The capture of Hill 140 during the afternoon of 11 October and the penetration into the Umurbrogol pocket from the north was to mark the last offensive operation of 2/5 on Peleliu. In the course of the morning of 12 October, the weary Marines were relieved by 3/5. It became evident that the Japanese were becoming alert to the foothold that the Americans had gained in the Umurbrogol. The relief of 2/5 took place under heavy sniper fire. Before the movement was completed, 22 Marines had become casualties. The commanding officer of Company K, in attempting to familiarize himself with the company sector, was instantly killed by a Japanese sniper. The enemy exploited the confusion resulting from a relief of line units by reinfiltrating positions from which he had been driven the previous day. Company I drew heavy rifle and machine gun fire when it prepared to relieve Company F in the ridges above West Road (See Map 14).
Lest it appear that the initiative on 12 October rested entirely with the Japanese, one incident occurred that showed the Marines were equally adept in taking advantage of a situation and making improvisations when needed. Even prior to the capture of Hill 140, the Marines had speculated about the feasibility of getting a field piece up on this hill or on Wattie Ridge and using it to fire point-blank at Japanese positions on the Five Brothers, in the Horseshoe, and on the western base of Walt Ridge, where the Japanese caves had hitherto been immune to direct artillery fire. This immunity was to come to an end on 12 October. Getting a 75mm howitzer to the top of Hill 140 proved a laborious and time consuming process involving disassembly of the weapon, manhandling it up the hill to the forward position, and then reassembling it behind a protective layer of sandbags, all of which also had to be manhandled to the summit of the ridge. A participant in this action has described the operation as follows:The tube of the howitzer was, of course, the most difficult part to manhandle and at one spot I had a rope run through it and held it around a small tree paying it out as the men moved it along. Without this precaution, had either of the men carrying it been hit it would have fallen into the deep round hole that separated the southern end of Wattie's Ridge from Hill 140.
Map 14: Final Marine Action
After we had gained the summit of the hill we reassembled the piece and layed it on the entrance of a cave at the foot of Walt Ridge. However, we found it impossible to dig in the trail, so some rocks were piled around it and we fired our first shot. It took effect on the entrance to the cave but the piece recoiled so badly that one man was injured and a good deal of work had to be done before it could be fired again. When it became apparent that the piece could not be kept in place I communicated with LtCol Louis Reinberg, C.O. of the 4th Battalion, 11th Marines and requested him to send up sandbags the next morning. . . .88
Altogether, emplacement of the howitzer required seven hours. Once the difficulties in emplacing the piece had been overcome, the howitzer fired 11 rounds into the cave with good effect.89
A second howitzer went into position along the southeastern perimeter of the pocket near Walt Ridge, from where it was able to fire directly at the Five Sisters and the China Wall. The latter target offered interesting possibilities, since it was strongly suspected that Colonel Nakagawa's central hills command post was located there. Once the second howitzer had gone into position, the time had come to put the theory to the test. In the words of an eye witness and participant in the action:
1 spotted with binoculars and our first rounds routed out a covey of Nips around the top. Major Hank Adams reported to me later that about a dozen had been seen jumping and sliding off the east side of this hill to escape the shelling. One man was wounded after the howitzer fired about 40 rounds and it was deemed expedient to secure because of the danger of further casualties from close range sniper fire and because of the approaching darkness. The next morning Friday, October 13, I suffered two killed at daybreak at the banyan tree, both shot through the head by snipers across the canyon (75 yds). Consequently the howitzer was not reemplaced. This reaction further convinced me that we had picked on an important OP. This same point had been noticed earlier from a 155mm gun position near Buckley's old CP area. Nip officers in white gloves were observed several times through a captured high-power AA telescope, apparently examining the situation through binoculars.90
The artillery action on 12 October have an entirely unexpected effect on the final operations in the Umurbrogol. Intended originally only as a means of protecting the howitzers against small arms fire, the lowly sandbag soon evolved into an important tool of the infantry. The lack of cover and impossibility of digging-in had repeatedly forced the Marines to relinquish hard-won gains. Widespread use of the sandbag in protecting successive positions became a solution to the problem, though not the easiest one, since the interior of Peleliu contained no sand, and heavy sandbags had to be manhandled to the ridges in a cumbersome and laborious operation. During the final phase of operations on Peleliu the sandbag fulfilled a function as useful as that of any other offensive weapon, and in addition, provided the exposed infantrymen with a small sense of security.
On the morning of 13 October, 3/5 was the only unit of the regiment in the line with an offensive mission. The battalion was unruffled after a night of Japanese attempts to infiltrate and retake Hill 140. The Marines repulsed the enemy assault with little difficulty and the Japanese were forced to withdraw, leaving 15 dead behind them.91 At 0915 another napalm air strike was directed against the Umurbrogol pocket. Although air and ground coordination functioned perfectly, no direct observation of the results of the bombing was possible. Following the bombing, Company K dispatched a patrol into the terrain just west of the containing line near the West Road in an effort to straighten the salient formed by Hill 140 and further constrict the pocket from a new direction which had not previously been explored because of the jagged and inaccessible terrain. Under a protective screen of artillery and mortar fire, the patrol advanced for 75 yards without meeting any resistance. Similarly, a patrol from Company I penetrated into the hills to a depth of 150 yards without encountering any Japanese. The absence of opposition in this previously unexplored area resulted in the preparation of plans for an attack into the pocket on the following day.
Puzzling as it was, the lack of Japanese opposition on 13 October did not signify that the Japanese on Peleliu no longer had the resources to put up a serious fight or impede any further advance by the Marines. TO the contrary, on the evening of 13 October, Colonel Nakagawa reported his total strength as 1,150 military, including naval personnel. Nor were the Japanese bothered by a lack of arms, for they still possessed an arsenal of 13 machine guns, 500 rifles with 20,000 rounds of ammunition, 12 grenade dischargers with 150 rounds, 1 20mm automatic gun with 50 rounds, 1 antitank gun with 350 rounds, 1 70mm infantry howitzer with 120 rounds, 1,300 hand grenades and 40 antitank mines.92 Clearly, the elimination of the final pockets of Japanese resistance promised to be difficult.
At the same time, there were increasing indications that the days of the 1st Marine Division on Peleliu were numbered. Proof of this was a corps order placing the 321st Infantry again under control of the 1st Marine Division in order that comparatively fresh troops might relieve the 5th Marines, which was now quite exhausted, of the task of reducing the enemy pocket on Peleliu. The 5th Marines were to pass to corps control.93 A division order called for the relief of the 5th Marines effective 0800, 15 October, by RCT 321. Effective 16 October, by which time two battalions of RCT 321 were expected to be in the line, control of all troops in the zone of action of the 5th Marines was to pass to RCT 321, whose mission was to continue the attack in the Umurbrogol pocket.94
The last full day of combat for the 5th Marines in the Umurbrogol pocket began with an air strike against the
Five Sisters. Following a heavy mortar preparation, Company I jumped off and attacked the western portion of the pocket, which had been undefended the day before. This time the Japanese were on the alert and subjected the Marines to heavy small arms fire, which slowed but did not halt the methodical advance. By late afternoon, after a gain of about 250 yards, the company had reached a point abreast of the northernmost two of the Five Brothers and roughly 150-200 yards west of the China Wall. Here, the Marines established a perimeter defense for the night.95
While Company I, 3/5, was advancing towards the south, Company C of 1/7 launched an attack from the southern containing line after having been attached to the 5th Marines. The company, supported by LVT flamethrowers, advanced west of the Five Sisters along an axis parallel to that portion of the containing line now manned by the 1lth Marines. After a gain of approximately 125 yards, the advance came to a halt. As a result of the action on the part of 3/5 and 1/7, the containing line along the western perimeter of the pocket from north to south was shortened by about 400 yards. The Umurbrogol Pocket now had been reduced to an area approximately 400 yards by 500 yards.96 Except for several small skirmishes with the Japanese elsewhere on Peleliu, the action on 14 October ended the participation of the 1st Marine Division in offensive operations on the island, though the final chapter in the conquest of Umurbrogol still remained to be written.
RELIEF OF THE 1ST MARINE DIVISION97The relief of units of the 1st Marine Division by elements of the 81st Infantry Division got under way on the morning of 15 October, when 2/321 took over the lines of 3/5 along the northern perimeter of the Umurbrogol Pocket. The maneuver of effecting the relief had already been set in motion on the previous day, however, when 2/5 relieved 2/321 on Ngesebus, Kongauru, and Garakayo Islands. The Army battalion, in turn, moved to an assembly area near the 321st lnfantry Trail until it could carry out the relief of 3/5. In the course of 14 October, 1/323 had reached Peleliu from Ulithi. Upon arrival at Peleliu, the battalion was placed under the control of Colonel Dark, commanding officer of RCT 321. The mission of this battalion was to relieve the Marine units manning the containing line along the southwestern perimeter of the pocket. As the relief continued on 15 October, one month to the day since the Marines had first stormed ashore on Peleliu, 3/321 relieved 1/5 at the eastern perimeter on Walt and Boyd Ridges.
Until such time as preparations for the departure from Peleliu could be completed, the 5th Marines took up the defense of the northern portions of Peleliu, Ngesebus, and adjacent islands to the north. The 1st Battalion took up positions along the extreme northern portion of Peleliu; the 2d Battalion occupied Ngesebus, Kongauru, and Garakayo;
and the 3d Battalion deployed along the East Road, facing eastward toward the sea.
In the course of this major reshuffling of troops within a relatively confined area, it appeared at first glance as if at least one Marine unit had been forgotten. At noon on 16 October, when responsibility for operations against the Umurbrogol Pocket was transferred officially to Colonel Dark, 1/7 was still very much engaged in the northward drive on which it had embarked two days previously. During its last day of action in the Umurbrogol, the 1st Battalion sustained an additional seven casualties before being relieved by elements of 1/323 on the morning of 17 October.98 Following its relief, 1/7 proceeded to Purple Beach preparatory to its embarkation in the transport Sea Sturgeon, which left Peleliu on 22 October and arrived at Pavuvu a week later.
The 2d Battalion, 7th Marines continued its mission of patrolling the islands northeast of Peleliu during the middle of October, and did not begin loading until the 26th. The defensive mission proved generally uneventful, and as a result, the men of the 2d Battalion enjoyed a well deserved rest.
Less fortunate than the other units of the 7th Marines was the 3d Battalion, which became involved in a hard and costly action on Peleliu. The operation began at 1840, 17 October, when General Rupertus committed Company I just south of the pocket in the area of Company E, 1st Medical Battalion, where a number of Japanese had in filtrated and reoccupied caves, from where they engaged in some very bothersome sniping. Company I arrived on the scene and entered into a brief fire fight to dislodge him before nightfall. For the remainder of the night the company remained in the area to protect the service troops.99
At 0630, 18 October, Company L relieved Company I, which had gone into combat on such short notice the previous evening that it was not fully supplied with ammunition. Shortly after 1100 Company L reported that the enemy was infesting the area in considerably greater strength than had been anticipated and had holed up in 12 cave positions. In response to this information a tank was dispatched to support the attack of the infantry. Shortly before 1400, the tank struck a land mine or some other buried explosive and blew up, killing not only several members of the crew but also the Company L commander, who had been engaged in directing the tank fire on the enemy caves. During the remainder of the afternoon 37mm antitank guns were brought up to knock out the enemy positions, but some of the Japanese still resisted at nightfall. Company L was relieved by Army units on the morning of 19 October and reverted to regimental control.100
Even though RCT 321 had assumed responsibility for the continuation of the drive against the Umurbrogol Pocket as of 16 October, the 1st Marine Division retained overall responsibility for operations on Peleliu until the commander
of the 81st Infantry Division arrived on 20 October and took over. At 0800 on that date the responsibility for the ground defense of the southern Palaus and continuation of operations to destroy the remaining enemy forces on Peleliu passed from III Amphibious Corps to the 81st Infantry Division.101 At 0830 General Geiger and his staff departed by air to Guadalcanal. General Rupertus, together with certain sections of division headquarters, departed Peleliu by plane at 2300.102
The 1st and 3d Battalions, 7th Marines, completed embarking on board the S.S. Sea Sturgeon on 21 October, left Peleliu the next day, and arrived at Pavuvu eight days later. The men of the 2d Battalion and 4/11 faced a somewhat more complicated situation in making their departure from Peleliu. They began loading on a Dutch merchantman on 26 October, but bad weather and other factors delayed the departure of the ship until "by dint of the Marines manning the winches and booms, we were able to load and depart on the 30th of October. We arrived home in Pavuvu 7 November."103
The departure of the 7th Marines left the 5th Marines and reinforcing elements as the last remaining Marine units on Peleliu. When General Mueller assumed command of operations on Peleliu on 20 October, the Marine regiment was organized as a task force under Brigadier General Oliver P. Smith, Assistant Division Commander, 1st Marine Division. For the remainder of its stay on Peleliu, the 5th Marines was attached operationally to the 81st Infantry Division, pending availability of transports to return the troops to the Solomons.
The 5th Marines did not see any additional fighting on Peleliu, but remained in its defensive positions until 26 October. The regimental command post was located in the ruins of the former radio station near the northern tip of Peleliu. Embarkation was delayed by the lack of suitable shipping, there were no attack transports available, and most of the freighters doing duty as resupply ships lacked accommodations for the men. Further, none of the ships had booms and winches strong enough to hoist some of the heavy equipment, Eventually the transport Sea Runner was able to take most of the 5th Marines on board, though a detail of 13 men with 15 vehicles of the 1st Motor Transport Battalion remained on Peleliu until 13 November. Detachments from the 1st Amphibian Tractor Battalion and the 3d Armored Amphibian Battalion also remained on Peleliu until then.104
For the men of the 1st Marine Division, a campaign had ended, which in the words of General Rupertus, was fought "in terrain which . . . was the worst I have even seen."105 General Vandegrift described the campaign as "one of the hardest jobs that they have
handed them (the First Marine Division)."106
According to figures up to 20 October 1944 the 1st Marine Division, in wresting the heavily fortified and defended island from the Japanese, had sustained a total of 6,265 casualties. A total of 1,124 Marines were killed in action and dead from wounds, 5,024 were wounded in action, and 117 were missing. In the course of a sustained operation that lasted for over a month, the Marines had accounted for an estimated 10,695 enemy dead and 301 prisoners of war.107
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (III-6) * Next Chapter (III-8)
1. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this chapter is derived from: IIIAC Palaus Rpt; 1st MarDiv SAR; 1st MarDiv WarD, Sep-Oct 44; 81st InfDiv OpRpt; 1st MarDiv D-2 Jnl; 1st MarDiv D-3 Jnl; Peleliu Comment File; Japanese CenPacOps; Smith, Narrative; Hough, Assault on Peleliu; Morison, Leyte; Smith, Approach to the Philippines; McMillan, The Old Breed; Historical Committee, 81st Infantry Division.
2. Additional sources used for this section include: CTF 32 AR; 1st MarDiv D-2 Rpts.
3. Smith, Approach to the Philippines, p. 551.
4. Hough, Assault on Peleliu, p. 136.
5. BGen William F. Coleman ltr to HistBr, dtd 9Jun66, in Peleliu Comment File.
6. Japanese CenPacOps, p. 112.
7. Inoue interview, dtd Mar 50, in Worden ltr.
8. 1st MarDiv SAR, Phase II, Anx A, pp. 12-13.
9. Additional sources used for this section are: CTF 32 AR; 7th Mar R-2 Jnl; 1/7 Hist Rpt; 217 URpt; 3/7 WarD, Sep-Oct44; 3/7 Rec of Events.
10. Sherrod, Marine Corps Aviation in World War II, p. 257.
11. VMF-114 WarD, Sep44.
12. 2/7 WarD, Sep44.
13. Japanese CenPacOps, p. 131.
14. 1st MarDiv SAR, Phase 11, Anx L, P. 6.
15. 1/7 HistRpt, 30Sep44.
16. 3/7 WarD, Sep44.
17. Japanese CenPacOps, p. 114.
18. 1/7 HistRpt, 30Sep44.
19. 3/7 WarD, Sep44.
20. VMF-114 WarD, Sep44.
21. 7th Mar R-2 Jnl, 30Sep44.
22. 1/7 HistRpt, 30Sep44.
23. 1stMarDiv SAR, Phase II, Anx A, p. 14.
24. 2/7 WarD, Sep44,
25. 3/7 Rec of Events, p. 14.
26. 1st MarDiv WarD, Oct44.
27. 3/7 Rec of Events, p. 14.
28. 1/7 HistRpt, 1Oct44.
29. 1st MarDiv WarD, Oct44.
30. 2/7 WarD, Oct44.
31. 1st MarDiv SAR, Phase II, Anx A, pp. 14-15.
32. 3/7 Rec of Events, p. 14.
33. 1/7 HistRpt, 2Oct44.
34. 2/7 WarD, Oct44.
35. Japanese CenPacOps, p. 128.
37. 2/7 WarD, p. 18,
39. 3/5 Rec of Events, 3Oct44.
40. 2/7 WarD, Oct44.
41. 3/7 Rec of Events, p. 15,
42. VMF-114 WarD, Oct44.
43. Interrogation of Col Tokechi Tada, IJA, by 2d Lt James J. Wickel, AUS, 24May47, attachment to ltr, Maj Gen Paul J. Mueller, USA, to Director of Marine Corps History, dtd 9Aug50, in Peleliu Comment File, hereafter Tada Interrogation.
44. Maj George J. DeBell ltr to CMC, n.d., in Peleliu Comment File, hereafter DeBell ltr.
45. Smith, Narrative, p. 96.
46. Japanese CenPacOps, p. 129.
47. 1st MarDiv WarD, Oct44.
48. McMillan, The Old Breed, p. 335.
49. 3/7 WarD, Oct44.
50. TSgt Jeremiah A. O'Leary, Jr., as quoted in McMillan, The Old Breed, pp. 329-331.
51. 3/7 WarD, Oct44
52. Japanese CenPacOps, p. 129.
53. Smith, Approach to the Philippines, p. 556.
54. 1st MarDiv FO 5/44, dtd 5Oct44,
55. 1st MarDiv SAR, Phase II, Anx A, p. 16.
56. Additional sources used for this section are: IIIAC C-2 Periodic Rpts; 1st MarDiv D-2 Rpts; 2/5 OpRpts; 3/5 Rec of Events; 1/7 HistRpt; 2/7 WarD, Sep-Oct.44; 3/7 WarD, Oct44; 4/11 SAR.
57. 1/7 HistRpt, 5Oct44.
58. 2/7 WarD, Oct44.
59. 3/9 WarD, Oct44.
61. Maj Donald A. Peppard ltr to CMC, dtd 13Nov49, in Peleliu Comment File, hereafter Peppard ltr.
62. SgtMaj Masao Kurihara, IJA, written statement, n.d., attached to ltr, Maj Gen Paul J. Mueller, USA, to Director of Marine Corps History, dtd 9Aug50, in Peleliu Comment File.
63. McMillan, The Old Breed, p. 337.
64. Col Harold D. Harris interview with LtCol Gordon D. Gayle, Head, HistDiv, HQMC, 28-31Oct49, hereafter Harris interview.
65. 2/5 OpRpt, 6Oct44.
66. Harris interview.
67. Wachtler ltr.
68. IIIAC C-2 Periodic Rpt No. 22, 6Oct44.
70. 1st MarDiv D-2 Periodic Rpt, 5-6Oct44.
71. 3/5 Rec of Events 7Oct44.
72. 2/5 OpRpt, 7Oct44.
73. VMF-114 WarD, Oct44.
75. 1st MarDiv SAR, Phase II, Anx A, p. 16.
76. Gen Alexander A. Vandegrift and Robert B. Asprey, Once A Marine: The Memoirs of General A. Vandegrift, United States Marine Corps (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1964), p. 274, hereafter Vandegrift and Asprey, Once A Marine, used with permission.
77. 1st MarDiv FO 8-44, dtd 10Oct44,
78. 1st MarDiv D-2 Periodic Rpt, 9-10Oct44.
79. 2/5 OpRpt, 9Oct44,
81. 1st MarDiv D-2 PerRpt, 9-10Oct44.
82. 2/5 OpRpt, 11Oct44,
83. Japanese CenPacOps, p. 141.
85. IIIAC OpO 13-44, 13Oct44.
86. IIIAC OPlan 12-44, dtd 10Oct44.
87. Historical Committee, 81st Infantry Division, p. 156.
88. Maj George E. Bowdoin ltr to CMC dtd 9Feb50, in Peleliu Comment File.
89. 4/11 WarD, Oct44.
90. Col Edson L. Lyman ltr to CMC, n.d., in Peleliu Comment File.
91. 1st MarDiv SAR, Phase II, Anx A, p. 18,
92. Japanese CenPacOps, p. 142.
93. IIIAC OPO 13-44, dtd 13Oct44.
94. 1st MarDiv FO 9-44, dtd 13Oct44.
95. 3/5 Rec of Events, 14Oct44.
96. 1st MarDiv D-2 Per Rpts, 14-15Oct44,
97. Additional sources used for this section are: 1st MarDiv SAR; 81st InfDiv OpRpt; 1/7 B-2 & B-3 Jnl, 15Sep/17Oct44, hereafter 1/7 B-2/3 Jnl; 3/7 WarD, Oct44,
98. 1/7 B-2 Jnl, 16-17Oct44.
99. 3/7 WarD, Oct44.
101. IIIAC OPln 14-44, dtd 18Oct44.
102. 1st MarDiv SAR, Phase II, Anx A, p. 20.
103. Berger ltr.
104. 1st MarDiv SAR, Phase II, Anx A, p. 21.
105. MajGen William H. Rupertus ltr to LtGen A. Vandegrift, dtd 18Oct44, in Vandegrift Letters.
106. CMC ltr to MajGen William H. Rupertus, n.d., quoted in Vandegrift and Asprey, Once A Marine, p. 274.
107. 1st MarDiv SAR, Phase II, Anx A, p. 21.