Captain Dye's Blog
Saturday, 20 October 2007
Week 10: Action on Cape Gloucester and Bloody Ridge Bleeds
In a desperate attempt to break through BLT 2-1's defensive lines on Cape Gloucester, Japanese forces hit hard in a night attack. Pelting rain and cloying mud hindered their efforts to break through on a broad scale, but some small units did penetrate the perimeter and had to be eliminated in a confusing melee that stretched all the way back to the battalion CP. During this fight, PFC Leckie - recently reassigned as a scout with the Battalion Intelligence (B-2) Section - was guarding classified files, armed with a thermite grenade, and under orders to destroy the material if the Japanese threatened to capture it. It was a dicey time there for a while with Marines shooting at every shadow while trying to avoid friendly fire incidents. By dawn the Japanese infiltrators had all been chased down and killed but the Marines were shaken by the experience. Close combat in driving rain, in a shadowy jungle with fanatical enemy troops in bayonet range, is something no one can properly prepare for but valuable lessons were learned by the survivors and they will pass this knowledge on to replacements who join the division for the upcoming campaign to take the Palau Islands. PFC Leckie - and the classified files - survived the fight but he's starting to be plagued with an embarrassing illness that will eventually result in a disturbing sojourn at the Naval Hospital, 4th Naval Base Depot, on Banika Island. More about that later. Meanwhile, on Guadalcanal the desperate fight to hold a shaky perimeter south of Henderson Field has begun. Reports from a Combat Outpost 1,500 yards outside his lines let LtCol. Chesty Puller know that his 1st Battalion, 7th Marines and their back up force from the 3rd Battalion, 164th Infantry were in for a brutal fight. And it didn't take long for that fight to commence all along the battalion's over-extended line. Particularly hard hit was a sector manned by Charlie Company and reinforced with heavy machineguns from a weapons section run by Platoon Sergeant Manila John Basilone. Basilone, armed only with a pistol and fending off infiltrators at every turn, has been running ammo to his guns, repairing cranky water-cooled thirty-calibers by feel under fire, and inspiring the hard-pressed defenders with a dazzling display of scoot-and-shoot machinegun tactics. He's been everywhere along the defensive line, plugging himself and his machineguns into pressure points and mowing down Japanese attackers like some kind of high-speed weed-whacker. There's no doubt in any observer's mind why this Marine was awarded the Medal Of Honor for his actions on that terrifying night in October 1942 on Guadalcanal. Both the Cape Gloucester and Guadalcanal campaigns will be completed here in far north Queensland by month's end and then we move south to recommence the Peleliu battle at a location near Melbourne. The remainder of the 1st Marine Division's WW II campaigns will be staged there. Semper Fidelis.
Posted By Captain Dale A. Dye at 10:05 PM in Category:The Pacific War
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