Under cover of darkness on 21 July, troop ships of TF 53 moved into the transport area and took their positions. Preparations began for the simultaneous assault on the northern and southern beaches. By 0600 all assault units of the task force had reached their assigned areas. Against the background of naval gunfire, officers gave final words of advice as troops made last-minute readjustments of equipment.
LST's carrying the assault LVT's and DUKW's moved into launching areas and lowered their ramps. Most assault waves were waterborne in time to see strikes by planes from the USS Wasp on Cabras Island and a destructive attack by USS Yorktown planes on BLUE and GREEN beaches. Circles made by the rendezvousing LVT's began to disintegrate as waves formed behind LCI(G)'s and LVT(A)'s. By 0740 troops had started toward the shore accompanied by an increasing din of naval gunfire.
LCI(G)'s opened up with a tremendous rocket barrage on all beaches and as the gunboats neared the reef they added the fire from their 20mm and 40mm guns.1 In a few minutes the once clear, bright day became hazy from smoke and dust. Landing beaches were completely blacked out as assault waves moved across the line of departure.
All the while a steady stream of naval shells screamed overhead as the softening-up process continued, but at 0822 the real show started. Naval gunfire loosened a devastating barrage on the immediate beach areas and continued until landing waves were 1,200 yards from shore. Large caliber fire then lifted and moved inland. Five-inch fire continued until LVT(A)'s started across the reef.
Eighty-four fighters and 16 torpedo bombers added their H-Hour contribution to beaches, then shifted their attack 1,000 yards inland. LCI(G)'s led assault waves and continued firing until they turned to take station on the flanks. There they resumed fire to hinder movement of the enemy. LVT(A)'s now became responsible for fire on the beach area until troops came ashore. The armored amphibians leading the 3d Division landed at 0829. In the south, LVT(A)'s of the brigade first touched down at 0832.2 Assault troops scrambled ashore on all beaches one minute later.
Men making their first landing felt in their own minds that nothing could live through such a pulverizing barrage as they had just seen. This illusion lasted only until mortar fire started to fall among approaching LVT's. The Japanese made a quick recovery from the
TORPEDO BOMBERS OF TASK FORCE 53'S escort carrier group fly over circling landing craft on the way toward the beach to give support on W-Day. (Navy Photograph.)
bombardment and opened up on all beaches. Small-arms fire grew more intense and mortars, antiboat guns, and artillery scored direct hits on LVT's.3
Landing Plan & Scheme of Maneuver
The 3d Marine Division operation order called for the three regiments to land abreast, capture the high ground immediately inland, and prepare for further operations to the east and southeast. (See Map 5, Map Section) Division did not provide for a floating reserve, but each combat team designated one of its battalions as a regimental reserve afloat. The division itself would have to depend on the corps reserve (77th Infantry Division less the 305th RCT).
The 3d Marines (Colonel W. Carvel Hall), landing on the left was to secure Chonito Cliff, Adelup Point, and the commanding terrain extending to the right of the cliff area. This would protect the left flank of the division. On the right, the 9th (Colonel Edward A. Craig) would land one battalion (3d) in assault to seize and hold the low ridges off of the beach; after the other two battalions landed and passed through the assault unit on order, the 3d Battalion would assemble in regimental reserve and be prepared to capture Cabras Island by an amphibious landing. The 21st Marines, commanded by Colonel Arthur H. Butler, going ashore in the center, would drive inland to secure a line of cliffs and defend until the division was ready to expand the beachhead. On reaching the cliff objective the regiment would assign one battalion as division reserve.4
The 2,500 yards of beaches used by the division lay between a pair of "devil's horns." Beaches RED 1 and RED 2, used by the 3d Marines, rested almost against the left horn, Adelup Point. Beach GREEN, in the center, was assigned to the 21st Marines and from the right horn, Asan Point, stretched the 9th Marines' Beach BLUE.5 (See Map 6)
The 9th Marines moved ashore in a column
of battalion landing teams: 3d in assault, followed by the 2d, with the 1st in reserve. Under fire from the front and right flank (Asan Point) the right assault company (I) of the 3d Battalion (Lieutenant Colonel Walter Asmuth, Jr.)6 made very little progress, and the reserve company (L) had to be committed to give added strength. But still the attack remained stalled. Asmuth called for tanks, which had landed at H-plus 40 minutes, and with the armor supplying overhead fire, the units advanced slowly. On the other hand, the left company (K) swept across the rice paddies and took the ridge to the front (the first objective) with astonishing rapidity. The swift advance threw the enemy off balance and the follow-up units of the 9th mopped up the Japanese defenders not killed by the assault. This cleared the all-important rice paddy area behind BLUE Beach where the division's artillery regiment planned to set up.7
Original Corps &
The 3d Battalion reached the D-1 line8 (See Map 7, Map Section) and the regimental reserve (1/9) had moved ashore by 1345. Colonel Craig made preparations to continue the attack with the 1st and 2d Battalions passing through the 3d. Eight minutes after receiving a message from the commanding general to advance beyond D-1 by 1700, Craig ordered the 1st and 2d to move out. As the 2d crossed the bridge over the Nidual River, machine guns from cleverly camouflaged positions along the west face of Asan Point opened up, forcing the Marines to fight to the rear for a short distance. Near these positions Colonel Craig's men found a three-gun battery of Japanese 8-inch naval howitzers in concrete emplacements. These big weapons covered the beaches and seaward to the west of Asan Point but they had been abandoned. Against moderate small-arms fire the advance continued, but increased resistance from enemy-occupied caves stopped the drive 400 yards short of the D-2 line.9 All units began digging in, and by 1830 the 9th had tied-in with the 21st on the left. W-Day activities had been a success for the 9th Marines but the regiment had 231 casualties, including a comparatively high toll of officers: 20 killed or wounded.10
In the center, between the devil's horns, the 21st Marines hit on schedule. Receiving little
GREEN AND BLUE BEACH, with Asan Point in the right foreground, as seen from the air show area assaulted by the 9th and 21st Marines on W-Day. (Navy Photograph.)
fire initially, the regiment landed in a column of battalions: 3d, 2d, and 1st. The men soon learned that terrain, rather than the enemy would be their worst obstacle the first day ashore. After securing the immediate high ground overlooking the beach, the 3d Battalion halted to reorganize at the foot of the "almost impossible" cliffs.11
Colonel Butler had made his plans with the "almost impossible" in mind. As soon as the LVT's had returned to the transfer line and brought the reserve battalion (1st) ashore, the 2d would be released from its assembly area and move abreast of the 3d. The 2d Battalion (Lieutenant Colonel Eustace R. Smoak) would then attack up a defile in the left of the zone. Lieutenant Colonel Wendell H. Duplantis with his 3d Battalion would move up the Asan River valley in the right of the regimental zone. Both units, after establishing a foothold on the cliffs, would extend to right and left respectively and establish a line.12
The Japanese knew nothing of Colonel Butler's plan, but as soon as it began to unfold the
enemy made a determined effort to stop its execution. The 1st Battalion (Lieutenant Colonel Marlowe C. Williams) met increasing mortar and artillery fire as it came ashore and moved into an assembly area near the Asan River at the foot of the high ground overlooking the beach. The unit could not set up its CP in the assigned area because of the enemy interference and the resultant relocation caused a slight delay in the establishment of wire and messenger communications with regiment.13
As the 2d Battalion maneuvered into position the Japanese offered only light opposition, but the terrain was not so obliging. As Marines inched up the rough, bare rock, the day grew hotter, and the long shipboard confinement began to take its toll as men fell by the wayside. By sheer physical stamina the remainder reached the top of the cliff, but the Japanese did not let the attackers relax. They started to spray machine-gun bullets from a ridge not 50 yards away, and as the 2d Battalion began to dig in, a heavy mortar concentration fell on its newly-won position.14
On the right the 3d Battalion encountered stiff resistance immediately. As the unit started to move up the valley, mortar shells caused numerous casualties. An enemy reinforced machine-gun platoon defending a defile along the river began to fire and stopped the advance. With naval gunfire neutralizing the mortar positions and 1/9 laying down a base of fire, Lieutenant Colonel Duplantis' units launched a coordinated attack and overpowered the strong point. Approximately 14 machine guns, heavy and light, six mortars, considerable ammunition, and what is believed to be the first prisoners taken on Guam were seized during the action.15 But the enemy was not the only problem as the advance continued. Men began to run out of water, and many fell from exhaustion. The capture of the cliff at this point seemed "almost impossible," but through concerted efforts and the urging of officers and NCO's the men went forward. One officer, Captain Rodney L. Heinze, Company I commander, walked along the front lines of his company, lifted individual Marines who had fallen, and helped them forward.16
The 3d Battalion finally reached the top of the cliff and began the important mission of making contact with the 2d on the left and the 9th Marines on the right. The tangled mass of vines and scrub growth made physical or visual contact difficult. To complicate further the job at hand, heavy mortar and small-arms fire harassed the troops as they began to dig in.
The Japanese had not forgotten the 1st Battalion in its assembly area at the foot of the cliff. Intense mortar fire during the day caused many casualties and disrupted work at hand.17 Nevertheless, on order from the regimental commander, the 1st swept the zone behind the D-1 line, encountering few enemy. After completing the mopping-up assignment, the battalion returned to its assembly area and reverted to division reserve.18
On top of the cliff in the 21st's zone, the two attacking battalions prepared for the night. Contact had been made with the 9th Marines on the right, but repeated attempts by patrols had failed to find the 3d Marines on the left. A deep, jungle-filled ravine stretched between the two regiments, making contact, visual or otherwise, virtually impossible. So 2/21 was ordered to refuse its left flank to the very edge of the cliff. The remaining gap was well neutralized since the enemy and the 2d Battalion both used their mortars to cover the area.
After the 21st dug in, Japanese mortar shells began to fall more often. During the night, repeated small-scale attacks of about platoon strength failed to penetrate the lines. However, the 2d Battalion, which received the brunt
JAPANESE CAVE POSITION on the reverse slope of Chonito Cliff furnished excellent protection for the enemy from the prelanding bombardment and enabled them to reoccupy prepared positions to oppose the 3d Marines advance. Adelup Point is in the background.
of this action, withdrew its right flank slightly to block the enemy's approach into the position.19
Early in the afternoon (1330), Brigadier General Alfred H. Noble, assistant division commander, had come ashore over the 21st Marines' beaches. And after that regiment had cleared the area, advance division command post set up in a gully on the left bank of the Asan River.20 By the time General Turnage had moved to the beach, communications had been established with all combat teams, and at 1715 Turnage assumed command ashore.21
The 3d Marines, landing on the left flank of the division, soon found that the devil's left horn, Adelup Point, held plenty of the enemy. Support from Chonito Cliff,22 the high ground immediately off of the beach, added to the effectiveness of the Point's defenses. The Japanese
had survived the tremendous pre-invasion bombardment by holing up in a complex cave system in and behind the cliff. From their perfect observation posts on the height, the enemy directed mortar and artillery fire on beaches being used by the 3d Marines.
First waves landed on Beaches RED 1 and RED 2 on schedule despite this intense fire. Fifteen minutes after H-Hour, assault waves reported heavy casualties on both beaches. Mortar shells scored direct hits on LVT waves as they moved toward the shore. But a job had to be done, and Colonel Hall's 3d Marines took its losses, reorganized, and prepared for the attack on the O-a line, the first high ground inland.
Two battalions landed in assault, the 1st on the right. Despite many losses, the 3d Battalion (Lieutenant Colonel Ralph L. Houser), on the left, moved slowly ahead. The 3d's plan had called for Companies I and K to land abreast, hit the beach with a rush, and dash to the initial objective (Chonito Cliff) before the Japanese could recover from the pre-invasion bombardment. Company I, on the right, tried to move up the draw south of Chonito but the enemy stopped the attempt. Houser pressed flame-thrower operators into service immediately, and they performed invaluable service in neutralizing many of the caves in the face of the cliff. Company K succeeded in crossing the beach road and pivoted to flank the cliff area on the left, but enemy machine guns halted the drive before it gained momentum.23 Tanks of Company C, 3d Tank Battalion took position along the road running parallel to the sea and commenced pouring shells directly into the caves. Colonel Houser committed his reserve (Company L) and by noon, Chonito Cliff had been cleared and the Marines had advanced to the O-a line. Tanks then shifted their fire to Adelup Point to join that from destroyers and LCI(G)'s which had been working over the area since early morning. But this continuous pounding had failed to knock out several enemy guns that harassed the flank of the division.24
Adelup Point was not the only source of trouble that plagued the 3d Marines on W-Day. As
PRIVATE FIRST CLASS LUTHER SKAGGS, JR., 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, is presented the Medal of Honor by President Truman for action during the first day and night ashore on Guam. Private Skaggs assumed command and effectively directed the fire of a mortar section supporting his unit's attack and despite critical wounds led his men in repulsing several strong enemy counterattacks.
the 1st Battalion landed and started across rice paddies toward Bundschu Ridge, a nose of land running down toward the beach,25 enemy machine guns began to fire from the woods bordering the open ground. Company B, in assault on the right, quickly cleared these woods and made good progress until it ran into jungle and rock.
The Japanese did not give Company A, on the left, time to organize for an assault, but opened fire on LVT's as they moved ashore and stopped to unload troops. Casualties mounted as reorganization got under way. Enemy opposition, plus the fact that terrain bore little resemblance to that studied on maps and models, added to the normal confusion which
follows any assault landing.26 But cool thinking and the training under adverse conditions on Guadalcanal paid off. Captain Geary R. Bundschu quickly organized his company and made preparations for the assault on the ridge that already bore his name. (See Map 13)
The attack started with two platoons in assault and one in support, but the going was slow and rough. The support platoon had to be committed in short order. This added strength enabled Bundschu to get within 100 yards of the top by 1045, but he reported he needed corpsmen and stretchers badly. This message gave just a hint of things to come. Moving that last 100 yards proved to be a lengthy and costly business. Only one officer, Lieutenant James A. Gallo, Jr., and a few men of the company survived the action that followed.
It is doubtful if Captain Bundschu realized until after 1200 what he was up against.27 The initial assault on the ridge had been driven back by two machine guns emplaced to deliver enfilade fire on advancing troops. A platoon tried to flank one position by going up a heavily wooded gully but the waiting Japanese forced it to withdraw. About 1400 Bundschu asked his battalion commander, Major Henry Aplington, II, for permission to disengage. But Aplington felt this could not be done because of the unit being so involved. However, the right platoon (1st) succeeded in disengaging. Lieutenant Gallo, its leader, reorganized the remnants of his unit and those of the 3d Platoon and awaited orders from his company commander.28
After a conference between the regimental commander and Captain Bundschu, Colonel Hall ordered a second frontal assault on the ridge. Bundschu and Gallo organized the remaining men of Company A into two forces for the attempt. The company commander requested that an 81mm mortar barrage be placed on the hill,29 and just before sundown the attack started. Bundschu and his men inched forward but the same machine gun that had caused them trouble earlier in the day soon stopped the advance. Repeated attempts to take the position failed. Finally, covered by fire from every available weapon, the Marines silenced the gun with grenades. An assault reached the top of the hill, but by this time the remaining handful of Marines found it impossible to reorganize and defend this crest.30
On the right, Lieutenant Gallo and his men fared no better. Under cover of the 81mm barrage, they crawled up the ridge and reached a position under the machine gun in their sector. But the Japanese, by rolling hand grenades down on the advancing troops, made the position untenable and halted the attack. Little had been accomplished. The company was back where it had been earlier in the day, but this time with fewer men.31
During the course of the Bundschu Ridge action, the regimental commander had decided to commit his reserve, Lieutenant Colonel Hector de Zayas' 2d Battalion. When it became apparent that the enemy offered the most resistance in the center of the zone of action, Hall alerted de Zayas' unit for a move into the line between the two assault battalions. Shortly thereafter, at 1300, Colonel Hall assembled his battalion commanders on top of Chonito Cliff and issued his fragmentary order:
The enemy resistance on Adelup Point is light. Resistance is strong in the center and on the right. He continues to prevent the 1st Battalion from seizing the high ground behind RED 2. We continue the attack with three battalions abreast at 1500.
COMPANY A of the 3d Marines held up on the forward slope of Bundschu Ridge. Mortar and machine-gun fire inflicted very heavy casualties and prevented the unit from advancing beyond this point on W-Day.
2d Battalion move to O-a and take position as center battalion. 3d Battalion attack on left and seize Adelup Point. 81mm mortars revert to battalion controls.32
Preparations for the attack got under way. Meanwhile, the Japanese made a few plans of their own. They moved reserves from the
Fonte area, the next high ground inland, and manned all available weapons in an effort to contain the 3d Marine Division in its small beachhead. Despite constant air strikes and naval gunfire bombardment, the enemy continued moving men to strategic positions.33
Utilizing every supporting arm available to the regiment, the 3d Marines (less the 1st Battalion busily engaged on Bundschu Ridge) attacked at 1500. All units met stiff resistance immediately after jumping off. The only battalion to make progress was the 3d, which moved along the coast to get into position for an attack on Adelup Point. Following a heavy preparation by tanks, destroyers, and LCI(G)'s, the assault was successful but sustained substantial losses.
Having suffered a considerable number of casualties while coming ashore and moving into the assembly area, the 2d Battalion had some idea of the fire it would encounter. However, the unit's baptism had been from snipers and sporadic mortars and did not compare with the volume received when the battalion tried to move from the O-a line. The murderous fire continued the rest of the day, and when the 2d received orders to dig in for the night it found itself short of the D-1 line. It had, nevertheless, taken the immediate high ground in its sector.34
Less than 1,000 yards behind front lines, other units supporting the division made ready for the night. Enemy mortar and artillery fire had been heavy, and snipers harassed men
as they went about their jobs. But this did not keep work from progressing on schedule.
Careful planning and the new techniques developed on Guadalcanal, discussed earlier, enabled artillery to move ashore soon after H-Hour. By 1215 one battery of Lieutenant Colonel Alpha L. Bowser, Jr.'s 3d Battalion, 12th Marines was in position and firing.35 Shortly thereafter the 4th Battalion came ashore and started into its position where it found two enemy machine guns still active. Fortunately Colonel Craig had his command post in this area and, upon request, he directed a tank to take out these emplacements so the 4th could go into action.36 Other units quickly set up and by 1640 all division artillery was ashore. Howitzer sections hurriedly made preparations to fire, but at first, the infantry could get little or no fire close to its own front lines. Minimum range and lack of observation by forward observers curtailed close-in firing. However, by using air spot, the artillery furnished beneficial support by harassing enemy troop concentrations and suspected and known enemy mortar and artillery positions. Both 75mm and 105mm howitzers quickly took enemy reserves moving to the front under fire, and there is no question that the artillery played an important role in helping establish the beachhead on W-Day.
Doing double duty in the beachhead, the 19th Marines (engineers) furnished shore party details and boat riders,37 as well as supplying the infantry regiments with engineer support. A road was cut to provide the 21st Marines with a supply route. Demolition work on caves and the removal of mines from the beach area required time and patience, for the Japanese harassed the engineers constantly with mortar and sniper fire.
Equipment and supplies moved ashore with proficiency. As LVT's and DUKW's loaded with ammunition and supplies arrived on the beach, shore party personnel sent the vehicles directly to dumps that had been established. Heavy mortar fire fell all during the day, causing no end of trouble to parties working on the beach; yet things kept moving. Men from the 3d Service Battalion38 and the 3d Motor Transport Battalion formed a combination hard to beat in the expeditious handling and movement of supplies.
At the end of the first day the 3d Marine Division, Reinforced, working as an efficient fighting team, had a foothold on Guam. (See Map 8) The day's operations had been costly (105 KIA, 536 WIA, and 56 MIA), but had troop leaders been less aggressive in moving their units off the beach, casualties would have been much heavier. Hundreds of rounds of enemy mortar and artillery shells had been observed exploding harmlessly in areas just previously occupied by advancing Marines.39
Landing Plan & Scheme of Maneuver
The Southern Assault
The brigade operation plan called for landing Lieutenant Colonel Alan Shapley's 4th Marines and Colonel Merlin F. Schneider's 22d Marines as the assault units and holding the Army's 305th RCT (77th Division), commanded by Colonel Vincent J. Tanzola, as brigade floating reserve. (See Map 9, Map Section)
The 4th, on the right, was to establish a beachhead and protect the flank of the brigade. The 22d, after landing on the left, and securing Agat Village, would drive north and cut off Orote Peninsula. When committed, the 305th had the mission of being prepared to make a passage of lines of the 4th and protect that sector of the beachhead. The brigade would then make preparations for further offensive operations.40
Beaches YELLOW and WHITE, target of General Shepherd's command, lay between Agat Village and Bangi Point. (See Map 10) As in the 3d
ASSAULT WAVES of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade move toward the beach at Agat as the final rounds of the naval gunfire preparation explode ashore. (Navy Photograph.)
Division's sector, a wide reef protected the shore. Knowing this to be a natural obstacle, the Japanese had prepared to exploit it. Brutal mortar and artillery fire fell on approaching waves of LVT's as they crawled across the reef.
The enemy had his defenses ashore, consisting of numerous pillboxes built in coral outcroppings, well-organized. Concrete blockhouses, located on Gaan Point, held a 75mm41 and a 37mm gun which enfiladed the beaches. One 75mm field piece on Yona Island had not been knocked out. The emplacements did not show through the scattered clouds on aerial photographs available prior to the landing. The blockhouses formed large sand covered mounds, and the many palm trees made detection difficult.42
These guns raked Beaches YELLOW 1 and 2 as men of the 22d started to cross them. The regiment landed with the 1st and 2d Battalions in assault. The 3d, boated in LCVP's, remained at the line of departure in reserve. The loss of men and equipment at the water's edge made organization for the attack inland difficult.43 But, as quickly as possible, units moved
off the beaches and started toward their first objective.
On the right, the 2d (Lieutenant Colonel Donn C. Hart) advanced rapidly inland, overcame scattered resistance, and reorganized about 400 yards from the beach.44 When the advance continued, a Japanese strong point in Company G's zone of action held up the battalion. However, the direct fire of regimental tanks,45 fresh from the beach, helped eliminate this trouble. The companies then moved forward and secured the high ground about 1,000 yards inland.
After landing, the 1st Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Walfried H. Fromhold, wheeled left and commenced the drive toward Agat. As Company B, on the left flank next to the sea, reached the outskirts of the village, it met stiffened opposition. Naval bombardment had leveled the buildings, but the rubble furnished good protection for the Japanese defenders who had filtered back to the town. Colonel Fromhold committed his reserve, Company C, and the momentum of the attack carried the battalion to Harmon Road by 1130. About the same time regimental headquarters attached Company 1 (3/22), which had landed on YELLOW Beach at 1010, to 1/22 as reserve.46
Fifteen minutes later General Shepherd, with his forward command echelon, disembarked and started toward the beach. After they arrived ashore brigade set up its command post in a coconut grove about 200 yards southeast of Gaan Point, and at 1350 Shepherd assumed control of all troops in his zone of action.47
Other problems besides fighting the enemy confronted 1/22. Front line units started to run low on ammunition, and a message sent to the beach requesting a resupply brought an answer at 1350 of "Nothing on beach yet. Sent LVT's. Will have supplies when they return."48 Evacuation of casualties also proved difficult. As it landed, an aid station party had received a direct hit from a 75mm field gun. Many medical supplies were destroyed and only one member of the medical team escaped uninjured. As a result, the battalion had no doctor until
GAAN POINT PILLBOX shows the scars of repeated shellings which failed to knock out this 75mm gun and a companion 37mm that accounted for many tractors and men in the first waves of the 22d Marines. (Navy Photograph.)
Original Objective Lines
afternoon. In spite of such difficulties, Fromhold made plans to continue the attack when ordered.49
Regimental headquarters had its problems, too. Because of a radio failure, communications could not be established with the remainder of the reserve battalion (3d) and consequently its commander, Lieutenant Colonel Clair W. Shisler, did not receive orders to come ashore until 1236. This prevented the unit from landing in time to participate in the remainder of the day's action,50 but did not delay the attack on the O-151 (See Map 11, Map Section) line by the rest of the regiment.
The 1st Battalion jumped off at 1245 and met stiff but spotty resistance. As the attack progressed the unit started across gently sloping terrain that was ideal tank country. Lieutenant Colonel Fromhold requested armor, but the tanks did not arrive until the middle of the afternoon.52 After joining the infantry, they assisted in the advance through Agat, knocking out strong points which held up the advance.
Captain Charles F. Widdecke's Company C, on the left flank of the brigade, made good progress until stopped by machine-gun fire from a hill northeast of Agat. This insignificant-looking mound held up the advance, and the fighting there was indicative of the action of W-Day. Widdecke's men attempted to flank the position about 1500, but deadly fire forced a withdrawal. For over an hour the enemy kept Company C pinned down in a series of narrow trenches at the base of the hill. When reinforcements arrived, another attack brought no better results. Concealed machine guns swept the open area and forced the Marines back to the trenches. Troops began to improve their position for the night. But the day's work had been costly. At 1455, Captain Widdecke reported, "Company C committed all platoons, no reserve, weak, could not hold counterattack."53 At 1715 the battalion commander sent a platoon of reserves to help strengthen the position. Three hours later all companies had sent word they were set for the night.
After reorganizing on the high ground secured in the morning, Lieutenant Colonel Hart's 2d Battalion made preparations for the 1250 attack on O-1. Even before the assault got under way, enemy artillery fire began to fall on the unit, growing in intensity as Hart's men jumped off. The assault elements inched ahead against stubborn resistance until a dual-purpose gun stopped Company E. A called air strike produced unsatisfactory results as the strafing hit the front lines and ten bombs fell in the area of Company F. By the time casualties had been removed and a reorganization
MOUNT ALIFAN looms above men of the 4th Marines as they move through its foothills to the attack. In the background a plane being used for observation keeps track of the front lines for fire control agencies.
effected the battalion had received orders to dig in for the night.54
The day had been a difficult one for Lieutenant Colonel Shapley's 4th Marines also. Assault elements met opposition immediately after crossing the reef. Plans calling for LVT's to move 1,000 yards inland before discharging troops had to be abandoned.55
The regiment landed with two battalions in assault and one in reserve. The scheme of maneuver called for the 1st and 2d to land abreast and drive inland. As the advance moved ahead, extending the zone of action, the 3d Battalion (less one company) would work in on the right, next to the beach.
On landing, the 2d Battalion (Major John S. Messer), on the left, hit a low but strongly defended hill less than 100 yards from the shoreline. Maps had not disclosed this 10-20-foot elevation whose reverse slope offered the enemy excellent protection.56 Major Messer's men made slow progress, but by noon the pocket of resistance had been reduced and the 2d started toward Mt. Alifan.
Major Bernard W. Green's 1st Battalion came ashore with two companies in assault. Company A, on the right, met stiff opposition from pillboxes but reduced their effectiveness and started across the open fields at the foot of Mt. Alifan. Company B met only token
CONTROL BOATS direct the confused but orderly traffic of men and supplies in a variety of landing craft at the transfer line.
resistance and advanced rapidly inland. The discovery of a drainage ditch in its zone of action gave the company good cover and enabled it to move 1,000-2,000 yards by 1030.
When the attack had progressed 700 yards, Company C, initially in reserve, landed and swung right to hit Hill 40 and Bangi Point. The hill, dominating the road that paralleled the beach, proved to be strongly defended. Men from Company C crept ahead until a deadly stream of machine-gun bullets halted the attack. Major Green called for two tanks when Company A also came under fire from the well-concealed guns. This added support supplied the necessary impetus to the attack that followed. This time the Marines captured the hill.57
When two companies of the reserve battalion (3d) arrived ashore, they started to relieve the 1st Battalion. Company K took over Hill 40 and Bangi Point while Company I moved up on the left flank in the battalion's zone. One platoon of the reserve company (L/3) occupied Alutom Island but found no Japanese defenders. The remainder of the reserve moved into an assembly area about 300 yards inland from WHITE 2.
Lieutenant Colonel Shapley had all units of the 4th Marines in position at 1345 to resume the attack to seize O-1. Scattered resistance met the assault elements as they jumped off, but the regiment made satisfactory progress. Company B had established a road block on Harmon Road by 1730 and could see the 2d Battalion, 22d Marines on its left. A deep gully prevented physical contact. From the road the lines bent back around the lower slopes of Mt. Alifan to Hill 40 on the beach. Shapley could only establish strong points across the wide front; supporting arms covered all possible avenues of approach into the regiment's position.58 (See Map 12)
The situation at the end of the brigade's first day ashore is best summed up by the message General Shepherd sent to General Geiger at 1830:
Own casualties about 350. Enemy unknown. Critical shortages fuel and ammunition all types. Think we can handle it. Will continue as planned tomorrow.59
Several factors delayed the movement of supplies ashore the first morning. Inner edges of reefs, heavy with silt, made it difficult to locate suitable places to beach landing vehicles. In addition, the loss of 24 LVT's on W-Day seriously hampered the work of transshipment. Landing craft moved supplies to the transfer area on schedule, but the lack of sufficient amphibious vehicles caused a serious backlog at this point. Numerous expedients, such as rubber boat causeways, rafts, and floating fuel drums manhandled by wading Marines relieved
75MM PACK HOWITZER carried ashore in a DUKW is unloaded by an A-frame attached to another DUKW.
the situation somewhat. Nevertheless, the Navy decided to continue unloading throughout the night in an effort to get more gear ashore, and General Shepherd requested that ammunition and water be placed on the priority list.60
In anticipation of the expected violent Japanese reaction, Shepherd issued his instructions for night defenses. He ordered particular attention be paid to organization in depth and the maintaining of local reserves for a counterattack.61 To comply with this decision and to block the only armor approach route into the center of the brigade's position, the 4th Marines parked five tanks in a little hollow just off Harmon Road. Artillery registered in normal barrages, and front line observers requested illumination from the Navy. Other preparations of the 4th included sending the Reconnaissance Platoon and a detachment of engineers to strengthen the defensive line. And finally, Company C went into reserve near the regimental CP with orders to be prepared to move out during the night. In the 22d's zone assault platoons consolidated their positions, and 3/22 stood by to bar any attempted enemy infiltration. The brigade's defense was now ready and alert.
At 2330 units reported Japanese operating all along the front. A half-hour later the enemy made his first attempt to penetrate the lines of the brigade. A mortar barrage came down on the right flank of the 4th Marines. Tossing demolition charges and small land mines like hand grenades, the Japanese threw themselves against the front lines. Before the attack could be repulsed six Marines had been bayoneted in their fox holes.62
The enemy chose Hill 40 as the target for the next attack. A platoon of Company K was hit hard about 0100 and forced to withdraw. Reorganizing at the foot of the hill, the men counterattacked and recaptured the ground, only to be driven off a second time. When two squads, led by Lieutenant Marvin C. Plock, arrived as reinforcements, a third try again carried the hill. This time the determined Marines could not be dislodged.
This was not the last attack against Major Hamilton M. Hoyler's 3d Battalion, however. The enemy regrouped in an unusual silence. Hoyler's men watched the proceedings and made their own preparations. Hand grenades were lined up along the edges of fox holes, weapons checked and sighted to give the best fields of fire, and artillery alerted.
About 0330 the assault started. Company K received the brunt. Lieutenant Martin J. Sexton's men stopped the main thrust,63 but front line units ran low on ammunition, and small groups of Japanese infiltrated into the pack howitzer positions. The executive officer of Battery A, Pack Howitzer Battalion, 4th Marines described the action this way:
At 2330, I challenged two figures edging along the side of the crater, but they turned out to be communicators checking a wire line. About 30 minutes later, I saw four figures creeping along the same line, but
when I challenged them, they hit the ground and rolled away from the hole, muttering in Japanese. The "Gunny" in the hole with me threw a grenade, killing one and the other three were picked off by the gun sections. After this, reports of crawling figures started coming in from gun sections and outposts all around the battery. Simultaneously with these reports, fire missions started pouring in. By about 0130, we were up to our necks in fire missions and infiltrating Japanese. Every so often, I had to call a section out for a short time so it could take care of the intruders with carbines and then I would send it back into action again. Somehow, one Japanese nambu machine gunner managed to get between our guns and the front lines and all night harassed us with fire.64
But the most serious threat to the brigade's beachhead took place at Company B's road block. Four enemy tanks came lumbering up Harmon Road about 0230, followed by guns mounted on trucks. This tank-infantry attack might cause serious trouble, indeed. If a breakthrough could be accomplished, the enemy would have a clear road to Agat Village, where guns could be placed to enfilade the entire beachhead. But a bazooka man of the 4th Marines, Private First Class Bruno Oribiletti, met the column head-on. This was the first time the men of the regiment employed the rocket launcher,65 and as an antitank weapon it soon demonstrated its value. Oribiletti knocked out the first two tanks before enemy fire killed him. A platoon of General Sherman tanks led by Lieutenant James R. Williams destroyed the remaining Japanese armor.66 This was the same platoon that had been so strategically parked earlier that night. The loss of their armor discouraged the enemy foot soldiers, and they retreated behind Mt. Alifan.
What is thought to have been a coordinated part of the same attack hit the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines on its right flank. Under cover of a heavy mortar barrage, and supported by machine guns, the enemy surged through a draw toward Company A's lines. Led by an officer carrying a flag on a bamboo pole, shouting men swung Samurai swords and threw hand grenades with good results. The momentum of the assault carried some of the enemy almost
JAPANESE LIGHT TANK destroyed at the Company B, 4th Marines roadblock during the enemy counterattack on the night of 21-22 July. (Army Photograph.)
to the artillery positions, only 400 yards from the beach, where artillerymen halted the attackers. The fierce fighting in this sector was costly to both sides. Marines counted over 200 Japanese dead in the morning, but one platoon of Company A had been reduced to four men. Regiment did not have replacements available, and the company participated in the remainder of the Guam campaign with only two platoons.67
The enemy did not limit his counterattacks to the 4th Marines sector. On the north flank of the brigade, the 22d Marines also went through a sleepless night with small infiltration groups intent on reaching the Marines' rear areas responsible for most of the activity. One such unit, of about company size, made it to the vicinity of the regimental CP. Clerks, runners, and other headquarters personnel helped to clear the region. Six Marines were wounded, but by daybreak three Japanese officers and 66 soldiers had been killed.
Company C (1/22) that night witnessed one of those enemy tactical moves that only the Japanese themselves can explain. Down the hill--the hill that had held up the company most of the afternoon--marched 12 enemy soldiers. The men of Nippon carried one light and three heavy machine guns and walked steadily toward the center of the position. If their mission was to die for the Emperor, the Marines helped them accomplish it. Machine-gun fire riddled the oncoming Japanese who made no attempt to set up their weapons and defend themselves, and most of the group never reached the front lines.
About 0515 a platoon of Ammunition Company, 5th Field Depot, repelled an enemy demolition group headed for the brigade ammunition dump. The raiders left 14 dead behind.
Much of the credit for repelling the night-long enemy attacks must go to artillery and naval gunfire. In addition, ship's 5-inch guns and the infantry's 60mm mortars furnished constant illumination, which increased the effectiveness of defensive fires as well as permitting good observation of the enemy's movements.68
The last of the counterattacks designed to destroy the southern beachhead ceased at dawn. The enemy had thrown the 38th Infantry Regiment (less 3d Battalion) against the Marines in the night effort. One battalion had hit each of the brigade flanks, and the reinforcing units of the regiment had made the frontal assault against the 4th Marines. According to Japanese accounts, Colonel Suenaga, the regimental commander, was killed while leading the center attack.
Following the night's activities that had destroyed the 38th Regiment as a fighting force,69 the brigade quickly restored its front lines by employing local reserves, and preparations got under way to resume the advance.
Landing of the 305th RCT
The brigade operation plan called for one landing team (LT) of the Army's 305th Regimental Combat Team to be boated and at the line of departure by 1030 on W-Day. Colonel Tanzola assigned this mission to the 2d Battalion (Lieutenant Colonel Robert D. Adair). Shortly after the Marine assault waves cleared the line of departure, Colonel Adair ordered his men into their landing craft. A liaison team from the 305th Field Artillery Battalion also embarked into small boats to accompany the LT to shore.
After arriving at the control boat on schedule, the commander found brigade headquarters had no immediate need for his troops. Then began the monotony of waiting for orders. The artillery liaison party went ashore to select positions, but the 2d Battalion continued circling at the LD. After seemingly endless hours, 2/305 received a message at 1405 to land and assemble in an area 400 yards inland from Gaan Point.70
With no LVT's allotted or available, troops waded ashore through waist-deep water over a reef full of pot holes and shell craters. Weapons and equipment got water-soaked when men stumbled over submerged coral heads. If someone found good footing, everyone tended to move toward that sector of the reef. As a result, units became intermingled and forgot about dispersion. Fortunately, the Marines kept the Japanese too busy to fire on the beach or reef. After quickly reorganizing on Beach WHITE 1, the battalion moved into its assembly area where it set up defensive positions for the night and immediately started to make preparations for the next day's mission.
Trouble seemed to be following the 305th. About 1430 General Shepherd ordered the rest of Colonel Tanzola's combat team to land. But communication difficulties delayed the message until 1530;71 then the regiment only had enough craft available to land one battalion. The 1st (Lieutenant Colonel James E. Landrum) embarked in its landing craft and proceeded to the control boat for clearance to the beach. Naval officers refused to dispatch the boats because of lack of landing instructions. By the time the brigade had verified the movement the hour was 1730.72
In the meantime, Colonel Tanzola, becoming quite concerned about the fast approaching darkness, sent a message to brigade headquarters:
Order to 305th infantry conflicting. Was ordered to land entire CT. Cannot complete unloading of team before dark. Instructions received by TD 38 [Transport Division 38] differ. Suggest suspension of unloading. Request clear order be issued. Expedite reply.73
The reply came promptly, "Land your CT at once in accordance with previous instructions."74
Lieutenant Colonel Landrum and his men found conditions very similar to those which had faced the 2d Battalion. The RCT still had no LVT's, and upon starting across the reef the troops encountered the same holes, shell craters, and coral heads. Incoming tide raised the water chest-high, and men had to swim out of the deeper holes. Darkness added to their difficulties; they swerved south, landing dangerously near enemy-held territory. The battalion commander had planned to be in the center of his leading waves to keep control. However, because of the coral and depth of the water he landed on the left of the first wave, complicating the problem. Troops groped in search of their units, causing further disorder. But swift and decisive action by officers and NCO's resolved the confusion. Colonel Landrum located his assembly area and with his staff and guides moved approximately 60 percent of the battalion to it.
By 2130 the work of digging in for the night was well along. In the meantime, military police had stopped the remainder of the battalion on the beach fearing the movement forward during darkness might bring about unnecessary casualties. Consequently Landrum could not assemble his entire unit until after daylight the next day.75
The 3d Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Edward Chalgren, Jr., was delayed even more. While waiting for the return of landing craft, the unit's transport (USS Alpine) suddenly received orders to get under way. A report of an enemy submarine in the area kept the ship at sea until 2120.76 Darkness slowed debarkation and a shortage of boats (over half of the ship's boats had not been recovered when the Alpine put to sea) delayed unloading. Shortly after midnight the first wave started toward the beach, but failure of boat compasses caused crews much difficulty in maintaining the correct direction in proceeding the 12,000 yards from ship to shore. About 0200 the leading waves hit the reef that was concealed by high tide and darkness. After several boats nearly capsized in an attempt to cross the reef approximately 800 yards off WHITE Beach 2 the battalion commander ordered the ramps lowered and troops began to wade ashore. Battalion and company guides, previously dispatched in daylight, met the men of 3/305 as they trudged through the shoulder-deep water and led them to assembly areas where they remained for the night.
To reduce confusion and danger for later waves, Lieutenant Colonel Chalgren and his staff borrowed five LVT's from the Marines and stationed the vehicles at the reef line. One LVT acted as control boat to direct incoming traffic while the remaining four amphibious tractors ferried troops across the treacherous coral. By dawn most of the battalion had landed, but some elements did not hit dry land until 0600. Men were seasick, wet, and tired, and harrassed by occasional mortar rounds landing in or near the beach assembly area where congestion and coral rock generally prevented digging even shallow trenches. By 0700 all men had been accounted for and companies had reorganized.77
Colonel Tanzola and his staff had their troubles too. They disembarked about 2330 and upon reaching the reef found no transportation. As they waded and swam to the beach, a rubber raft drifted near. The regimental commander immediately put the raft to use and floated to shore on it.
During the night the only serious enemy interference came in the 1st Battalion's zone. Early in the morning a small probing attack hit Companies A and B. Seven soldiers were killed and ten wounded, some of them by friendly troops confused by their first taste of battle. When daylight came, men of the 1st counted 20 Japanese bodies in and around their positions.
During this first restless night ashore and subsequent days, mutually cordial relations were established and maintained with the Marines. The men of the brigade nicknamed the 305th Infantry, "the 305th Marines." Marines, most of whom had never voted, affectionally referred to the 77th's fast-slogging oldsters as "the old bastards," and gained respect for the fighting ability of this previously untried division.78
Trouble on the Left Flank
Japanese activities in the 3d Division's zone during the night of 21-22 July were not quite so vigorous as those carried on against the brigade. However, troublesome mortar and artillery fire on the beaches forced unloading to a halt at about 0230. Small-scale counterattacks hit all along the lines, but with naval
20MM CANNON of Battery I, 14th Defense Battalion emplaced atop Chonito Cliff ready to support the advance of the 3d Marines. In the background is the shell-cratered outline of Adelup Point.
gunfire and artillery playing a leading role the Marines stopped the enemy thrusts.
The most serious encounter took place in front of the 3d Marines. With enemy contact reported as close as ten yards, Colonel Hall committed his reserve to bolster the thinning lines. This added strength repulsed the attack, but the situation became so critical that division headquarters alerted the shore party to occupy defensive positions on order.79
The immediate effect of the enemy action was to delay the jump-off time of the division's attack. A coordinated effort was set for 0700, but the commanding general authorized the 21st to hold up until contact could be made with the 3d Marines. During the night the Japanese successfully infiltrated through the gully between the two regiments and established a block therein, further complicating the problem of contact. By 0830, however, the 3d had cleared up all infiltration parties, including the one holding the ravine, and Colonel Hall reported his right flank intact.80
About the time the division CP received this message, headquarters was recovering from a heavy shelling. The message center suffered a direct hit that killed Lieutenant Colonel Chevey S. White (D-1) and wounded 20 other Marines.81
Although the entire 3d Regiment ran into stiff opposition all along the front, the area around Bundschu Ridge seemed to offer the most resistance at the moment. Badly battered Company A could move neither forward nor backward. The 1st Battalion's executive officer, Major John A. Ptak, who had spent the night with the men of Company A, recommended a plan to break the deadlock. The 21st Marines would extend its front to the left to take over the ground now held by Company C (1/3). The relieved company would then execute a flanking maneuver in an attempt to extricate the pinned-down unit.82
The regimental commander ordered the 2d Battalion to assist by having one company try to flank the ridge from the left. (See Map 13)
PRIVATE FIRST CLASS LEONARD F. MASON, 2d Battalion, 3d Marines, posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for action on 22 July when he attacked and destroyed, although mortally wounded, two enemy machine-gun positions which had stopped his unit's advance.
Company E was assigned this mission and started to move toward the hill. At about 1000, Company C started across the rice paddies to flank the Japanese on the right. Trying to move into position for the coordinated attack with Companies A and E, the men got lost in the tangled mass of undergrowth. Nevertheless, the planned 20-minute preparation went ahead on schedule. Half-tracks, 20mm, 40mm,83 and all organic weapons let loose with a tremendous barrage. Assault units followed the fire as closely as possible. A few Marines reached the top of the ridge, but shells from a 90mm mortar forced them to withdraw. Although they did not know it at this time, their presence caused the Japanese to abandon the position. The next day when
Bundschu Ridge Action
men of the 3d Marines walked up the hill they found trenches and foxholes littered with enemy dead.
The two days' fighting hit the 3d Marines hard. Colonel Hall reported that he had lost 615 men, killed, wounded, and missing.84 Some companies could muster only 30-40 men. Company A was practically non-existent.
The 21st Marines remained on the same line most of W-plus 1, reorganizing, sending out patrols, and waiting until the 3d Marines could move ahead. Lines were extended dangerously thin, and any further advance would only have made the situation worse. The 2d Battalion, in position on an open ridge, received brutal mortar fire all day and suffered severely. In order to have a fresh unit on line for the next day's anticipated attack, Colonel Butler requested that division permit him to replace the 1st Battalion, now in division reserve, with the 2d.85 General Turnage agreed. Late in the afternoon the relief began under cover of artillery and naval gunfire, being completed about 2000.
Japanese Counterattack Plan
25-26 July 1944
On the right flank, the 9th Marines moved ahead against light opposition when it jumped off at 0715. Colonel Craig's units overran many excellent positions, including a bivouac area large enough to accommodate a regiment. Only sporadic resistance was encountered from small groups of Japanese left behind.86 About noon Craig alerted the 3d Battalion for the attack on Cabras Island. (See Map 16, Map Section)
In view of the complete lack of intelligence as to the strength and disposition of the enemy on that island, a shore-to-shore amphibious assault had been planned, to be carried out as soon as the 2d Battalion occupied Piti Navy Yard.87
Following a full-scale naval gunfire and air bombardment, LVT's led by LVT(A)'s churned
ashore on the only beach on the island at 1425. Scaling ladders had been given the men to enable them to get up the high ground back of the narrow landing area. One LVT hit a land mine, but no enemy gunfire met the men as they scrambled ashore. Heavy brambles and hundreds of mines, however, made the going slow and tedious. The absence of any organized resistance indicated little danger of enemy counterattacks, and the approach of dusk brought the inland advance to a halt after 400 yards.
The evening of W-plus 1 found the division in better defensive positions than the night before, but General Turnage was concerned about the next day's fighting. He felt he needed another combat team to strengthen his division and sent a message to corps requesting one:
Enemy resistance increased considerably today on Div left and center. All Bn's of 3rd CT have been committed in continuous attack since landing. 21st CT less 1 Bn in Div Res has been committed continuously with all units in assault. One of the assault Bn's of 21st CT is being relieved on line by Div Res Bn today. Former is approx 40% depleted. Since further advance will continue to thin our lines it is now apparent that an additional combat team is needed. 9th CT is fully committed to capture of Piti & Cabras. Accordingly it is urgently recommended that an additional CT be attached this Div at the earliest practicable date.88
The night was relatively quiet with the only heavy enemy action reported by the 21st Marines. About midnight an intense mortar barrage hit the front lines of the 1st Battalion. The attack followed closely and culminated with a bayonet charge, which 1/21 repulsed with crippling losses to the enemy. Harassing fire fell throughout the division area, but few casualties were reported.
Early in the morning of the 23d, the division received a message from Headquarters Southern Landing Force which read:
Essential that close contact between adjacent units be established late afternoon and maintained throughout the night. Take action to insure this daily.89
This was to be the basis for most of the activity on W-plus 2. The 3d Marines and the 21st had never been able to make contact since landing.
AMPHIBIAN TANKS cross the reef toward Cabras Island as they lead the shore-to-shore assault of the 3d Battalion, 9th Marines. (Navy Photograph.)
Many futile attempts to join up had been made, but the tangled undergrowth had made this impossible.
Under the cover of dense vegetation, outcroppings of jagged coral and heaped boulders barred movement. Each of the innumerable gullies, small valleys, and ridges crisscrossing the sector added to the difficulties of tying in the units. This particular area the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Lieutenant General Alexander A. Vandegrift, later described as, "Some of the most rugged country I have ever seen."90
Yet one patrol from the 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, did make contact with the 21st on W-plus 1 by skirting this entire area. However, in trying to return to their own headquarters across the ground where the tie-in was required, the men lost their way and had to turn back to the 21st's lines for the night. Although on the map only a few hundred yards separated the regiments, and the patrol had radio contact with the 3d Marines all the way, it still could not locate its own lines.91
81MM MORTAR CREW MEMBERS duck away from the blast of their weapon as they fire in support of troops pushing up the rugged slopes of the Asan beachhead. (Navy Photograph.)
Colonel Hall made plans to renew the attack at daylight, but he was none too optimistic about its success as evidenced by the message he sent to division:
My left flank is quite secure so I am taking Weapons Company and attaching them to Aplington [1st Bn]. They will give Aplington the men to make contact with 21st. I am going to try and advance up that mess in front of me. What I really need is a battalion whereas I have only 160 men to use on that 500-yard slope. They might move to the top but they couldn't advance on. Company A is down to about 30-40 men with an air liaison officer in charge, Company E is down to half strength. They have no strength to push on.92
In the morning, every available weapon--air, naval gunfire, artillery, 20mm's, 40mm's, and guns from half-tracks and tanks--threw shells into the ridges and gullies in front of the 3d Marines. Lieutenant Colonel Houser's 3d Battalion, on the left flank of the division, attacked at 0900 and met opposition of the most stubborn and furious kind. Shortly after noon the executive officer, Major Royal R. Bastian, Jr., who had taken over when Colonel Houser was wounded and evacuated at 1100, called for reserves to meet an enemy counterattack hitting all along his front.93 Meanwhile, he rushed every available man into the line, leaving only skeleton crews with the mortars and machine guns. Excellent support from naval gunfire, air, and artillery broke up the Japanese effort, but the battalion suffered such heavy casualties that it could not renew the attack.
In the center of the 3d Marines' zone, the 2d and 1st Battalions launched a combined drive at 0900 against Bundschu Ridge. The 2d, with Captain William E. Moore, Jr.'s Company E spearheading the drive, moved forward on the left. At the same time Company C (Captain David I. Zeitlin) started to flank the Japanese position on the ridge from the right. Under cover of close support fires,94 both units hacked their way ahead through the thick vegetation. To the amazement of everyone, no fire came from the position that had held up the 1st Battalion for two days. The enemy had abandoned his defenses. The Marines pushed on, and at 1108 forces finally joined on the crest of the ridge. But further advance was out of the question until troops mopped up the area. Several machine guns, located in the cliffs, continued to cause trouble, and the 1st and 2d Battalions spent the rest of the day ferreting out the Japanese from these cave positions.
In the center of the division's zone, the 21st jumped off at 0900 in an attempt to relieve the pressure on the right flank of the 3d Marines and also to gain contact with that unit. Neither try proved successful. The patrol making the effort to link up turned back when it could not cross the rugged cliffs. Enemy pillboxes prevented the regiment from making any progress in carrying out the other mission. Demolition squads and flame-thrower teams assaulted individual bunkers, but the process was time consuming and by the end of the day the 21st had gained little ground.
On Cabras Island, the 3d Battalion, 9th Marines had resumed its advance early in the morning, met no opposition, and at 0900 received orders to turn the island over to the 14th Defense Battalion.95 Thereupon 3/9 relieved the 2d Battalion, which went into division reserve. During the remainder of W-plus 2 the regiment sent patrols far forward of the front lines. Negative results indicated the enemy had abandoned that area.
For the first time in three days the division could set up a defense for the night on commanding ground. However, the lines were spread very thin. The request for an additional combat team had been denied. Geiger felt that the general situation ashore did not warrant committing the corps reserve at this time.96
With front line units reduced by casualties so that only strong points could be established, possible avenues of enemy approach had to be covered with fire. Naval gunfire and artillery again did yeoman work during the night. Artillery alone fired 5,186 rounds of harassing and interdiction fire. There were no strong enemy attacks and few infiltration attempts.
On the morning of 24 July, the division made its first attempt to contact the brigade. A 30-man patrol from the 9th Marines started along the Piti-Sumay Road toward Orote Peninsula. Under cover of LVT(A)'s the small unit made good progress until about 1030 when rifle and machine-gun fire from the high ground flanking the road halted the attempt. On finding itself at the edge of a shelling directed against Orote, the patrol requested permission to return to regiment. Although the 30-man unit did not accomplish the mission of contact, it did gain important intelligence information. This indicated that some Japanese might have withdrawn down the coast toward the south. The enemy left behind huge dumps of ammunition, fuel, supplies, and vehicles but no troops in strength. Neither did the defenders destroy roads or bridges in their haste to withdraw.97
In the center of the division line, the 3d and 21st Marines were still trying to make contact. At 0630, 2/21, which had been released from division reserve in the afternoon of 23 July, attacked up the ravine that marked the boundary between the two regiments. A 100-round mortar concentration preceded the jump-off. However, murderous fire from enemy machine guns halted the attack immediately. Mutually supporting caves in the sides of the cliff offered plenty of protection for the Japanese. Company G, moving up on the left of the gully, reached the plateau and offered some fire assistance. But nothing could be done to reduce the effectiveness of the cave positions.
Units in the ravine repulsed two Japanese counterattacks within two hours. Lieutenant Colonel Smoak called for an air strike at 1205. Friendly troops were so close to the enemy that, although the Navy pilots' bombing was nearly perfect, regiment reported 17 Marine casualties.98 Following the strike, the 2d Battalion advanced 200 yards before fierce resistance forced a halt. Another air strike was put into the area, but this time to no avail. A later count showed that over 100 Imperial soldiers had paid with their lives to retain control of the ravine.
Later in the day, two companies of the 3d Marines went around to the rear of 1/3 and reached the plateau where they tied in with 2/21. Contact was finally established but only by strong points, and a break of 75 yards still existed between the 1st and 2d Battalions of the 3d Marines. Because difficult terrain and dense undergrowth made it impossible to close the gap before dark, Colonel Hall ordered it covered by mortar fire.
By nightfall the left and center of the division defensive lines rested on high ground overlooking the approaches to the Mt. Tenjo Road. On the right, the 9th Marines had improved its positions, advancing a little to take maximum advantage of the terrain. But casualties had mounted, and lack of replacements kept the lines thinned. The division reported 2,034 casualties since the landing, most of them in the infantry regiments.99
It was up to supporting arms to furnish defensive fires again. Corps now had larger caliber weapons available to help. Two 90mm batteries of the 14th Defense Battalion and the first 155mm guns from corps artillery reported early in the afternoon that they were ready to fire. The Marines needed their added range to harass suspected enemy assembly areas and interdict roads and other avenues of approach. Only a limited number of star shells remained, so Admiral Conolly authorized the use of destroyer searchlights for illumination.100
In spite of the division's troublesome left flank, the outlook was somewhat brighter. Supplies were moving ashore in good order. One important item which contributed to this success was the placing of large cranes on the reef and the mounting of others on pontoon barges for the transfer of cargo from boats to LVT's. Also, shore parties had worked expeditiously and tirelessly. TQM's reported some ships completely unloaded, and the over-all average had reached more than 80 percent. The 19th Marines had established water facilities ashore at Asan Spring. This excellent source provided sufficient quantities so that it was no longer necessary to bring fifty gallon drums of water ashore. This lightened the logistical load of the shore party considerably, thereby allowing it to concentrate more on ammunition and other high-priority supplies.101 The engineers
LONG TOMS of Battery A, 7th 155mm Gun Battalion set up 500 yards from WHITE Beach 2 in the shadow of the mountain range secured by the 4th Marines and the Army's 305th Infantry.
had also built an adequate road net to all units. A pulley system had been improvised to evacuate the wounded and supply the units of the 21st Marines on top of the cliff.102
Some valuable intelligence information began to come into the division. Civilians entered the lines near Adelup Point and reported many Japanese in the general area of Fonte-Mt. Tenjo-Ylig Bay-Pago Bay. Strong concentrations located on the Fonte plateau protected an enemy divisional CP. Guamanians said the Japanese moved from the Tumon Bay region at night, staying off the roads, and using stream lines and ravines to get into the Fonte area. These tactics were not new, but the information helped commanders formulate plans to break the defense.
Mt. Alifan Captured
While units of the 3d Division slowly drove in the outguards of the Fonte defensive position, the Marines in the south forged ahead to the FBL. On W-plus 1 (22 July), the brigade prepared to renew the advance toward Mt. Alifan. The 4th Marines received orders to seize the massif and then extend along the top of the ridge to the vicinity of Mt. Taene, to the south. The 22d would take O-a and be prepared to capture O-2 on order. And for the first time the 305th (less 2d Battalion) would move into the line. It was directed to pass through the left battalion of the 4th Marines and attack in the direction of Maanot Reservoir. When relieved by the 305th, 2/4 would join 2/305 as brigade reserve. Jump-off time was set for 0830.103
General Shepherd, however, found it necessary to delay the advance when the 1st and 3d Battalions of the 305th could not get into position in time. Because of the unavoidably confused landing and the loss of needed equipment, Colonel Tanzola's units required two hours to regroup and reorganize. During this period, brigade issued new orders directing 2/305 to move forward immediately and relieve the 2d Battalion, 4th Marines on the front lines. As soon as the rest of the 305th was ready, it would pass through 2/305 and attack to seize O-2.104
At about 0845 the 22d Marines started its advance and pushed ahead steadily against moderate resistance. The hill position northwest of Agat, which had held up the progress of 1/22 the day before, caused little trouble as the Marines walked to its top. Supporting tanks cleared the way to the next high ground, where the attack was temporarily halted. A bridge had been destroyed, and armor could not cross the Ayuja River. A call went out for engineers. None were available, so LVT(A)'s came up for infantry support. They could not cross because of the vertical banks of the river, and the assault units moved ahead without their help.105
Company C continued to advance until stopped by machine-gun fire from well-prepared positions. Neutralizing the pillboxes resulted in heavy casualties. Unable to regain the initiative in the remaining daylight hours, the company dug in for the night 250 yards north of RJ 5. Two platoons of Company A, 1/22, crossed Old Agat Road late in the afternoon, but were ordered back to the road for the night.106 This enabled them to tie in with the 2d Battalion on the right, which had kept pace with the 1st during the day. It had encountered only light, irregular resistance from pillboxes which naval gunfire quickly knocked out.
Having delayed its attack for half an hour, the 4th Marines got under way at 0900. As the regiment started across the foothills toward the steep slopes of Mt. Alifan, it encountered a well-entrenched enemy. From the northern side of the ridge rose numerous little rounded hills
whose reverse slopes offered the Japanese good positions for enfilade fire. Demolition teams sealed the caves that honeycombed the hills, and hand grenades reduced the coconut log bunkers.
When the advance neared the top of the mountain, the terrain grew worse; even the Japanese could not adequately prepare it for defense. A snarled, thorny undergrowth covered the almost vertical sides of the cliffs. Thick roots from pandanus trees sprawled across the only paths leading upward, making forward progress a Herculean task. The large, entwined vines caught on the men's equipment as they trudged slowly upward. Soon packs and all excess gear were discarded to get some relief.
Fortunately, only scattered resistance met the forward elements as they moved up the narrow trails. Finally a platoon from the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, led by Lieutenant William A. Kerr, reached the summit. But this position proved indefensible and the patrol returned to its organization and reported no enemy on top of Mt. Alifan.107
The Army's 305th Infantry had gone about the business of reorganizing after General Shepherd granted its request for a short delay before the start of the attack. The 2d Battalion completed relief of 2/4 by 1115. Shortly before, at 1030, the 1st and 3d Battalions set out for their first objective. Advancing abreast, they were to capture the high ground over which Harmon Road passed to the east. Eroded and brush-covered hills constituted the biggest obstacles of both battalions as they went forward. Supplies had to be manhandled to front line units, thus slowing the advance. By 1700, however, O-a was reached; the 1st tied-in on the left with the 3d Battalion which had made faster progress over the more favorable terrain in its zone.
By nightfall the brigade line extended from a point several hundred yards north of the Ayuja River along the high ground northeast of Harmon Road to the Alifan massif. Continuing southwest along the ridge line toward Mt. Taene, the defensive line turned to the sea and anchored on Magpo Point.
More support was available for harassing and interdiction fires for the night. Corps artillery now had two-thirds of its 155mm guns and howitzers ashore and ready to fire. This included elements of the 2d 155mm Howitzer Battalion which had been reassigned from V Corps Artillery at Saipan on 14 July.108 Units of the 9th Defense Battalion had begun disembarking in the morning, and before dark had guns emplaced along the beach between Agat and Bangi Point. Twelve 40mm, twelve 20mm, and twelve .50-caliber machine guns strengthened the beach defenses and the immediate inland perimeter.109
The second night ashore for the brigade was quite different from the harrowing first. The enemy tried to infiltrate at various points along the lines, but with little success. No penetration occurred, and the Marines reported only a few casualties. The 22d Marines and units on the beach received harassing fire from mortars and artillery emplaced on Orote. But the expected large-scale counterattacks from Harmon Road and Orote did not materialize.
At daybreak men from the 2d Battalion, 4th Marines observed Japanese troops in the vicinity of Mt. Lamlam moving toward Facpi Point and alerted both air and naval gunfire. The USS Honolulu proceeded to a point where she could fire on the area at a moment's notice. Spotter planes were launched, and at about 0930 both air and naval gunfire began to work over the area. The enemy troops quickly dispersed, but observers kept the entire sector under surveillance for the remainder of the day.
Meanwhile, the brigade launched its attack to secure the O-2 line and the FBL. The 22d Marines advanced to the north, with the 305th conforming to that movement but pushing toward Maanot Pass. The 4th Marines made preparations for its relief by the 306th Infantry.
Colonel Tanzola's 305th jumped off on time, advanced rapidly, and reported the O-2 line completely occupied by 1020. In the afternoon the regiment continued advancing north
MEDIUM TANKS of the 22d Marines aid the infantry in cleaning out enemy machine-gun nests 1,200 yards north of Agat.
from Harmon Road and Maanot Pass. By nightfall units reported all the dominating terrain overlooking Orote Peninsula assigned to the Southern Landing Force in friendly hands.110 The 1st and 3d Battalions remained on line and the 2d moved to Maanot Pass. This blocked the one good road across the island in the brigade zone and halted any further attempt by the Japanese to penetrate down that avenue of approach.
During the morning of 23 July, the 22d Marines found the enemy falling back and offering only scattered resistance. But in the afternoon when the front lines tried to swing across the neck of Orote Peninsula the situation changed. The assault units received intense enfilade fire from a series of small hills surrounded by rice paddies. Troops trying to get into position for an attack on a hill sank hip-deep in the mushy ground. The Japanese had each small hill organized as a strong point, all of them mutually supporting. Mortars and artillery from both Orote and the Mt. Tenjo area added their weight to the excellent defensive positions.
Marine tanks moved forward to help knock out the opposition, but the soft rice fields hindered their mobility. When the armor tried the road approaches enemy antitank weapons put one tank out of action for the day. Another hit a mine but sustained only minor damage.111
One infantry company, hidden by the waist-high grass, skirted the first rice paddy and reformed its line for the assault. For their efforts the men of the company found another water-soaked, saucer-shaped field covered by deadly automatic-weapons fire. Corps artillery and naval gunfire were called to back up the brigade artillery's efforts to shake the 22d loose. The USS Pennsylvania alone fired 53 tons of 14-inch shells in approximately 30 minutes.112 But with darkness approaching the forward elements had to be withdrawn from their exposed positions. When the word was passed to dig in for the night, the regiment found the terrain unsuitable for defense. All units then pulled back about 400 yards and set up on a line of hills just south of Old Agat Road.
Earlier in the day bomb-disposal units got their first real workout on Guam. Bombs and mines found in various sectors designated as dump areas were impeding operations. Consequently, at about 1000 a call went out for all available bomb-disposal personnel to report to the shore party commander. Land mines, booby traps, and buried, fused torpedoes and aerial bombs were the most common types encountered. The Japanese had lined the beaches and roads thoroughly, as well as mining likely troop bivouac and supply areas.
The added casualties of the day further reduced the steadily diminishing ranks of the 22d,113 and it was a thin line that waited for the expected enemy counterattack that night. About midnight a column of enemy troops could be seen coming down Mt. Tenjo but it turned back and went behind the ridge toward Harmon Road. Luckily, the rest of the night passed in comparative quietness except for a few infiltration attempts in front of the regiment. The Marines quickly repulsed all attacks with little loss. Again artillery and naval gunfire gave valuable assistance to the front line troops by not allowing the enemy to concentrate his forces.114
Artillery also fired many close support missions during the night. At one time so many scheduled concentrations and targets of opportunity were available that all batteries were engaged. A call from the 22d had to be refused because it would rob other units of needed artillery support. Naval gunfire, however, quickly shelled the targets when informed of the situation.
Attack of the 22d Marines
General Shepherd's plan for the brigade's attack on the 24th went out to units after midnight. To cope with the strong defensive set-up, a different scheme of maneuver had been devised. General Shepherd ordered the 22d Marines to send two battalions in column of companies up the Agat-Sumay Road with the mission of effecting a breakthrough by the employment of force in depth on a narrow front. (See Map 14, Map Section) Upon reaching the northern edge of the rice paddies, the battalions would echelon to the right, attack abreast, and seize the O-2 line from the coast to Apra Harbor. In conjunction with this assault, the other battalion (2/22) was to move from its position astride the Old Agat Road and occupy O-2 in zone. Initially using only a 400-yard front, the unit would capture the dominating high ground near Atantano and then extend to the right to contact the 305th. Shepherd's scheme of maneuver would not only outflank the Japanese strong points covering the rice paddies but would establish a barrier across the neck of Orote and secure the FBL in front of the brigade. Because of the late hour when units received the operation order, jump-off time was set at 0900.115
As part of the over-all plan for the assault on Orote, corps had ordered the 77th Division to take over most of the beachhead. At 0800 the boundary for the brigade became the Old Agat Road and the Army took over all the rest of the territory within the FBL. While men of the 22d Marines moved into position air, artillery, and naval gunfire fired a heavy preparation. At 0830 commanders ordered the attack delayed so that naval gunfire could be extended for a half-hour. At the end of that extension the commanding general felt there was still insufficient NGF, so another 30-minute barrage followed.
Finally, at 1000 the simultaneous assault started. The 2d Battalion, 22d Marines, received a counterattack immediately, which knocked it off balance and delayed the advance. Mortars and artillery backed up the enemy attack, causing further complications. To add to the already confused state of affairs, naval gunfire began falling in the front lines.116 Nevertheless, the NGF plus Marine mortars and artillery did break up the enemy effort, and reorganization began so that the planned attack could get under way.
All companies had left the line of departure (Old Agat Road) by 1300 and the 2d had regained the offensive advantage. Only light opposition met the Marines, and by late afternoon Lieutenant Colonel Hart's men had reached
their objective. On order, they pushed forward to take the commanding ground overlooking the road junctions at Atantano. Although in an advance position, with the enemy putting pressure on its rear and right flank, the battalion held. It organized an all around defense and gained visual contact with the 305th Regiment on the right. Company F of the 4th Marines was sent up to Atantano to reinforce the perimeter for the night.
The main effort of the brigade's two-pronged attack advanced against determined resistance along the Agat-Sumay Road. Lieutenant Colonel Fromhold's 1st Battalion, 22d Marines led the way with the tank company in support. The road was heavily mined with aerial bombs and also covered by preregistered mortar and artillery concentrations. Progress was slow, but with the tanks blasting pillboxes and coconut-log barricades, the infantry inched ahead. Demolition teams closed caves, and artillery and naval gunfire quieted enemy guns on Pelagi Rock. Five enemy tanks challenged the advance, but the Marine Shermans made short work of the lighter Japanese armor and left them burning at the side of the road.117
On reaching the R-2 line the 1st fanned out to the right, and Lieutenant Colonel Shisler's 3d Battalion swung farther to the east across the hills, where it quickly overran the strong points around the rice paddies that had caused so much trouble the previous day. (See Map 14, Map Section)
About the middle of the afternoon enemy artillery fire from guns located in the cliffs on Orote increased in intensity. Naval gunfire officers sent a message to the command ship, and soon an LCI(G) and a destroyer opened up on the Japanese weapons. Their fire quickly quieted the troublesome guns. Nevertheless, to make certain the enemy positions remained neutralized, the gunboat and destroyer remained on station to observe.118
The 1st Battalion had reached the 0-2 line by darkness but the 3d held up 400 yards short of its objective. A gap existed between the 2d and 3d Battalions, so Major Messer's unit (2/4)
HAND GRENADES are hurled by Marines at Japanese positions on the other side of one of the many rice paddies that slowed the advance toward Orote Peninsula. (Navy Photograph.)
received orders to move into support positions to plug the hole. Although units did not complete the movement until after dark, lines were consolidated for the night. When Japanese reconnaissance patrols made unsuccessful attempts to locate the front lines, the enemy resorted to one of his oldest ruses by screaming, "Help," in English. But the Marines knew their wily enemy and the attempts proved futile against the excellent fire discipline.119
At the end of W-plus 3 (24 July) the Southern Landing Force had its beachhead firmly established. After four days of continuous fighting the brigade had the enemy bottled-up on Orote Peninsula. The Army's 77th Division had taken over most of the FBL and was well dug-in. Responsibility for the defense of
MEN AND EQUIPMENT of the 306th Infantry snake through the water over the reef as they come ashore on 23 July. (Army Photograph.)
the beach from Agat Village to Gaan Point rested with the 9th Defense Battalion. The Army's 7th AAA (Automatic Weapons) Battalion guarded the coastline from Gaan to Bangi Point. All corps artillery was ashore and registered, but it had less than one unit of fire around its guns.120 The supply situation, however, improved by the hour. All in all, conditions in the south could be viewed with optimism.
Still the losses had been considerable in winning the stubbornly defended beachhead. The brigade reported 188 KIA, 728 WIA, and 87 MIA by the evening of W-plus 3;121 the Army listed 12 KIA and 20 WIA. Nor had the Navy gone unscathed. LCI(G) 365 and SC 1326 (a submarine chaser) had been hit on W-Day with total casualties of nine killed and 22 wounded. A dud shell hit the USS Ormsby (APA 49) on W-plus 1 but caused only minor damage. During the morning of 24 July LCI(G)'s 366 and 439 received gunfire that killed six, including the captain and executive officer of the 366. Twenty-eight sailors were wounded in the same engagement as ships cleaned out emplacements in the vicinity of Neye Island.122
Floating Reserve Wades Ashore
In order to carry out the planned relief of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade by the 77th Infantry Division, General Geiger decided, on 22 July, to commit part of the corps reserve. Accordingly, he sent a message at 1226 ordering the remainder of the 77th Division, less the 307th Infantry, to land on Beaches WHITE 1 and 2.123
To accomplish this mission, General Bruce alerted the 306th Infantry for a landing about noon on the 23d. The 305th would revert to division control after the brigade's relief had been affected. The 307th (Colonel Stephen S. Hamilton), less its assigned artillery, would remain afloat as corps reserve.124
During the morning Colonel Douglas C. McNair, division chief of staff, headed a group that went ashore to make arrangements for taking over the southern sector of the beachhead. The party included the 306th's commanding officer, Colonel Aubrey D. Smith, and his battalion commanders. They reconnoitered their areas, contacted brigade units to be relieved (4th Marines), and made preparations for the physical relief.
With the division G-4 coordinating the movement from the SC 1319, just off of the reef, the 306th started to land shortly before noon
77th Infantry Division Sector
MAJOR GENERAL BRUCE (right) confers with his chief of staff, Colonel McNair, on WHITE Beach 2 as men of the 77th Division come ashore in the background. (Army Photograph.)
of the 23d. Getting the unit across what some naval officers have called "the toughest reef in the Pacific War" proved to be a difficult operation. As a reserve division, the 77th had no LVT's. The 60 DUKW's available had to be reserved for cargo and for getting the light artillery ashore. Consequently, plans had to be made to carry troops to the reef in landing craft; from there they waded ashore carrying all their equipment. General Bruce made every effort to land the regiment at low tide, but overloaded ship communications, craft turn arounds, and unforeseen problems delayed the debarkation schedule. As a result, men struggled through waist-high water and most vehicles drowned out between the reef and beach. Bulldozers dragged the equipment ashore but radio sets in jeeps, even those that had been waterproofed, were ruined. One medium tank dropped into a large pothole and disappeared from sight.125
The 3d Battalion, first to land, moved into position between Mt. Alifan and Mt. Taene. Company K, shortly after taking over its sector, was hit by the enemy debouching from a coconut grove just forward of the front lines. The battalion artillery liaison officer contacted a Marine pack howitzer unit and quickly adjusted fire on the advancing enemy. The soldiers repulsed the counterattack immediately. Because of the delay in crossing the reef, the other battalions of the regiment went into assembly areas for the night.126
About the same time that the 306th landed, the 77th's Commanding General sent a dispatch to corps asking that not less than two battalions of the 307th be landed by 0530 the next morning. Bruce felt he needed them to permit an anticipated advance to the south and east to occupy the original FBL at Facpi Point. But General Geiger denied the request because it was his opinion that further expansion of the beachhead to the south was neither desirable nor necessary at this time. Also, returning these units to the 77th Division would require committing all of the force reserve, with the exception of one battalion, at a time when additional strength might be needed elsewhere.127
Early in the afternoon the 77th Division's advance CP opened for operation ashore,128 and General Bruce, who had come in for a reconnaissance, issued his operation order for the next day. Plans were made to land Division Special Troops and the 306th Field Artillery Battalion on the 24th. During the night, equipment and supplies continued coming ashore, and by dawn a good percentage of the organic gear had been unloaded.
The relief of the 4th Marines continued during the morning of 24 July. The 306th took
over command of the sector at 0800, but not until 1400 were all elements of the regiment in position.129 Their part of the beachhead now stretched from Mt. Alifan to Magpo Point. On the left, Colonel Tanzola's regiment held a line that joined with the 22d Marines boundary at Old Agat Road. (See Map 15)
Leading waves of the 307th, ordered ashore as corps reserve to positions near the 77th Division's CP, began landing at 1300. A storm at sea raised heavy ground swells which endangered the ship-to-shore movement. One company lost two men when they fell from the nets of the rolling transport.130 Many became seasick during the several hours that LCVP's circled before being cleared by control boats. As units waded ashore, they moved immediately to an assembly area in the rear of the 305th, from which they could advance either to the north or east. General Geiger made one battalion available to the Commanding General, 77th Division, but General Bruce did not use it.131
By 1400 Bruce had moved ashore and established his CP. All units of the brigade had been relieved, and the 305th had reverted to division control; the 307th still remained in force reserve. The brigade's sector was now reduced to just enough area to permit regrouping for the attack on Orote.
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (2) * Next Chapter (4)
1. Each of the 18 LCI(G)'s assigned to support the landing, nine to each attack group, had been fitted prior to departure from Guadalcanal with 42 rocket launchers. It was possible, therefore, for each LCI(G) to fire a total of 504 rockets in a very short period of time. A total of 4,536 rockets exploded on each beach just prior to touch down of the first waves. CTF 53 OpRpt, NGF Support Comments, 5B.
2. CTF 53 OpRpt, OpLog, 28A; CTG 53.2 OpRpt, OpNarrative, 11.
3. The leading waves of the brigade suffered 10 LVT and LVT(A) casualties. 1st ProvMarBrig WD, 1Jul-10Aug44, 4. The division reported nine LVT's and LVT(A)'s destroyed by enemy fire during the landing. 3d MarDiv WD, July 1944, 6.
4. 3d MarDiv OpPlan 2-44, 13May44.
5. 3d MarDiv SAR, OpNarrative, 1.
6. Wounded in the W-Day action and evacuated.
7. Ltr Col E. A. Craig to CMC, 15Apr47, hereinafter cited as Craig; Ltr Col W. Asmuth, Jr. to CMC, 11Sept52.
8. On the operation overlay issued for the landing, III Corps designated phase lines, usually terrain features extending across the zone of action, which would aid coordination and control during the attack. The division and regiments, in turn, set up intermediate objectives to govern the actions of subordinate units. These lines are labeled for uniformity in the monograph D-1; D-2, etc.; D-1a, D-2b, etc., in the division actions and O-1, O-2, etc,; O-a, O-b, etc., in corps advances.
9. Ltr LtGen E. A. Craig to CMC, 30Sept52, hereinafter cited as Craig 1952.
10. 9th Mar SAR, 1; 9th Mar Unit Rpts. The regimental executive officer, LtCol J. Sabater was one of the officers wounded, and as a result the 9th Marines did not have an executive officer until 30 July when LtCol R. M. King joined the regiment.
11. "Commanders and their staffs had been told on Guadalcanal by officers familiar with the terrain on Guam that it would be almost impossible to scale the cliffs immediately beyond the beaches, particularly in the zone of the 3d and 21st Marines." 1stLt R. A. Arthur and 1stLt K. Cohlmia, The Third Marine Division, (Washington, 1948), 147, hereinafter cited as 3d MarDiv History.
12. 21st Mar SAR, 1-2.
13. Ltr Maj L. A. Gilson, Jr. to CMC, 13Oct52.
14. The battalion had no 81mm mortar support for about an hour of the afternoon's activities. One mortar blew up about 1415 killing or wounding the entire crew and disrupting the fire of its section. The other section of the battalion mortar platoon was in the process of displacing forward at this time. Ltr LtCol A. Hedesh to CMC, 26Sept52.
15. Ltr Col W. H. Duplantis to CMC, 30Oct52, hereinafter cited as Duplantis 1952.
16. Ltr Maj P. M. Jones to CMC, 8Apr47, hereinafter cited as Jones.
17. The battalion executive officer placed the casualty figure at approximately 10% of the battalion before it went into the line on 22 July. Ltr LtCol R. R. Van Stockum to author, 7Jan52, hereinafter cited as Van Stockum.
18. 21st Mar SAR, 2.
19. 1stLt A. A. Frances, "The Battle for Banzai Ridge," MC Gazette, June 1945, 13-18.
20. This CP location was not the original area selected prior to the landing, mortar and small-arms fire having made that impossible to occupy at this time. HqBn, 3d MarDiv SAR, 1-2.
21. 3d MarDiv D-3 Jnl.
22. Available sources indicate a difference of opinion as to the extent of this very important terrain feature. To avoid confusion Chonito Cliff as used in this monograph refers only to the nose of high ground immediately inland from the seawall and northeast of Beach RED 1.
23. Ltr LtCol R. R. Bastian, Jr. to CMC, 23Aug52.
24. 3d Mar Jnl.
25. Referred to as Bundschu Ridge in most sources and hereinafter so called. This ridge was named on board ship for Capt Geary R. Bundschu, Company A commander, whose unit was assigned the mission of taking this terrain feature. Ironically, it was the fighting on this ridge that took his life.
26. Maps were deficient in several respects. They lacked detail of small hills, defiles, and secondary road nets. Omission of vegetation detail, except in isolated instances, hindered planning and locating positions. Photos received prior to the embarkation of troops were incomplete because of excessive cloud cover. Excellent photos were received later but not in sufficient quantity. 3d MarDiv SAR, IntelRpt, 1; 1st ProvMarBrig OpRpt, 4-6.
28. Interview with Capt J. A. Gallo, Jr., 15Nov51, hereinafter cited as Gallo.
29. Little effect was achieved by the requested barrage because the Japanese made good use of the caves and other prepared positions. The enemy waited under cover until the firing stopped, then moved back to their weapons before the Marines could reach the ridge crest.
30. Gallo. Capt Bundschu was killed during this action.
31. Ibid. The next morning, after hanging on tenaciously during the night, Gallo could only muster 20 men. Most of the losses were suffered in the afternoon attack.
32. 3d Mar SAR, 1. The regimental operation plan for the landing called for the 81mm mortar platoons from HqCo of each of the battalions to land with their parent units and then set up a mortar group near the boundary of RED Beach 1 and 2 where regiment could mass fires on Adelup Point. 3d Mar OpPlan 3-44, 27May44.
33. Behind this bristling defensive line, Gen Takashina assembled "the troops which had been located in the Tumon area, Agana area, and the southern part of the Pago area of Sinajana [to] let them participate in the battle of Fonte area at the right moment of driving the Americans from Fonte." Takeda.
34. 3d Mar Jnl.
35. 3d MarDiv SAR, OpNarrative, 2. Actually, Btry H reported its registration piece in position and ready to fire at 1145.
36. Ltr LtCol T. R. Belzer to CMC, 9Sept52, hereinafter cited as Belzer.
37. One element of the shore party was made up of landing craft working party detachments consisting of a minimum of two men. These men were assigned permanently to each landing craft as boat riders to assist in the discharge of cargo from ships to boats in the transport area and from boats to landing vehicles at the reef. 3d MarDiv AdmPlan 2-44, Shore Party Annex, 13May44.
38. 3d SerBn SAR, 1. Attached to 3d SerBn for the landing were the 2d AmmoCo and Co B, 5th FldDep.
39. 3d MarDiv WD, July 1944, 6.
40. 1st ProvMarBrig OpPlan 7-44, 11Jul44.
41. This gun is constantly reported in war diaries and action reports as a 77mm field piece. Guns of the same caliber were supposedly encountered later in the campaign. However, an exhaustive search of records of captured and destroyed ordnance and of intelligence information of the Japanese armed forces reveals no such weapon. The probable explanation is that troops in heat of battle mistook the improved 75mm Model 94 with muzzle brake for a gun of larger caliber.
42. Ltr LtCol R. W. Shaw to CMC, 29Sept52.
43. Later, on YELLOW Beach 2 alone, the bodies of 75 Marines were counted. B. G. Cass, ed., History of the Sixth Marine Division, (Washington, 1946), 14, hereinafter cited as 6th MarDiv History.
44. Initially, Japanese fires appear to have been concentrated on the beaches. Once units were 200-300 yards inland they were able to move more freely.
45. These tanks had eliminated the troublesome emplacement on Gaan Point, taking the position from the rear and blasting the surprised enemy gunners before they could offer effective resistance. TkCo, 22d Mar SAR, 3.
46. Ltr Maj S. A. Todd to CMC, 30Oct52.
47. 1st ProvMarBrig WD, 1Jul-10Aug44, 4.
48. 1/22 Jnl.
50. 1st ProvMarBrig Jnl.
51. Brigade designated its phase lines within the FBL O-1, O-2, etc. The regiments in many of their attacks set up CT objectives labeled R-1, R-2, etc. During the latter part of the campaign when the brigade moved to the north, most orders used corps objectives, which were designated O-1, O-2, etc.
52. Although tanks landed on the reef off WHITE 1 at 0834 they had trouble getting to shore. Shell holes, mines, mortar fire, and mis-direction by the beachmaster were some of the difficulties encountered. By the time the confusion had been resolved it was 0946. Then the tanks reported to the 2d Bn, as ordered, but lack of opposition and unsuitable terrain dictated a move to the 1st Bn's zone of action. TkCo, 22dMar SAR, 3-4.
53. 1/22 Jnl.
54. 2/22 Jnl.
55. 1st ProvMarBrig WD, 1Jul-10Aug44, 4. Two LVT's carrying a platoon of Co B were able to carry out original plans. However, this caused some anxious moments for the platoon leader, Lt Willard C. Hofer, who for two hours found himself 1,000 yards ahead of any other assault unit. Interview with Capt. L. E. Fribourg, 5Dec51.
56. Interview with Capt C. O. Diliberto, 16Dec51.
57. 1/4 WD, 30May-9Sept44, 2.
58. 1st ProvMarBrig Jnl.
60. Ltr LtCol A. Larson to CMC, 10May47.
61. 1st ProvMarBrig OpOrder 9, 21Jul44.
62. 6th MarDiv History, 15.
63. The next morning 390 enemy bodies gave mute testimony to the effectiveness of the Marines' fire. Forty-five were counted on Hill 40 and the remainder lay in front of the lines toward the beach. 3/4 WD, 21Jul-30Aug44, 1.
64. Ltr Capt B. S. Read to author, 3Jan52.
65. Ltr Maj O. V. Bergren to CMC, 6Jun47, hereinafter cited as Bergren.
66. TkCo, 4th Mar SAR, 13.
70. 1st ProvMarBrig WD, 1Jul-10Aug44, 4.
71. 305th Inf Jnl.
72. 305th Inf Action Rpt, 1.
73. 1st ProvMarBrig Jnl.
74. 305th Inf Jnl.
75. Ltr Col J. E. Landrum, Jr. to CMC, 22Oct52, hereinafter cited as Landrum.
76. 305th Inf Jnl.
77. Ltr Col E. A. Chalgren, Jr. to author, 23Jan53, hereinafter cited as Chalgren.
78. The 77th Division was composed mostly of selectees taken from the 3d Draft. The average age of the initial complement was 32, but many of the troops were approaching 38 years old. 77th InfDiv History, 13, 65-67.
79. 3d MarDiv D-3 Jnl.
80. 3d Mar Jnl.
81. 3d MarDiv D-1 Jnl.
82. 1/3 Jnl.
83. Btry I, 14th DefBn first brought its automatic cannon to bear on enemy targets in direct support missions for the 3d Mar early in the afternoon of W-Day. 14th DefBn SAR, 5.
84. 3d Mar SAR, 2.
85. 21st Mar SAR, 2.
86. These were undoubtably the rear guard elements of 3/18 which were moving from this area towards Mt. Chachao and a union with 2/18 coming down from the north. This was part of the assembly of forces directed by the 29th Div in preparation for an all-out counterattack. Takeda; 3d MarDiv D-2 Periodic Rpt 69.
88. 3d MarDiv D-3 Jnl.
90. 3d MarDiv SAR, 4.
91. 3d Mar Jnl.
93. 3/3 Jnl.
94. During the course of this action, one friendly air strike hit in the lines of Company B which was supporting the attack. Eight Marines were killed and three wounded. 1/3 Jnl.
95. 9th Mar R-2 Jnl.
96. IIIAC SAR, OpRpt, 2.
97. 3d MarDiv D-3 Jnl.
98. 21st Mar SAR, 3.
99. 3d MarDiv D-3 Jnl.
100. IIIAC C-3 Jnl.
101. Ltr Col E. M. Williams to CMC, 25Oct52, hereinafter cited as Williams.
102. The former executive officer of 1/21 recalls that "a forward aid station at the top of this lift was in a most exposed position. Corpsmen here hand-led emergency cases prior to lowering them to the aid station at the base of the lift." Van Stockum.
103. 1st ProvMarBrig OpOrder 10, 21Jul44.
104. 1st ProvMarBrig Jnl.
105. The tank company commander reported the bridging of the river as follows: ". . . after engineer assistance had been requested and not received the bulldozer tank and manual labor of tank crews was employed to cross a river holding up our advance. This river, just beyond Agat, with a width of forty feet [most sources indicate this river to be 15-20 feet wide] and a depth of two or three feet, a muddy bottom, and vertical banks was finally crossed on a causeway constructed by the tank company without assistance, after twenty-four hours of work, with a loss of one man killed and three wounded." TkCo, 22d Mar SAR, 4.
106. 1/22 Jnl.
107. Interview with Capt W. A. Kerr, 10Dec51.
108. CTF 53 OpRpt, 12.
109. 9th DefBn WD, July 1944, 3.
110. 1st ProvMarBrig Jnl.
111. TkCo 22d Mar SAR, 4.
112. 1st ProvMarBrig Jnl.
113. As of 1600 23 July the 22d Marines reported 63 KIA, 262 WIA, and 93 MIA. Ibid.
114. 1st ProvMarBrig WD, 1Jul-10Aug44, 7.
115. 61st ProvMarBrig OpOrder 15, 23Jul44; 1st ProvMarBrig WD, 1Jul-10Aug44, 8; interview with Gen L. C. Shepherd, 10Sept52.
116. 2/22 Jnl.
117. 1st ProvMarBrig WD, 1Jul-10Aug44, 8.
118. CTG 53.2 OpRpt, OpNarrative, 16-17.
119. 6th MarDiv History, 23.
120. IIIAC Arty SAR, 5.
121. Casualty figures for the 4th Mar as of 24 July differ in the brigade and regimental reports; the more plausible figure of the lower unit has been included above.
122. CTG 53.2 OpRpt, OpNarrative, 16.
123. 77th InfDiv G-3 Jnl.
124. IIIAC OpOrder 5-44, 22Jul44.
125. Guam: Operations of the 77th Division, American Forces In Action Series, (Washington, 1946), 39, hereinafter cited as Guam; 77th Div.
126. 306th Inf OpRpt, 2.
127. IIIAC SAR, OpRpt, 3.
128. 77th InfDiv G-3 Jnl.
129. 306th Inf OpRpt, 2.
130. 77th InfDiv History, 69.
131. IIIAC C-3 Jnl.