Flashback: Action at Arawe

Concept of Mission

The Arawe operation began eleven days before the Marines' initial landing at Cape Gloucester, and lasted until long after the last Japanese had been cleared out of the northern portion of western New Britain. It took place at all only as a sort of makeshift afterthought on the part of ALAMO Force planners; yet it was conceived as an integral part of the over-all New Britain campaign and as such deserves treatment in these pages, even at risk of confusing the general chronology.

Because the operation did not add up to a great deal, strategically or tactically, and the scale of fighting was overshadowed by that which took place on the island's opposite shore, many observers tended to discount it as a sort of comic opera interlude wherein a Japanese force numbering few more than 1,000 at maximum strength check-mated more than 5,000 U.S. troops. The Japanese, on their part, regarded it as a victory; one of sufficient importance to earn their commander on the scene the signal honor of two commendations from the Emperor himself.

Both conceptions oversimplify. No operation is especially comical to the troops participating, and the Americans who fought at Arawe (more properly, Cape Merkus) performed successfully every task assigned them; indeed, everything that the very limited nature of their mission permitted them to attempt. Thus, the "victory" aspect existed only in the imagination of the Japanese, since in actuality they accomplished nothing of the slightest importance. As a diversionary action, the invasion implicated one Japanese battalion1 which otherwise could have fought at Cape Gloucester, and the Arawe landing's indirect contribution to the ultimate destruction of enemy air power in New Britain would be difficult to overestimate.

As brought out in discussion of planning for the New Britain operation, the Gasmata phase had been cancelled and the target shifted to Arawe as less formidable, yet possessing the sheltered waters that the Navy wanted for development of a PT boat base. That Arawe also boasted an airstrip of sorts was a coincidence destined to have some curious repercussions: making a Japanese hero of Major Shinjiro Komori, and causing considerable embarrassment to General MacArthur's public relations staff. The


ARAWE FROM THE AIR. U.S. main line of resistance lay across neck of hook-shaped peninsula in center. (AF Photo.)

mission assigned the task force (coded DIRECTOR) was merely to "seize and defend a suitable location for the establishment of light naval facilities;" that, and to reconnoiter westward to determine the feasibility of a supply route up the valley of the Itni River for possible use in operations against Cape Gloucester.2

Arawe Z-Day

Designated on 30 November3 to accomplish this simple mission was the 112th Cavalry RCT, reinforced, commanded by Brigadier General Julian W. Cunningham, USA, a unit inexperienced in combat and lacking amphibious training, with little chance for acquiring much now, Z-Day being set for 15 December. That a foul-up might occur appeared something more than a remote possibility.

Nature contributed a few additional difficulties. Although amphibious scouts had been ashore briefly a few days before, the off-lying waters had not been explored, and there was no certainty that landing craft could reach shore through the complex of uncharted reefs known to exist. The plan, therefore, called for two smaller groups to land on subsidiary beaches in rubber boats from APD's, while the main force came in on LVT's to the western shore of Cape Merkus. These amtracks included 10 Buffaloes and 29 Alligators, manned by Company A, 1st Amphibian Tractor Battalion, 1st Marine Division, and traveled to the scene aboard USS Carter Hall, one of the new LSD's (landing ship, dock).

To get the terribly vulnerable rubber boats ashore, General Cunningham chose to rely on surprise rather than strength: landing under cover of darkness with no forewarning.


SHORTLY AFTER THE ARAWE landing beach markers were erected and supply craft moved in. (AF Photo.)

"Although it was considered that the moonlight might prevent surprise, the Landing Force Commander desired to attempt it without any preliminary bombardment."4 The group designated for nearby Pilelo Island landed successfully unopposed and destroyed a small party of the enemy. But moonlight disclosed the boats of the other group about 100 yards short of the eastern beach, where the Japanese took them under heavy, partially enfilading machine-gun and what was estimated to be 37mm fire.5

Destroyer USS Shaw lay some 3,000 yards offshore in this sector, prepared to deal with targets of opportunity, but in the uncertain light her gunners could not discern the boats against the darkly jungled shore, nor immediately spot the source of enemy fire; hence, held their own fire for many agonizing minutes until sure of not hitting friendly troops.6 Once she opened, Shaw silenced the enemy with two salvos. By then, however, the soldiers had suffered many casualties, most of the boats had been sunk, and the survivors were intent only on getting away from there.7 General Cunningham, understandably irked, had some bitter comments to make regarding Shaw's delay in opening fire, which he declared endured for 20 minutes.8

He also had a few things to say about the delay in the main landing, evidently the result of a combination of factors. The amphibian tractors were launched so far from their target as to require one and a half hours for their approach, during which time the different speeds of the two types of vehicle caused the formation to become overextended and generally fouled-up.9 The landing


Map 17
(Cape Merkus)

was scheduled for after daybreak, to be preceded by 15 minutes of naval gunfire by the supporting destroyers. Brigadier General W. F. Heavey, commanding officer of 2d Engineer Special Brigade, was observing the operation from aboard a submarine chaser and became concerned over the possibility of the faster Buffaloes reaching the beach simultaneously with the friendly preparatory fire, so intercepted the leaders and ordered them to halt.10 This relieved the confusion not at all, and further delays ensued for which General Cunningham, evidently unaware of General Heavey's action, blamed the Navy.

But for all this unpropitious beginning, the story had a happy ending. The fire of the destroyers, though postponed, was extended in duration and proved eminently satisfactory. Air strikes and rocket barrages from close in took up where the shelling left off; whatever Japanese might have been on hand betook themselves elsewhere, and the horseless cavalrymen landed unopposed.

They found themselves on a roughly crescent-shaped terrain feature terminating in Cape Merkus, which connected with the mainland via a narrow neck called Arawe11 Peninsula in most of the reports (see Map 17). The soldiers reached this readily defensible ground by mid-afternoon, capturing three unemplaced mountain guns and mopping up a few stragglers along the way, and set immediately about digging positions and clearing fields of fire. With capture of offlying islands by patrol action, this completed their main mission, as the land thus secured afforded control of the area wanted by the Navy for PT boat facilities.

The First Twelve Days

But if the Japanese ground defense of Arawe appeared pretty feeble, the violence of their reaction by air exceeded all expectations. Daylight attacks on the beachhead began within a few hours of the landings and persisted with little noticeable diminution for a week, as many as 100 planes of all types coming over in a single raid:12 far heavier opposition than the enemy had offered at Bougainville or the operations in northern New Guinea. This gave rise to some serious concern regarding their capabilities for opposing the Cape Gloucester invasion, if the seizure of a comparatively unimportant place like Arawe could rouse them to such frenzy.

Actually, considering the compact nature of the target, these attacks were almost grotesquely ineffective, the most serious loss occurring at the 29th Evacuation Hospital where two men were killed and four wounded on Z-plus 213 and 18 tons of medical supplies destroyed four days later.14 But their intensity and persistence worked serious nerve strain on the men on the ground, until, like troops under almost any conditions, they began to become acclimated. Then, as fighter cover and antiaircraft fire shot down the attacking planes, and South Pacific fliers increased the effectiveness of their attacks on Rabaul airfields from the new Bougainville bases, the raids on Arawe diminished until at length they petered out altogether.

In the meanwhile, patrols of the 112th Cavalry, sometimes accompanied by ANGAU officers, explored the country beyond the defense line in an effort to contact the enemy, locate trails15 and bring in friendly natives


for rehabilitation. One such group, operating some four miles to the east, discovered the so-called Lupin Airdrome.

This was perhaps the most useless piece of real estate in the whole region. Constructed in 1937 as an emergency landing strip (600 x 60 yards) on the route between New Guinea and Rabaul, it had been used only once prior to the war, by a single light plane. When forced to evacuate New Britain, Australians had plowed deep furrows across the runway to make it unserviceable. Since it offered no possibilities for enlargement or improvement, the Japanese had not bothered to repair it, and now tall kunai grass overgrew furrows and all.16

The patrol went on about its business, monumentally unimpressed with its find, but on its return the leader naturally reported where he had been and what he had seen. Nothing in DIRECTOR Task Force orders stipulated that the useless field should be seized; even if it had been good, the commanding general would not have wanted it at this time, owing to its distance from the beachhead and the impossibility of including it within a defensive perimeter with the number of troops available. However, seizure of enemy air facilities always has news value. So some zealous public relations officer at one of the higher echelons promoted that beat-up kunai patch to the rank of "airdrome" and released word of its "capture" to newspaper and radio correspondents.

During the first week or so following the landing, U.S. patrols roamed at will through the territory to the eastward, making only rare contact with occasional stragglers. On 24 December General Cunningham reported his casualties as 25 killed in action, 71 wounded and 27 missing. In return for these losses, Americans estimated 78 Japanese dead by the 22d.17 These were identified as personnel of the 115th Infantry and 14th Field Artillery Regiments,18 which caused some confusion and difficulty in estimating enemy's total numbers, as Allied intelligence had previously identified both units as operating in northern New Guinea.

But signs began to occur indicating that this early quiet would be short-lived. Patrol contacts to the east became more frequent. During the night of 25/26 December, an enemy force estimated to number 100 made a determined assault on the main line of resistance across the neck of the peninsula and was repulsed with some difficulty, 12 infiltrators being killed within the U.S. positions. The same night an advance observation post at Mio, near the mouth of the Sigul River, reported itself surrounded, though men and equipment successfully evacuated by water the following day.19

On 27 December the task force announced that the Japanese had seized the villages of Meselia and Umtingalu, west of the airstrip, and U.S. outposts and patrols were withdrawn within the MLR. Documents captured in a clash near the latter village identified the enemy elements participating as belonging to the 1st Battalion, 81st Infantry, and the 81st Naval Defense Unit. Since the main strength of these was believed to be at Gasmata, General Cunningham drew the not illogical deduction that reinforcements were being moved into the area from that point.20


THE 112TH CAVALRY RCT moves through an Arawe coconut plantation. (Army Photo.)

In the meanwhile, an unexpected contact had occurred many miles to the west. An amphibious patrol of 19 men, including an ANGAU officer and four natives, proceeding in two LCVP's toward the Itni River to carry out the task force's secondary mission, was attacked suddenly at dawn of 18 December near Cape Peiho by seven armed Japanese barges packed with troops. In attempting to fight their way through the enemy formation, both landing craft ran aground and were destroyed.21 Observation of continued barge activity along this stretch of coast led General Cunningham to report on 27 December that the enemy were probably pouring in fresh troops from the Itni region22 as well as Gasmata. He requested reinforcements at once, and Company G, 158th Infantry arrived on 27 December, followed by the remainder of 2/158 on 5 January 1944.23

Enter Tobuse and Komori

As may be deduced from description of Japanese dispositions in Chapter IV, the


force carried in the embattled enemy barges comprised the advance echelon of Major Asyuki Tobuse's 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry, hurrying from Cape Bushing to reinforce the Merkus garrison in accordance with General Matsuda's orders. And the unit operating east of the U.S. perimeter was the 1st Battalion, 81st Infantry under Major Shinjiro Komori which had moved overland via the rough and mountainous cross-island trail from Iboki on the north coast.

Komori had been en route since early in the month and arrived within earshot of the air and naval gunfire preparation for the landing on the 15th. Pressing on he reached the village of Didmop on the Pulie River some ten miles northeast of the perimeter, where he paused to reorganize and to rally the retiring survivors of the original garrison. Delayed by difficult terrain and river crossings, he did not move into attacking position until the 25th, when he launched the abortive night assault previously mentioned. That a Japanese commander should not hesitate to hurl a single understrength battalion (less one company) against a reinforced RCT in prepared positions is in keeping with the tactical concepts of those people. That the attack "did not succeed" as Komori himself put it,24 is even less surprising.

This repulse made Komori sufficiently prudent to defer further attacks until the arrival of Major Tobuse's battalion, which

THE ARMY AT ARAWE had trouble with mud, too. (Army Photo.)


had become lost cutting its way through trackless jungle from its landing place at Omoi, some eight miles to the northwest. The two units made contact on 28 December, and Komori as senior officer assumed command of the combined force. But conferences with his fellow major decided him against any further attacks on that strongly manned MLR across the peninsula's narrow neck. Perhaps they had heard the triumphant U.S. broadcast regarding the "capture" of the "airdrome" and concluded that if the Americans thought it that important, the principal mission of the Japanese force was to prevent their enemy from using it. With this end in view, they set about preparing to contain the invaders on the narrow peninsula.

Their tactical dispositions showed considerable ingenuity. In the high ground 600 to 700 yards from the U.S. main line of resistance they established, not a single consolidated position, but a series of alternate positions from which they could place harassing mortar and automatic-weapons fire on the invaders, simply moving from one to another when spotted by the Americans.25 And so cleverly did they take advantage of terrain and concealment that spotting became very difficult. Some conception of what Cunningham was up against is conveyed by the commanding general's own words:

"This is not an organized position in the accepted sense of the word, it consists apparently of shallow trenches and deep fox holes. . . . The ground is covered with a thick green mat about 12 to 18 inches in depth which makes observation absolutely impossible. . . . Officers and men . . . report that they have not seen a single Japanese and that they are unable to locate machine guns firing on them from a distance of 10 to 20 yards."26

For several days following Tobuse's arrival, contact was limited to random skirmishing. On 4 January Komori reported repulsing a strong attack and two days later received his first citation from the Emperor for this achievement. On the 5th he set total Japanese losses to date as 65 killed, 57 wounded and 14 missing, in addition to 10 died of illness. Meanwhile the Americans continued to shell his positions so heavily and persistently that by the 9th he confessed himself "getting a little annoyed with it."

On the opposite side of the perimeter, General Cunningham, on his part, was getting more than a little annoyed with Komori. Understanding his mission to be essentially defensive now that its primary object had been achieved, it never occurred to him that he was facing a "victorious" opponent (by Imperial accolade). Instead, he regarded the Japanese as no more than an unmitigated nuisance so long as they remained within harassing range. To put an end to this state of affairs, he attempted "three distinct sorties," but "the mission of driving the enemy out of position has not been accomplished and in my opinion cannot be accomplished by ground troops as now organized without prohibitive cost." He requested tanks and increased air support for his next attempt.27

The tank unit most readily available was Company B, 1st Tank Battalion, a component of the 1st Marine Division which had been left behind at Finschhafen because of transportation shortage and limited range for tank operations in the inhospitable terrain of the Cape Gloucester region. Accordingly, this organization was attached in toto to DIRECTOR Task Force on 11 January and reached Arawe via LCT the following day.28

Company B was equipped with light tanks: M3A1's, mounting 37mm guns. Preparatory to the attack, officers and men spent three days in active reconnaissance and drill in tank-infantry tactics with the Army unit assigned for the mission: 2d Battalion, 158th Infantry. The plan called for two tank platoons


MARINE TANKS of Company B, 1st Tank Battalion supporting the Army advance at Arawe. (Army Photo.)

in assault and one in reserve, each attached to one infantry company.

Following intensive air and artillery preparation, the attack jumped off at 0800 on 16 January with ten tanks in line across a 500-yard front, each supported by approximately one squad of foot soldiers. Difficult terrain and stubborn enemy resistance slowed the advance to a crawl. Tanks bogged down in soft ground and bomb craters, while jungle undergrowth impeded progress and heightened the difficulties of tank-infantry cooperation.

Two machines were hit but soon retrieved. A section of the reserve moved out to overcome a pocket of resistance some 500-yards beyond the line of departure, and the assault elements overran all opposition, destroying the enemy's prepared positions and crushing numerous automatic weapons and one 75mm mountain gun, to reach the predetermined objective at about 1600. Since no part of the plan called for holding this exposed position with the limited force available, the attackers withdrew at leisure to the MLR after destroying two of their own tanks which had become hopelessly bogged down, satisfied that their enemy had been dealt a staggering blow.29

Komori Makes a Noble Resolve

The following day the tanks of Company B's reserve platoon moved out with flame throwers to eliminate a small pocket of resistance which the enemy had reoccupied during the night, but encountered no other trace of the Japanese.

For Komori had withdrawn his remnants in fairly good order, determined, as he radioed brigade headquarters, to "fight till the glorious end to defend the airfield." Telegraphic orders the following day made


this mission official, with the admonition " . . . upset the enemy plan to construct an airfield." Inasmuch as the "enemy" had no such plan, action that followed partook of the nature of shadowboxing. Nevertheless, Komori's dispatches to higher headquarters for the next three weeks continued to emphasize the fact that the airfield was still in Japanese hands. In recognition of this notable achievement, he received a second Imperial citation, relayed by 17th Division headquarters, on 7 February. The U.S. press and radio, having reported capture of the field back in December, grew more and more bewildered--and said so.

The tank-infantry attack that cleared out all the Japanese within harassing range cost General Cunningham's command 20 killed and 40 wounded. He estimated enemy killed at 55 and took one prisoner of war.30 Major Komori did not report his losses for this particular action but listed his total losses to date on 21 January as 116 killed and 117 wounded, which conveys some idea of the nature of the fighting here as compared with that taking place simultaneously at Cape Gloucester, where on several occasions twice that number of the enemy were killed in a single day's action.

How many men Komori commanded at any time remains problematical as no captured documents enumerated these, but it appears unlikely that their numbers ever greatly exceeded 1,000.31 With these he had to guard his approaches from several directions as well as handle the difficult distribution of supplies over an extensive area--when there were any supplies to distribute. Early in the operation, the force had been supplied by air drop, often in daylight within view of the Americans, and many barges had stolen in from Gasmata under cover of darkness with food and ammunition, evacuating wounded and sick on their return trip. But as Allied grip tightened on sea and air, Komori became increasingly dependent on the trickle which found its way over the tortuous trail from Iboki. Carrying and distributing these supplies imposed still more of a drain on his manpower, and he withdrew his headquarters to Didmop to give more attention to this phase, leaving direct defense of the airfield to Major Tobuse.

Disillusionment of a "Hero"

Fighting deteriorated into a matter of rare patrol contacts and random skirmishing; of ambush and counterambush. A strong U.S. combat patrol drove Major Tobuse's "defenders" from the airfield to alternate covering positions 300 yards to the west and ranged on all the way to the Pulie river unmolested. But when the Americans displayed no slightest interest in the precious airfield itself, in defense of which the Japanese were prepared to "fight till the glorious end," it began to dawn belatedly on Komori that his mission might have certain quixotic aspects. Meanwhile his sick list mounted as the shortage of food and medical supplies became increasingly acute.

When arrival of fresh radio batteries on 5 February enabled him to resume interrupted communications with 17th Division headquarters,32 he concluded a gloomy situation report:

At present, the airfield is covered with grass 4 to 5 [feet] high. The airfield, 200 m [sic] in width 800 m in length, will be serviceable only for small airplanes. However, it will take quite some time to develop it. Consequently, I believe that it will not be of great value.

He had received copy of orders governing withdrawal of General Matsuda's force from


the Borgen Bay area to the Talasea-Gasmata line as early as 22 January, and began casting envious eyes in the same direction. On 8 February he hinted more broadly to that effect:

As has been reported, the value of Merkus airfield is so insignificant that it seems the enemy has no intention of using it. . . . Due to damage sustained by enemy bombardments and to the increased number of patients, it becomes more and more difficult to carry out the present mission. . . . It is my opinion that as the days pass, replenishment of supplies will become more and more difficult and fighting strength will be further diminished; our new line will be cut off and consequently leave us with no alternative but self-destruction.

Division headquarters, however, was not impressed, and a telegraphic response the following day ordered him curtly to continue his mission. "Wondered what to do about the order all night long," Komori recorded in his diary. "Could not sleep last night. . . . I felt dizzy all day today."

He was cheered briefly when some of Tobuse's people ambushed an American patrol, killing two, wounding two and capturing two "automatic rifles" (probably Tommy guns). But the inconsiderate enemy retaliated next day, killing a valued sergeant major, another sergeant and a runner, and chasing a supply detail so deep into the jungle that two days were required to extricate it. Some of his own men broke into a warehouse to loot the meager stores remaining.

COCONUT TREES AT ARAWE suffered from bombing and artillery fire. (Army Photo.)


Despairing of further succor by sea, on 18 February he began evacuation of his hospital patients overland via the difficult trail toward Iboki.

At last, on 24 February, he received the overdue warning order to prepare for his own retirement and promptly alerted his units. This was implemented early the following morning by receipt of 17th Division Operation Order A Number 106 directing him to fall back and join Colonel Jiro Sato, then at Upmadung collecting supplies preparatory to covering the 65th Brigade's further withdrawal. At once Komori ordered in all detachments33 and had his forward echelon in motion within a few hours.

In the meanwhile, the Americans had been organizing for another attack designed to clear the whole area, once and for all. On 27 February two platoons of Company B, 1st (Marine) Tank Battalion, moved out in support of the 2d Squadron, 112th Cavalry and reached the airfield, which Major Tobuse had quit by order the previous day, without encountering so much as an enemy straggler.34 However, a patrol pushing farther toward the Pulie River came up with the rear elements of Tobuse's force en route to join Komori at Didmop and wounded three Japanese in the last armed encounter to occur in the region.35

The Arawe operation was over.

Major Komori put his own headquarters on the trail at 0630 on 28 February, "leaving behind the graves of 150 men," as he recorded in writing finis to his futile, impossible mission.

He was not sorry to leave; at least, not then.


Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (8) * Next Chapter (10)


1. 1st Bn 141st Infantry (less 1 Co) with estimated strength of about 400. Rest of Japanese troops who fought at Arawe had been committed to that area prior to the U.S. landing and were beyond reinforcing distance to Cape Gloucester.

2. DIRECTOR TF FO No. 1, 4Dec43; ALAMO G-3 No. 5, No. 6.


4. 7th Amphibious Force Arawe Operation Report, hereinafter cited as 7th AmF Arawe, 5.

5. Cunningham, Memo for Gen Krueger, 16Dec43, hereinafter cited as Cunningham Memo: ALAMO G-3, No. 8.

6. 7th AmF Arawe, 5.

7. 12 of 15 boats sunk. 16 of 152 men killed or missing. SC-699 rescued 71 from the water under fire. Morison, op. cit., 375.

8. Cunningham Memo. Air Liaison Officer aboard flagship with the general estimated the delay as 8 minutes. (Report Maj A. J. Baley, ALAMO G-3: No. 8.)

9. 7th AmF Arawe, 6.

10. Heavey, Report on Landing, 16Dec43; ALAMO G-3 No. 8. Personnel of 2d Engineer Special Brigade operated the landing craft which followed the LVT's in to the beach.

11. Properly the name Arawe applied to the group of islands lying offshore, and to one of these in particular. Japanese reports refer to the region as Merkus.

12. ALAMO Force G-2 Summary of Information 21-22Dec43: ALAMO G-3 No. 9.

13. Cunningham to Krueger, 17Dec43: ALAMO G-3 No. 8.

14. Cunningham Progress Report to CG ALAMO, 24Dec43: ALAMO G-3, No. 12.

15. Especially the trans-island trail to Iboki, over which it was thought the Japanese might move troops and supplies from the north coast--as indeed they did (see below). Existence of this trail was known from a captured document which mapped and described the entire route. G-2 Summary of Information, 20-21Dec43: ALAMO G-3, No. 8.

16. ALAMO Terrain Report, Arawe, 26Nov43 ALAMO G-3, No. 5.

17. Cunningham to CG ALAMO, Progress Rpt, 24 Dec43: ALAMO G-3, No. 11.

18. As noted in Chap IV, these were casual elements separated from their parent units owing to transportation difficulties and became incorporated subsequently in organizations operating on New Britain. At Arawe Japanese designated them respectively Fukushima and Mishina Units after their commanding officers, both 1stLts. (POW's 297, 299, 978, 990.) Estimates of garrison strength at time of landing varied widely, but it probably aggregated around 300. ALAMO G-3 No.'s 8-13, passim.

19. ALAMO G-3, No. 13.

20. Ibid. Especially ALAMO G-2 Weekly Rpt No. 21.

21. Prov Boat Co Arawe Rpt to CG 2d ESB, 28Dec43. Earlier reports were highly contradictory on all details of the incident, one such declaring that a native guide was the sole survivor. ALAMO G-3, No.'s 8-10, passim. Actually the entire party escaped with only four wounded.

22. ALAMO G-3, No. 13.

23. ALAMO G-3, No's 11-13 passim.

24. Diary of Maj Komori, ATIS 999, 5, hereinafter cited as Komori Diary. Except as otherwise noted, Japanese side of the Arawe operation herein related stems from this unusually interesting and very human document.

25. As a later U.S. report states: "The enemy has repeatedly occupied and evacuated positions in this manner during the Arawe campaign; presumably this type of maneuver is intended to be harassing defensive tactics." ALAMO G-2 Daily Rpt. 9Feb44; ALAMO G-3 No., 21.

26. BrigGen Cunningham, Rpt to CG ALAMO Force, 6Jan44.

27. Ibid.

28. Co B, 1st Tank Bn, SAR.

29. Ibid. Apart from estimating the 10 attacking tanks as "several dozen." Maj Komori's account of this action squares surprisingly well with that of his opponents, listing 2 U.S. tanks knocked out and two others hit and set afire, and one Japanese battalion gun destroyed.

30. ALAMO Sum Info, 16-17Jan44. ALAMO G-3 Op Rpt, 16-17Jan44. The prisoner was a member of 1/141 and declared gloomily that his unit has been virtually "annihilated" (a favorite Japanese expression) in the day's action. ALAMO Weekly Rpt No. 24. All sources in ALAMO G-3, No. 17.

31. Both infantry battalions were understrength to begin with and less one company each. Early U.S. estimates before identification of 1/141 placed Japanese strength as 837 to 907 and no reports estimated it above 1500.

32. Upon reaching Iboki the previous November, Komori had come under jurisdiction of Gen Matsuda's 65th Brig, and his early reports were addressed to that headquarters. With withdrawal of the Cape Gloucester force he appears to have passed again to control of 17th Div with which he communicated henceforth.

33. ATIS 937, 1.

34. Co B, 1st Tank Bn, SAR.

35. Komori Diary. No U.S. report mentions this incident.

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