DIARY of Col. Samuel Baglien
AN ACCOUNT OF THE 164TH INFANTRY REGIMENT
North Dakota National Guard
FROM OCTOBER 7, 1942 THROUGH FEBRUARY 23, 1943
"I AM READY"
LT. COL. SAMUEL BAGLIEN, EXECUTIVE OFFICER
164th Infantry Units Mobilized for World War II
Regimental Headquarters............................... Bismarck
Headquarters, Second Battalion............................. Fargo
Regimental Headquarters Company.................. Fargo
Headquarters Detachment, Second Battalion..... Cando
Regimental Service Company................... Devils Lake
Company E, Second Battalion............................ Williston
Regimental Anti Tank Company........................ Harvey
Company F, Second Battalion......................... Carrington
Regimental Band.................................................... Fargo
Company G, Second Battalion........................ Valley City
Regimental Medical Detachment.................. Bottineau
Company H, Second Battalion....................... Jamestown
Headquarters, First Battalion.......................... Bismarck
Headquarters, Third Battalion............................. Williston
Headquarters Detachment, First Battalion..... Cavalier
Headquarters Detachment, Third Battalion....... Edgeley
Company A, First Battalion.............................. Bismarck
Company I, Third Battalion............................... Wahpeton
Company B, First Battalion.................................... Fargo
Company K, Third Battalion.............................. Dickinson
Company C, First Battalion................................. Grafton
Company L, Third Battalion................................ Hillsboro
Company D, First Battalion.................................. Rugby
Company M, Third Battalion......................... Grand Forks
The 164th Infantry Regiment, Americal Division
The 164th Infantry Regiment of the Americal Division went into action on Guadalcanal on 13 October 1942 as the first United States Army unit to conduct an offensive operation against the enemy in any theater. Elements of the Division defended Henderson Field against heavy enemy attacks, 23-25 October, took part in the offensive across the Matanikau River in November, and attacked and took Mount Austen in January 1943. Organized resistance ended and the Division was relieved, 9 February. It moved to the Fiji Islands, beginning 5 March 1943, to assume the defense of the main island of Viti Levu and to engage in extensive training. During the period 25 December 1943 to 12 January 1944 the Americal Division landed on Bougainville, relieving the 3d Marine Division and was given the task of holding and extending the right half of a previously established perimeter. The Division went on the offensive in March 1944, driving the Japanese east of Mavavia River, 7-9 April, and seizing numerous strategic hill lasses during the rest of the month. Training and long-range patrol activity continued until 30 November 1944 when the Division was relieved. On 8 January 1945, the Division began movement to Leyte and Samar, to take part in cleaning out remaining Japanese forces on those islands, and to invade Biri, Capul, Ticao, and Burias. Relieved, 13 March 1945, on Leyte, the Division landed on Cebu, 26 March, and seized the city and airfield by 28 March. Divisional combat teams made landings on Bohol, Negros, and Mindanao, where they cleared out pockets of resisting Japanese until 17 June when ordered to return to Cebu, arriving on 25 June. Training continued on Cebu for the proposed invasion of Japan. On 10 September 1945, the Americal landed in Japan and took part in the occupation of the Yokohama-Kawasaki-Yokosuka area.
Regimental Decorations Awarded to Regimental Members
1........................ Navy Cross
6 ....................... Distinguished Service Crosses
89...................... Silver Stars
199.................... Bronze Stars
6........................ Legion of Merit
10...................... Soldiers Medals
2000(Approx)....... Purple Hearts
Regimental Campaign Participation Credits
War with Spain
World War I
World War II
Presidential Unit Citation (U. S. Navy)
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation
THE 164TH INFANTRY IN COMBAT FROM OCTOBER 7, 1942
By Lt. Col. Samuel Baglien
Prior to and on October 7, 1942, the 164th Infantry Regiment was located on the island of New Caledonia. The bivouac areas of the First, Second, Third and Provisional battalions were strategically dispersed near the Tontouta Air Base about 30 miles inland from the island capital city, Noumea.
On September 14, 1942, Colonel Earle R. Sarles had been retired of command of the regiment, having attained his 55th birthday, and Colonel Bryant E. Moore, O-8633, assumed command on that date. It was hard to see Colonel Sarles leave the regiment as he had been with the regiment since 1905 and was a father to us all.
On October 7, 1942, at 7:00 p.m., the regiment was alerted under orders from Major General Alexander M. Patch, Americal Division, of which division the regiment was a part. Such orders provided that the regiment shall prepare for movement to the Port of Embarkation at Noumea harbor on October 8, 1942. Preparations, lasting all night, began immediately. Arrangements were made to retain a rear echelon consisting of the personnel section, guards, cooks, maintenance, etc., at New Caledonia, with Captain John R. Erickson in command. An attempt was made to contact our reconnaissance platoon under Lt. Flo. This was unsuccessful as they were in the jungle on the island and were attempting to find a trail route to Thio, which was across the island.
On October 8, 1942, packing and movement was in progress. Advance details and loading crews arrived at Noumea harbor at 10:00 a.m. and began loading equipment and supplies. The regiment cleared all of its areas be 6:30 p.m. The First and Third battalions embarked aboard the USS Zeilin troop transport at 10:00 p.m., and the Second and Provisional battalions embarked aboard the USS McCawley troop transport at 10:00 p.m. Harbor officials complimented the regiment upon its speed of loading the two vessels. Major Timboe received his promotion to Lt. Col. Captains Northridge and Ordahl to Majors.
On October 9, 1942, the two ships took on additional supplies for the First Marine Division that was located at Guadalcanal. This was completed at noon. Colonel Moore, Major Zlevor, S4, and Major Ordahl, S3, boarded a Navy transport plane along with Colonel Linscott of the Marines and left on a flight toward our destination, to ascertain arrangements for our landing. Admiral Ghormly, Major General Patch and Major General Harmon boarded the troop transports and inspected the troops, who were complimented for their fine appearance, discipline and excellent condition. The troop transports and convoy cleared the Noumea harbor during the afternoon and headed toward our destination, Guadalcanal Island, Solomon Islands.
October 10 to October 12, 1942, the regiment was at sea. Weather clear, sea calm. Routine duties, and fire and debarkation drills. Mail was passed at sea from a destroyer; this was a very interesting sight and a welcome one. Alerted, but the enemy was not sighted. Lt. Col. Samuel Baglien, Executive Officer, was in full charge of the regiment and the movement was in charge of the U. S. Navy under Read Admiral Turner. The men during the trip showed no signs of nervousness and welcomed the opportunity to get into combat. Admiral Turner got quite a kick out of the trip, stating, “Imagine taking a bunch of the Army up to reinforce the Marines.” To us the trip was a signal honor, as it meant that we would be the first Army Infantry troops in battle since the fall of Bataan. All our unloading details are ready for the landing. Admiral Turner promised me turkey for the boys for Thanksgiving and I also asked him not to forget where we were located when the war was over.
At dawn on October 13, 1942, the regiment arrived at Kukum Beach, Guadalcanal. Debarkation of personnel began immediately. Stations at nets had been previously assigned. The troops carrying ammunition, combat packs, gas masks and arms entered Higgins boats, via nets and were taken ashore. The First marine Division, already stationed at Guadalcanal, covered the landing. The debarkation of troops was completed by 7:30 a.m. Details were assigned for unloading supplies and equipment. The supplies were transferred to Higgins boats from the transports and unloaded on the beach and distributed. In the midst of this work, at about noon, a flight of Japanese bombers passed over and bombed the area for a half hour. Corporal Kenneth S. Foubert, Company “M” was killed; the first casualty of the regiment. Two men were injured. The enemy again bombed the area from aircraft from 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., but there were no further casualties and very little damage. At 6:00 p.m. the area was shelled by enemy artillery located west along the beach toward Point Cruz. The troops sought cover and, although alarmed, maintained order. Pvt. Park E. Jagears, Company “D” was killed. At 11:00 p.m. the regiment began movement toward bivouac areas about two miles east, between Lunga Point, Teneru River and Henderson Air Field. What a day and what a reception for our first day! The Marines are sure glad we are here and they certainly look like they have gone through “Hell.”
Immediately after midnight, 12:10 a.m., October 14, 1942, terrific shelling by enemy naval craft began. “Louie the Louse” seems to be directing the fire. Several cruisers and destroyers were lying off Kukum Beach and Lunga Point and shelled the area near Lunga Point and Henderson Field incessantly until 3:30 a.m. The shells were 6-8 and 12, 14 inch with star shells to light up the area over Henderson Field. The troops had no time to dig in, but sought all available cover and maintained good order. Warrant Officer Bernard E. Starkenberg, O-2105012, was killed; Corporal Rollie Andrick, Hq. Det. Second Battalion was killed. Three landing boats containing enemy troops approached Kukum Beach, but withdrew. Many coconut palm trees were cut down, but otherwise damage was negligible. Col. Brookes of the New Zealand Army stated this shelling was worse than Crete. I’ll never forget our Chaplain marks after two hours of shelling, straightened up in the corner of the hole and looked us all over and said, “Gentlemen, I’ve done all I can for you.” This broke the tension; we giggled.
At 9:00 a.m. a flight of enemy bombers again passed over and dropped bombs evidently intended for Henderson Field, but most of them landed in bivouac areas causing minor damage to personal equipment, and no casualties. Troops now are well dug in, and have also used dugouts of Marines formerly stationed in areas. Another enemy bombing raid at 10:00 a.m. and another at 12:00 noon – same results. “Pistol Pete” the Jap artilleryman came into action. He seems to have quite a long-range gun. He certainly knows how to lay on the airport. Went down to the beach, where our supplies were, to visit Company “L” who were left there to guard our stores. One of the men told of sitting on a large pile of rations and when the first Jap naval shells came over the rush of the wind blew him off his perch.
October 15, 1942. the 164th Infantry Regiment is attached to the First Marine Division, who have been at Guadalcanal since August 7. This regiment is the only attached army unit. Major General Vandegrift is the Commanding General of forces on Guadalcanal. Command of a sector passed to this regiment and the First Battalion took up positions on the sector front at the Teneru River, relieving a battalion of Marines. Enemy aircraft, including bombers and Zero fighters, bombed and strafed the sector and nearby areas from 11:30 A.M. TO 2:00 P.M. enemy aircraft again bombed the area from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The following enlisted men were killed on October 15: Private Alfred C. Halvorson, Medical Detachment; Private Steven Zakopayko, Company “E”; Private Amanda Del Fava, Company “B”; Private Glenn Midgarden, Company “C”. All our rations were turned over to the First Marine Division and we are now having a tough time to get our supplies and equipment away from Yellow Beach as rain has washed out the bridge.
Members killed in action are being buried at the First Marine division cemetery. Graves are marked with a green wooden cross as there is no distinctive marking between rank. Chaplains are in attendance at a brief ceremony. A group of captured Japanese laborers dig the graves. A palm branch is placed over each grave.
On October 16, at 12:01 a.m. terrific shelling by enemy Japanese naval craft began and continued until 2:30 a.m. However, the troops were orderly and kept under cover. Captain George R. Newgard, Munitions Officer, was hit by a “dud” and severely wounded and died later. The Second Battalion took up positions to the right of the First Battalion, east and south of Henderson Field, relieving a battalion of Marines at 10:00 a.m. The Third Battalion moved into Division Reserve and prepared for mobility. During the day several alert warnings were given, but enemy planes were intercepted and there were no further bombings. The regimental CP was moved to a well camouflaged area, southwest of the First Battalion positions. Sturdy dugouts were completed. “Pistol Pete” fired on Henderson Field several times during the day. We relieved the First Marine Regiment under Col. Cates and our own Col. Moore took command of the sector held by our First and Second Battalions.
On October 17, at 1:15 p.m., 20 enemy bombers passed over the area and dropped their loads. Minor damage and no casualties. Many patrols under the direction of Captain Considine are proceeding beyond our front lines, and all reports are negative. Lt. Col. Frisbee of the Seventh Marines on our right called at our CP to coordinate patrol activities. Major General Vandegrift, Colonel Thomas, Chief of Staff and Lt. Col. Twining D-3 of the Marine Division also called during the day.
On October 18, 1942, our front line positions are well dug in, and guns are properly placed. Sector front is quiet. At 2:10 p.m. a wave of enemy bombers came over and bombed the area. Another wave bombed at 6:00 p.m. Minor damage and no casualties to our regiment. “Pistol Pete” is working overtime. This is a funny war as I can ride my “Peep” through the sector we are holding in front of our own lines.
October 19, 1942, patrols still report negative, though some enemy movement is detected by our aircraft. Sector front is quiet. Several bombing alerts but the bombers were intercepted by our own air force, which has been doing a superior job. “Louie the Louse”, the one Jap bomber and his brethren are finding it more difficult to get through. This is a peculiar war, the masters can ponder over this one. We have an airport on our regimental reserve line, the Jap Navy hits us in the rear, we fight them on our front, and they bomb Hell out of us from the air and we are holding a little piece of ground roughly six miles wide and three miles deep. Looks like we are in for a rough time.
On October 20, 1942, enemy bombers bombed the area from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 NOON. No casualties. Enemy artillery now officially known as “Pistol Pete” began usual bombardment at 6:30 p.m. Evidently emplaced somewhere west of Point Cruz, and has his range set for the airfield. A wave of enemy bombers bombed the area at 8:05 p.m. and then returned at 9:05 p.m. and dropped 17 bombs in over “B” Company area. First Lt. Frank G. Welch, O-363158, Company “B”, Technician Fourth Grade John T. Flowers, Company “B” and Pfc Marvin P. Quamme, Company “B”, were killed instantly. One officer and three enlisted men were wounded. Our patrols are working in fine shape. General Vandegrift and Colonel Thomas called again today.
On October 21, a wave of enemy bombers bombed the area from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. “Louie the Louse” is back. No casualties. “Pistol Pete” tossed shells into the area near Henderson Field from 5:50 to 6:30 p.m. At 7:00 p.m. a bombing raid by enemy aircraft and another at 8:00 p.m. No casualties. We moved our CP today because it was getting a little too hot. We discovered 60 bomb hits and 50 shells had lit in our area since taking over. Our new place doesn’t look too good, but it hasn’t been discovered.
On October 22, “Pistol Pete” shelled the area at 10 minute intervals throughout the forenoon. At 1:15 p.m. a wave of enemy bombers approached the area, but were intercepted by our Grumman Fighters, and five bombers were shot down. “Pistol Pete” again from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. No casualties, but he’s getting in our hair. Sector front lines quiet; however, enemy activity and movement is noted. Col. Moore visited Marine Division CP and met General Holcomb the Marine Commandant.
On October 23, “Pistol Pete” began at 7:30 a.m. and kept shelling at 10 minute intervals all forenoon. At 11:05 a.m. a wave of enemy bombers came over and dropped their loads in out Third Battalion area, destroying a kitchen, tentage, a few rifles and some equipment. No casualties. The troops have learned to duck. The Marine artillery batteries are out to get “Pistol Pete” and fired at enemy positions constantly from 7:00 p.m. to midnight. Two enemy land thrusts at Marine CPs, south of Henderson Field, were repulsed by the Seventh Marines. First Sergeant Jack T. Simmons; Staff Sergeant Russell J. Opat; Sergeant Bernard A. Deering and Technician Fifth Grade Marvin T. Hanson were commended for meritorious service per Regimental General Orders Number Two, October 23, 1942. I smelled so stinky that I took a bath between bombings; just missed getting caught short.
October 24, 1942, Enemy thrust at Marine positions west of the Matanikau was repulsed and nine enemy tanks were destroyed. Enemy patrols are attempting to infiltrate between CPs, and main lines, west and south. From 12:01 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., Marine artillery fired at enemy positions west of the Matanikau River. “Pistol Pete” fired a few shells at the airport, intermittently. Enemy action appearing to be determined land thrust was noted at right flank of Second Battalion, in front of the Seventh Marines, after dark. At 11:40 p.m. the Regimental staff received orders from D-3 to commit Third Battalion to reinforce Seventh Marines immediately.
October 25. The Third Battalion cleared its area at 2:05 a.m. and marched toward the Seventh Marine positions, south of Henderson Field. Upon arrival desperate hand to hand fighting was in progress, and the Third Battalion took up its positions in the face of enemy fire. In some cases hand to hand combat for the possession of foxholes and emplacements occurred. There were skirmishes all along the Third Battalion front and along the right flank of the Second Battalion, the lines held and the enemy thrusts were repulsed, though there was slight infiltration. At dawn the enemy withdrew and positions were strengthened and coordinated. “Pistol Pete” was again active from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Enemy naval craft shelled the area at noon. Enemy Zero fighters have been in the air all day bombing and strafing, but in the resultant dog fights our Grummans shot down many of them and dispersed them. Grumman pilots are adept at luring Zeros within deadly range of our anti-aircraft guns. Several bombing alerts, but our air force intercepted the bombers and dispersed them, shooting down several bombers and Zeros. Enemy artillery again shelled the area at 8:15 p.m. At nightfall the enemy began another determined land thrust at the Seventh Marine positions on our right flank and at our Third and Second Battalion positions, and vicious fighting was in progress. The enemy assaulted the positions repeatedly in great numbers, but the lines are holding. There is some sniper activity. Private John J. Flynn, Company “E” and Private Ira A. Woodall, Company “M” were killed in action. Several wounded, but casualties are comparatively light.
October 26. From midnight until dawn the enemy hurled wave after wave of infantry supported by mortar and machine gun at our Third Battalion lines, but every thrust was repulsed with tremendous loss to the enemy. Our troops stuck to positions with bulldog tenacity, and even hand to hand fighting did not dislodge them. Our Third Battalion positions are in the midst of dense jungle. There was some infiltration. The regimental reserve consisting of only about 175 troops from Headquarters and Service Company was committed to the south border of the airport, in the event of a break through, but was recalled at 9:30 a.m. No enemy air activity during the day – “Pistol Pete” is quiet.
Corporal Louis Lockner, Company “G”; Second Lt. Ralph M Kamman, Company “G”; Private John B. Muir, Company “G”; Corporal Melvin Busche, Company “G”; Private Robert D. Newman, Company “G”; Private Harvey E. Hubbard, Company “E”; Pfc John W. McClure, Medical Detachment; Pfc George E. Kudrna, Company “K”; Private Weldon D. Spease, Company “K”; Corporal Jack F. Leithold, Company “K”; Pfc Harvey R. Brewster, Company “K”; Second Lt. Arvid Grasvik, Company “L”; Private Joseph Sperl, Company “L”; Private Carl W. Edwards, Company “L”; Pfc Arnold B. Nelson, Company “L”; Pfc Palmer G. Foss, Company “L”; Private Lonnie L. Sistrunk, Company “L”; Pfc Gerald E. Coffey, Company “M”; Pfc Dale N. Coppens, Company “M”. The boys are going great, it certainly does a fellow good to see how the M-1 rifle can pile up the “Nips”.
October 27. From midnight to dawn the enemy again hurled its strength at our Third Battalion and right flank of our Second Battalion lines, but each thrust was repulsed with heavy losses to the enemy. At 4:00 a.m. enemy bombers bombed the area with slight damage, and no casualties resulting. During the day several enemy aircraft waves were intercepted and dispersed with losses to the enemy. Snipers who had infiltrated were active, but caused little damage. Patrols located most of the snipers and destroyed them. They were well camouflaged and hid themselves in the upper branches of high trees, making it difficult to locate them. The carnage of enemy dead piled in front of our lines is creating an unhealthful situation. Burying details are organized and burial is begun. Over 1,700 enemy dead in front of our front alone, and probably many more further back in the jungle. Impossible to estimate enemy wounded. Our troops are near exhaustion, but morale is high. Men killed in action: Second Lt. Sidney S. Linscott, Company “K”; Second Lt. George H. Cummings, Company “A” and Private Howard O. Noland, Company “I”.
October 28. Quiet. Enemy appears to have withdrawn to lick its wounds and plan new strategy. Snipers are still an active nuisance. An attempted enemy air assault was driven off at 4:00 a.m. by AA fire. Burial of enemy dead continues. The men received their first hot meal today; they sure were hungry. During the battle they did not eat much, perhaps because of the excitement.
October 29. Snipers less active. Patrols encounter very light activity. Burial of enemy continues. Souvenir hunters are becoming a nuisance, so orders are issued controlling this situation. Almost every soldier and marine on the island had a souvenir of some sort.
October 30. Burial of enemy dead completed. Most snipers now cleared out. Two of our prisoners admit tremendous enemy losses, shortages of stores and supplies, and low morale. Very little activity. “Pistol Pete” is quiet. Made a special trip for Col. Moore with a message to Lt. Co. Hall, the Third Battalion commander. This trip was a tough one after dark, didn’t think I’d make it, as it was through the jungle. Got shot at a couple times and caught Hell from my own men for wandering around after dark.
October 31. Quiet on all sector fronts. Activity of snipers has ceased. No bombing alerts. The following men received Regimental commendation per Regimental General Order Number Three: Staff Sergeant William S. Bachellor, Company “M”; Pfc James Sullivan, Company “I”; Pfc Stanley W. Anda, Company “L”; Pfc Francis H. Lauder, Company “M”. Our patrolling is heavy and we are going deeper every day.
The following message was received October 9, 1942, from Commanding Officer, First Marines to Commanding Officer, 164th Infantry:
“SUBJECT: CONTRATULATIONS: THE OFFICERS AND MEN OF THE FIRST MARINES SALUTE YOU FOR A MOST WONDERFUL PIECE OF WORK ON THE NIGHTS OF 25 AND 26 OCTOBER, 1942. WILL YOU PLEASE EXTEND OUR SINCERE CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL CONCERNED? WE ARE HONORED TO SERVE WITH A UNIT SUCH AS YOURS. LITTLE DID WE REALIZE WHEN WE TURNED OVER OUR “QUIET SECTOR” TO YOU THAT YOU WOULD BEAR THE BRUNT OF AN ATTACK SO SOON. I’M SURE YOU ARE VERY PROUD OF THE FIGHTING ABILITY DEMONSTRATED BY YOUR UNIT AND OUR HAT IS OFF TO YOU.”
C. B. CATES
The following commendation bulletin, Division Bulletin 64a-42, was issued by Headquarters, First Marine Division, Major General A. A. Vandegrift:
“THE COMMANDING GENERAL COMMENDS THE THIRD BATTALION, 164TH INFANTRY, U. S. ARMY, FOR THE EFFECTIVENESS OF ITS OPERATIONS AGAINST THE ENEMY ON 24, 25, AND 26 OCTOBER, 1942. THE FIRST MARINE BATTALION, SEVENTH MARINES, OCCUPYING A DEFENSIVE SECTOR OF A WIDTH OF 2500 YARDS SITUATED TO THE SOUTH OF THE POSITIONS OF THE FIRST MARINE DIVISION ON LUNGA POINT, GUADALCANAL, BRITISH SOLOMON ISLANDS, HAVING BEEN ATTACKED BY A NUMERICALLY SUPERIOR ENEMY AT ABOUT 1000, 23 OCTOBER 1942, THE THIRD BATTALION, 164TH INFANTRY, THEN IN REGIMENTAL RESERVE WAS ORDERED TO REINFORCE THE LINE. MOVING BY A FORCED MARCH AT NIGHT THROUGH RAIN, OVER DIFFICULT AND UNFAMILIAR TERRAIN, IT ARRIVED IN TIME TO PREVENT A SERIOUS PENETRATION OF THE POSITION, AND BY REINFORCING THE FIRST BATTALION, SEVENTH MARINES THROUGHOUT ITS SECTOR, MADE POSSIBLE THE REPULSE OF CONTINUOUS ENEMY ATTACKS THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT. THE FOLLOWING DAY, HAVING BEEN ASSIGNED TO THE LEFT HALF OF THE SECTOR FORMERLY OCCUPIED BY THE FIRST BATTALION, SEVENTH MARINES, THE THIRD BATTALION, 164TH INFANTRY SO OCCUPIED AND PREPARED THE POSITION THAT WHEN THE MAIN EFFORT OF ANOTHER ENEMY ATTACK WAS DIRECTED AT IT ON THE NIGHTS OF 24 AND 25 OCTOBER, 1942, IT WAS ABLE TO HOLD THE POSITION WITHOUT SERIOUS LOSS TO ITS OWN PERSONNEL, ALTHOUGH HEAVY CASUALTIES WERE INFLICTED UPON ENEMY FORCES. THE FIRST DIVISION IS PROUD TO HAVE SERVING WITH IT ANOTHER UNIT WHICH HAS STOOD THE TEST OF BATTLE AND DEMONSTRATED AN OVERWHELMING SUPERIORITY OVER THE ENEMY.”
The following radio dispatch from the Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Fleet, was received from Honolulu, October 31, 1942:
“STORIES OF YOUR SUCCESSFUL LAND OPERATIONS HAVE THRILLED US ALL. EXPRESS MY APPRECIATION TO YOUR MARINES IN THE FRONT LINES, AND TO YOUR SOLDIERS FOR THE WAY THEY HAVE BACKED UP AND REESTABLISHED THE LINES BY THEIR COUNTER ATTACKS. WE FEEL THAT YOU HAVE FORMED A TEAM WHICH WILL BE MORE THAN A MATCH FOR THE ENEMY.”
November 1 and 2. Eight enemy snipers were located and killed. Reconnaissance patrols went out 2,500 yards beyond our lines, and report negative. Regimental received orders from Commanding General, First Marine Division, to move forward to a new sector west of the Matanikau River and proceed by military operation and maneuver to an objective four miles further west.
November 3. Enemy artillery shelled sector at 7:00 a.m. No casualties. The First Battalion cleared its area at 6:30 a.m. and marched toward the Matanikau in column of twos and reached the river in the afternoon and proceeded west, being attached to the Fifth Marines in reserve. Later that day the First Battalion moved further on being attached to the Second Marines. During the morning about 3,000 Japs landed at Koli Point, east of our sector. Two battalions of Seventh Marines intercepted them. Our Second and Third Battalions received orders to proceed toward Koli Point for a flank attack.
On November 4, 1942, our Second and Third Battalions cleared their areas at 6:30 a.m. and proceeded toward Koli Point. Terrain is dense, steam-heated jungle, and progress is slow requiring tremendous effort of all men. Necessary to cut lanes in many places. Our Navy shelled enemy positions at Koli Point at 10:00 a.m. Our Second and Third Battalions and Headquarters reached a point three miles south of Koli Point at Malimbau River. Our Navy and artillery shelled enemy positions at Koli Point at 10:00 p.m.
November 5. The First Battalion has taken up front line positions about four miles west of the Matanikau River, beyond Point Cruz. Now attached to Second Marine Regiment. Sergeant Raymond G. Holzworth, Company “H”, killed in action; Private George H. Dohn, Company “A”, killed in action. A combat reconnaissance patrol of Company “B”, was ambushed by enemy Jap machine gun fire, west of Point Cruz. The following men were killed and their bodies not recovered due to enemy occupation, although several attempts were made: Pfc Carl L. Hjelm, Medical Detachment; Private Sherman R. Olson, Company “B”; Private Gerhard P. Mokros, Company “B”; Pfc Stanley J. Ziska, Company “B”; Sergeant Herbert W. Lancord, Company “B”; Staff Sergeant Robert C. Cross, Company “B”; Sergeant Raymond W. Johnson, Company “B”. The following men were killed attempting to aid the patrol: Second Lt. James L. McCreary, Company “B”; Staff Sergeant Arthur W. Jones, Company “B”.
Our Second and Third Battalions crossed the Malimbau River with great difficulty. The current is very swift and transfer of supplies to amphibian tanks is necessary.
At 12:00 noon 17 enemy bombers passed over section, but were intercepted. Five were shot down by AA guns, and several more by fighters. They dropped six personnel bombs in our abandoned Second and Third Battalion area. No casualties. Patrols in jungle are meeting enemy machine gun resistance.
November 6. Second and Third Battalions and Headquarters proceeded to Koli Point along east side of Malimbau River. Main body of enemy has evidently moved inland to the mountains. Enemy machine guns and patrols are encountered. First Battalion front quiet. The following men were killed in action: Private Clifford R. Bird, Company “F”; Pfc Harvey Yokum, Company “E”; Pfc Paul A. Roy, Company “E”; Sergeant Albert J. Osmon, Company “L”. Yokum and Osman buried in the field.
On November 7, 1942, at 10:45 a.m. a Japanese submarine entered the open harbor at Lunga Point and torpedoed a cargo ship. Nearby destroyers immediately circled the area and dropped depth charges. The explosion of these charges can be felt by earth vibration for several miles. The Navy reported that the enemy submarine was destroyed. Our Second and Third Battalions have now reached Koli Point and are preparing to move toward an objective further east. Enemy machine guns were encountered. The Third Battalion and special units were withdrawn from the Koli Point movement, and the Second Battalion continued on this movement as attached to the Seventh Marine Regiment.
On November 8 and 9, our Regimental CP was set up west of the Lunga River; Third Battalion in Division Reserve. The First Battalion as part of the Second Marines has begun a drive west.
On November 10, 1942, the Second Battalion is still committed to the Seventh Marines. The following men were killed in action: Private Alois N. Georges, Company “G”; Sergeant Clyde G. Morgan, Company “F”; Private Gerald Hall, Company “F”; Private Joseph A. Miller, Company “E”.
At 10:00 a.m. on November 11, 51 enemy planes came over in two waves, and dropped their loads near the airfield. Our air force went after them and shot down 16 enemy planes. Our losses: Six Grummans. I had a good seat on the bombing show as I got caught off shore in a Higgins boat, and saw three Jap bombers go down in the ocean. It was a grand sight although our own ack ack fire lit all around us. No damage or casualties from the bombing. Our August and September mail started coming in. The First Battalion was relieved of duty at Point Cruz, and returned to Regimental bivouac area for a well-earned rest.
On November 12, the Second Battalion was relieved from further duty at Koli Point and returned to the Regimental bivouac area for a well earned rest. 116 enlisted men and 21 officers reported for duty from New Caledonia. Most of the officers are recent Officer’s Candidate School graduates. At 11:00 a.m. a large enemy air raid. Our air force shot down 24 enemy planes. Our loss was two planes, both pilots bailing out to safety. It was a field day for the air force. Two battalions of infantry, one battalion of artillery, two companies of engineers and some medical personnel arrived today. It is the first Army troops to arrive since we landed.
All forces west of Kukum have been drawn in to closer perimeter defense, due to expectation of a large enemy invasion force from the sea. On November 13, this defense was completed. Enemy naval fire at airfield from 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. Minor damage.
November 14, quiet. November 15, an enemy air raid at 11:30 a.m. No damage of casualties. The enemy naval ships shelled the area from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Minor damage; no casualties. These ships are evidently the vanguard of a larger force, now engaged in a tremendous sea battle nearby with our own Navy. First Lt. Granville E. Clark, killed in action. This is the big Jap M Day as they are trying to land 40,000 troops to reinforce their troops on Guadalcanal. Hope they don’t land.
The dull booming of naval guns can be heard in the distance, and our Ops can see giant flashes at sea.
On November 16 and 17 our sector is quiet. The tremendous naval engagement which began on November 13, and was fought off the northeast coast of this island, resulted in a decisive victory by our Navy. This was a savage battle in which our air force also engaged, and the prize was the possession of the southern Solomons. The victory was a smashing one. The Japanese lost 23 warships destroyed and seven damaged. Among the ships destroyed were two battleships, three heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, five destroyers and eight transports loaded with Japs. It is estimated that more than 24,000 Japanese soldiers from the transports were drowned or killed. Four cargo ships were beached on Guadalcanal near the Kokumbona, and our land forces had a target practice picnic destroying them with artillery and aerial bombing.
This Japanese invasion force had been concentrated near New Britain. With the two battleships acting as a spearhead it arrived at the Guadalcanal area on November 13 intending to bombard our positions. The force was intercepted in the Guadalcanal area, and a savage fight at close range developed. During the furious night battle the Japs became confused and some of their groups were firing at each other. The wounded Jap armada retreated to the north, but on November 14 in the afternoon they picked up 12 transports and some more warships and again headed for Guadalcanal intent on invasion. The morning of November 15 our land positions on Guadalcanal were bombarded as a preliminary to putting troops ashore. However, the attempt was smashed by our air force, and our naval force again engaged the armada and defeated it. Eight P-38s came in today (our first). You could hear cheering all over the island.
On November 18 our Second Battalion was committed to defensive positions near the Matanikau River; First and Third Battalions followed on November 19.
On November 20 our regiment took up defensive positions at Point Cruz west of the Matanikau. Prize story for the day: Harry the Horse called Mc up and said: “I have two Jap prisoners, shall I shoot them?”
A slow advance toward objective further west is begun. The enemy is laying down heavy mortar and machine gun fire. They are well dug in and concealed. Due to the terrain of jungle and ridges and the terrific heat, it is very difficult to get supplies, ammunition and water to our troops. They are taxed to exhaustion. Coordinated artillery, air and mortar fire does not dislodge the enemy. They have dug-in in the coral and in draws and are quite secure. Any exposure of our troops draws accurate enemy fire. Casualties are fairly heavy. This situation continues on November 23 and 24. Advance is stopped, and positions are consolidated. Men must live on “C” and “D” rations and coffee, as movements draw heavy and accurate enemy mortar fire. Enemy light artillery appears to have been silenced by our air and artillery support. Snipers are active. Our planes continue to bomb and strafe enemy positions with unknown results. Our Third Battalion has suffered heavy casualties by artillery and mortar fire. Many exhaustion and sickness ineffectuals.
Cpl Raymond J. O’Connell, Company “M”, November 20; Pvt Mardel D. Vornholt, Company “M”, November 20; Pvt Richard H. Czapiewski, Company “D”, November 21; Pfc Alfred H. Mahlstedt, Company “M”, November 21; Sgt Jack E. Geiger, Company “A”, November 21; Pvt Harold Zerface, Company “A”, November 21; Pfc Renes F. Hitchcock, Company “B”, November 21; Second Lt. Carl E. Vettel, November 21; S/Sgt Robert J. Burckhardt, Company “A”, November 21; Pvt Louis E. Kmiecik, Company “A”, November 21; Pfc Wendell A. Paulson, Company “I”, November 21; Pvt Lewis E. Knight, Company “M”, November 21; Pfc Christian E. Montgomery, Company “I”, November 21; Second Lt. George R. Derhan, Company “A”, November 21; Sgt Llewellyn M. Hamery, Company “A”, November 21; Pvt Bernard L. Barholz, Company “A”, November 21; Pfc Robert D. Jenkins, Company “A”, November 21, First Sgt Virgil A. Lane, Company “L”, November 21, Second Lt. Kermit C. Sloulin, Company “I”, November 21; Pfc Walter G. Montgomery, Company “I”, November 21; Pfc Wenceslaus J. Novotny, Company “I”, November 21; Pfc Joseph F. Kelley, Company “I”, November 21; Cpl Lewis D. Dibbert, Company “I”, November 21; Pvt Tony A. Simuneci, Company “A”, November 22; Pvt Frank L. Arnold, Company “I”, November 22; Pfc Selmara Garness, Medical Detachment, November 22; Pvt Wenzel A. Picha, Company “D”, November 22; Pfc Gould E. Gray, Company “A”, November 22; Pvt Elton L. Pederson, Company “K”, November 22; Pvt Marion Vanderwerff, Company “K”, November 22; Pfc Raymond E. Moore, Company “K”, November 22; S/Sgt Pat G. Reilly, Company “A”, November 22; Cpl Richard C. Myers, Company “A”, November 22; Pfc John R. Weigel, Company “A”, November 22; Pvt Emery F. Gess, Company “A”, November 22; Cpl Hermann C. Diede, Company “K”, November 23; Second Lt. Albert F. Whitney, Company “I”, November 23; Capt Andrew H. Panettiere, MC, November 23; First Lt. Hallard D. Albertson, Headquarters Det. Third Battalion, November 23; Cpl Wilbur E. Kohnke, Company “I”, November 23, Second Lt. Charles E. Grytness, Company “I”, November 23; Second Lt. Rilie R. Morgan, Jr., Company “K”, November 23; First Lt. William K. Pflugrath, Company “K”, November 23; Winifred B. Fischer, Company “K”, November 23; Pvt John J. Brucker, Company “K”, November 23; Pvt Charles H. Stimmel, Headquarters Company, November 23; Pfc Adrian H. Ness, Company “I”, November 23; Pfc Steve Lopez, Company “I”, November 23; Pfc Arnold G. Rahja, Company “I”, November 23; Pvt Joseph Shuster, Company “I”, November 23; Pfc William J. Clewitt, Company “I”, November 23; Pfc Harold M. Poppen, Company “I”, November 23; Pfc Olard W. Boucher, Company “D”, November 23; Second Lt. W. J. Hall, Company “M”, November 23.
On November 25, the enemy is still maintaining a well dug-in defense in depth. Our artillery and mortars are dislodging some of them. Our patrols are active and destroying some positions, but they are replaced during the night. Our combat strength is below 2,000. We have several hundred ineffectuals due to malaria, dysentery, shell-shock, hysteria and minor wounds. We feel the loss of Capt Panettiere, our brave medical officer. The Division hospital is congested, so we are treating many cases in our rear area. I am still worn out from yesterday’s scrap. The Nips located our CP today with their mortars, wounding three men. Looks like I’ve got to hunt a new hole.
On November 26, an enemy air raid dropped 20 bombs; some casualties to marines. Our artillery and mortars continue to bombard the enemy and our patrols are active. The following men were killed in action: Pfc Alfred J. Bottke, Company “A”, November 25; Pvt John F. Sloss, Company “A”, November 25; Pvt Willard J. Coulter, Company “B”, November 25; Cpl Willard P. Dowsett, Company “E”, November 25; Pvt Harold W. Childers, Company “F”, November 26; Pfc Hans M. Odegard, Company “F”, November 26, Pfc Leslie C. Huffstutler, Company “E”, November 26, Pvt Kalervo Hallila, Headquarters First Battalion, November 26; Cpl Joseph W. Armstrong, Company “D”, November 25.
At 3:30 a.m. on November 27, an enemy air raid. No casualties. Our artillery and mortars continued to batter the enemy. They are replacing weakened positions rapidly, but they are weakening generally and there is not much likelihood of a counter-attack. Lt. Col. Hall, Third Battalion commander, was wounded and evacuated. Capt Ralph Knott was wounded and evacuated. Sent our Anti Tank Company in to relieve Company “A”. It was our only reserve.
Another enemy air raid at 3:30 a.m. on November 28. At 6:30 a.m. an enemy sub torpedoed the U. S. S. Alcheba at Lunga Lagoon. The ship was beached to avoid capsizing. The cargo and crew were saved. Capt Hedstrom, Lt Preston and 14 enlisted men of this regiment were aboard at the time of the explosion, but were uninjured. The front line activity is limited to artillery and patrols. The following man was killed in action: Pvt Bernhart W. Boe, Company “F”. First Lt John A. Crawford died at the hospital at New Hebrides where he had been evacuated, wounded several days ago.
On November 29 at 3:00 a.m. another air raid; no casualties. Our continuous bombardment of enemy positions has caused some withdrawal. They are attempting to strengthen their positions. Coordinated artillery and mortar fire at enemy positions went on all afternoon. Our patrols are active. The enemy continues to fire mortars at our positions, effectively. The following man was killed in action: Pvt William T. Goracke, Company “C”. We got together a makeshift Battalion to relieve the Second Battalion of the Eighth Marines. Capt Crook is commanding our makeshift Battalion.
At 4:00 a.m. November 30 another enemy air raid. No casualties. Our 81 MM mortars destroyed an enemy Anti-tank gun and emplacement. Mortars on both sides continue. The following men were killed in action: Pfc Melvin C. Feiring, Company “K”; Pvt Francis E. Black, Company “D”; First Lt. William Grayson, Anti-tank Company; Sergeant Reuben Herr, Company “A”; S/Sgt Lester A. Ashbacher, Company “K”. We are killing and destroying Jap positions daily. It is hard grubbing, but we will get them out.
December 1, 1942. Came down with malaria diagnosed as moderate-severe. I am to take six quinine and three atabrine a day for three days. Then three quinine and three atabrine a day for four days. Major Yancey told me to stay in the CP for a couple of days. Lt. Flo reported back from his patrol trip across the island. He worked his way behind the Jap lines after landing at Beaufort Bay. He had 12 men from our regiment with him. His report was extremely interesting.
December 2, 1942. To hell with staying at the CP. I made an inspection of the lines throughout the Second Battalion from the Point Cruz area to the ridge. I sure sweat from the quinine and atabrine. All battalions were busy destroying Jap positions with mortar and artillery fire. Their MG positions are built out of coral rock and you have to use something to blast them out. The 81 heavy seems to be the best bet. The following men were killed today: Private Murray Velkoff, Company “M” and Pfc Omar A. Young, Company “M”.
December 3, 1942. Our positions are the same today and we had usual patrol activity. Visited Company “C” in the draw today. It certainly was hot in there. No air or breeze. It sounds like a sizeable naval battle north of us. Corporal William M. Carney, Company “G” was killed in action today.
December 4, 1942. Enemy defense in depth and still being maintained. There is at least a reinforced Jap regiment out in front of us. However we are gradually wearing them down with our patrol activities, mortar and artillery fire. The following men were killed in action today: Pfc Gerald W. Roberts, Company “M” and Corporal Lewis D. Dibbert, Company “I”.
December 5, 1942. First Battalion sent out three patrols into the draws. They killed about 30 Japs. Second Battalion patrol got into the dry wash and destroyed three enemy MG positions. They had a well coordinated patrol and are using assault wire and direct mortar fire to assist them. Our artillery shelled the enemy supply line.
SECRET REPORT ON CAPTURED LETTER
December 5, 1942
This letter was written as a last testament by Lance Corporal (Heicho) KOTO Kiycshi to his eldest brother, KOTO Kisaku in Niigata, Japan. The sender’s address is given as YU 1302, SATO unit which may be taken to be the SATO Battalion of the 16th Infantry. The letter is marked December 1st at 5:10, front line, Guadalcanal. The bearer was killed about midnight of the same day in front of the Anit-Tank Company, 164th Infantry. According to the letter he participated in a general attack on November 25, was grazed by an artillery shell fragment the 26th, and then entered the Second Field Hospital. His wound was well by December 1, but the fragment in his arm impeded his handwriting. He was being sent back to the front line the day of the letter. There being no food, he was going forward to fight without having eaten. Quotation follows:
“Every day there is bombing by enemy aeroplanes, naval gunfire and artillery fire. No sign of friendly planes or of our navy appears. The transports haven’t come yet either. I have not eaten properly since the 24th of November; many days I have had nothing to eat at all. From tonight on indefinitely, again without expecting to return alive, I am going out resolutely to the front line. Even though I am holding my rifle with a right arm that doesn’t move easily, etc., now is the time for me to dominate a military contest. I must serve as long as I can move at all.”
"The Regimental Commander, Colonel Hiroyasu, 16th Infantry, died in battle. The battalion commanders are all either wounded or dead. My own company commander is dead. Two of the platoon commanders have been wounded, one of them entered the hospital for medical treatment and was with me there. In our company NCOs are acting as platoon commanders and privates as squad leaders. At present my company has come down to a total of only thirty men. Of the soldiers in my squad three were killed, four wounded, and at present four in good health are doing hard fighting. As I too am soon to leave for the front lines I should like to see their cheerful faces. The platoon leader, convalescing and almost up, said “Go to it!”….(Here greeting to the various members of the family)….In conclusion, I am writing this as a farewell letter.”
To my older ther,
Army Lance Corporal
December 6, 1942. First Battalion patrols killed seven Japs. Second Battalion patrol spotted 30 Japs and directed MG and mortar fire on them. 27 Japs were killed. Third Battalion scored hits on Jap MG emplacements located by their patrol. A Jap diary reveals enemy is not getting reinforcements or supplies. First Lt. Flo appointed Regimental S-2. Out ineffectuals from dysentery and war neuroses in the rear area are reduced to a minimum. The following men were killed in action today: Corporal Willard P. Dowsett, Company “E” and Pfc Dale Utrecht, Company “G”.
December 7, 1942. Our artillery kept up a steady barrage from 0800, until 1800 because of the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Talk about sweet music to our ears. Understand we used ten battalions of artillery and it included 75s – 105s and 155s. Col. Demath, Executive Officer of the Field Artillery told me that 14,000 rounds of all types were fired. This is one day that the old Nips are cringing in their holes and dugouts. One could hear Japs screaming somewhere along the line all day.
First Marine Division
Fleet Marine Force
C/O Postmaster, San Francisco, California
7 December 1942
DIVISION CIRCULAR )
) Letter of Appreciation for Loyal Service.
NUMBER 37A-42 )
In relinquishing command in the Cactus Area I hope that in some small measure I can convey to you my feeling of pride in your magnificent accomplishments and my thanks for the unbounded loyalty, limitless self sacrifice and high courage which have made those accomplishments possible. To the soldiers and marines who have faced the enemy in the fierceness of night combat; to the Cactus Pilots, Army, Navy and Marine, whose unbelievable achievements have made the name “Guadalcanal” a synonym for death and disaster in the language of our enemy; to those who have labored and sweated within the lines at all manner of prodigious and vital tasks; to the men of the torpedo boat command slashing at the enemy in night sorties; to our small band of devoted allies who have contributed so vastly in proportion to their numbers; to the surface forces of the Navy associated with us in signal triumphs of their own, I say that at all times you have faced without flinching the worst that the enemy could do to us and have thrown back the best that he could send against us. It may well be that this modest operation, begun four months ago today has, through your efforts, been successful in thwarting the larger aims of our enemy in the Pacific. The fight for the Solomons is not yet won but “tide what may,” I know that you, as brave men and men of good will, will hold your heads high and prevail in the future as you have in the past.
A. A. VANDEGRIFT
Major General, U. S. Marine Corps
December 8, 1942. We had large patrol activities in all battalion sectors and cleaned out three Jap MG nests. S/Sgt George H. Fritz, Company “B” was killed in action today. I was in the line when they brought him through. He was leading a patrol. It’s tough to lose good men.
December 9, 1942. Five Jap 77 MM artillery shells dropped into our CP. One man, Pfc Matt J. Doworshak, was killed. He was attached to Headquarters Company. Major General Patch of our Americal Division assumed command of the Cactus Ringbolt Area. Major General Vandegrift, First Marine Division Commander is leaving. He is truly a wonderful leader and I will always see his calm smiling countenance ready to give you a pat on the back, a word of encouragement when the chips were down. He told me that he wished he could take the 164th Infantry with him when he left the Island with his division.
December 10, 1942. Very quiet. We are using artillery well placed on all forms of Jap activity including known Jap bivouac area, supply routes and spotted artillery emplacements. Our men are getting pretty pooped out. Patrols are only good for about three hours at a time and they come back all in. Our best hours against the Nips are from 0600 until 1000. They are pretty loggy during those hours as they work like beavers all night.
December 11, 1942. I went over to Col. Arthur, CO Second Marine Regiment to arrange for the relief of our 164th. Brig. Gen. Rupertis, who is in command of the perimeter defense had charge of the meeting. It was decided that the relief would be accomplished in six days commencing December 12. Col. Moore did not like the set up as it would take too long; however, there were not enough troops at either place to handle the relief in one set up. Sergeant Paul B. Rockstad of Company “E” was killed in action today.
December 12, 1942. Third Battalion relieved of its positions west of the Matanikau by the First Battalion, Eight Marines. The Third Battalion of the 164th moved into a staging area. First and Second Battalions of the 164th confined their activities to patrols. The following men were killed in action today: Pfc William F. Courtney of Company “B” and Pfc Lawrence D. Thieling of Company “A”.
December 13, 1942. Third Battalion, 164th moved into perimeter defense west of the Lunga, and relieved the Second Battalion, Eight Marines under Lt. Col. Cook. First and Second Battalions, 164th maintained contact with the enemy with patrols. Jap planes dropped 15 bombs in the vicinity of Henderson Field.
December 14, 1942. First Battalion, 164th was relieved by the Second Battalion, Eight Marines on the line west of the Matanikau. Our First Battalion moved into staging area. Second Battalion, 164th sent out one patrol and worked over Jap positions. Third Battalion, 164th, confined their activities to strengthening the perimeter line and sent out two small patrols. I took over the Eight Marines CP at the Lunga River bridge and worked out details with Lt. Col. Reisler, Executive Officer of the Eight Marines. Colonel Moore took command of the sector at 1300.
December 15, 1942. First Battalion, 164th, relieved the Third Battalion, Eight Marines on the perimeter line. This gave us the First Battalion, Seventh Marines on our left across the Lunga River and the Second Battalion, 182nd Infantry on our right. Third Battalion went out on two patrols. Our regimental CP is located on the Lunga – good swimming.
December 16, 1942. Second Battalion, 164th, relieved by the Third Battalion, Eight Marines. Our Second Battalion went into perimeter reserve in the palms known as the Fifth Marine area. This completes our activity in the Fourth Battle of the Matanikau. We suffered quite a few casualties and were in action 28 days without relief. The health of the men is not good as they are run down from lack of good wholesome food and the strain of 28 days in action has taken something out of them. They need a damn good rest. First Battalion and Third Battalion had their usual patrol activities.
December 27, 1942. No word from the “G” Company patrol. Other patrols negative. Radio must be out.
December 28, 1942. Captain Meline returned just before dark. He managed to get through with one of the tractors. The patrol located the Jap trail. Meline was assigned to take over the Third Battalion because Captain Crook was sent to the hospital with arthritis.
December 29, 1942. Major Ordahl took a group of officers out to check the Matanikau positions. Meline came down with malaria. Captain Gossett assumed command of the Third Battalion. Company “G” patrol returned. They had invaluable information – they had located the Jap trail and destroyed one Jap field piece. The mystery of the route used by the Japs in their attack on Henderson Field October 25, 26 and 27 was finally solved. No wonder Marine patrols could not discover the Japs at that time.
December 30, 1942. Lt. Col. Hall returned from the hospital at Suva. He is quite well again from his wounds. Had a meeting with Company “B”; they are to go up the Lunga with the next patrol. Plenty of rain the past week has made the roads terrible.
December 31, 1942. Line up for the end of the year: First and Third Battalions on the perimeter defense west of the Lunga; Second Battalion in perimeter reserve; Service Company located near the Marine cemetery. Here is the box score on casualties and miscellaneous information since our landing on October 13, 1942. 63 air raids. These are raids where bombs actually fell in our areas. This total does not include all the alerts. 137 men and officers killed in action. 308 men and officers wounded in action. 393 men and officers evacuated. 13 men and officers missing in action.
January 1, 1943. Colonel Moore, our regimental commander, was made A.D.C. of the Americal Division. Lt. Col. Paul Daly from Southport, Conn. Was given command of our regiment.
January 2, 1943. Two air raids during the night. Daly was made a full Colonel. Decoration ceremony at the First Battalion today. Colonel Moore made the awards. There were five silver stars given out.
January 3, 1943. Third Battalion decoration ceremony today and Colonel Moore pinned one Silver Star; one Soldiers Medal and three Purple Hearts. I bid goodbye to Brig. Gen. Rupertis and Lt. Col. Frisbee of the Seventh Marines today. Our gang will sure miss the First Marine Division. They are grand guys and great fighters.
January 4, 1943. The rear echelon under Captain Erickson came in by ship from New Caledonia. They are glad to get back with the regiment and I do hope the bombings will not be too hard on them. Our patrols have only run across a few scattered Japs in the Jungle.
January 5, 1943. Second Battalion decoration ceremony and three Silver Stars and two Purple Hearts were awarded. Usual patrol activities.
January 6, 7, 8, 9, 1943. Usual routine with patrols and positions unchanged. First and Third Battalions on the line with the Second Battalion stationed in the coconuts as perimeter reserve. Brig. Gen. Sebree is the perimeter commander now.
January 10, 1943. Company “C”, 164th Infantry under Captain Mjogdalen returned from patrol back of Grassy Knoll (Mt. Austin). The Mataniku battle started in full swing again with the Second Marine Division along the costal plane and the 25th Division under Major General Collins on the left striking along the ridges. These ridges curve toward the ocean near Kokumbona. This is the first time we have had enough troops together for a real push. They are using 200 natives from Malaita to hand carry for the 25th Division. It looks like it will be curtains for the Nips on Guadalcanal.
January 11, 1943. One air raid today. No casualties. Third Battalion relieved by our Second Battalion. The Third Battalion is suffering from malaria and will move down to the beach at Kokum, where they will constitute the perimeter reserve. Rains are heavy and roads are poor.
January 12, 1943. Company “I”, 164th Infantry, under First Lt. Steckler left on the regular five day patrol up the Lunga River. The Jap east-west trail back to Mt. Austin must be continually watched to prevent the Japs from coming wide during the offensive west of the Matanikau. We furnished 650 men for unloading ships at the beach.
January 13, 1943. One air raid; no casualties. Usual routine patrol activities. Continuous rains and our labor details are heavy.
January 14, 1943. Captain Meline and myself visited the front and conferred with Colonel Jeske, Lt. Colonel Reisler and Lt. Colonel Frikke of the Eighth Marines. Eight men, including two officers were killed during an air raid tonight. Two men were also wounded. Those killed are as follows: S/Sgt Robert J. Turner of Company “K”; Second Lt. Clarence L. Bonderud of Campany “K”; Pfc Troy T. Gustafson of Company “K”; Corporal Arthur O. Johnson of Company “K”; Pfc Fred J. Reed of Company “K”; Private Manuel D. Cuen of Company “K”; Second Lt. Raymond W. Baesler of Company “A” and Pfc Coral D. Hoagenson of Company “E”.
January 15, 1943. Two air raids during the night. The Nips came in without warning. The “dirty cows” as Colonel Matheson of the Australian Army used to call them. Received an order placing me on the Division Promotion Board.
January 16, 1943. Four air raids. The Nips are trying to relieve the pressure of the Matanikau offensive. Usual routine patrol activities. Malaria is hitting us heavy.
January 17, 1943. One air raid. No casualties. Major Ordahl, Smith and myself went up to Koli Point with the view of taking over that sector from the 147th Infantry under Colonel Tuttle. This unit is going into combat for the first time and of course we came in for a lot of questions about battle.
January 18, 1943. Went over our list of officers to be sent back to the United States on the rotation of officers letter from the War Department. Don’t know what will come of this directive.
January 19, 1943. “Cactus Express” tried to get in again. This express consists of four or more Japanese destroyers that generally try to get in during the dark of the moon, and land Jap reinforcements and supplies. Visited the Matanikau front again. Boy, what a tough nut to crack. The Japs are well dug in, but the old softening up process the 164th Infantry and the Eight Marines gave them is starting to show results. Latest scuttlebutt, “the 164th Infantry is to be relieved off Guadalcanal after the Second and Eight Marines leave.”
January 20, 1943. We moved off the perimeter defense west of the Lunga River and went into XIV Corps defense. Our new location is on the beach in which is called Tenerau Block Number Four. This is the location where the Marines made their initial landing and drove southwest to capture Henderson Field. It rained all day and HOW! One air raid today.
January 21, 1943. We got our command post set up today. Colonel Daly decorated 21 soldiers at a ceremony held in the Third Battalion area. Secretary of Navy, Knox; Admirals Nimitz and Halsey are here today. Our regiment furnished a protective force for them when they visited the front. The Japs sure must know they are here today as we had five air raids. One of them lasted 7 ½ hours.
January 22, 1943. Received a flock of mail today. Lots of ships in and we are furnishing unloading details of five to six hundred men daily. The Nips are on the run and it sure looks like Kokumbona will be taken. The 164th Infantry and the Eighth Marines certainly softened the Nips up for the drive along the coast. Plenty of naval stuff around and it looks like something doing. We had three air raids during the night.
January 23, 1943. We are making plans for our regiment to make a landing in rear of the Jap lines. We had four air raids during the night and the enemy dropped a considerable number of bombs.
January 24, 1943. Colonel Daly, Lt. Colonels Hall, Richards, Northridge and myself boarded the Navy destroyer Long in order to make a coast reconnaissance behind the Jap lines for a possible landing for the regiment. We followed along the coast at pistol range (2500 yards) and lambasted the shore line on anything that looked like Jap positions or activity. We went all the way up to Cape Esperance and back, used up 400 shells. It was a lot of fun and the skipper gave us a good meal. Made tentative plans for a landing at Tasafronga. One air raid during the night.
January 25, 1943. 78 Jap airplanes (40 Zeros and 38 Bombers) tried to get in between Savo Island and Lunga Point. They were driven back and our air force knocked down five Zeros. Still toying with the landing area.
January 26, 1943. Four air raids between 0300 and 0500. 46 bombs were dropped. Company “C” under Captain Mjogdalen was alerted today to get ready to take over Savo Island. Savo is about eight miles off Cape Esperance and has been the scene of many a bloody naval battle. We are still planning for our landing against the Nips.
26 January 1943
1. The magnificent, aggressive, and sustained efforts of our ground forces, with the able assistance of accurate supporting fires from the air and sea, have completely demoralized, disorganized and scattered our enemy. Sickness and a lack of food variety have added to his distress.
2. The time has arrived, and I therefore call upon all members of this command to effect the kill through aggressive and untiring offensive action.
A. M. PATCH
Major General, U. S. Army
January 27, 1943. Japs put in a daylight raid and the score was nine Jap planes against five of ours. Company “C” is all set for their jaunt. Our old regimental commander, Colonel Moore, left for the states today. He was made a Brigadier General and will be Assistant Division Commander of the 104th Division at Camp Adair, Oregon.
January 28, 1943. Company “C” left at 1000 on a tank lighter for Savo Island. Hope they don’t run into too much opposition. They had ten day’s rations and five units of fire along. Colonel Jeske of the Eight Marines called today to wish me goodbye. It sure makes me feel bad to see some of the old Marine friends leave. We had three air raids during the night; one Jap bomber was shot down at Savo and four Zeros were reported down at Beaufort Bay.
January 29, 1943. Company “C” reported by radio from Savo. Everything was all right and so far no enemy encountered. Colonel Daly and Major Meline went to the front west of Kokumbona. I spent a quiet day reading. We had two air and one submarine raids today. Tonight we had chicken for supper and did it taste good.
January 30, 1943. Company “B”, 164th Infantry, relieved the Second Battalion of the 132nd Infantry on the defensive line east of the Lunga River. Colonel Butler of the Engineers called to say goodbye. His home is in Duluth and he is to report in to San Francisco. Our forces are still advancing west of Kukumbona.
January 31, 1943. Lt. General Harmon was here today. Our forces are advancing rapidly along the coast. Almost looks like it’s about over. We had three raids early this morning.
February 1, 1943. We had three air raids between 2130 last night and 0400 this morning. Report this morning a Jap force consisting of four aircraft carriers, 8 battleships, 15 cruisers, 24 destroyers and 60 transports are on their way down. Let them come, we’re here to stay. The regiment received orders to set up the beach defense in the Koli Point area. We struggled all night getting into position.
February 2, 1943. Two air raids during the night. I sure prayed on one raid as the road to Koli Point was jammed with artillery vehicles mired down with part of the 25th Division Artillery which was moving up to reinforce our position. Major Smith and I got caught in the traffic snarl looking for part of Regimental Headquarters Company. Luckily the bombs hit about half a mile away. The Third Battalion is in position from the Illu to the Malimbau River. The Second Battalion is being held in reserve with the First Battalion held temporarily inside the perimeter. Yesterday we received our first replacements from the States consisting of six officers and forty-one enlisted men. The sad part of the replacements was the fact that we evacuated forty-one men. Our score to date: 150 killed in action or died of wounds; 360 wounded in action; and 853 evacuated since October 13, 1942.
February 3, 1943. We had two air raids during the early morning hours before dawn. It was fun watching our ack-ack fire at them. Five searchlight batteries played the sky. One Zero must have been held in one set of beams for twenty minutes while the ack-ack pasted the plane. He was up so high they could not reach him, but several times the concussion from the bursting fire turned his plane completely around. The Third Battalion is wiring the beach up. The men are working like Trojans getting set for the probable Jap invasion force.
February 4, 1943. Routine defense work. Went over to the Ninth Marine Defense Battalion to go over plans on the placing of our Second Battalion in that area. They are located on the east side of the Malimbau River and have part beach defense and also airport defense in that area. Met Lt. Colonel Scheyer, Battalion Commander and his Executive Officer, Lt. Colonel Thompson. Thompson went to school with our Captain Newgard.
February 5, 1943. Routine beach defense, continually improving the set up with double apron wire. No further news on the Jap force. Some seem to think that the Japs are evacuating the island.
February 6, 1943. We are now attached to the 25th Infantry Division under Major General Collins. The 35th Infantry will occupy an area along the beach from the east branch of the Lunga River to the Illu River and tie up with our Third Battalion. This gives us a good beach defense from the Lunga to the Malimbau River.
February 7, 1943. We moved our Second Battalion across the Malimbau River to occupy the beach from Tagoma Point to the Metapona River. We are now in good position for any Jap attack on the north beach of Guadalcanal. It is good to get the men on the beaches as I notice that after a week in the sea breeze our malaria rate is cut down considerably. Received a letter from Captain McGurran, our adjutant. He is in the hospital at the Fiji Islands.
February 8, 1943. Today I’m busy moving the Regimental Command Post across the Malimbau and will occupy the old CP that the Americal Division Peep Reconnaissance Battalion had. It sure doesn’t take much to move as all we carry is what we have on our backs, plus communications. I’m getting to think that a war can be run from your hip pocket.
February 9, 1943. Our First Battalion moved up and were placed in reserve in the Koli Point area. The roads are terrible. The 132nd Infantry is coming up from the other side of the island. Met elements from the 161st Infantry at Cape Esperance. That looks like the windup of the battle of Guadalcanal. Everybody hopes that the news is true.
February 10, 1943. The news last night was terrific. General Patch officially confirmed it this morning. How happy us poor devils are. We have lived through 120 days of Hell.
February 11, 1943. Won 25 dollars playing poker. It was our first poker on Guadalcanal during the evening as lights have been taboo since we landed on the island.
February 12, 1943. One man from Company “M” was wounded by a mortar shell fragment. They were testing our various ranges.
12 February 1943
GENERAL ORDERS )
NUMBER 33 )
1. In order that all members of this command may know that higher headquarters understand and appreciate your accomplishments on GUADALCANAL the substance of the following radiograms is published:
From General Harmon (COMGENSOPAC): “All forces, Army, Marines, and Navy have given us all pride in splendid and rapid advance against Jap forces and then final elimination from GUADALCANAL. No one doubts the capacity of our forces to consistently whip the Jap in offensive action. We look forward with confidence.”
From Admiral Halsey (COMSOPAC): “Thanks and congratulations.”
From General Marshall (Chief of Staff, United States Army): “Other messages of congratulations have emphasized the excellence of your achievement. My personal thanks. Please pass to American Forces on CACTUS, congratulations on splendid successes. They fill us with confidence in the future.”
2. To all members of our forces, I therefore express my gratitude for the efforts and sacrifices made which have achieved the victory and merited these expressions from the high command.
A. M. PATCH
Major General, U. S. Army
February 13, 1943. Had our first meeting of a Board of Officers to conduct examinations for Second Lieutenants. Colonel Demuth of the Artillery is president, Major Sheldon of the 132nd Infantry is secretary, and Major Dolbeare, 182nd Infantry, Major Collins of the Medical Corps and myself made up the rest of the board. We have 150 candidates to examine.
February 14, 1943. We moved the regiment today and have a bivouac area on top of the hills overlooking the Matanikau River. This place is called Skyline Drive and will help the boys get rid of their malaria bugs, as there is always a good breeze up there. Our board met again today.
February 15, 1943. The battalions are well settled on Skyline Drive. We have a beautiful ocean view and can see Point Cruz and much of our old Matanikau battle ground. Rumor has it that Lt. Colonels Hall, Richards and I are going back to the States.
February 16, 1943. Our Candidate Board met this afternoon and examined 16 officer candidates. The scuttlebutt is running strong, some say the regiment is going back to New Caledonia; others the Fijis and as for the regiment itself, I would like to go to New Zealand. They deserve to get back to civilization, as it’s been almost a year since they were in Australia.
February 17, 1943. Major Schatz, Captain Yancy and Lt. Flo went over to Suva to visit Company “C”. A couple of the men over there are sick. Mail came in today.
February 18, 19 and 20, 1943. Usual routine – board meetings. The Sixth Marines have left the Island. Mail arrived during this period and everybody is happy. We also drew our pay. It was the first pay in four months. All the money in the world and nothing to spend it on. What crap games!!
February 21, 22 and 23, 1943. Upon return from church on the Skyline, orders were waiting for Lt. Colonels Hall, Richards and myself to return home. The news provoked strong emotions – though mixed. Was Providence intervening or had our job been done? Leaving the old Regiment after 23 years was a hard task. But from a tropical Hell to an American home was a most happy transition – outweighing all other factors.
Preparations to depart by air were hurriedly, yet thoughtfully, made. What articles should go and what ones should remain? My first thought was the old Jap rifle, taken from a dead Nip’s fist and stained by his own blood. Other items, all suggestive of the strife or battle, found a place.
Packing completed, the two Colonels and I called to pay final respects to Brig. General Sebree, who pleasingly told us that our services would be rewarded. Needless to say, that eased the strain of departure – and tomorrow was the day.
Sleepless from anticipation, I arose early and started to Henderson Field, being driven by faithful old Slats, who for two years had never failed in the careful performance of his duty. Telling Slats “goodbye” and leaving him behind hurt me acutely. His heart was very human.
Boarding the DC3 was all that remained to be done, and with characteristic Army dispatch that was accomplished. We took to the air and as if by spiritual control our plane droned low over the First Marine Cemetery before pursuing its course. Casting my tear-moist eyes below, there was present in my mind the picture of the old Regiment in open box formation about the cemetery, the Chaplain at the altar, and each man, upon the playing of taps, solemnly eager to break among the crosses in search of the final resting place of his pal and hero, there to kneel in manly reverence. My heart could stand no greater strain. My soul, linked with the souls of the dead below, resolved anew that “there shall be no rest until every Jap is obliterated from the Pacific.” Then, as over her deep blue waters we flew away, a merciful fog enshrouded our brave dead.
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