The 306th Takes Over the Left (5-6 August)
AT 1837 ON 4 AUGUST General Geiger notified the units of his corps that it was apparent that the enemy was failing back on Mt. Santa Rosa. The divisions were ordered to continue vigorous pursuit, in their previous zones. The 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, less one battalion, was relieved from its mission guarding the southern flank, and would march northward to become corps reserve.
General Bruce was already making plans to employ a fresh regiment on his left. The 306th Infantry had so far had no part in major actions. After eight days of patrolling in defense of the southern beachhead, the regiment had been in reserve for the pursuit phase, and had been used to mop up behind the leading units. On the afternoon of 4 August it was ordered to prepare for moving at 0700 next morning, pass by the right flank of the 307th, and then extend northwest toward the division boundary (Map No. 22, page 108). This would pinch out the 307th Infantry, which would get a day's rest.
Although it would not be carried out in the face of an aggressive enemy, the maneuver of the 306th was difficult under the conditions imposed by jungle terrain, poor trails, and inaccurate maps. The artillery liaison plane helped spot the infantry's position as the columns advanced, 1st and 3d Battalions leading (Map No. 23, page 109). On reaching the Finegayan-Yigo coral road three miles southwest of Yigo, the 1st Battalion began to meet enemy groups well concealed in ambush positions along the route of advance.
Company A required over 2 hours to overcome a force estimated at 50 Japanese. After neutralizing the enemy fire ahead, the company was hit on the flank by Japanese who filtered through the jungle to launch an attack behind heavy machine-gun fire and a barrage of grenades. The attack broke the column in two, separating the mortar and headquarters section from the rest of Company A. Finally, using
MAP NO. 22 Plan for Advance, 77th Division, 5 August 1944
everything available—tanks, artillery, mortars, machine guns, and small arms-the company drove the Japanese off, at a cost of three killed and seven wounded. Nineteen enemy bodies were counted.
As a result of this and other delays, the 306th's advance for the day was about a mile, and it was still 1,000 yards from the division boundary. General Bruce ordered the battalions to consolidate their night positions carefully, reminding them of the possibilities of a Banzai counterattack. His plan for the next day was to continue the push of the 306th toward the division boundary; the 307th would prepare to move up to the Finegayan-Yigo road, and take its place in the center of the division line.1
The 1st Battalion of the 306th spent the night of 5/6 August
1. This was in preparation for the next phase of advance, with three regiments abreast, according to warning orders issued 5 August by corps commander (see later, p. 117).
fighting off Japanese infiltration in a heavy rain; one machine-gun post alone accounted for 12 enemy dead. Next morning with Company B leading, the battalion moved past Road junction 363 on a trail leading north toward the division boundary. A short distance up the trail, Pfc. Henry J. De Felippo, lead scout, came on several Japanese drying their shirts on trees. They caught sight of the Americans at the same moment. De Felippo killed three, but was shot as he tried to work back under heavy fire to report the
MAP NO. 23 Advance to 0-4 Line, 77th Division, 5-6 August 1944
enemy positions. This was the start of another delaying action in thick jungle. Company B suffered six casualties while waiting for machine guns, mortars, and tanks to come into action. Their fire broke up the enemy resistance. The Japanese scattered, leaving 38 dead. The sit Battalion pushed on toward the zone boundary, but their trail petered out. The last half mile was made by hacking a way through jungle and breaking up coral limestone so that vehicles could follow.
Meanwhile, the 3d Battalion was advancing northeast on the Yigo road. Within a few hundred yards, the unit had an opportunity to try out the 77th Division's theory on tank-infantry cooperation; it was, in fact, this battalion under command of Colonel Kimbrell which had worked out the divisional SOP on these tactics. The plan called for aggressiveness and speed in the action of the lead company, which was to keep moving at all cost and leave bypassed enemy groups to the next company. A tank platoon operated with the support elements of the leading company. One tank would advance through the brush just off a trail on one side, another followed by 20 to 30 yards on the other side of the trail, and the 3 remaining tanks of the platoon moved along the trail 100 yards further back. This formation was designed to enable the tanks to give one another support on meeting an antitank weapon, to keep the lead tanks out of the trail (most likely to be covered by antitank fire), and to widen the trail for units coming up following the tanks. Four infantrymen protected each tank from Japanese who might try to dose in with grenades. One of the four moved just in front of the vehicle, guiding it around holes and large stumps, and watching for mines. A basic feature in this scheme-and the most controversial aspect of it-was that infantrymen (i.e., the forward elements of the lead company) should precede the tanks and not simply follow them into action.
This system brought good results on 6 August, along the Yigo road. The lead scout of Company I spotted the muzzle of a 47-mm gun in the brush about 10 yards ahead. He halted the column quietly and reported back to 1st Lt. William P. DeBrocke, platoon leader. DeBrocke skillfully deployed his platoon to within 30 yards of the enemy gun. Then a Sherman (medium) tank was brought up.
So well concealed was the enemy position under a blue-green camouflage net that the first tank was almost abreast before seeing
it. It was a Japanese tank. As the U. S. gunner traversed right, the enemy tank fired one shot, which flattened a bogie wheel, and opened up with its machine guns. Fire also broke out from the bushes on each side of the tank. Then the Sherman went into action. Its 75-mm gun put two AP and one HE shots into the enemy vehicle at almost point-blank range. Bursting into flame, the tank began to sputter and crackle. A quick rush by the infantry platoon accounted for Japanese soldiers around the stricken tank. As the 3d Battalion S-3 later wrote of this action: "Result—1 Jap tank knocked out, 18 enemy killed. Casualties to our troops—none. Time expended—10 minutes! Undoubtedly the Japs expected to mow down a column of infantrymen from their ambush position, and got the surprise of their lives when a tank appeared on the scene so quickly."
By the close of 6 August, the 306th Infantry was on the division boundary, and the 307th Infantry had come up behind it to reach the Yigo road, ready to take its place in the division center.
Two Japanese Tanks
On 5-6 August, the 305th Infantry continued to push northeast in its zone on the division right. During the 5th, progress was limited by difficult jungle. The 2d Battalion, using tanks and self-propelled guns to beat a trail, made an estimated 2,000 yards, but was so uncertain of its location near the end of the day that a trail was cut toward the coast in a futile effort to determine position. The 1st Battalion, a half mile to the rear and southwest of the 2d, bivouacked in a more or less isolated position. Here as elsewhere, the troops were expecting possible Banzai attacks, and that night the 1st Battalion was to experience the 77th's nearest approach to such an action. It came in unusual form-no blind rush by shouting hordes in suicidal desperation, but a daring raid by two tanks and a handful of infantry.
The use of tanks had been a feature of enemy operations throughout the battle for Guam. By 5 August, G-2 had estimated remaining enemy armored strength at a maximum of 20 tanks. The 9th Tank Regiment had been identified, with its 1st and 2d Companies, as well as a tank unit of the 29th Division. Of an original force of about 64 enemy tanks, 35 had been destroyed, 6 probably destroyed, and 3 captured. The remainder, of which the enemy could probably muster no more than 14 at one time, were nevertheless regarded as
still presenting a threat to the pursuing American forces. The 77th Division had already encountered their use, as single units, for strengthening delaying positions.
About 0200 on the morning of 6 August, men of Company A, 305th Infantry, guarding the northern sector of the battalion's defensive area, heard tanks and infantry approaching slowly from the north. The troops had been warned that friendly tanks were about, and the approaching noise came from the direction of the 2d Battalion's bivouac area; nevertheless, the guards watched carefully and were on full alert. As the moon came out from under a cloud, its light showed two Japanese tanks and a group of enemy soldiers who were setting up machine guns.
Company A immediately opened fire all along the line. A storm of bullets and grenades hit the Japanese. There was no response from the enemy infantry, but the tanks moved off toward the battalion perimeter just to A's right. A Japanese soldier on top of the first tank cried out, "American tank—okay, American tank—okay," but a stream of fire came from its turret. The 1st Battalion's men had not been able to dig deep slit trenches that night because of the hard coral, and many of them broke from their positions in the face of the oncoming tanks. The Japanese threw grenades from the tanks, to add to their destructive fire.
Antitank gunners, as the tanks penetrated the battalion lines, shifted their weapons for better fire. Immediately, the tanks changed direction and cut out of the line of fire. Once inside the perimeter the tanks separated; one stopped and sprayed with fire the area to the left, while the second plunged farther to the right. They seemed to have thoroughly scouted the bivouac area and carefully planned their maneuver.
The tank moving right struck into the men so quickly that they hardly knew what was on them; terrified, they ran off before its blazing guns or sprawled on the ground when caught in its line of fire. Throughout the area excited men turned their rifles and machine guns on the enemy vehicles, but the fire only ricocheted off steel sides into fleeing men. The moving tank collided with a Sherman, backed off and rolled over a jeep, crushing it, and then sprayed other vehicles with machine-gun fire. joining, the two tanks charged north toward the perimeter. The Company A men who had first sighted the attack were still there, in position, having killed off the
enemy infantry. They were ready for more attacks from outside, but had no defense from the rear. One man, wounded, staggered to his feet and fell under the onrushing tanks. The rest huddled in their V-shaped shallow trenches and escaped harm, though two soldiers had their rifles smashed as the tanks ground over them. The Japanese soldier who had ridden into the perimeter on top of a tank was still there as the vehicles rolled out; a last rifle shot knocked him off.
A trail of devastation was left behind. The 1st Battalion had lost 16
killed and 32 wounded, many of the casualties resulting from friendly fire
as the troops on the perimeter concentrated on the tanks ranging through
the bivouac. An artillery forward observation team had been almost wiped
out, losing six men. Smashed and bullet-riddled equipment littered the
area. And the enemy tanks had escaped, seemingly unscathed. The 1st Battalion
spent the rest
of the night holding off Japanese efforts to infiltrate behind grenades and sniper fire.
The story of the enemy tanks did not end here. When last seen by the 1st Battalion, they were heading north on a trail that led toward the 2d Battalion's bivouac. En route, one of the tanks broke down, and the Japanese crews stopped to work on it. Meanwhile, the 2d Battalion was about to retrace its course of the previous day and return on that very trail, since ahead of it lay impenetrable jungle, so thick that "a man cannot step off the path without cutting." General Bruce authorized the battalion to work to the west and even go into the 306th's zone, if necessary, to find a better route.
The track was so narrow that in order to make its preliminary move back, the 2d Battalion had to do an "about face." This put Company E in the lead, with mortars and heavy machine guns from H attached. It was difficult to say which was more surprised when, just after moving out, the four-man point encountered a Japanese soldier in the trail. The enemy shouted something to hidden comrades, the Americans passed the word back to their column, and a vicious fire fight opened up. The enemy tanks were in hull defilade, their guns and machine guns covering the trail for 200 yards' distance. The leading men of Company E deployed to right and left of the trail in a hasty skirmish line. Because of a slight rise in the ground, the enemy tanks and riflemen were hard to locate, and Japanese fire raised havoc with the battalion column as it came up the trail in support. Tree bursts from the enemy shells sent shrapnel slashing through the woods and into the troops, causing face, arm, and back wounds. The cry went back for medics and for stretcher bearers.
American medium tanks came slowly up the trail, followed by more troops. As the lead tank came around a slight bend, a shell burst against it, and the tank stopped. The riflemen spread out on each side in the jungle. The heavy machine guns of Company H were brought up and placed in line close to the tanks. They were able to get in only a few bursts before enemy fire swept their position, killing or wounding most of the crews.
Riflemen began leaving positions under the heavy fire. The forward tank, afraid of being deserted, started to back out and thereby caused more panic. Capt. Charles T. Hillman, 2d Battalion executive officer, came up the trail and attempted to rally the men. He
was wounded at once by a machine-gun bullet. Together with a wounded sergeant from Company H, Hillman was able to reorganize some of the retreating men a few yards back of their first positions.1
Farther back on the trail conditions were not much safer, as the terrible enemy fire seemed to be able to rake the whole length. One of Company H's mortars was never able to get into sustained operation because of the enemy fire and the jungle overhead. Another, 100 yards back, went into action with good results, lobbing shells steadily at the enemy positions.
1. Capt. Hillman's wound later proved fatal.
MAP NO. 24 Plans for Final Phase, III Amphibious Corps
The fight ended as quickly as it had begun; the intense Japanese fire slackened, then abruptly stopped. Infantry squads pushed out through the jungle on each side to reach the enemy's rear, and drew no fire. The troops found two deserted enemy tanks, near them one dead Japanese. Two others, killed by mortar fire, were just off the trail. The rest of the enemy had fled, after inflicting a comparatively heavy toll on the 2d Battalion: 15 killed and 31 wounded seriously enough to be evacuated. Since vehicles had not been able to accompany the advance into the jungle, evacuation was a laborious job. Some wounded had to walk. Others were carried out in four hours on improvised stretchers, with eight men alternating on the job.
By the close of 6 August, the 305th had finally got its two battalions into place on the 0-4 phase line, an advance of about 1,000 yards through the almost trackless terrain. No considerable enemy force had been encountered, but sniping was a menace even in areas considerably to the rear. Colonel McNair, Chief of Staff of the 77th Division, was reconnoitering a clearing 1,000 yards from the front lines, as a possible site for a new CP, when Japanese soldiers fired from a hut at the edge. Colonel McNair returned their fire and was mortally wounded.
Plans for the Attack on Mt. Santa Rosa
The III Amphibious Corps' advance to the 0-4 line on 6 August left less than one-third of Guam in the hands of the Japanese. To defend it, they now had little more than 2,000 men, one-ninth of their estimated original strength. In this northern part of Guam, only the Yigo-Mt. Santa Rosa area offered terrain suitable for a major defensive stand (Map No. 24, page 116). A captured map as well as reports from air observers and natives indicated that substantial numbers of the enemy remained in this area, on the highest ground north of Mt. Barrigada.
Yigo and Mt. Santa Rosa fell in the zone of the 77th Division, which would employ all three of its regiments to deal with a possible Japanese stand. The other two major ground units under III Amphibious Corps, the 3d Marine Division and the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, would attack abreast on the 77th's left to reach the north coast of the island. Plans for continuing the pursuit to destroy the enemy and capture the remainder of the island had been initiated by General Geiger on 5 August. The 77th Division would make the main effort toward Mt. Santa Rosa. The marine brigade, on the left, would cover a zone extending one and three-fourths miles inland from the coast; the 3d Division, in the center, was responsible for a 3-mile front. In this last big attack an unprecedented number of units would be committed; only one battalion each of the 77th and 3d Marine Divisions would be placed in corps reserve. The time of attack was to be set later.
The exposed area of Mt. Santa Rosa, only a mile from the ocean, would receive an extensive softening up. Since 3 August, warships had been shelling Santa Rosa day and night. A fleet of 131 P-47
MAP NO. 25 Action at Yigo, 7 August 1944
fighters and 74 B-26 bombers were now operating from Saipan; some of these were concentrating on Santa Rosa's smooth crest and bare slopes during the preliminary period. On the day of the attack an air strike and naval bombardment were scheduled.
On 6 August, the 77th Division issued instructions to its RCT's for the advance to Mt. Santa Rosa. Objective of the division was an area which encircled the hill; the maneuver was essentially a wide sweep by the left wing as the division pivoted on the right. The ground north of the height was the objective of the 306th RCT, scheduled to make the main assault. 'To seize this area the 306th would have to cover twice as much ground as the regiments on its right; therefore, it was ordered to advance without regard to other units, in a sweep along the division's left boundary. When its tanks reached the road junction southeast of the region of Chaguian, it
would turn eastward and advance to the north of Mt. Santa Rosa. At the same time the regiment was to send patrols northeast along the division's left boundary.
The 307th, supported by the 706th Tank Battalion (less Companies A and B), was to take Yigo, then turn east and advance to the slopes of Mt. Santa Rosa. Fairly good tank country opened up in the 307th's zone. Cultivated areas instead of jungle bordered the Finegayan road to Yigo and covered the area east of the town. In the 305th's sector on the right, however, dense jungle rain-forest with heavy undergrowth would make advance more difficult. Moving through the worst terrain, the 305th (less the 3d Battalion) would cover less ground than the two regiments making the sweep to the north, as it dosed in on the hill to prevent any escape southward. When each regiment had seized its objective, Mt. Santa Rosa would be surrounded from Anao to Lumuna Point, and the enemy cut off from all escape except into the sea.
Attack on Yigo
Early in the morning of 7 August, General Bruce notified Colonel Manuel, commander of the 307th: "You may employ all your battalions; you do not have to get a reserve for the division. You will probably need three battalions to tightly hold. . . . Be sure to have everybody oriented. The earlier we make the attack the better it will be. Unless we are thoroughly coordinated, the effort will be fruitless."
The answer came back: "I understand, I agree, I will be ready."
The three regiments of the division moved out from the 0-4 line in the morning. They were to try to be in position to attack when H Hour was announced. The 3d Battalion of the 307th, under Major Lovell, led the advance in the center of the division's sector, striking out along the Finegayan road toward its line of departure, a point on the road 500 yards southwest of Yigo (Map No. 25, page 118). The 2d and 1st Battalions, initially in reserve, were to be committed as the 3d moved forward, and to press the attack in column of battalions. On the division's left, the 3d Battalion of the 306th started north from the Finegayan road to move cross-country and bypass Yigo on the west. The 305th moved northeast off the 0-4 line on the right.
The 3d Battalion of the 307th made a rapid advance. Company I, the leading element, reached the line of departure at 0900. Capt. William B. Cooper, company commander, had seen two Japanese run across the road ahead, and was expecting trouble. He sent the point up the road a short way and put scouts out on each side. He also brought up a heavy machine gun to shoot up the woods on each side of the road as a precautionary measure.
The machine guns were no sooner set up and spraying the woods than heavy
fire opened up from all sides. The Japanese concentrated their rifles and
machine guns on our machine-gun section, which was close to the advance
scouts and in an exposed position. The men scrambled for cover; snipers
seemed to be on all sides. Grenades began exploding and the troops were
virtually helpless. Within a
few minutes 11 men were casualties, most of them in the machinegun section.
The congestion of men on each side of the road made it difficult to bring up more troops and deploy them on a skirmish line. Tanks came up cautiously; they had difficulty in coordinating their movements with the infantry. While the men combed the woods foot by foot to hunt out snipers, tanks cleared lanes of approach. Some of the snipers were killed; the rest filtered off into the woods.
Mopping up the Japanese continued until 1008 when the 3d Battalion reported that it was getting to the line of departure. Half an hour later the 307th received word from division headquarters that H Hour had been set for 1200. This meant that the artillery preparation, to be concentrated on Yigo, would start in one hour.
At 1145 Colonel Stokes, commander of the 706th Tank Battalion, received orders to report to the command post of the 307th, now located on the Finegayan road 500 yards behind the line of departure. Colonel Stokes had worked out the tank phase of the attack in a conference with General Bruce the previous evening. Immediately after the artillery preparation, the light tanks of Company D would advance rapidly into Yigo, followed by the mediums of Company C. Medium tanks of the 307th RCT would be in general support. After reducing enemy positions at Yigo, Companies D and C of the 706th would occupy high ground northeast of the village. The infantry would give close support to the tanks. H Hour had not been set at the time of the conference between Colonel Stokes and General Bruce.
Approaching the CP, Colonel Stokes saw the troops of the 307th moving up on the road and heard the artillery open up with a roar at 1150, just as he arrived. Colonel Manuel informed him that H Hour was 1200 and that he was to follow the prepared plan. As Colonel Stokes' tanks were almost a mile behind the line of departure, he had no time to discuss plans with Colonel Manuel. Hastily Stokes radioed Capt. Leonard H. Seger of Company D to move out at once and execute the prepared plan.
The artillery attack on the enemy positions in Yigo was devastating. Hundreds of 105-mm and 155-mm shells poured down on the road junction to smash installations. A curtain of fire was laid down on the trails out of town to prevent escape. An artillery liaison officer watching from his plane saw enemy soldiers run in all directions
from the terrific explosions. Some Japanese dashed toward the 307th's lines directly into the hands of the advancing infantry. Others fled along a trail running north. As they did so, a series of blasts scattered them on that exact part of the trail.
"My God, this is slaughter!" the observer was heard to cry over the radio.
At 1200 the artillery stopped, but the tanks and infantry were not in position to advance immediately into the shelled areas. They were still on the narrow road leading into Yigo. The 3d Battalion was supposed to have moved into position during the preparation, but their advance was delayed by the narrowness of the road and by enemy sniper fire. The light tanks, belatedly catching up with the troops, found it almost impossible to push through the columns of men in order to take the lead. The light tanks of Company D could not travel off the road because of the jungle on each side; the road itself was dogged with vehicles, cautiously advancing troops, and the medium tanks attached to the 3d Battalion.
Fifteen minutes after the artillery stopped, the light tanks were finally up at the head of the column of troops, 100 yards north of the line of departure and 400 yards from Yigo. The tanks moved rapidly ahead to pass through the troops. Two hundred yards farther up the road, there was an opening in the woods. Through their vision slits the tankers caught a glimpse of several machine guns manned by Japanese and dug in along the right of the road. The light tanks overran these positions and roared on. The tanks started to echelon to the right so that they could move abreast over the open ground, which rose to a slight crest on the right. The medium tanks followed along the road. Behind them the troops began to attack dugouts and pillboxes left by the fast-moving armor.
In a wedge formation, commanded by Captain Seger from his tank at the right rear, the light tanks swept rapidly over the slight crest. As they pushed on there was an explosion to the left of the tanks directly in front of Seger. He radioed to Colonel Stokes: "There's a burst in front of me—could be mine or antitank gun. Call for the mediums."
Just before the mediums came up more explosions sounded from the left. The tankers could not locate the source of the fire because of the dense woods to the left and the absence of flash and smoke. Gunfire hit Sgt. Joe Divin's tank to the far left, at the road. It stalled;
the crew began to evacuate it. A moment later another light tank was knocked out by the heavy fire.
When the mediums reached the open area, their crews could tell that the light tanks were in trouble but they could not see where the fire was coming from. Only when they advanced up the slight rise and began themselves to have steel shrapnel and bullets smash on the left of their hulls and turrets did they turn and pour fire back into the woods at the left rear.
One medium was hit in its gas tank. Flames shot out of the bottom and quickly enveloped the sides. The crew hastily clambered out of it just before the ammunition inside began exploding. Another tank stalled under the heavy fire. As bullets hit the vehicle, the tankers dashed for a shell hole. Some of the mediums moved on out of the area. One of them tried to sweep around to the right below the line of enemy fire and promptly threw a track. As more tanks came up, they swung their cannons and machine guns around for brief fire on the enemy positions to the left and then passed on to the objective ahead.
The crew was struggling to get out of Sergeant Divin's light tank. Divin was in the turret. He had been badly wounded in both legs and was in great pain. The only means of escape for the other crew members, besides the turret, were the driver and bow-gunner hatches. Owing to the construction of the tank these hatches could not be opened when the turret was traversed off center, as was the case in this situation. Sergeant Divin desperately tried to center the turret, but the mechanism had become damaged by gunfire. His strength ebbing from loss of blood, Divin put a tourniquet on his leg. With a supreme effort, he dragged himself out of the turret hatch onto the rear deck of the tank, leaving the way open for the crew to follow. The tank was now afire and was receiving machine-gun fire from the enemy positions 50 yards away. Divin stayed in this exposed position to direct the escape of his comrades. As they dashed for cover, machine-gun fire struck and killed him.
Fifty yards behind the stricken tanks the infantrymen struggled to push through the positions by the road that the tanks had overrun. Japanese still fired from a pillbox that had been blasted by the medium tanks as they raced ahead. The troops put rifle and machine-gun fire into it. They threw six grenades before one landed inside the position. The enemy continued to fire from it. A flame-thrower man
MAP NO. 26 Night Positions, 7/8 August 1944
maneuvered cautiously up to the position and put the searing flame in through an opening. The heat was too much for the defenders; one of them scurried out and fell before the American guns.
The enemy position that had harassed the tanks was still intact in the woods to the left. Those tanks that were unharmed drove rapidly on; the infantrymen were still working through the positions behind, on the right of the road. However, unknown to the Japanese and to the slowly advancing troops, an effective flanking maneuver was developing on the left, in the sector of the 3d Battalion of the 306th RCT. This battalion had been advancing through the jungle on the flank of the 307th. Its commander, Colonel Kimbrell, had expected trouble at Yigo. When he heard heavy firing break out on his right, he personally detached the 1st Platoon from Company K and led it through the jungle toward the Finegayan road.
So intent were the Japanese on blasting the targets in front of them that they were never aware of the infantry creeping up on them through the woods behind. With a short rush the Americans were on them. They dispatched the Japanese with rifles, BAR's, and bayonets. The 1st Platoon had no casualties during the brief struggle; one man was wounded a moment later, probably by friendly fire from the tanks or infantry along the road. Other elements of Company K moved up and attacked enemy positions along the edge of the woods farther north. The Americans found two tanks, an antitank gun, two 20-mm. guns, six light machine guns, and two heavy machine guns almost perfectly concealed from the Finegayan road to their front, although vulnerable from the rear.
South of the road the tanks were still aflame, and some of them were shaking as ammunition exploded inside. The infantrymen were now through the positions on the right of the Finegayan road and advancing up the road toward the center of the village. Several of the men rushed over to one burning tank to extricate a wounded tanker; despite the exploding ammunition they were able to put him on a litter and evacuate him. As the troops passed through Yigo they were amazed at the devastation caused by the artillery; the place was swept clear of buildings or enemy, and there was no opposition to our advance.
The infantry found the tanks waiting when they reached the high ground northeast of Yigo at 1325. The tanks had been here 40 minutes, circling about to prevent infiltrators from closing in on them. There was little sign of the enemy. Whatever the failure of coordination at Yigo, the Japanese had been utterly routed by the power of the combined assault. The stubborn resistance from positions along the road had cost the 706th Tank Battalion two killed, ten wounded, and one missing, as well as two light and two medium tanks.
During the afternoon of 7 August the three battalions of the 307th moved into positions for the attack on the Santa Rosa area to the east, but it was too late to continue the attack that day, and the troops bivouacked for the night half a mile east of Yigo. The 1st Battalion had met no resistance in following 400 yards behind the 3d, and later in the afternoon the 2d Battalion had displaced forward to the town. The 3d Battalion of the 306th dug in half a mile north of the village (Map No. 26, page 124). During 7 August, the 1st
Battalion, 306th, commanded by Colonel Remus, had advanced on the left rear of the 3d Battalion and bivouacked that night west of Yigo. The 305th spent the day advancing slowly through the jungle toward Mt. Santa Rosa and by nightfall had moved a mile from the 0-4 line.
Tank Attack Against the 306th (7/8 August)
Although the enemy had been blasted out of Yigo, he had enough strength remaining north of the town to cause trouble for the 3d Battalion of the 306th. Evidently with the hope of repeating his successful raid on the 1st Battalion of the 305th two nights before, the enemy launched a tank attack on the 3d Battalion's position. Before the attack came, enemy patrols felt out the 306th's positions. At dusk of 7 August and again at midnight, patrols hit at the battalion's position, which straddled the trail running north from Yigo. On the second occasion the men held their fire until the Japanese were within a few yards, then cut down all the enemy soldiers in sight.
Two hours later tanks were heard approaching from the north. The men lay low in their slit trenches. The leading tank appeared over a slight knoll and let loose a burst of cannon and machine-gun fire. Another Japanese tank opened up a short distance behind. The machine-gun fire from the tanks was on a flat trajectory and missed the men, but the high-explosive cannon shells hit trees just above the men and sent shrapnel down on them. A platoon of enemy riflemen behind the tanks added to the heavy fire.
A bazooka man and a flame-thrower man became casualties in quick succession when they attempted to use their weapons against the tanks. Another soldier with a flame thrower moved up but bullets hit both him and his weapon. Some of the riflemen retreated in the face of the tank fire, but Pfc. Everett W. Hatch and Pfc. Joseph P. Koeberle, manning a light machine gun, held their ground. When the leading tank was within five yards of the men, they closed in and poured machine-gun fire into its 6- by 10-inch aperture. The two men kept up the fire until the machine-gun barrel burned out. There was no more sign of life within the tank.
The Americans finally were able to put bazooka and rifle grenade fire on the second tank, knocking it out of action. A third tank pulled it away. Eighteen dead Japanese, including three officers,
were found in the vicinity the next morning. The 3d Battalion's casualties were 6 killed and 16 wounded. In the morning the battalion reorganized, to be ready for its mission in the continued divisional attack on Mt. Santa Rosa.
Pusb Beyond Mt. Santa Rosa (8 August)
General Bruce issued orders for the attack to continue at 0730 on 8 August. The 307th in the center and the 305th on the right were to close in on Mt. Santa Rosa, where most of the remaining Japanese were believed to have gathered. The mission of the 3d and 1st Battalions of the 306th was to capture the hamlet of Lulog just north of Santa Rosa. Out of Lulog trails ran north and east to the sea. The 306th would cut off any Japanese attempting to flee from Mt. Santa Rosa along these trails. The whole area had been softened up by fighter and bomber attacks the previous day. The western slopes had been strafed in 20 P-47 sorties which expended 20,000 rounds of .50-caliber ammunition and dropped thirty-nine 500-pound bombs. Ten B-23's, in five flights, had bombed enemy troops and guns on the south slopes.
In its drive to Lulog, the 3d Battalion quickly overwhelmed the remaining enemy, who had taken shelter in numerous huts along the trail. They had weapons, and ammunition, but many of them showed little stomach for fighting. In some cases they simply sat in the huts and were killed; sometimes they fired a few shots and then killed themselves. Evidently the terrific shelling by artillery and naval guns and the bombing from air strikes had disorganized the enemy.
For the few Japanese that did try to hold out, the 3d Battalion had shock tactics carefully prepared. For the first time in the Guam operation the battalion was able to put into action its "Assault Squad SOP" which had been practiced at length in the United States and in the Hawaiian Islands. The assault squad was made up of riflemen, BAR men, one flame thrower, one pole-charge man, one satchel-charge man, and one bangalore-torpedo man. The soldiers carrying the charges were infantrymen who had been given special demolition training in order to free the division engineers for their specialized jobs of construction. On meeting one of the pillboxes, huts, or caves that lined the trail to Lulog, the assault squad went in after a
medium tank had blasted the position. The men carried any type of charge necessary to demolish the position. Supporting weapons were used as much as possible.
Basic in these tactics was to keep the column moving. Sometimes the head of the column pushed forward rapidly while the rear was still engaged in attacking positions. At one time units of Company I, leading the battalion, were engaging four strongpoints at the same time. As the attack proceeded, the battalion column became increasingly stretched out, but the troops moved forward so rapidly that the enemy was never able to organize any kind of raid on the middle or rear of the column.
It was a spectacular sight. The tanks and infantry moved in so fast that the enemy hardly seemed to know what was on him. As the flame throwers were played on the thatch huts, the straw and wood burst into flame; one flame thrower sent a Japanese crawling out with his hair and clothes afire. The attacks were immediately followed by use of the charges in order to blast out any remaining Japanese. One 2-story hut was found empty on the first floor except for a large pool of blood on the cement floor; in the room above there were eight recently killed Japanese, badly shot up and dripping blood through the ceiling into the floor below. Evidently they had become confused by the heavy fire and tried to hide in the top story.
So effective were these tactics and so stupefied was the enemy, that the only casualty during the day among the leading battalion elements was one man knifed to death by a cornered Japanese. Over 100 enemy were killed. The advance took the 306th well beyond Mt. Santa Rosa and within 1,000 yards of the ocean.
At 1700 the 1st Battalion, 306th, joined the 3d Battalion at Lulog. These troops, who advanced on the division's left flank, had a mishap while trying to contact neighboring units of the 9th Marine Regiment. The marines, advancing along the Salisbury road in the 77th's sector, evidently mistook Company F, sent out to contact the adjoining unit, for the enemy. Before the information could be relayed to the units concerned, artillery fire from the marines hit a CP and machine-gun fire fell on a mortar section, causing several casualties.
By the time the 306th reached Lulog, the 307th had captured Mt. Santa Rosa. At the approaches to the mountain 35 Japanese were killed, but no opposition was encountered on the bare steep slopes. The shelling of the previous days had been highly effective.
Seizure of Santa Rosa afforded an excellent observation post, although the jungle was so dense in the vicinity that it was difficult to see small groups of enemy unless they moved into the occasional cleared areas. By evening the entire 77th Division sector on Guam was occupied, except a small portion of the left regimental sector on the north. Effective resistance in the 77th's area was declared at an end.
That night, the difficulties of coordination in jungle country were demonstrated once again. The 306th and 307th mistook each other in the dark, and an intense fire fight broke out. Men on each side scurried for shelter with the thought that at last the much-postponed Banzai charge had arrived. After a few minutes of wild activity, including mortar and tank fire, the fight subsided, but not before there were a number of casualties.
Many small groups of the enemy had been bypassed by the main lines of advance and made use of the favorable terrain to hide and harass our units. While the marines pushed on to cover the remaining short distance on the northern tip of Guam, the 77th concentrated on mopping up in its sector. Here enemy remnants attempted to infiltrate bivouac areas at night and even skirmished with the troops during the day. To induce the remaining enemy to surrender, the 77th scattered leaflets in the jungle around Mt. Santa Rosa bearing this message:
IT IS NOT A DISGRACE TO TAKE A NEW LEASE ON LIFE!
(An old proverb says that disgrace is but a momentary emotion.)
1. The superior Imperial Japanese Navy fought furiously at Saipan, but unexpectedly it was defeated with losses of three hundred planes and many ships. As a result, at the present time, your planes and submarines cannot come to your aid. Therefore, you cannot be supplied or reinforced.
2. The U. S. Forces have already conquered Saipan, and Guam is virtually conquered. The thousands who surrendered at Saipan are at present living under very pleasant circumstances under U. S. supervision.
3. U. S. Government treats their prisoners with fairness and justice.
a. The things given you are tobacco, clothing, shelter, food, etc.
b. You who become prisoners in the Pacific will not have your identity communicated to Japan- so be reassured!
c. Furthermore, each prisoner receives the same medical care given to the U.S. soldier.
On Guam, at the present time, you are the only survivors besides the natives.
The results were unsatisfactory. The Japanese were unwilling or unable to give themselves up. The 77th had taken ten prisoners through 6 August; one more was captured on 9 August, but he was the last. This prisoner was a sailor who said that he had been on Mt. Barrigada with 1,000 other Japanese until the end of July, and that he had deserted with 3 others before the Americans reached that point. He stated that he had been without food for five days.
Initiating a program of vigorous patrolling, the division and its regiments dispatched patrols to all areas where activity was reported. Medium tanks were used to break a path through the jungle, aided where the jungle was thick by a tank dozer, a medium tank equipped with a bulldozer's blade. The men advanced cautiously on each side of the trail, keeping within the woods so that they could see the enemy in the jungle. While the tanks put heavy fire into suspected areas, the infantry gave them close-in protection.
The experience of patrols from the 3d Battalion, 305th, on 7 and 8 August indicated the dangers of going into the jungle after the Japanese in "rear" areas. This battalion, in corps reserve while the rest of the division pushed on toward Santa Rosa, was ordered to carry out a mass sniper-hunt in a stretch of woods near the division CP, a mile and a half south of the 0-4 line. The expedition turned into a nightmare, as the hunters became the hunted. The troops tried to move through the woods in a long skirmish line to act as a dragnet. Soon the line broke into small groups, which lost contact with one another and then their sense of direction. The jungle was infested with Japanese snipers and even machine gunners. As the men groped for a way out they were gradually surrounded and picked off by the enemy. Rescue parties came in to help evacuate the wounded, only to become casualties themselves. Some of the men fought their way out by putting spurts of fire into an area ahead, grenading it, running to the area, and repeating the process to get to the next spot ahead. Lieutenant Harper of Barrigada fame was among the seven killed. The Japanese, who were estimated to have a company in these woods, had 37 killed. The rest pulled out of the area.
The last organized resistance of the Japanese was underground. Natives had pointed out an enemy defensive position or headquarters three-quarters of a mile northwest of Yigo. On 10 August the 1st Battalion of the 306th reconnoitered this area and found a basin-like depression about 100 yards long and 40 feet deep, covered with brush. As a flame-thrower man maneuvered at the approaches to the position to put fire into an opening, Japanese concealed in the thick brush around the sides of the area opened up with rifles and machine guns. A violent fire fight ensued. The entrenched enemy used mortars as well as small arms; whenever one of the 1st Battalion's men moved he immediately drew down fire on himself. The 1st Battalion was in a poor position to carry on the fight and pulled out as dusk came, with the loss of 8 men killed and 17 wounded.
The next day the 1st Battalion launched a carefully prepared attack. The troops came in at right angles to the previous day's advance, behind tank fire and a heavy mortar barrage. The tanks were unable to move down the steep sides of the depression, but the infantry passed through, two companies abreast in a skirmish line, and mopped up any Japanese that survived the barrage. Few were still alive; most of them had crept into shallow holes and covered themselves with brush and dirt, to no avail. The attack was made under the eyes of a group of marines, standing on a hill a few hundred yards away, who cheered as the infantry quickly completed its job.
On the side of the depression, foliage had been blown away, revealing small tunnels leading into caves. As the troops pulled away, the brush covering the entrances to the tunnels, one soldier was hit by rifle fire from inside. Pole charges and white-phosphorous hand grenades were put in. Two Japanese soldiers armed with rifles ran out in rapid succession and were shot down by the watching infantry just before the demolitions were set off, the Japanese inside were heard singing a weird oriental chant, which continued even after two series of demolitions had been set off. When evening came four 400-pound blocks of TNT, placed in the entrances, caused tremendous blasts which effectively sealed off the caves.
Four days later the caves were opened. The odor was so terrific that the men had to don gas masks. Over 60 bodies were piled up inside. The caves were large and very elaborately constructed, with 4-foot concrete walls. A huge transmitter was found in a cave, brand new and unused.
On 8 August, Radio Tokyo announced that American troops were in possession of nine-tenths of Guam. On 10 August the marines completed the occupation of their sectors on the north tip of the island. At 1500 on 10 August General Bruce received an order from Southern Troops and Landing Force that all organized resistance on Guam had ceased. However, the 77th and the marines were still committed to mopping up of jungle areas and clearing out caves. This task continued for several weeks. Although the surviving Japanese were hungry and diseased, they continued to fight to the death. After 10 August, the 77th Division suffered 52 more casualties before they finished their assignment.
On 8 December 1945, three months after Japan had surrendered unconditionally, some Japanese who had managed to hide out on Guam for 16 months ambushed and killed 3 marines, wounding another.
page created 28 June 2001
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