At precisely 1000 HR the various battalions from 7rd and 5th Regiments of the 1st Marine Division stepped off their Lines of Departure. Yesterday’s fighting was behind them now they had a new mission. In fact it was the same as yesterdays!
Capture the rank smelling group of thatched huts and lean to’s euphemistically called Mantanikau.
The men of Lima Company were still gun shy to the crazy Japanese, who charged when they should run and they never surrendered. Worse still they still controlled the key terrain of the Sandspit. That meant the Marines were headed back to try again.
Lima advanced cautiously thru the thick jungle, they had heard the men who were left behind as a rear guard last nite, so they knew to expect an ambush.
It did not help. Like ghosts the Japs opened up with all they had. The lead platoon took a beating as several squads called in KIA’s and wounded. Medics rushed forward.
Lima was bogged down before it had gotten far. India company and MG sections opened up on the flitting IJA. Finally pinning them down for a moment.
The combined firepower streamed in on the IJA position. Trees shattered, fronds tumbled through blue smoke and shrapnel filled the air with pain.
Lima Company commander called in a request for 75mm arty strike. In order to avoid danger close fire he spoke to Company F’s commander and had the fire lain deeper in the jungle.
Battery A and B responded and nailed the co-ordinates. “Good Shoot” came back the report to the battery. “good shoot indeed” Lima’s commander could hear the cries of the Japs! “Lima to Kilo, now, go go go” He said.
Once smoke was laid Kilo readied to assault the IJA position.
Amazingly the Japanese crank up the fire volume once more despite being suppressed and begin to fracture the cohesiveness of Lima companies platoons, but the US shelling and 60mm mortar smoke negates their efforts.
The Marine halftracks fire the 75mm guns, and MG’s light up the Japs to keep their heads down.
Kilo company knew it was now or never. They raced down to the track, thru the shallow sandy ford and back into the jungle at a charge, grenades flew ahead of their bayonets. The IJA fought viciously and died to a man.
Kilos losses were thankfully light. As the Mortar Smoke cleared the carnage from their attack and previous artillery strike struck their senses. Stunned. They looked about. Until ahead of them they could hear, and glimpse hundreds more Japanese soldiers in the jungle. “Cover” someone said.
Over near Hill 67, the Whaling Scouts crept up to the top of the knoll. From the Nippon Bridge the IJA opened up forcing the squads the spread out and seek cover. Now they could call in Arty on their target, once the shooting eased up.
The Japanese found the enemy forces on the hillock, but also found and dumped heavy suppressing fire against Scouts headed to the banks of the Mantanikau, pinning them in place.
Behind the scouts, Company A and B were just wading through the small stream at the base of #67. They worked their way along the opposite bank and said a silent prayer for the Whalers.
The Marine 11th Artillery Battalion’s 105mm guns are order to fire on the Log Bridge. Unfortunately at 11:45 shells start to rain down on the Whaling Scouts and Company A. Heavy casualties are sustained as the platoons bunch up along the stream bed.
The attacks is stymied before it begins. Reverting back to Battalion resources the men of Company A request Smoke from the mortar sections, to both reduce enemy visibility and hide just how FUBAR shit is ….smoke scatters.
The 1st Battalion 4/2 second platoon succumbs to Marine fire, but only after it
and the remaining Japanese inflict massive losses on Kilo company caught in aftermath of their successful assault. The three platoons scrambled for cover, but little was to be found. Reeling they fire back, and India Co adds its firepower also. With the road clear, men and material could begin to by pass the Japs in the jungle.
At the close of the 1000 hour the Marines have taken another savage beating, and are not even in sight of their objective.