Friday, April 24, 2015

Pullam's Pillbox

The troop shelter was concrete, reinforced and 4 feet thick. The G.I. who blew it open picked up an unexpected decoration.

By Sgt. Earl Anderson

With the 102nd Division in Germany–what do you do while you are waiting to be court-martialed for an offense having to do with a bottle of Calvados (as the French call applejack) and rude words with a major? Well, when Pvt. Mark Pullam was in this unenviable position, he whiled away his time helping take a Nazi pillbox.

Watching from an advanced OP in the Roer River area, you could see the landscape of a village up ahead flatten out from hour to hour like a pat of butter on a hot summer day. Infantrymen moved up to surround pillboxes, one by one, and sometimes they were pinned down in their advance by machine gun fire that gave the ground a GI haircut. The infantry couldn’t move in force until the pillboxes were knocked out.

Pullam’s pillbox was a Nazi troop shelter, large enough to hold a company. It was a square, squat box of reinforced concrete four feet thick, surmounting a ridge where it could give plenty of trouble. It was up to Lieutenant William O’Brien of Arlington, Massachusetts to knock it out. Pullam, of Woonsocket, Rhode Island was a volunteer on the detail; so was PFC. Charles W. Kirk of Newell, South Dakota.

Their team had one advantage: a demolition man had reached the pillbox earlier and blown its outer door. He had run out of explosives before he could take a crack at the second door leading to the inner chamber. Then Pullam had a try.

Ten rifleman held the line for him on his first attempt, but they weren’t enough. Jerry was laying down so much fire that two of the rifleman were wounded and had to be pulled out. Pullam meanwhile moved into a trench that ran around the pillbox. He reconnoitered it and made his way to the outer chamber. At the end was a grilled door. Pullam thought he heard some movement. “Somebody’s in here,” he called back to a rifleman just outside the shelter.

“Ja,” came a guttural answer from inside. Pullam figured that Jerry was warning the others, but he still wanted a good look at the chamber. He stuck his head around the corner and almost into the bore of a German rifle. The German jumped back, then fired and missed. Pullam retreated fast to the open air.

He knew the pillbox layout now. Next try he tossed a charge into the chamber against the far door and touched it off with a hang grenade. Smoke kept pouring out until the sun went down, and by that time it was too dark to tell how much damage had been done.

Six Americans were left around the pillbox. They took refuge in the surrounding trench and built mud barricades. As a full moon swung up through the sky, it robbed them of their protective shadow. They could see vague shapes moving in on them. One man covering the communications trench was hit twice by sniper bullets. They knew the Germans were just around the corner.

The German attack started about 0200 hrs. A short time later a renter moved out of the mud with orders for the Americans to retreat if attacked. They didn’t lose any time getting out. Their attempt to blow up the shelter was temporarily halted.

Pullam went back to his platoon CP. Lieutenant O’Brien was there, and they decided the job should be tried again in the morning. Pullam dragged himself into a corner and tried to grab some sleep.
By 0830, O’Brien, Pullam and Kirk had run and crawled through timefire to the fox holes underneath a haystack from which they plan to launch their second try. They brought with them 12 charges of composition C2, dynamite caps, primacord, fuses, igniters, time fuses and TNT. There would be flamethrowers in the hands of the infantry.

Kirk and Pullam, together with a volunteer who had offered to help carry some of the stuff, crowded in one foxhole under the haystack. Lieutenant O’Brien was in another. The infantry moved in with Pullam and Kirk, crouching in their hole, talked over the layout of the shelter. The dough-feet were backed by six Sherman tanks, but one Sherman nosed into a shell crater and stuck there. When the infantry reached the pillbox, the three combat engineers took off on their stomachs Pullam leading, followed by kirk and O’Brien.

“The infantry did a damn good job of covering us,” Pullam said later. "We made it to the shelter okay, and the lieutenant and me followed the trench to the shelter door. Kirk sat in a corner covering us. Lieutenant O’Brien reached around to push open the outer door. Just then I saw some kind of movement inside and grab for him. He was kneeling forward, holding himself up by his hand. A shot zinged between his hand and my foot and missed us both.

“I could see the inner door was open and partly sprung, and I figured the Jerries were shooting through there. So we moved back and opened up with hand grenades and flamethrowers. We kept yelling at them to come out, us and the infantry guys. We were really giving them hell.”

The Germans yelled back in good English that the door was jammed, but the Americans didn’t bite. They knew someone had come out during the night to close the outer door.

“It didn’t look like they were going to be smoked out,” Pullam went on, “so I grabbed two bags of explosives and started off for the opening. I was scared stiff, but I knew if I didn’t do it, Kirk or the lieutenant would and I didn’t want them to. I poked my head around the door, the smoke helping to conceal me. I gave the bags a swing and heaved them in right next to the door. Somebody threw in hand grenades and-boom-out came the door sailing through the air like a maple leaf.”

“Pullam almost went nuts for a minute there,” Kirk said. "He must’ve been too close to the concussion. I had to grab him to keep him from going in after the Jerries.

And the Jerries came out. There were 22 of them – not old man this time, but younger Nazis. The first one through the door could talk English. Pullam started to walk the prisoners back to the US lines, all except one whom Kirk held back to help him inspect the shelter and to field strip some German weapons to show they weren’t booby-trapped. The shelter was packed with guns and ammunition.
Pullam had gotten his prisoners about 60 or 70 yards from the shelter when the Germans from other emplacements opened machine gun fire on their own men. None was hurt. Pullam dived into a shellhole on top of a dead G.I. Then he climbed out and rounded up his prisoners again.

That evening, Pullam and Kirk were fingering through a helmet full of trinkets in the basement of an army occupied farmhouse. They helmet held souvenirs they had picked up in the captured German shelter.

“Look at this,” said Private Pullam rummaging through the odds and ends. “Here’s an American good conduct ribbon. I never thought I’d get one of these.” And he went back to sweating out his court-martial.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Five-Day Attack on Hastings Ridge

The Five-Day Attack on Hastings Ridge
by Sgt. Mack Morris
WITH U. S. OCCUPATIONAL FORCES ON NEW GEORGIA —Hastings Ridge is just a little place, a sort of quiver in the convulsions of New Georgia's terrain.

If the rough coral slopes were leveled and the steel-scarred trees were cleared away, there might be room for a football field, certainly nothing larger.

Yet the Ridge was literally crawling with Japs--one machine-gun company and one rifle company at least. For five days the Infantry attacked it and when they gained a foothold, they fought all day and all night and then the next day to hold it.

In the jungle, war is always a personal sort of thing, one man against another. On Hastings Ridge it reached a point where individual action and individual courage were knitted together in two- and three-man units of assault, pitted against similar little units of Japs crouched in pillboxes.  And the best fighters won because they cooperated with each other best.

On the first day S/Sgt. Clarence Terry of Arco, Idaho, worked his platoon up the Ridge. Two of his sergeants were ahead of him, almost on top of a Jap pillbox, working together as a team. They were using grenades and rifles, and when Sgt. Robert Chambers of Bend, Oreg., ran out of grenades, he called for his buddy to throw him more. The other sergeant tossed them forward and as he did a Jap rifleman in the pillbox shot him through the chest. The sergeant was on his feet, and when the bullet bit into him he wheeled to face the Jap and yelled like a man fouled in a fist fight: "Why, you dirty little bastard!" He raised his rifle, started forward and fell dead.

Chambers, a few feet away, went blind mad. He hurled two grenades into the Jap position as though he were stoning a snake, then leaped into the pillbox with his trench knife. When he came out, he crouched over his teammate but there was no heartbeat; he had done all he could.

Terry, in the meantime, was kept busy by a machine-gun pillbox that had pinned him down behind a tree.  As he fired with a tommy gun he saw Chambers start down toward him and yelled a warning. Chambers hit the ground—a shallow fold in the coral—as the Jap gun swung toward him. Terry breathed easier. Then, seconds later, Pfc. Bob Russell, also of Bend, followed Chambers. Terry yelled again and Bob hit the fold. With two men almost in the open before them, the Japs abandoned Terry. The cover was too slight to offer real protection and Terry saw Jap .31-cal-iber bullets rip into the ground and come lower and lower across the two backs until they actually were brushing the clothes of the men as they tried desperately to dig deeper.

Terry saw that the men were directly in front of a low brush pile and that just behind it was an empty foxhole. He yelled to them to edge backward and try to get to the hole. Chambers tried it but the brush stopped him, Jap bullets sprayed around his feet and he could only lie and hope with Russell.

As soon as Terry saw it was impossible for the men to slide backward, he found another solution. He called instructions to them, telling exactly how far they could move their legs and explaining his plan.

Then Terry leaped from behind the tree and let go a burst of .45 slugs at the pillbox. The Taps swung their gun toward him, and in the instant that the fire shifted, Chambers sprang backward across the brush pile and into the foxhole behind it. The Japs swung back on Russell, but half the plan had succeeded.

In a few minutes Terry leaped out again and fired, and Russell performed the back flip to safety. The platoon's teamwork was still clicking.

However, the initial American assault on Hastings Ridge had been stopped. The Infantry pulled back to gather itself for another try.

On the second day the Yanks sought to feel out the hill and spot each individual hole from which the Japs poured fire. In the dense undergrowth it was impossible to locate the Japs unless you got up within a few feet of them. A lieutenant and a sergeant pushing forward were nailed by a pillbox and probably never knew what hit them, or from where.

A scout named Herbert Hanson of Lincoln, Ark., stepped out from behind a tree and as he did a grenade exploded in his face. He dropped his rifle and without a word started back to the rear. The fragments had marked his face but had done nothing more.

Flame throwers were brought up in an effort to heat the Japs out of the ground, but without success; the flames couldn't get close enough.

So the Infantry butted and rammed and then retired.

For the next two days the Japs sat on Hastings Ridge and the Infantry sat on a hill opposite, not more than 100 yards away, and the two shot across at each other. Mortars and machine guns blasted into the Ridge until the trees broke out in thousands of brown spots and the limbs crashed down or teetered dangerously and became a menace themselves.

Then on the fifth day the stymied Infantry sent out patrols. The static war on the two hillsides, and in the draw between them, exploded with a suddenness that caught the Japs with their guard down. The attack on Hastings Ridge began to move.

The patrols were combat-reconnaissance. On such patrols, as the Infantry says, "you either do it or you don't," which means you strike if you think you can win, and if you don't think so, you report back with information and let it go at that.

Patrols went to right and left of the Ridge, and one patrol went straight up the hill. This patrol of 10 men, including a lieutenant known as the Mad Russian, was the one that cracked the thing wide open. Ten men alone didn't take the Ridge, but they gained the crest of it and held until the rest could get up there, take over and go on with them.

The Mad Russian was the patrol leader. Called Tym by his men, his full name is Walter Tymniak, and he is a graduate of the College of the City of New York, where he captained the water polo team. In the summer he was a lifeguard and after college he became an accountant in Manhattan, working nights.

Tym's right hand was a staff sergeant named LeRoy Norton, an ex-lumberjack from Bend, Oreg., who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism on Guadalcanal. His left hand was Pfc. John Cashman of Brooklyn, who used to be a press foreman on the New York Herald Tribune.

The patrol moved up the face of the slope in the early morning. Tym and Nort and Cash were together, and the rest went up as skirmishers, three on the right and four on the left. Their strongest weapon was the element of surprise and they guarded it well while they could.

They hit and destroyed three pillboxes before the Japs knew what it was all about. Altogether they knocked out nine pillboxes in six minutes, and Hastings Ridge was theirs.

Norton hit a machine-gun emplacement in which there were three Japs goggle-eyed and half asleep. He shot one of the three inside the foxhole and a fourth who came stumbling up the hillside from the rear, then swung back and killed the remaining two at the gun before they could collect themselves to fire a round. Pfc. Joe Shupe of Ogden, Utah, coming over from the left, joined him and together they moved on to the right to a .31-caliber machine-gun emplacement. Nort yelled to Tym that Japs were manning the gun, then with two bullets he put it out of action. Someone tossed him grenades and he threw them into the face of three Japs who were on the gun. Then he and Shupe moved on.

In the meantime Tym had grenaded out one position; to his right Pfc. Jose Cervantez of Solomonsville, Ariz., had shot out another with a BAR; to his right and in front of him the team of Pvt. Anton Dolecheck of Dickinson, N. Dak., and Ervin A. Bonow of Altura, Minn., had cleaned up two more. Tym, crouched near the mouth of a blasted-out pillbox, heard a rustling in the hole and looked in to see a Jap scampering for the opposite exit. The Mad Russian flipped in a grenade, almost indifferently, and then moved on to direct the fight.

Cashman had borrowed a clip of ammunition for his BAR from Shupe and as he saw a Jap raise his head, he fired a burst. The Jap was killed, but a ruptured cartridge jammed the gun. Cash burned his fingers pulling it out, then went on into the fight.  As he and Tym worked together, they sent in a volley of grenades. Seconds later the Japs countered with a grenade barrage of their own. When the explosions ceased, Cash stuck his head around a tree and grinned at Tym: "We musta peeved 'em off."

All this happened in six minutes, and the patrol of 10 had not been hurt. The crest of the hill itself was neutralized, but now came the problem of holding it. Cash went back to bring up the battalion commander, Lt. Col. David H. Buchanan of Blue-field, W. Va. Other fights raged on either side of Hastings Ridge, and "Col. Buch" got the lay of the land and went back to coordinate the action.

More men had to be brought up quickly, but the others in the company were on patrol to the right and left flanks, in the draws that led round Hastings Ridge, and they were having troubles of their own. So Cash went back to the company bivouac to find anybody who could handle a gun.

He came back with cooks and the permanent KPs, a machine-gun section from the weapons company, 1st Sgt. Armond Pearson of Spokane, Wash., and S/Sgt. Arthur Toothman of Kirkland, Wash., the mess sergeant.  These men were committed to die line.

By this time pillboxes over the crest of the ridge were causing trouble. Nort formed a patrol to wipe them out, with Cash and Shupe in it.  The patrol worked to a point within a few yards of the Jap guns. Then Shupe and another man were hit almost simultaneously. Cash got Shupe out and back to the aid station. The patrol withdrew, taking its other wounded with it, and the situation on Hastings Ridge settled down to a period of consolidating, digging in and blasting with the mortars.

During this action Terry was with the patrol on the right, stabbing at the flank of the Ridge. In the denseness of the jungle it was almost impossible for them to accomplish even a reconnaissance mission without moving blindly into the path of enemy fire. The Japs had the Ridge defended in concentric circles, roughly three deep stretching around the entire perimeter, and they could and did fire from anywhere.

Terry decided that burning the brush would help. Since flame throwers had been unsuccessful three days before, he sought another method.

He left the patrol, went back to the medics and gathered all the empty plasma bottles he could find. From Transportation he got gasoline to fill them. Then he took caps and fuses from hand grenades and fitted them into the tops of the bottles. Now he had Molotoff cocktails, made from the materials at hand.

There was one particular Jap in a pillbox who had caused too much trouble. The men called him "Button" because of his unusual accuracy with a rifle. Terry decided to work on Button. With S/Sgt. Eugene Pray of Moab, Utah, he moved up to a position behind a two-foot-thick banyan tree about 25 yards from the pillbox.

Feeling safe behind the tree, he and Pray, who was spotting for mortar fire, stood up and huddled close to each other. Button almost surprised them to death, literally, by firing a .25-caliber bullet through the tree, putting it between them and filling their necks with harmless splinters of wood and lead. Terry and Pray crouched down. Button's next shot, also through the tree, skinned across Pray's leg.

If Button hadn't been expert enough to hit the soft-wood banyan dead center, Terry figures he might have added two more men to his score for the day.

Thoroughly aroused, Terry brought his cocktails into action. Stepping from behind the tree he hurled first one and then a second gasoline-filled plasma bottle at the foxhole, then swore powerfully when both of them hit trees in front of their target.

He went back, got two more bottles and approached from another angle. Same thing—trees in the way. Button remained untouched but around him on two sides his precious camouflage blazed and melted away. Eventually that was his undoing.

Cashman, after rescuing Shupe from underneath the Jap machine guns, spent the rest of the day carting up ammunition to the men on the line. He helped bring up chow to the line, then sometime around dusk—he doesn't know exactly when—he collapsed from exhaustion.  He woke up at the aid station and the medics evacuated him to a hospital.

Arriving there, Cash talked for a few minutes with some of the wounded men from the outfit, who wanted to know how things were going. Then he pulled the casualty tag off his jacket, hitched a ride on a passing jeep and went back to the fight.

During the night the Japs, perhaps 15 of them, tried infiltration.

The American outfit, wise in jungle combat, makes a habit of remaining silent and stationary at night; then, if anything moves or makes a noise, it must be the enemy. This is a measure taken in self-defense, but apparently one man forgot it.

Lying in his foxhole, he looked up to see a dark figure approaching, walking straight upright. The infantryman, curious, demanded: "Who the hell are you?" The figure moved boldly up to him, dropped a grenade and moved on.

But in other foxholes on Hastings Ridge the men remembered the policy and adhered to it: absolute silence and immobility.

Sgt. George Ray of Walla Walla, Wash., occupied a hole with Bonow and Dolecheck. Three Japs moved toward them. When the first Jap reached the hole, Ray quietly spitted him on a bayonet. The second went down under a hand grenade. The third came on. Ray picked up his helmet and hurled it into the Jap's face. For a while no more Japs appeared. Then a grenade landed in the hole. Bonow was lying with his helmet between his legs and the grenade hit in the helmet, tearing his calf muscles almost completely away. Bonow kept silent. Dolecheck, next to him, knew he was hit but it was not until two hours later that Ray was aware of it. Bonow made no sound until he was evacuated next morning. Even a whispered word might have meant the death of all three.

In another foxhole a mortar shell tore off a man's arm below the elbow. His buddies were all around him, silent in the dark. Next morning they found he had bled to death, in silence.

The Japs were firing their knee mortars on a flat trajectory by placing the curved bases against the trunks of trees. One mortar shell hit a tree, took a freak hop and landed in the company CP. Art Toothman, the mess sergeant, was mortally wounded. Pearson, his closest friend, was badly wounded beside him. The company commander, 1st Lt. Charles J. Hastings of Walla Walla, for whom the Ridge was named, was hit.

Two men with them were unhurt. One was Pfc. Earl Addington of Maupin, Oreg. They say of Addington that he has a one-track mind—communications—and it must be true because his first act when the shell hit was to check the phone. The wire was dead. He crawled from the foxhole, traced the wire to the break, repaired it, returned and reported the line in.

All night long the outfit remained silent and stable, picking off the Japs as they crept forward. The Japs were trying to confuse the Americans and to break up their defense by provoking them into revealing their positions. Next morning one man found that he and a Jap had spent the night in adjoining foxholes, so close together that either could have raised his head and spit in the other's face.

And next morning the positions on Hastings Ridge were still intact. From there the American attack moved forward until eventually all of New Georgia was cleared of Japs.



Saturday, March 2, 2013

Schweinfurt Raid


The Eighth Air Force raid on Schweinfurt in southern Germany was probably the most devastating single air battle ever fought. We shot down 99 Nazi planes, scored 26 probable’s and damaged 17 others. It cost us 60 Flying Fortresses and two P-47 fighters (about $20,000,000 worth of equipment) and 593 men. But the raid crippled a vital German ball bearing plant and, according to Gen. H. H. Arnold, chief of the U.S. Army Air Forces, it would help save thousands of lives when Allied ground forces moved farther into Europe against the Nazis.

By Sgt. Walter Peters
A BOMBER BASE IN BRITAIN [By Cable]—It was still dark when they woke the crews. The fog lay thick and cold over the countryside that morning, and inside the barracks all was pitch black and silent except for the deep, steady breathing of the sleeping Fortress gunners.

I had been awake for some time and I heard the door of the next hut slam shut, and then the sound of footsteps outside. Someone struck a match and announced that it was 6 o'clock. Then the door opened and the lights went on, cold and glaring when viewed from a warm bed.

The squadron operations officer, bundled up warmly against the morning ‘s cold in a sheepskin jacket and flying boots, walked toward the center of the room. He started to read the list of names from a slip of paper, quietly so as not to wake up those who weren't flying that day.

"Baxter, Blansit, Cavanaugh, Hill, Sweeney,” he read. The men whose names were called sat up sleepily, slid their feet a little wearily to the cold floor and stayed there on the bunks, most of them, for a few seconds before getting dressed. They shivered in the damp and cold.

"Briefing's at 0730," the officer said. Then he went on to another hut.

The men dressed quietly, trying not to disturb those who could sleep a little later and secretly envying them.  Next to me bunked Sgt. Bill Sweeney, a former tire salesman and now a gunner. He lit a cigarette and came over to my bunk and said he thought this would be a fine day to christen his Fortress, which had made a dozen missions but until now was without a name. This was the first mission since the crew had decided a few days ago to name the ship YANK. I drew back the blackout curtain carefully and looked out at the gray morning. "It looks pretty foggy to me," I said. "You never can tell about English weather,” said Sweeney.  “You’re very god dam right you can't," said a sergeant gunner sitting on the next bunk. "You never can tell."

We headed for the combat mess. There, in the noise of conversation and the clatter of dishes, we had a big breakfast and polished it off with a cigarette before walking on to the briefing.

It was beginning to get light now. The briefing room, like the mess hall, was bright and noisy, until a mild-mannered Intelligence captain rose to speak. He had a long ruler in his hand and he kept toying with it as if it were a swagger stick.

Nobody knew where we were going, and there was a dead silence as he raised his ruler to the map. He pointed first to our base in Britain, then moved the ruler slowly over the North Sea into Belgium, as though he himself were exerting a tremendous effort to get us over the target.

The ruler moved through Belgium slowly and ate deeper and deeper into Germany until I thought for a moment we were being briefed for Austria. Way down in the southern reaches of Germany near Frankfort the ruler stopped. "This, gentlemen, is your target for today—Schweinfurt."

The men listened intently, leaning forward from the long rows of benches and chairs. The air was clouded now with cigarette smoke. "Schweinfurt," the captain continued, "is the most important target in all of Germany. We cannot go ahead with other targets until it is seriously crippled."

The gunner ahead of us strained forward to get a better view of the map. "Half of Germany's ball bearings," the captain went on, "are produced at Schweinfurt, and ball bearings are important to Hitler. If we destroy these factories, we will have crippled the enemy's production of tanks and planes and submarines to a very great degree. " Then the captain gave technical information about the target, the wind and the weather, and the briefing was over.

"I think this Schweinfurt is named after a very special kind of pig,” said one of the radio operators as we headed toward the truck. We rode up the taxi strips to our head stand, where the crew stood around the ship. Station time was 30 minutes ahead, and the guns, ammunition, radio and bomb bays had been checked.

The skipper of YANK was a 21-year-old giant from Monterey, Calif., Capt. Ivan Klohe. While we waited for the take-off he wrestled with the two waist gunners, Sgts. Charlie Hill and Edward Cavanaugh. Though Cavanaugh was only a little over 5 feet tall, he succeeded in pinning the captain's shoulder to the ground, and Hill put a deadly lock on the captain's legs. The rest of the crew stood by and cheered for the gunners.

Then station time was announced. The men, suddenly serious, took their positions in the ship. I climbed into the nose with Lt. Howard J. Zorn, the navigator, and Lt. Richard J. Roth, the bombardier. “The right gun's yours," Roth said.  YANK took its place on the runway.

Lt. Herbert Heuser, the co-pilot, announced over the interphone: There goes Piccadilly Queen." We watched as she sped down the black runway, at 50, 60, and then 90 miles an hour. It was a beautiful take-off.  So was ours.

About 11,000 feet the pilot told us to check our oxygen masks. We put them on. Heuser imitated a fireside chat over the interphone. "My friends," he began, and the crew ate it up. Then he sang, and Cavanaugh and Zorn chimed in occasionally with a razz berry, a hard sound to produce over the inter-phone. There were more songs from Hill, from Sweeney and from Sgt. Roy (Tex) Blansit, the top-turret gunner. The war seemed beautiful at that point

Our formation across the North Sea was perfect. We led the "Purple Heart" element, and in front of us the sky was literally clouded by B-17s. We counted as many as 100 and then quit counting. Zorn told us to look toward the long file of P-47 Thunderbolts on our right.  They left a beautiful silver vapor trail behind them.

At 1302 the captain warned that we were approaching enemy territory. We were above 20,000 feet and suddenly over the interphone somebody shouted: "Unidentified vessels down below." A couple of seconds later he said: They're shooting." "Why, the silly bastards," somebody else remarked.

By 1330 we were over Luxembourg. The sun was still with us, and the nose was so hot we didn't even bother using our electric suits. A pair of white silk gloves was enough to keep our hands warm. Enemy fighters were getting hot about that time, too.

Heuser did most of the calling, singing out the fighters' positions in a cool and undisturbed voice.From his place he could see all of the planes, and he didn't miss a German. "Fighter at 5 o'clock high. . . fighter at 10 o'clock . . . fighter at 8 o'clock low... fighter at 3 o'clock ... fighter at 12 o'clock.”

There were fighters everywhere, but mostly on our tail. The whole god dam Luftwaffe is out today," somebody said over the interphone. There were even Dornier bombers. There were single-engined ME-109s and twin-engined 110s. There were JU-88s and a few 190s. There were ME-210s and heaven only knows what else.

"This is nothing," Zorn said, evidently trying to calm me down. "We've seen worse on other raids. In about 25 more minutes well come to the target."

The captain put the Fort into a little evasive action, banking to the left and then to the right. On our right we sighted a huge column of smoke, like a great black cloud. That was the target. Liberators and Fortresses had passed the ball bearing works already, scoring hits on the plant.

The navigator told me to look out on the left side. A couple of planes were burning there, a Fort and an enemy fighter. Three white chutes and one brown were floating in the sky nearby. The whites belonged to our boys. Under the brown chute was a German flyer.

"When the hell are we getting over the target?" Time had crawled by in the last 15 minutes. In 10 more we'd be there. Heuser was still calling the fighters off. They were coming in from all sides now, but not too close.

Looking back through the fuselage, we could see Tex's legs, his left one planted on a box of caliber-50s, the right one lazily dangling into space. From the interphone we knew that Tex was very busy in his top turret. His gun was tracking fighters all around the clock. Occasionally he concentrated his fire toward the tail, where his friend Sweeney was busy shooting at the enemy as they queued up from the rear.

A JU-88 and a 190 attacked Sweeney's position from 4 and 9 o'clock high. Tex's guns worked fast. Both planes peeled off. The 190 shied off but the 88 returned from about 500 yards to the rear, flying smack at Sweeney.

Tex called out directions to Sweeney. "You're shooting at him just a little high. Get him lower. A little lower." The 88 came closer and lobbed two of the rockets the Germans are using now—deadly looking affairs shooting out like huge red flames.

Tex kept on guiding Sweeney over the interphone. "A little lower, Bill." Bill fired a little lower. The 88 wavered, flipped over, and Sweeney and Tex saw the German catch fire and trail smoke. Then there was one JU-88 less, and one less JU-88 crew;  they didn't get out.

Klohe headed the Fort northeast, hitting a straight course for the tall column of smoke 6,000 feet high that marked the target. At our level and even higher flak blackened the sky. Roth was ready. It was only a matter of 20 seconds before he released the bombs.

Then came a hell—great black balls of flak all around us. It seemed impossible to escape the barrage. We weren't having fighter trouble now; our enemy was flak and there was nothing we could do about it except to take evasive action. Klohe did just that, and he did it beautifully. It seemed a miracle that we ever escaped.

Suddenly we heard a loud, jangling noise, even above the roar of the four engines. I looked toward the navigator. A fragment of flak had broken through the plate glass at his side. Zorn lifted his head quickly, took off his gloves and fur cap, and felt around the part of his face not covered by the oxygen mask. He winked when he found that he was okay.

The flak had stopped now but enemy fighters and fighter-bombers were back again. Heuser, too, was back on the job. "Fighter at 11 o'clock," Heuser announced.  Zorn tracked the German with his 50s until the plane was out of sight. "Fighter at 12 < o'clock," Heuser reported, and Roth followed him. "Fighter at 5 o'clock," and Sweeney was back at his guns. "Fighter at 2 o'clock," and I grabbed my gun and tracked the German until Heuser bawled me out for using too much ammunition. I stopped fast.

Now Heuser's voice again: "Fighter at 3 o'clock." Tex saw the fighter, recognized it as a 190 and waited until it came closer before letting loose a barrage. Sweeney congratulated him. From where Sweeney was, he could see the 190 spiral down and the pilot bail out. That was Jerry No. 2 for the boys of YANK.

A third fighter was claimed by Cavanaugh, the left-waist gunner, who bagged an 88. The plane went spinning toward the ground in flames but the crew of two bailed out. All this time Sgt. Ralph Baxter, the ball-turret gunner, and Hill in the right-waist position were engaging two 88s. Baxter had spotted the Germans diving after a lone B-17, forced out of formation with a feathered engine, and he called to Hill for a hand. Between them they saved the crippled Fort from destruction.

It was about 1650 now, as we were heading home, but the watch on the panel wasn't running any more. We cussed, and when some more fighters came at us, we cussed some more. A half hour later flak started bursting again, but it wasn't as heavy as the stuff at Schweinfurt. Zorn said he thought we were near Amiens, France.

Just then I heard another loud jangle of broken glass as flak hit the left front plate. Roth ducked, but Zorn went calmly about the business of navigating. I put on a helmet and then took it off a few seconds later; it interfered with my vision and I wanted to see. Roth picked up a piece of flak and handed it to me. "Maybe you'll want this for a souvenir," he said.

We tried guessing the time. I figured it was about 1730. We were well across the English Channel and in a few minutes the English coast would be in sight. Klohe began losing altitude. At 17,000 feet Roth and Zorn took off their masks, and I did, too. Zorn smiled.

Tired but happy voices began coming over the interphone. They were kidding again. Heuser sang. Zorn told us how sharpshooter Sweeney hadn't been able to hit a single skeet out of 15 a year ago. Somebody else kidded Tex because he was once rejected by the Army for flat feet. Cavanaugh gave the captain a riding over the interphone, and Klohe dished it right back at him. Personally, I just sat back, relaxed with a cigarette. The mission was over.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Five Rising Suns

Five Rising Suns

By Cpl. OZZIE ST. GEORGE YANK Staff Correspondent

SOMEWHERE IN THE PACIFIC—Five neat little Jap flags painted on the nose of a B-24 are nice to look at, but they're scarcely anything to write home about. Five little Rising Suns on the bridge of a lumbering LST are something else again.

It happened not long ago. The LST was lying at anchor with a detachment of Coast Artillery aboard.  At 8:22 AM a shore station flashed "Red Alert."  Seven minutes later the LST was underway, her guns manned.  Reginald E. Gressley QM3c, Los Angeles lawyer, was on watch, keeping the ship's log.  What he logged that morning reads like a "Thrilling Adventure" yarn less the adjectives.

Eight Jap dive bombers (Val  99s) came out of the sun and peeled off, beaded for the ship.  The skipper, Lt. Harold M. Graham of New Orleans, ordered hard left rudder.  As the LST swung to port, her star-board guns opened up.

Floyd E. Knowles Y2c of LaFayette, Ind., forward  "talker,"  remembers that:  "I should have been scared, but there was too much happening."

Louis R. Dively S1c of Los Angeles, Earl F. Rarney F1c of Portsmouth, Ohio, and Glen C. Williams S2c of Portland, Ore., got their 20-mm on one Val and filled it full of flak.  William W. King F1c of Portland, Ore., Curtis O. Hanson MoMM2c, and Paul R. Hansen MM2c, both of Los Angeles, got another with their 20. Both Japs went into the bay before they could release their bombs.

Coxswain Edmund A. Kurdziel of Toledo, Ohio, and Nelson A. Minor F2c of Minneapolis picked off a third.  Fred F. Doty S1c, Harold F.  Hull F1c, both of Los Angeles, and Marvin Krueger S1c of Dale, Wis., got a fourth. The Army, firing four .50s and two 40-mms, got another.

And that accounts for the five little suns on the bridge of the LST.

Ensign Charles Macmurdo of Baton Rouge, La., on the conn during the attack, murmured later that he had watched three 250-pound bombs, released to port, sail over his head so low he ducked. They struck the sea 100 yards off the starboard beam. Two more landed 10 yards to starboard, the concussion springing leaks in some of the ship's piping. That was the only damage.

Damage inflicted on the Imperial Japanese Air Force was more apparent.   Boson's mate John Stephenson, former light-heavy and heavy-weight Golden Glove champ of St Paul, Minn., counted seven pillars of smoke within 3,000 yards of the ship.  P-38s had accounted for the odd two. The eighth, the crew decided, was let off that he might get home to spread the glad tidings.

In the official report of the action it was stated that "the Japanese pilots appeared surprised at the amount and accuracy of the antiaircraft fire."  No doubt.

The LST was one of the first Ts to see action in the SWPA.  In on the initial landing at Lae, it made five more trips to that hot spot, was bombed twice with no results.   Three trips to Finschhafen   were made without incident.   As LSTs are considered more or less "expendable"   once they reach the beach, this one is somewhat ahead of the game.

The LST and her crew were at Cape Gloucester, too, their third action within four months. Action, in their case, means, more than anything else, no sleep.  Hours in advance of reaching the beach the crew goes to general quarters, and stays there until the T is safely off the beach again.

At Lae, Ship's Cook Tim Keziak SC2c of Mineral Springs, N.C., sprang from gun to galley and back again, snatched five hours' sleep in 65. Ensign Louis Curra of Smithton, Pa., former tackle on the Western Reserve Sunbowl team of '41, and James Glenn F2c of Dallas, Tex., beat even that record with 56 straight hours of duty.

Call it bells or call it hours, it's still a long day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Jungle War

YANK reprinted this anonymous report on combat conditions in New Guinea by a wounded noncom from the "Intelligence Bulletin" with permission of the War Department.

We were flown over the Owen Stanley range to relieve an Australian combat unit, which was keeping open a trail over which natives were bringing up supplies.

The first day we had snipers firing into our perimeter (an area with all-around defense) with explosive bullets, which were very irritating and nerve-racking. The next morning the same thing started. I got permission from my lieutenant to go out and see if I could find the sniper. I walked about 40 yards out of the perimeter, and I saw him in a large tree about 300 yards away. Since this was the first Jap I had seen, I was quite nervous. I took my time and fired five shots. The Jap fell only partly out of the tree; he was tied in by his legs, and his rifle was strapped to a limb.

Our first general activity was to send out patrols under company noncoms, to be sure there were no Japs digging in.

One day about noon, our commander asked for volunteers to go into an area believed to be occupied, by the Japs. I asked for two men to go with me into the area. We had gone about 300 yards when we thought we heard something moving in the undergrowth. I left the two men behind and crawled up to a place where the growth had been cut down to about knee height There I could see fresh dirt, so I lay still and listened for about 30 minutes. Then I brought the other two men up with me and I left them in my position while I crawled forward to investigate. I found a freshly dug hole, with a banana-tree trunk forming a wall about waist high on two sides of it.

I called the other men up, and we decided to go back and report what we had seen; however, just then a .25-caliber machine gun opened up, and we immediately dived into the hole. We thought that the enemy was covering the hole with this one gun, but another .25 caliber opened up from another direction. All during the afternoon we exchanged fire with them, using our Thompson submachine guns and the one Browning automatic rifle we had with us. At about 2000, after dark, we went back into the jungle and got away without a shot being fired at us. We stayed in the jungle that night because it is absolute suicide to go into your own perimeter after dark.

Next morning we reported what we had seen. At night you're not permitted to fire your rifle because it would reveal to the Japs exactly where you are—you use only hand grenades and the bayonet.

The Japs will go from tree to tree during the hours of darkness and make noises, or call familiar names of people, or call your medical personnel. When they have located your perimeter, they fire their machine guns about waist high over your position; then they send a group of men crawling in under their own fire. They crawl very slowly until they feel the edge of your foxhole; then they will back away a bit and throw in hand grenades.

Another favorite Japanese trick is to capture a wounded man and place him near a trail or perimeter and then cover him with machine-gun fire. They will torture him until he screams and yells for help, but it is absolutely suicide to send him help.

One morning at 0845 we were told we were going to attack the Jap perimeter at 0900. The lieutenant in charge took with him two runners, who carried a telephone and the necessary wire. When we were at the right position, our artillery and machine guns laid down a barrage until the lieutenant telephoned back for them to stop. We moved on, on our bellies. The Japs were out of their pillboxes and seemed to be doing some sort of fatigue work. There were six of us who got within 20 yards of them without being seen. We had three Tommy guns, a Browning automatic rifle, a Springfield rifle, and a Garand rifle. The lieutenant motioned for us to start firing. One sergeant threw a grenade, and, as it hit, we opened up with all our guns. There wasn't a single Jap who escaped, but there were some left in pillboxes, and they pinned us down with fire from one .50-caliber machine gun and from several .30-caliber machine guns. One of our six men got hit near the hip with a .50-caliber bullet, which lodged in his left shoulder. The Japs also wounded three more of our men who were behind us. The lieutenant telephoned the commanding officer and told him our situation, and we were ordered to retire. Later we made another attack on this perimeter and took it.

There was a lieutenant who had been shot down near a pillbox, and our commanding officer asked for volunteers to go in and get him. When he was last seen he was still alive, but when we got to him, after wading through swamp water waist deep, he was lying on his stomach--dead. While we were going toward him, the Japanese had killed the lieutenant by slashing his stomach, and had placed him on an "island." We put him on a litter and started back into our own perimeter, but the Japs opened fire on us, and we had to leave him and take cover in the trees. I thought the fire was coming from only one pillbox, so we all started firing in the direction from which the fire was coming. We soon learned, however, that there were two more pillboxes from which we also wore receiving machine-gun fire. When they stopped firing, another boy and myself went out and got the lieutenant ana took him into the perimeter. Later he was taken to battalion headquarters (command post) where he was buried in the regimental burial ground.

A few weeks later our battalion moved into a position to make an attack on a large Japanese perimeter. All artillery and machine-gun fire was concentrated on this perimeter before the infantry started pushing forward. The heat was terrific. We moved in about 100 yards under Japanese fire, with two platoons forward and one in reserve (the squads also were two forward and one in reserve). My squad was in reserve when we started forward.

The lieutenant sent back for me to bring my squad forward and relieve the right squad. Because so many of this squad had been killed and wounded or had passed out from heat exhaustion, I thought I might find a better place to put my men. So I crawled forward to find positions for them. I had found a few good shell holes, some logs, and depressions in the ground, when a .30-caliber machine gun opened fiie on me. The first burst hit the front handle grip of my Tommy gun, and, of course, I got as low as possible; but the second burst hit my Tommy gun drum, and two bullets hit me in the arm. Also, fragments of the drum hit me hard-on the hand and shoulder. These .30's were explosive bullets which broke up my arm and tore a great deal of flesh away from it. It felt as if an ax blade were shearing through the flesh of my arm.

I rolled over into a small depression of the ground, and took my knife out and tried to cut off the sleeve of my coveralls. While I was cutting, I saw the barrel of the .30 caliber sticking out of a small pillbox, so I rolled back and got my Tommy gun, thinking there might be a chance of knocking out this one machine gun, which was about 80 yards away.

Just as I was getting in the right position to shoot, a .25-caliber machine gun opened up from the left. One bullet hit me in the elbow and one in the ribs—the latter went through my pipe and a can of tobacco and only broke my rib. I pulled out this bullet myself, burning my index finger on the hot lead. Another bullet went through my helmet and just grazed my scalp.

I lay there for about 3 hours in the hot sun, bleeding profusely. Figuring that I would bleed to death if I remained there, I began to crawl back to my own men—only hoping and trusting to God that He would give me strength and protection to get back. I got back to my men, and the platoon medical personnel made a hasty cross splint and sling for my mangled left arm.

One of my men helped me back to the command post where litter bearers took me back to a dispensary. Attendants gave me morphine and put me on a jeep, which carried me back—with several other casualties—to a portable hospital. There medical officers removed two bullets. Next day I was sent to a landing field where a plane was waiting to take casualties to Port Moresby.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Infantry Battle in New Georgia

With U. S. Forces in New Georgia--"When they got on the target, one Jap went 40 feet in the air, over the tops of the trees, just floated up lazy like, turned over one time and came back down."

"Then there was another that went up like a pinwheel, all arms and legs twisting in the air. He was an officer, I think, because I saw a saber go one way and a pistol the other. The next morning I stumbled over that saber and Howie got the pistol. There was one Jap blown plum out of his pants. We found the breeches hanging way up in the limb of a tree."

That was how first Sgt. Orville (Pappy) Cummings of Spokane, Washington, described the results of mortar fire on a Jap gun position during one of the 12 days that his infantry battalion drove a wedge from the jungle-land behind Munda airfield to the sea.

They fought three separate actions, each as different from the other as night from day. The story of the battalion and particularly of 1st Sgt. Cummins’ A company is the story of jungle combat--of attack and counterattack and then attack again.

Their first engagement lasted seven days. It was fought on a hillside and in a gully that was the jungle at its worst, where visibility was normally 15 yards and the war between the Jap and the American was waged at a distance that was often not more than 15 feet.

The hill was named O'Brien Hill for 1st Lt. Robert M. O'Brien of Everett, Washington, who died there. A second hill, immediately to the front, was named for 2nd Lt. Louis K. Christian of Pullman, Washington, who had received a field commission from the ranks on Guadalcanal and was killed at the beginning of the seven-day fight.

The battalion had shot its way from the line of departure to O'Brien Hill, and on the afternoon of the second day, C Company attacked due west toward Christian Hill, followed by B company. When they reached the foot of the slope and could go no further, they pulled back to allow the artillery and mortars to give the place a thorough working over.

Then, with B Company in advance, they tried again the next day. The battalion attack was again stopped cold. Insult was added to injury when the infantry found itself being shot at with our own weapons, our grenades, our BARs. Some of the Japs even wore our jungle "zoot suits." In some previous fight their take had been good, and they made the most of it.

With night coming on and the enemy still intact, the battalion pulled back to O'Brien Hill, and set up a perimeter defense of outposts pushed out ahead of a circular main line of resistance. They were there on the fourth day, throwing fire across the hill in front and directing fire at a strong point to their left, under assault by another unit.

On the fifth day occurred a series of events that were the beginning of a battle with all the trimmings.

The unit on the battalion's right had pushed ahead, had been badly hit and had been ordered back to reorganize . At chow time the unit, weary and somewhat bewildered, started back through the 1st Battalion lines. Behind it came the Jap, engaging its rear elements. In the jungle there was a confusion of friend and enemy, and for a while nobody knew exactly what was going on, least of all the Jap.

But he soon learned. He had been following a unit in withdrawal, and he ran flush into another unit of unknown strength, firmly emplaced on O'Brien Hill. The withdrawing unit moved through, it's rear elements disengaging the enemy and leaving him to the men of the 1st who waited for the counterattack to reach them.

At 1430 the Jap hit and the fight was on. Twenty-six hours later it was over. An estimated enemy body of two reinforced companies, which just about matched the battalion’s strength, had been so completely wrecked that in the days to follow there was no evidence of it again.

The first contact, when the advancing enemy ran head-on into light machine guns, rocked him back on his heels. For two hours, in the light of the afternoon, the attack came in squad groups as the Jap sought to probe the defensive lines, to see what this was he had smacked into. He stabbed inquisitively here and there, testing the front, testing the flanks, with six men, then a dozen, rushing forward. He got nowhere. When darkness came the battalion heard him digging in.

On the battalion's right flank was a saddle that led from O'Brien Hill to another rise to the right front. To the immediate front, stretching from right front to left, was the gully that was dense with jungle. The forward slope of O'Brien Hill was fairly open. The outposts were at the edge of the jungle and the main line of resistance not more than 15 or 20 yards behind them, with the CP a little higher and to the rear.

That night the Jap, more sure of himself, came in. He came across the saddle and up from the gully. It was obvious that he was trying his old trick of attempting demoralization because he yelled like a Comanche when he rushed, and when he was preparing to rush he yelled threats: "American soldier will die tonight. Prepare to die, Yank-eee!"

He worked by familiar formula, throwing in his little grenades which exploded with much noise and little effect, tossing in his knee-mortar shells, pouring in his fast-firing, brittle-sounding automatic fire. His yelling, which was mostly inarticulate, was constant, and the men of the battalion yelled back insult for insult.

"Americans cowards!" yelled the Nips.

Tojo eats —!" yelled the infantry.

Three times during the night the Jap attacked in what would amount to platoon strength, and each time the attack was cut to pieces. That night the .30-caliber light machine guns did the work of the defensive design heavies. In the morning the air-cooled lights looked as if they'd been in a fire, with their barrels burnt orange and flaking. But they kept on firing.

In the jungle the first light of dawn always brings heavy fire, and this time it was heavy. But the Jap tried no further attack. He was saving himself for something else, perhaps waiting for a better time.

At 0800 the battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Joe Katsarsky of Battle Creek, Mich., sent out a combat patrol to the extreme right flank. They cracked a body of Japs who were attempting to cut the line of supply and then work into the flank and rear.

By pulling out the officers and men for the patrol, the battalion weakened the perimeter, but it had to be done. The Jap had machine-gun fire on the supply trail, cutting it off, and men died as they started back with casualties or came forward with supplies. Drivers were shot at the wheels of their jeeps. Before it was over four jeeps blocked the trail.

The patrol went out, fought sharply and within two hours was back again, just in time. The Jap apparently was aware of the move, and even before everyone was back in position the grand assault got under way. Nothing could be more typical of the vaunted Japanese do-or-die technique than the 45 minutes in which they stormed the battalion's defense.

Everything in front of the battalion came forward, screaming. Jap bullets raked the hillside in a grazing fire that ranged from 6 inches above the ground to 3 feet. Shelter halves that had been stretched above foxholes were cut to ribbons and the sticks that held them up were splintered. The men tore them down to avoid getting entangled in the canvas.

The Japs used tracers and explosive bullets that trailed a brief string of fire and cracked sharply when they hit twigs. The Jap soldiers came forward in bunches, leaping and running like maniacs and yelling at the tops of their voices. Their bayonets were fixed and they might have tried to use them, but they never got that close. Two of them tumbled into outpost foxholes, dead before they hit the emplacements themselves.

The outposts withdrew to the main line of resistance as the battalion tightened against the strain. The aid station, which had been on the forward slope, moved to the other side of the hill because the fire was so thick that the medics could not get off the ground to attend the wounded. During the melee, when there was no work for them, the message-center people kept low and played Battleship. Finally, their shelter shot to ribbons, they moved.

The CP and the MLR stayed put. Men were hit. Once a man was gutshot and two medics picked him up and walked him, one on either side, through the fire to safety. Another man was shot and as he raised up he said, "I'm hit” as he fell forward, he said, "I'm dead." He was.

Capt. Ralph Phelps of Spokane, Wash., the battalion exec, was in a foxhole conference with the CO of A Company. As they talked, a stream of machine-gun bullets went between their bodies, less than 6 inches apart. They scooted down further, looked at each other, and went on talking. In the v of a tree was a Jap with a BAR which he let fly at intervals as he ducked up and down. They called him "Jack-in-the-box." A grenade got him.

Because there were no men to be spared for ammo carriers, the noncoms divided their time between controlling their men and supplying them, which in either case meant exposure to murderous fire. A corporal was killed as he crept forward with ammunition for his men. A buck sergeant, Hubert Santo of Medford, Oreg., held his part of the line together by galloping over the hillside in the dual role of ammo carrier and platoon leader. His outfit had no lieutenant.
In the heat of the fight, men were too busy to think of anything but the business at hand. A Lieutenant, wounded on the patrol action when a bullet hit his helmet and cut through the back of his neck, found time to have it dressed 2 hours later. Men said strange things, like the soldier whose shelter had been riddled with bullets. A flare dropped on the already-demolished canvas and he yipped in anguish, “There goes my tent!”

The fight centered on the right flank. In some positions there were mortar men armed only with pistols, put there to fill in while the patrol was gone.

On the right-flank center was a light machine gun with both gunners gone, one sick and the other momentarily absent at the start of the attack. Manning the gun was the ammunition carrier, a sandy-haired, drawling buck private named James Newbrough of Monument, Colo.

When the attack started Newbrough was on the gun. A Jap in front of him yelled, "Americans cowards!"

“The hell you say," Newbrough snorted.

"Come on out and fight," yelled the Jap, tossing a rock.

"Come on in and get me," said Newbrough.

The Jap and his comrades thought that over, threw a few more rocks and then screamed, "Here we come!"

Three of them sprang out with .25-caliber light machine guns, which they fired as they rushed. Two of them died in their tracks. The third ran.

As the fight progressed Newbrough, alone on the gun, kept it going constantly. Nobody, not even he, knows how many belts of ammunition he expended. As the gun continued to fire, it attracted more and more attention until it seemed that Newbrough was the only target. Bullets splattered into everything, cutting down the shelter half on top of him and clearing the underbrush from around him.

Newbrough unfastened the traversing mechanism and, crouching low, sighted along the under side of the barrel so that no part of him was above the level of the gun itself. With his hand over his head he hung onto the trigger and raked the ground before him.

His gun corporal, Dick Barrett of Rosburg, Wash., managed to get through to him with ammunition when the supply was almost exhausted, and Pfc. Hollis S. Johnson of McKenzie, Ala., came up to cover him with a BAR. Newbrough, a shy kid with a country brogue and the faintest show of a beard, probably saved the battalion that day.

The attack, once stopped, was not repeated. The battalion smashed it, but not until other units approached from two sides did the Jap see proof that his case was hopeless and withdraw in the late afternoon. With its ordeal over, the battalion took Christian Hill against little opposition and advanced 800 yards through the jungle before darkness halted it.

On the ninth day A Company was in front of the battalion advance, which skirted northward of Biblio Hill overlooking Munda airfield, moving across country that itself was hilly though less densely jungled as it ran westward to the sea.

The battalion chose a bivouac area for the night and A pushed out in advance, taking up positions and setting up an OP on the forward slope of a hill in front of the bivouac. On the left, on Biblio itself, another unit was engaged with the enemy.

From the company OP on the morning of the tenth day the company commander, Capt. Donald Downen of Pullman, Wash., saw an amazing sight--probably one of the few such scenes any American has witnessed in the war in the Pacific.

Immediately before him in a slight draw less than 100 yards away were Jap shacks, their tin roofs bright and a searchlight position in the midst of them. He saw Japs moving leisurely across the terrain, going in and out of the hub, puttering around as if there were no war within a thousand miles. Aware that his company's presence was completely undetected, he watched the Japs and studied the terrain ahead.

Then he reported back to Battalion, which moved up to direct an artillery concentration that shortly went plowing into the peaceful scene. When the guns had done their work, A Company threaded its way down across the draw and up the gentle rise immediately ahead.

Capt. Downen set up his CP in a 1,000-pound bomb crater. Almost abreast of it and perhaps 50 yards away, Cpl. Garrit Hulstein of Hospers, Iowa, established an OP in a similar crater. Although there was a little fire from the front, the terrain ahead looked comparatively harmless.

Then a heavy-caliber gun blazed, and Hulstein reported what he took to be a 77-mm mountain gun almost directly ahead and 50 yards away. As the barrel moved slightly, the corporal shoved the man beside him downward just as the gun blasted again. This time a foot and a half of the rim of the bomb crater was shot away, leaving men dazed and one man buried beneath clay dirt and coral. He was pulled out, unhurt.

Of the gun the men could see only the mouth of the barrel and two upright objects on either side, which they thought were wheels.
Battalion was contacted, not without trouble, because the gun was firing into the CP. A mortar treatment was started on the way. Hulstein went back to bring up the weapons company commander and while the mortars tossed in 81-mm shells, A Company began to move, not yet aware of what it was up against. It was entering one of the most unusual fights of two campaigns.

One platoon moved to the left and the other moved to the right to flank the piece. A machine gun in the OP crater covered their advance, peppering the top of the emplacement. As they moved, six Japs started across in front of them heading toward the gun. The left platoon, under Lt. Bob Brown of Bellingham, Wash., blazed away. Sgt. Elmer McGlynn of Seattle grabbed a BAR and turned it loose on automatic: the Japs never got where they were going. The platoons moved on, waiting for the mortar barrage to lift.

Company Headquarters, composed of the captain, his runner, the first sergeant and the mail orderly, went forward to coordinate the flanking attack. They were looking straight into the bore of the gun and knew only that, whatever it was, it was beautifully camouflaged.

When they were close enough the mortars quit, and Downen and his three men realized that they were nearer than either of the two platoons. There was no time to waste so they rushed the gun. Not until they were upon it did they realize that, instead of a field piece, it was a dual-purpose antiaircraft gun—and not one but two and perhaps more.

The captain got one Jap outside the emplacement. His mail orderly, T-5 David Lloyd George of Kalispell, Mont., got another. Then Pfc. Wiley Howington of Asheville, N. C, the company runner, went into action.

He leaped into the gun emplacement and found the Jap gun crew still huddled in the dugout, which was tunneled into the side of the emplacement itself. The mortars had driven them inside, and they never had time to get out. Howie fired a clip of M1 slugs into them, then leaped across to the other side of the entrance, fumbling first for another clip and then for a grenade.
George followed him in and opened up with a tommy gun.

"By Gawd," drawled Howie with an accent that was straight from the North Carolina hills, "I tell you there wuz some scramblin' down in there."
Five Japs were dead and a sixth was at the far entrance, trying desperately to get out. 1st Sgt. Cummins, who is built like a pint-sized quarterback, got him by degrees.

"I could see just about six inches of his rump sticking out and I bored him” Cummins said. "He'd keep sliding back—never could get that part of himself out of the way and every time he'd slide back I'd bore him again. Finally he slid back too far."

Now one gun was out. But there was another, some 35 yards away. In the first gun pit the four men could see the 75-mm rifle turn toward them, the elongated barrel moving fast. Cummins had one of the two grenades in the group and he heaved it--a perfect throw into the emplacement. The barrel stopped.
He grabbed Howington's grenade, which Howie hadn't been able to unhook when he wanted it, and it burst at the mouth of the dugout. Next day when the mop-up came, there was nothing left there to bother them.

When the excitement momentarily died, Capt. Downen saw men of his right platoon motioning to him frantically, pointing somewhere beyond the second gun at a place almost directly in front of them. At that instant the third gun roared, firing directly into the face of the platoon but just over their heads.
Downen yelled at them to get out, but the muzzle blast of the piece, not more than 20 yards away, had deafened them. Finally he waved them back, and they crawled to the rear, dazed by the terrific shock of the explosion. A Company with two guns down and a third discovered, withdrew to the bomb craters and called for mortar fire. That's when Cummins saw the Japs flying through the air.
"But the prettiest thing was when the mortars hit the ammunition," he added. "It looked like a million tracers going off at the same time."

No. 3 gun was gone. By that time the fourth and last was discovered and a direct hit by the 81s put it out of action. Actually there were five of the dual-purpose pieces, which the outfit thinks was a Jap Marine A A installation, but the fifth gun was never fired. The six Japs who started across in front of the left platoon were the crew, caught out of position.

On the eleventh day the battalion was on the move again, cleaning out the bivouac area behind the guns and capturing two other AA positions without opposition. They moved through a hospital area, rich in booty which they had no time to collect.

As they passed through, there was scattered firing. In a bombproof dugout there were several Japs and one of them held up his hands crying, "Me surrender! Me surrender!"

Defense of the beach was set up facing the sea and when the battalion hit them, the Japs tried to turn around and fight with their backs to the water. There were not many of them but they were trapped and desperate. The beach wire, meant to stop a seaborne invasion, was cut through from behind.
The battalion hit the beach defense at 1530 on the eleventh day. They received fire from pillboxes and pulled back to let the mortars in. But as they did, the Japs moved in toward them, letting go with a Lewis gun and machine guns and rifles in grazing fire 2 feet off the ground.

The terrain was of bomb-chewed coral, underbrush and water holes. A Company found itself in a position where practically the whole outfit was pinned down without a field of fire, only a few feet from the sea.

Behind a log was Pfc. Charles Boughner of Seattle with an M1. He alone was able to get in effective shots and soon it was apparent to everyone that Boughner in his position could do more than a platoon, or even the company.
He fired the M1 until there were no more clips. Someone tossed him a tommy gun and he emptied it. Another M1 was passed to him. S/Sgt. Bob Isaman of Chewelah, Wash., was at his feet and loaded clips as fast as Boughner could fire them. In the heat of the fight Isaman noticed what Boughner did not—that Jap bullets were smashing faster and closer to the log. He made the rifleman get underneath it instead of over it. The firing position was just as good; he could still see the enemy.

A BAR was passed to him. Boughner emptied clip after clip and the men around him threw every available cartridge toward his position. Isaman loaded them and passed them on. A belt of machine-gun bullets was tossed over, and they were reloaded and expended. Finally the Jap positions were quiet.
"That," said Sgt. Cummins, "was one time when a man was in attack supported by a company."

It was too dark to do more. That night the infantrymen heard the splash of wading feet and they fired when they caught sight of dark shapes against the water. Some of the Japs may have made it to a tiny island near by, but whether they did or not, their fight for New Georgia was over.

Next morning the battalion stood on the beach and looked out to sea.