The first four days on Guam saw the fighting for the recapture of the island taking on the form of two separate and more or less independent campaigns. Only one attempt had been made to form the two beachheads into a single foothold--that unsuccessful effort by a patrol. Although the situation was not such as to cause alarm, neither did it lend itself to full-blown optimism.
The night of 24 July IIIAC made plans to keep pressure on the Japanese on both fronts. The operation plan for 25 July ordered the 77th Division, less the 307th Infantry in corps reserve, to hold the FBL while the brigade assaulted Orote Peninsula. The 3d Division would resume the attack and take the high ground overlooking Mt. Tenjo Road. Air, corps artillery, and two 90mm batteries of the 14th Defense Battalion would support the effort, with priority of fires to the brigade. To add weight to the peninsular advance, artillery of both the 77th and 3d Divisions would be prepared to fire for the brigade.1
General Shepherd had received a warning order for the Orote advance in the afternoon of 24 July. Having visited the assault units of his brigade that morning, he felt his men could do a better job after a day's rest. Accordingly Shepherd sent the following message to General Geiger:
. . . Due to delay in relief of 4th Marines which was not completed until 1500 today, necessity for moving 4th Marines to assembly areas and relief of 22d Marines in line, reorganization and preparation for attack, strongly recommend assault Orote Peninsula be delayed until 26 July. Troops greatly fatigued by 4 days and nights continuous fighting . . .2
Early in the evening, the brigade's commander received word authorizing the delay until 0700, 26 July. Corps directed the 3d Division, however, to press the attack all along the line with the utmost vigor to gain the FBL.3
With 1/3 so badly battered that it was ineffective, General Turnage ordered 2/9 (Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Cushman) attached to the 3d Marines. His plan called for Colonel Cushman's unit to relieve the 1st Battalion, which would then go into division reserve. To allow the relief to be effected, Colonel Hall delayed the regiment's attack until 0930.4
While the revitalized 3d Marines made ready to advance, the remainder of the division resumed its drive toward the FBL. The 9th Marines, on the division's right flank, left the LD at 0700 and received artillery fire from the Mt. Chachao area which slowed the assault at first. But counterbattery fire from the 14th Defense Battalion on Cabras Island soon quieted the enemy guns. Units then moved out as rapidly as terrain would permit, and by 0845
the first objective had been taken and many dumps of stores and equipment overrun. Since the advance had been so rapid and the resistance so weak, the 9th was ordered to continue and take the high ground north of Aguada River. This was accomplished by midafternoon, and Craig made plans to continue the advance in an effort to link up with the brigade by nightfall. But at 1400 division headquarters directed the 9th to fall back 1,500 yards to the vicinity of the dominating terrain near the Laguas River in order to shorten the division's front lines. In view of the fact that the regiment had just uncovered a large dump of Japanese beer and soft drinks the men fell back with reluctance. While the units took up their new positions Colonel Craig sent a platoon toward the brigade lines with instructions to make contact and gain information of the enemy activities along the route. The patrol returned about 1800 after completing its mission.5
In the center, the 21st Marines started toward the D-2 line with battalions abreast. The 2d Battalion, charged with maintaining contact with the 3d Marines on the left, by-passed resistance in a ravine and went on to the D-2 line. Company E remained behind to mop up and completed its job before noon. Later, over 250 enemy dead were buried in this ravine, many of whom had been killed by the air strikes and the artillery and mortar preparations placed there on the 24th.
The 3d Battalion, on the right of the regimental zone, moved to the O-2 line without meeting any resistance. But the 1st did not have the same good fortune. As it began to advance, the left flank necessarily became exposed because 2/21 and the 3d Marines started their attack well in the rear of D-1. After gaining only 300 yards, point-blank artillery fire enfiladed the left company and stopped forward progress. Lieutenant Colonel Williams requested air support but it could not be obtained as all available aircraft were engaged in missions having a higher priority. Artillery could not take the enemy guns under fire because of a mask created by the cliffs.
The hill could not be by-passed, since the enemy had been launching many night counterattacks from this area. In addition, the Japanese had heavily fortified the reverse slope with machine guns, mortars, and well-emplaced artillery. So, with all supporting weapons giving covering fire, the battalion, with a platoon of tanks attached, launched a limited objective attack. After the assaulting infantry suffered crippling losses, the tanks moved in to hit the position and inflicted considerable damage to enemy installations. Even so, the position proved untenable, and the troops withdrew to high ground just short of the Mt. Tenjo Road where they dug in for the night.6
Lieutenant Colonel Duplantis' 3d Battalion with Company I on the left and K on the right, tied in with 1/21. An 800-yard gap, however, existed between 3/21 and the 9th Marines. Duplantis requested that Company L, in regimental reserve, be released to him to protect the exposed flank and give him a maneuvering element in case the Japanese attempted to retake the hill to his rear which dominated the Nidual and Asan River valleys. Colonel Butler agreed and Company L took position on the left bank of the upper reaches of the Asan River overlooking a deep chasm filled with heavy jungle growth. This move gave depth to the battalion's defenses and blocked the defile against enemy infiltration. A detachment from the division reconnaissance company received the mission of patrolling the gap between the two regiments.7
On the extreme left of the division line, the 3d Marines had its job cut out. Four days of incessant fighting had gained little terrain for maneuver. The only solution was to continue ferreting the enemy from the caves and holes that infested the Fonte approaches. By 0830 2/9, spearheading the 3d Marines' attack, was in position to pass through 1/3.
Admiral Conolly and General Geiger had come ashore to check on the progress of the division's advance and were in the CP8 when the final rounds of the ten-minute mortar and
artillery preparation fell. Promptly at 0930 assault companies left the line of departure and executed a spirited passage of lines, giving the unit the initiative it needed. An hour later, after overcoming moderate resistance and encountering heavy mortar fire, 2/9 captured the first objective (Mt. Tenjo Road), giving the Marines control of a much needed route over which tanks could now be brought forward to help in the advance toward Fonte Plateau.
While 2/9 reorganized to renew the attack, one platoon of Company G started to clean up by-passed enemy, but the operation was only partially successful. Small groups of Japanese continued to emerge from caves for three days, harassing battalion and company CP's.
During the morning the remainder of the 3d Marines slugged its way ahead. The effective use of mortars, artillery, tanks, and the basic infantry fire team reduced pockets of resistance. By nightfall units reached the high ground overlooking the lower part of the Mt. Tenjo Road.
In anticipation of the attempt to take the Fonte hill mass, Lieutenant Colonel Cushman requested tank support for his battalion. But the tanks did not arrive early enough to help. About the time that other units of the 3d Marines stopped for the day, 2/9 called for its pre-attack preparation. There is little doubt that the barrage of mortars, artillery, and naval gunfire caused the enemy consternation. However, the same shelling disrupted Company F when short rounds, reportedly from Marine artillery, fell in its area, causing 14 casualties.9
The drive toward the Fonte Plateau got under way at 1530. The battalion encountered opposition of the most stubborn and violent kind. Nevertheless, an hour later Marines held a hotly contested foothold on the slopes leading to the objective. Heavy and determined enemy resistance necessitated pulling back the right flank about 200 yards. Cushman narrowed a gap that had opened on the left flank by committing his reserve. By nightfall the unit formed a salient forward of the 3d Marine's lines, but the left flank was still 400 yards short of the plateau and the right 250 yards short.
The four tanks requested earlier arrived just before dark, and the battalion commander parked them near the road in rear of the line, since darkness prohibited employing them elsewhere with any degree of safety. About 1900, Company G, on the left flank, had to be pulled back approximately 150 yards to give better fields of fire. This left Company F, in the center of the salient, holding tenaciously to a rocky mound well forward of the flank units.10
The day's advance had stretched the division's lines even farther than before, making over 9,000 yards that had to be controlled. Regiments and battalions had practically no infantry reserves available, and one depleted unit (1/3) constituted the division reserve.11 On the brighter side, the shore party reported all AKA's and APA's unloaded.12 But certain types of ammunition were on the scarce side, with the supply of 60mm illuminating shells especially critical since resupply was nonexistent.
Front line units, from their positions on the high ground just captured, could finally observe the country before them. Since W-Day Marines had struggled to take the dominating terrain in this sector, and now they were established on its crest. It was something like coming up out of a hole in the ground. Looking across a stretch of open country, the men could see a mile-long ridge that stretched down toward the rugged cliffs of Mt. Macajna. A trail joining an old Spanish road which elbowed around the south edge of Fonte Ravine and ended in the Agana-Pago Bay Road led down the ridge. Directly in front of the battalions ran the road to Mt. Tenjo, curving past the fallen radio towers and the ruins of the enemy's Fonte defense installations. More than a mile to the right were long grassy ridges. Above them rose the firm peak of Mt. Alutom, the thin outline of Mt. Chachao, and the summit of Mt.
Tenjo, once planned as the Marines stronghold against invasion, now the boundary between divisions.13
With the attack on Orote postponed for one day, General Shepherd had set about getting his brigade into the best possible positions. Front line units took advantage of the time to reorganize, re-equip, and repair worn gear. This did not mean, however, that action was lacking during that day. On the contrary, 1/22 suffered such heavy casualties that 1/4 replaced it at noon. In regard to the condition of the battalion at that time its executive officer wrote:
. . . I would like to emphasize the point of our heavy casualties by pointing out that by 1300 Companies B and C, which landed with 6 officers each, had no officers left and both companies were below 50% strength in enlisted as a result of casualties. Company A although in better shape also had heavy casualties. We had lost both medical officers, over 50% of the corpsmen and numerous other headquarters personnel.14
Following a 15-minute air and artillery preparation the attack to get into position for the Orote assault had gotten under way at 0830, 25 July. The 1st and 3d Battalions of the 22d Marines ran into stiff opposition from the start. The Japanese poured destructive artillery fire on the 1st as it tried to move along the coast road. From positions in the vicinity of Neye Island and others near the airfield on the peninsula, enemy artillerymen effectively protected the strong points around the Dadi Beach area.
The 3d Battalion, driving across the lowlands toward Apra Harbor, ran into a well-entrenched enemy also. Cleverly camouflaged emplacements and numerous machine-gun nests supported concrete pillboxes. Marines had to advance in the face of the withering fire with little cover or concealment, but progress was made.
In addition, both of the assault battalions repulsed tank-led counterattacks during the day. While bazooka teams delayed the enemy armor, Marine Shermans rushed forward. Before the day was over, eight Japanese tanks had been destroyed and four others set afire.15 Front line units of 3/22 halted for the night just short of the extensive mangrove swamp bordering Apra Harbor while 1/4, after completing the relief of 1/22, dug in on the left, extending the brigade front to Dadi Beach.
While the other two battalions of the regiment slugged it out with the Japanese, 2/22 did extensive patrolling. Combat patrols cleaned out areas in the rear of the assault units and searched the vicinity of Atantano. Other units went out to contact both the Army and the 9th Marines. At noon the first mission had been accomplished when a detachment from the 77th Division came into the battalion's command post. But the other was not completed until late in the afternoon when an outpost contacted a 9th Marine patrol at the bridge across the Big Guatali River. About the same time, with orders to reinforce 3/22, Company E moved forward to go into position on the right flank of the Orote line.16
By late afternoon the brigade had secured the area between Agat Bay and Apra Harbor. The main body of Japanese in the south was now confined to the eight square miles of Orote Peninsula. Commander Asaichi Tamai, IJN, 263d Air Group commander, had two alternatives: attempt to move some of his troops out by barges, or break through the Marines' lines to join the Fonte defenders.17 Within the next 12 hours he tried both.
The enemy commander could count on a force of 2,500 troops, composed of the main strength of the naval garrison force (54th Keibitai), remnants of the 38th Infantry (mostly men of the 2d Battalion commanded by Major Kiyoji Okujo), two companies of antiaircraft troops, and about 600 men from aviation squadrons. In addition, some naval laborers had been pressed into military service.18
In the afternoon of 25 July, Commander Tamai decided to try his first plan by evacuating parts of the garrison force from Orote. At approximately 1700, enemy barges could be seen moving out into Apra Harbor from the vicinity of Sumay. Some individual Japanese even tried to swim across to the mainland. Neither of the attempts proved successful. A handful of enemy may have penetrated the hail of fire that air and artillery dropped on the harbor area, but the major formation was quickly scattered and destroyed.19 Now with the rear exit banged shut, the enemy commander prepared his remaining forces for frontal assault against Marine lines.
Japanese Bid for Victory
After dusk, the intermittent showers that had been falling all day became more frequent. A heavy downpour hampered organization of the brigade's defense for the night. On the other hand, the pitch blackness and the unpleasant weather aided the Japanese in making preparations for their supreme effort.
Marines in the front lines could hear screaming, yelling, laughter, and the breaking of bottles as the Japanese made final arrangements. At times so much clamor could be heard that reports reached the command post that the assault had started. Afterwards someone aptly said that the confusion "sounded like New Year's Eve in the Zoo."
While the enemy made ready and drank, Marine artillerymen laid down normal barrages along the swamp's edge and at all other points of possible penetration. Shortly before midnight the Japanese commanders felt that their men had reached the proper emotional state, and the assault began. Sake-crazed attackers swarmed from the cover of the mangroves in front of the 3d Battalion, 22d Marines. Led by flag-waving, sword-swinging officers, the enlisted men stumbled forward, carrying everything conceivable. Unsteady hands clutched pitchforks, sticks, ballbats, and pieces of broken bottles, together with the normal infantry weapons.
When the surging Japanese mass came within range, Marine forward observers and company commanders gave the order to commence firing. Brigade, 77th Division, and corps artillery, 37mm guns, 81mm and 60mm mortars, machine guns, rifles, and grenades saturated the entire area. At one time officers brought the fire of the Pack Howitzer Battalion, 22d Marines, to within 35 yards of 3/22's front lines in an at tempt to stop the swarming horde.20 One weapons company lieutenant reported: "Arms and legs flew like snowflakes. Japs ran amuck. They screamed in terror until they died."21 But in a powerful attack it is inevitable that some men will seep through the blocking fire. Company L, 3/22, received the brunt of the subsiding attack and repulsed it before too much damage could be done. Those Japanese who survived fled to the momentary safety of the swamp. But observers shifted the artillery fire and between midnight and 0200 some 26,000 shells took a heavy toll of the remaining peninsular defenders.22
On the right flank of the 22d Marines a second counterattack hit. The Island War describes the action quite vividly:
. . . At its height, flares revealed an out-of-this-world picture of Nipponese drunks reeling about in our forward positions, falling into foxholes, tossing aimless grenades here and there, yelling such English phrases as they had managed to pick up, and laughing crazily, to be exterminated in savage close-in fighting. Succeeding waves were caught in a deadly cross-fire. Not until dawn did this attack finally dwindle out, at which time more than four hundred bodies were counted in front of the position.23
In contrast to the frenzied close quarter action in the 3/22 zone, the platoon from Company A (1/4) that filled the gap between the two regiments participated in a shooting gallery affair with the Japanese. Enemy troops made no attempt at a concerted attack, and the platoon plus artillery, without the loss of a
single Marine, killed 256 Imperial soldiers. This fantastic figure was verified by officers from regiment the following morning.24
Some of the companies exhausted their supplies of ammunition and had to be replenished during the night. With the torrential rains making the roads a quagmire, transportation could not operate. Everything had to be man-handled through the clutching muck: casualties moving to the rear and supplies to the front. Many of the wounded could not be evacuated until morning in spite of the tremendous efforts of corpsmen and stretcher bearers.
Daylight revealed a strange and gruesome scene. Within the lines many foxholes containing Marines and Japanese still locked in a death struggle gave evidence of the violence of the night. Broken sticks, ballbats, and weapons lay in bits, smashed by the force of hand-to-hand combat. Weary Marines could be seen trudging down the slope helping wounded men to aid stations. It had been a severe struggle, but the lines were still intact, and the Japanese break-through attempt had been stopped. Now Commander Tamai had no choice; his "Sunday punch" had failed, and he could do nothing but defend until annihilated.
While the brigade repelled its counterattack, the 3d Marine Division was engaged in an equally serious effort. As a part of the over-all plan of the enemy commander to "solve the issue of the battle at a single stroke by an all out counterattack,"25 the Japanese launched a well-organized assault against the Asan beachhead.26
When General Takashina found his beach defenses smashed, he planned to regroup his forces in the Foute-Chachao-Tenjo area. Here he expected to beat back the Marine attack by
MANGROVE SWAMP on Orote Peninsula, breeding point of the banzai attack against the 22d Marines on the night of 25-26 July.
a defense in position. But by 23 July he felt that holding tactics were not accomplishing his mission. Therefore, he formulated plans to make a countermove calculated to drive the invaders into the sea.27
In contrast to the disjointed, unorganized, banzai charges that Marines had encountered throughout the Pacific fighting, Takashina planned a coordinated counterattack by the defenders. He dispatched orders and overlays with complete instructions to all units, and moved his reserves into position. Troops which had been located in the Tumon, Agana, and Pago areas were assembled to participate in the Fonte counteroffensive. Finally commanders reported everything in readiness.
The scheme of maneuver called for the 18th Regiment (less the 1st Battalion), commanded by Colonel Hiko-Shiro Ohashi,28 to attack on a two battalion front. (See Map 16, Map Section) On the right, 2/18 would push down the east draw of the Asan River and set up a defensive position on the high ground above Asan Point. The 3d Battalion, after moving down the Nidual River valley, would take the commanding ground southwest of Asan Point. An unidentified unit, probably a company of the 10th Independent Mixed Regiment, was to protect the left flank of the assault regiment.
On the right of the 18th Regiment, Takashina assigned the 48th Independent Mixed Brigade
the task of destroying the 3d Marines. From the Fonte Plateau, the unit would drive toward RED Beach 2, then swing northeast to hit ammunition and supply dumps at the base of Chonito Cliff.29 In conjunction with this part of the attack, special small units had been equipped with demolition charges to destroy artillery pieces, vehicles, and installations. The entire operation would be supported by mortar and artillery fire.
American high-level intelligence had not reported the imminence of a large scale counteroffensive but some lower unit commanders had sensed it and indicated to their headquarters unusual enemy activity on 24 July. At daybreak a patrol from 3/21 observed a group of about 12 senior Japanese officers on a hill overlooking the Marines' beachhead. Throughout the day probing attacks had stepped up in frequency and intensity. To some officers, these signs pointed toward a major counterattack.30 Nevertheless, so effectively did the enemy conceal his exact plans that to this day it is hard to say at just what hour the operation started on the night of 25-26 July. Perhaps the first real indication was a 12th Marines forward observer's report sent in at 2330 that the Japanese had very active patrols in the gap between the 9th and 21st Marines.
During the next hour reports started to filter in from units all along the line telling of sharp probing attacks. Still there was nothing to cause undue alarm; these were not new tactics for the unpredictable Japanese. But this time the enemy intended to do more than just find infiltration routes through the lines. He planned to exploit these weak spots.
The strongest of the feeler attempts hit the reconnaissance unit patrolling between the 9th and 21st Marines. About 50 enemy soldiers forced the Marines to abandon this mission, thus leaving the 800-yard gap between the two regiments unguarded.31 About the same time the men of 2/21 withstood a bayonet charge in the center of the regiment's zone. All 15 of the attacking soldiers were killed.
Although all of these short, sharp thrusts hit different points along the entire front, they were part of the over-all plan to keep the Marines off balance. Enemy flares, many of which fell within Japanese lines causing considerable speculation among amazed Americans, lit up the sky over the perimeter. It was later determined that the flares lighted certain areas to guide the scattered Nipponese to their assembly points. Heavy mortar and artillery concentrations served to cover these movements and to harass the howitzer crews of the 12th Marines.
Artillery fired from gunpits that were knee-deep in water in an attempt to silence enemy guns firing from the vicinity of Agana. Front line infantrymen peered through the wet underbrush trying to see what moved in front of them. The cold and dampness became more aggravating and Marines crouched lower in their foxholes. Mortar and artillery shells burst more frequently on the ridge line. Suddenly at about 0400, a volley of hand grenades landed on and behind the lines of the 1st Battalion, 21st Marines. Then the mass attack began.
Major Maruyama's men (2/18) advanced noisily, shouting, "Wake up American and die." The initial impetus of the assault passed completely over Company B in the center, previously reduced to about 50 men, and streamed through the gap down a draw toward the cliff. Despite the breakthrough, companies held the shoulders of the penetration and Lieutenant Colonel Williams ordered the units to refuse their flanks to the cliff. Company A on the left, commanded by Captain William G. Shoemaker,32 rallied in the face of the withering fire and overwhelming numbers. Shoemaker pulled back his right platoon to deny his flank to the enemy and to permit regrouping for a local counterattack.33 Company C (Captain Henry M. Helgren, Jr.) also successfully
refused its flank to protect the position and immediately began firing into the onrushing Japanese.
Tanks parked in the rear of the Marine positions took a great toll as the intruders surged through the widening gap. One report described the rush on the tanks as resembling a horde of ants. It went on to say of the Nipponese:
Savagely they swarmed upon the mechanized vehicles, oblivious of the vicious machine-gun fire, and frantically pounded, kicked, and beat against the turrets in an attempt to get the crew within. When this seemed futile they leaped to the ground and continued their wild rush down the draw to the rear areas. . .34
Demolition charges were forgotten in the mad scramble to reach deeper into Marine-held territory.
Machine gunners of 1/21 had a field day. Never had they seen such lucrative targets, but grenades and bayonets soon silenced the Marines as enemy soldiers overran the gun positions. Many of the Japanese were killed as they moved through the lines and into the ravine. However, enough of them got down the cliff to attack the 1st Battalion CP and the mortar platoons of the 2d and 1st Battalions, killing most of the mortarmen in the latter.
About the same time, the 3d Battalion, 18th Regiment (Major Setsuo Yukioka), launched its part of the coordinated drive. The assault hit 3/21 and momentarily gained the advantage by capturing two machine-gun positions. The Marine lines recovered quickly, however, and a local counterattack retook the guns. The enemy attack failed to crack the line again, but the Imperial soldiers were not to be denied. They slid along the front until they hit the vulnerable spot on the right flank of the battalion. It will be remembered that an 800-yard gap existed here between the 21st and 9th Marines.
Led by lantern carrying scouts,35 Yukioka's men started through the unguarded part of the line in a column. But a roadblock Lieutenant Colonel Duplantis had posted astride a trail skirting the right flank of the battalion opened up with BAR's, bazookas, rifles, and hand grenades. Duplantis committed his reserve to protect the rear of Company K, but the enemy strength was too great; the roadblock and the reserve unit fought a losing battle against overwhelming odds. Yukioka took full advantage of the gap and exploited his success. He set up a line on the high ground behind 3/21. From these positions his men could harass the front lines and at the same time besiege the CP. The effectiveness of the stranglehold can best be judged by the fact that Duplantis sent word to the division commander that he was burying his cipher device in case the enemy captured his CP.36
Over in the 3d Marines sector, fighting was even more confused. The 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, in its exposed position, received the brunt of the Japanese 48th Brigade's attack. Just when the main push came is hard to tell. Pressure against Lieutenant Colonel Cushman's units had not let up since they moved onto the slopes leading to the Fonte Plateau in late afternoon. Evacuation of the wounded had been almost impossible and the situation at dusk was none too secure. After an intense day of fighting, ammunition was practically exhausted, and the dribble of supplies carried up the cliff trail could hardly be expected to replace even a third of that already expended. A platoon of tanks loaded with ammunition was dispatched to the battalion, but darkness settled with no word from this convoy.
Enemy pressure increased as the night wore on, and fighting in the 2/9 area became more bitter. Cushman moved his reserve company up to reinforce the position held by the advance assault unit; the right company, driven back in the afternoon, had been reorganized and now guarded the gap between the regiment's right flank and the 21st Marines. Riflemen had only two clips of ammunition per rifle, and mortarmen reported approximately six rounds per tube available. But still nothing was heard from the supply vehicles. Finally, just as the Japanese launched another strong
counterattack, the ammunition-laden tanks came into the position. The vicious fighting in the sector definitely subsided by 0900, but the attack had cost 2/9 over 50 percent casualties. It had, however, resulted in 950 Japanese dead.37 Seven determined counterattacks had been made by the enemy, but the equally determined men of the 2d Battalion, 9th Marines had lost no ground.
Shortly after the main Japanese attack started, it became evident that all available personnel would have to be used to stabilize the bending lines. The division had been hard hit while securing the beachhead, and organized reserve units were not available. Any additional manpower would have to come from other than infantry units. Division headquarters alerted the 19th Marines at 0420 and ordered them to assemble, ready for any emergency. The 2d Separate Engineer Battalion38 was assigned later to back up the 3d Marines. Within the next hour calls went out to Division Headquarters, 3d Service, and 3d Motor Transport Battalions, and the 797 men who could be spared were organized into makeshift units. Badly depleted 1/3 also received the word to stand by for possible action.
STRETCHERS for wounded Marines lie scattered among the bodies of Japanese dead in the wake of the attack on the 3d Division hospital which was repulsed by corpsmen, doctors, and walking wounded.
Artillery units set up their own perimeter defenses to try to avoid the capture or destruction of pieces, as had happened at Saipan.39 Advance intelligence had warned of the special Japanese demolition teams trained for such missions, and the 12th Marines intended to be ready. Short handed crews stepped up their rate of fire to meet infantry requirements. A steady stream of shells whined overhead as they barely cleared the ridge line. Forward observers "crept" their fire toward the front lines, allowing only the minimum margin of safety.40 Shells landed so close to friendly troops that the executive officer of the 4th Battalion, 12th Marines later wrote:
Shortly after the attack began, I was awakened by an unusual rate of artillery firing. In the early dawn light it could be seen that the shells were hitting the tops of the ridges in the vicinity of the 21st Marines front lines. Bodies could be seen flying in the air as the shells exploded. . . . not knowing of the counterattack, I rushed to the operations tent believing that the artillery was falling short on our own troops.41
While the precautionary measures were being carried out in the beach areas, the 1st Battalion, 21st Marines was trying to repel the attack on its CP. Regiment rushed its attached engineer company (Company B, 19th Marines) and three platoons of the Weapons Company up to Lieutenant Colonel Williams' headquarters. With this added strength, the battalion counterattacked and restored its lines. Cooks, clerks, bakers, and communicators, who had been organized into a platoon commanded by 2d Lieutenant Joseph Y. Curtis (S-1), cleared the enemy from around the CP. Then the group assisted the mortar platoons in mopping up the rear area. Even though communications had been lost, the direct support artillery battalion (2/12) delivered close-in-fires throughout the night to assist in stopping the Japanese assault.42
When Colonel Butler found his front line units weakening from the heavy pressure and many casualties suffered, he hurriedly ordered the establishment of a regimental reserve line. Lieutenant Colonel Ernest W. Fry, Jr., regimental executive officer, set up the defense on the high ground immediately overlooking the beach. It was a composite group that manned the position, consisting of units from Company E, 19th Marines (pioneers); Headquarters and Service Company, 21st Marines; elements from the 3d Motor Transport Battalion, and some men from 2d Battalion, 12th Marines. This gave the regiment a second line of defense in case the Japanese broke through in force.
This set-up, however, was not organized in time to stop the enemy troops that had surged through the gap between the 9th and 21st Marines. Many of these parties were the demolition squads that had the mission of destroying the artillery and blowing up dumps near the beach. Following the ravines and defiles leading down to the sea, it was inevitable that they would stumble into the Division Hospital area.
The first warning came about 0630 when corpsmen reported that a number of enemy soldiers could be seen on the high ground to the right of the hospital. Division headquarters immediately ordered Lieutenant Colonel George O. Van Orden (Division Infantry Training Officer) to take command of two companies of pioneers standing by for just such an eventuality and clear the enemy from the hard-pressed area.
At the hospital, doctors ordered patients to evacuate the tents and go to the beach. Onlookers saw a pathetic sight as half-clothed, bandaged men hobbled down the coast road helping the more seriously wounded to safety. Forty-one of the patients grabbed rifles, carbines, hand grenades, and whatever else they could find and joined the battle. The hospital doctors, corpsmen, and pajama-clad patients
MARINE RESERVES hastily assembled from 3d Division headquarters, engineer, and service units scramble up a hillside near the Nidual River as they seek out Japanese that penetrated front lines in the 25-26 July counterattack.
presented a rare sight as they formed a defensive line around the tents. It was a solid line, however, and one that held until the recently organized reinforcements arrived.
Only one patient was wounded during the fighting, but one medical officer and one corpsman later died of wounds. The casualty list also included one medical officer, one dental officer, one Navy warrant officer, 12 corpsmen, and 16 Marines from the medical companies wounded in action.43 This does not include those casualties suffered by Lieutenant Colonel Van Orden's force.
After cleaning out the assigned area, Colonel Van Orden proceeded up the Nidual River Valley in pursuit of the fleeing Japanese. The attack had pushed the enemy back to the hill at the head of the ravine by 1100, but a request to send a Marine patrol to the ridge to determine the hostile strength was denied. Other plans had already been made for the assault of this dominating terrain.
It was from this high ground that Major Yukioka's men paralyzed the operation of 3/21's CP and threatened the flank of both the 9th and 21st Marines. Machine guns raked the back of Company K and deadly mortar fire fell on the command post. As it grew light Lieutenant Colonel Duplantis called for artillery fire on top of the hill but division headquarters
denied the request because of the confused situation. Instead, the 9th Marines received orders to capture the hill.
Colonel Craig assigned the mission to the regimental reserve, Company L (Lieutenant David H. Lewis), but directed Major Harold C. Boehm, executive officer of 1/9 who had been over the ground previously, to take command. Covered by artillery fire, Boehm and Lewis moved their men up the left branch of the Masso River to get into position behind the defenders. Concealed by the ridge line, the unit inched its way to within 250 yards of the enemy before being detected. With supporting machine-gun fire from Company B (1/9), the assault carried the hill killing 23 Japanese44 and forcing the remainder into the firing line built up by 3/21. Those not killed fled into the draw to the north. Casualties to the Marines during the action were one killed and three wounded.45 Boehm then organized the hill for defense and tied in the flanks of the 9th and 21st. The success of this company action is best indicated by the remarks of the operations officer of 3/21:
Had not the unit commanded by Major Boehm relieved the 3d Battalion's CP, many of the wounded (of which there were about 25) would have died. Relief of the CP made possible the evacuation of the wounded from front lines to the battalion first-aid station and then to the rear. One of the outstanding aspects of this action was Major Boehm's speed, tactical skill, and unerring direction of attack. Had this attack been misdirected, his men could have killed many of the remaining personnel in the CP, as well as the Japanese.46
While this action was taking place, the 12th Marines CP and several of its battalions were engaged in stopping the suicide squad attacks.47 In order to have these parties in position to make their foray in conjunction with the all-out offensive, enemy commanders had ordered the groups to infiltrate behind Marine lines on the night of 24-25 July. With typical Japanese patience, the raiders lay hidden in caves all day. As soon as darkness came on the night of 25-26 July they started firing random shots into the headquarters of the 12th Marines and began to move in small groups down the Asan Valley. A hand grenade duel went on during the early hours of darkness, but some of the intruders sought the safer confines of a cave not 20 feet from the headquarter's fire direction center. A harrowing incident that took place in this hideout was related by the regiment's executive officer:
. . . A Marine was already in the cave and had gone to sleep. It was an excellent shelter from the nightly mortar and artillery fire. The Japanese crawled in on top of him and he could not get out. He couldn't use his carbine because they were sitting on it. He stayed there with them all night without them discovering him. They must have thought, jammed against him in the darkness, that he was one of them. Just before daybreak the Japanese left the cave and the Marine got out and scrambled up the bank as the daylight fighting got well underway. I don't remember this Marine's name, but as I recall he had to be evacuated that day as a mental patient. The strain of spending the night packed into the cave with the Japanese drove him insane, at least temporarily.48
The artillerymen's perimeter defense held, and only one of the enemy succeeded in getting through to the guns. He was killed in the 3d Battalion's area before he could do any damage. In the five-hour long fighting around the regimental headquarters, 17 explosive-laden Japanese died. Most of them carried packs containing about 20 pounds of TNT with ready detonators, while others carried magnetic mines. With the coming of daylight, patrols went out to clean up any troops that might cause trouble later in the day. Men of the 12th Marines killed approximately 50-60 more enemy soldiers and drove the remainder into other areas where they were liquidated one by one.
Most of the confusion ended by noon, and although commanders did not know it at the time,
AFTERMATH of the Japanese counterattack finds bodies of the attackers strewn on a hillside typical of the terrain over which much of the battle was fought.
the backbone of Japanese resistance on Guam had been broken. From the standpoint of the enemy, the initial attack had been well planned, coordinated, and executed.49 Excellent observation from the Mt. Tenjo-Mt. Alutom-Mt. Chachao massif enabled him to determine almost to a man the number of troops in the Marines' beachhead and their exact positions.50 Reconnaissance in force had located the weak spots in the line, and units were massed to exploit the advantage. But from this point on, the Japanese plan began to break down.
After the enemy broke through they could not maintain contact, and as a result had no cohesive force to withstand the Marines' counterattacks. Officers leading the assault were among the first killed. Without their leaders the men in the ranks, unable to think for themselves, forgot the over-all plan. Elements within each component soon lost touch with the others, and individuals began slinking off into the ravines and caves.
Another factor contributing to the failure of the attack was the American interdiction of all assembly areas by air, naval gunfire, and artillery. This stopped reinforcements from moving into the Fonte area to bolster the enemy forces and follow up the original assault.
But most credit for the defeat of the Japanese in this engagement must go to the individual Marine and his training. Men from every type of unit in the division found
themselves engaged in close combat with the enemy. And the record stands for itself. They did more than a creditable job. In this regard the comments of the executive officer of 1/21 concerning Company B, 19th Marines are of interest:
. . . The engineer company (Company B, I believe), or a major portion thereof, was placed into line and attached to 1/21. I was particularly impressed with the number of automatic weapons they were able to produce (from their organic vehicles). They advanced as a leading company in at least one of our attacks and performed infantry duties with credit. This is another advantage of basic training being given to all Marines.51
When the battle had subsided, the Japanese found themselves in desperate straits. General Takashina had thrown seven of his best battalions against the Marines and had lost approximately 3,500 (3,200 in front of the lines and 300 in the rear areas).52 This defeat so disorganized the remaining units that the Japanese never again could regroup for any sizable counterattack on Guam.
This conclusion is confirmed by the testimony of the 29th Division's operations officer, Lieutenant Colonel Takeda:
It was estimated that it was no longer possible to expel the American forces from the island after the results of the general counterattack of the night of 25 July were collected in the morning to about noon of the 26th. After this it was decided that the sole purpose of combat would be to inflict losses on the American forces in the interior of the island. The chief reasons for the foregoing estimate were:
The loss of commanders in the counterattack of 25 July, when up to 95% of the officers (commissioned officers) of the sector defense forces died.
The personnel of each counterattacking unit were greatly decreased, and companies were reduced to several men.
The large casualties caused a great drop in the morale of the survivors.
Over 90% of the weapons were destroyed and combat ability greatly decreased.
The rear echelons of the American forces on Agat front landed in successive waves and advanced. There was little strength remaining on that front and the strength for counterattacks became nonexistent.
The Orote Peninsula defense force perished entirely.
There was no expectation of support from Japanese naval and air forces outside the island.
Considering the foregoing points all together, it became clear that it was impossible to counterattack and expel the enemy alone.53
The Marines could look at their performance with a good deal of satisfaction. Less than 7,000 front line riflemen had been covering over 9,000 yards of terrain and still had beaten back the best the enemy had to offer. Casualties had been heavy54 but in the words of General Turnage, "It was a grand victory for us."55 In the same memorandum, however, the general warned of a possible renewed attempt by an even greater force on the night of 26-27 July.
This ominous warning was followed with a defense order issued at 1340 setting up an emergency division reserve, composed of service and support troops, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Van Orden. Each unit of the task organization was assigned an alert area that would be occupied prior to darkness each day until further notice. In official terminology, the employment of the reserve would be:
. . . on Division order to prevent a penetration of the beach area and, in case of such penetration, to immediately drive the enemy out. In case of penetration by night, the enemy spearheads will be held at all points and a strong counterattack launched as soon after daylight as practicable.56
Other safeguards that had been taken earlier in the day (1145) included the ordering of one battalion of the 307th (corps reserve) to assemble in the vicinity of Piti Navy Yard. And to help tighten the perimeter, the 9th Marines had shortened their lines by pulling back about 1,500 yards to better defensive positions. About the same time division directed all combat teams to start preparing strong defensive positions for the night. This included instructions to use barbed wire and to get the most
effective coverage from mortars, naval gunfire, and artillery.
The division was a cautious, alert, and expectant unit when corps moved ashore at 1300 and set up its CP near Agat.57 Even though the desperate enemy sortie of the previous night had seemed an all out effort, General Geiger also felt the Japanese had enough force remaining for another large-scale attack. No one except the Japanese themselves knew the destructive blow that had been dealt the defenders.
Capture of Orote Peninsula
Battle for Orote: Marine Barracks, Guam Recaptured
The spirited Japanese night assault against the brigade did not delay the Orote Peninsula attack of the 4th Marines on the morning of 26 July. (See Map 17, Map Section) Following an excellent and well-coordinated preparation by aviation, naval gunfire, and artillery, the 4th jumped off at 0700. The plan of attack called for a column of battalions with the 1st spearheading the advance. With the 3d mopping up behind, units made good progress against light opposition until they encountered difficult terrain on the left.
As the 22d Marines waited for the softening-up preparation prior to its 0700 attack hour, shells began to fall on units of that regiment. At first the men thought that friendly artillery or naval gunfire caused the trouble, but further checking indicated the enemy was again using one of his old tricks, timing his own artillery to coincide with American barrages. In any case, the fire had a demoralizing effect on the troops, and disorganized the 22d to such an extent that it crossed the line of departure an hour late.58
This delay coupled with the initial rapid movement of the 4th Marines resulted in the right flank of that unit becoming exposed. Consequently, Lieutenant Colonel Shapley sent a message shortly before noon requesting permission to take over part of the 22d's zone of action and continue the advance to the O-4 line (vicinity of old Marine rifle range). This would give Shapley room to employ all battalions, protect his right, and at the same time provide some relief to the depleted and fatigued assault units of the 22d. At 1145, General Shepherd ordered the regimental boundary changed to the Agat-Sumay Road, making the 22d responsible only for the area east of that road.59
Meanwhile, the 22d had reorganized and left the line of departure at 0800. Immediately to the front of the assault elements was the swamp that had been the breeding spot of the Japanese counterattack the night before. Despite the blocking high-arched roots in the mangrove swamps, patrols waded through mud and water waist deep to make certain that no sizable enemy unit still lurked there. Snipers slowed the advance, but by 1245 Marines had successfully cleared the area and contacted the 4th Regiment at RJ 15.
Here the assault had to be channelized because of the mangrove growth on the right of the road and a marsh on the left. The enemy had mined the 200-yard corridor with aerial bombs and was covering the area with automatic weapons from cleverly concealed pillboxes west of the road junction. Tanks that had been following directly behind the infantry were called forward to set up a base of fire for the riflemen who would move in to knock out the strong point.
When the assault platoon got half-way across the gap between the tanks and the pillboxes that had halted the advance, the Japanese opened fire from many brush-hidden mounds and stopped the Marines in their tracks. Tank commanders stepped-up their rate of fire, and observing with field glasses from open hatches adjusted within one and two foot margins to penetrate the bunker openings. This silenced the Japanese gunners long enough for the infantry to crawl back to the protection of the tanks which had been firing only three or four feet over the heads of the troops.
Mortar fire continued to fall on the attackers, and the 22d Marines Tank Company commander contacted his liaison team at the artillery fire direction center and asked for high-angle
fires.60 This would enable the tank observers to bring fire on the mortars emplaced behind the well-camouflaged mounds. This fire was promptly delivered and adjusted on to the target by means of smoke shell bursts. The enemy mortar shells ceased falling, and two large fires which started to burn indicated an ammunition and fuel dump in the same area had been hit.61
By this time it was too dark to try to continue the advance. The brigade dug in just beyond RJ 15, with its right flank anchored on the swamp; artillery blocked the gap from there to the beach.62 On the left, Marines prepared night positions generally along the O-3 line.
Satisfactory progress had been made by the evening of 26 July, not only by front line units but also by other elements of the brigade. All ships had been completely unloaded,63 and ammunition problems greatly reduced. Engineers had moved equipment into position to be ready for a hurried reconstruction of Orote airfield as soon as it was secured.
The outlook for a quick capture appeared good, even though the brigade as a whole had suffered 1,266 casualties since landing, most of them concentrated in the two infantry regiments.64 The enemy had not been encountered in any strength during the day, and the only heavily fortified positions met were those at RJ 15. But the full extent of this strong point remained unknown. The Japanese had been observed organizing defenses near the airfield, and artillery and mortar fire still came from the cliffs behind Neye Island. Air and naval gunfire had not been able to knock out these positions even with constant pounding.
During the night the Japanese guns were comparatively quiet, but friendly artillery, mortars, and naval gunfire kept the air full of harassing fires. This limited the enemy ground action to minor infiltration attempts. The jump-off on 27 July, originally scheduled for 0700, was delayed 15 minutes because brigade headquarters feared the original time might have been intercepted on a SCR 300 channel.65
The heavy pre-attack preparation had made little impression on the enemy, and the Marines moved only 100 yards before being stopped by intense automatic-weapons fire. The rolling terrain, covered with heavy undergrowth, interspersed with swamps, restricted the avenue of advance to the Sumay Road and the narrow strip of land in front of the 4th Marines. Tanks could not assist the infantry until the mine fields were cleared from around RJ 15. Fortunately, the mines were poorly camouflaged, and a bomb disposal officer from the 22d, covered by a smoke screen, disarmed many of them.66 Tanks, guided by infantrymen, then threaded their way between the aerial bombs and got into supporting position.
The 4th Marines jumped off on time with the 3d Battalion on the right, next to the road. A ridge 300 yards to the front, from which the Japanese laid down their withering fire, was the first objective. Beyond this a coconut grove extended 500 yards on gently sloping ground to meet a higher brush-covered ridge. Behind this, hidden from view, lay the important Orote airfield.
Major Hoyler's 3/4 assault companies found it impossible to make any progress against the well-camouflaged and mutually-supporting positions along the base of the first ridge. But Marine Shermans, firing at point-blank range, soon silenced the heavy and light machine guns in the dugouts. With the automatic weapons knocked out, Hoyler's men moved in and occupied the ridge.67
In the afternoon, the advance through the coconut grove proved to be a painstaking job. The fighting was extremely bitter, and tanks could not get forward to help because of the congestion on the road. Assault elements fought ahead yard by yard and finally, at 1530, broke out of the grove only to be brought up
MEN OF THE 1ST PROVISIONAL MARINE BRIGADE advance through a coconut grove 500 yards from the old Marine Barracks.
short by fire from the next ridge. Mopping up and trying to soften the strong enemy defenses on the hill just short of the old Marine Corps rifle range consumed the remaining hours of daylight of 27 July. During these operations the regimental executive officer, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel D. Puller, was killed by a sniper.68
On the right of the brigade zone, the 22d Marines had been unable to move until 3/4 cleared the road to a point beyond the swamp. With the left boundary set at the Agat-Sumay Road and the mangrove swamp on the right, the regiment's front was limited to 50 yards. Colonel Schneider's battalions could do nothing but hold up until they had room to maneuver. When 3/4 moved ahead, Schneider pulled his 3d Battalion up on the right of the 2d, which had been in the lead.
The two units advanced slowly against opposition that increased as the day wore on. By midafternoon the attack stalled when it encountered numerous pillboxes, dugouts, mines, and intense mortar and automatic-weapons fire from positions on the rising ground near the site of the old Marine Barracks.
The Japanese had been resisting more fanatically as they were driven back and compressed in the remaining half of the peninsula. Although the remaining men of the 38th Regiment
and the composite naval units still had organization, there was some evidence that they felt their defeat inevitable. One incident that bore this out was the attack on a tank by a lone Imperial officer armed only with a sword.69 Another action that had questionable value found 30-40 of the enemy marching in column down the road toward the brigade's front lines. Led by an officer carrying a large battle flag they made an excellent target for a tank of the 4th Marines. Shell bursts quickly scattered the column, killing most of the marchers.70
But men of the 22d Marines witnessed a sight almost unique in Pacific fighting during the afternoon of 27 July. In an attempt to reach the high ground before digging in for the night, the regiment called for a heavy preparation on that area about 1700. All aircraft available bombed and strafed the hills in front of the 22d, after which artillery and naval guns fired a devastating barrage. As the men waited for the lifting of fires the Japanese suddenly broke in a mad, headlong retreat abandoning their well-organized defensive line.71
Major John F. Schoettel, who had relieved Lieutenant Colonel Hart in command of 2/22 that afternoon, sent his men in hot pursuit. The 3d Battalion followed, and by 1945 the regiment had surged ahead of the 4th Marines on the left, seized the dominating terrain in its zone, and started making preparations for the night. This incident proved to be the turning point of the battle for Orote. From these positions above Sumay, the Marines flanked the enemy line extending along the rifle range and the airfield. The day's advance also had broken the bottleneck around RJ 15 and opened the way for supplies and ammunition to be moved forward more rapidly.
On the right, the brigade lines were within 300 yards of the former Marine Barracks, but a 500-yard gap existed between the two regiments because of the rapid advance of the 22d. The 4th had prepared its night lines along the unimproved road about 300 yards short of the rifle range. Fighting during the day had been severe, with both regiments suffering heavy casualties. Supplies in front line units were low with some tanks completely out of ammunition.72 On the brighter side, enemy pressure had lessened and the worst of the swamp areas had been successfully passed.
General Shepherd's operation order for 28 July called for a preparation designed to blast the enemy from his defenses in front of the airfield. Shepherd requested a 45-minute air strike and a 30-minute naval gunfire barrage to precede the 30-minute artillery pounding that would be given the Japanese positions prior to the 0830 attack-hour. As an indication of the volume of artillery fire desired, six Army 105mm and three 155mm howitzer batteries would augment the six pack howitzer batteries of the brigade. To give still more weight, two corps artillery 155mm howitzer and two 14th Defense Battalion 90mm gun batteries were added.73
After an uenventful night along the entire front, the air, naval gunfire, and artillery preparations went ahead on schedule. At 0830 the brigade resumed the attack to seize the airfield and the remainder of the peninsula. The operation order for the 28th had given a new boundary and assigned the former Marine Barracks and Sumay to Colonel Schneider's 22d Marines and the rifle range and airfield to Lieutenant Colonel Shapley's 4th.
The enemy in front of the 22d continued to fight a delaying action, dropping back only when artillery and the infantry's superior fire power drove them from their holes. Although Japanese artillery and mortar fire decreased during the morning, automatic-weapons fire did not slacken. With tanks leading the way, Schneider's regiment reached the O-4 line by 1005.74 This increased the already existing gap between the 22d and 4th, and necessitated echeloning units to the left rear to gain contact.
Plagued by terrain covered with heavy vegetation, as well as a dug-in enemy who had cut firelanes through the dense underbrush, the 4th Marines made slower progress. Extremely bitter resistance developed in the center and on the
TANK-INFANTRY TEAM from the 4th Marines advances slowly through the dense scrub growth that characterized most of the terrain in the regiment's zone of action on Orote Peninsula.
right of the regiment's zone, with two strong points causing most of the trouble. Tanks were called in as quickly as possible, but the thick foliage made control and observation practically impossible.
Initially, two platoons of the tank company were assigned to the 3d Battalion and the other to the 1st when 2/4 reported it could not use armor because of the terrain. With the help of the tanks, 3/4 on the right broke through the coconut log pillboxes and reorganized prior to advancing to the O-4 line. Intense automatic-weapons fire kept the 2d Battalion from making any headway, and when flanking fire from the left started to cut Company I to ribbons, Major Messer called for tank assistance. Regiment ordered a platoon of Shermans from the 3d Battalion to report to Messer. The 2d Tank Platoon withdrew and at 1430 was guided into position to help Company E. Unfortunately, it had been led into the midst of the strong point and could not fire because the 1st Battalion, on the left, had also advanced and there was danger of hitting units of that battalion.
During the early afternoon, while this situation was being rectified, General Shepherd went forward on a reconnaissance of his front lines. Quickly sizing up the gravity of the situation he sent a request to General Bruce for a platoon of Army tank destroyers to augment the fire from the brigade's tanks and a platoon of Army light tanks that had just arrived on the scene.
Shepherd then issued oral orders to Lieutenant Colonel Shapley to organize a tank-infantry attack, employing all available tanks in a mass effort to break through the strong line of Japanese-held bunkers. At 1530 Shapley launched the assault all along the regimental front. The massed armor cracked the rifle range defense line and infantry units followed closely behind to exploit the breakthrough. This had been one of the most formidable enemy positions encountered by the brigade, and it was here that the Japanese command had ordered its soldiers to hold until killed. Marines counted approximately 250 pillboxes and emplacements in this general area after the attack. Their reduction permitted the advance to sweep forward to within 150 yards of the airfield, where units set up for the night.75
After making certain that his left flank was secure, Colonel Schneider had ordered his 22d Marines to resume the attack at about 1015. By 1208, Companies E and G had driven to the rubble and skeleton buildings of the former Marine Barracks. Only a cigar box containing pre-war PX papers and receipts, a bronze plaque, and a star-covered pillow, which a Japanese had made from the blue field of an American flag, gave evidence of previous Marine occupancy.76
Halting only for a moment, the 22d pressed on in an effort to capture Sumay before darkness fell. The left flank of the regiment held up about 150 yards in front of the fallen buildings, but the units on the right continued on to the cliffs overlooking the village. Tanks and demolition teams quickly sealed any caves that slowed down forward movement. Marines encountered little resistance as they entered the village, but the debris and extensive mine fields made the streets impassable to tanks. It is believed that the town was the most heavily-mined area on Guam. One hundred and seventy-two aerial bomb mines, two torpedo mines, and many ordinary land mines were disarmed in Sumay alone.77
One tank fell victim to these fields, and the
LIEUTENANT GENERAL HOLLAND SMITH (right) stands with the leaders of the successful conquest of Orote Peninsula (left to right: Lieutenant Colonel Shapley, General Shepherd, Colonel Schneider) behind the plaque taken from the wreckage of the Marine Barracks on Guam.
remaining vehicles hurriedly withdrew while infantry moved through the wreckage of buildings to make certain that the enemy was not bypassed in force. Units completed the job by 1750 and then established defensive positions 100 yards east of the town.78
The brigade spent a quiet night, and in the morning (29 July) the attack jumped off at 0800. Desiring to conclude the Orote campaign that day, General Shepherd had ordered a tremendous supporting arms preparation. The heaviest air strike since W-Day backed up the six battalions of artillery (which included units from the 77th Division and 12th Marines) and eight ships that laid down a curtain of fire prior to the assault.79
Results speak for themselves, as both the 4th and 22d advanced half the length of the airstrip against only meager resistance by 1000. Army and Marine tanks led the way, supported by six M-10 tank destroyers from the 77th Division that had reported to the brigade during the
AMERICAN COLORS are again raised over the remains of Marine Barracks, Guam. Men of the 22d Marines salute as "To the Colors" is sounded on a captured Japanese bugle.
morning. Shortly after 1400, Marines held Orote airfield and had established a defensive line about 150 yards beyond the end of the landing strip.
Earlier in the day the brigade commander had ordered that, upon reaching this line, the 4th Marines would take over the entire front, relieving the 22d for mopping-up details. This relief was effected by 1500, and an hour later Lieutenant Colonel Shapley sent a strong tank-infantry patrol to the tip of the peninsula. The tank-riding infantry found only two Japanese soldiers during the entire expedition. When this patrol came back with its information, General Shepherd reported Orote Peninsula secured.80
After relief of the 22d at the O-6 line, the 3d Battalion with the Pioneer Company attached returned to Sumay to flush out any enemy troops that might have returned during the night. Little hostile activity met the Marines as they proceeded through the town along the coastal road. But as the men from 3/22 pushed on to investigate the cliffs paralleling the road west of Sumay, Japanese resistance increased. From positions that had been constructed and armed to interdict Apra Harbor, the enemy commanded the entire area. Installations dug high in the rocks were inaccessible from the heights above, and finally LCI(G)'s were called to pound the cave defenders with 40mm and 20mm guns. But not until late the next
afternoon did the firing from these cave positions subside.81
As mopping-up patrols continued their aggressive action, isolated enemy soldiers destroyed themselves by using hand grenades or cutting their throats. Others tried to escape by swimming to Fort Santa Cruz,82 but these attempts proved futile when a platoon of LVT(A)'s was dispatched to the scene to discourage such rash procedure.83
Another cliff area that had caused trouble throughout the Orote fighting received a check during the day. A LVT-borne squad from the 9th Defense Battalion investigated Neye Island and the cliffs behind it, but found no enemy. Evidence indicated that the island had been used primarily as an observation post; nothing pointed to the mortar and artillery positions previously reported. The difficulty of landing and the danger of mines precluded a thorough investigation of the cliffs. From the amphibian tractor in the water observers noted many caves but could see no guns in their vicinity.84
Meanwhile, a group of high ranking Navy and Marine officers, including Admiral Spruance, Lieutenant General Holland Smith, Major General Geiger, Major General Larsen (soon to become Guam Island Commander), and Brigadier General Shepherd gathered on the ground of the former Marine Barracks. Lieutenant Colonel Shapley, Colonel Schneider, and all other officers and men who could be spared were also there.
Sporadic small-arms fire was still going on west of the airstrip on Orote Peninsula, and to the north, the 3d Division's artillery could be heard in the distance. At the command from General Geiger, a Marine sounded "To the Colors" on a Japanese bugle, and at 1530 the United States flag once more flew over Orote Peninsula.
It was a solemn ceremony. Marines from 2/22, who had helped capture the site, furnished the honor guard, and the men in the vicinity paused momentarily to pay tribute. General Shepherd expressed the thoughts of every one there:
On this hallowed ground, you officers and men of the First Marine Brigade have avenged the loss of our comrades who were overcome by a numerically superior enemy three days after Pearl Harbor. Under our flag this island again stands ready to fulfill its destiny as an American fortress in the Pacific.85
The next day, 30 July, mopping up continued with the 4th Marines responsible for the entire peninsula except Sumay. Lieutenant Colonel Shapley ordered extensive patrolling to the end of Orote. Maximum use was made of the war dog platoon, but the patrols encountered only one unarmed Japanese soldier.
On order, the 22d left one battalion behind, and the rest of the regiment moved into corps reserve in a bivouac area about 2,000 yards southeast of Agat, just north of Harmon Road. The remaining unit, 3/22, continued the job of cleaning up Sumay and the caves west of it.86 One platoon, sent to Fort Santa Cruz to make certain that the enemy escape attempts had failed, took two prisoners and found six dead.87
It did not take long for the Marines to get Orote airfield into operational condition. Only six hours after the first engineer units moved on to the strip, a Navy TBF was called in for a test run. With Lieutenant (jg) Edward F. Terrar, Jr. as the pilot, the plane came in, touched its wheels to check the ground, and took off again to circle the field for the actual landing. At 1650 it touched down, and Orote airfield was ready for use.88 Soon after, observation planes
FIRST PLANE (piloted by Lieutenant (jg) E. F. Terrar, Jr.) to land on Orote airfield after its capture is welcomed by the engineers who prepared the strip for the landing.
(OY's) from VMO-1 began flying missions from this strip.
Earlier in the day, the corps operation order for 31 July had been received. It directed the brigade to take over the southern half of the final beachhead line from Inalas to Magpo Point. Extensive patrols were to be conducted to determine the presence or absence of the enemy in the southern portion of Guam. Those units of the 77th being relieved (the 306th was to remain in position and continue its patrols), would regroup with the remainder of the Army division for an attack to the east.89
The task of rooting out the well-organized and cleverly entrenched enemy on Orote Peninsula had been accomplished in four days of severe fighting The aggressive action of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade in securing the strategically important Orote Airfield and Apra Harbor earned the unit the praise of General Geiger and the subsequent award of the Navy Unit Commendation. To destroy the approximately 2,500 enemy troops, the brigade reported that it had suffered 115 KIA, 721 WIA, and 38 MIA.90
Fonte Plateau Action
2/9 Zone--25-29 July
Fonte Plateau: Securing the FBL
While the brigade opened the attack on Orote on 26 July, the 3d Division continued preparations for another strong enemy assault expected that night. Commanders made close inspections of front line installations to make certain that all units were tied in. During such a check a sniper killed Lieutenant Colonel de Zayas, commanding officer of 2/3.91
The expected large-scale Japanese assault did not materialize, and only minor infiltration attempts were made during the night of 26-27 July. Naval guns and artillery kept the air full of shells most of the night to discourage any attack ideas that the enemy might have. This, plus the heavy preparation fired in the morning, softened up positions for the 0900 jump-off.
It had become increasingly evident that the principal Japanese battle position now lay along the Fonte-Chachao-Tenjo ridge line, with its right flank on the northern nose of Fonte. Operations for 27 July were designed to bring the greatest possible pressure to bear against this line. The 9th Marines, on the right, was to hold its position and give maximum fire support to the 21st until that regiment reached the D-3 line. The 3d Marines, on the left, would attack in conjunction with the 21st.92
Colonel Butler's 21st started forward with the 3d, 1st, and 2d Battalions abreast, from right to left. With a platoon of tanks attached, 2/21 had advanced approximately 200 yards when enemy machine guns in the vicinity of the radio towers slowed down the attack. The tanks tried to move around a swamp, blocking the route of progress, to get into position to take the weapons under fire, but bogged down. The tankmen continued to throw shells into the area, however, and knocked out the guns causing the trouble, allowing the 2d to move up just short of the power line by noon. Here a halt was called until units on the right and left could come abreast.
The 1st Battalion had been unable to advance because of heavy resistance from Japanese in caves on the reverse slope of a small hill to the left front, and from a quarry. Air and artillery put concentrations into the area but to no avail; tanks expended 90 percent of their ammunition, but still the unit could not move.93
On the right, Lieutenant Colonel Duplantis' 3d Battalion met only slight resistance and lunged forward to the D-2 line by 1000. Companies had to be echeloned on the left to keep in touch with the stalled 1st and on the right to maintain contact with the 9th Marines. One company of 3/9 was attached to 3/21 at 1630. The Army's 3/307, which had been committed by General Geiger in the wake of the 25-26 July counterattack, received orders to relieve the remainder of 3/9. When this had been completed 3/9 (-) moved into an assembly area behind the 21st as division reserve.94
On the left flank of the division the 3d Marines, with 2/9 still attached, ordered that battalion and 2/3 to make the main effort to reduce Fonte Plateau in the center of the regiment's zone of action. The 3d Battalion was to remain in position north of Adelup Point and patrol as far forward as possible. The 1st Battalion remained in division reserve at the foot of Fonte, but division headquarters released Company C to the regiment with instructions not to commit it without prior authority.95
Lieutenant Colonel Cushman (2/9) issued his attack order for the day at 0800, although at the time Company G was already in a fire fight. As though this were not enough trouble, at 0930 friendly artillery and aerial bombs fell on the same unit as it prepared to cross the line of departure. This disrupted the attack and necessitated a one-hour delay to effect reorganization.96 Then Companies E and G, supported by two platoons of tanks, edged forward and recaptured the ground from which they had withdrawn the day before. Cushman moved Company F from battalion reserve at 1100 to fill a gap that had developed between the two assault units. (See Map 18, Map Section)
Just as the attack was resumed, about 150 Japanese made a wild banzai charge against Company G. Even though that unit had been hard hit during the morning, it stopped the rush without allowing any penetration. The battalion then launched its drive toward the
CAPTAIN LOUIS H. WILSON, JR., Commanding Officer, Company F, 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, awarded the Medal of Honor for action on 25-26 July when, although wounded three times, he successfully led his men in capturing their assigned objectives and repulsing repeated enemy counterattacks during a fierce ten-hour hand-to-hand struggle.
power line, and by midafternoon all units declared their sectors secure.
Meanwhile, the 2d Battalion, 3d Marines, now commanded by Major William A. Culpepper, jumped off on time. With Companies F and G in assault, the attack progressed against moderate resistance. Several pockets of the enemy were by-passed, but the attached engineer unit (C/19) quickly cleared the areas. The day's objective, the power line, was reached early in the afternoon, and units reorganized for the expected continuation to the D-3 line. But regimental headquarters decided to hold up the attack when 2/9 encountered serious opposition from a depression on top of Fonte Plateau. Orders went out to all units to dig in for the night.
The division's line had not advanced too far during the day, but the situation was brighter
FONTE PLATEAU, scene of bitter fighting by the 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, is highlighted by the sun's rays in this photograph taken by a plane from the USS Sangamon. (Navy Photograph.)
than it had been. There was contact all along the line, and good progress had been made toward capturing the troublesome Fonte area; units now held the last intermediate phase line before the top of the ridge.97 The day's fighting had carried troops through the strongly defended Japanese 29th Division's command post defenses.98
Pockets of the enemy still remained behind the Marine lines, but they were being contained and systematically reduced. Sporadic enemy artillery and mortar fire that fell on the beaches proved more effective and caused a slow-down in unloading. Further delay resulted from the tactical demand for shore party and service troops. Nevertheless, TQM's reported the remaining division assault shipping (LST's) 80 percent unloaded.99
During the night 27-28 July, the Marines repulsed several small-scale enemy counterattacks with little loss to themselves, and at 0830 the big push to capture the FBL got under way. The 3d Marines, with the same units (2/3 and 2/9) bearing the brunt of the advance, moved out on schedule. The 2d Battalion, 3d went slowly up the hill, meeting only light opposition. Halting shortly before noon to make contact with 2/9, which was momentarily held up, Major Culpepper's men renewed their attack at 1300. An hour later Company G
reached the D-3 line overlooking the Fonte River.100
Meanwhile Companies E and F of 2/9 on the right of the depression, advanced against moderate resistance and reached their objective (D-3 line) before noon. On the other hand, Company G, which had the job of cleaning out the pit and the area immediately around it, made slow progress. By noon only one officer remained in the company, the others having become casualties, and the fourth commander since W-Day had taken over. This officer, Captain Francis L. Fagan, arrived just in time to find his unit's thin right flank being pushed back by an enemy counterattack. With the help of one platoon of the weapons company, Fagan reestablished the line, and by 1500 the Japanese force had been annihilated.
While his battalion reorganized to renew the advance, Lieutenant Colonel Cushman reconnoitered the depression on top of Fonte. This pit was generally circular in shape, its very steep sides honeycombed with caves, which made it difficult for the Marines to check the area without coming under fire from all angles. Cushman planned to surround the area, but that would take time and he had been ordered to capture the objective as soon as possible. He requested a delay until the next morning (29 July) which was granted. Consequently, at 1800 the night positions of the battalion stretched along the D-3 line, but were bent back in the center around the pit where Company G still held just forward of the power line. For all practical purposes, however, 2/9 now controlled the area in its zone to the FBL.101
During the remaining hours of daylight Cushman's units made up special demolition loads, refueled flame throwers, and brought forward extra rocket launchers. A careful reconnaissance disclosed a site where a tank could fire into the pit, firing positions for machine guns and rocket launchers that could cover all sides of the depression, and a path for the descent of troops. This completed Cushman's plans for reducing the Fonte bowl, and as troops dug in for the night orders went out for the attack at 0830 the next morning.102
The operation order for the capture of the FBL had been designed not only to take the Fonte area but to secure the beachhead line along the entire division front. To assure a coordinated attack on the strategic Chachao-Alutom-Tenjo ridge line, division had enlarged the zone of action of the 9th Marines on the morning of 28 July. This placed the entire zone under one commander, Colonel Craig.
With 2/9 still operating with the 3d Marines, it was necessary to attach two battalions to Craig's regiment for the ensuing assault. The Army's 3/307 relieved the 3d Battalion, 9th, on the right flank of the regiment's zone; 3/9 then moved to the other flank and relieved 3/21 on position. This gave Colonel Craig three battalions on the line, 3/307, 1/9, and 3/9 from right to left. The released 3/21 (attached to the 9th until D-3 line reached) went into regimental reserve with the mission of following 3/9 in the attack and protecting the left flank.103
Following an hour-long air strike and a 15-minute artillery and naval gunfire preparation, the assault started at 0830. By 0945, 3/9 had advanced in its zone to come abreast of the rest of the regiment. Colonel Craig then ordered a general advance all along the line to begin at 1045.
As the 9th advanced on Mt. Chachao and Mt. Alutom, men from the 77th Infantry Division could be seen on Mt. Tenjo. Craig immediately contacted the Army commander and arranged for a boundary between the units. Later when the corps overlay designating the dividing line arrived, it was found the two corresponded. The new division boundary ran along an unimproved trail 400-500 yards south of the Aguada River and then along the high ground southeast of Mt. Alutom.104 (See Map 19)
The 9th Marines renewed its attack with orders to seize the high ground on the new boundary and prepare to continue on to the FBL. By 1500, 3/307 had gained its objective on the
77th Infantry Division
Objectives for 28 July
TANKS of the 3d Tank Battalion lumber up the twisting trail from the beach to assist the 21st Marines in its drive toward the FBL.
right and was only 200 yards short on the left; 3/9 was ready to attack Mt. Chachao and Mt. Alutom, while 1/9 made preparations to contact Army patrols from Mt. Tenjo.
On Mt. Chachao, the Japanese had constructed a concrete emplacement in the center of the summit, with a series of foxholes and machine-gun positions nested in the surrounding cliffs to protect it. Circular gun pits at either end of the crest guarded the trail running across the ridge and leading down the slope. Manned by a company of troops, the Mt. Chachao fortification was formidable.
Major Donald B. Hubbard's 3d Battalion, 9th went up the ridges to the road, quickly overcame the enemy outposts, and formed for the assault to reach the top of the objective. Artillery neutralized the defenses while tanks moved forward through the assault units and around the peak to prevent escape of the enemy. The infantry then formed in a column of companies and, protected by the steepness of the cliff faces, drove the length of the ridge line and made ready to rush the top. A shower of grenades hurled into the positions preceded a final charge that carried the Marines to the crest and the FBL.105
In conjunction with this assault, Lieutenant Colonel Carey A. Randall's 1/9 moved up on the right and made contact with men from the 77th Division near Mt. Tenjo.106 On the left,
3/21 had completed its mission of guarding the 9th's flank and had returned to its parent organization's control.
The 21st Marines (less 3d Battalion), in the center of the concerted drive to capture the FBL, had met less resistance than the other regiments of the division. The only heavy opposition was encountered in the vicinity of the radio towers. Two tanks from Company B worked in close and cleared the enemy from that area and the nearby caves, allowing the infantry to move in. The pocket had been reduced by 1630 and the regiment rushed forward to the FBL.107
For the first time since W-Day, the 3d Division could look at the situation on the evening of 28 July with satisfaction. The FBL had been reached along the entire front with the exception of that area in front of Company G, 2/9 on Fonte Ridge. This gave complete command of the center of the island, and of equal importance permitted observation to the north. Enemy opposition had diminished during the day to the point where it was now evident that the Japanese could not launch a counterattack without time to reorganize their scattered remnants. Phase I of the recapture of Guam could now be considered closed.108
During the night of 28-29 July the Japanese made an attempt to free some of the isolated groups that still hid inside the Marines' perimeter. One such try was made on the right flank of 3/21 where that unit tied in with the 9th. Two enemy forces communicated with each other by colored flares, but signals got mixed and the coordinated effort turned into just another small unit counterattack that was broken up without much trouble.109
The preparations that 2/9 made the night before paid off on the morning of 29 July. From two sides of the depression a heavy criss-cross of bazooka, machine-gun, and tank fire pinpointed every cave. Assault groups rapidly worked their way down into the pit and systematically cleaned out the caves and emplacements. Marines did not suffer a single casualty while they killed an estimated 35-50 Japanese.110
Company G then went forward to the FBL to complete the fight for Fonte. From a later study of the terrain from both sides it was evident the Fonte hill mass was the strategic high ground along the entire D-3 line and the FBL. It had been organized and defended by about a battalion of Japanese. As the enemy losses mounted, General Takashina had rushed approximately another battalion and a half into the area.
The value placed on this terrain by the Japanese can best be judged by the 11 separate counterattacks launched to retain it and the 800 Imperial dead, including many officers, left on the battlefield.
The enemy defenses were not unusual, consisting of individual and automatic weapons positions on the high ground, protected by mortars and artillery. But the caves and other shelters cut into the reverse slopes protected the defenders from naval gunfire and artillery, making the entire position difficult to reduce. The only solution found to be effective by the Americans was the use of naval gunfire on the reverse slopes,111 artillery on top of the hill, 81mm mortars on the forward side, and close overhead machine-gun fire in support. In this manner the Marines could creep up the bare slopes to gain the top where they had to engage in fierce hand-to-hand battle to retain the hill and push on to the military crest.
Even with the intelligent use of all available supporting weapons, two rifle companies of the assault battalion (2/9) had 75 percent casualties while the other company suffered 50 percent. The battalion as a whole had 40 percent killed or wounded.112
The division spent the remainder of 29 July in consolidation and reorganization of the FBL. Mopping up in the rear and patrolling to the front disclosed few enemy concentrations of any size. But many supply dumps and several
airplane parts storage areas were uncovered, one of which held six new undamaged motors.113
While this activity progressed, 1/3 received orders to relieve the battered 2d Battalion, 9th Marines. This maneuver was completed by 1800, and 2/9 entrucked to move into an area near the Asan River fork where the unit became division reserve.
Meanwhile, a shift of command had taken place. A division order reassigned Colonel W. Carvel Hall as D-4 and Colonel James A. Stuart (D-3) as commanding officer of the 3d Marines. Lieutenant Colonel Ellsworth N. Murray (D-4) replaced the D-2, Lieutenant Colonel Howard J. Turton who became D-3. Other changes included giving Colonel Robert G. Hunt (Division Inspector) the additional duty of Liaison Officer, IIIAC, and the assigning of Lieutenant Colonel Ralph M. King (infantry operations officer on division staff) to the 9th Marines where he became regimental executive officer. On the same order Major Irving R. Kriendler was listed as taking over as D-1 on 22 July after Lieutenant Colonel White was killed.114
Earlier in the afternoon, Admiral Spruance, General H. M. Smith, General Geiger, General Turnage, and General Noble made a hurried inspection tour of the front lines,115 after which the visiting dignitaries went to Orote Peninsula to witness the flag raising over the old Marine Barracks. (See page 95)
Reconnaissance Patrols to the South
When the 77th Infantry Division took over the southern beachhead line from the brigade
MAANOT RIDGE is the scene of bivouac of the 2d Battalion, 305th Infantry, first Army unit to see action on Guam. Patrols from this unit and others searched the southern half of the island for signs of Japanese resistance. (Army Photograph.)
77th Infantry Division
on 24 July, it immediately made plans to send patrols to the south and east. Originally this was a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of the perimeter, but General Geiger requested the action be expanded in an attempt to determine the enemy's defensive intentions. The two infantry regiments (305th and 306th) manning the main defenses carried out the early patrols which were limited to 500-1,000 yards to the front.116
On 27 July, however, the 77th Reconnaissance Troop, which had been guarding the Maanot Reservoir, received orders from General Bruce to prepare for extensive operations. Intelligence as to what moves the Japanese would make after they had been driven from their beach defenses was lacking, and corps headquarters did not know for certain whether the enemy would elect to defend the northern or southern part of Guam. The corps did not have enough strength to make simultaneous attacks on both ends of the island. Nor could it block off one half and have sufficient strength left to assault one end at a time. From the information expected to be obtained by the patrols, General Geiger could better make a decision concerning the future employment of troops.117
About noon on 27 July overlays came in to the 77th Division's Headquarters, detailing the plans and showing the routes to be taken by the reconnaissance patrols. (See Map 20) Five units of five men each, with native guides, would leave at 1300 and penetrate up to seven miles to the south and east. Patrols A and B would proceed from RJ 370 to the east coast, while C, D, and E would move directly south along the ridge line below Mt. Alifan toward Umatac and return.
Only two of the patrols, B and E, covered the entire assigned area; the others had to return because of illness and impassable terrain. Another unit (Patrol G) was dispatched on 30 July to move southeast to Talofofo Bay, then to Port Inarajan, and back across the center of the southeastern part of the island. All patrols had returned with negative reports on enemy contacts by 31 July. The native Guamanians encountered reported that the Japanese had moved to the north and that only small groups of 10-15 of the enemy remained in the south.118
The aggressive patrolling of the 305th Infantry between 24-27 July indicated the area around Mt. Tenjo was lightly defended by the Japanese. Consequently, on 27 July General Bruce requested he be permitted to seize Mt. Tenjo. Permission granted, he ordered Company A, 305th to reconnoiter the mountain and to occupy its crest if the enemy offered only light resistance. By 0830 on 28 July, Company A had reached the top of Mt. Tenjo without meeting opposition. At 1500 that afternoon, 2/307 took over the defense of the hill mass, and it was these troops that tied in with the 3d Marine Division, thus securing the III Corps FBL.119 The ground work had now been laid for Phase II, the attack to the east and northeast.
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (3) * Next Chapter (5)
1. IIIAC OpPlan 6-44, 24Jul44.
2. 1st ProvMarBrig Jnl.
3. IIIAC C-3 Jnl.
4. 1/3 Jnl.
5. 9th Mar SAR, 2; Craig 1952.
6. 21st Mar SAR, 3-4.
7. Duplantis 1952.
8. 3d MarDiv D-3 Jnl.
9. 2/9 SAR, 3. Many times when preparations were being fired, the Japanese would time their own artillery so that it would fall in Marine front lines. Commanders, thinking it short rounds, would stop the preparation to check for errors and thus give the enemy time to disperse.
10. Ibid., 2-3.
11. 3d MarDiv WD, July 1944, 9.
12. 3d MarDiv D-4 Jnl.
13. Capt P. D. Carleton, "The Guam Operation," Campaign for the Marianas, (Washington, 1946), 11-23.
14. Ltr LtCol C. B. Lawton to author, 19Dec51.
15. 1st ProvMarBrig Jnl.
16. 2/22 Jnl.
17. Col Tsunefaro Suenaga, Commander of the 38th Inf, was the original commander of the Agat Defense Sector which included Orote Peninsula. Cdr Tamai succeeded to command of the Orote defenses after Col Suenaga was killed on the night of 21-22Jul44. Takeda Letter.
18. IIIAC SAR, IntelRpt, Final Enemy O/B; IIIAC C-2 Periodic Rpt 7; Takeda Letter.
19. 1st ProvMarBrig WD, 1Jul-10Aug44, 9; 14th DefBn WD, July 1944, 5.
20. Interview with Col E. C. Ferguson, 28Nov52, hereinafter cited as Ferguson interview.
21. The Island War, 279.
22. To repulse the counterattack, fires of III Corps Arty and 77th Div artillery battalions assigned to the brigade were added to those of the pack howitzer units. 1st ProvMarBrig Jnl.
23. The Island War, 281.
24. 1/4 WD, 30May-9Sept44, 4; interview with Capt W. A. Kerr, 22Jan52.
25. Japanese Defense of Guam.
26. To obtain an accurate picture of the Japanese counterattack on the 3d MarDiv front a variety of sources have been consulted. The consolidated account presented was obtained from journals, diaries, histories, and operation reports of the units involved, both American and Japanese. Letters from key officer participants were especially helpful. Citations have been kept to a necessary minimum in this section to avoid needless confusion.
28. Col Ohashi and both of his battalion commanders were killed during the counterattack. Takeda Letter.
29. The detailed plan of the Japanese attack was taken from a map found on the body of Maj Chusa Maruyama, Commanding Officer, 2d Bn, 18th Inf.
30. Duplantis, 1952.
31. Ltr LtCol E. A. Clark to author, 16Jan52, hereinafter cited as Clark.
32. Capt Shoemaker was killed on 3Aug44 during the exploitation phase on Guam.
33. Ltr Lt Col R. R. Van Stockum to Historical Branch, 15Oct52.
34. 1stLt K. Cohlmia, preliminary draft of 3d MarDiv History, 16.
35. Small metal lanterns with narrow slits in the rearward side were used by the Japanese scouts to maintain direction. The morning after the attack Marines found several lanterns scattered along the enemy's route of attack. Duplantis, 1952.
36. 3d MarDiv History, 154.
37. Ltr LtCol W. T. Glass to author, 25Jan52, hereinafter cited as Glass.
38. The 2d SepEngBn was part of the division engineer landing group whose other components were the 19th Mar (less 1st and 2d Bns), Co B, 2d NavConstBn, and the Garrison Beach Party. 3d MarDiv OpPlan 2-44, 13May44.
39. For a complete description of this action see Saipan, 224.
40. Normally, in adjusting fire, a forward observer will get a round over (beyond the target from the observer) and then decrease his range to be sure he gets a short round (one which is between the target and the observer). The resulting "bracket" is then split until the correct range is obtained and fire can be expected to be effective. However, with the fire already so close to friendly troops that it was dangerous to try for a bracket, the range was decreased bit by bit until any further drop in range would result in rounds falling on Marines. This process is referred to as "creeping" and is not considered proper adjustment procedure. It is used only in emergencies.
42. Ltr Col M. C. Williams to CMC, 6Oct52.
43. Cdr R. R. Callaway, (MC), "The Third Medical Battalion in Action: Bougainville and Guam," Historical Study, MCS SenCourse (1948-49), hereinafter cited as Callaway Study.
44. Although only 23 Japanese were killed in taking the hill Marines counted over 300 bodies in the area of 3/21 CP, around the right flank of Company K, and immediately in front of that unit. Duplantis 1952.
45. 3/9 SAR, 2.
46. Ltr LtCol P. M. Jones to CMC, 21Nov52.
47. These were units that were especially organized and equipped to destroy artillery. They were to force their way through the front lines under cover of darkness, make a surprise attack, and demolish the guns with demolition charges. This method of attack called for men of exceptional courage, determination, and daring and to quote the Japanese order, "men having a sincere desire to die for the Emperor." 12th Mar SAR for 26July44, 1.
48. Ltr Col J. S. Letcher to CMC, 14Mar47.
49. It is of interest to note that the Japanese in carrying out their attack were able to follow some of the principles of warfare (mass, objective, surprise, security, cooperation, offensive, movement, economy of force, and simplicity) to the letter; others they violated with utter disregard or were unable to execute with proficiency.
50. Upon capture of this massif three huge telescopes of 20 power were found. Looking through these one could almost make out the features of individual Marines below. Practically every part of the beachhead could be seen through these glasses from this high ground. Craig 1952.
51. Van Stockum.
52. 3d MarDiv SAR, OpNarrative, 6.
53. Takeda Letter.
54. Casualty figures for the 3d MarDiv (Reinf) for the period 25-27Jul44 were reported as 166 KIA, 645 WIA, and 34 MIA. The majority of these casualties were incurred during the counterattack period. 3d MarDiv D-3 Periodic Rpts 5-7.
55. Ltr CG, 3d MarDiv to distribution list, 26Jul44, in D-1 Jnl.
56. 3d MarDiv DefOrder 1, 26Jul44, in D-1 Jnl.
57. IIIAC C-3 Jnl.
58. 1st ProvMarBrig WD, 1Jul-10Aug44, 10.
59. 1st ProvMarBrig Jnl.
60. Fire delivered in such a manner that it falls similar to mortar fire is called high-angle fire. Its use is appropriate when firing into or out of deep defilade, sharply eroded terrain, or over high terrain features near friendly troops.
61. TkCo, 22d Mar SAR, 5.
62. Ltr Maj S. A. Todd to author, 21Jan52.
63. 1st ProvMarBrig WD, 1Jul-10Aug44, 10.
64. Casualties as of 1800, 26 July were: KIA 247, WIA 960, and MIA 59. IIIAC C-2 Jnl.
65. 1st ProvMarBrig Jnl.
66. 22d Mar Unit Rpts.
67. TkCo, 4th Mar SAR, 14.
68. 1/4 WD, 30May-9Sept44, 5.
69. 1st ProvMarBrig Unit Rpts.
71. 2/22 Jnl.
72. TkCo, 4th Mar SAR, 14.
73. 1st ProvMarBrig OpOrder 27, 30Jul44; IIIAC Arty WD, July 1944, 3; Ferguson Interview.
74. 1st ProvMarBrig Jnl.
75. TkCo, 4th Mar SAR, 15.
76. 2/22 Jnl.
77. 22d Mar Unit Rpts.
78. 1st ProvMarBrig Unit Rpts.
79. 1st ProvMarBrig WD, 1July-10Aug44, 12; CTG 53.2 OpRpt, OpNarrative, 21-23; 1st ProvMarBrig Jnl.
80. 1st ProvMarBrig Jnl.
81. CTG 53.2 OpRpt, OpNarrative, 23.
82. On 21 June 1898 the first American flag was raised over Guam at Fort Santa Cruz, signifying the bloodless capture of the island. At the time of the American landing in 1944, the fort was a low-lying mass of ruins on the coral reefs near the center of Apra Harbor, and 1,200 yards from Sumay. Its derelict condition and periodic inundation by the sea rendered it ineffectual for use as a Japanese strong point.
83. 1st ArmdAmphGru Action Rpt, 2. The tanks poured 600 rounds of 37mm and 10,000 rounds of .30-caliber machine-gun fire into the ruins of the fort.
84. IIIAC C-2 Jnl.
85. Lt M. Kaufman, "Attack on Guam," MC Gazette, April 1945, 63.
86. 1st ProvMarBrig OpOrder 27, 30Jul44.
87. 1st ProvMarBrig Unit Rpts.
88. The landing of this plane disappointed several Marine officers who had laid plans to insure that the first plane to land on Orote would be flown by a Marine. VMO-1, which was embarked on a CVE, had been alerted but the Navy plane landed before the VMO-1 pilot arrived over the field. Ltr Col F. P. Henderson to CMC, 21Nov52.
89. IIIAC OpOrder 7-44, 30Jul44.
90. 1st ProvMarBrig Jnl.
91. 3d Mar SAR, 3.
92. 3d MarDiv D-3 Jnl.
93. 3d TkBn SAR, 8.
94. 9th Mar SAR, 2.
95. 3d MarDiv D-3 Jnl.
96. 2/9 SAR, 4.
97. This is the general line that was to be reached at 1800 on W-Day by the 3d Marines. Aplington.
98. 3d MarDiv D-2 Periodic Rpt 74.
99. 3d MarDiv D-3 Jnl.
100. 2/3 Jnl.
101. Ltr Col R. E. Cushman, Jr. to CMC, 8Oct52.
102. LtCol R. E. Cushman, "The Fight at Fonte," MC Gazette, April 1947, 16.
103. 9th Mar SAR, 2-3.
104. IIIAC C-3 Jnl; Craig 1952.
106. 9th Mar SAR, 3.
107. 21st Mar SAR, 6.
108. 3d MarDiv SAR, OpNarrative, 6.
110. Cushman, op. cit.
111. The ships were maneuvered along the coast to enable them to fire on Japanese defensive positions on the reverse slopes of the plateau. 2/9 SAR, 5.
113. 3d MarDiv D-2 Periodic Rpt 75.
114. 3d MarDiv D-1 Jnl.
115. 3d MarDiv D-3 Jnl.
116. 77th Inf Div G-3 Jnl.
117. Ltr Col W. F. Coleman to CMC, 1947, hereinafter cited as Coleman.
118. 77th InfDiv OpRpt, 3; LtCol F. C. Bridgewater, "Reconnaissance on Guam," The Cavalry Jnl, May-June 1945, 46-48.
119. 77th InfDiv G-3 Jnl.