Captain Dye's Blog
Saturday, 19 January 2008
Week 27: Close Range Slugfest on Peleliu
The battered 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines is in it up to their bloodshot eyeballs at this point in the fighting for control of Peleliu. With the airfield in friendly hands and Seabees repairing damage to suit squadrons of Hellcats and Corsairs flying close air support for the hard-pressed infantry, the axis of advance has shifted northward. While Chesty Puller's shattered 1st Marines have been pulled out of the line, both the 5th and 7th Marines are now grinding through a maze of caves, hard-points and bunkers in the Umurbrogol Hills. Units are attacking such infamous Japanese bastions as Walt's Ridge, The Five Sisters, Horseshoe Basin, the China Wall and Death Valley. In that last appropriately named area PFC Sledge experienced a close encounter of the nasty kind with Japanese stay-behind troops aiming to kill as many Marines as possible by ambushing them from the rear. Sledge and his fellow mortarmen were ordered to set up their weapon near what everyone thought was a burned out bunker and be ready to fire support for the advancing rifle platoons. Unfortunately, that bunker was far from empty and a major fight ensued between Japanese survivors and the mortar guys with no riflemen around to lend a hand. The bunker - like so many others Marines encountered on Peleliu - was a regular clown-car. Every time they killed one Japanese defender, two more seemed to pop up out of nowhere. Finally, Corporal Burgin, the mortar squad leader, rushed to the rear and found an M-4 Sherman tank crew willing to rumble forward and help put a few 75mm holes in that bunker. Burgin also brought up a Marine flamethrower team to seal the deal and the mortarmen were finally able to get back to work firing for the infantry. Right now, King Company is stuck in a very tight spot facing Japanese dug in deeply on an opposing ridge and a long, deadly stretch of open ground to cross before they can advance. Artillery, air and naval gunfire is being called to pound that ridge but brutal experience has taught the infantrymen that there will still be plenty of enemy alive when the orders come to advance and assault the high ground. And those orders will come. It's the nature of the beast on Peleliu. Semper Fidelis.
Posted By Captain Dale A. Dye at 7:39 PM in Category:The Pacific War
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