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CHINA

FORMOSA

MARIANAS I S .
MARSHALL I S .

PHILLIPPINE
ISLANDS

MINDANAO

fi

Go

GUAM

PALAU I S .
CAROLINE I S .

GILBERT I S .

ELLICE IS.

SOLOMON I S .
NEW GEORGIA GROUP

NETHERLANDS1NDIES

SANTA CRUZ IS.


FIJI ISLANDS

NEW HEBRIDES

NEW CALEDONIA

NEW ZEALAND

THE HISTORY OF THE

4 3D INFANTRY DIVISION

1941-1945

By
JOSEPH E. ZIMMER

Colonel, Infantry (Retired)

Published by: T H E ARMY AND NAVY PUBLISHING CO., Baton Rouge, La.
Contributions by: COLONEL HAROLD C. MARDEN

COLONEL SIDNEY P. MARLAND, JR.

COLONEL WILLIAM H. NAYLOR

COLONEL ELMER S. WATSON

MAJOR JEFFERSON D. HOPKINS

Text based on Official War Department Historical Documents


Photographs by: U. S. ARMY SIGNAL CORPS

DEC 1

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER

PAGE

II

11

III

12

IV

14

V
VI

16

18

VII
VIII

21

32

IX
X
XI
XII
XIII

33

36

40

42

44

XIV
XV

48

62

XVI

66

XVII
XVIII
XIX
New Georgia Campaign Photo Section

76

83

85

87

^Dedicated to the Officers and Men Who


Made the Supreme Sacrifice With This
Gallant Division."

MAJOR

GF.NFRAL LEONARD F.

WING

Leonard Fish Wing was born in Ira, Vt., on Nov. 12, 1893. He graduated from Rutland High School in 1914.
He studied law in the office of the late George E. Lawrence, and was admitted to the Vermont Bar in 1917.
In World War I, he enlisted at Fort Ethan Allen, Vt., May 4, 1917. His grade was a wagoner until June 11, 1917,
when he became Regimental Supply Sergeant. He was attached to the Supply Company of the 1st Vermont Infantry
until Jan. 5, 1918; 16th Company, 2d Inf. Replacement Regt., at Camp Gordon, Ga., until discharged to accept a
commission.
As an officer, he served in the 2nd Inf. Repl. Regt. and the 15 3rd Dcp. Brigade and was Honorably discharged at
Camp Dix, N. J., on Dec. 21, 1918.
He enlisted in the Vermont National Guard June 2 5, 1919, in Company A, 172d Infantry, and was commissioned
2d Lt. July 9, 1919; 1st Lt. Inf., Sept. 13, 1919; Capt. Inf., Feb. 5, 1920; Major, 1st Bn., 172d Inf., May 18, 1921;
Lt. Col., Inf., Dec. 28, 1929; Colonel, Inf., Feb. 16, 1933; Brig. General, 86th Brigade, July 2, 1938; Assistant Com
mander 43rd Division 1942.
He was inducted into Federal service with the 43rd division on Feb. 24, 1941. He left Vermont in March, trained
at Camp Blanding, Fla., and Camp Shelby, Miss., until Sept., 1942, when the 43rd division went to the South Pacific.
He was promoted on the field at New Georgia, Solomon Islands, to Major General, Army United States, Oct. 7, 1943,
and as Commander of the 43rd division he returned to the United States Oct. 8, 1945.

BRIGADIER GENERAL

HAROLD R.

BARKER

Enlisted Battery A.R.I.N.G.March 13, 1913


Commissioned 2nd LieutenantOctober 15, 1915
Mexican Border Campaign1916
Commissioned 1st LieutenantJanuary 18, 1917
Commissioned CaptainJune 19, 1917
WORLD W A R I

Captain Commanding Battery A 103rd F. A. 26th Div.


Commissioned MajorOctober 20, 1918
Chemin-Des-Damcs, Toul, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel-Meuse-Argonne
Commissioned Lieutenant ColonelJuly 8, 1922
Commissioned ColonelMay 12, 1926
Commissioned Brigadier GeneralFebruary 19, 1937
WORLD W A R II

Brigadier General Commanding 68th F. A. Brigade 43rd Div.

Brigadier General Commanding 43 rd Division Artillery

All engagements 43d Infantry Division

DECORATIONS

Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster

Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster

Bronze Star

Air Medal

World War I Victory Medal with 6 Stars.

World War II Victory Medal with 4 Stars and Bronze Arrowhead

CHAPTER I

This is the story of the 43d "Winged Victory" Division


whose memorable record in World War II will stand forever
as an inspiration to all freedom-loving Americans. It is the
story of valiant men who dedicated their lives to preserve
all in life that is precious and coveted. While the story of the
division may be recorded for posterity only on the printed
page, its days of tragedy and comedy, adversity and pros
perity, famine and feast, combat and rest, labor and recrea
tion, are eternally engraved on the souls of thousands of redblooded Americans who fought, conquered, died in the name
of justice, humanity, and freedom.
The 43d Infantry Division was organized following World
War I, and was made up of National Guard troops from the
New England StatesA4aine, Rhode Island, Vermont, and
Connecticut. Many of the organizations, particularly the
Infantry Regiments and the Field Artillery Battalions had
World War I records, and some have histories dating back
to the days of the Revolutionary War. Upon induction into
federal service on February 24, 1941, the officers and men
were citizen soldiersprofessional men and laborers, farmers
and tradesmen, employers and employees, schoolmasters and
studentsrepresenting a cross-section of the New England
of 1941. From the potato acres, sea and shore fisheries, the
pulp and textile centers of Maine, the stone quarries and dairy
farms of Vermont, the diversified industrial life of Rhode
Island, and the tobacco farms, rolling hills, and insurance
centers of Connecticut, came the citizenry of America to
bear arms against the enemy. Soon the accents of other
citizen soldiers from all other sections of these great United
States mingled with those of the New England "Downeasters,"
French Canadians, Poles, Jews, and Hungarians. The division
originally was inducted into federal service for the purpose
of training for one year, but was held in service until inactiva
tion on November 1, 1945, after having contributed greatly
to the defeat of the enemy in the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre of
Operations.
Major General Morris B. Payne of New London, Connecti
cut, was in command of the division upon its induction when
it was ordered directly to Camp Blanding, near Starke,
Florida. At this time the division was made up of two in
fantry brigades and an artillery brigade, or a so-called "square"

division. The 86th Brigade, which included the 103d and


172d Infantry Regiments, was commanded by Brigadier
General Leonard F. Wing of Rutland, Vermont, and the 8 5 th
Brigade, which included the 102d and 169th Infantry Regi
ments, was commanded by Brigadier General Thomas E. Tro
land of New London, Conecticut. The 68th Field Artillery
Brigade, which included the 103d, the 152d and the 192d
Field Artillery Regiments, was commanded by Brigadier
General Harold R. Barker of Providence, Rhode Island. The
118th Quartermaster Regiment was commanded by Colonel
George E. Cole of West Hartford, Connecticut. The 118th
Medical Regiment by Colonel Charles W. Comfort of New
Haven, Connecticut. The 118th Engineer Regiment by
Colonel Frederick S. Skinner, of Providence, Rhode Island, and
the Special Troops, 43d Division were commanded by Major
Arthur V. Williams of Putnam, Connecticut. During the
early stages of the national emergency, the United States
Army Fligh Command decided to "streamline" Infantry Divis
ions in order to make them more wieldy for swift, mobile
ccmbat. In so doing, the 43d Division was reorganized into a
"triangular" division, retaining the 103d, the 169th and the
172d Infantry Regiments, the 103d, the 152d and the 192d
Field Artillery Battalions. The 169th Field Artillery Bat
tallion was activated to complete the division artillery. The
Engineer, Quartermaster and Medical Regiments were reduced
in strength to Battalions.
The division arrived at Camp Blanding on March 19, 1941.
Immediately a thirteen weeks' training program was initiated,
culminating in tactical problems ranging from small units
to brigade versus brigade. During this period both officers
and enlisted men were permitted to spend week-ends with
their families residing in Gainesville, Starke, Jacksonville,
Green Cove Springs, St. Augustine, Palatka, and Keystone
Heights.
Up until this time the division was below authorized
strength. Camp Wheeler at Macon, Georgia, was directed to
furnish the division with additional men from Selective
Service sources. By coincidence, the class of Selective Service
men from Camp Wheeler assigned to the 43d Division was
composed largely of men originally from New England. These
selectees were among the first in the United States to com

plete their basic training period. General Payne was invited


to participate in the ceremony marking the completion of
this training period. By the cooperative effort of General
Payne and Brigadier General John H. Hester, commander of
Camp Wheeler, the New England men were assigned to organ
izations originating in or near the cities from which they
came. This is believed to be a dominating factor which went
far toward minimizing the readjustment difficulties peculiar
to such an amalgamation.
The basic training of the division reached its normal con
clusion early in July of 1941, and the first leaves and fur
loughs were granted in that month, enabling the officers and
men to return for a breath of New England air.
The leave and furlough period was terminated to allow all
personnel to be on duty in preparation for participation in
the Third Army maneuvers to be conducted in Louisiana
during the months of August and September of 1941. On
August 5, the division arrived at its concentration area in the
vicinity of Dry Prong, Louisiana. Throughout the months of
August and September, the division marched, counter-marched,
tactically and administratively, in the area bounded roughly
on the north by a straight line drawn from Dry Prong to
Bellwood; on the cast by the line Red RiverAlexandria
Oberlin; on the south by the line OberlinLeesville; and on
the west by the Sabine River Valley. The men of the 43d were
getting their first training under simulated, near-combat
conditions. What one of them can ever forget the black-out
driving of vehicles, the forced marches day and night through
the dust and mud of Louisiana, the virgin pine, blackened
stumps and swampland, the ever present chigger, red bug,
and tick! Yes, the men were learning invaluable lessons for
the arduous campaigns of the future. The tactical program
consisted of a series of operations involving regiment against
regiment up to and including corps against corps. One tac
tical policydoubtless a necessary onewhich seriously af

fected the training and the morale of the division was the with
drawal of a great number of officers of all ranks to staff the
umpire requirements of higher headquarters. This resulted in
a shortage of trained officers which necessitated junior offi
cers and non-commissioned officers assuming command of
units ordinarily requiring higher rank.
Up until time for departure for Louisiana, Camp Blanding
had not been accepted too enthusiastically by the New Eng
landers as a foster home, but it may be recorded without
contradiction that the prospect of returning there to its
semi-permanent quarters and mess halls, not to mention
steaming hot showers, was welcomed with a great deal of
enthusiasm. The return movement by rail and motor began
on September 2, and ended on September 10, 1941.
At the close of the Louisiana maneuvers Major General
John H. Hester, of Athens, Georgia, assumed command of
the 43d Division. General Hester's assignment to the division
was almost like a reunion, for all replacements which the divis
ion had received from Camp Wheeler had been trained by
General Hester, toward whom great loyalty and affection
has been evidenced.
The month of October of 1941, furnished a welcome
breathing spell even though immediate plans were formed
for maneuvers between the First Army and the 4th Corps, to
be held in South Carolina during November. The movement
to the vicinity of Fort Lawn in South Carolina began on
October 29, and ended November 3. Men of the 43d were
glad to be living once again under field conditions, with cool
days and cold nights adding zest to all activity. Thanksgiving,
1941, was observed appropriately in the field, although by
tactical necessity a day or two late.
In December the division began retracing its way to Camp
Blanding, already somewhat obsessed with thought of Christ
mas at home.

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CHAPTER II

The Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese did not interrupt


the Christmas holiday plans of the 43d. Administrative diffi
culties were ironed out, affording the men the luxury of
Christmas at home. Special trains were arranged to transport
the men to New England and other sections of the nation.
By this time the division had members from twenty-nine of
the forty-eight states, as opposed to four states at induction.
The Southern Drawl and Texas Twang were becoming fam
iliar sounds.
The beginning of 1942 found the 43d Division recovering
from a harmful but necessary re-organization period and
many well-trained officer and enlisted cadres were trans
ferred outside the division. All were conscious of deadly com
bat ahead. Operations were on a war basistwenty-four hour
duty, anti-aircraft protection, dispersion of vehicles, black
out along the coast, and, above all else, considerably accelerated
training vigor. We would not go home in February, we were
in for the duration.
In January, 1942, the 102d Infantry left for overseas. Its
strength augmented by cadres from all units of the 43d
Division. The regiment sailed from San Francisco to occupy
and defend Canton and Christmas Islands in the Pacific.
On February 8, 1942, the division was ordered from Camp
Blanding to Camp Shelby, twelve miles from Hattiesburg,
Mississippi. This was a permanent change of station for the
first time since induction. February 19 found all of the
division at Camp Shelby. Before the troops had a chance to
wash off the dust of the cross-country movement, the division
received instructions to re-organize from its "square" division
with four infantry regiments and three artillery regiments, to
a "triangular" division with three infantry regiments and
four field artillery battalions. The aforementioned division
organization resulted. Among the new appointments, Brigadier
General Leonard F. Wing became the assistant division com

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mander and Brigadier General Harold R. Barker became the


division artillery commander.
The division participated actively in meeting the needs of
the army for Officer Candidates. An examining board was
set up to select likely officer material for training in the
various officer training schools. Although the division lost
many fine non-commissioned officers in this way, it was
an excellent opportunity for qualified non-coms to become
commissioned officers. A limited number of appointments
directly from enlisted to officer ranks was permitted.
From time to time during this period the division was
called upon to supply cadre personnel in large numbers for
the formation of new units in the United States Army.
During the stay at Camp Shelby, small unit training was
stressed, together with river crossing exercises, air-field de
fense exercises, coordinated attacks with air support. Con
siderable time was spent in marksmanship training in both
infantry and artillery weapons. One night movement under
black-out conditions was made.
Hattiesburg, Mississippi, a dozen miles from the Camp
Shelby reservation, and other near-by towns furnished reason
ably adequate accommodations for visiting families, and many
members of the division were enabled to have their families
with them.
During the month of August, Colonel Kenneth F. Cramer,
of Wethersfield, Connecticut, Commanding Officer of the
169th Infantry, Colonel Reginal W. Buzzell, of Bennington,
Vermont, Commanding Officer of the 172d Infantry, and
Colonel Francis W. Rollins of Providence, Rhode Island,
Commanding Officer of the 103d Field Artillery, were pro
moted to Brigadier Generals.
A leave and furlough policy allowed many men to visit
their homes during July..

CHAPTER III

It was during the latter part of August, 1942, that the


inevitable and long-awaited order arrived. After eighteen
months of training the division finally received an alert order
to prepare for movement to the West Coast. At once all efforts
were turned to packing and arrangements made for an orderly
movement to a Port of Embarkation. Vehicles were loaded
on flat cars; company baggage packed and stenciled; equip
ment checked and packs rolled.

Those last days in California were crowded with last


minute activities. Certain "musts" required accomplishment.
Hurried trips were made to Monterey, Salinas, Pacific Grove
and Carmel for that last huge, tender, juicy steak, those last
few glasses of cold, tangy beer or ale, or the last refreshing
taste of tempting fresh ice-cream or milk-shake. Last letters
were written with vague innuendoes that these letters might
be the last for some time, that we were "heading out."

The division began its long westward trek across country


by rail to Fort Ord, California, as forty-five troop trains
moved over varied routes as far north as Wyoming and as
far south as El Paso, Texas. New glimpses of America were
afforded to many for the first timeglimpses through smudgy
windows of crowded troop trainsyet strangely exciting and
interesting. The journey was long, hot, and tiring, ending at
Fort Ord, near Monterey, in California, on September 10.

Fort Ord was used as a staging area. Troops of the 43d


Division, less the 172d Combat Team, moved by train from
Fort Ord to the San Francisco Port of Embaccation, and
were quietly and expeditiously checked aboard ship on Sep
tember 29.

Fort Ord was crowded when the division arrived, making


it necessary to bivouac in the fields near the parade ground.
It was not a very pleasant ending to the long trip. However,
as other troops started movement out of Fort Ord, the 43d
moved into the barracks they had vacated. Training con
tinued, more intensified than ever. Every rifle range, from
dawn to dusk, was dotted with sprawling men firing their
weapons, getting the feel of new ones recently issued.
The arrival of many replacement officers, including many
"Second Looies" from the Officer Candidate School at Fort
Benning, Georgia, and many additional enlisted men, neces
sitated a period of integration. It was a luxury for the division
to have sufficient officer personnel.
Administrative and supply agencies worked "over-time" to
complete the last-minute details peculiar to overseas ship
ment. Surplus equipment was turned in, and shortages and
new articles of equipment were drawn and issued. The 43d
was rapidly becoming a well-equipped and well-trained fight
ing unit. During this period the 172d Infantry Regimental
Combat Team, composed of the 172d Infantry, the 103d
Field Artillery Battalion, the first platoon of Company A,
USth Engineer Battalion, and Company C of the 118th
Medical Battalion, was taking special int:nsified amphibious
training. Landing exercises were conducted on the shores of
beautiful Monterey Bay, the first of many similar future
operations in the islands of the Pacific.

On the morning of October 1, 1942, the ships began


moving about the harbor in final operating tests. At three
o'clock in the afternoon a single file of troop ships sailed
under the Golden Gate Bridge. In the convoy were the
President Grant, the Day Star, the Mauiall United States
vessels, the Tabinta, the Bluemfontaine, the Boschfontaine
all Dutch vessels. Khaki-clad soldiers gathered on the decks
of the ships as they watched the skyline of San Francisco
fade in the distance to become just a memory.
As darkness fell, the public address system barked for the
first of many times: "Blackout is now in effect. Close and
securely lock all portholes. The smoking lamp is out. Take
no chances." Several days of near-hundred-per-cent seasick
ness followed. Messes found only a bold few venturing for
meals. A large majority of "land-lovers" could be found un
comfortably hanging over the rail or reclining on their bunks.
However, as time passed, everyone, except an unfortunate few,
gained a substantial pair of "sea-legs."
There was little opportunity for training aboard ship be
cause of the lack of space. Whenever possible, orientation lec
tures and physical training in the form of calisthenics were
carried out. Generally the men sat on the decks in small groups
and talked; they read books and played cards. In their con
versations they speculated as to their reactions to battle and
shared stories about the things that happened at home or the
things they hoped for when they returned. Even then time
passed slowly.

12

The favorite topic of conversation was the 43d's destina


tion. Everyone had a different theory, and had the division
sailing for destinations from Zamboanga to Timbuctoo. It
was during these periods that the GI's cultivated the pastime
of rumor-mongering to a fine art.
Our sole escort, the cruiser Detroit, evidenced anew, the
disastrous results of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Later the New Zealand cruiser Leander took up escort, lead
ing to fresh rumors on our destination.
Eventually the Equator was crossed, and in keeping with
the traditions of the men who were about to go "down
under" the ceremony of the "Ancient Order of the Deep"
was performed. Appropriate ceremonies in the best tradition
of the American Navy were carried out when the line was
crossed on October 11. Everyone was inducted into an inter
nationally famous organization of seafarers called the Shellbacks, which boasts the membership of many famous people,
including President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Upon successful
completion of the initiation exercises, newly-appointed Shellbacks were awarded diplomas reading in part:
"Be it known by all ye sailors, marines, land lubbers and
others in His presence, that
, on this
(censored) date, latitude (censored) longitude (censored),
having been found worthy to be numbered as one of our
Trusty Shell-backs, has been gathered to our fold and duly
initiated into the Solemn Mysteries of the Ancient Order of
the Deep. Be it further understood, that by virtue of the
power invested in me, I do hereby command all of my sub

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jects to show due honor to him whenever he may enter our


realm. Disobey this order under penalty of our Royal dis
pleasure." Generally they were signed by Xeptunus Rex
Ruler of the Raging Main, and just to make it official, was
endorsed by Davey-JonesHis Majesty's Scribe. To win this
diploma it was essential to visit the blind-folded Royal Barber
for a hair cut, taste a raw Royal Fish, and be tossed into
the Royal Bath for a spraying by the Royal Fire-hose, among
other indignities. On the Dutch vessel Tabinta, officers and
enlisted men changed jobs for the morning which resulted
in a lot of brass laboriously scrubbing the decks. This bit of
nonsense provided a welcome relief; men who had been blue
and homesick a few days before were beginning to feel the
close fellowship and companiable fraternity of men tossed
together facing the same uncertain future.
The crossing of the international date-line provided many
arguments and theories as to the loss of time. In spite of
heated good-humored arguments, a day was lost, but the
Finance Officer assured all hands that pay day would arrive
in time without deductions.
On September 24, while the remainder of the division was
completing preparations for embarkation, the advance party
under the command of Brigadier General Leonard F. Wing,
then the assistant Division Commander, left for New Zealand
to make a reconnaissance and locate suitable staging facili
ties. It was a speedy crossingtwelve days from San Fran
cisco to Aucklandand one of the fastest voyages ever made
for that run.

CHAPTER IV

At daybreak of October 22, 1942, land was sighted. The


shore-line of Cape Brett, North Island of New Zealand,
loomed up on the horizon. After three weeks at sea it was
a most welcome sight to the men crowding the ship's rail.
The docking of the ships in the Auckland, New Zealand,
harbor that afternoon was an exciting and colorful event.
A crack New Zealand military band performed intricate
march steps and played stirring New Zealand and American
numbers. Strangely enough, the band played a spirited rendi
tion of "Deep in the Heart of Texas." The docks were
crowded with New Zealanders who shouted greetings of wel
come and salutation to the Americans. Coins of both countries
were tossed back and forth in mutual exchange, and Ameri
cans shared their cigarettes with ruddy-cheeked individuals
who seemed just like our boys with an English accent. The
New Zealanders highly coveted American brands of cigar
ettes, as their supplies had been exhausted as a result of the
war. Eager questions were shouted by the New Zealanders.
An air of congeniality, which later developed into lasting
friendship, prevailed.
In spite of the troops' great desire to disembark, they were
not permitted to do so on this day. The necessary billeting
and transportation would not be ready until the following
day. The occasion of lights on the ships for the first time at
night since departure from San Francisco afforded an oppor
tunity to do considerable letter-writing. Too, there was a
great deal to be said now that there was something to talk
aboutthat is, as much as the censor would permit. It was
during this period that the mail censor began his long career
of unpopularity.
On the morning of October 23, the troops marched off the
ships, down the streets of Auckland, New Zealand's largest
city, to the railroad station where small, narrow-gauge trains
were waiting to transport the division to permanent camp
areas. Although the march was made in the best military
manner, many of the men could not resist the temptation

to relax from their attitude of "attention" while marching,


long enough to steal glances at this interesting little country.
The small trains provided much conversation as they were
compared with our large modern super-trains. There was
plenty to talk about nowmany new discoveries to make in a
land where everything seemed different, yet closely related
to our own.
The troop trains rolled along through a clean open country,
verdant with approaching spring. The 169th Regimental
Combat Team, composed of the 169th Infantry Regiment,
the 169th Field Artillery Battalion, Company C of the 118th
Engineer Battalion, and Company A of the 118th Medical
Battalion, was billeted in the vicinity of Warkworth, New
Zealand. This is a small town about fifty miles north of
Auckland. The 103d Infantry and the M2d Field Artillery
Battalion were assigned to bivouac at Mangere Crossing, just
south of Auckland. The Division Headquarters and Head
quarters Company, the 118th Medical Battalion (less Com
panies A and C), the 43d Signal Company and the 118th
Engineer Battalion (less Company C) were installed just
outside of Auckland at Manuerewa. The Division Artillery
Headquarters and the 192d Field Artillery Battalion moved
in at Hilldene. The 118th Quartermaster Battalion and the
Military Police Platoon occupied Opaheke, with a detach
ment of the Quartermaster Battalion at Pukehohe. The 43d
Reconnaisance Troop at Opaheke, West and the 743d Ord
nance Company in Auckland.
At this stage of the war in the Pacific the Marines were
fighting against stubborn Japanese resistance on Guadalcanal,
and New Zealand was a likely spot for the enemy to invade.
The Headquarters of the United States Forces in the South
Pacific areaabbreviated to USAFISPAwas in Auckland.
While the main body of the division was moving to New
Zealand and preparing for any development, the 172d Regi
mental Combat Team had left San Francisco on October 6,
aboard the US President Line's President Coolidge. The 172d's

14

destination was the island of Esperitu Santo in the New


Hebrides group. As the President Coolidgc was entering the
harbor on October 26, an incident occured that the exmembers of the 172d will never forget. Accidently, the ship
struck and detonated friendly anti-submarine mines. As a
result the President Coolidge sank. By prompt action, nothing
short of miraculous, by swimming, by life raft and by life
boat, all men reached shore in a short time. Only one casualty
resulted. Captain Edward Euart, of Providence, Rhode Island,
a member of the 103d Field Artillery, gave his life while
saving others. In recognition of his unselfish devotion to duty,
Captain Euart was posthumously awarded the Distinguished
Service Cross, and a military post in New Zealand honored
him by adopting his name. The 172d saw for the first time
on Esperitu Santo the large cocoanut plantations typical of
the South Pacific islands.
The length of time the division would stay in New Zea
land was indefinite. Many reasons contributed to this uncer
tainty, not the least of which was the action of the enemy
at this time. The New Zealanders admitted a very keen anxiety
over the safety of their island. All able bodied men were in
the service and most of them were fighting in Greece, Crete

and Middle East Africa. The presence of the 43d did much
to allay some of their invasion fears. A major activity of the
division while in this beautiful little country was the assembl
ing of motor vehicles in preparation for future movements.
The doughboy received his full quota of hardening marches
and maneuvers along the roads and in the rugged hill country
of New Zealand. Relief from the physical strain of marching
was afforded by views of the picturesque countryside. This
country is a typical pastoral setting, with large rolling, green
meadows, bordered by neat, well-trimmed hedgerows, where
countless sheep roam and graze. The climate of New Zealand
is most invigorating, and it is one of the healthiest in all the
world.
As far as tactical training and physical fitness were con
cerned, the time in New Zealand was profitably spent.
The New Zealanders were friendly and hospitable, and
officers and men alike were invited into their family circles.
Many lasting friendships and love affairs were begun, and
orders for further movement were received with genuine
regret.
A spirit of restlessness was felt throughout the division, and
once again there was considerable speculation as to probable
destination.

CHAPTER V

The 43d Division began to leave New Zealandthe land


of the Kiwi birdon November 2, 1942, when an advance
party, again under the leadership of Brigadier General Wing,
headed for an island 998 miles to the northwest, the French
colony of New Caledonia. This island is a French speaking
area, and General Wing deemed it advisable to include in the
party Lieutenant Colonel John P. McGuire of Providence,
Rhode Island, the division chaplain, and Lieutenant Philip
S. St. Onge of Putnam, Connecticut, an assistant adjutant
general, as interpreters. Due to the critical shipping situation
considerable time was required to complete the movement
of the division, less the 172d Combat Team, to New Cale
donia. The advance party arrived in the capital, Noumea, on
November 6, but the remainder of the division did not reach
New Caledonia until December 3 0. The ships that transported

the division were the President Grant, the Matsonia, the


Mormacport, the American Legion, the Crescent City, the
McCawley, the Hunter K. Liggett, the Fuller, the John Penn,
the Jackson, the Adams, the Hayes, and the Titania. Noumea
was a rapidly expanding military and naval base and the ex
cellent harbor was heavily congested with combat and mer
chant ships. Inadequate dock facilities made debarkation slow
and hazardous. As the men reached the shore, they were af
forded an opportunity to try out their high school and
college French. Much to their chagrin, speaking French was
not as easy as it had seemed in school. The French-Canadians
and residents of the northernmost regions of Maine were the
most popular with the native New Caledonians, as they could
make themselves understood. Many of them exhibited a
fluent delivery of the language.

Noumea, Neic Caledonia

16

The division was assigned the central sector of the island


for defense. The Third New Zealand Division occupied the
northern sector and the 112th Cavalry defended the southern
sector, which included Noumea. Only one thoroughfare
which could be termed a highway range lengthwise of the
island, on the southwest coast, and upon arrival, this was
hard-surfaced for only twenty miles out of Noumea. This
was the main supply route for the division and was named
U. S. Highway No. 1. The division established defense in
depth in the central sector of New Caledonia and outposted
the coast line on both sides of the island. The 43d Division
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, the Military Police
Platoon, the Signal Company, and the Ordnance Company
were stationed at the village of Bouloupari, about fifty miles
north of Noumea. The 169th Infantry, less its 1st Battalion,
was also stationed at Bouloupari. The 1st Battalion, 169th
Infantry provided the defense of the air base at Tontouta.
The 169th Field Artillery Battalion and the 118th Medical
Battalion were spread out along the Ouenghi River flanking
U. S. Highway No. 1. The 118th Quartermaster Battalion was
on U. S. Highway No. 1 just north of Bouloupari. The 103d
Infantry, the 152d Field Artillery Battalion, and the 118th
Engineer Battalion were camped along U. S. Highway No. 1
in the vicinity of La Foa. The 1st Battalion, 103d Infantry
was charged with the defense of the Oau Tom Air Base.
The 43d Reconnaissance Troop was located on the La FoaNakety road and at the little town of Thio, on the northeast
coast. The roads leading to some of the outposts were barely
adequate for jeeps. In many instances the roads turned into
precipitous trails that wound hazardously along the rugged
mountains. Because of this, supply and communications were
difficult to maintain. The 43d Signal Company installed a
telephone net of approximately 150 miles and maintained
about 1800 miles of wire. Some of the infantry battalions pa
trolled as much as 85 miles of wire communications connect
ing their numerous outposts.
Division outposts were established at Pam, Koumac, Plaines
de Gaiac and Gomou. The most distant outpost was Pam
which is located on the northern extreme of the island.
Pam was accessible only by jeep trail and boat. The natives

17

of New Caledonia, of Melanesian descent, were made available


as guides and served in many other useful ways. They were
very friendly and aided in the construction of many military
buildings out of naouli bark, a tree peculiar to the south
westerly coast of New Caledonia.
Lack of service troops at the harbor of Noumea made it
necessary for many men of the 43d Division to work as
laborers on the docks, in an effort to unload the vessels con
gesting the harbor. However, as time and manpower permitted,
the division inaugurated a series of company problems which
lasted three days and nights. The purpose of this training
was to familiarize the men with the rough and swampy terrain
found on all of the South Pacific islands. The men of the
division were beginning to think seriously of the jungles
and this new type of warfare. Many key officers of the di
vision were sent to Guadalcanal to observe the fighting and
to gather first hand information on jungle warfare. At this
time Guadalcanal was the scene of a bitter struggle between
American army and marine troops, and the Japanese.
Fortunately, no malarial mosquitoes existed in New Cale
donia, but swarms of the common variety were a constant
nuisance. In some sections of the island, smudge pots were
kept burning continuously, and sentries were obliged to wear
headnets for protection at all times. It was difficult to find
a training area that was tolerable at nighttime.
Swimming in fresh-water streams, sea fishing, hunting,
volley ball, soft ball, and motion pictures supplied by the
division Special Service Office provided ample recreation and
relief from the rugged training schedule. The highlight of
special entertainment was the visit of motion picture star
and comedian Joe E. Brown, and Johnny Marvin, singer,
who furnished a half-hour of fun and music.
Early in January 1943, the division was ordered to conduct
amphibious training in the vicinity of Noumea harbor. One
infantry battalion at a time was to receive this special
training. The 2d Battalion, 103d Infantry was selected to
be the first to train. The plan had hardly been initiated when
alert orders for the division were received and further move
ment was imminent.

CHAPTER VI

By the time the ships were ready to leave Noumea harbor


almost everyone knew that the next stop would be Guadal
canal, although there had been no official announcement. Prior
to departure several battalions of the division had the oppor
tunity to make assualt landings in rehearsal for events to
follow.
By this time, the final blows in the bitter struggle for
Guadalcanal were being struck by American army and marine
troops. It had been a long and arduous campaign, and Ameri
can arms were finally in control of the Central Solomons. The
battle for Guadalcanal was fought to deny the enemy air
bases from which they might bomb our ships carrying vital
supplies to Australia. This was a period in the war when
America had little with which to wage offensive warfare.
The first convoy to leave Noumea harbor carried the 103d
Regimental Combat Team. Men of the 103d sailed on the
McCawley, the John Penn, and the Fuller. The convoy left
New Caledonia on February 13, 1943, and arrived at Koli
Point, Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, four days later.
The voyage was uneventful except for the ever-present fear
of attack by Japanese submarines or aircraft. Japanese air
power in the Solomons was far superior to ours, thereby mak
ing it necessary for our ships to be unloaded as quickly as
possible. The screws on the ships had hardly finished spinning
when boats were over the side and the ship-to-shore movement
begun. Several submarine alerts were sounded during the un
loading and our gallant little destroyers could be seen on
the horizon rushing to and fro, keeping a protective eye on
the dangerous waters.

was about 100 miles northeast of the island of San Cristo


bal, Solomon Islands, they received their baptism of fire.
As the sun was setting, vicious, vengeful Japanese torpedodive bombers, loaded with lethal bombs and deadly machine
guns, headed for the ships. The gun crews on our ships were
not caught by surprise. The Hallowe'en-like spectacle of
voluminous tracer ammunition shot through the sky aimed
at destroying the enemy force. Amid the incessant chatter of
anti-aircraft weapons, the explosion of Japanese bombs could
be heard, and the concussion of near-misses felt by in
dividuals below decks, as the enemy planes loosed their bomb
load. This was the real thing for the men of the 169th. One,
two, three, four, five, six, planes had been shot down and as
each one dropped in a swirl of flame, or plummeted with a
splash into the ocean, a loud cheer could be heard for the
victorious gunner who destroyed his foe. The convoy was un
damaged, thanks to the expert gunnery of the ships' crews,
and six of the enemy planes were destroyed. Needless to say,
excitement ran high and there was plenty to talk about that
night, and for days to come. Men who had been wondering
how they would react when under fire for the first time, had
the answer.
The remainder of the division reached Guadalcanal on
February 2 8, aboard the American Legion, the McCawley, the
Fuller, the Hunter K. Liggett, and the Titania.

The 103d Combat Team moved into bivouac along the


coast at Koli Point. Most of the fighting on Guadalcanal
had ended as the Japanese, except for a few stragglers, had
evacuated from Cape Esperance a few days previously. Evi
dence of the terrific jungle combat from Koli Point north
to Henderson Field and up the coast to Cape Esperance was
unmistakable. American forces had begun at once, the con
struction of new airfields and roads to accommodate the rap
idly growing base.

During the early hours of the first night that the 103d spent
on Guadalcanal, the air raid warning signal told of the ap
proach of enemy planes. Soon the drone of Jap planes could
be heard in the distance. The 103d was being introduced to
enemy fire. With the avid curiosity of green soldiers, the men
watched the anti-aircraft shells bursting in the air and
listened for enemy bombs to strike. Bombs released from the
Japanese planes, dropped haphazardly, caused no damage, and
they headed, unmolested, back to their bases in the Northern
Solomons. Several times during that first night, enemy planes
returned to bomb this newly won base. Each time the result
was the sameno damage to our installations and loss of
sleep for men of the 103d.

The Jackson, the Adams, the Hayes, and the Crescent


City sailed from Noumea harbor on February 16 with the
169th Regimental Combat Team aboard. When the convoy

The stay in Guadalcanal was brief. Naturally the scenes


of battle just completed were of great interest: everyone was
anxious to discover as much as possible about jungle combat.

18

Many men spent hours talking to veterans of other army


units who had fought the Japanese on Guadalcanal and tramp
ing through the jungle carefully examining bits of Japanese
equipment and their defensive installations. Key officers of
the division were guided on a tour of the battle grounds, and
were told the story of the fighting prior to the division's
arrival.
During the movement of the division for New Caledonia
to Guadalcanal, plans were made for the formation of Task
Force 31, of which the 43d Division, less the 172d Regimental
Combat Team, was to be the principal combat element. The
mission of Task Force 3 1 was to take and occupy the Russell
Islands, 40 miles northwest of Guadalcanal, and to establish
an outpost guarding American occupation of the Solomons.
Prior to landing, a division reconnaissance party went into
the Russells to gather as much information about the islands
as possible, and discovered that the enemy had pulled out
of the Russells only a few days previously.
The advance elements of the occupation force landed in
the Russells on the morning of February 21. The initial land
ing was made by the 103d and the 169th Combat Teams, along
with a non-divisional element, the 3d Marine Raider Bat
talion. Although the enemy had pulled out, the landing was
made in assault formation. This was the first landing of its
kind by the inexperienced troops of the 43d, and many
blunders were made that might have proved costly if the
enemy had elected to defend. The 103d Combat team landed
on the beautiful little island of Banika and immediately estab
lished base camps and defensive installations along the coast
line. The 169th Combat Team landed on Pavuvu. In peace
time these islands were huge cocoanut plantations, and the
evenly planted tree formations made exceptionally fine areas
for the establishment of base camps. The umbrella-like tops
Muddy

of the cocoanut trees provided an advantageous overhead


camouflage against detection from enemy aircraft. Outposts
were established on Nono, Bycee and Buku islands, as well
as on Murray Island, where troops manning our observation
posts were supplied with rations and water by PT boats, once
every four days. Radio silence was not broken for fourteen
days.
It did not take the enemy long to react to our occupation
of the Russells. Only three days after the 169th Combat Team
landed on Pavuvu, the shore installations and small landing
craft were the targets of a Japanese strafing attack by a
small flight of Zeroes, inflicting some damage to buildings
on the shore and wounding a dozen men.
The first severe bombing of the 43d Division in the Rus
sells, came on March 6. Large labor details were engaged in
dock work at Renard Sound and Wernham Cove when, with
out warning, about two-o'clock in the afternoon, Jap fighterbombers sneaked in just over the tops of the cocoanut trees
to unloose their deadly bombs. Many men heard the planes in
the air but assumed they were our own, as no air raid alarm
had been sounded. The target of the attack was the heavily
loaded dock areas stacked with vital and valuable supplies.
When the first bombs dropped, time permitted only the as
sumption of a prone position on the ground by the dock
laborers. However, as the second group of planes approached,
men ran in every direction for the nearest available cover.
The approach of American planes from Guadalcanal caused
the enemy to leave his strafing job only partly completed,
fleeing northward without contact, to their bases in the
Northern Solomons. Miraculously the division suffered only
ten casualties in this attack. All of the warehouses at Renard
Sound were destroyed, along with large supplies of gasoline
and oil. The Japanese had acknowledged our presence and this
attack was merely a fore-runner of many to follow.

roads, often-times impassable, ucre common in the Russell Islands,


engineers began the arduous task of road construction.

until

The 43d Division's stay in the Russells was spent in rugged


jungle and amphibious training. These were the early days of
the war in the Pacific when the enemy was firmly entrenched
in the Solomons and the forces of General McArthur were
slowly driving the enemy from the New Guinea approaches
to Australia. American forces characteristically knew little
of life in the jungle or combat under amphibious-jungle con
ditions, but the 43d was learning. Before the men of the 43d
launched their first attack against the Japanese, they would
know as much about them as possible. Appropriate schooling
aimed at teaching the psychology of the Japanese was initiated
in the Russells. The division commander realized that in order
to defeat the enemy it was essential to know something of
his characteristics and habits, as well as his political and
social tendencies. The teachings of Japanese psychology dealt
principally with the fanaticism of the Jap soldier. The men
learned that without doubt the Japanese are the most fanatical
people on this earth. From early childhood they were taught
strict obedience and blind worship of authority. The Japanese
emperor, according to Japanese belief, is a direct descendant
of the Sun Goddess, thereby making him the Supreme Being
and unquestioned authority.
Like many other institutions in Japan, the army was unique.
It was in many ways different from any other army in the
world. The Japanese army bore a very special relation to the
emperor. Total fanaticism in the Japanese fighting man was
achieved by complete and unimaginable emperor-worship.
The Japanese soldier was taught that to die for the sake of
the emperor was to live forever. Therein lies the motivating
force which prompted the Japanese soldier to fight to the
end or to destroy himself in suicidal 'banzai' charges. The
men of the 43d learned that the Japanese would charge
blindly against American defensive positions with little if
any hope of success in order to achieve immortal glory in
the name of the emperor. Often in the face of overwhelming
fire superiority they would chant in unison, 'Banzai, banzai,
banzai,' as they rushed forward to almost certain annihilation.

Invariably the result was that the enemy met with little
success and caused considerable loss to himself in men and
materials. The men of the 43d were learning that the enemy
wanted to die for the glory of the emperor and that they must
train until they were thoroughly proficient in the art of ac
commodating the Japs in their suicidal desires. The men were
told that the Japanese soldiers were thoroughly indoctrinated
with the spirit of their 'superior skill and agility.' The Jap
anese were told that their small physical stature would be
compensated for in close-in fighting with the Americans, by
their spiritual will to win, and that they were ten-to-one
better fighters than the American soldiers. They were told that
they must never give upnever surrender. If death were in
evitable, they should kill as many Americans as possible first.
To surrender was to commit the unpardonable sin, the greatest
disgrace that could befall a soldier of the Mikado.
It was difficult at first for these sane, sober-thinking Ameri
cans to grasp the complex, unreasoning thought of the Jap
anese. In the days to follow the Americans were to learn by
bitter experience and arduous combat the full implication of
the psychology of the Japanese fighting man.
In the jungles of Banika and Pavuvu, bunkers were con
structed to simulate the ones the Japanese had built on
Guadalcanal. Time and again, these bunkers were assaulted
in mock combat. Long marches through the jungles kept
the men in condition for action.
Rations for feeding the troops reached an all-time low due
to the difficulty of running the gauntlet of Japanese airpower in bringing food from Guadalcanal to the Russells.
Bread was scarce, fresh vegetables and meats unheard of, and
fruit juices had dwindled to zero many weeks before. C-rations
and the better jungle-ration became a daily fare. Jaundice
and some cases of malaria began to strike the division.
The 172d Regimental Combat Team had left Espentu
Santo in the New Hebrides and had established themeslves
on Guadalcanal. They too were acquiring valuable training
in the ways of war against the Japanese.

CHAPTER VII

During the latter part of May 1943, the Army High Com
mand in the South Pacific formulated plans to drive the enemy
from the Solomon Islands. The first step in this major task
was the seizure of the strategic New Georgia group of islands.
The specific objective was the highly prized air base on
Munda Point on the island of New Georgia. The 43d Division
was destined to play the major part in the accomplishment
of this objective.
In preparation for this campaign on New Georgia, an offi
cer reconnaissance party, consisting of Captain Arthur H.
Norwood, Captain Philip "W. Miller, Captain Harold A. Slager,
Lieutenant Ellis W. Satterthwaite, Lieutenant Frederick C.
Burnaby, Lieutenant James W. Lamb, Lieutenant Jackson B.
King, and Lieutenant John S. Moffatt, left Banika Island
of the Russell Island Group on June 13. It had the mission of
reconnoitering the Japanese held island of Rendova in the
New Georgia Group. This party arrived at Segi in the early
morning of June 14. With friendly native guides this group
left Segi for Rendova at dusk, travelling in three native canoes
all night, a distance of 4 5 miles, against wind and open seas,
and arrived at the southeastern tip of Rendova Island at
daybreak on June 15. That night they again travelled by
canoe to Rano on Rendova, passing known Japanese outposts
in the dark. This was followed by two days of slow, tedious

plodding through rugged mountainous jungle terrain. An ob


servation post was established high in the Rendova Mountain.
During the next few days smaller groups made repeated scout
ing expeditions seeking information relative to the terrain
and Japanese installations, and remained undetected by the
Japs. The information secured by these groups proved of
great value when the initial landings were made later. Three
officers, Lieutenants Satterthwaite, Burnaby and Lamb re
mained in the islands to aid by signals the landing of our
forces. The remainder of the party returned to the Russells
to report their findings as a basis for final plans.
At the time of receipt of the order, the division less the
172d Combat Team, was stationed in the Russell Islands. The
172d Combat Team was stationed in Guadalcanal. June 3 0
was set as D-Day. On June 18, the division field order was
published, directing the movement by the division by water
to the various objectives in the New Georgia area. The 172d
Combat Team embarked at Guadalcanal aboard the trans
ports McCawley, Jackson, Hayes and Adams and proceeded
to Efate for special amphibious training from which it would
move directly to the objective. The 103d Infantry and the
169th Infantry received special training aboard LCI's (Landing
Craft, Infantry). Division service troops established supply
dumps, redistributed equipment and coordinated transporta
tion facilities, preparatory to the operation.

New Georgia

Acting on a threatened enemy occupation of Segi, Com


panies A and D, 103d Infantry and Companies O and P, of the
4th Marine Raider Battalion, were moved during the period
June 18 to June 22, ahead of schedule, to Segi, effectively se
curing it for uninterrupted execution of the general plan.
Company B, 103d Infantry reinforced, designated as the
attacking force for the seizure of Viru, embarked aboard an
APD on June 25, for training preparatory to landing.
The general plan called for the simultaneous occupation of
Wickham, Segi, Viru and Rendova on the morning of June 3 0.
The preliminary reconnaissance had disclosed considerable
enemy strength at Wickham with Japanese strongpoints at
Viru, Rendova, Ugeli and Banieta. The reconnaissance also
indicated the advisability of initiating the land advance on
Viru two days earlier than originally contemplated, because
of the hazards of the terrain. Hence, Companies O and P,
4th Marine Raider Battalion, occupying Segi, started march
ing on Viru on June 2 8, prepared to coordinate their attack
with the amphibious landing of Company B (reinforced),
103d Infantry on June 3 0.
The 172d Combat Team had been given the mission of
seizing Rendova. It returned to Guadalcanal the morning of
June 29 and rendezvoused with 43d Division Headquarters,
43d Division Artillery Headquarters, 43d Signal Company and
the 43d Division Cavalry Reconaissance Troop. These ele
ments had moved from the Russclls to Guadalcanal during
the night of June 2 8 and 2 9, aboard LCI's and LCT's. Division
troops trans-shipped aboard the transports during the day, and
at 1600 on June 29, these transports accompanied by two
cargo vessels and naval escort, departed for Rendova. Two
destroyers, carrying two rifle companies who were to make the

Ma), Gen. John Hater holds, staff conference on RenJova Bench. Left to
right: Capt. Woodruff, Aide to Gen. Hater; Lf. Col. Watson, G-l; Gen.
Hester; Brig. Gen. Barker, Div. Artillery Ciuilr.; Ma). Rmtsscail, Asst. G-1.

initial beachhead, preceeded the main body by two hours


While the Rendova forces were loading in Guadalcanal,
the 103d Combat Team was loading aboard APD's, LST's,
LCI's and LCT's in the Russell Islands. This force (less the
3d Battalion Combat Team) had been given the mission of
seizing and defending Wickham, Viru and Segi, the latter
having been secured without opposition prior to the actual
operation. One battalion combat team was ordered to land at
Oleana Bay and attack Wickham Anchorage. The 103d Com
bat Team, (less 2d and 3d Battalion Combat Team and one
reinforced company), was ordered to occupy and defend Segi,
and secure the area for an air and naval base. One reinforced
rifle company was ordered to land at Viru, coordinating its at
tack with two Marine Raider Companies proceeding to Viru
by land.
The 169th Combat Team in Division Reserve was pre
pared for movement to Rendova immediately upon com
pletion of the landing of the first echelon. The 3d Battalion
Combat Team, 103d Combat Team, loaded aboard LCI's
for movement on June 3 0 to Poko Plantation, Rendova Isl
and, in security of the left (south) flank of the division.
The first echelons for the four initial objectives arrived
without unusual incident, on schedule. Air cover intercepted
and destroyed substantial enemy air strength before the trans
ports were threatened. Shore defense guns at Munda, attempt
ing to interdict the Rendova landing forces, were engaged by
screening destroyers and partially silenced.
The first wave ashore from destroyers at Rendova Plan
tation landed at 063 0 on June 3 0. The two companies ad
vanced on separate objectives, one seizing the East shore
of Rendova Harbor, and the other seizing the West shore.
Enemy opposition was disorganized but determined. No
fortifications were encountered. Approximately sixty Japs
were killed, while some, later found to be approximately
fifty, escaped into the interior. Our casualties were light. The
first wave to leave the transports reached shore at 074 5. At
that time a beachhead of approximately 40 0 yards depth
had been established at each beach. The transports continued
to unload troops and cargo, all small boats proceeding to pre
arranged landing beaches. Shore party commanders and staffs
at each beach controlled the disposition of supplies and equip
ment, while the 172d Infantry completed the mopping up of
Rendova Plantation, and established the perimeter defense
of the occupied area.
During the unloading, the transports dispersed under threat
of air attack, but were reassembled to complete the unload
ing. Total required time for unloading all cargo ships, trans
ports and APD's was five hours.
As a part of the occupation of Rendova, two rifle com
panies landed from APD's at Onaiavisi Entrance prior to
daylight on June 3 0, and, with minor opposition, secured
the passage for possible future use, denying the enemy one of
the three approaches to Rovianna Lagoon. On July 1, the
43d Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop seized Banieta Point and
Ugeli, each of which had been manned by enemy naval forces.
With minor opposition both of these positions were occupied,
providing strong outposts on the flanks of the main Rendova
dispositions.

22

ENEMY I N S T A L L A T I O N S S I E V E D
30 1 U N I , P R E L I M I N A R Y TO
A T T \ C K ON MLNDA

NAUTICAL

MOVEMENT OF 43d
T O THE

Inf

NEW G E O R G I A

DIVISION
GKOUP

MILES

FROM

GUADALCANAL

Artillery and infantry dispositions in defense of Rendova


Plantation were completed July 1. Subsequent echelons com
pleted the movement of the division, less 103d Combat Team,
(less 3d Battalion Combat Team) to Rendova by July 4.
All available personnel not occupied in the defense of the area
were employed in unloading cargo craft during the period.
On July 2, enemy bombers attacked without warning, caus
ing extremely heavy casualties and damage to materiel. Sub
sequent aerial attacks on the Rendova base were frequent,
but not effective.
Prior to daylight on June 3 0, the 2d Battalion, 103d In
fantry, with Companies N and Q, 4th Marine Raider Bat
talion, attached, landed at Oleana Bay. At 073 5 the approach
march was started. Company E, with 81 mm mortar platoor.
attached, marched to Vura Village, arriving shortly after
noon, engaged the enemy there, and occupied the west bank
of the Vura River, driving the remaining enemy towarc
Kaeruku Point. The main body meanwhile, had moved via
the Kennedy Trail to a position north of Vura and assumed
position for the main attack. At the sound of Company E
firing, the main attack was launched. The attack was success
ful and darkness found our troops along the north shore of
Kaeruku Bay. Enemy was entrenched and well dug in on
Cheke Point. During the night two Jap barges containing
about forty men each, landed in front of our positions, but
were destroyed with the loss of all personnel. Four other Jap
barges reinforced the enemy position on Cheke Point.
On the following day the units reorganized and supply
and evacuation by boat was established at Vura Village. Air

Gun Crew of the 152d Field Artillery Battalion fire barrage


into enemy positions on Vangnna Island.
and naval bombardment on Cheke Point was requested for
the morning of July 2. Due to weather conditions and failure
of communications, the naval bombardment did not material
ize until the afternoon of July 3, and the air strike did not
come until the morning of July 4. Following the air strike
enemy resistance on Cheke Point was reduced, resulting in the
capture of a considerable amount of enemy ordnance material
and other supplies.
During the period of July 6 to July 18, troops were read

Unloading at Xanana Beach-head on New Georgia.

justed and patrols were conducted ; n all directions to include


Emma Point to the east. Except for destruction of an enemy
barge seeking to escape, no further contact was made with
the enemy.
Shortly before daylight on D-Day, Company B, 10 3d In
fantry (reinforced), on two APD's arrived outside Viru
Harbor and were preparing to disembark on flare signal from
the marines on shore. The signal did not come and as the
APD's approached within one thousand yards of the mouth
of the harbor, a concealed Japanese 3-inch gun opened fire.
After an exchange of fire, the APD's moved out of range and
awaited the marine signal flare. No signal came, and at noon
orders were received to return to Segi. The company disem
barked at Segi Point in the late afternoon and bivouaced
there for the night. The following morning Company B
reembarked in LCP's and landed at the Choi River, prepared
to march overland to the east shore of Viru Harbor. With
native guides the company started its trek through the jungle.
The march consumed three days and was without major in
cident, passing through dense jungle and heavy swampland.
At nightfall on July 3, the company was within an estimated
three hours march from Viru.
On the morning of July 4, packs were left in an assembly
area under guard and the company resumed its march
overland making contact with marine elements on the East
shore of Viru Harbor about noon. The company relieved the
maries and was disposed according to plan with one rifle
platoon reinforced with one section LMG's and one section
of 60 mm mortars on the east side of Viru Harbor and the
balance of the company on the West shore.

Extensive patroling was carried out to the west along


the Mango, Tka and Viru Rivers as well as to the east. No
contact was made with the enemy although frequent signs
of enemy in limited strength were seen.
Upon completion of the seizure of Rendova, Wickham,
Viru and Segi, the 43d Division took preliminary steps for
the reduction of Munda. The mission was as follows: ' The
43d Infantry Division (less 103d Combat Team) with the
13 6th Field Artillery Battalion and Tank Platoon, 9th De
fense Battalion attached, will land on New Georgia Island,
capture or destroy all enemy encountered, and secure the
Munda Airfield."
Reconnaissance was initiated to locate suitable landing
beaches, routes, water supply, and enemy fortifications, and
dispositions. Reconnaissance forces consisted of officer repre
sentatives of infantry and artillery elements of the 43d Divis
ion, South Pacific scouts and New Georgia natives. Regular
radio reports were received from the reconnaissance head
quarters on New Georgia during the period June 30 to July
5, informing the Commanding General on Rendova of the
findings of the patrols. On July 5, the preliminary recon
naissance being complete, reconnaissance elements were as
sembled and returned to their units.
Zanana Beach had been selected as the most suitable beach
for the initial landing. The plan for the attack on Munda
had been prepared and discussed in detail with commanders
prior to the Rendova landing. With minor revisions it was in
itiated. The Line of Departure was designated as the Barike
River. The 172d Infantry was to occupy the South of the
line, with the 169th Ifantry to the north with the 1st Bat

taiion 169th Infantry, in division reserve. The Line of Depar


ture was crossed on D plus 9 or July 9. Battalions were to be
moved to Zanana Beach, via Onaivisi Entrance, and were to
march from there to the Line of Departure.
After dark, on July 2, the 1st Battalion, 172d Infantry,
loaded aboard small landing craft in Rendova Harbor, and,
with three units of fire and ten days rations, advanced on New
Georgia. Our forces occupying Onaiavisi Entrance, which
had been reinforced by the Anti Tank Company, 172d Infan
try and supported by our artillery based on Kokorana and
Barabuni were alert to cover the landing if opposition should
be encountered. Radio communication to the command boats
furnished close control of the operation. Company A, 169th
Infantry, joined the 1st Battalion, 172d Infantry at Onaivisi
Entrance, with the mission of covering the projected landing
of the 169th Infantry on New Georgia, maintaining con
tact with the 172d Infantry, and reconnoitering routes to
the Line of Departure. Navigation hazards between Oniavisi
Entrance and Zanana were critical obstacles to the movement.
At certain points the channel was less than ten feet wide
and extremely shallow and tortuous. Native scouts were
stationed in canoes along the water course to guide the
flotilla with dimmed lights.

Soldiers, of the 43d Division receiving medical treatment in


the hospital tents of the 118th Medical Battalion. Miracles
in medicine were performed in these dark jungle hospitals.

Leading elements landed without opposition during the


hours of darkness, the morning of July 3, at Zanana Beach.
A beachhead was established ,and the balance of the battalion
landed successfully, closing in on New Georgia at 1000, on
July 3. Anti-tank and anti-aircraft elements were promptly
established in security of the beachhead, and patrols were
advanced west along the shore toward the Line of Departure.
On July 4, the 1st Battalion, 172d Infantry had completed
its advance to the Barike River, leaving its Anti-Tank platoon
and a detachment of heavy weapons in security of Zanana.
During the period of July 4 to July 6, the balance of the 172d
Infantry, and the 169th Infantry (less Anti-Tank Company)
and two Engineer companies moved to Zanana by daylight
with only minor artillery opposition during the boat move
ment. Patrols were sent north and west from the beachhead
covering the right and rear of our advance.
No serious enemy opposition was encountered enroute to
the Line of Departure until July 6, when the 3d Battalion,
leading element of the 169th Infantry, encountered serious
opposition in its zone approximately 3 00 yards west of the
Barike River. The battalion committed two companies, and
developed an enemy strongpoint on high ground astride the
trail. Assisted by Company B, 172d Infantry, on the left,

Me;; of the 47>rd Signal Company work feverishly in hcai y


jungle in order to maintain continuous
communications.

Signal Company wire man ties communication's wive in tree


to keep it from being trampled on and broken.
the 169th Infantry reduced the apposition by noon on July 8.
The 169th Infantry and the 172d Infantry had advanced
in successive echelons to the west side of the Barike River
and secured a line of communication from Zanana Beach to
the Munda Trail and thence to the Barike River. Patrols had
searched the flanks as far North as the Piraka River mouth
and continued west forward of the Line of Departure and
covered the division right MOO yards north of the Munda
Trail. The 103d, 169th and 136th Field Artillery Battalions
were in position on Sasavelle and Baraulu Islands and were
registered and prepared to furnish direct support to the ad
vance. The 118th Engineer Battalion constructed a road
from Zanana to the Munda Trail, and west on the Munda
Trail in close support of the infantry.
At 063 0 on July 9, the Line of Departure was crossed
without serious opposition, and the advance continued through
extremely difficult terrain. The heavy jungle and deep swamps
of the Barike Valley denied rapid advance. The enemy fought
a persistent delaying action throughout the area, employing
automatic weapons astride corridors and trails, sniper action,
and light artillery weapons interdiction of our lines ef com
munication. Enemy night harassment of our right flank ele
ments was extremely effective during the period July 8
to July 12. Small well organized raider parties entered the
bivouac areas, causing casualties, and confusion. Loss of sleep
resulting from these raids reduced the effectiveness of our right
flank elements. It was learned that aggressive counter-offensive

27

Wounded soldier in New Georgia is loaded into muddy


ambulance for evacuation to 43rd Division hospital.

action proved most valuable in discouraging this harassment.


The columns advanced 2 5 00 yards July 9, crossing two
branches of the Barike River. Patrols to the north were
negative. The advance continued July 10 and July 11, with
the 172d Infantry overcoming two enemy strongpoints on the
trail. Approximately fifty percent of the combat elements
were required to maintain supply and evacuation, this per
centage increasing as the supply line extended.
During July 10, resistance increased, and it b*came apparent
that we were approaching the enemy's major defensive line
The engineer road had made rapid progress as far as the
Barike River, but the swamps west of the river required con
siderable bridge construction and a wide detour to the north.
Our line of communication by this time was critically over

extended. Long hand-carries for food and ammunition, as well


as long carries for evacuation, combined with an extremely
long communication system, seriously reduced our available
fighting strength. Our right flank was exposed, with only
small patrols available to protect our line of communication.
Air supply dumps were initiated and completed with success.
The 118th Engineer Battalicn disposed along the main supph'
trail with the mission of securing the division rear in addi
tion to its normal road construction mission. In spite of these
measures, our supply, communication and evacuation situation,
as well as our flank security remained unsatisfactory. The
decision was made to shorten our supply line by establishing
a new beachhead in the general vicinity of Laiana. Recon
naissance was promptly initiated to determine enemy strength
and dispositions, landing beaches, and terrain conditions. Re
port of reconnaissance indicated enemy in two battalion
strength or more in fortified positions at Ilangana and north
to the Munda Trail. Beach conditions for the plan appeared
suitable at Laiana. The terrain was reported as jungle with
heavy coral outcroppings.
The 3d Battalion, 103d Infantry and Tank Platoon, 9th
Defense Battalion, in reserve at Rcndova, were alerted and
loaded aboard landing craft prepared to land at Laiana and
reinforce the division left, thereby relieving the over-extended
lines.
At 1000 on July 11, the 172d Infantry was disengaged
from the attack, and advanced South, cutting its way through
mangrove swamps, and established its left flank on the
sea, securing a beachhead near Laiana, and continued the
advance to the west. Although great care was exercised to
preserve the element of surprise in this maneuver, enemy pa
trols discovered our columns. Intensive mortar fire interdicted
routes and bivouac areas during July 11 and 12. Enemy
strength infiltrated between the 169th Infantry on the right
and the 172d Infantry moving left, and cut communication
lines. Rain turned the trail into a quagmire, and evacuation
and supply were almost impossible through the knee-deep mud.
At this time the 169th Infantry, under extremely heavy
mortar and machine gun lire had advanced to the base of
the high ground commanding the approaches to Munda. This
high ground was extremely well defended with fortifications.
Mutually supporting pill boxes were found in many instances
at ten yard intervals. Continued infiltration and night harass
ment by mortars slowed the progress on this front.
By late afternoon on July 12, leading elements of the 172d
Infantry were $00 yards north of Laiana. Scouts reported
strong enemy fortifications, connected by trenches running
north from Ilangana. The 169th Infantry was unable to
advance.
Following .\n air bombardment requested for the morning
^f the 13th of July, the 172d Infantry continued to push
to the sea, constantly opposed by heavy mortar fire. The
169th Infantry, taking advantage of its air support, attacked
a strategic hill commanding the Munda Trail. The attack
was repulsed three times, but on the fourth attempt was suc
cessful. This advance gave us a 400 yard salient into the
enemy defenses, on excellent terrain.
By afternoon of July 13, the 172d Infantry had sccureJ

Tractor

of

the

llSth
Engineer
the peep trail

Battalion
forward.

prepares

to

push

a beachhead at Laiana and consolidated its battalions with its


left on the shore. Patrols were in contact with enemy defen
sive line. The 169th Infantry was ordered to extend its left
to establish contact with the 172d Infantry. A 600 yard gap
existed through which enemy patrols were suspected of operat
ing. The alerted landing force at Rendova, was ordered to land
at Laiana at 0900 the following morning. A special Engineer
task unit was added to this force, equipped with mine detec
tors, flame throwers, and bridge construction and demolition
specialists.
At 0900 on July 14, the first wave of the 3d Battalion, 103d
Infantry with engineers and tank platoon attached, landed at
Laiana covered by the 172d Infantry. Enemy artillery inter
dicted the water route without serious effect. Our artillery
placed a heavy smoke screen on suspected enemy gun posi
tions and the high ground in the vicinity of Bibolo Hill to
blind enemy observation.
The 169th Infantry sent patrols south to establish lateral
communication with the 172d Infantry and established a trailblock at the junction of the Munda and Lambetti Trails.
Regimental sectors and boundaries were established, placing
the 3d Battalion, 103d Infantry and the tank platoon in
division reserve. A peep trail was initiated from Laiana Beach
north to the 169th Infantry. Supply and evacuation were
reconstituted at Laiana Beach. Our forces had fixed the enemy
strength, and patrols were maintaining contact to feel out
his defenses. Artillery struck constantly at the enemy positions
and line of communications. Telephone communication was
promptly established to the new beach by underwater cables.
In effect, the impetus of the effort was shifted wide to the
left, thus shortening the line of communication by 5,000
yards of very bad terrain. During this period the 118th En
gineers had continued the advance of the original supply
road, and had reached a point 5 00 yards in rear of the 169th
Infantry. This read was passable but virtually undefended.
The Division Command Post and Division Troops prepared
to advance to the Laiana area and established temporary
bivouac on the Munda Trail enroute to Zanana for movement.
The 1st Battalion, 145th Infantry, landed at Zanana early
July 15, and was attached to the 43d Division. It moved west

28

since road construction the Laiana wcx had not been successful
in the low ground then held, and because of water transpor
tation shortage, movement of the rear installations on the
Munda Trail had been delayed.
At 1700 troops evacuating casualties from the 169th In
fantry were ambushed on the Munda Trail. Efforts to reduce
the road block were not effective during July 17. Later, evac
uation parties, unable to pass the ambush, assembled in the
Barike swamp and established a perimeter defense of wounded
as well as medical personnel.

A typical jungle haul quarters.


r

on the Munda Trail, with the mission of relieving two bat


talions of the 169th Infantry, then at seriously reduced
strength. This battalion reached the 169th Infantry at 1700,
on July 15, and remained initially in regimental reserve, pend
ing completion of local operations.
At 2400 on July 15, Major General Griswold assumed con
trol of the New Georgia Occupation Forces. At this time the
37th Division, less some elements, was closing in Rendova with
the 161st Infantry attached. Plans were initiated to move
these forces to the sector right of and north of the 43d
Division.
On July 16 the division attacked on its new front, tanks
reinforcing the 172d Infantry on the left. The 169th Infan
try, taking advantage of its salient, enveloped on enemy
strongpoint to its left front, considerably improving its posi
tion, and seizing terrain from which Munda Field could be
observed.
The 172d Infantry advanced 3 00 yards on its sector, driv
ing in enemy outposts and destroying a number of pill boxes.
Tanks were used with some success. An enemy field piece
was destroyed by Anti-Tank guns at Ilangana and a quantity
of ammunition captured.
Pressure was maintained against the enemy on July 17, with
the 172d Infantry advancing approximately 200 yards against
heavy fortifications. During the afternoon patrols to the di
vision right flank reported an enemy column of 250 to 3 00
men advancing through the jungle heading west. Later in
telligence proved this to be the Japanese 13 th Infantry Regi
ment, possibly less a battalion. One platoon of the 43d
Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop attempted to intercept the
column, but was unable to establish an ambush in the path
of the advance. By dark it became evident that a determined
and rapidly moving force was in a position to destroy our
installations on the Munda Trail, including a Collecting
Company, the Division Command Post, Zanana beachhead,
water points and supply installations. The possibilities of
such an attack had been apparent since the beginning of the
operation. This vulnerability had been a strong factor in
speeding the measures to shorten our supply line. However,

29

Shortly after dark on July 17, well organized enemy troops


conducted simultaneous attacks on the Collecting Company
and engineer bivouacs, the Division Command Post, and the
Zanana beachhead. Security elements at these installations
had been strengthened with all available men, and the enemy
was repulsed in all cases with substantial losses. The enemy
continued his efforts to destroy our installations until 0400
on July 18, when, with the approach of daylight, the forces
withdrew rapidly toward Munda via the Munda Trail.
Throughout the return march, our forces bordering the trail
caused them heavy losses. The enemy 229th Infantry elements
opposing the 1st Battalion, 169th Infantry also attacked the
night of July 17-18, suffering heavy losses against our final
protective lines.
This was the only offensive action taken by the enemy
during the Munda operation. Our losses were light in personnel
and materiel. It was learned later that the enemy forces had
been ordered to "destroy all enemy rear installations."
Early on July 18, the 1st Battalion, 148th Infantry, ar
rived at Zanana and moved west on the Munda Trail, as
sembling in vicinty of the Division Command Post. Strong
patrols were sent out to search for the enemy forces which
had attacked our right flank the previous night. No contact
was made, but enemy dead and abandoned equipment gave
evidence of the failure of the attack.
During the period July 18 to July 2 5th, our forces were re
organized and readjusted. The 169th Infantry (less 3d Bat
talion) was withdrawn to Rendova. The 103d Infantry (less
1st Battalion) took over the left sector of the Division front,
Men of the 3d Battalion,
near Lambetti Plantation
have their picture taken
dropped

103d Infantry relax from fighting


on Neu1 Georgia long enough to
in a hole made by a large bomb
by U. S. aircraft.

the 172d Infantry moving to the right (north) sector, and


establishing contact on its right with the 37h Division.
The 3d Battalion, 169th Infantry was placed in division re
serve. Patrols and artillery maintained constant pressure on
the enemy defenses during this period. Service installations
were established in the Laiana area.
On July 2 5, the XIV Corps resumed the attack, the 43d
Division on the left. Preceded by heavy artillery and dive
bomber preparation the division attacked at 0730, making
the main effort on the right. The 172d Infantry in the right
zone advanced approximately 200 yards against well defended
positions, and secured a wooded ridge running parallel to the
enemy main line of resistance. On the extreme left of Ilangana
the 103d Infantry was unable to advance against intensive
machine gun and mortar fire. This left battalion was estab
lished in very close proximity to the enemy pill boxes, in
heavy undergrowth through which visibility was extremely
limited. The center of the division line made steady progress
during the morning, gaining 3 00 to 400 yards against moder
ate opposition. At 1040 on July 2 5, Company I, 103d Infan
try, from its zone near the center of the line, advanced
patrols 500 yards into enemy held terrain. Sensing a gap in

the movement was detected by defending elements on either


flank, and the battalion was repulsed with casualties from
heavy enfilade fire. Continued efforts to press the advantage
in this zone were without success. Tanks were committed
to reduce the enemy strength flanking the north side of
the gap, but were unable to negotiate the terrain. Late in the
afternoon the commanding officer of the isolated Company E,
made a decision to return to the line, it being evident by
this time that reinforcement of his position were unlikely. At
162 5 the company rejoined its battalion, having destroyed
a number of Japs in its march, and having secured excellent
information of the enemy dispositions in depth. In general
the day's attack had gained approximately 300 yards of
strongly defended ground, but more especially it had dis
closed weaknesses in the defenses not previously known.
By July 26 our front line had pressed itself against the
defenses of the enemy Main Line of Resistance, producing a
long irregular front. Our left had not been successful against
the Ilangana strongpoint. Our right was obliged to maintain
contact with the 37th Division at the forward positions
secured earlier in the campaign by the 169th Infantry. The
combat strength of the infantry elements at this time was
low. It was evident that if our line were straightened its
length would be reduced by one half, thereby doubling the
effectiveness of our offensive strength. The decision was
therefore made to devote all effort to advancing the left to
Terere.
Medical installations on New Georgia.

Riflemen of the 43 d Division charge through white phos


phorous smoke screen to attack Japanese pill-box in

coconut grove.

the enemy's defenses, the balance of the company closed rapid


ly behind the patrols in the direction of Lambetti. Lateral con
tact was lost, since elements of either flank were unable to
keep up with the advancing company. By noon the company
had reached the coast in the vicinity of Lambetti without
serious opposition. It established a temporary defensive posi
tion from which it sent out reconnaissance patrols in all
directions. At this time telephone communications were out,
and the company was completely out of contact with its
battalion, and approximately 800 yards in rear of the enemy's
positions.
The division reserve battalion was directed to advance in
the zone of this company to take advantage of the break
through. As the battalion advanced to its Line of Departure

30

On the morning of July 26, strong patrols searched the left


flank fixing the main pill box positions. A tank reconnaissance
was conducted in close contact with the patrols. At 1225,
the 103d Infantry attacked with tanks and flame throwers.
Resistance at Ilangana was reduced by mid-afternoon and the
advance continued until 1700. Seventy-four pill boxes were
found in depth on a 600 yard front. At this time our left
had advanced to Kia, materially improving our position.
Reconnaissance in force by the 172d Infantry during the day
kept constant pressure on the enemy defenders, but proved
costly in casualties on the approaches to the enemy's "Shimizu
Mountain" stronghold.
During the period July 27 to August our advances were
slow, but gained ground steadily. On July 29 the 169th In
fantry (less the 3d Battalion) was put into the line, giving
the division a three regiment front. Constant aggressive action
and small unit maneuver, combined with constant artillery
and mortar action gradually forced the enemy back from
his high ground defenses.
Major General Hodge assumed command of the 43d Di
vision on July 29. By July 30 the left flank which had earlier
been held down, causing the line to over-extend, had advanced
to Terere, causing a serious sag in the center of the line still
opposing the Jap Shimizu positions. In this area the enemy had
constructed pill boxes with two floors. The occupants with
drew to the lower compartment during artillery and mortar
fire, and resumed their positions at their guns as the artillery
lifted. On July 30, the 172d Infantry seized a hill comprising
the southern anchor of this strongpoint, and weakened the
defenses considerably by gaining observation of successive
ridges to the front. Only July 31, two battalions of the 169th
Infantry successfully enveloped the enemy right, passing over
the newly won hill, and advancing across the front of the
172d Infantry to complete the reduction of the position. This
maneuver broadened the front of the 169th Infantry, and
placed the 172d Infantry in division reserve. Advance to the
west was resumed. By late afternoon of July 31, the division
had advanced approximately 700 yards against diminishing
resistance.
August 1 brought our troops to the outer taxiways of

31

Munda Field on the left and the eastern peak of Bibolo Hill
on the right. Opposition was composed principally of small
suicide groups delaying the advance across the coastal plain
and ridges approaching the field. Many items of ordnance, and
vehicles, and large quantities of supplies were captured dur
ing this rapid final push. On August 2 and 3 our battalions
spread cautiously about the airfield suspecting booby traps,
mines, or other deception. Our occupation of the complete
Bibolo Hill was effected against last-ditch defenders with
very light losses.
On August 4, our troops occupied the high ground com
manding the field, and the southern shore of Munda Point,
and there remained only Kokengolo Hill in the center of the
Airfield area to be reduced. The enemy held Kokengolo with
the remnants of four companies reinforced with machine
guns and anti-tank guns.
For the first time in the Munda compaign our troops were
able to fight in open, dry country. Infantry battalions, sup
ported by exceptionally effective mortar fire swept methodical
ly across the last 2,000 yards of revetments and taxiways.
Enemy troops still held Kokengolo Hill as night fell on
August 4. Our forces prepared for the final assault the fol
lowing morning.
On August 5, Munda Field fell to the 43d Division. Mortar
fire and tanks drove the enemy from their tunnels and pill
boxes, and riflemen advanced up the slopes of Kokengolo
and across the neck of land between Bibolo Hill and Kindu
Point. At 143 5 on August 5, Brigadier General Wing, Assis
tant Division Commander, at the Division Observation Post
atop Bibolo Hill, sent the following message to General Hodge:
"Munda is yours at 1410 today."
Defensive operations were promptly initiated against pos
sible counter-attacks or raid. The 172d Infantry and 169th
Infantry were disposed along the Main Line of Resistance.
Strong patrol action was initiated, emanating from the Munda
area in all directions. The enemy continued to place sporadic
fire on the Munda Point area and adjacent bivouac areas
from the general direction of Swinger Channel. The fire was
not effective, but indicated enemy strength still active in
the Diamond Narrows area.

CHAPTER VIII

The 3d Battalion, 103d Infantry, having suffered heavy


casualties was sent back to the Russell Islands for rest and
recuperation. The 2nd Battalion returned to garrison Rendova,
while the 1st Battalion remained to defend the Segi airfield.
On August 10, the 169th Infantry was given the mission
of reconnoitering a number of supposedly enemy held islands
in the waters adjacent to the Munda airfield. This mission
included Vela Cela, Baanga, and a number of small islands
commanding the approaches to Diamond Narrows. It was
apparent that the complete defense of Munda required the
occupation of the Diamond Narrows area as this channel
gave the enemy ready access to Munda from enemy-held
Kolombangara.
Major General Hodge who had assumed command of the
division during the battle for Munda, left on August 11 to
return to his old organization, the Americal Division. Brig
adier General Harold R. Barker, of Providence, Rhode Island,
commander of the division artillery, as senior officer, as
sumed command of the 43d Division.
Early on August 11 a reconnaissance patrol landed on
southern Baanga island with the mission of determining enemy
strength and disposition. Enemy forces of undetermined
strength were discovered in the southern portion of the island.
On August 12, Company L, 169th Infantry landed on Baanga
and was completely surprised by strong shore defenses and
suffered heavy casualties. Approximately half of the company
was forced to withdraw, leaving the balance, many of whom
were dead or wounded on shore. 1 he extent of the enemy
strength and defensive installations had been seriously under
estimated. Efforts made under cover of darkness to extricate
the isolated force on the island failed, with enemy automatic
weapons commanding all approaches to the shore.

On August 13, the 3d Battalion of the 169th Infantry


landed on Vela Cela, searched the island with negative re
sults, and prepared to advance to Baanga at daybreak the
following morning. A beachhead was established in the man
grove swamps of eastern Baanga. The advance of this force
was halted by enemy fortifications in the heavy jungle area
600 yards west of the beachhead. Reinforcements failed to
overcome the Jap strength, and on August 16, the 172d In
fantry was committed to the operation. This left one bat
talion of the 169th Infantry and one battalion of the 172d
Infantry in defense of Munda proper.
On August 18, enemy fortifications in the eastern sector
were successfully flanked and our forces advanced south,
encountering little opposition. A block was established across
the neck of the southern peninsula to pocket the remaining
enemy strength in the area. During the nights of August 18-19
and 19-20 the enemy evacuated southern Baanga by boat
and land, suffering heavy losses from our troops blocking the
trails. Intelligence later disclosed that remnants of two bat
talions, reinforced by naval gun elements were opposing our
troops on Baanga. After August 21 the enemy's harassing
artillery fire ceased.
The remainder of Baanga as well as the islands leading
North to Diamond Narrows were searched without re-estab
lishing contact with the enemy. Elements of the 2 5th In
fantry Division successfully occupied Ondongo Island, com
prising the eastern shore of Diamond Narrows.
On August 20, Brigadier General Leonard F. Wing, af
fectionately known as "Red Wing" because of his flaming
red hair, received orders to assume command of the 43d
Division. Prior to this time General Wing had been doins>
a splendid job as assistant division commander.

32

CHAPTER IX

Japanese were still operating in the New Georgia Islands,


and on August 25, the 172d Infantry was given the mission
of seizing that portion of Arundel Island commanding Dia
mond Narrows. The enemy was known to occupy Arundel
Island, but his strength was not known. Arundel is about
ten miles long and six miles wide, with the most difficult
terrain in the New Georgia group.
On August 27, one battalion of the 172d Infantry landed
on southern Arundel without opposition, and advanced to
the north. The enemy had pulled out of the Diamond Narrows
area. The 43d Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop aided in pa
172d Infantry

trolling southern Arundcl and the islands of nearby Wana


Wana lagoon.
On August 29, from southern Arundel, the 172d Infantry
dispatched two reinforced companies to carry out long range
patrol action along the east and west coasts. The two com
panies were to meet on northern Arundel. The period August
29 and 3 0 brought no contact with the enemy. The going
was slow due to the extremely difficult terrain. Evidence
of recent bivouacs and occupation by the enemy was fre
quently found by these patrols.
First contact was made by the east coastal patrol on Sep

makes a beachhead on Arundel Island.

tember 1, just north of Stima lagoon, where they encountered


small groups of the enemy equipped with automatic weapons.
Enemy resistance consisted of a fluid delaying action and
during the early phases could not be effectively fixed. After
a brief skirmish, the enemy would withdraw to re-establish
a temporary defense in another area. The denseness of the
jungle made such a defense quite effective in delaying the
patrol's progress. As this fluid resistance continued and in
creased, the 2d Battalion, 172d Infantry moved to the Stima
lagoon area where it established a beachhead and advanced
to the aid of these troops. Definite resistance was encountered
near the base of the peninsula just north of Stima lagoon, and
one company was detached from the 2d Battalion to contain
the enemy there. The remainder of the battalion moved north
west on the mainland of Arundel, frequently contacting and
defeating small groups of the enemy.
Meanwhile, the 1st Battalion of the 172d Infantry, com
manded by Lt. Col. William H. Naylor, moved by water up
Wana Wana lagoon to establish a beachhead on the north
western tip of Arundel at Bustling Point. This move was
necessary to supply and control the western patrol. No enemy
contact was made on the west coast.
By September 5, the 2d Battalion, 172d Infantry had
encountered enemy defenses of a more permanent nature on
high ground some six hundred yards southeast of the base of
Bomboe peninsula. Repeated attempts by this battalion to
dislodge the enemy from these positions failed, and con
siderable losses were incurred. Two companies of the 3d
Battalion, 172d Infantry were dispatched to aid the 2d
Battalion in reducing the Japanese strong-points.
At the same time enemy activity at the base of Stima
lagoon became so strong that it was necessary to send the
remainder of the 3d Battalion to aid in the attempt to con
tain the enemy there. This force, aided by artillery and mortar

ui municat ions men dressed in jungle camouflage


o petal t' a radio receiver and transmitter set.

suits

fire, killed many of the enemy but was unsuccessful in com


pletely blocking the peninsula.
The 1st Battalion extended its beachhead and occupied
Bomboe village and Grant island nearby, without encounter
ing enemy opposition. The west patrol moved across northern
Arundel, flanked the enemy's position, and joined the 2d
Battalion, thus forming a junction of the east and west pa
trols. The enemy still held desperately to his isolated strongpoints.
By September 8, both east forces were still unable to pene
trate the enemy strong-points. Slight advances had been made,
but the enemy held on. As the western force had encountered
little opposition, the remainder of the 1st Battalion of the
172d Infantry moved overland to join the 2d Battalion.
At this time it became necessary to bring about a read
justment of troops due to the strength of the enemy and
the exhaustion of our most heavily engaged troops. The 1st
Battalion of the 169th Infantry relieved elements of the 1st
Battalion, 172d Infantry in the occupation of Bomboe penin
sula and Bustling Point. The relieved elements were moved by
water around the Stima lagoon area where they were com
mitted to reinforce the eastern sector.
On September 10, the 27th Infantry Regiment of the 2 5th
Infantry Division was attached to the 43d Division for opera
tions. This fresh regiment replaced the tired doughboys of
the 43d in efforts to reduce the remaining enemy strongpoints en Arundel. The ensuing days of heavy fighting finally
defeated the enemy, and on September 2 3, the 43d Division
was relieved of its mission on Arundel.
From August 27 to September 20, our badly depleted
infantry troops experienced the most bitter combat of the
New Georgia campaign. During much of this period, strongpoints of both forces were isolated, and such situations often
resulted in an intermingling of American and Japanese forces.
This handicapped the use of our artillery. Time and again,
the Japanese, reinforcing from nearby Kolombangoa, threw
an all-out offensive by using fresh troops against our tired
and exhausted troops. Only by courageous tenacity and
sagacious tactics were the enemy defeated. On the night of
September 20, the remaining enemy forces on Arundel evac
uated to Kolombangara under cover of darkness and bad
weather which restricted visibility.
Mopping up operations of enemy stragglers on Kolom
bangara Island, Vella Lavella Island and the New Georgia
mainland was rapidly effected by elements of the 43d Infantry
Division, 3 7th Infantry Division, 2 5th Infantry Division and
3 7th New Zealand Battalion. By October 12, after approxi
mately three and a half months of continuous fighting, over
muddy, swampy jungle terrain, the New Georgia Campaign
came to a successful conclusion.
The casualties of the division were five hundred and eightyone killed in action; two thousand fifty-nine wounded in
action, one thousand five hundred and fifty-two war neurosis
cases, and one thousand one hundred and seventy-one sick
with malaria. At the conclusion of the campaign, the follow
ing letter of commendation was received from Lieutenant Gen
eral Millard F. Harmon, commanding general of United States
Army Forces in the South Pacific Area:

34

"Major General John R. Hodge


"Acting Commanding General
"43d Infantry Division
"Thru Commanding General XIV Corps

"The fine leadership displayed by your assistant division


commander, Brigadier General Leonard F. Wing, and your
artillery commander, Brigadier General Harold R. Barker,
has been particularly noted.

"Dear General Hodge:

"While the efficient direction and control exercised by you


and your senior commanders was a prerequisite to final victor)',
success could not have been achieved without the effective
operation of your staff, the leadership of your regimental
and subordinate commanders, and the splendid assistance given
the Infantry by your supporting artillery. Nor yet would you
have achieved success but for the fine spirit displayed by the
individual men of your command and their determination to
close with the enemy, destroy him and capture their objective.

"The 43d Division entered the New Georgia Campaign


under extremely difficult conditions and by rapid and ef
fective action in several isolated areas, succeeded in destroy
ing Japanese forces and eliminating organized resistance.
"On entering the main phase of the operation against
Munda it became the task of the 43d Division to establish
beachheads, conduct reconnaissance of a dense and unknown
jungle area and establish an initial line from which offensive
operations could be conducted. This was done in the face
of extreme difficulties of terrain, weather and enemy action.
"While under your command the 43d Division as a part
of the XIV Corps vigorously pushed the offensive action on
the south flank which operation ended in the destruction
of Japanese forces in its front and the capture of a vitally
important air base.

35

"Please pass to all organizations and members of your com


mand my appreciation of their fine performance and my con
gratulations for the important victor)- in whose achievement
they were so instrumental.
"Sincerely yours,
"(Signed) M. F. Harmon,
Lt. Gen. USA."

CHAPTER X

With the cessation of combat on Arundel, the division


was charged with the defense of the Munda area and moved
back to the mainland of New Georgia to set up defensive
positions. Meanwhile in the European Theater of Operations,
the Allies were beginning their great drive to take Italy, and
Russion troops smashed at German defenses along the Dneiper
River, while American planes bombed enemy installations in
France, and Smolensk and Roslavl were lost by the Germans
on the Eastern Front.

built and installations for attached units and services were


constructed. These preparations lay open and defenseless, but
no enemy air attack in force molested them, although small
harassing raids were frequent. Once in late September, twentythree air raid alarms were sounded in a single night. Combat
ranges were set up in jungles where light never penetrated
to the forest floor. A division school was organized. Officers
and enlisted men acquired additional knowledge and training
for future use in combat against the enemy.

Men outposting spots with names like Zanana, Ondongo,


Bairoko, Enogai and others equally exotic throughout the
New Georgia and Russell groups piled letters for home
on the censors' desks. The first campaign was over, and it was
time to let the folks know that the first step towards Tokyo
had been successful. Throughout the bitterest fighting mail
was delivered regularly to men in the front lines.

Theaters were constructed with seats of cocoanut logs,


and realistic stage props were improvised for entertainment,
as motion pictures began to come through. Come rain or air
raid, the open-air theaters played to capacity audiences.
Organized athletics once more came into their own, in this
brief respite, to relieve the monotony of island life and
arduous days of training.

Munda, like Guadalcanal, was fast becoming a military


metropolis. The airfield, captured from the enemy, was ex
tended and made operational for the use of planes to bomb
Japanese installations to the north, in Bougainville, New
Britain, New Ireland, and Shortland. Permanent roads were

November 11, Armistice Day, brought a gathering of a


different sort as men of the 43d Division, in behalf of all
the Allied Arms and Services, commemorated the valor and
the deeds of their war dead in an impressive ceremony held
at the military cementery on Munda.

After fighting on Mnmhi, men of the Diiision staged their


own show, "Munda Follies." Due to the lack of chorus girls,
members of the fighting
units were forced to simulate
feminine
characters.

General Wing questions a sergeant attending


the
Non
commissioned
Officers school on Neiu
Georgia.

36

Religious services take on added significance for men constantly faced with danger and death. No matter how small the group or
under what unusual conditions, soldiers of all faiths meet to pray and sing hymns. From left to rights Sergeant Isadorc Bcrgcr,
Headquarters Company, 172d Infantry, conducts Jewish Services. Lieutenant Colonel John McGuire, Catholic Chaplain, officiates
at Holy Mass near Mnnda Airfield on Neiv Georgia Island in the Solomons. Chaplain Herbert Prcsscy, Augusta, Maine, conducts
Protestant Communion services.

The cemetery, lying along a dome-shiped hill to the north


of Lambetti plantation which it overlooks, with Munda
Airfield to the west, and Laiana Beach to the east, was the
center of the zone of action most fiercely contested in the
battle for Munda. Under a cloudless sky, six hundred men
and officers stood in solemn silence as the Army, the Navy,
and the Marine Corps held an hour of prayer in tribute to

the brave men who had made the supreme sacrifice on this
lonely Pacific Island.
Several changes in command were made during this period.
Lieutenant Colonel William J. Mullen, formerly Regimental
Executive of the 3 5th Infantry, was assigned to the division
and given command of the 169th Infantry. Colonel David
M. N . Ross, commanding the 172d Infantry throughout the

hi commemoration of the Division's heroic war dead, Old Glory flies at half-mast over the cemetery at Munda, New Georgia,
while the squad fires' a volley over the graves of men who fell in the New Georgia Campaign.

New Georgia campaign, was promoted to Brigadier General


and assigned as Assistant Division Commander. Lieutenant
Colonel George E. Bush, formerly Executive Officer of the
27th Infantry was assigned to the division and assumed
command of the 172d Infantry. Major Wallace J. Pianka was
assigned as commander of the 118th Medical Battalion.
Brigadier General Leonard F. (Red) Wing, respected by all,
was promoted to Major General on October 7, 1943. Everyone
was happy to see "two stars" on the collar of the General.
Many decorations were awarded to the officers and men
of the division for heroic acts and meritorious service during
the New Georgia campaign. Among them was the award of
the nation's highest honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor,
to Captain Robert Sheldon Scott, 31, six foot, four inch
Infantry officer of Santa Fe, New Mexico, whose intrepid
action in holding a hill on New Georgia inspired his men to
renewed efforts which resulted in the capture of Munda Air
strip. The citation reads:
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of
his life above and beyond the call of duty near Munda Air
strip, New Georgia, Solomons, on July 29, 1943.
"After twenty-seven days of bitter fighting, the enemy
held a hill top salient which commanded the approach to
Major General Leonard F. (Red) Wing, famed commander of
the 43d (Winged Victory) Infantry Division. A fine officer
and gentleman

Captain Robert Sheldon Scott awarded the Nation's highest


Honorthe Congressional Medal of Honor.
Munda air-strip. Troops were exhausted from prolonged
battle and heavy casualties, but Lieutenant (later Captain)
Scott advanced with the lead platoon of his company to
attack the enemy position, urging his men forward in the
face of enemy rifle and machine gun fire.
"He had pushed forward along to a point midway across
the barren hill top within seventy-five yards of the enemy
when the enemy launched a desperate counter attack which,
if successful, would have gained for them undisputed posses
sion of the hill. Enemy riflemen charged out on the plateau,
firing and throwing hand grenades as they moved to engage
our troops.
"The company withdrew, but Lieutenant Scott, with only
a blasted tree stump for cover, stood his ground against the
wild enemy assault. By firing his carbine and throwing the
grenades in his possession he momentarily stopped the enemy
advance, using the brief respite to obtain more grenades.
"Disregarding small arms fire and exploding grenades
aimed at him, suffering a bullet wound in his left hand
and a painful shell fragment wound in the head, after his
carbine had been shot from his hands, he threw grenade after
grenade with devastating accuracy until the enemy withdrew
defeated.
"Our troops, inspired to renewed efforts by Lieutenant

38

The interior of a typical tent on Miinda often resembled a


small river after a heavy vain. Men of the Division learned to
relax and ignore the flooded condition of their surroundings.

Hid concert in cleared-out area of New Georgia jungle.


Major General Wing is shown seated in the foreground.

Scott's intrepid stand and incomparable courage, swept across


the plateau to capture the hill, and from this strategic
position, four days later, captured Munda Air-strip."

The first quarter of 1944 found the division in a reason


ably stable situation at Munda, New Georgia. Movies, band
concerts, and sports programs continued to occupy the "free"
time of the division, while combat problems and division
schools kept the men of the division in an excellent state of
combat efficiency. Rumors flew thick and fast relative to a
change of station, reaching a crescendo before it was learned
officially that the division was to return to New Zealand, for
rest, reorganization, and rehabilitation.

Native Solomon Islanders are shown putting the finishing


touches on a typical islanders' grass shack. This one
iL'ill be used as an office building.

The division began its movement to the rear on January


23, 1944. Guadalcanal was an interim staging area. By
February 7, the division, less the 103d Regimental Combat
Team, garrisoning New Georgia, and the 3d Battalion, 169th
Infantry, garrisoning Vella La Vella, had reached Koli Point
on Guadalcanal. Camps were quickly established at Koli
Point. Movies were supplied, and sea bathing was available.
Labor details were supplied from the division to assist the serv
ice elements of the island. Rations were plentiful and were
considerably improved. That, to a soldier, is most important.
A gay, holiday mood possessed the men of the 43d.

CHAPTER XI

Quay Street from Princes Wharf to the railway station in


Auckland resounded to the feet of the 43d Division once
more on February 18, as advance elements arrived in New
Zealand. All units had closed by March 26. It was almost a
home-coming for many who had made friends there during
their previous stay. Permanent camp facilities had been ex
tended since 1942 and the men moved into well established
areas.
The 172d Infantry Regimental Combat Team closed at
Cambria Park near Puhinui. The Clearing Company of the
118th Medical Battalion and the 743d Ordnance Company
likewise took up stations there.
The 43d Quartermaster Company was installed at Manere
Crossing at Camp Euart, named for the officer of the 43d who
lost his life in the sinking of the USS President Coolidge.
Camp Hale in Auckland housed the Military Police Pla
toon and the finance, post exchange, special services, and
postal sections. The Division Band was quartered in Victoria
Park.
Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, Division Artil
lery, the 192d Field Artillery Battalion and the 43d Signal
Company were installed in the Manurcwa area, Division Head
quarters and Headquarters Company at Camp Orford where
they stopped in 1942. The Warkworth areas was assigned the
103d Regimental Combat Team and elements of the 118th
Medical Battalion. The 43d Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop,
the 118th Engineer Battalion, and the 2d Battalion, 169th
Infantry moved in at Karake, North. The remainder of the
169th Infantry was at Pukekohe and Paerata. The 169th Field
Artillery Battalion was stationed at Pokheke.
For the first month after their arrival, the troops were
given liberal pass privileges, with only necessary guard and
fatigue duty maintained in the base camps. As usual, the New
Zealanders lent warm hospitality, and the American Red
Cross was admirably fitted to offer fine recreational programs.
Many men made trips throughout the North and South
Islands of New Zealand.
After the month of play elapsed, all units resumed train
ing. As they were received, replacements were integrated into
the division and schools were opened at Warkworth.

The food was excellent and plentiful. New Zealand was,


indeed, the land of plenty. It is doubtful whether any
army on earth was eating at that time, as well as the men of
the 43d.
During the stay in New Zealand, each infantry regiment
received its Cannon Company. For a long time the tables of
organization had called for each regiment to have a Cannon
Company, but it was not until now that these companies were
received from the States. These companies were well trained
and a most welcome addition. The fire power of those power
ful 10 5-millimcter guns would furnish excellent support for
the doughboys in later fighting.
Changes in division personnel were comparatively few.
Colonel Joseph Cleland, Chief of Staff, became commander of
the 103d Infantry. Major Joseph E. Zimmer, acting Executive
Officer, 103d Infantry, assumed command of Special Troops.
Several officers and men were returned to the United States
under the War Department's rotation policy.
A series of decoration ceremonies were instituted, the first
held in Cambria Park on February 24. This was a dual pur
pose program for presentation of awards and commemorating
the 3d anniversary of induction into service of the division.
The 172d Infantry held ceremonies in the Domain, Auck
land, on March 9, followed by ceremonies of the 169th In
fantry on March 17 and 24. These ceremonies were attended
by many Civil and Military officials of the New Zealand
government. The natural amphitheater of the emerald-green
Cricket Field in the Domain, provided an impressive setting.
The 169th Infantry held another ceremony at Blenisloe Field
in Pukekohe on March 31.
Friends and associates of Major John Haffner were grieved
during the early days of the New Zealand stay by the news
that the plane carrying Major Haffner to the United States
to attend a military school, was missing at sea.
During the months of April, May, and June, the division
engaged in small unit training problems and operated on
a strict training schedule from reveille Monday morning until
four o'clock Friday afternoon. Passes for the week ends were
permitted and almost everyone headed for the nearest city.
Few of the men will forget Rerewhakaito Range near

40

Solemn procession passes through an honor guard of the 43d


Division during Solemn High Mass on Easter Sunday. The
scene in Carlaw Park, Auckland, New Zealand.

The facilities of the 3c)th General Hospital in New Zealand


were in sharp contrast to the jungle hospitals to the north.

Rotorua if only because of the bitter cold there, when field


maneuvers were conducted from May 18 through June 16.
Bivoiiac areas and excellent combat ranges for the execution
of battalion problems afforded a perfect setting for largescale training and gave the Cannon Companies an opportunity
to work in coordination with other fighting units. Replace
ments too, received a thorough workout.

wholesome fun. The highlights of the football "season" were


the games between men of the 43d Division and United States
Marine Corps. The team of the 169th Infantry beat the
Marines sixteen to nothing, and a week later, the 172d Tnfan
try team repeated the defeat by a score of eighteen to two.
New Zcalanders swelled the crowds and enjoyed the American
version of their rugby. Later games were sponsored by New
Zealand patriotic organizations.

Small unit training was resumed as the troops returned to


base camps. Special Services under Captain Howard W. John
son did an excellent job of supplying entertainment. The 43d
supplied three dance orchestras of its own called: "Commandos
of Swing" "Rhythmaires" and "Tropicats." Eighteen groups
of some three hundred and forty civilian entertainers gave
a total of one hundred and forty performances for men of
the division and proved of inestimable value in maintaining
the spirits of the troops. New Zeal.inders opened their homes
to the doughboys from the States and not a few love matches
resulted. One hundred and twenty-five marriages were solemn
ized during this period, with Captain Hugh W. Thornberg
of Candor, North Carolina, the first officer to be married
and Master Sergeant Harold L. Brown of Cincinnati, Ohio,
as the first enlisted man.
One hundred and three men became American citizens
through the efforts of the division and the American Consul
ate, taking the oath of allegiance in a simple and impressive
ceremony at the Red Cross recreation hall of the 3 9th General
Hospital.
Approximately one thousand five hundred men and offi
cers received needed hospitalization and surgical treatment
during the period.
The Assistant Division Commander, Brigadier General
David M. N. Ross left the division on April IS, and Bngadier
General Alexander N. Stark, veteran of the African campaign,
reported to fill the vacancy.
The three infantry regiments, the engineer battalion, and
the special troops formed football teams that provided much

41

The international good will built up by the 43d Division


between the United States and New Zealand is evidenced
in the following letter to General Wing: "On the occasion of
the departure of the 43d United States Infantry Division
from New Zealand, I wish to record and convey to you my
wholehearted appreciation of your ready and helpful co
operation and the very happy relations which have existed
between the United States and New Zealand staff and unit
officers. This, together with the well-disciplined behavior of
the troops under your command, has been a great satisfaction
to me as I am sure it has been to you, and it has certainly
made the task of cooperation both easy and pleasant.
"I hope that such assistance as we have been able to give
you has helped you to take full advantage of your rest and
reorganization period in the Northern Military District; and
from what I have learned of your wise administration and
wholehearted interest in its preparation and training, I am
sure that your division will gather laurels and distinction,
which will be a great satisfaction to all in New Zealand who
have come in contact with you and your men.
"For my own part, I shall have the most happy and endur
ing recollections of our association and will always look for
ward to its renewal in less strenuous times. My staff joins me
in wishing you successful campaigning and an earl}' return
to Honor in your own country."
(s) P. H. Bell
Major General
Commandant, Northern Mil. Disc'

CHAPTER XII

The alerting orders for the division merely stated that the
move would be to "somewhere in New Guinea." This meant
that the 43d would leave the South Pacific Command and
join General MacArthur's forces in the Southwest Pacific.
The division was to be a part of the Sixth Army, commanded
by General Walter Kreuger.
The Assistant Division Commander, Brigadier General
Alexander N. Stark, with his aide, Lieutenant W. C. Peder
sen, the Operations Officer on the General Staff, Lieutenant
Colonel Sidney P. Marland, Jr., and the Supply Officer of the
General Staff, Lieutenant Colonel John F. Rosseau, proceeded
at once by air from New Zealand to visit Army Headquarters
in Australia. Here, they learned the destination of the 43d
Division: it would land at Aitape, New Guinea.
The movement by water from New Zealand was unevent
ful as far as enemy action was concerned. The skies were
devoid of Jap aircraft, and no Japanese naval unit attempted
interception of our convoy. It had been a long and bitter
struggle in New Guinea, but the cnemv had been driven into
the central and northern portions of the vast island. While
the 43d had been fighting in the Solomons, other arm)- units
had been gradually driving the Jap away from the approaches
to Australia.
General Stark's party arrived in Aitape on June 2 5 and
began making plans for the debarkation of the division. A few
months earlier other units of the United States Army had
landed at Aitape and captured the Japanese airfield there.
The enemy had been destroyed or driven back from the
beachhead area. The 32d Infantry Division was the principal
combat element at Aitape when the 43d arrived. At this time
the 32d had a perimeter around the Tadji airdrome and had
established an outpost line of resistance on the Driniumor
River. The Japanese in Wewak, to the south of Aitape, had
been outflanked by the landing at Aitape and were moving
up from Wewak toward the American beachhead. The Drin
iumor River was between Wewak and the main line of
American resistance at Aitape. The enemy's mission was to
destroy all installations at Aitape, recapture the Tadji air
drome, and annihilate the Americans in this sector.
American lines were very thinly held at the time the 43d
landed. Although the Japs moving up from Wewak were a

serious threat, there simply were not enough American troops


to outpost the Driniumor River line and protect the perim
eter guarding the airfield. Immediately, the 103d Infantry,
the 2d Battalion, 169th Infantry, and the 118th Engineer
Battalion were debarked from the SS Shanks and SS Torrens
and sent into the main line of resistance in the Western Sec
tor Command. Their mission was to hold the main line of
resistance.
Upon debarkation on July 19, the remainder of the 169th
Infantry, the 15 2d and the 192d Field Artillery Battalions
went into positions in defense and in support of the western
sector of the main line of resistance.
During the period there were strong indications that the
enemy was moving up from Wewak in strength. When the
threat became critical, the 2d Battalion, 169th Infantry was
moved from its position in the perimeter to the Driniumor
River line where it was attached to the 32d Division for opera
tions. Upon its arrival at Aitape the 172d Infantry was de
ployed in defense of the airdrome.
As the enemy threat to the security of the Driniumor River
line became more critical, the 1st Battalion, 169th Infantry
was shifted from its position in the Tadji defense, to the river
line. When these 43d Division elements left the main line
of defense, they came under the command of non-divisional
army units. Company C, 118th Engineer Battalion was as
signed to the Driniumor River force on July 2 5.
The Japanese heavily attacked our forces on the Driniumor
River and were thrown back with considerable losses. The
2d Battalion, 169th Infantry played a leading role in repelling
the attacks and later this battalion launched out from its
prepared positions on the river to track down and destroy
the enemy. The Japs were not successful in their ambitious
plan to destroy the Aitape beachhead and began a long trek
back to Wewak area. The main part of the division did not
engage the enemy, as the main line of resistance was never
reached.
On August 7, General Wing received word that the 3 2d
Division was to be relieved and the 43d was to take over all
of the Aitape defensive installations. This included the im

42

mediate line ot resistance guarding the airfield and the


Driniumor River line. This relief was effected on August 15,
and the 103d Infantry Regimental Combat Team was gnren
the mission of defending the Driniumor River line, and the
remainder of the division defended the airdrome. The 103d
made scattered contacts with the enemy between the river
and Wewak. There was just enough contact with the enemy
to provide good training for the men of the 103d.
Patrols were dispatched southerly into the hills to a dis
tance of 3 5 miles to detect enemy movement, and easterly
along the coast, and inland for a comparable distance. Skirm
ishes with the enemy were frequent, and by November
1944, thirty-seven prisoners of war were captured and thirtyfour members of the British Indian Army, captured by the
Japanese in Malaya in January and February, 1942, were re
captured by our forces. Needless to say, these Indians were
most happy to be liberated.
The Aitape Operation was officially closed on August
2 5, 1944. However, many Jap stragglers in the vicinity of
Aitape after this date were killed by men of the 43d. It was
not uncommon for a regiment to report: "Fifty-six Japs
killed today. We had one man wounded." The 103d Infantry,
in particular, made many such reports while they were
bivouacked along the Driniumor River.
The division was relatively close to the sea at Aitape, and
reasonably comfortable quarters were constructed, despite
heavy seasonal rains.
Between September 3 and October 15, the division par
ticipated in an intensive amphibious training program. The
division had made several amphibious landings and had studied
this type of warfare. Instructors of all categories were used
in practice for beach landings, water-proofing and protec
tion of vital equipment and vehicles while going ashore.
These preparations lent credence to reports the next phase,
probably the Philippines.
The American Red Cross was able to expand its services
to members of the division while at Aitape as a result of new

43

equipment acquired in New Zealand. A large tented installa


tion was erected, housing a lending library, indoor games, a
hobby shop for woodworking and painting, tables for writing
letters, and, best of all, an ice cream and doughnut machine.
Movies were shown several times a week and all units had
a theatre. Occasionally, a United Service Organization would
send a road company to Aitape. One such show featured Bob
Hope, Frances Langford, Jerry Colonna, Tony Romano, and
Patti Thomas. A Broadway theatrical production of "Over
Twenty-one" played to members of the division. The settings
for these shows were sometimes odd, but no audience could
be more appreciative than these GIs so far from home.
In early October a rough sea began pounding the beaches,
wrecking boats, and changing the contours of the beach
hourly. At times, a complete shutdown of ship-to-shore opera
tions resulted. Swimming in the heavy surf was restricted due
to the terrific undertow. Miracles were accomplished in load
ing and unloading to meet schedules. The division supplied
large labor details to work on the beaches until incoming
Australian forces were able to assume this responsibility.
In the closing days of October, the division received orders
to prepare for an operation in the Philippines. They would
land at a place called Sarangani Bay in southern Mindanao.
After preparations were completed, an order was received
cancelling this operation. Had it been completed the 43d would
have been one of the first divisions to land in the Philippines.
The departure from New Guinea had been scheduled for
December 20, but the movement was postponed until De
cember 2 8. This presented the opportunity of spending
Christmas ashore, consequently members of the division en
joyed the traditional turkey dinner. Many Christmas packages
were received before Christmas and were delivered in advance.
The majority of these packages contained food, and good
eating was in order during the holiday season.
The water-borne 43d (Winged Victory ) Division, lead by
the United States Army Transport Cavalier, pulled out of
Aitape harbor to join other convoys on December 28, 1944.

CHAPTER

On October 10, 1944, while stationed at Aitape, New


Guinea, information was received that the 43d Division,
as a part of the I Corps, would participate in the Sixth Army's
campaign to recapture Luzon, Philippine Islands. This opera
tion was to be known as the M-l Operation. Target date was
originally set as 2 0 December. Intensive training and re-equip
ment of the division was conducted. Training consisted of
amphibious landings, infantry-tank team coordination, night
patrolling, motorized movements, and battalion assault firing
exercises. No shortages of critical items of equipment existed
prior to the operation. Replacements were received to bring
the division to full T / O & E strength. Combat exercises
were conducted based on the actual missions to be accom
plished during the assault to secure the beachhead. Terrain,
resembling as nearly as possible the terrain of the objectives
as determined from vertical and oblique aerial photographs,
was utilized to familiarize all infantry elements with the
details of the tactical plan. Every officer and man in the
division was rehearsed in his specific duties during the initial
phase of the operation.
Liaison with attached units was established and preparation
of complete amphibious logistics was initiated. Lt. Colonel
Joseph E. Zimmer was assigned the task of Transport Quarter
master.
The mission of the 43d Infantry Division was to land on
the Sixth Army left (north) flank in the San FabianDa
mortis area with its right boundary the Bued River. Follow
ing the seizure of the initial beachhead, the division was to
advance in its zone of action, seizing and securing crossings
over the Agno River preparatory to continuing its advance
to Manila.
Preliminary information derived from intelligence reports
based on guerrilla sources indicated that the objective area
of the division was strongly defended by the Japanese 2 3d
Infantry Division and the 5 8th Independent Mixed Brigade,
with main battle positions well sited, centering in the Hill
200 area, the Hill 35 5 area and the ridge system extending
north from Binday to Damortis; and that fortifications and
gun emplacements had been constructed on the beaches from
the mouth of the Bued River at San Fabian north to include
Alacan.

XIII

Current information as to hydrographic conditions prevail


ing on each of the three beaches was lacking and proved a
serious deficiency. Hydrographic studies conducted in 1903
by United States Coast and Geodetic Survey were used and
proved to be misleading. Information indicated that Beach
White Three offered the best beaching conditions and was
suitable for the beaching and unloading of LST's with mini
mum amount of pontoon equipment necessary. Beaches White
One and White Two appeared to be suitable for landing of
small craft only and not generally suited for unloading LST's.
Upon landing, however, it was found that the hydrographic
conditions on Beach White Three were unsuitable and this
beach was abandoned after S plus 2 days in favor of Beaches
White One and Two which proved to be excellent.
The decision was made to land the division on three beaches
designated as Beach White One, Beach White Two, and Beach
White Three extending south from the vicinity of Alacan to
San Fabian. The 172d Regimental Combat Team (less two
battalions in Division Reserve) was to land on the most
northerly beach. Beach White One, located generally north
of Alacan. The 169th Regimental Combat Team was to land
on the center landing beach, Beach White Two, located gen
erally south of Alacan. The 103d Regimental Combat Team
was to land on the most southerly beach, Beach White Three,
located generally west of San Fabian. To prevent overtaxing
the beach facilities, the Division Reserve, consisting of the
1st and 3d Battalions of the 172d Infantry, was to be landed
on call upon any one of the three beaches, as beach conditions
and the tactical situation required.
Following the landing, prompt seizure of Hill 470 by the
169th Infantry was the keynote to the division plan of rapid
expansion of the beachhead; immediately upon landing the
103d Infantry was to make a forced march, taking calculated
losses and by-passing any enemy encountered, to seize Hill
200 before it could be effectively organized by a routed enemy.
Simultaneously, the 172d Infantry was to seize Hill 247 and
Hill 3 8 5, establish a road block on Highway 251 at the bridge
2000 yards north of Alacan, and patrol vigorously toward
Rabon, Hill 363 and Hill 585; all of these measures were
deemed necessary to secure the division left flank and neutral

44

ize an anticipated major enemy counter-attack from that


direction. The Division Reserve was to be located in the
vicinity of Palapad to deal with this enemy counter-attack if
it developed, and to be readily available to exploit success
at any point in the division zone of action.
Commencing on November 2 8, with the arrival of the
Liberty Ship Von Meyer, shipping for the operation was
assembled at Aitape Roads, New Guinea. Transport Divisions
6, 7 and 24 arrived on November 30 and loading commenced.
Assault echelon shipping allocated for the operation included:
103d RCT and Attachments
Transport Division 6
APA Leedstown
APA Heywood
APA Feyette
AP Cape Johnson
AK Hercules
LSD Epping Forrest
USD White Marsh
APA Feeland
APA Cavalier
AP Golden City
AKA Thuban

172d RCT and Attachments


Transport Division 24
APA Du Page
APA Fuller
APA Wayne
AP John Land
AKA Aquarius
AKA Auriga
10 LSM's
16 LST's
2 Liberty Ships:
Yon Meyer
Charles Goodnight

The USS Blue Ridge, Flagship of Vice Admiral Barbey,


Commander of the San Fabian Attack Force, was utilized
as control ship for the operation and command post of the
43d Infantry Division. Command Post of I Corps was also
located aboard the USS Blue Ridge.
One assault wave battalion was designated in each regi
ment. After being transported to the Amphibious Line of
Departure in LST's, Amphibious Tractors (LVT 4) of the
826th Amphibious Tractor Battalion, reinforced by organic
infantry amphibious tanks (LVT-A4), were to carry the
first two assault waves, consisting approximately of one
battalion from each regiment, on each of the three landing
beaches. The remainder of the infantry regiments were to
go ashore by organic landing craft from the Assault Trans
ports. LVT-4's and LVT-A4's were to follow closely the
advancing infantry, lending fire support wherever possible
until relieved by the 716th Tank Battalion. LCT's, transported
to the target areas in LSD's were to land a large percentage
of the armor of the 716th Tank Battalion on Beach White
Two in the sixth wave, while service elements of this unit
came ashore later. The 43d Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop
was to land from LSM's in the eighth wave on Beach White
One. The 152d Field Artillery Battalion and the 169th Field
Artillery Battalion in support of the 103d Infantry and the
169th Infantry respectively, were to land in the eighth
wave from LSM's; while the 103d Field Artillery Battalion
of the 172d Regimental Combat Team, was originally not
scheduled to be landed until S plus 1 day. Accordingly, Com
pany B, 98th Chemical Battalion (4.2 inch mortars) was
attached to the 172d Regimental Combat Team to provide
fire support during the intervening period and was to be
moved ashore in DUKW's to insure its early arrival in support.
Company C, 98 th Chemical Battalion, also mounted in
DUKW's, was attached to the 103d Regimental Combat Team
for the express purpose of covering the division right flank

by neutralizing suspected enemy positions in the Longos area,


scuth of the Bued River.
For the initial phases of the operation, Sixth Army con
sisted principally of the I Corps and XIV Corps, 2 5th Infan
try Division (Sixth Army Reserve), 13th Armored Group and
the 15 8th Regimental Combat Team.
I Corps consisted principally of the 6th and 43d Infantry
Divisions.
XIV Corps consisted principally of the 37th and 40th
Infantry Divisions.
The following units were attached to the 43d Infantry
Division for the M-l Operation:
Combat Units
826th Amphibious Tractor Battalion (less Company A)
716th Tank Battalion (less Company A; Platoon, Company
D; and Detachment, Service Compan}')
181st Field Artillery Battalion (155-Howitzers)
4th Field Artillery Sound Ranging Platoon, 2 89th Field
Artillery Observation Battalion
470th Anti Aircraft Artillery Air Warning Battalion.
161st Anti Aircraft Artillery Gun Battalion (less Bat
teries A and D, plus Battalion Headquarters)
Battery C (less 1 platoon), 222d Anti Aircraft Artillery
Searchlight Battalion.
9Sth Chemical Battalion (less Companies A & D, and ' \
Battalion Headquarters)
5 3 3d Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment
146th Engineer Boat Maintenance Company
75 th Joint Assualt Signal Company
Support Air Party No. 5, 5th Air Force
Detachment, 71st Engineer Topographical Company
Liaison Section, I Corps Artillery
GHQ Signal Photo Unit
3 6th Military Police Company (less 1 platoon)
Service Units
275th Chemical Service Platoon
5 05th Medical Collecting Company
604th Medical Clearing Company
54th Evacuation Hospital (400 beds)
Company A, 263d Medical Battalion (EBS)
5 5 th Portable Surgical Hospital
5 6th Portable Surgical Hospital
5 7th Portable Surgical Hosiptal
402d Medical Composite Unit (Malarial Control)
2d Medical Composite Unit (Malarial Control)
5 3d Malarial Control Unit
2oSch Ordnance Motor Maintenance Company
^"78th Ordnance Ammunition Company
Detail, 3 90th Ordnance Heavy Maintenance Compan}'
(Tank)
107th Bomb Disposal Squad
949th Quartermaster Railhead Company
2d Section, 1st Platoon, 601st Quartermaster Graves Regis
tration Company
3d Section, 2d Platoon, 601st Quartermaster Graves Regis
tration Company
183d Quartermaster Laundry Platoon (Type B, 54th Evac
uation Hosiptal)

3 873d Quartermaster Gas Supply Company (less 2d pla


toon)
Detachment, 198th Quartermaster Gas Supply Company
2072d Quartermaster Service Company
Headquarters & Headquarters Detachment, HJ6th Port
Battalion
612th Port Company
613th Port Company
809th Amphibious Truck Company
375 0th Quartermaster Truck Company
23d Field Hosiptal
Loading was completed December 2 5 and a rehearsal
landing was conducted on December 27. The convoy de
parted Aitape Roads, New Guinea, on December 28. Enemy
interference with our movement to the objective area was
characterized by ineffective attempts of a few midget sub
marines and a considerable number of "Suicide Plane" at
tacks. One enemy destroyer, attempting to infiltrate the
convoy off Mindoro Island, was taken under fire by the
destroyer screen and exploded in a sheet of flame visible for
thirty miles.
On January 6, 1945, major Seventh Fleet Units commenced
heavy bombardment of enemy installations bordering Lin
gayen Gulf, centering their attention on the San Fernando
area while mine sweepers cleared a channel to permit passage
of the convoys and warships. Bombardment and sweeping
moved progressively south to the landing beaches on January
7 and 8. Underwater demolition teams went ashore on the
landing beaches under cover of darkness on January 8 and
reported them free of obstacles suspected to exist from in
terpretations of aerial photos. On January 9, bombardment
was commenced at H minus 150 minutes and gradually
increased in volume and rate until reaching its crescendo at
H Hour, at which time fires on the beaches were lifted and
shifted to other targets inland. LCI Rocket Boats, armed with

4.5 inch Naval Beach Barrage Rockets, were used to thicken


the blanketing effect of the fires laid down by battleships,
cruisers, and destroyers lying two miles offshore, while other
LCI's mounting 4.2 inch chemical mortars of the 98th
Chemical Battalion, engaged point targets from relatively
close ranges. Later these LCI's were actually beached, thereby
obtaining increased accuracy and range, and continued to
support our advance inland.
On S-Day, January 9, 1945, following the heavy bombard
ment of targets predesignated by the division, the assault
waves, mounted in LVT-A4's and LVT-4's of the 826th
Amphibious Tractor Battalion were discharged from Landing
Ship Tank, formed quickly, and crossed the line of departure
on schedule at ten minutes of nine in the morning.
The first waves were landed on Beaches White One and
White Two at 9:30 a. m., and on Beach White Three at 9:40
a. m., and progressed rapidly inland, securing Alacan railroad
crossing about 10:30 a. m. and San Fabian at 10:55 a. m.
"Enemy opposition consisted of heavy mortar and artillery
fire on Beaches White One and White Two, causing a number
of casualties, while only sporadic artillery fire fell on Beach
White Three. Civilians reported that the Japs had evacuated
their shore defenses two days prior to the landing, following
our initial bombardment. The decision was made to land the
Division Reserve, 1st and 3d Battalions, 172d Infantry, on
Beach White One at once since beach conditions proved very
favorable.
The value of previous amphibious training, rehearsals, and
complete dissemination of information down to every enlisted
man was clearly demonstrated by a smooth, well ordered land
ing, as nearly perfect in all details as such an operation
could be.
At eleven o'clock a temporary Division Command Post
was opened in the vicinity of Mabilao.

46

43RD INFANTRY DIVISfON LANDS


SAN FABIAN-DAMORTIS AREA
LINGAYAN GULF, LUZON, PI.
9 JANUARY

1945

i'ALACAN

/* / MABILAO

TO BINDA Y-~
i l l

47

CHAPTER XIV

Throughout S-Day the Division advanced rapidly inland,


seizing initial objectives. Unloading of troops and equipment
went forward smoothly and rapidly.
Opposition to our advance in the zones of action of the
172d and the 169th Infantry Regiments was characterized by
enemy artillery fire of all calibers up to 3 00-millimeter howit
zers and scattered small arms resistance from small enemy
groups which were quickly eliminated. Air and Naval gunfire
support were effective. As the 103d Infantry advanced along
the San Fabian-San Jacinto Road (Highway 251), enemy
anti-tank guns were encountered and two LVT-4's were
destroyed by direct hits.
Darkness found the division along the general line San
Jacinto-Dalaga-Hill 470-Hill 247-Rabon. During the night
and for several successive nights enemy artillery located east

and north of Rabon continued to shell our landing beaches


and rear installations where unloading with floodlights was
continuing. Losses were taken but unloading continued. Enemy
infiltration of the initial beachhead was limited to minor
attempts by small groups and resulted in no damage to
material or personnel. Naval supporting units provided night
illumination by star shells as requested by infantry units.
Elements of the division resumed their advance on objec
tives at daylight on January 10. The 103d Infantry enveloped
both flanks of Hill 200, seizing Natangalan on the north
and Manaoag on the south. The 169th Infantry secured Hill
470, mopping up remaining enemy pockets of resistance, in
cluding gun positions, and advanced elements of the 2d and
3d Battalions across the Bued River in the vicinity of Polo.
The 172d Infantry seized Hill 38 5 and initiated envelopment

Vint assault waves on Luzon take cover behind an amphibious alligator hunting craft, a\ they move inland from Lingayan Gulf.

Flag raising ceremonies in Manaoag.

of Hill 58 5; strength was also advanced north along the


ridges east of the Rabon-Alacan Road, to reinforce our outpost
in the vicinity of Rabon. On Hill 470 the division made its
first contact with enemy cave positions, encountering elaborate
mutually supporting caves and tunnel systems which were
employed as shelters for enemy infantry and gun positions
for enemy artillery. These cave positions proved to be char
acteristic of all Japanese defensive positions encountered on
Luzon.
Engineers threw temporary bridges across streams, ripped
up twenty miles of railroad track to permit use of the road
bed as a highway, and swept the debris of the landing aside

POSITIONS OF
LEADING ELEMENTS
43RD INFANTRY
DIVISION
0 9 2 0 0 0 1 JAN. 1945

Guerrillas, including nurses, came from 40 miles


behind /<//> lines to join our forces.
to permit the army to pour inland. Cub strips were operating
before dark on S-Day.
Elements of the 15 8th Regimental Combat Team com
menced landing on a Beach White One early on the morn
ing of January 11, passed through the division left flank and
relieved the 1st Battalion, 172d Infantry in the vicinity of
Rabon. The 1st Battalion, 169th Infantry, attacked Hill 5 60,
securing positions on the southwestern slopes, while the
2d and 3d Battalions attacked to seize Mount Morling (Hill
318). The 103d Infantry secured a line extending from
Manaoag to Natangalan along the west slopes of Hill 200.
In addition to supporting infantry attacks, Division Artillery

43RD DIVISION FRONT LINES


15 JANUARY 1945
LUZON P L

elements engaged with counter-battery fire and destroyed


thirteen enemy field pieces including four U.S. 15 5 -milli
meter GPF's during the first two days, captured by the
Japanese at Bataan. Naval gunfire support assisted materially
in increasing the range of volume of the division fire power.
Fire control, exercised through the 7 5 th Joint Assault Signal
Company, attached, was extremely well coordinated by radio
from forward observers. Night illumination by naval star
shells where and when requested assisted materially in re
ducing infiltrations.
On January 12, the division continued the attack; the
169th Infantry captured Hill 5 60 against stubborn dug-in
resistance, while the 10 3d Infantry, encountering delaying
action, advanced elements to the Pao River between Manaoag
and Dilan. The 63d Regimental Combat Team (less one
battalion) was attached to the division from Corps Reserve,
and moved to positions north of Hill 3 8 5, prepared to attack
north along the line Hill 363-Hill 367-Amlang. Artillery
elements, including attachments, engaged in a continuous
counter-battery duel with enemy artillery in caves on all
fronts. Artillery support for infantry elements, however,
continued adequate, since attached 4.2 inch chemical mortars
supplemented preparation fires as well as firing countermortar missions. The 43d Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop,
patrolling in force toward Urdaneta, cross the Agoi River.
Lieutenant Colonel Bollard, Commanding Officer, 3d Battal
lion, 169th Infantry was killed in action on Hill 318.
Staff Sergeant Robert E. Laws, 23, a former sheet-metal
worker of 412 Cherry Ave., Altoona, Pennsylvania, suc
cessively engaged a pillbox full of Japs in a machine gun duel,
a hand grenade melee and a hand-to-hand struggle to death
each time giving the enemy overwhelming odds. Sergeant
Laws killed three enemy soldiers and silenced the pillbox,
enabling his unit to advance. His heroic actions occurred on
January 12, when his unit of the 169th Infantry was storm
ing the enemy hill positions in Pangasinan Province, Luzon,
Philippine Islands. The Nation's No. 1 award, the Congres
sional Medal of Honor was awarded to Sergeant Laws for
his heroic actions.
By January 13, it was apparent that the enemy had elected
to hold the high ground on the Army left at all cost, while
in the flat land of the Lingayen Valley, Sixth Army elements
proceeded relatively unopposed.
To consolidate all forces on the Corps north flank under
the command of Major General Wing, the 15 8th Regimental
Combat Team was attached to the 43d Division with the
mission of attacking north in its sector. The 15 8th Infantry
made rapid progress north from Rabon along the coastal plain,
seizing Damortis on January 13. The 63d Infantry en
countered stiff enemy resistance as it advanced, but secured
positions on the southern slopes of Hill 3 63 prior to darkness.
The 172d Infantry sustained numerous casualties in driving
a stubbornly resisting enemy from his dug-in position on
Hill 5 80; positions near the military crest, however, were
secured. The 169th Infantry seized Hill 318 (Mount Morling),
where the enemy defended with fanatical courage to the last
man, and probed forward to the southern slopes of Hill 3 5 5.
The 103d Infantry, employing M-7's, continued the reduc-

Staff Sergeant Robert E. Laws, of Altoona, Pennsylvania was


awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions.
tion of Hill 200 and initiated a flanking movement north
east from Manaog along the highway leading to Pozorrubio.
The accuracy of our artillery was beginning to overcome
enemy preponderance in material and a marked decrease in
enemy artillery action was noted during the period. The 716th
Tank Battalion (in Division Reserve) was moved to the
vicinity of San Jacinto, since the terrain of the division north
and central sectors did not favor its employment. The 43d
Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop advanced mechanized patrols
to the vicinity of Binalonan and Urdaneta on the Division
right.
Communications posed an extreme problem at this time.
Three distinct and widely separated sectors, coupled with the
attachment of two additional Regimental Combat Teams,
placed a burden on the division signal facilities far beyond
that contemplated by the Tables of Organization and Equip
ment. Japanese infiltration parties and friendly mechanized
equipment added to the problem. Only the superhuman efforts
of the Division Signal Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Philip Rose,
of Cranston, Rhode Island, long hours and hard work by every
man of the Division Signal Company, including cooks, clerks
and supply personnel, together with dogged determination,
enabled the division to maintain constant communications to
its subordinate elements.
On January 14, the 15 8th Regimental Combat Team
attacked east along the Damortis-Rosario Highway while
the 63d Infantry seized positions on Hill 3 63 against stub
born resistance and continued to advance on Hill 3 67. The
172d Infantry, attacking against fanatical resistance, seized
Hill 5 85 and initiated envelopment of Hill 66 5. While con
tinuing to mop up enemy in caves on Hill 318, the 169th
Infantry reconnoitered routes in conjunction with elements
of the 716th Tank Battalion, for an attack on Hill 3 55 from
the south, and redisposed troops preparatory to the attack.
The 103d Infantry continued the reduction of enemy pockets
of resistance on Hill 200 while patrols probed to the line
Amabagan-Laoag-Inamotan. Artillery elements concentrating
counter-battery fires on enemy gun positions in the Amlang

50

MANAOAG / i \ \

1O3RD INFANTRY
ENVELOPES

HILL

200

Cataguiningan area, were able to force withdrawal of the


bulk of the enemy artillery remaining, to unprepared posi
tions in the vicinity of Rosario. The 43d Cavalry Reconnais
sance Troop continued operations on the division south-eastern
flank, detecting an estimated enemy battalion reinforced
with thirty dug-in tanks in the outskirts of Urdaneta.
The cumulative summary of enemy information including
Prisoner of War interrogation and captured documents dis
closed that the enemy had disposed the bulk of his strength,
including the Japanese 5 8 th Independent Mixed Brigade, the
23d Infantry Division and elements of the 2d Armored Divis
ion in the zone of action of the 43d Infantry Division.
Advances were made in all sectors of the division front
on January 15. Despite heavy enemy artillery opposition,
the 15 8th Infantry was able to seize the ridges northwest of
Amland, commanding the corridors leading to Cupany and
Agoo and minimizing the threat of an enemy counter-attack
from that direction. The 63d Infantry, repelling an enemy
counter-attack during the night of January 14-15, continued
the attack in its zone, seizing Hill 3 67 and positions on the

south slopes of Hill 280. The 172d Infantry, containing forti


fied strength on Hill 665, by-passed the position to the east
with one battalion, and attacked north through the low
ground to positions in the vicinity of Pinmilapil. After attack
ing and gaining limited advances on the northwest and south
slopes of Hill 3 5 5, the 169th Infantry was held up by intense
artillery, mortar, machine gun and rifle fire and was unable
to advance further. Elements of the 716th Tank Battalion
in suuport of the 169th Infantry in this sector were unable
to materially assist the advance beyond the Bued River
due to extreme terrain conditions. It was apparent from cap
tured documents, as well as ground reconnaissance that the
enemy's main battle position and strength was located on Hill
355 as had been suspected.
The turning point in the entire action of the Army north
flank occurred at this time. The division front extended from
Damortis on the north to Urdaneta on the south, a distance
of twenty-four miles, while the beachhead was eight miles
deep. Naturally, much of terrain in the sector was controlled
by patrols. The division strength was divided, focusing

against three major enemy defensive positions. On the north,


the 63d, the 158th and the 172d Regimental Combat Teams
were heavily engaged against approximately one enemy rein
forced infantry brigade and two battalions of artillery in
the Cataguintingan-Rosario area. Six miles south of Rosario,
enemy consisting of infantry regiment reinforced with ap
proximately three battalions of artillery, opposed the 169th
Infantry in the Hill 3 55 area. Seven miles southeast of Hill
355, the 103d Infantry was faced by successive village gar
risons, reinforced by tanks; enemy strength on the broad
103d Infantry front was estimated at two battalions of in
fantry and two companies of medium tanks, with approxi

within 10,000 yards of the beach was dangerous, and success


depended entirely on the speed and surprise with which the
maneuver could be effected.
Utilizing all weapons including artillery, M-7's, 5 7-mm
guns and 4.2 inch mortars, the 103d Infantry repulsed the
first counterattack in which the enemy employed tanks dur
ing the night of January 14-15 in the vicinity of Amagbagen
and continued to advance, pushing patrols to the outskirts of
Pozorrubio; other elements of the regiment continued to mop
up in the Hill 200 area and patrol to the east and south in
its zone of action. Artillery elements of the division con
tinued intensive counter-battery fires and interdiction of roads

The

Jap medium

tank

proved

''Sheriinin"
Civilization
Soldiers of the 3d Battalion, 103d Infantry,
stand over a dead
fap and his destroyed
tank.

mately four battalions of artillery disposed in the command


ing hills to the north and east.
Continuous assaults of Hill 355 had been unproductive and
costly. Night attacks, tank supported attacks, heavy naval
and air bombardment, and numerous smoke concentrations
failed to dislodge the heavily dug-in enemy from his vast maze
of caves, tunnel, trench systems, and underground shelters.
A masterful fire plan had been prepared by the enemy, and
highly skilled enemy troops effectively defended the area
against repeated attack. Danger of a stalemate in the area
was imminent; further, any failure on our part to retain
the initiative could have resulted in a disastrous counter
offensive against the extremely vulnerable and shallow beach
head.
With the extreme flanks of the division widely separated
and heavily engaged, and the powerful enemy salient of Hill
35 5 in the division center, the decision was made to contain
Hill 3 5 S and attack it from the rear, some ten miles to the
east. This decision was made after careful calculation of the
risk involved. To by-pass a reinforced infantry regiment

no match

for

our Mf

Tank.

with its telephone poles looked good to signal


men after two years of jungle fighting.

in the enemy rear at night. An enemy truck column was


detected on January by a cub plane moving south from
Camp One on Highway 3 towards Pozorrubio. The column
was engaged by artillery, destroying 12 trucks and killing
unknown numbers of the enemy. The 43d Cavalry Recon
naissance Troop continued to maintain close-in observation of
enemy positions at Binalonan and Urdaneta.
On January 16th, 15Sth Regimental Combat Team, launch
ing an attack from the ridges north and south of Amlang,
was limited to minor gains while the 63d Infantry was able
to advance 400 yards, seizing Hill 280. The 172d Infantry, in
a bold move, advanced two battalions to positions north and
south of the Rosario-Damortis Road west of the Apangat
River, cutting the enemy's route of supply and evacuation
for his forces in the Cataguintingan stronghold. Leaving its
3d Battalion to contain Hill 3 5 5, the 169th Infantry dis
engaged from action and by a forced march, moved two
battalions via Labney-Xatangalan-Manaol to cut Highway
3 north of Pozorrubio. Nightfall, January 16, found the 1st
Battalion, 169th Infantry, in position at Palacpalac astride
Highway 3, and the 2d Battalion, 169th Infantry, 3 000 yards
northeast of Natangalan. Supply lines had been abandoned,
and reliance was placed on the prompt seizure of Pozorrubio
by the 103d Infantry to re-establish supply and evacuation
to the leading elements of the 169th Infantry. While con
tinuing to mop up Hill 200, the 103d Infantry advanced one

POZORRUBIO
^CAPTURED 18 JAN.)

I69TH INFANTRY
ENVELOPES HILL 355
1ST PHASE
15-20 JANUARY 1945

battalion northeast from Amagbagan, securing positions on


the southern outskirts of Pozorrubio; and in the first motor
march employed by the division in this campaign under com
bat conditions, moved another battalion to Talogtog, prepara
tory to attacking Binalonan. Artillery elements continued
relentless counter-battery fires on enemy gun positions in
addition to supporting the advance of the infantry on all
fronts. The 43d Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop continued
to observe enemy activity in LTrdaneta and sent foot patrols
into Binalonan. During the night of January 15-16, armored
infantry and tank elements of the Japanese 2d Armored
Division attacked our positions west of Binalonan. Five
enemy tanks were destroyed by point blank fire and the
enemy withdrew in confusion.
A drive to the east by the 172d Infantry at this time would
have undoubted!}' captured the physical limits of the town
of Rosario; however, until commanding ground on the north
west, northeast and southeast had been seized, the enemy,
with his heavy artillery directed by observation for these key
terrain features, could have exacted a heavy toll of casualties
and denied to us the uninterrupted use of the DamortisRosario Highway east of the Angat River. Accordingly, the
decision was made at this time to reverse the sequence and
to first seize the commanding ground, the actual capture
of Rosario to follow.

IO3RD INFANTRY

CAPTURES POZORRUBIO

Vx_

~ MIL $

53

Action on January 17 was again characterized by local


successes on all fronts. On the north, the 15 8th Infantry was
able to make small but important advances, seizing key
terrain. The 63d Infantry, making its main effort on its
right, advanced 1200 yards, while the 172d Infantry, sup
plied by air drop, further extended itself, seizing the high
ground northwest of Rosario. The 169th Infantry elements
repelled repeated enemy counter-attacks in company strength
at Palacpalac and in the vicinity of Mount Morling. Positions
securing Highway 3 in the vicinity of Palacpalac were con

Views, on "Little Burma Road" near Rosario

54

solidated. The 103d Infantry, after being relieved in the


Binanlonan area by elements of the 2 5 th Infantry Division,
attacked and captured Pozorrubio, destroying approximately
3 00 Japs in addition to horses, artillery and tanks.
Since supply by air drop to the 172d Infantry was possible
as an emergency measure for a limited time only, elements of
the 118th Engineer Battalion immediately initiated the con
struction of a main supply route which generally followed
along the top of the mountainous ridge line running north
from Binday to Cataguintingan. This ridge line, which
formed the roadbed, posed every type of engineering problem
as the supply road threaded its way around sheer cliffs and
up the steep grades necessitated by rapidly changing elevations.
Soil erosion, in progress for centuries, coupled with under
lying volcanic conditions, required huge cuts into the sharp
hillsides; bridging materials from native sources were not
available and had to be transported in trucks from the landing
beaches. In a desperate attempt to prevent construction of
the road the enemy contributed to nature's obstacles by
placing constant accurate artillery fire on exposed bulldozers
and engineer crews as the)' extended the road northward. The
name "Little Burma Road" was applied and considered ap
propriate.
On January 18, the advance of the 15 8th Infantry was
held to minor gains. The 63d Infantry was able to advance
its left 800 yards, while the 172 Infantry consolidated its
position on the ridges northwest of Rosario. Elements of the
169th Infantry secured the Bobonan crossroad; the 103d
Infantry consolidated its positions in Pozorrubio, and ad
vanced elements north toward Hill 600. Elements of Division
Artillery destroyed an enemy battery of 15 5-mm howitzers,
complete with horses and caissons on the Damortis-Rosario
Road. The 43d Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop moved to the
west slopes of Hill 3 5 5 to make a major demonstration to

contain the enemy on Hill 355 and Mount Alava while the
169th Infantry concentrated in the enemy's rear near Bobonan.
At daylight on January 19, elements of the 169th Infantry
repelled an enemy counter-attack by an estimated battalion
in the vicinity of Bobonan Crossroad; and then attacked,
supported by elements of the 716th Tank Battalion, seizing
positions in the vicinity of Sison where a heavy engagement
took place; a total of 9 54 Japs were killed, while six M-4
tanks were lost to enemy action. Later our forces, weakened
by nearly 200 casualties, including the Battalion Commander,
Lieutenant Colonel Sellers, killed in action, were forced to
withdraw under heavy artillery fire to Bobonan where a
road block was established. The 15 8th Regimental Combat
Team and the 63d Regimental Combat Team advanced slight
ly against stubborn opposition. The 172d Infantry assisted
the advance of the 63d Regimental Combat Team on its left
while continuing to mop up enemy resistance in the vicinity of
Concepcion. The 103d Infantry attacked and gained a foot
hold on Hill 600, driving the enemy from organized positions
which he defended with automatic weapons, mortars and
artillery. Howitzer positions of the 181st Field Artillery
Battalion (attached) were infiltrated by a Japanese raiding
party, revealed by a captured document to consist of 2 00
men, led by a Major of Infantry. This raid was repulsed with
heavy loss to the enemy and no howitzers were damaged. The
other artillery battalions received infiltration attempts on a
smaller scale throughout the period.
On January 20, the 15 8th Regimental Combat Team and
the 63d Regimental Combat Team attacked in their respec
tive zones with limited success. The 172d Infantry continued
its advance northwest of Rosario, while elements blocking
enemy escape route from Cataguintingan pocket along the
Damortis-Rosario Highway killed 158 Japs during the day.
The 169th Infantrv, turned west from Bobonan to attack

U. S. horses captured at Battan were used to draw Jap artillery until recapture
Pozorrubio teas heavily damaged in the fierce fighting.

55

Hill 3 55

Mount Alava trom tne cast against heavy machine gun,


mortar, and medium caliber artillery fire. The 103d Infantry
continued to mop up and secure Hill 600. Small enemy infil
tration groups continued to harass artillery positions with
out damage. The 43d Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop patrolled
cast and north of Binday, harassing the enemy front while
the 169th Infantry continued to attack his rear.
Following a regrouping of strength and supported by naval
gunfire, air strikes and artillery the division launched a co
ordinated attack on all fronts on January 21. Important ad
vances were made against strong enemy resistance in all sectors.
The 169th Infantry seized Mount Alava, key to the Hill 3 5 5
sector, from the east, following a fierce fight with heavy
casualties to both sides, while the 103d Infantry, supported
by elements of the 716th Tank Battalion, continued its
attack on Hill 600 from the east, west and south, advancing
against continuous artillery, mortar, machine gun, and rifle
fire. On the north the IS8th Infantry Avas able to capture
Blue Ridge, 800 yards south of Amoang; the 1st Battalion, 63d
Infantry, seized commanding ground 2000 yards east of
Bani; and the 172d Infantry drove the Jap from the hill mass
800 yards northwest of, and overlooking, Rosario. The 2nd
Battalion, 121st Philippine Infantry, relieved elements of the
172d Infantry in the Hill 5 80-Hill 66 5 area, and secured the
"Little Burma Road" in that sector. Jap infiltration units
harassed our artillery positions and succeeded in destroying
one 15 5-mm howitzer of the 181st Field Artillery Battalion
(attached). The 43d Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop con
ducted extremely aggressive patrolling on the southeastern
approaches to Hill 3 5 5 as a diversion to the main attack of
the 169th Infantry on Mount Alava. All elements of the
63d Infantry except the 1st Battalion were relieved from
attachment to the division on this date.
On January 22, the division continued its attack, ex
ploiting to the fullest the advantages of the commanding
terrain seized in our attack on January 21. The 1st Battalion,
63d Infantry, drove north in its zone to seize terrain com
manding the Rosario-Damortis Highway on the south at a
point I1) 00 yards southeast of Amlang, assisted by heavy
supporting fire of the 15 8th Regimental Combat Team on
its left. The Cannon Company, 158th Infantry, by direct
fire from M-7 self-propelled mounts, destroyed an enemy six
gun artillery battery which had been impeding the advance
of the 63d Infantry. Enemy troops, attempting to escape from
the Cataguintingan pocket during the night of January 21-22,
were repulsed with heavy losses by 2d Battalion, 172d Infan
try, from its positions astride the Rosario-Damortis Highway,
west of the Apangat River. In the course of this action, an
enemy horse-drawn battery of 15 5-mm howitzers, trapped
in the open, dropped trails and engaged our troops with direct
fire at 200 yards until all cannoneers had been killed at their
pieces by our machine gun fire. Four enemy 15 5-mm howitzers
were captured, but our losses included the Battalion Com
mander, Lieutenant Colonel Carrigan, killed while directing

this action. The 2d Battalion, 121st Philippine Infantry,


patrolled throughout the Hill 5 80-Hill 665-Hill 3 63 area,
searching out and destroying numerous small enemy infil
tration parties.
Exploiting its seizure of Mount Alava on the previous day,
the 169th Infantry, supported by elements of the 716th Tank
Battalion, launched its long anticipated attack from the rear
on Hill 3 55 and advanced to a point 3 000 yards south of
Mount Alava, overrunning enemy infantry and artillery
defensive positions so extensive and elaborate as to contain
underground stables for an entire battalion of horse-drawn
artillery.
These artillery positions had been so constructed that they
withstood the direct hits of our medium artillery counterbattery fire. Detailed examination of positions overrun proved
beyond question that a frontal assault against these positions
would have permitted the enemy to repulse our attack, while
inflicting an extremely heavy toll of casualties on our forces.
The 103d Infantry completed its seizure of Hill 600,
consolidated its positions in that area, and advanced patrols
north and cast. During the course of this action, however,
a surprise concentration of enemy artillery fire was received
by the 3d Battalion, 103d Infantry, during a conference,
killing three officers and eight enlisted men, while five officers
and thirty enlisted men were wounded, necessitating reorgani
zation of the battalion. Our counter-battery duel with the
enemy artillery continued, with three enemy artillery pieces
of unknown caliber destroyed in the Cataguintingan area
while our artillery suffered the loss of a 10 5-mm howitzer
and crew in the Natangalan area by direct hit. The 43d
Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop (reinforced by Company F,
103d Infantry) assisted the attack of the 169th Infantry
by continuing its diversionary attack against the southwest
slopes of Hill 3 5 5. Army air support made its first appearance
in limited strength; 3 P-40's bombed and strafed in direct
support of the attack of the 63d Infantry.
Continuation of the attack on Rosarion by the 172d
Infantry, and on Hill 35 5 from the north by the 169th In
fantry, and redisposition of troops, and extensive patrolling
throughout its zone of action characterized the division's
activities on January 23. The 1st Battalion, 63d Infantry,
relieved from attachment to the division, was relieved in
position by elements of the 15 8th Infantry, which continued
to mop up and patrol extensively in the Amlang area. The 1st
Battalion, 172 Infantry, reached positions on the northwestern
outskirts of Rosario while other elements placed fire of all
types of infantry weapons on enemy positions southwest of
Cataguintingan, silencing three enemy artillery pieces.
The 2d B.utalion, 121st Philippine Infantry, continued
its intensive search for enemy infiltration parties in the Hill
363-Hill 665-Hill 5 80 area, in addition to securing the "Little
Burma Road."
Advances by the 169th Infantry in the Hill 35 5 area over
ran additional enemy positions elaborate as those seized on

56

the previous day, still further confirming the location of the


enemy main battle position in this area. Elements of the 716th
Tank Battalion suffered the loss of three medium tanks as it
attacked Hill 3 5 5 in support of the 169th Infantry. The 103d
Infantry patrolled north of Hill 600 and east into the Arod
agat River valley. Army Air Forces supported our operations
by bombing and strafing Labayug, while naval gunfire
support by battleships smashed four enemy artillery positions
east of Agoo. The 3d Battalion, 63d Infantry, was attached
to the division and moved to positions in the vicinity of
Pozorrubio.
On January 24, the 169th Infantry was limited to a slight
advance as it continued its attack on Hill 35 S from the north;
other elements continued to enforce the road block 2000
yards south of Sison. The 63d Regimental Combat Team (less
the 3d Battalion, already attached) was reattached to the
division, and initiated reconnaissance of its new zone of action
in the Cauringan-Agat-Hill 150 area. The 103d Infantry,
probing north and cast from Hill 600 to develop the enemy's
new positions following his eviction from Hill 600, received
intense mortar and artillery fire. The 716th Tank Battalion
continued in support of the attack of the 169th Infantry
on Hill 3 5 5. While the 15 8th Infantry was held to limited
advances, the 172d Infantry in the Rosario area initiated its
envelopment of Hill 900.
Hill 900, a rocky hill mass and natural fortress, was
located 2000 yards northwest of, and dominated, the junction
of Highway 3 and the Baguio Road. Photographic interpre
tations, native sources, and patrol reports indicated that the
enemy had heavily fortified Hill 900 with pillboxes and other
defenses to serve as the northern anchor to his positions at
the entrance to the Baguio Road. Seizure on the south, would
secure Highway 3-Baguio Road junction and open Highway 3
to our traffic from Damortis to Pozorrubio, thereby estab
lishing the division main supply route on paved all-weather
roads. In addition to dominating the junction of Highway 3
and the Baguio Road, Hill 900 also dominated Rosario from
the northeast, providing excellent observation while per
mitted the enemy to place accurate and effective artillery fire
on the town; in short, seizure of Hill 900 was necessary
before the division could effectively utilize Rosario and its
facilities, or continue its advance to the northeast.
Preceded by an intense artillery preparation, the division
launched a coordinated attack on all fronts on January 2 5.
The 15 8th Infantry attacked east against the hill masses 1200
yards northwest of Cataguintingan while the 172d Infantry in
a rapid flanking movement to the northeast, apparently sur
prised the enemy and seized positions on the northern crest of
Hill 900 against only moderate opposition. In the center, the
63d Infantry seized crossings over the Bued River west of
Agat and attacked Hill 1500 against heavy mortar, machine
gun, and artillery fire. The 3d Battalion, 63d Infantry,
launched an attack on Benchmark Hill against heavy mortar,
machine gun, and rifle fire; by dusk, January 2 5, one com
pany had succeeded in reaching the crest of the objective,
Benchmark Hill, while the remainder of the battalion was
heavily engaged with enemy strongpoints on the western
slopes. The 169th Infantry moving cast from Highway 3

57

south of Cauringan, attacked, seized, and secured Question


Mark Hill, 4000 yards northeast of Sison. The 103d Infan
try, from positions on Hill 600 and positions in the vicinity
of Paldit, launched an attack on Hill 700 from the south
and the west, encountering stubborn enemy resistance. Artil
lery cub planes detected an enemy column of forty trucks
in the vicinity of Camp Two, and directed artillery fire on
this target with excellent results observed. Army support
aircraft bombed and strafed high ground northeast of Rosario
in support of the 172d Infantry, and enemy positions north
of Hill 600 in support of the 103d Infantry, while naval
support units shelled enemy supply dumps and gun posi
tions in the Pugo area.
Enemy reaction to the success of our coordinated attack
was both rapid and \ iolent. During the night of January 25
26, the 172d Infantry received several strong well-organized
counter-attacks on its positions northeast, north and west
of Rosario, all of which were repulsed decisively at great cost
to the enemy; simultaneously, the 169th Infantry and the
103d Infantry were subjected to intense and continuous
artillery fire throughout the night.
On the morning of January 26, the division extended its
exploitation of the previous day's successes. On the north, the
15 8th Infantry, supported by elements of the 716th Tank
Battalion, attacked and seized positions on the high ground
1000 yards northwest of Cataguintingan and opened High
way 3 from Damortis to Rosario. Elements of the 172d
Infantry continued to attack south and east from positions on
the northern crest of Hill 900, overrunning strongly pre
pared positions from the rear, while other elements attacked
south from positions 1500 yards north of Rosario, and drove
to the northern outskirts of the town. The 63d Infantry
continued its attack on Hill 1500 against moderate ground
resistance and heavy mortar and artillery fire, and continued
to mop up in the Espcranza area, overrunning artillery pieces,
anti-tank guns, and machine guns in strongly prepared posi
tions. To the south, the 169th Infantry expanded its positions
atop Question Mark Hill and mopped up pockets of remain
ing resistance. The 103d Infantry, under cover of darkness,
attacked Hill 700, 2000 yards northeast of Asan Sur. Resis
tance was especially stubborn in the southern sector, with
every advance contested bitterly by a well dug-in enemy.
Following relief of the 169th Infantry, 103d Infantry ele
ments, supported by tanks, continued to mop up Hill 3 5 5.
Artillery of the division, including attachments, continued to
provide skillful support for the advancing infantry. The 2d
Battalion, 121st Philippine Infantry, securing division rear
areas in its sector, succeeded in eliminating a twenty man Jap
raiding party near Concepcion. Armed reconnaissance planes
of the 5th Air Force attacked and destroyed 30 enemy motor
vehicles on the division northern flank.
The division (reinforced) continued its attack on all fronts
on January 27. The 15 8th Infantry expanded its positions
on the ridge line 2 5 00 yards northwest of Cataguintingan,
while the 172d Infantry made only limited gains in its drive
southeast along Hill 900 toward Udiao. The 63d Infantry con
tinued its attack on Hill 15 00, suffering heavy casualties
as it advanced steadily through extremely rough terrain against

intense artillery, mortar, and machine gun fire. Enemy posi


tions were disposed in depth and well dug-in. The 169th In
fantry attacked east from its positions on the crest of Bench
mark Hill with limited success while continuing to mop up
in the Cauringan River Valley, 1000 yards northeast of
Cauringan. The 103d Infantry continued its attack in the
Hill 700 area, as other elements engaged in mopping up the
complex enemy positions on Hill 35 5 knocked out three
47-mm anti-tank guns and three 75-mm field pieces, while
suffering the loss of two medium tanks. Artillery elements
in the Concepcion area received intense enemy counter-bat
tery fire which resulted in only slight damage. The 2d Bat
talion, 121st Philippine Infantry, securing ridges 1000 yards
south of Cataguintingan received heavy artillery fire from
enemy guns located in Camp 1 '> area. Supporting aircraft
bombed and strafed enemy supply dumps in vicinity of Am
bangonon.
On January 2 8, the division and attached units continued
to expand and secure positions captured during the coordinated
attacks of January 2 5-26-27. The 172d Infantry completed
its seizure of Hill 900, overrunning steel reinforced bunkers,
and drove south toward Highway 3 while other elements com
pleted the seizure of Rosario. The 63d Infantry, after repuls
ing enemy counter-attacks in vicinity of Agat during the
night of January 27-2 8, continued its attack on Hill 15 00,
seizing positions on the western crest, where stubborn enemy
resistance in the Cauringan River valley. The 169th Infan
try attacked an enemy force of estimated company strength
in the Cauringan River valley, encountering continuous
mortar and sniper fire. The 103d Infantry continued reduc
tion of enemy positions on Hill 700, while other elements
carried out a program of systematically mopping up remain
ing enemy positions on Hill 3 5 5. The 5 5th Field Artillery
Battalion (attached) continued its counter-battery duel with
enemy artillery located in the Pugo area, destroying three Jap
15 5-mm guns. Suport aircraft bombed hill masses southeast
of Agoo, while naval gunfire of battleship caliber was
placed on an enemy bivouac 2 5 00 yards south of Pugo.
The 1st Battalion and the Anti-Tank Company, 63d In
fantry, were relieved from attachment and reverted to I
Corps Reserve.
Examination of Hill 900 at this time, following its seizure
by the 172d Infantry, disclosed that a naturally rocky and
rugged hill feature had been further converted into a fortress
by the construction of a large number of pillboxes, many
of which utilized steel beams salvaged from local bridges
for reinforcement. These pillboxes commanded the Rosario
area of the Bued River valley and were so constructed as to
resist direct hits from medium artillery. Since our attack
came from the north, thereby avoiding a slow and costly
frontal attack on these mutually supporting pillboxes, the
enemy now outflanked, was forced to vacate these elaborately
prepared positions and fight in the open, where he fell easy
prey to the effectiveness of our combined mortar and artil
lery fire. Here again, as at Hill 3 5 5, the tactical soundness of
boldly by-passing heavily fortified areas, and attacking them
from the rear was demonstrated beyond question.

ADVANCE OF 63RD,
I58TH, a I72ND
TO NORTH

Activity on January 29 varied widely throughout the


division zone of action. On the north, the 15 8th Infantry
continued to secure the hill masses north of the DamortisRosario Highway west of Cataguintangan. After driving south
from Hill 900 and establishing a road block on Highway 3,
1000 yards west of Udiao, large enemy supply dumps were
overrun by the 172d Infantry as it attacked east from Rosario
astride Highway 3, driving a stubbornly defending enemy
from his prepared positions west of Udiao. These dumps con
tained, among other items, 30,3 60 cases of rations, 65 truck
loads of various types of Quartermaster supplies, seven truck
loads of signal equipment, 18 truckloads of medical supplies,
11 truckloads of horseshoes and horseshoe nails, eight truck
loads of automotive parts, and seventeen vehicles of various
passenger and cargo types. The 63d Infantry continued to
mop up Hill 1500. The 169th Infantry continued to mop up
the Cauringan River valley, Benchmark Hill, Question Mark
Hill area and the Mount Alava area. An estimated two com
panies of Japs, moving with two 7 5-mm guns towed by prime
movers, remnants of defenders of Hill 3 5 5, were intercepted
in the Hill 700 area by the 103d Infantry during the night
of January 28-29, while attempting to escape. A total of 98
Japs were killed in this action and the guns and prime movers
captured. Other elements continued to secure Hill 700 while
maintaining pressure on Hill 800 and Hill 3 5 5. Artillery
continued active on both sides; an enemy truck column on
the Baguio Road carrying ammunition was shelled with ex
cellent and devastating effect, causing large explosions. The

58

15 2d Field Artillery Battalion in carefully concealed posi


tions received heavy, accurate counter-battery fire during
the night, revealing disloyalty of some local Filipinos. The
Philippine Infantry continued to support the division by ef
fectively patrolling rear areas and eliminating infiltration
parties. Supporting aircraft heavily bombed and strafed the
Dongon-Camp One area. Supporting naval units, consisting of
cruisers and destroyers, executed counter-batter)- missions in
the Tubao-Pugo area.
Relief of the remaining elements of the 63d Regimental
Combat Team from attachment to the division on January
3 0 necessitated readjustment of our forces. Elements of the
172d Infantry completed relief of all positions held by the
63d Infantry, including Hill 15 00. Patrolling was active in
all sectors of the division front; this was particularly true
in the area north of Damortis where intensive counter-patrol
ling to the Cupang River was conducted against Japanese
patrols reconnoitering our positions from the north. Of special
interest and worthy of mention, was a duel fought between
an 81-mm mortar crew, 172d Infantry, and an enemy 15 5-mm
howitzer in the Hill 900 area, resulting in the destruction of
the Jap Howitzer and its crew. In the south mopping up
of the Hill 3 5 5-Mount Alava area by elements of the 103 In
fantry and the 169th Infantry resulted in the capture of
three 47-mm anti-tank guns, four 7J-mm guns (Model 90),
one half-track vehicle, one 150-mm mortar, and large quan
tities of ammunition of all types and calibers. Philippine Army
units attached to the division continued to mop up by-passed
Japs in the northern sector, with notable success in "Tin Can
Alley," a valley lying just west of Hill 66 5 and running north
2000 yards to meet the Rosario-Damortis Highway just west
of Cataguintingan. Supporting aircraft effectively bombed
and strafed the Labayag, Camp One-Dongon and Tubao areas.
Enemy artillery east of Highway 3 became extremely active
on January 31. Our forces occupying Benchmark Hill, con
sisting of one company, received a total of 3 00 rounds of esti
mated 10 5-mm artillery fire from enemy positions located
northeast of Labayug which defied detection, while 7 5 rounds
fell in Pozorrubio, disrupting traffic and communications. The
103d Infantry patrols operating north in the Arodagat River
valley and east of Hill 700, were under constant machine gun,
mortar and artillery fire. 169th Infantry patrols attempting to
reach Hill 1800, some 1500 yards cast of Benchmark Hill,
were repulsed by heavy enemy fire of varying types and
calibers, while other patrols in the Mount Alava area con
firmed the effectiveness of our artillery fire of January 21,
finding many dead Japs and horses near four destroyed 10 5
mm artillery pieces. In the Saytan area a combat patrol from
the 172d Infantry clashed with an enemy force, estimated
as a reinforced company supported by light artillery, while
elements of the 2d Battalion, 172d Infantry, repulsed an
enemy attack with hand to hand fighting and grenade action
on the eastern slopes of Hall 1500.
Army aircraft, in support, heavily bombed and strafed
enemy installations including artillery positions in LabayugDongon area while naval support of battleship caliber heavily
shelled enemy gun positions in the Tubao area in an effort
to reduce the volume of enemy artillery fire.

59

Enemy artillery activity increased on February 1, a heavy


volume of fire falling on elements of the 169th Infantry on
Question Mark Hill and the area as far west as Highway 3,
which was subject to constant interdiction by enemy guns of
medium caliber. A Banzai attack by an estimated company
preceded by a particularly heavy concentration of enemy
artillery fire was repulsed on Question Mark Hill during the
night of January 31-February 1. Patrols of the 15 8th Infantry
made numerous contacts, indicating increased reconnaissance
of our positions north of Amland in the Cupang River area
as well as along the coastal road south of A.^oo. Patrolling in
the Cuenco area by the 172d Infantry produced negative re
sults; however, patrols in the Saytan area made numerous con
tacts with enemy groups of platoon size, all of which with
drew to the east after being engaged by our patrols in sharp
fire fights. Intermittent mortar fire fell continuously on our
road block 1000 yards west of Udiao. The 103d Infantry
launched an attack against a tenacious enemy dug-in on the
northern slopes of Hill 600, encountering moderate resistance
couped with intense sniper fire. Patrols of the 2d Battalion,
121st Philippine Infantry engaged enemy in unknown numbers
in the vicinity of Inabaan; outposts were either killed or driven
in, but our patrols were unable to approach the main enemy
positions. Fittingly, an enemy artillery position containing two
15 5-mm GPF guns in serviceable condition was overrun
by an artillery security patrol in the Concepcion area. These
guns were later reconditioned and employed against the enemy.
Battleships, nosed up the coast firing counter-battery missions
in the San Jose area, which was beyond the maximum range
of our artillery.
On February 2, extensive patrolling continued on all fronts
of the division. The 169th Infantry repulsed a second enemy
Banzai attack on Question Mark Hill, where our attempts to
emplace barbed wire entanglements were hampered by well
timed and accurate artillery fire. The 103d Infantry further
extended its positions on Hill 600. Artillery elements of the
division, including attachments, continued intense counterbattery fires and succeeded in neutralizing two enemy gun
positions in vicinity of Suggong. Army support aircraft
bombed and strafed large enemy supply dumps in the Dongon
area, starting several large fires, and heavily bombed enemy
heavy gun positions east of Labayug. Naval gunfire again
supplemented our counter-battery fires on enemy gun posi
tions in the Pugo area, adding both range and volume of fire.
In the area north of Cataguintingan the 15 8th Infantry,
supported by elements of the 716th Tank Battalion, overran
an elaborate enemy gun position, housing a huge 3 00-mm'
howitzer, after eliminating a fanatical defending force be
lieved to be the remnants of the 4th Heavy Artillery Bat
talion. This howitzer, which had a 3 60 degree traverse, had
been destroyed by our counter-battery fire during the night
of January 17-18, but for some reason, not readily apparent,
the remaining strength of this enemy battalion elected to
defend their position to the last man.
Shortly before daylight, February 3, the reason became
apparent; a second 300-mm howitzer, located less than
800 yards from our forward positions 1800 yards north of
Cataguintingan opened fire, shelling Damortis, Rosario and

Alacan in rapid succession. This position was quickly overrun


by the 15 8th Infantry, supported by elements of the 716th
Tank Battalion and the howitzer was captured intact.
Confirming photographic interpretations made after camou
flage had been destroyed by our counter-battery fire, detailed
examination of these howitzer positions revealed an extrava
gant expenditure of material and labor by the enemy. Two
huge pits had been excavated with skill and cunning; soil was
carried 5 00 yards and concealed in a heavy brush line. The
howitzers had been emplaced in these pits. Since the hard
surface of Highway 3 was more than 1500 yards from these
positions, the movement of these huge pedestal-mounted
howitzers, estimated to weigh not less than eighty tons each,
had undoubtedly been a major engineering feat. Utilizing
railroad tracks, believed to have been salvaged from a planta
tion in the Pinmilapil area, the guns had been moved across
country to their positions. The tracks had been removed and
concealed, leaving little trace of a roadbed, except for a few
scattered old ties. A movable structure closely resembling a
native house had been built on rollers over each pit in such
manner that it could be rolled back to permit the firing of the

howitzer and then replaced, completely concealing the pit.


Banana and papaya trees added to the illusion. It is estimated
that elapsed time of exposure during firing was less than one
minute. Camouflage discipline was so excellent that our ar
tillery observation planes, constantly searching this suspected
area at low level, failed to detect anything unusual about
these two native houses standing on a grassy reverse slope.
Continuous devastating fire from the area had for a long
time successfully challenged our counter-battery fires. Finally,
based on sound and flash plotting, our fire destroyed the cam
ouflage on one position which could not otherwise have been
located. Ammunition pits, housing the 1080 pound shells,
were located nearly 1000 yards away and were connected
to the howitzer positions by tunnels and hard-surfaced trails
which ran through the intervening rice paddies, carefully con
cealed by dead grass. These installations, also defying detection
at close range, were a masterpiece of camouflage.
On Hill 900, the 172d Infantry repulsed three counter
attacks during the night of February 2-3. The 169th Infan
try captured twenty live horses, three unserviceable 15 5-mm
howitzers and one serviceable 15 5-mm howitzer as it com-

Hugc pits u'crc excavated for this pedestal-mounted 3 00mm howitzer. Steel rail for movable house provides a seat for spectators

60

elements of the 169th Infantry firmly entrenched atop Hill


1800. These positions were secured and held despite constant
heavy artillery, mortar and machine gun tire from command
ing ground to the east. To the south, the 103d Infantry at
tacked and seized positions on high ground northeast of Hill
700. Our artillery succeeded in destroying four enemy guns
in the Labayug, area, while supporting arm}' aircraft bombed
and strafed the Camp 1 ' j area.

PFC Charles Loiett of Coolidgc, Arizona, looks into the


breech of a Japanese 300 millimeter gun captured in the hills
near Rosar/o, Luzon.
pleted searching enemy positions previously overrun, while
elements on Question Mark Hill for the third consecutive
night repulsed an enemy counter-attack preceded by a heavy
artillery barrage. The 103d Infantry, employing flame throw
ers, attacked an enemy strongpoint east of Calenutan, killing
5 6 Japs and destroying one 81-mm mortar and one 47-mm
anti-tank gun.
During the night of February 3-4, the enemy took advan
tage of a heavy tropical rainstorm to launch a determined
and well organized counter-attack on positions held by the
172d Infantry on Hill 1500 which was repelled only after
vicious hand-to-hand fighting and point blank mortar fire.
A total of 41 Japs were killed, and eight heavy machine guns,
fourteen rifles, and two knee mortars were captured.
On February 5, elements of the 169th Infantry in a
coordinated attack with the 2d Battalion, 66th Philippine
Infantry, seized positions on the western slopes of Hill 1800.
Army aircraft bombed and strafed Labayug-Sucong-Calenu
tan area, causing four huge explosions. Ten full-tracked prime
movers (four of which proved to be serviceable) were cap
tured 2000 yards north of Cataguintingan.
Following a night attack on February 6, daylight found

61

During the period of February 7-12, aggressive patrolling


was carried out on all fronts, developing enemy strength in
the Dongon-Camp 1 ' j area. An amphibious raid on Caba
by elements of the 15 8th Infantry proved unsuccessful due
to evacuation of the town by the enemy some twenty-four
hours prior to our arrival. Enemy heavy artillery in ever
diminishing strength in the Camp l ' j - T w i n Peaks area con
tinued to harass our forward positions, in spite of our counterbatter)' fire. A night attack by the 103d Infantry on Febru
ary 10, gained positions on high ground 5 00 yards north of
Hill 800.
On February 13, after twenty-six days of offensive action,
the 43d Infantry Division had completed the seizure and
mopping up of its objectives. The Sixth Army beachhead
had been secured; the vast column of men and equipment
comprising the Liberation Force had poured into the Lin
gayen Plain and the Central Plain, while the enemy's main
strength had been driven to the north, its offensive gestures
at no time seriously threatening the success of the invasion.
Manila and its coveted harbor had been virtually secured,
and the once vital beaches at San Fabian and Alacan no
longer were the only lifeline to the Army.
The 43d Infantry Division had counted 7831 dead Japs
during the first phase of the Luzon campaign. Our losses
totaled 5 93 killed and 1644 wounded. Enemy artillery pieces,
captured or destroyed totaled 126 of all calibers from 75-mm
to 3 00-mm. Thousands of tons of supplies of all classes, un
counted ammunition dumps, and hundreds of vehicles of all
types were overrun or destroyed during the operation.
The division was ordered into reserve for rehabilitation and
re-equipment on February 13, 1945, as the 3 3d Infantry
Division landed at San Fabian and initiated relief. The Division
assembled near Santa Barbara to train replacements and re
equip.

CHAPTER XV

Movement to the Santa Barbara area was completed on


February 16, and all members of the division looked forward
to a period of rest and rehabilitation while commanders
anticipated a suitable period to permit training of new
officers and non-commissioned officers who had been pro
moted to fill battlefield vacancies.
The 43d Infantry Division was relieved from attachment
to I Corps on February 17, and passed to Sixth Army reserve.
However, bitter resistance by the Japs at Fort Stotsenburg
and general redisposition of major elements in the Philippines
necessitated a change in plans. The 169th Regimental Combat
Team reverted to control of I Corps, and relieved elements
of the 40th Infantry Division with the mission of holding
the western flank of the Central Plain north of the line
Tarlac-Paulig and west of the Agno River, mopping up
scattered enemy straggler groups and securing all highways,
bridges, airfields and other military installations over an 80
mile front. Guard duty was assumed at the Mangaldan
Airfield by Company C, 172d Infantry, and at Lingayen Air
field by Company L, 172d Infantry.
On February 24, fourth anniversary of the division's call
to active duty, a simple, impressive ceremony was held at
the San Fabian cemetery to honor those of the division who
had made the supreme sacrifice in the stiff fighting since
January 9. General Kreuger, Commanding General, Sixth
Army, addressed those assembled, which included representa
tion from all elements of the division as well as units attached
to the division during the combat period. The Army ComGen. Krcuger addresses members of 43d Div. (and
attachments) at San Fabian cemetery, 24 Feb. 1945

mander lauded the division on its combat proficiency and


spirit. Major General Swift, I Corps Commander, in his
address expressed his gratitude for the division's contribution
to the successes of the I Corps.
At the time the division was assembled in the Santa
Barbara area, battle and non-battle casualties had weakened
the division seriously. At this time the division was short 215
officers and 3 80 5 enlisted men. Replacements received during
the period February 2 3-26 totaled 53 officers and 1853 en
listed men. In addition, 31 officers and 607 enlisted men,
previously wounded, were returned to duty.
An extensive training program for these replacements to
provide battle indoctrination was planned in detail. Complete
reequipment and reconditioning of men and equipment was
undertaken with dispatch.
Orders were received directing the 43d Infantry Division
to relieve the 40th Infantry Division, heavily engaged in the
hills west of Stotsenburg, on or before March 2. The division
moved by motor from assembly areas at Santa Barbara, Camil
ing, and Guimba to positions in the vicinity of Bambam.
Reconnaissance was initiated at once by all elements.
Relief of the 40th Infantry Division began on February
26 when elements of the 172d Infantry assumed responsibility
for the security of all bridges and highways from Tarlac to
the Pampanga River and from San Fernando to Dinalupihan;
other elements relieved the 1st Battalion, 10 8th Infantry,
in the Top of the World area, 3 000 yards west of Fort
Stotsenburg.
Firing squad salutes honored dead at San Fabian cemetery,
24 Feb. 1945

43RD DIV. (I03RD RCT)


RELIEVES 4 0 T H DIV. IN
THE STOTSENBURG H I L L S
2 MARCH 1 9 4 5
1 Y* 0
1
2
3

The 172d Regimental Combat Team closed at Bambam


on February 26, and the 169th Regimental Combat Team,
upon relief in the Tarlac-Port Sual sector closed at Bambam
on March 1, moving directly to front line positions. The
103d Regimental Combat Team closed at Mabalacat in
division reserve, not to be committed except with prior
approval of the XI Corps commander.
Enemy forces in this area consisted of the former garrison
of Clark Field, known as the Ran Force, composed of
former Japanese air, army, navy, and air-borne troops, all now
completely reorganized as infantry.
This force totaling 12,000 men, had abandoned Clark Field
when it was attacked by elements of the 3 7th and 40th
Infantry Divisions in early February and had withdrawn
to the rugged hills north and west of Fort Stotsenburg,
where the crafty enemy had for many months been preparing
cave positions, and stocking them with the materiel of war.
Full advantage was taken by the enemy of every opportunity
afforded by the difficult terrain. Captured documents dis
closed that detailed defensive plans and organization had been
completed long prior to our landing at Lingayen and had
been rushed into effect as our forces advanced on Clark Field.
A total of seventeen fortified positions, each capable of con
taining approximately one battalion had been constructed in
great depth. All automatic weapons were stripped from
damaged planes at Clark Field; organic anti-aircraft weapons
and base stocks of aircraft weapons were consolidated and

removed to the hills. The resulting heavy preponderance of


automatic weapons posed no special training problem since the
Ran Force contained many airfield defense and anti-aircraft
units which provided ample personnel well trained in the
operation and maintenance of these automatic weapons which
included all types up to 4l>-mm AA guns. The force had but
two choiceseither to surrender or right to the death from
their rortre>se>. Maneuver or withdrawal meant starvation
in the mountains. \\ ith tew exceptions the defenders elected
to right to the death.
Terrain north and west of Fort Stotsenburg was character
ized by sharp ridge lines and isolated peaks, separated by steep
gorges and deep ravines. Four parallel ridges running east
and west led to the Cabusilan Mountain Range. Steep ridges
and a scattered tree line merging with steep, bare, grassy
hillsides presented a problem in approach and attack so ex
tremely complex as to almost defy solution. Supply trails
existing in this area generally followed the ridge lines neces
sitating long steep grades. The hills averaged 1HMJ to 1SUO
feet in alticude. For the most part, deep ravines and sheer
rocky hillsides precluded lateral roads between the separate
ridge systems.
In support of the division's attack in this area, the follow
ing units were attached:
Company B. S2d Chemical Battalion
Batten' 3. HSth AAA Gun Battalion
Companv B. 64(>th Tank Destroyer Battalion

Company D, 74 5 th Tank Battalion


23 8th Chemical Service Platoon
2d Support Air Party
103d Bomb Disposal Squad
On March 2, the 172 Infantry mopped up in the Hill
29 area. Extensive reconnaissance to find and fix the enemy
was conducted throughout the division zone of action. Com
pany I, 103d Infantry, was assigned to guard Clark Field
installations, while the remainder of the regiment continued
in division reserve. The Anti-tank Company, 172d Infantry
was assigned to guard GHQ, located in the vicinity of San
Miguel.
Based on the reconnaissance of this date, the decision was
made to envelop the enemy from the northwest, employing
the 172d Infantry as the main enveloping force, to attack
the enemy positions from the flank, while the 169th Infantry
continued the frontal attack in the Hill 175 0-Sacobia Ridge
sector.
Accordingly, aggressive patrolling was carried out on all
fronts on March 3, concurrently with a redisposition of troops
to effect the envelopment.
Preceded by patrols of the 43d Cavalry Reconnaissance
Troop, the 2d Battalion, 172d Infantry, moved by motor
to the O'Donnell River valley on March 4, and seized positions
on the high ground 3000 yards southeast of Tiaong; other
elements expanded positions on Flat Top Hill and mopped
up by-passed pockets of resistance. The 169th Infantry was
limited to minor gains as it attacked Snake Hill west, and
Objective Hill, while elements conducting a reconnaissance in
force reached positions 2000 yards east of Mount Dorst.
Company B, 82d Chemical Battalion, fired direct support
missions in the Hill 175 0-Sugar Loaf Hill area.

At this time the division was charged with the mission of


relieving security elements of the 37th Infantry Division in
the Calumpit-Bocaue area. Since employment of the 103d
Regimental Combat Team was restricted and other infantry
troops could not be spared at this time, a composite artillery
battalion comprised of elements of the 103d and 192d Field
Artillery Battalions was formed and charged with this mission,
which included the security of roads and bridges and the
mopping up of stragglers.
Enemy troop concentrations and supply dumps in the
ravines southwest of Sugar Loaf Hill were heavily bombed
with Napalm and then strafed on March 5; this was followed
immediately by a heavy artillery concentration in the same
areas; later investigation proved that more than 6,000 Japs
were killed by this combination attack. Elements of the 172d
Infantry attacking south in the O'Donnell River valley killed
sixty-five Japs before reaching positions on Hill 2000 some
3 000 yards northwest of High Peak, while other elements
advanced from Flat Top Hill to positions 3000 yards east of
High Peak. The 169th Infantry continued to make bitterly
contested advances against stubborn resistance on Sugar Loaf
Hill, Objective Hill and Sacobia Ridge. The 43d Cavalry
Reconnaissance Troop continued to patrol south and west in
the O'Donnell River Valley to detect any attempted enemy
evacuation to the west.
On March 6, the enveloping forces had reached their for
ward assembly areas and a coordinated attack was launched,
driving hard against the enemy's left flank. Advances were
made on all fronts. In the area southeast of Tiaong, the 2d
Battalion 172d Infantry, destroyed numerous disorganized
bands of the enemy, while the 1st Battalion, 172d Infantry,
advanced 1000 yards to positions on the high ground 2000

<-tf-77

O'DONNELL-^

7-7-7

_ / I////

>.-- . .

WIDE ENVELOPMENT BY I72ND INF


BREAKS THE ENEMY'S STRONGHOLD
WEST OF CLARK FIELD

DISORGANIZE
JAP WfTHDRAWA
5 0 MILE MOTOR
ARCH TO TIAONG

8 7 3 JAPS KILLED
FOUND DEAD
8

MARCH
ISORQANIZED
JAT? W I T H DRAWA

yards southeast of High Peak. Although only limited


were made in the Lewis Hill area, elements of the 169th
Infantry captured Objective Hill and Twin Tip against stub
born resistance, while other elements advanced to positions
2000 yards northeast of Mullen's Ridge against moderate
machine gun, mortar and rifle fire.
Orders were received at this time for the 10 3d Regimental
Combat Team to move to a forward assembly area at the
Wack \Tack Country Club, east of Manila, with the mission
of relieving elements of the 1st Cavalry Division in the
Antipolo area.
On March 7 and 8, the division exploited to the full the
the gains of the preceding days. The 1st Battalion, 172d In
fantry, sweeping up the Malago River valley west of Sugar
Loaf Hill, overran extensive bivouac areas where fanatical
resistance from sickly and poorly equipped enemy service
troops was quickly eliminated. A total of 267 Japs were
killed and patrols counted 5 90 additional dead Japs, the
majority of which were believed to have been killed by the
combination napalm-artillery attack of March 5 in this
area. The 2d Battalion, 172d Infantry, established strong trail
blocks on enemy escape routes west of High Peak. The 169th
Infantry redisposed elements in its zone of action while
continuing to attack Mullen Ridge against heavy mortar and
machine gun fire as well as ground fire from 40-mm AAA
guns.

65

On March S, the division less the 169th Regimental Combat


Team was ordered to concentrate in the Taytay area, east
of Manila, preparatory to relieving the 1st Cavalry Division
in the Antipolo area with the mission of attacking the
southern anchor of the formidable Shimbu Line. The 5Sth
Infantry Division, the 169th Regimental Combat Team at
tached in position, relieved the 43d Infantry Division in
the Stotsenburg area.
As the division assembled for movement south, the 169th
Infantry, advancing 100U yards from Objective Hill, at
tacked and captured Bald Hill. Two unsuccessful Banzai
attacks on our positions on Bald Hill during the night of
March 9-10, resulted in 166 Japs killed and an undetermined
number wounded, while our forces suffered eight killed and
twenty-one wounded.
Upon completion of relief on March 10 by elements of
the 3 8th Infantry Division, the division initiated movement
to the Taytay area, where the 103d Regimental Combat
Team had by this time assembled.
Although the greater part of the division was engaged
only ten days in the Stotsenburg area, a total of 1"29 Japs
were counted killed. Our losses were "~0 killed and 193
wounded. Countless automatic weapons, vehicles, and supply
dumps had been overrun, and the wide envelopment of the
enemy left flank had substantially disorganized his well
planned defenses.

CHAPTER XVI

Detailed reconnaissance of the 1st Cavalry Division's zone


of action revealed that the enemy had taken his customary
intelligent advantage of the hills east of Manila. The Shimbu
Line, running north and south from Ipo Dam on the north
to Laguna de Bay on the south, consisted of composite forces
of all branches with a total strength of 40,000. The withdrawal
from Manila to the hills had been well planned and orderly.
Well stocked dumps were disposed conveniently throughout
the enemy's defenses in sheltered positions. Artillery, mortars,
vehicles, ammunition and rations were plentiful. Civilian labor
had assisted materially in turning the irregular volcanic, cavepocked hill masses into a mighty fortress, prepared in depth,
and disposed so as to make the eastern suburbs and military
installations in Manila untenable.
The zone of action of the 43d Infantry Division (less the
169th Regimental Combat Team) upon relieving the 1st
Cavalry Division on March 13, included a front of 20,000
yards. The left zone was assigned to the 172d Infantry; the
right to the 103d Infantry. Two good all-weather roads were
included in the zone, as well as numerous heavily populated
areas. The terrain in the left zone was extremely irregular,
consisting largely of steep rocky crags rising to 1000 feet,
and interspersed with dense bamboo thickets and jungle
vegetation. Further construction of roads in this area was
Antipolo,

Luzon

after

its capture

by the 103d

reported to be impossible at the time of relief, because of


the extremely severe terrain and the 172d Infantry faced a
prolonged period of sluggish action with highly uncertain
supply and evacuation facilities. The right zone, though ter
rain was less extreme, was very heavily defended in every
critical feature. The road net gave advantage to mechanized
action, but it was anticipated that enemy reaction to use of
the highways would be prompt and forceful.
The following units were attached to the division on
March 13, to support the attack:
754th Tank Battalion (Less Companies C and D)
Company C, 44th Tank Battalion
MT. YABANG
43RD INF. DIV.
RELIEVED 1ST

CV. DIV. THIS

LINE.

NEW BOSOBOSO

Infantry

FOLLOWING RELIEF OF 1ST CAV. O


THE 43RD INF DIV. (-169 RCT]
LAUNCHES COORDINATED ATTACKS^
ENVELOPING THE LEFT ANCHOR
OF THE SHIMBU LINE
14 MARCH 1945
1
Va O

66

Company D, 82d Chemical Mortar Battalion


The day following the relief, the division launched a co
ordinated attack to secure Antipolo, Mount Yabang, Mount
Caymayuman, and the commanding hills east of the Morong
River Valley. Substantial gains were made in all zones on
March 14, as stubborn enemy strongpoints were engaged in
force. Of unusual interest was the rapid 2 5 miles sweep of
mechanized forces, penetrating behind the enemy's strongly
fortified positions north and south of Teresa. Whereas the
enemy had planned to hold temporarily in the Benchmark 27,
Benchmark 7, Benchmark 20 area, and then fall back to pre
pared positions east of the Morong River Valley, our surprise
move seized the prepared positions against light resistance,
while the enemy's main strength was engaged 2 5 00 yards
to the west.
During the next few days the_JJi2_d_Lniaflr.y exploited its
encirclement of the enemy main line, mopping up isolated
pockets, and seizing Teresa and the entire Antipolo-Mabancal
road net. Benchmark 7 proved to be held by the enemy in
battalion strength. Following three days of continuous assualt
by the 2d Battalion, 103d Infantry, supported by maximum
artillery and mortar concentrations, the key terrain feature,
dominating the entire Laguna de Bay-Morong River Valley
was seized. Company C, 44th Tank Battalion, assisted in the
final assualt, moving to direct fire positions to reduce caves
in the stubborn rocky stronghold. Numerous artillery pieces

and mortars as well as a supply of 20-cm rockets were cap


tured on the vital hill, and an enemy battalion was eliminated
from the order of battle in the Shimbu Line.
During the period March 14 to 17, the 172d Infantry made
slow, bitterly contested advances of 600 to 1000 yards along
critical ridge lines defending in succession positions in depth.
In this zone a sheer volcanic hill, heavily wooded, appeared
to be the focus of the enemy's defenses. Parallel ridges emanat
ing to the west from this feature were the only means of
advance for our forces. Densely forested ravines between the
ridges were held by the Japs, and were a constant threat to
our lines of supply and evacuation. The laborious construction
of bull-dozed roads in support of the 172d Infantry was op
posed by continuous enemy action, including suicide raids
and artillery.
Enemy medium artillery continued active against our rear
areas during the period, firing long range missions into the
suburbs of Manila, and harassing our road net and rear areas.
This firing was confined largely to the hours of darkness when
counter-battery fire could be conducted only by sound and
flash plots.
On March 17, the 43d Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop drove
mechanized patrols east along the shore of Laguna de Bay.
Artillery elements displaced to Maybancal to support the ac
tion, and observed fire was brought to bear on the enemy
defenders at Tanay. Misled by our show of strength the

General Walter Kreugcr, Sixth Army Commander, discusses progress of fighting in Antipolo sector with General Wing.

Caves used by the japs in the Teresa-Antipolo area

'>

fifty men. Our striking power in this sector grew less ef


fective, daily.
A strong enemy artillery position located in the valley
west of Sugar Loaf was fanatically held, as, one by one, cave
positions containing prime movers and medium artillery were
reduced by combined action of M-7's and assault parties.

BM # 7 Hill ivas well defended by the fanatical Jap

. H

On March 18, the 103d Infantry, supported by Company


C, 44th Tank Battalion, attacked north and east in the
Morong River Valley with the mission of seizing Mount
Tanauan, dominating 1200 foot pyramid controlling the Morong-Boso Boso River Valleys. Throughout March 18 and
19, making forced marches to exploit light resistance, and
attacking at night in local action, the 103d Infantry reached
the southern slopes of Mount Tanauan. As patrols probed
north on the southern shoulders of this mountain they en
countered heavily fortified positions. Our initial advances
were repulsed by machine gun and mortar fire from the
dominating ridges to the north and east. Combat patrols of the
103d Infantry seized Pantay, 2000 yards west of Mount
Tanauan aganist moderate resistance.
To break the stalemate west of Sugar Loaf, the decision
was made on March 19 to disengage one battalion of the
172d Infantry and swing it wide through the Morong River
Valley, and attack north passing through leading elements of

The attack on Mt. Tanuan ivas uphill, uphill and uphill.


(Troops are in defilade here)

Guerrillas examine an individual Jap shelter on BM # 7 Hill.

enemy destroyed his dumps of ammunition, fuel and rations


in Tanay, and attempted evacuation. Of 200 Japs escaping
to the north, few escaped the time fire of our artillery,
directed by forward patrols of the reconnaissance troop.
On March 17, the 103d Regimental Combat Team dis
placed all installations to the Teresa area, and reorganized,
preparatory to driving north and east in the Morong River
Valley.
The situation in the 172d Infantry zone of action was
rapidly approaching a stalemate. Skillful enemy infantry, fall
ing back slowly along re-occurring commanding terrain fea
tures had whittled our rifle companies down to an average of

69

A heavy preparation precedes the attack on Mt. Tanuan

On the night of March 20-21, the enemy, having awakened


to the threat caused by the 1st Battalion, 172d Infantry,
pushing north into Mount Camayuman, reorganized his
strength and attacked in battalion strength against our posi
tions on the southern slopes. Approximately 800 rounds of
artillery fire from the supporting 103d Field Artillery Bat
tallion completely broke up the attack, and the advance was
resumed the following morning following heavy prepara
tion by elements of the 8 2d Chemical Mortar Battalion.
Immediately, the reaction was felt by the balance of the
172d Infantry. Positions west and north of Sugar Loaf were
overrun against light to moderate resistance. Artillery em
placements and caves were destroyed as the regiment drove
east to close with the enemy strength that had turned to
meet the 1st Battalion.
Medics attend wounded during last attack on Mt.

Tanauan.

the 103d Infantry near Pantay. The mission of this battalion


was to seize Mount Camayuman, thus striking a wedge
into the left rear of the enemy's mountain stronghold at
Sugar Loaf.

Also on March 21, supported by extremely heavy artillery


and mortar preparations, and assisted by elements of the 754th
Tank Battalion, the 10 3d Infantry made the final assault
on Mount Tanauan under a heavy smoke screen, and killed

Winch on this Jap prime mover pulled its artillery piece back
into cave after firing.

During the 19th and 20th of March, the 1st Battalion,


supported by elements of the 7 54th Tank Battalion, swung
wide through Teresa, and attacked north along the west flank
of the Morong River Valley, abreast of the 10 3d Infantry
driving north on Mount Tanauan on the east flank of the
valley. Resistance was overcome north of Benchmark 20,
and elements reached the Pantay-Antipolo Road, 2 5 00 yards
southwest of Pantay. Pockets of resistance were by-passed
south of Sugar Loaf to permit a rapid surprise attack on
Mount Camayuman.
The 1st Battalion, 172d Infantry, passed through the 103d
Infantry at Pantay, and attacked northeast on the Jap-built
Pantay-New Boso Boso Road, destroying successively five
enemy road blocks astride the road, and overrunning a bat
tery of 15 5-mm GPF's, evidently emplaced in improvised
positions after having been withdrawn from threatened areas
to the west.
The southern slopes of Mount Camayuman presented ex
treme terrain conditions, requiring men to crawl on hands
and knees to negotiate the sheer hillsides. Following a heavy
mortar and artillery preparation, leading elements engaged the
lightly held enemy position on the military crest. By night
fall on March 20, one company had succeeded in gaining a
foothold on the southern crest of Mount Camayuman. Ele
ments following were subjected to constant artillery and
mortar fire as they made their way up the precipitous slopes.
During this period, other elements of the 172d Infantry
west of Sugar Loaf had made slight costly progress against
the cave defenses. Artillery fire caused heavy casualties, and
evacuation was so laborious and slow, that it became im
perative that the envelopment of Mount Camayuman should
be expedited. Counter-attacks in platoon and company strength
were nightly occurrences, and while numerous Japs were
killed in this action, fatigue was taking its toll of officers
and men.

Heavy Jap artillery in caves was a constant

problem.

167 Japs during the morning, suffering only one killed and
twenty wounded. Twelve heavy machine gun positions in
rock caves were overrun, numerous light artillery pieces de
stroyed and 100 tons of assorted ammunition captured.
Inventory of the Pantay area included twenty-five enemy ve
hicles and a large signal supply dump.
During the period March 22 to 24, the 172d Infantry
continued to exploit its envelopment of Mount Camayuman
with the 1st Battalion mopping up the disorganized enemy
in hastily prepared positions in the park-like plateau of the
mountain top. The 2nd Battalion drove through scattered
resistance to secure Mount Yabang and consolidate with the
1st Battalion on Mount Camayuman. Meanwhile other ele
ments of the regiment mopped up disorganized by-passed
pockets in the Sugar Loaf area, capturing twelve artillery
pieces of varying caliber.
Taking advantage of the capture of dominating Mount
Tanauan, the 103d Infantry drove east in battalion strength
to seize and secure successive hill masses around Benchmark
23 in an effort to open the Boso Boso River Valley, and deny
to the enemy this desirable communications corridor.
Other elements of the 103d Infantry reorganized at Pantay
and prepared to attack northeast on the Pantay-New Boso
Boso Road and seize New Boso Boso.
On March 2 5, all opposition had been overcome on Mount
Yabang, Mount Camayuman and Sugar Loaf. Mopping up
patrols, overrunning dumps, command posts, and hospitals,
killed 219 Japs and captured numerous weapons of all calibers.
Patrols of the 103d Infantry advanced on New Boso Boso,
selecting routes for battalion attack the following day.
The 2d Battalion, 103d Infantry, attacked north from the
Pantay Road, on March 26, and advanced 2000 yards against
mortar and machine gun fire to reach the outskirts of New
Boso Boso. In this advance quantities of enemy impedimenta
and stores were seized, including 200 vehicles, nine anti-

aircraft pieces, and 1200 tons of assorted Class II and Class


III supplies. Enemy positions in the narrow Boso Boso River
Valley became untenable as our forces seized the high ground
flanking the valley on the east.
Simultaneously with the advance on New Boso Boso, other
elements of the 103d Infantry attacked north from Bench
mark 23, seizing Mount Quitago, Mount Balidbiran and
Benchmark 21 against moderate resistance. Throughout this
action it was apparent that swift, successive encirclement of
his flank had left the enemy confused and unable to occupy
the numerous prepared and provisioned positions east of
Mount Tanauaun. Roads were pushed behind the infantry
to Benchmark 23, and north in the Boso Boso River Valley
to joint with the Pantay Road north of Mount Tanauaun.
Meanwhile, as their major actions were being conducted in
the extreme left of the division zone, screening elements and
mechanized patrols of the 43d Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop
probed east along Laguna de Bay, occupying Tanay as a base
of operations, and searching into the enemy's elaborate trail
net near the historic Kalinawan Caves, six miles northeast of
Tanay in the rocky hills. Patrol clashes occurred daily as
the enemy counter-reconnaissance elements resisted our adadvances toward the reported vast supply base in the Kalina
wan Caves area. This cave position had played an important
role in the war against Spain and again in the Insurrection.
Evaluation of the ground as of March 2 8 is summarized
briefly to crystalize the situation of the division front. On
the left, our strength on Mount Yabang and Mount Camayu
man, an extremely desirable position, completely dominated
the valleys to the north and east. Tying in to the south were
Mount Tanauaun and Mount Quitago, equally important,
and easily defended. By seizing these features the division had
denied the enemy all access to any road net, and had driven
his disorganized remnants to the east of the Boso Boso
River. To the south of Mount Quitago, between Benchmark
2 3 and Laguna de Bay, only scattered contacts with small
parties were made by our patrols, and it was apparent that
the southern anchor of the Shimbu Line had been broken, and
that the enemy had pulled his forces remaining in the division
zone back to the line Sampolak-San Annes-Hill 1200. The
only threat the enemy could bring against the division was
harassment of our supply lines in the vicinity of New Boso
Boso from his position on Hill 1200.
During the period that the division, less the 169th Regi
mental Combat Team, had been attacking east of Antipolo,
the 169th Regimental Combat Team had been continuing to
attack, under control of the 3 8th Infantry Division in the
hills west of Stotsenburg. On March 24, the combat teim was
relieved from attachment and reverted to the 4'>d Division
and assembled in the Santa Maria-Bulacan area for equip
ment and rehabilitation. During the action at Stotsenburg the
combat team action was influenced largely by the same type
of terrain and enemy action experienced by the division in the
Stotsenburg area. In the twelve day period the 169th Regi
mental Combat Team killed an additional 1081 Japs, and
seized the Corps objective known as Mullen Ridge against
fanatical resistance.
After regrouping his strength on the captured hill masses

STALEMATE AT SUGAR LOAF


IS BROKEN BY I7END INF
MAKING A WIDE ENVELOPMENT
OF MT CAMAYUMA1 AS
I03RD INF. SEIZES MT. TANAUAN
AND THE B0S0B080 RIVER VALLEY
20-21 MARCH 1949

General scene of the ruins of Ant/polo

Little remained standing in Antipolo

of the Shimbu Line, General Wing, decided to take Hill 1200,


and probe east on Laguna de Bay, and disregard the scattered
Jap remnants in the hills to the east. Hence, regimental
boundaries were changed, permitting the 172d Infantry a
narrow front for the attack on Hill 1200. Patrols seized the
southern slopes of Hill 1200 against artillery and mortar
fire, but negligible ground resistance, while enveloping forces
moved north from New Boso Boso on the Santa Ines Trail
to attack the hill along the more gradual northern slopes.
Following intense air bombardment and artillery prepara
tion, March 29, the 1st Battalion, 172d Infantry, attacked
northeast along the trail net south of Hill 1200. Advances
were repulsed by machine gun, mortar and artillery fire. Pa
trols reduced an enemy road block astride the trail, but
material advances were negligible. On March 3 0, again pre
ceded by intense preparation, the battalion resumed the attack
to gain the trail north of Hill 1200. Advances of 15 00 yards
were realized against heavy opposition from infantry and
artillery. The Jap fought tenaciously to retain this trail
system, for, as it developed later, this position was his final
line of communications in the Shimbu Line. To sever this line,
which as essentially the Payna River and adjacent trails, was
to isolate the forces in the north at Mount Puro and Ipo
Dam from the forces to the east at Santa Ines and on the east
coast at Infanta. The enemy realized that if we dominated
the Payna River we would leave him only the trackless
mountains as a lateral route across his once proud Shimbu Line.
As patrols probed north from the southern slopes of Hill
1200 they seized the commanding heights of the hill mass
against only moderate resistance. The Jap had utilized his
main strength to engage our forces in the trail net to the
north. Slow, stubbornly contested advances were made by the
1st Battalion, 172d Infantry, finally reaching the crest of
the northern shoulders of Hill 1200. From this position the
Payna River valley v/as dominated, and the enemy fell back
to the dense ravines of Hill 1200 and to the hills north of the
Payna River and its critical Santa Ines Trail.
On March 30, the division received orders to drive east on
Laguna de Bay, cross the Jala Jala peninsula and seize the
Santa Maria Valley, making contact with the 1st Cavalry
Division advancing east long the south shore of Laguna de
Bay. Regimental boundaries were again changed, and the
103d Infantry was given the mission of seizing the Santa

Maria Valley. The 172d Infantry relieved the 103d Infantry


south of Hill 1200, and the key terrain features flanking
the Boso Boso River Valley and the Morong River Valley
were held, while the main effort was released to the southeast.
Foot patrols from the 43d Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop
operating east from Tanay over a period of several days had
reported the road to Jala Jala, and the highway across the
mountains to Santa Maria clear of the enemy as far as San
Miguel. Although the mountain road was prepared for defense,
and was flanked by well camouflaged caves and road blocks,
the positions were reported to be unoccupied.
The regiment could not be assembled entirely for three days,
and the objective was 2 5 miles away. Hence it would be im
possible to exploit the open road and attack Santa Maria at
once. Further, if limited strength were advanced to hold the
mountain passes as far as San Miguel, the enemy might easily
detect the concentration and react immediately causing us
to commit our forces piecemeal with no chance for surprise.
It was known that the enemy was making free use of the
highways focusing through Sinaloan, for nightly his motor
columns moved north, withdrawing strength from the Bicol,
and consolidating his southern forces in the Infanta-Sampolak
area to reinforce his reorganized Shimbu Line. Garrisons in
the Santa Maria and Sinaloan area were of unknown strength,
but artillery observers located feverish activity in the towns
and road net.
Hence it was decided to risk revealing our intent, and
throw strength quickly but secretly into the mountain road
across Jala Jala peninsula before the enemy could defend it.
The 2d Battalion, 103d Infantry was relieved by the 172d
Infantry and, with two batteries of artillery attached, by rapid
motor movement under cover of darkness, and screened by
counter-reconnaissance patrols of the 43d Cavalry Recon
naissance Troop, seized the mountain pass at San Miguel
without opposition. Motors were infiltrated quietly and
withdrawn before daylight, while troops took up concealed
positions astride the road, and established elaborate observation
posts to command the Santa Maria Valley six miles away.
By April 1, all elements of the 103d Infantry had been
relieved and assembled in the vicinity of Maybancal. While hot
meals and a brief rest were provided for the main body of
the regiment, officer reconnaissance parties studied assembly
areas and routes of advance into the valley from the San

72

120mm. //// was hit by our counterbattcvy fire while outside


its cave to fire; barrel measures 16 feet

Col. Okita's Headquarters abandoned its radio equipment


in haste

Miguel area. Six Filipinos were seized by a reconnaissance


party, and retained for intelligence until the attack should
develop. The Filipinos proved intelligent and friendly, and
valuable information concerning trails and enemy dispositions
was obtained. The regimental commander, accompanying a
reconnaissance patrol probed east through the forests from
San Miguel to reach the valley and examine the trails and his
objectives at close range, while the enemy continued his
garrison activities a few hundred yards away.

to permit uninterrupted advance of the armor.


Moderate opposition was encountered from a pillbox near
the Maylatan cross roads, and light caliber artillery fire
interdicted the causeway sporadically during the movement
of the motorized elements into the exposed valley. However,
our artillery which had remained silent throughout the initial
stages of the attack threw its reinforced volume into the cross
roads area and into cave positions in the hills to the north
that had been revealed by aerial photographs. Enemy mortar
fire which had been slowing our advance north toward Santa
Maria was silenced. By noon the mission of seizing Santa Maria
Valley had been accomplished with the loss of two killed
and thirteen wounded. By mid-afternoon the regiment had
consolidated armor, artillery, and attached mortars in the
Mabitac, Sinaloan area, astride the last north-south highway
on southern Luzon available to the enemy for the regrouping
of his rapidly diminishing strength.

Detailed, explicit plans were laid for the secret concentra


tion of the combat team, reinforced by medium artillery, anti
aircraft artillery, and tanks, in the forested eastern slopes of
Mount Sembrano. Supplies, medical facilities, water points,
bridge and demolition crews, support aircraft parties were all
incorporated into the program of swift night movement to
carefully selected areas with the minimum of confusion and
delay. All vehicles were to be controlled by Military Police,
and infiltrated to turnarounds where troops and supplies
would be assembled according to plan.
The concentration of the combat team was executed with
secrecy and skill the night of April 3-4. Assault battalions
passed through the 2d Battalion securing the pass, and moved
to forward assembly areas. Guides who had previously recon
noitered the routes were stationed every fifty yards along
the trail. Heavy rain during the night made the trails slip
pery, but sounds were deadened, and Jap observation was
restricted. The 103d Combat Team attacked at three in the
morning on April 4. As leading elements of the 1st Battalion
swept across the rice paddies into Mabitac, a Jap sentry ran
screaming up the main street. Japs tumbled from civilian
houses where they had been sleeping, and rushed in disorder
toward the hills north of town. Sinaloan fell similarly to the
3d Battalion, and by dawn, patrols had advanced north and
seized Famy against slight resistance, while anti-tank road
blocks were established north of the wrecked city.
According to plan, elements of the 2d Battalion with
tanks, M-7's, engineers and medical elements advanced east
on the highway through Macatunao, timing their debouch
ment into the bare, canalized causeway across the rice paddies
to coincide with the seizure of the cross road at Maylatang by
the 1st Battalion. Enemy bridge guards along the causeway
were able to destroy one small bridge before our leading
elements seized it, but engineers promptly initiated repairs

73

On April 5 and 6, motorized elements in battalion strength


supported by a battery of artillery and a platoon of tanks,
drove south along the east shore of Laguna de Bay, seizing
Pangil, Pakil and Paete against light resistance. At San Juan
enemy anti-tank defenses were encountered, and our advance
was delayed while infantry-tank assault parties reduced the
positions. Moderate resistance was encountered south of San
Juan and at Lumban, where enemy forces squeezed between
the 1st Cavalry Division driving east on Pagsanjan and the
43d Infantry Division driving south on Pagsanjan made
desperate efforts to hold the highway.
Resistance was brushed aside while strength was thrown
swiftly forward to seize the critical bridge over the deep
gorge of the Pagsanjan River at Lumban. The bridge was
seized initially by the 103 d Combat Team Commander's
reconnaissance party including the artillery battalion com
mander and their vehicle drivers. As enemy forces attempted
to close on the bridge from the south, the artillery commander
from the north end of the vital span directed his artillery into
a pattern of close-in defense fires until resistance at Lumban
was overcome, permitting leading rifle elements to move up.
Contact was established with the 1st Cavalry Division near
Pagsanjan thus consolidating the entire Sixth Arm}- southern
front, and forcing the enemy back into the hills to starve or
perish of disease.
During the period of April 1 to 6, the 172d Infantry con

Xaguna JDe Say

Bridges curoutc to Lumban repaired to support M-4 Tanks.

I03RD RCT SEIZES SANTA MARIA


VALLEY, ESTABLISHING CONTACT
WITH THE 1ST. CAV. DIV.AND
SEVERING THE LAST HIGHWAY
REMAINING TO THE JAPANESE ON
SOUTHERN LUZON 4"6 APRIL

1945

tinued to eliminate scattered opposition and stragglers in the


New Boso Boso-Hill 1200 area. The 169th Regimental Com
bat Team passed from control of the division to XI Corps
Reserve in its position vicinity Santa Maria, Bulacan.
Mouldering Mabitac was a scene of ruin.
Persistent civilian reports, coupled with increasing captured
document and Prisoner of War testimony gave rise to a
belief that a relatively strong enemy force had been by-passed
by the division in the volcanic crags south of Teresa. Initially
civilian tales of 5 00 Japs in a cave in Benchmark 27 were
disregarded as fantastic. Patrols searched the dense area with
negative results. Finally, a Prisoner of War volunteered to
guide our forces to the position where he stated his battalion,
consisting of 3 50 officers and men were hiding.
The position was attacked under the guidance of the
Japanese soldier during the period April 3 to 7 by the 3d
Battalion, 172d Infantry. Final investigation showed that the
reports had been substantially true; virtually the entire force
was destroyed in elaborate caves on Benchmark 27.
During the period April 7 to 15 the division probed deep
into enemy territory on all fronts in an effort to reestablish
contact with the major Jap strength. Air strikes in volume
were conducted against enemy positions in the Kapitalin Saw
mill area north of Famy on the road to Infanta. Patrols reached
north from Santa Maria to Corolan and Sampolak, while
infantry and guerrillas searched the north-south trails east of
Lumban to cut off and destroy enemy strength attempting to
march north to Infanta.
In the New Boso Boso area, the 172d Infantry advanced
patrols east to Benchmark 2 5, and north to the southern
slopes of Mount Mapatad. The 43d Cavalry Reconnaissance
Troop conducted combat patrols supported by artillery into

the Kalinawan Caves area. Continuous accurate artillery fire


in this area, closely followed by patrols killed the greater
part of the local defenders, and the rest abandoned the posi
tions, fleeing north. Search of the cave area revealed large,
un-inventoried stores of Class I and Class II supplies. Caves
were closed by demolitions and supplies were destroyed for
lack of carrier personnel to remove them.
Throughout the period patrols made continuous contacts
on all fronts, but in all cases, except at Hill 1200, the enemy's
only thought was survival. Enemy dead appeared to be in
creasingly ill-fed and ill-equipped. By April 15 few contacts
were being made by patrols, except on the Santa Innes Trail
near Hill 12 00 and at the Kapitalin Sawmill on the Infanta
Trail.
On April 15 the 172d Infantry was ordered to conduct a
reconnaissance in battalion strength north of Hill 1200 into
Mount Mapatad, turning east, and searching out and destroy
ing the enemy on the Santa Ines Trail. The 1st Battalion,
172d Infantry, attacked north from Hill 1200 on April
16, crossing the Payna River against determined machine gun
and mortar opposition to secure positions in the foothills
south of Mount Mapatad. Two 75-mm field pieces and two
prime movers were captured in good condition in the Payna

74

River bed when the enemy was attempting to move them


east along his uncertain route to Santa Ines.
On April 17, the 103d Infantry, having completed the
mopping up of the Santa Maria Valley attacked the only
remaining Jap strength in the area. The 2d Battalion advanced
northeast from Famy on the Infanta Road with the mission of
seizing the high ground commanding Kapitalin Sawmill.
Both regiments advanced in their widely separated actions
on April 18, with elements of the 172d Infantry knocking
out four heavy machine guns in its advance on Mount Mapa
tad, while elements of the 103d Infantry drove through an
enemy road block 3000 yards north of Famy, killing thirtyfive Japs.
Action continued to be limited to the two zones, as the
103d Infantry seized the key terrain features dominating
Kapitalin Sawmill on April 20. Division boundaries were
changed on the 21st as elements of the 1st Cavalry Division
completed relief of the 103d Regimental Combat Team in
the Santa Maria Valley, resuming the attack north toward
Infanta. The 103d Regimental Combat Team reassembled in
the Teresa-Pantay area, permitting the 172d Infantry to
shorten its front and bring more force to bear in the still
active Hill 1200-Mount Mapatad area.
Although the area north of Hill 1200 was outside the
division boundary, it was considered necessary to maintain
the initiative against this Jap position. Captured documents
increasingly referred to a large scale counter-offensive to be
launched by the Japs from the Santa Ines Trail sometime
in late April or early May. Little credence was given to these
Jap morale builders normally, but certain offensive indica
tions of increased reconnaissance and assembly of forces
behind the lines gave credence to the order which had been
published by Lt. Gen. Yoroyama, commanding the Fortyfirst Army Corps, Southern Force of the Shimbu Line.
To counter the possible offensive, the 172d Infantry in
creased the power of its reconnaissance in force on Mount
Mapatad during the period of April 22 to 29. The 3d Bat
talion, 172d Infantry, driving abreast of the 1st Battalion,
intercepted and destroyed numerous small columns of well
equipped Jap forces assembling in the thickly wooded ravines
north of the Santa Ines Trail. Intensified air and artillery
bombardment on assembly areas, and interdiction of routes
at night proved extremely effective. The counter-attack did
not materialize, except for increased artillery and mortar
fire supporting local small scale night attacks, and our forces
continued to clear pockets of resistance throughout the area.

75

Meanwhile, long range patrols by the 103d Infantry and


the 43d Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop into the San AndresSampolak areas continued to make strong contacts. Air
bombardment and long range artillery fire effectively sup
ported these patrol actions. However, no enemy offensive
indication was discernible in these sectors.
On April 3 0, the 172d Infantry positions astride the head
of the Boso Boso River Valley northwest of Hill 1200 were
attacked in substantial strength, preceded by artillery and
mortar preparations. The attack was repulsed, and the enemy
appeared to have completed his "counter-offensive."
The 43cl Infantry Division received a new mission on April
3 0, and relief of the 172d Infantry was initiated by the 3 8th
Infantry Division on May 1. The division was ordered to move
to the Santa Maria, Bulucan area, fifty miles to the north,
prepared to attack and seize Ipo Dam. Mutual relief was
effected between the division and the 112th Cavalry Regi
mental Combat Team. During the period of May 2 to May 6,
the division reassembled in the Teresa-Antipolo area as ele
ments were relieved by the 3 8th Infantry Division and the
112th Cavalry Regimental Combat Team and movement to
the north was initiated.
During the action in the hills cast of Manila, which had
been conducted over the period of March 13 to May 1, the
43d Infantry Division, less the 169th Regimental Combat
Team, had effectively crushed the left of the Shimbu Line.
Elements of the division had advanced sixty miles from Antipolo to Pagsnajan, severing Luzon, and destroying the once
formidable enemy bastion north of Laguna de Bay. Swift
successive envelopment of his prepared positions had so dis
organized and confused the Jap that his only recourse was to
take to the hills. By concentrating the division's massed
strength at vital points, and shifting that strength .secretly
and swiftlv the two combat teams were able to conduct of
fensive ? tion on a division front of over fifty miles, while
patrols controlled the intervening expanses of mountain.
Total Japs counted dead in the operation were 2 844 while
64 were taken prisoner. Forty-two field pieces were captured
along with hundreds of tons of ammunition. Over three
hundred Japanese vehicles were seized, and military stores
of all types were captured in abundance.
The division suffered 130 killed, and 443 wounded. Neg
ligible damage was suffered in materiel. In the words of
the Army Commander, "The left wing of the Shimbu Line
has been crushed."

CHAPTER XVII

On April 29, 1945, as the 43d Infantry Division was com


pleting the mopping up of the New Boso Boso-Laguna de
Bay area, orders were received to move the division to the
Santa Maria, Bulucan area relieving containing forces in
the sector, and seize Ipo Dam, initiating the attack on May 7.
The 112th Cavalry Combat Team had been disposed gen
erally along the line Hot Corner-San Jose-Norzagaray, con
taining the enemy in the Ipo Dam area for two months. The
169th Regimental Combat had been attached to the 112th
Cavalry Regimental Combat Team, and had participated in
costly reconnaissance in force against the well organized
defenses north and south through Bigti.
Efforts to drive in enemy outposts had enjoyed little suc
cess. The aggressiveness and accuracy of enemy artillery in
this area was extraordinary. Substantial anti-aircraft defenses
precluded the use of artillery liaison planes to search out
enemy guns. Jap counter battery technique was skillful
and forceful. Any unusual activity by infantry or other
elements west of Bigti brought immediate reaction from
enemy artillery.
Local counter-attacks and patrol actions against our out
posts were well organized and persistent. Patrols attempting
to penetrate the enemy line north and south of Bigti were
fruitless and costly. Although intense air and artillery bom
bardment were conducted for over thirty days against the
defenses surrounding Ipo, all efforts to break his defenses
had failed.
Manila depended upon Ipo Dam for thirty percent of its
water supply. Underground conduits conveyed the water from
Ipo to Novaliches Reservoir, and the enemy had closed the
gate;; at the dam. The water supply at Manila grew critically
short. The Commander in Chief of the Southwest Pacific
directed that Ipo Dam be seized without delay, and that
every effort be made to secure the facilities intact.
Reconnaissance of the approaches to Ipo Dam revealed that
but one logical route led to the Dam, and that was the
Metropolitan Road, a two-lane hard surface highway twist
ing through the steep Palisades at Bigti, and then running
east through towering hills to Ipo. The enemy had fortified
this approach thoroughly. The cliffs at Bigti were organized
into a veritable fortress of caves, natural underground supply
vaults, command posts and hospitals. Approximately a regi
ment of infantry held the Bigti Cliffs, while disposed in depth
along the Metropolitan Road, other defending forces stood
ready to deny this route to our advance.
View of Ipo Da in

On the north the Angat River gorge was a formidable bar


rier to any attempt to flank the Bigti positions. On the south
the extremely severe terrain was sufficient obstacle in itself
to preclude its likelihood as a route of approach to the dam.
To cross such terrain would be slow and exhausting. Roads
would have to be built through steep hills. The entire area
was dominated by a high range of hills to the east from
which artillery fire could be directed. And with the rainy
season approaching rapidly, it was realized that to risk a
major force over bull-dozed roads in this country was a
serious gamble.
However, immediate, decisive action was required. Every
effort had to be made to avoid a stalemate. Whatever the
course of action it had to be decisive, swift and in great
momentum, taking losses as necessary. The decision was
made to employ one regiment to create a major diversion
against Bigti where the Jap expected us. The main effort of the
division would be made wide to the south through the diffi
cult terrain, and then north to the dam. Key terrain features
flanking the dam were to be seized behind the enemy's main
strength engaged at Bigti. Guerrilla forces in regimental
strength were to attack north of the Angat River, exploiting
any advantages gained, but were depended upon principally
as a feint.
Forward assembly areas were selected by the infantry and
artillery elements, avoiding any demonstration of increased
activity. Commencing the night of May 3, the division moved
to its forward assembly areas, relieving the 112th Cavalry Reg
imental Combat Team, and taking all precautions to preserve
the element of surprise.
Infantry areas were occupied in defiladed, wooded positions,
and activity was held to the minimum. Bulldozers worked at
night preparing artillery positions, and the pieces were moved
in under cover of darkness.
Identical artillery positions were occupied by one relieving
battalion, so that no indication of change would be noted.
Only this battalion in addition to Corps artillery fired during
the period prior to the attack. During periods when heavy
motor columns or tanks were operating in forward areas,
artillery volume was increased to prevent detection of the
sound of motors. All civilians were assembled in rear areas,
and retained there until the attack should be initiated.
By the night of May 5 all combat elements of the 43d
Infantry Division had been concentrated for the attack. The
following attachments had been furnished to support the
operation:
Marking's Fil-American Yay Regiment (Guerrillas)
754th Tank Battalion (less Companies A & C)
Company A, 82d Chemical Mortar Battalion
23 8th Chemical Service Platoon
Battery D, 198th AAA AW Bn
Batteries A & C (less Det.), 227th AAA S/L Battalion
161st AAA Gun Battalion (less Batteries A & D)
The following Corps artillery elements were placed under
operational control of the Division Commander, reinforcing
Division Artillery fire:
517th Field Artillery Battalion (15 5-mm guns)
Battery C, 46 5th Field Artillery Battalion ( 8 " Howitzers)

77

im

Ipo Dam after it was seized by 103d Inf. Critical


features,
hills 860 and 815, upper right were strongly defended
by
the Japs.

80th Field Artillery Battalion (166-mm Howitzers)


The division attacked the night of May 6, with regiments
of the main effort crossing the line of departure abreast at
ten o'clock. A fair moon after midnight assisted the advance
and the 103d Infantry on the division right had gained 5000
yards by daybreak. The 172d Infantry in the center was
forced to separate its assault battalions to avoid being canalized
in the Kay Banban Valley. The right battalion crossed into
the sector of the 103d Infantry as it advanced, and the left
battalion drove directly north from Hot Corner toward Fork
Ridge.
As the 172d Infantry and the 103d Infantry crossed the
line of departure they passed through outposts of the 169th
Infantry which had been performing the containing mission.
These outposts were reassembled early May 7, and the 169th
Infantry advanced combat patrols in company strength against
the fortifications north and south of Bigti.
By noon May 7 elements of the right battalion, 103d In
fantry, had seized positions on Hill 1400, destroying light
resistance, and were continuing north along the critical and
dominating ridge line to occupy it completely before it could
be reinforced. By nightfall our forces had overcome heavy
resistance at the north end of Hill 1410, and other elements
had passed on to seize Hill 1200, thus organizing the key
features commanding the main route of advance of the
division, and denying to the enemy the excellent observa
tion afforded by the ridges.
Throughout May 7, the balance of the 103d Infantry ad
vanced steadily against scattered resistance, overrunning enemy
outposts, and securing key terrain features along the route.
Close behind, the 118th Engineer Battalion, in full strength,
broke roads in support of each regiment, cutting hills apart
and bridging gorges in increasingly severe terrain. Gains in
all sectors averaged 8 000 yards for the day. The full weight
of the 43d Division Artillery, powerfully reinforced, was

Guerrillas make final plans before the jump-off against

Ipo Dam.

Col. Marcus Villa Augustine assembles officers of his First


Guerrilla Battalion at Norzagara prior to attack.

thrown against the aerial photo targets in the path of the


advancing infantry. Dive bombers on air alert throughout
the day directed their main effort to the destruction of enemy
anti-aircraft positions, so as to permit the employment of
artillery liaison planes.
The guerrillas of Marking's Regiment on the north ad
vanced 9000 yards over extremely difficult terrain, en
countering numerous enemy patrols, and driving in outposts.
During the period May 8 to 10, the 103d Infantry and
the 172d Infantry continued to drive with all possible speed
toward their objectives. Strong positions on Hill 80S and
Mount Tacbihan were captured, and, as leading elements swept
on, bending all efforts to overcome the monstrous obstacle
of terrain, and reach their objectives before the enemy should
detect the main effort. The 169th Infantry aggressively probed
into the Bigti positions, seizing a piece of ground, and then
releasing it, only to appear in a new position a few hours later.
Unquestionably, the enemy concentrated his main effort on
holding the 169th Infantry, as had been hoped. On the north,
Marking's guerrillas seized Mount Kabuyao on May 9, de
stroying an enemy artillery observation strongpoint, and con
tinued on toward the hills north of Ipo.
The 3d Battalion, 103d Infantry, which had seized the
ridges in the division right flank mopped up Hill 1410, de
stroying an elaborate artillery command post, and killing 75
Japs at the position. Repeated counter-attacks sought to drive
our forces from Hills 1400 and 1410, but all were repulsed.
Enemy artillery during the period grew increasingly active.
Whereas the complex cave positions had originally been de
signed to repel an attack from the west, the enemy redis
posed some artillery elements in new cave positions to engage
our forces to the south of Ipo. Difficulty in detecting enemy
artillery positions prevented immediate silencing of the pieces,
however, continued dive bomber attacks had sufficiently
neutralized enemy anti-aircraft positions to permit our cub
planes to fly safely over the greater part of the target area.
As enemy guns were detected, division or corps artillery con
centrations were massed on the target with great success.
Aircraft supporting the attack during the period averaged
approximately 100 planes a day, most of which were used
for close support of leading infantry battalions. Throughout
the operation, searchlights of the 227th AAA Searchlight
Battalion furnished battlefield illumination. This new tech-

nique proved to be of great value in restricting enemy night


movement and facilitating evacuation of our casualties.
By May 11, major elements of the division had encountered
the enemy main line of resistance. The 3d Battalion, 172d In
fantry, was unable to advance in the Fork Ridge area, after
suffering heavy casualties. The guerrillas north of Ipo were
repulsed three times with heavy casualties in their effort to
take Four Cornered Hill. In other sectors advances were
limited to 5 00 to 600 yards against machine guns, heavy mor
tars, and extremely accurate artillery, ranging in caliber
from 75-mm to 150-mm.
On May 12, following massing of artillery fires, the 1st
Battalion, 103d Infantry, attacked and seized Hill 815. The
2d Battalion, 103d Infantry, was committed from division
reserve, and swept east from Hill 815, across the Ipo River,
and north toward the dam, overrunning an enemy bivouac
and cutting the enemy's major line of communication to his
forces to the south.
Following an intense artillery and air attack, elements of
the 172d Infantry were unable to gain ground on Fork Ridge;
heavy casualties weakened this battalion daily as it attempted
to maneuver against the heavily held hills south of Metro
politan Road.
Supported by air and artillery the guerrillas again attacked
Four Cornered Hill on May 12, this time seizing the hill and
denying to the enemy this critical feature to which it might
have withdrawn.
The increased opposition being encountered by our envelop
ing forces made it necessary to take the pressure off this point
by increasing the demonstration of the 169th Infantry. Two
rifle companies advanced boldly on San Mateo, north of
Bigti, and were immediately engaged by 15 0-mm artillery in
great volume. Ground reaction followed immediately, but
was repulsed by our mortars.
Other elements of the 169th Infantry skirting the cliffs
at Bigti penetrated the enemy's defenses and drew intense
medium artillery fire from the hill caves north of the Metro
politan Road. These measures, however, accomplished their
purpose, and while the Jap desperately counter-attacked the
169th Infantry in piecemeal blows, the 103d Infantry and the
172d Infantry continued to make progress on May 12 against
the stubborn defenses south of Ipo.
Enemy artillery, despite the daring efforts of cub planes

78

increased its volume against our forces driving north on Hill


815 and 805. During the night of May 12-13, the enemy
attacked the 2d Battalion, 172 Infantry, on Hill 815, preced
ing the attack by approximately 5 00 rounds of artillery. The
attack was launched from the west, and was in battalion
strength. One company of the 2d Battalion, 172d Infantry,
suffered only one killed in action, and counted 181 dead Japs
around its position on Hill 815 at daybreak. The attack was
repulsed, but it was apparent that the enemy had finally de
tected our main effort, and would doubtless turn his major
forces to engage it. One more range of hills had to be seized
immediately before they could be occupied in strength. If Hill
860, overlooking Ipo Dam and Red Bank, dominating the
Metropolitan Road could be secured, any Jap attempt to
dislodge us would be futile.
Dawn broke on a gray sky on May 13. By seven o'clock
sheets of rain were drowning the landscape. The critical
engineer roads which had been pushed behind the 103d Infan
try and the 172d Infantry as far as Hill 80 5 became impassable
mud holes. Vehicles loaded with ammunition, rations, and
medical supplies sprawled hub deep along the road. The walk
ing casualties started to the rear, knowing the ambulances
would not come; the non-walking casualties waited patiently
where they lay knowing some provision would be made to
evacuate them.
Artillery, tanks, and 4.2 mortars had been displaced for
ward close behind the infantry. These elements were im
mobilized, and ammunition expenditure had to be critically
curtailed until the road should open.
Over 1000 Filipino carriers had been secured, anticipating
this emergency, and they rendered excellent service. But the
efforts of the carriers were feeble indeed in carrying the
materials of war to two combat teams over terrain that re
quired a three-day march. Efforts to secure additional carriers
were fruitless, as they had been drawn to less hazardous tasks
in Manila. Guerrillas, service troops and air drops were thrown
into the effort of supply to keep the assault battalions moving.
Evacuation was the most critical deficiency. Twenty hours
were required to carry wounded from battalion positions to
the nearest surgical installations. On May 14 a Portable
Surgical Hospital was dragged by men and tractors as far
forward as it could go before becoming completely mired.
A ten hour carry was still necessary to move patients to this
installation.
As the rain continued to fall steadily May 14, the only
cheering information was garbled radio report from our field
artillery that the guerrillas had seized Hill 803, dominating
Ipo Dam from the north.
The commanding general had delayed the actual commit
ment of the 169th Infantry except for strong patrol action,
awaiting the acute instant when the Jap defenders at Bigti
should pull back to face the 103d Infantry and the 172d
Infantry in the hills south of the dam. It appeared that the
time for committing the 169th Infantry was approaching.
The regiment was ordered to assemble one battalion, and be
prepared on one hour alert to seize the Palisades at Bigti,
and employing tanks, pass through on the Metropolitan Road
and drive east on Ipo Dam. The regiment initiated detailed

79

The Metropolitan Road to Ipo Dam after it is sic zed


by 172d Infantry.

reconnaissance of routes by all officers concerned, so as to


be prepared to advance under cover of darkness to take the
long bitterly contested cliffs. Tanks and engineers were
assembled in defilade near the Santa Maria bridge south of
Bigti, prepared to strike north and open the hard surface road,
now so critically needed.
While maximum effort was continued with all available
equipment, little progress was made in opening the supply
road behind the main effort. Tractors towing one ton trailers
evacuated the wounded, but even they frequently could not
negotiate the road. The opening of the Metropolitan Road
had become imperative. Supply drops from C-47's were com
pletely successful, and in volume, but this expedient did not
provide for the evacuation of casualties.
Sloshing through rain and up slippery hillsides, leading
elements of the 103d Infantry seized footholds on the southern
shoulder of Hill 860, vital feature to the defense of Ipo Dam.
Other elements of the regiment drove north on the east side
of the Ipo River, and from a vantage point 1000 yards from
the dam reported the vital objective still intact.
All elements in this sector received intense and continuous
artillery and mortar fire throughout the night of May
14-15, suspended only as counter attacks were thrown in
company' strength against their positions. Three Banzai charges
spent themselves against the machine guns of the 1st Bat
talion, 103d Infantry. The guerrillas on Hill 8 03 repulsed
two counter-attacks during the night May 14-15, but a
fanatical counter-attack the morning of May 15 drove them
from one position on Hill 803 as hand to hand and bayonet
fighting broke out on the hillside.
On May 15 detailed plans were laid out for an all-out
coordinated attack on Mayr 17, to seize the final objectives
following a maximum Napalm strike at the remaining stub
born defenses. The 169th Infantry was to advance a rein
forced battalion to a forward assembly area south of Bigti
under cover of darkness the night of May 16-17. Maximum
Napalm efforts were to be coordinated for three successive
days on targets successively deeper in the enemy's defenses
along the Metropolitan Road and to the north.
Throughout the day advances against stubborn resistance
gained up to 700 yards south of Hill 800. Enemy artillery,
although greatly reduced in strength by our counter-battery
fire, continued to engage our forces on Hill 815, firing 150

rounds of medium caliber at the 2d Battalion, 172d Infantry,


during the night of May 15-16.
At ten thirty the following morning 18 5 fighter bombers
struck the Palisades area and Osboy Ridge with 5 0,470
gallons of Napalm. The horrifying effect of this tremendous
assault by fire was as inspiring to tired infantry soldiers as it
was demoralizing to the Jap defenders. Battalions were re
grouped during the day preparatory to the coordinated attack
scheduled for May 17. Patrols probed east into the mountains
from Hill 1410 to search out and destroy an enemy mountain
artillery battery which had been enfilading our positions on
Hill 815 and interdicting supply roads. The patrol encount
ered a heavily defended strong point north of Mount Balabac
and was unable to reduce it. Division artillery massed its
fires on the position. Patrols were unable to find the remains
of the battery. No further resistance was encountered in the
area. Some progress was made by the 1st Battalion, 172d
Infantry, against Fork Ridge and Osboy Ridge. Supplies were
massed in forward areas by air drop and carrier. Communica
tions were improved, and the division gathered its strength for
the final assault. The 3d Battalion, 169th Infantry, equipped
with bamboo scaling ladders, moved quietly to an assembly
area in the Santa Maria River bed 2 5 00 yards south of Bigti
under cover of darkness.
Starting at 10:30 a. m., 220 fighter bombers spread
62,660 gallons of Napalm along the Metropolitan Road de
fenses while the 169th Infantry, under cover of this tre
mendous screen, struck north along the tops of the formid
able cliffs and seized the Bigti Palisades with light casualties.
Tanks and engineers plunged north to the Bigti Pass only
to find it blocked by tremendous boulders blasted from the
cliff walls by our air strikes. Engineers, covered by the in
fantry scouring the cliff caves, set about blowing the pass
open for the early exploitation of the vital highway.
Simultaneously, under cover of the heavy air effort, the
2d Battalion, 172d Infantry, jumped northwest from Hill 815
and quickly seized Red Bank, dominating the Metropolitan
Road west of Hill 8 60. Red Bank was seized as the disor
ganized enemy in the Fork Ridge area attempted to withdraw
through our lines in daylight, not knowing we had taken
the hill. This battalion gained 1000 additional yards against
scattered resistance as it scoured the Metropolitan Road, and
seized a commanding hill north of Osboy Ridge.
Equally decisive advances were made by the 103d Infan
try. The 1st Battalion seized the crest of Hill 860, while
the 2d Battalion, securing the junction of the Angat-Ipo
rivers and blocking the evacuation route to the south, at
tacked west, assisting the 1st Battalion in its reduction of
pillboxes on Hill 8 60.
Strength was advanced to the south end of Ipo Dam with
its important hydraulic facilities, while guerrillas from
Marking's regiment fought through scattered resistance down
the slope from Hill 803 to secure the north end of the dam.
All installations were secured intact; the enemy had prepared
the gate for demolition with hundreds of pounds of TNT, but
he delayed too long in detonating his charges.
The only serious resistance still remained on the division
front was being gradually eliminated at Osboy Ridge by

DIVERSIONARY
ATTACK 6-15MAY

DIV. CONCENTRATED
IN DEFILADE, MOVING
UNDER COVER OF
DARKNESS 3-6 MAY

4SRD DIV. SEIZES IPO DAM


IN WIDE ENVELOPMENT OF
THE ENEMY'S MAIN DEFENSES

artillery supported assault parties.


Early May 18, the 2d Battalion, 169th Infantry, relieved
the 3d Battalion at the Palisades. The 3d Battalion drove
northeast along the Metropolitan Road and contacted the
172d Infantry north of Osboy Ridge, thus isolating this
pocket. Elements drove 1000 yards north of the Metropolitan
Road and by nightfall had seized two key hill features insur
ing the security of the Metropolitan Road for its entire length.
Ambulances, supplies and troops poured through the pass at
Bigti as soon as the road was secure. By dark, May 18, com
plete supply and evacuation had been returned to the once
nearly isolated battalions in the Hill 860 area. Again the
Fifth Air Forces threw 251 aircraft with nearly 68,000 gal
lons of Napalm at the disorganized enemy north of the
Metropolitan Road. For the first time in two months not one
round of artillery fire was received by our forces. Our artil
lery hammered at scattered, disorganized parties of Japs
seeking shelters in ravines, and searching for routes of escape
from the pincers.
On May 19 all enemy resistance in the Ipo area had ceased.
The remnants of the Jap garrison had been driven north of
the Angat River or east of the Ipo River. The mopping up of

Under the alert eyes of their American captors, members of


the 1st Battalion, 17 2d Infantry, these Jap prisoners preferred
capture at Ipo Dam, to hari-kari.

m-'

Col. George E. Bush commanding

172nd combat

team

directs

mopping up operations North of the Metropolitan Road, while


Gen. Walter Krueger, Gen. Leonard F. Wing, and Col. Sidney
P. Maria ml
.

_ _ . . " ' " '

' .

<__*#.

,'tJB
_,&:__:

Gen. Walter Krueger congratulates Maj. Gen. Leonard F.


Wing, center, commanding 43n/ Div. for the ''skillful"
capture of Ipo Dam, background. Maj. Gen. Charles
P. Hall and British observer look on.
caves contintied, as patrols probed north and east to regain
contact with enemy strength. Thirty-four field pieces and
109 vehicles, most of them unserviceable, were captured.
Several hundred tons of ammunition and rations were seized,
along with military impedimenta of all types.
On May 19 all enemy resistance in the Ipo area had ceased.
The remnants of the Jap garrison had been driven north of
the Angat River or east of the Ipo River. The mopping up
caves continued, as patrols probed north and east to regain
contact with enemy strength. Thirty-four field pieces and
109 vehicles, most of them unserviceable, were captured.
Several hundred tons of ammunition and rations were seized,
along with military impedimenta of all types.
During the period May 2 0 to June 2 mopping up con
tinued in the countless caves and ravines that had been the
Ipo defenses. After organized resistance ceased May 19, over
Japanese Prisoners of War, captured by troops of the 10hi
Infantry, near the Ipo Dam on Luzon, eat a meal of American
"C" rations, provided them by generous GI's. Guarding the
faps are, left to right: T/l Kenneth S. Burk, Gibsonia, Pa.;
Pit. August Bellino, the Bronx, New York; PFC Camile
Picard, Lewistou, Maine; PFC Tom Dvorak, Chicago, III.;
and PFC Paul Frechette, Biddeford, Maine.

observe.

75 0 Japs were killed in mopping up action. Patrols north


of the Angat River made virtually no contacts as they
searched out 10,000 yards into the hills. East of the Ipo
River mouth, however, enemy forces held successive strongpoints along the wooded ravines flanking the Angat River.
Contact was maintained with these Japs, and combat patrols,
preceded by heavy artillery and air bombardment successively
destroyed them. During the period 4JO Japs were counted
dead east of the Ipo River mouth.
Infantry elements were regrouped, permitting each regi
ment to assemble one battalion in reserve for rest and re
habilitation. Throughout this operation the 43d Infantry
Division had been charged with the zone extending sixty miles
north of Ipo Dam to Cabanatuan, boundary between XI Corps
and I Corps. While the major impetus had been at Ipo, only
minor partol elements could be spared to the north, since the
area was virtually free of Japs. However, as enemy stragglers
were driven from the Ipo area and the mountains south of
Ipo, numerous bands of stragglers sought the mountain trails.
Strcng combat patrols, operating east from Sibul Springs,
Papaya and Cabu, severed the mountain trails, ambushed the
beaten Jap stragglers and completed the annihiliation of the
enemy in the division zone of action.
Having completed its mission, and being engaged only
with scattered retreating remnants, 43d Infantry Division
was ordered on June 2 to extend to the south, relieving ele
ments of the 3 8th Infantry Division attempting to seize
Mount Oro, Mount Ayaas and Mount Hapcnang Banoy. The
169th Regimental Combat Team, reinforced by Company C,
S2d Chemical Mortar Battalion, and elements of the 192d
Field Artillery Battalion, was given the mission, and the
regiment initiated relief of elements of the 3 8th Infantry
Division on June 3, completing the relief on June 5. The regi
ment attacked Mount Ayaas the following day, by a wide
encirclement, seizing footholds on the mountain against
moderate resistance. Other elements attacked Mount Oro,
reportedly heavily defended strongpoint. Initial advances
were repulsed by mortar and machine gun fire.

On June 7, the 1st Battalion, 169th Infantry, seized and


secured Mount Haponang Banoy and Mounty Ayaas, over
running three artillery pieces, and destroying several machine
guns. Elements of the 2d Battalion continued to maneuver
against stubborn defenses on Mount Oro.
On June 8, the division and corps artillery laid a fifteen
minute, 1000-rcund preparation on Mount Oro, and as the
last round fell, Company E, 169th Infantry, drove up the
slopes, overrunning the stunned enemy before he could re
cover from the heavy shelling. Jap dead totaled 131, while
our losses were two killed and ten wounded.
With the seizure of Mount Oro, all missions in the zone of
action of the division had been accomplished. By June 12,
patrols were unable to find the enemy within 10,000 yards of
Ipo Dam.
In this operation, again speed and maneuver had beaten
the enemy in his seemingly impregnable cave defenses.
The critically needed water supply was restored to Manila,
and the last stronghold of the Shimbu Line had been destroyed.
The 172d Infantry was moved north to the Sibul SpringsLaur area to complete the annihilation of the stragglers re
maining in the mountains east of Highway 5. One battalion
was disposed along the east-west highway between Bongabon
and Laur, while combat patrols probed east into the moun
tains destroying numerous bands of ill-fed and ill-equipped
Japs. During the period June 12 to 2 5, gradually decreasing
contacts were made, until by June 2 5, only ten or fifteen
Japs a day were being killed or captured over the seventy mile
division front. Total enemy counted dead during the opera
tion was 4062. Our losses were 172 killed, and 708 wounded.
Orders were received that commencing June 26, the di
vision would move to rainy season camp in the vicinity of
Cabanatuan. Effective July 1, the division was relieved from
all combat responsibility on Luzon, being relieved by the
3 8th Division. The 43d Division had completed its last mis
sion on Luzon. It turned to the formidable task of preparing
for future operations.
The 118th Engineer Battalion erected a Memorial on the
high ground just off the Metropolitan Road overlooking Ipo
Dam, on which is recorded the four major operations of the
43d Division in the Luzon Campaign: Lingayen-Stotsenburg
Antipolo-Ipo Dam.
With the final victory at Ipo, the 43d Division could look
back upon its accomplishments in the Luzon campaign with
pride. Throughout the campaign, since the landing on January
9, the division had been in continual offensive combat. The
men of the 43d had pounded the enemy into submission
for a total of one hundred and seventy-five days.

The following chart shows a comparison between our


losses and the losses of the enemy:
ACTION

ENEMY

Killed in
Action
Lingayen
7831
Stotsenburg 1729
Antipolo
2 844
Ipo Dam
4062

Prisoners
44
32
64
368

FRIENDLY
Killed
593
70
130
172

Wounded Missing
1644
6
193
0
443
1
708
4

Totals 16,466
508
965
2988
11
During the fighting on Luzon, a member of Company G,
169th Infantry, Sergeant Robert E. Laws of Altoona, Penn
sylvania, was awarded the Nation's highest honor to its fight
ing men, The Congressional Medal of Honor.
His citation for the Medal of Honor reads:
"Staff Sergeant Robert E. Laws led the assault squad when
Company G, 169th Infantry, attacked enemy hill positions
in Pangasinan Province, Luzon, Philippine Island, January 12,
1945. The enemy force, estimated to be a reinforced infantry
company, was well supplied with machine guns, ammunition,
grenades, and blocks of TNT, and could be attacked only
across a narrow ridge seventy yards long.
"At the end of this ridge an enemy pillbox and rifle
position were set in rising ground. Covered by his squad.
Sergeant Laws transversed the hogback through vicious enemy
fire until close to the pillbox, where he hurled grenades at
the fortification. Enemy grenades wounded him, but he per
sisted in his assault until one of his missies found its mark
and knocked out the pillbox.
"With more grenades, passed to him by members of his
squad who had joined him, he led the attack on the entrenched
riflemen. In the advance up the hill, he suffered additional
wounds in both arms and legs, about the body, and in the
head, as grenades and T N T charges exploded near him. Three
Japs rushed him with fixed bayonets, and he emptied the mag
azine of his machine pistol at them, killing two. He closed in
hand-to-hand combat with the third, seizing the Jap's rifle
as he met the onslaught. The two fell to the ground and rolled
some fifty or sixty feet down a bank. When the dust cleared
the Jap lay dead, and the valiant American was climbing up
the hill with a large gash across the head.
"He was given first aid and evacuated from the area while
his squad completed the destruction of the enemy position.
Sergeant Laws' heroic actions provided great inspiration to
his comrades, and his courageous determination, in the face
of formidable odds and while suffering from multiple
wounds, enabled them to secure an important objective
with minimum casualties."

82

CHAPTER XVIII

The 43d Division moved for the rainy season'' to a camp


established near Cabanatuan. The camp was named "Camp
LaCroix," in honor of the late Sergeant Lawrence LaCroix
of the 43d Signal Company, one of the first to be killed in
the Luzon landings. The comparative comfort of Camp LaCroix was welcome, indeed, to the battle-weary men who
had helped take Luzon. Every effort was made to provide
as much recreation as possible for the members of the division.
One of the attractions was a large recreation center located
in an old airplane hanger. The frame of the hanger was walled
with sawali and roofed with grass to make the building the
largest "grass shack" in the world. The Red Cross, Division
Special Service, and the Information and Education sections
were housed here to carry out their work of providing relaxa
tion. The stage was amply large for United Service Organiza
tion shows to be staged. The broadway hit show "Oklahoma"
played to an appreciative audience here. The concrete floor,
w. ich was one hundred thirty by one hundred eighty feet
in size, provided two basketball courts and the concrete apron
of the building was used as a tennis court. Four thousand
soldiers could be seated for an evening's entertainment.
The pu-icd spent at Camp LaCroix provided the opportunity
to reorganize as well as to rest and relax. One Infantry Bat
talion at a time outposted the Dingalen Bay area on the east
coast of Luzon. Occasionally, a Jap straggler would be cap
tured while trying to find food.
Per those who had lost their lives in the Central Luzon
operations, a memorial service was held at Manila Cementery
on June 24. General Kreuger spoke to the assembly. The words
the General spoke fittingly pay tribute to all of the war-dead
of the 43d Division:
"Members of the 43d Division: On February 24, we as
semble at Santa Barbara, in a memorial service to honor the
gallant dead of the 43d Division. You had just completed
securing the vital Pozorubbio-Rosario-Damortis area. That
was a most difficult task, but, thanks to your determination,
skill, and valor, the enemy in that area was crushed and the
left wing of the Army secured.
"Since that time, you have continued to fight bravely and
skillfully; first in the hills of Fort Stotsenburg, then on the
Antipolo front, and finally in the capture of Ipo Dam, under

83

the able leadership of your division commander, General


Wing, you have routed the enemy wherever you have met
him, brought victory to your arms, and glory to your organiza
tion. You may be justly proud of the record you have made.
"Again, however, you have lost many brave comrades.
The white crosses, and the,Stars of David in this cemetery
are mute evidence of the supreme sacrifice those comrades
made. You feel their passing as a distinct personal loss. You
remember them as your friends and close associates, and you
recall vividly the things you did together and for each other.
But, don't forget the rest of us, and the people at home, will
remember the supreme devotion of these heroes who gave their
all. Yes, those who lie beneath this ground will be remembered
as leng as men love freedom and human liberty; as long as
men love justice and abhor wrong; as long as men would
rather die than submit to oppression; as Jong as men will
fight for the right to lead decent, happy lives without peril
and fear. The example of your heroic dead should imbue us
with renewed devotion and grim determination to keep on
lighting for the things for which they died, until, with God's
help, we have wen final, decisive victory."
The 43d Division had been selected to make another assault
landing, and this time it was to be against the soil of Japan,
an operation that was to be the pay-off in more ways than
cne. Plans were being drawn up when suddenly the big news
came. As many members of the division were attending the
movies on the night of August 7, the programs were in
terrupted to announce that the Japanese Government had ex
pressed a desire to accept the terms of the Potsdam Con
ference. The announcement came upon the heels of several
days of air and naval bombardment by American forces
against the Japanese home islands and the use of the atomic
bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Big
and powerful Russia had also declared war on Japan. While
all were deeply stirred by the possibility of an armistice,
enthusiasm was conservatively expressed. All of the peoples
cf this earth were similarly affected by the delay of the final
surrender which came several days later. Chief topic of
conversation was the atomic bomb and the possibility of
Japan's surrendering. When the President announced the sur
render, supreme gratitude welled up in the hearts of these

fighting men of the 43d. At last the war was about over, and
home was in sight!
A plan for an unopposed landing in the Japanese home
islands was made. The division had traveled great distances
since its arrival in New Zealand on the twenty-second of
October in 1942. The division had been the first to move in
offensive action north of Guadalcanal in the days when the
Pacific war was being waged "on a shoe-string" and when
amphibious operations were things that military men blue
printed. It had gone into the Southwest Pacific Theater to
dispel an enemy threat in New Guinea. It played a vital part
in the liberation of the Philippines. The division felt that it
should certainly tread on the home grounds of the conquered.
History must record that
with unexpected suddenness.
had to be expedited rapidly,
tion troops would have to
Thus, the 43d Division was
the Tokyo area.

the capitulation of Japan came


Occupation of the home islands
and quite obviously, the occupa
be those most readily available.
one of the first to be sent into

The first officer of the 43d Division to set foot on Japanese


soil was Brigadier General Joseph P. Cleland, ex-commander
of the 103d Infantry, the "Silver Fox" as he was nicknamed
because of his white hair. General Cleland and Lieutenant
Colonel James R. Ruhlin of Bangor, Maine, flew to Japan to
make preliminary arrangements for the employment of the
division. The first enlisted man to arrive in Japan was Private
First Class Fred Bonnell of Buffalo, New York, who was a
member of the division advance party.
The 43d Division left Manila, Philippine Islands, on Sep
tember 7 and arrived a Yokohama, Japan, on September 13,
1945. The first division elements to land were moved by vehicle
to the Hara-Machida airfield in the vicinity of Atsugi, fifteen
miles southwest of Tokyo. As the next echelons of division
troops arrived, sufficient progress in Japanese military evacua
tions had been made to permit our troops to go directly from
the docks to the Mutsugahara airfield, near Kumagaya, about
forty-five miles from Tokyo. This installation had been a
large Japanese air training center and was replete with hangers,
shops, and barracks, which afforded admirable shelter and
housing for the larger part of the division. Some of the men
making the trip from the docks to Mutsugahara did so
on Japanese operated trains.
The sights and people of this strange, oriental land were

a matter ot great interest and curiosity to the men of the


division. Many expressed amazement at the humble supplica
tion of a people so indoctrinated with their superiority and
so fanatical in the zealous desire to kill Americans. It appeared
that they were as inclined to obey the surrender provisions
as they were to march in wanton aggression against the
freedom-loving peoples of the world.
Troops found the town of Kumagaya ninety percent burned
out by American fire-bombs. From its blasted center, division
reconnaissance pushed out in all directions. Surrounding towns
were occupied without undue incident.
Men of the division found the Japanese on the whole aware
that they had been defeated thoroughly and completely. How
ever, coming face to face with the conquered people was a
unique experience to the doughboys. Laborers were obtained
for occupation tasks with the division: each day several
hundred appeared in the division area through cooperation
with local police.
The division was beginning preparations to spend the winter
in Japan when news came that the 43d was slated to return
to the United States. By this time personnel of the division
had changed considerably from the group that sailed from
San Francisco, as combat casualties, illness, rotation, and
redeployment removed men who were replaced by others.
No longer was the division predominantly from New England.
But there were others who had weathered every storm, who
had been with the 43d in its first assault landing and those
which followed. To these men in particular, the news of going
home was the realization of a doughboy's fondest dreams.
For men of the division with low discharge scores, it meant
a transfer to other units remaining to garrison the islands.
Officers and men of other army units scheduled to remain
in Japan were transferred to the 43d for return to the
States. By now the 43d Division was the same in name only.
When the 43d (Winged Victory) Division landed as the
first complete division to return to the United States from
the Asiatic-Pacific Theater, seventy-six per cent of its en
listed personnel and forty-three per cent of its commissioned
officers were transferees from other units for the purpose
of movement home. Four hundred and forty-two officers
and three thousand two hundred and sixty-five enlisted men
of the division had sufficient point scores to return to the
United States.

84

CHAPTER XIX

The first elements of the division to load for the trip home
went aboard ship on September 27. The trip home began on
on September 29. The day before departure, the destination
of the division in the States was announced. However, there
was no news as to where the division would go when it reached
San Francisco. No one cared a great deal. The important mat
ter was that the 43d Division was on the way back to the
States. For many of the men the last glimpse of the Golden
Gate in San Francisco harbor had been over three years ago.

were made to send each man to the Army separation center


nearest his home. Only a small staff remained behind to handle
the many administrative matters connected with deactivaticn
of the division.

It was extremely tedious and difficult to while away the


hours with the excitement of home just a few days off.
Finally, the Golden Gate bridge appeared majestically on the
horizon. Words cannot express what the heart experiences on
such an occasion. The first ship arrived in San Francisco,
October 8, 1945, exactly three years and eight days after the
first ship had left on October 1, 1942. The day toward which
all had dreamed and strived had dawned. Large signs pro
claiming "Welcome home, well done" could be seen on the
hillsides, and music filled the air. The prevailing spirit, how
ever, was a quiet sense of thanksgiving and gratitude. No
doubt, the one thought that all felt was, "Can it be true?"
It was true!

GuadalcanalRussell
Islands Operation.
Feb. 15 to June 29, 1943

The troops of the 43d were moved without delay to Camp


Stoncman near Pittsburg, California. There, arrangements

85

The debt owed the 43d by the nation and by all humanity
is expressed in the following recapitulation:
Action

Northern Solomons (New


Georgia) Operation
June 3 0 to Oct. 7, 1943

Killed in
Action

581

New Guinea (Aitape)


Operation
June 2 5 to Aug. 2 5, 1944
Philippine Islands (Luzon
Operation
Jan. 9 to June 3 0, 194 5
Total

Wounded in
Action

Told

10

10

2059

2640

59

952

3 92 1

1561

6 049

4X7}

'610

Untold deeds of valor and heroism were penurmed by the


gallant warriors of the 43d Division, hut unfortunately the
complete record of such devotion to country and home can
only be recorded in the hearts and souls of the men who did
the fighting, the dying, the suffering that the world may live
in peace and brotherhood. However, a summary of decora
tions awarded to members of the division indicated the fol
lowing:

DECORATIONS
Congressional Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Medal
Distinguished Service Cross
Legion of Merit
Silver Star
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Soldier's Medal
Air Medal

Total

Pacific, Southwest Pacific, and Philippines Campaigns, and


continue on to the enemy homeland. The following extracts
are from a letter of appreciation sent to the Commanding
General of the Army Ground Forces:
"Ranking as it does with the finest military units of the
United States, the 43d Infantry Division can look back with
justifiable pride upon its splendid accomplishments in the
Asiatic-Pacific Theater of Operations. The Division's contri
bution to our glorious victory over a fanatical foe won the
undying esteem of a grateful nation.

1
71
90
987

2947
7610

"You officers and men of the 43d, possessing the sterling


qualities of courage, sacrifice, and deep devotion to duty,
must as individuals feel proud of the battles won in four
m.ijor campaignsGuadalcanal, the Northern Solomcns, New
Guinea, and Luzon.

63
31

11806

"Now that the advent of peace permits the inactivation of


t u e 43d Division, may I commend you and your organiza
tion and add my sincere appreciation for a job well done."

Presidential Unit Citations have been awarded to all three


battalions of the 169th Infantry, and the 43d Division Mili
tary Police Company.

Headquarters, 43d Infantry Division, as the last of the


division's organizations, was inactivated on November 1,
1945.

General Douglas MacArthur has requested recommendations


for a Presidential Unit Citation for the 43d Infantry Di
vision for its outstanding action against the Japanese in the
Rosario area of Luzon, Philippine Islands, and it is believed
this award will be made shortly after publication of this
history.

If their hearts could speak, it is certain that a prayer


would ring out in all parts of this Great Land:

All service units of the 43d Division were awarded Meri


torious Service Plaques in recognition of outstanding services
rendered over an extended period of arduous duty.
The 43d Infantry (Winged Victory) Division was the only
American division privileged to participate in the South

"O Heavenly Father, accept our most humble thanks for


the salvation of freedom, hope, love, chanty. Through Thy
infinite wisdom, Thou hast given us the strength and courage
to defend human rights and decency, to banish fear frcm
the oppressed, to bring hope to a world torn by strife and
struggle, to fight and to die in the name of justice. Give us
the earthly wisdom to banish forever the hates and fears
of war. Above all else, in the name of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, '
we humbly pray that the valiant shall not have died in vain."

86

Rendova Island, green and beautiful, lay a


feiu miles west of Neiv Georgia.

Rendoi d's twin peaks rising to the dona*


were used by the Japs for a rest area.

Coconut plantations and jungle growth


merged along the shoreline.

New Georgia Campaign

Troopships assembled at their rendezvous


in New Georgia straits.

Landing craft of the first wave put o]


from the transports.

Later waves clambered down the landing


nets into Higgins boats.

LCI's disembarked their fighting men


directly on the beaches.

Loaded vehicles were hoisted from the cargo


holds.

Supplies were sivung over the side to the


waiting landing craft.

The first wave hit for

Rendova.

The Japs were taken by surprise, the


fighting was brief.

c vehicles rolled onto the shore from


LST's.

A 25) mm gun was hit.

An extra push was needed to get /his


Ainbo-fecp ashore.

Artillery landed on nearby Baranlu Island.

An aciral bomb hit near the Division


kitchen.

A field range and Australian rations wc>


damaged.

A headquarters was set up among the


cocoanut groves.

Radar was set up and camouflaged,

On July 4th the faps struck again.

Our radar gave warning and damage was


light.

Only a native hut and a few drums of


gasoline were destroyed.

Outposts a\ med with automatic rifles


guarded against infiltration.

Rain turned the vehicle lanes into


quagmires.

A command car used its winch to get out


of the mud.

Sneaking from behind the peaks of Reniloia, the faps struck by air on filly 2.

An ammunition truck burned.

A water trailer was overturned.

Aim tutted good ill spite of the

Japanese pillboxes acre strategically


along the shoreline.

The

landing

nlas accomplished,
but successful.

Snipers ncrc

liquidated.

mud.

Lieutenant

located

The boxes were difficult


opened

difficult

Colonel H. C. Mardm
place in the mess line.

to detect until they


fire.

The jungle looked

5 in m guns

took h,

supported
Rendoia.

attack

The ne\l objectnc ua* Xetr (iemgia.


Troops moicd under fire fou aid Zanaua
Beach.

Japanese 5-inch guns aided in the defens


of the island.

The Xai y had ably assisted by a threeo'cloi k-in-tl.ie-inorning


shelling

Patrols inored uith caution into the dcnsi


jungle.

forbidding.

the

A 'lOinni AA iin fired at Japanese plain


during a night at tuck.

from

Ammunition

ivas carried

ashore.

The

japs were accounted

Anti-aircraft

guns

uere

ft

set

up.

Mortars aided in reducing

The

attack

moved

Sand bags uere filled for


fortifications.

Pumps

and hoses were

the opposition.

The jungle

was dark and

forbidding.

Japs were driven from their caves.

on

Jap officers were killed or driven


their hideaway-.

defenst

installed.

Storage tanks and chlorination


installed.

Huge trees were shattered

from

units

Streams uere ciossed with the aid of swing


ing i hies.

were

155mm Howitzers

Engineer

by artillery

fire.

uere hauled into position

bulldozers
cloicly
Infantry.

followed

tht

Patrol activity

was

continuous

Landing areas were cleared.

The engineers searched for water holes.

Trails were opened.

'-"?;

Native trails were transformed into roads


by the Engineers.

Wet weather and churning wheels uer


not conducive to easy travel.

Corduroy roads helped, but took time to


construct.

In the loiv spots the corduroy roads slowly


disappeared.

A truck of the 192d Field Artillery had


hard going on this peep trail.

The Ambo-jccp saved many live.

Japanese night a/tacks uere harassing;


daylight naps were a necessity.

The advance continued.

ia

Prisoners were interrogated by our Language


section personnel.

Large sections of the jungle ivcrc burned


out.

Some icerc killed by our artillery.

Fiji ' Scouts augmented advincing patrols.

Others were saved for later questioning by


intelligence personnel.

John Mohrman, with Captain's bars, (later


Colonel)was a brilliant surgeon and
soldier.

Flame throuers aided the advancing


infantrymen.

Colonel Elmer S. Watson and other soldiers


of the Division ire re evacuated by an from
Rendova.

,tu

Casualties

with less severe wounds


evacuated by water.

were

Japanese guns on these islands shelled our


troops on New Georgia.

The terrain on these islands always

proved

difficult.

Vehicular

traffic required heai ler


construction.

U/heis

were unable to

Our planes and our artillery n-ere required


to blast them out of action.

Plasma, tat ions and ammunition


dropped by parachute.

Visibility

in the jungle
shell

An obsei ration post observed the results of


an air attack by our own planes.

Islands

Patrols

In some lands underwater


obstacles prevented landing craft from reaching the
shore, and waist deep wading was the rule.

return.

wcw

uas improied

18

were sent

to neighboring

The engineers kept

by

at the

Mortar fire reduced stubborn


fire.
19

islands,

toads.

resistance.

off

Bridges

the New Georgia shore


green and
enchanting.

were constructed
streams.

And a flame

20 ,

over

thrower reduced still


pillbox.

were

jungle

anothet

V&l
Brigadier General Leonard F. Wing observed the Ib9th Infantry in action from
an observation post on New Georgia.

The first glimpse of Mini da airfield cheered


the slowly advancing
Infantry,

A few

hundred

yards u\i\
ad i a nee.

a good

days

ibalo Hill with its huge shellholes


excellent obun atiou of Mnuda

afforded
Field,

L . :rr

A wrecked Japanese plane was observed


along the sontbent border of Munda Field.

Majestic Reudoia loomed on the eastern


horizon, with Lambetti Plantation in the
foreground, as observers surveyed the inspiring scene from Bibalo Hill.

To the north the Munda Airfield stretched


like a huge figure eight to the observer from
Bibalo Hill, as infantry patrols moved
forward.

A leading scout advanced toward Munda


Airfield, folloived by u second
infantryman
wary of a possible fap booby trap,

Four Marine tanks landed and advanced


slowly toward the airfield.

Observers from Bibalo Hill watched


tortuous progress of tanks toward
Kokengola Hill.

the

Kokengola Hill was the last major obstacle


guarding Munda Airfield.

To the advancing infantryman,


Kokengola
Hill with its bare slopes proved an obstacle
bard to overcome.

The Infantry withdrciu until the artillery


could place additional . concentrations
on
Kokengola Hill.

Under cover of a smoke screen the


finally captured Munda Airfield on
5 th and overran Kokengola

Infantry
August
Hill.

Revetments for Japanese planes aided the


enemy in their defense of the airfield.

Dead laps who failed to keep their fingers


ctowed were found on Lambetti
Plantation.

Additional Japs were equally unlucky.

No more banzai for the Japanese owner of


the saber which fell into the hunch of the

smiling victor.

A Japanese steamroller ivas captured.

The deadly Japanese knee mortar was ex


amined by a doughboy.

A captured Japanese radio ivas studied.

Two Nei\i interpreters of the Division with


Major Eugene Wright examined captured
documents.

And this booby trap fortunately failed to


go off.

Tent camps sprung tip. (the taped graves


were later moved.)

The Engineers pushed road construction.

Japanese pillboxes were inspected. (Note slit


trenches under this pillbox).

Chinese boys used as coolie labor by the Japs iverc


released when our forces captured Re ml ova.

This pill box could have hurt, but our


attack came from the wrong direction.

Japanese barges were used to evacuate some Japs, but.


some landing barges failed to make it.

Some pillboxes were overgrown with coco


nut sprouts.

Neiv Georgian natives came out of hiding.

The natives assisted in camp

construction.

After

sixty days of fighting along the Mini da Trail,


soldiers were evacuated at Laiana Beach.

Roads were advanced to other [nuts of the island, and


the artillery moved to selected detcnsiic positions.

General Leonard F. Wing, 43d Infantry Division commander, and his staff, taken
shortly after the capture of Mniida Field. Left to right: Lieutenant Colonel
Sidney P. Marland, Jr., G-3; Lieutenant Colonel H. C. Harden, G-l; Brigadier
General David Ross, Assistant Division Commander; General Wing; Colonel
Daniel Hundley, Chief of Staff; Lieutenant Colonel E,rnest W. Gibson,
G-2; Lieutenant Colonel Meredith Lee, G-4.
Brigadier General Harold R. Barker, Division Artillery

Commander.

The Division Commander, Major General Leonard F. Wing pins the Distin
guished Service Cross on Lieutenant Colonel Sidney P. Marland, Jr., G-3 o)
the 43 d Division for distinguished seriice on New Georgia.

Empty can's were


used as stepping stones
over wet areas.

Seabees and their


equipment moved in
to enlarge the airfield.

Munda Airfield, Au
gust 5, 1943, the day
of its capture.

Thh

view of Munda Airfield, New Georgia, was taken on the first day the planes
arrived. In background can be seen Rendova
Mountain.

Munda air strip was enlarged for bomber use.

A control tower was erected on Kokengola Hill and


afforded a view of Munda airfield.

Munda Airfield on September


15, 1943, five weeks Liter,

was improx ed with mu runways and used by Allied planes.

y-

The Infantry

resumed

training

The jungle intrigued

when no japs were around.

A chapel was erected.


Troops inarched over coral
roads to attend dedication
ceremony at Munda
Cemetery.
Troops participated in a salute
to soldiers killed on New
Georgia.
Troops returned from the
dedication ceremonies at
Munda Cemetery.

Munda Cemetery was a mem


orial to the \oldiers who sac
rificed their //rev /// this
hitter
campaign.

MARSHALL IS.

MARIANAS IS.

PHILLIPPINE

ISLANDS

GUAM

PALAU IS.

CAROLINE I S .

MINDANAO

GILBERT IS.

BORNEO
V

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