Captain Dye's Blog
These are all the Blogs posted in October, 2007.
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Sunday, 28
Week 12: Guadalcanal Action Nearly Complete and the Cape Gl
The action on Guadalcanal's Bloody Ridge is nearly over and the assaulting Japanese forces have been repulsed with heavy casualties. Platoon Sergeant "Manila John" Basilone and his heavy machinegunners in Sector III of 1/7's defensive line inflicted many of those casualties. At dawn of the morning after the battle there was a sea of dead Japanese soldiers piled up around and among Charlie Company's positions where Basilone and his men spent a hectic and horrifying night plugging gaps and fighting at close range with every weapon available including a brace of 12-gauge shotguns that he obtained by trading with aircrews on Henderson Field. Over one of those positions flies a homemade flag bearing a skull and crossbones and declaring that the area belongs to "Suicide Charley 1st Bn., 7th Marines." The flag maker might have misspelled his company's title, but there was no doubt about the sentiment. LtCol. L.B. Puller reviewed the bloody fight and has recommended a number of Marines including Basilone and Platoon Sergeant Mitchell Paige for the Medal Of Honor. Those recommendations will be approved and the medals will be presented at a 1st Marine Division ceremony in Melbourne when the unit moves there to rest and recuperate. We'll see Major General Vandegrift decorate those Marines in an upcoming episode. Meanwhile, on New Britain, Marines from H-2-1 continue to patrol in the steamy, rain-soaked jungle running into Japanese units desperate to break through a cordon being thrown around Cape Gloucester by the 1st Marine Division and units of the 6th U.S. Army under LtGen. Walter Krueger. The Cape Gloucester campaign is the first time the division has operated under Army control and there are a few Navy Admirals and Marine Generals who hope it's the last time. The jungle crud and incessant rain have made everyone's lives miserable and Marines are walking around with boondockers and uniforms literally rotting off their withered bodies. Morale has suffered accordingly and we are beginning to see some attitude problems among Marines who have reached the limits of their endurance. In mid-week we move to Melbourne and board the movie magic time machine to continue the battle for Peleliu. Chesty Puller has been promoted to full colonel and commands the 1st Marines as they begin the costly assault on the Umorbrogol massif. PFC Eugene Sledge and his fellow mortarmen from K-3-5 will be sent into that meat-grinder to support the attack and we'll be right there alongside them as they attempt to pry fanatical Japanese defenders from caves and coral fortifications. We continue the attack. Semper Fidelis.
Posted By Captain Dale A. Dye at 6:24 AM / Category:The Pacific War
Saturday, 20
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 / Category:The Pacific War
Saturday, 13
Week 9: Monsoons drench Cape Gloucester and Contact Imminen
Soggy reports are arriving from Warriors XO Mike Stokey who indicates the winter monsoons have arrived on Cape Gloucester. When they aren't soaked to their wrinkled skins, PFC Robert Leckie and his mates from BLT 2-1 are up to their hips in cloying mud. Not much trouble with the IJA forces in the area as yet but the weather, jungle terrain and swarming mosquitoes are trouble enough while they struggle to maintain a toehold on New Britain. BLT 2-1 has landed south of the Division's main effort with the mission of cutting the Government Road that would allow the Japanese on Cape Gloucester to rush reinforcements in and flank the landing beaches. In a few days the Japanese forces will make some avid attempts to break through the Marines' defensive positions and the action will heat up significantly. Meanwhile, on Guadalcanal Lieutenant Colonel Lewis B. Puller has his 1st Battalion, 7th Marines stretched razor thin across a series of ridges south of Henderson Field. Over Chesty Puller's strenuous objections, Lieutenant Colonel H.H. Hanneken's 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines has been shifted leaving a potentially disastrous gap in the lines while the Japanese Sendai Division is massing for a big push to retake the airfield. Chesty has no choice but to fan his Marines out and call for reinforcements from the newly arrived U.S. Army's 164th Infantry. In a classic Marine Corps scrounging operation, Puller has sent Manila John Basilone and his other veteran NCOs on a mission to beg, borrow or steal the extra weapons and ammo the battalion will need to hold the line. Platoon Sergeant Basilone will be a key player in holding that long, thin line when the battle for Bloody Ridge begins next week. Despite the Army's overdue arrival in the central Solomon's with bountiful supplies, the Marines are still subsisting on wormy rice captured from Japanese stores and not much else. Last week we had a situation in which a Japanese infiltrator even joined the Marines' chow line and tried to sneak a share of the meager rations. He was caught and nearly killed but Chesty called a halt to proceedings and had the prisoner saved for interrogation. The point was that the Japanese on Guadalcanal are in nearly as poor shape as the Marines are. On Guadalcanal during World War II there were plenty of enemies to face including near starvation and malaria, which steadily whittled away at the 1st Marine Division's combat punch. An interesting note for Marines in this episode will be a sequence in which we see the action that brought Charlie Company 1/7 their famous guideon emblazoned "Suicide Charley, 1st Bn., 7th Marines." We continue the attack. Semper Fidelis.
Posted By Captain Dale A. Dye at 10:15 PM / Category:The Pacific War
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