WITH ITS MISSION COMPLETED of helping the marines to secure Guam, the 77th Division established an encampment in the hills east of Agat and named it Camp McNair after the 77th's former Chief of Staff. As the rainy season was at its height during August and September, the weary men found little rest or recreation. They continued on combat rations for several weeks and often had to hand-carry their own rations for miles when the roads washed away. Construction work also kept them busy. Conditions gradually improved as some of the comforts of life were brought in to the newly secured island.
The 77th took stock of its losses. On 10 August 265 men had been killed, 5 were missing, and 876 wounded seriously enough to be evacuated. The 3d Marine Division and 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, which had taken the main burden of the operation, each suffered greater total casualties than the 77th. The 3d Marines had lost 612 killed, 2,909 wounded, and 65 missing by 11 August; the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade counted 402 killed in action, 1,741 wounded, and 51 missing.
The toll exacted from the enemy was many times greater than American losses. On 10 August the 77th Division counted 1,889 killed; by 9 August the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade had killed 3,549, and the 3d Marine Division estimated its destruction of Japanese at 5,208. After organized resistance ceased, the 77th killed several hundred more Japanese in the mopping up. Through 9 August 77 prisoners were taken. The corps' estimate on 10 August was still that enemy strength before the invasion had been 18,500. The total count of enemy killed came to only slightly over 10,000 because so many of the enemy dead were blown to bits, buried by artillery fire, sealed up in their holes and caves, or simply never found in the jungle.
The difference between enemy casualties and our own lay in our enormous fire power, as well as in the good training of our troops and
the tactics of the American command. In small-arms ammunition, the 77th expended approximately 3,600,000 rounds of .30-caliber, 750,000 rounds of .30-caliber carbine, 475,000 rounds of .45-caliber. and 46,000 hand grenades. The division artillery during the battle used 19,428 rounds of 105-mm HE, 709 rounds of WP, and 4,579 rounds of 155-mm HE, making a total of 24,716 rounds for 4 battalions of artillery.
Increased knowledge of the enemy's intentions from captured documents, prisoner of war interrogations, and native reports indicated that he had planned to defend Guam with a larger force than the 18,500 encountered by the corps. However, the Japanese High Command experienced new troop requirements elsewhere, which, combined with the effects of Allied naval strength, frustrated their plan. Only small forward echelons of the 13th Division, evidently earmarked for movement from Manchuria, ever arrived at Guam, either because the convoy involved in the movement was torpedoed, or because some new situation in China or Manchuria required retention of the division there. At least one convoy carrying units of the 29th Division and elements of the 1st and 11th Divisions from Ujina (Manchuria) to Guam was attacked by our submarines. One prisoner from the 18th Infantry Regiment stated that half the personnel on the Sakito Maru was lost when it sank. Survivors were taken to Saipan, where the 1st Battalion of the 18th remained, while the 2d and 3d Battalions were sent to Guam under strength.
As soon as the enemy resistance ceased, Seabees and marine and army engineers set to work on the base with the latest equipment. Apra Harbor was quickly developed so that medium-sized cargo vessels could land supplies onto quays leading from Cabras Island. After a year of construction and improvements, this harbor handled more cargo than any other forward area port in the world. Air facilities also expanded rapidly. Orote airfield was soon large enough to take heavy bombers, and within a few months B-29's were flying to Japan. The air war against the enemy homeland reached victorious proportions in 1945, when B-29's took off daily from Guam's five large air bases and eight air strips. While the base expanded, the men of the 77th Division, who had helped make possible the possession of this key base, worked and trained for their next assignment, landing at the rear of Japanese forces on Leyte, early in December 1944.
page created 28 June 2001
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