Attack on Manus Island

 

The 1st Brigade had broken large-scale organized resistance on Los Negros and could confine its operations to mopping-up actions against remaining enemy groups holding out in the hills southwest of Papitalai and Lombrum. An estimated 150 to 200 Japanese were left in the 5th Cavalry sector, and it was thought that many survivors had fled to Manus. Wiping out the bulk of the enemy garrison on Manus would be the job of the newly landed 2d Brigade.

The number and disposition of the enemy on Manus were matters of some uncertainty. A rough estimate was that 2,700 Japanese were concentrated there and would probably make a stand at Lorengau. Although it was confidently expected that the Japanese could do no more than put up a last losing fight, the lack of knowledge of their numbers and disposition on the largest island of the Admiralties required that plans be made carefully for an invasion in strength. Fighting into the interior where the mountain range would provide defensive positions and through the swampy forests covering the rest of the island would not be easy. Only four roads winding about the island and converging at Lorengau would be suitable for moving vehicles, and long stretches of these red-clay roads would be impassable in rainy weather. Surrounding jungle and swamps would confine any large-scale movement to the roads. Therefore, the plan was to pin the enemy to the coast where it was hoped he had concentrated his main strength.

Plans were drawn to invade Manus Island on beaches near Lugos Mission, 2 miles west of Lorengau, where the airdrome was the main objective (Map No. 9, opposite page). Lorengau was known to be fortified. The village and the airdrome had been worked over by intermittent bombing and strafing attacks, naval bombardment, and

76

artillery since 29 February, but the results were not certain and the sea approaches were thought to be mined. Therefore, the landings were planned for the area of Lugos Mission, where no local defenses had been observed, although troops landing there would be within range of any light guns at Lorengau. Two suitable beaches on each side of the Lihei River were designated as the assault landing points: Yellow Beach 1 east of the river and Yellow Beach 2 on the west (Map No. 10, page 78).

Troops A and C of the 8th Cavalry would make the assaults on these beaches. After both beachheads were secured, the remainder of the 8th Cavalry would come ashore, followed by the 7th Cavalry which would relieve Troop C on Yellow Beach 1. The 7th Cavalry would remain in reserve inshore from the beach, with one troop defending the right flank of the beachhead. Troop C of the 8th Engineer Squadron would land on Yellow Beach 1, make necessary improvements on either beach, and construct crossings of the Lihei River to connect the two beachheads.

MAP NO. 9 Attack on Manus

77

MAP NO. 10 Landing at Lugos Mission, 15 March

[78]

When the 8th Cavalry had secured a beachhead to include Lugos Mission, each squadron would move east, the 1st Squadron along the coast (Number Three Road), and the 2d along an inland road (Number One Road) to execute a wide sweep toward Lorengau. If a sizeable garrison were concentrated at fortified Lorengau, the inland arm of this attack would prevent the enemy from escaping along the only road leading west to the mountain areas.

As a preparation for the attack it was decided to take several of the small islands lying a few hundred yards off the north coast. These islands would be reconnoitered with a view to emplacing artillery to support the attack, a procedure which had produced outstanding results at Kwajalein. Artillery fire added to the customary preinvasion concentration of naval gunfire would undoubtedly help reduce the cost of landing against possible resistance in strength. The invasion of Manus was set for 13 March; the expeditions to the islands would be undertaken on 11 March.

Preparations

From Salami Beach three patrols from the 302d Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop, accompanied by artillery officers, set out on reconnaissance of Bear Point on Manus and the islands of Butjo Luo and Hauwei. Bear Point was found to be free of the enemy, but unsuitable for artillery. The northern island of Butjo Luo provided excellent sites for artillery emplacements, and both islands were apparently unoccupied. The patrol on Hauwei Island ran into trouble.

A platoon in strength, the patrol moved out from Salami on an LCV and a PT (Motor Torpedo) boat and landed without opposition on the western end of the island. Maj. Carter S. Vaden, S-3 of the 99th Field Artillery Battalion, threw two grenades into a well-camouflaged bunker about 10 yards from the beach and the party progressed inland. Immediately after the grenade explosions, a mortar shell landed on the beach in the rear of the party. From three sides, machine-gun, rifle, and mortar fire opened up. Fortunately, the grenades had evidently sprung the ambush prematurely and the party was not cut off from the rear.

Using their submachine guns, the men of the patrol were able to hold back the enemy. They were aided by some fire from the PT and the .30-caliber machine gun of the LCV. After 2 hours they

79

managed to withdraw to the water's edge. The PT boat had returned to its tender after the commanding officer was wounded, and the coxswain of the LCV shouted and motioned for the cavalrymen to get on board, but only five of them reached the boat, as the others were engaged with the enemy on shore. The LCV had troubles of its own; enemy mortar and machine-gun fire found its range and wounded all on board except two. Then the LCV grounded on submerged coral and sank 200 yards offshore after receiving a direct hit from a mortar. The wounded men, put into lifejackets, floated about in the water.

When the remaining members of the patrol on shore were wading out toward the LCV, six Japanese attempted to set up a machine gun on the beach. The men cut them down with their submachine guns. Still under fire, the cavalrymen swam out to the survivors of the LCV, making a group of 18 men out in the water. Failing to attract the notice of the destroyers nearby, the tired men had to stay in the water for 3 hours until a PT boat picked them up. At the same time a destroyer closed in to the island to draw hostile fire and bombard enemy positions on the western end.

The losses in this unexpectedly difficult operation were high. Six men of the reconnaissance troop and two artillerymen, one of whom was Major Vaden, were killed. Three men were missing and every member of the patrol received wounds of varying seriousness, as well as second degree burns from long exposure to the sun and water. It was now apparent that Hauwei, which was ideal for artillery positions, would have to be taken by a larger force, even though it would mean postponing the attack on Manus. The Navy also recommended a delay to permit clearing all sea approaches. Butjo Luo would be secured by a cavalry troop, although no opposition was anticipated there.

The 2d Squadron, 7th Cavalry, relieved at Lombrum Point on 11 March by elements of the 12th Cavalry, was designated as the force to secure Butjo Luo and wipe out resistance on Hauwei. In the afternoon Troop F, with artillery personnel, moved out on an LCM and secured both islands of Butjo Luo without opposition. On 13 March the entire 99th Field Artillery Battalion, except for a rear echelon left at Salami for maintenance of vehicles, was moved to Butjo Luo. Twelve howitzers and six 37-mm antitank guns were carefully placed in position. To guard against detection, no trees or underbrush on the beach facing Manus were cut until the evening before the attack.

80

Hauwei was to be taken by the remainder of the 2d Squadron, 7th Cavalry on 12 March. Destroyer gunfire and rockets as well as 105-mm. concentrations from the 61st Field Artillery Battalion at Mokerang point preceded the operation. Kittyhawks of the 77th Pursuit Squadron (RAAF) at Momote airfield also bombed and strafed the objective. The cavalrymen reported, however, that the covering fire was not very accurate.

Small-arms fire was encountered by Troop E, landing on the west shore; some machine-gun fire from bunkers opened up on Troop G trying to move in from the south beach. The cavalrymen began to make their way inland and successfully bypassed without casualties a few mines activated by trip wires. Upon reaching a point 300 yards inland on a line running north and south, both troops were pinned down by heavy rifle, machine-gun, and mortar fire. Casualties suffered up to this time were 3 killed and 10 wounded.

Under the protecting fire of the Troop H mortars, which landed shortly after the assault waves, Troop E was able to advance east, although Troop G could not move forward along the south coast in the face of continued heavy enemy fire. The squadron commanding officer then decided to withdraw Troop E and dig in for the night, as contact was being lost and the island was too wide for complete coverage by two troops. Troop C, which had been ordered to proceed from Salami, arrived at 1800 and took up a support position on the small perimeter. A medium tank would also arrive the next morning to give impetus to the 2d Squadron's attack.

Plans were made for overcoming the difficulty encountered on the first day. Japanese bunkers along the coast had caught the cavalrymen advancing along the axis of the narrow island (1,300 by 400 yards) in a cross-fire; the next day the bunkers along the edges of the island would be attacked at the same time that the line was advanced in the center. During the night the 61st Field Artillery Battalion from the north end of Mokerang Plantation fired 1,000 rounds to harass the enemy. This fire was directed so accurately and carefully that it was brought down on the enemy within 100 yards of the cavalrymen's positions without any casualties to our troops, and helped minimize enemy activity during the night.

At 1000 the next morning Troops C, E, and G advanced abreast in a line from north to south, with the tank operating on the south flank. The enemy defended the island with skill and tenacity. Well-

81

constructed and carefully placed bunkers covered all avenues of approach, with fire lanes for all automatic weapons. Enemy snipers were accurate; of two troopers killed and eight wounded by sniper fire, all were shot in the head or chest. However, the defenders had no weapons to counteract tank action, and by 1200 the three troops of cavalry with the effective support of the tank had succeeded in mopping up all centers of resistance. An enemy bunker on the south shore, manned by eight Japanese using rifles and two heavy machine guns, was knocked out by tank action and troop envelopment from the north. Before being silenced, this bunker withstood four direct mortar bursts, and four point-blank hits from the tank's 75-mm. Another Japanese trench position, containing light machine guns and knee mortars, was surrounded and its occupants annihilated. Forty-three enemy dead, all naval personnel, were counted. They had been in good physical condition and were well equipped. Our casualties for this small operation were 8 killed and 46 wounded.

The advantages won by this operation were soon evident. At 1500 on 13 March the 61st Field Artillery Battalion began debarking on Hauwei from LCM's. The next day the artillery battalion put its howitzers into position on the southwest side of the island. The 271st Field Artillery arrived and placed its guns on the west. The firing positions of the 105-mm batteries, on the flank of our own troops who would attack to the east after landing on Manus, satisfied an artilleryman's dream, since very close support of troops could be maintained by minor shifts of deflection, thus eliminating the danger of short rounds. The 99th Field Artillery Battalion, on Butjo Luo, was also in position to support any southward movement of our troops in pursuit of the enemy. By dawn of 15 March the three artillery battalions on Hauwei and Butjo Luo had their guns registered for high burst adjustment on the north shore of Manus, ready for the 2d Brigade's attack. H Hour was set at 0930.

Landing at Lugos Mission (15 March)

At 0700 the three artillery battalions opened fire from Hauwei and Butjo Luo. Their targets were in the Lorengau Township area, chosen to divert the enemy's attention from the landing beaches around Lugos Mission. Four destroyers, assigned to support the invasion with a bombardment beginning at dawn, raked the shore from

82

the Tingau River to east of Lorengau with their 5-inch guns. Arriving in 3 hours from Nadzab in New Guinea, 18 B-25's appeared at H-30 minutes and bombed and strafed Lugos Mission and the beach areas until H-5 minutes. Between 0907 and 0925, they dropped eighty-one 500-pound bombs, strafed with more than 44,000 rounds of machine-gun fire, and cleared the target just as the troops were coming ashore.

Offshore, the assault troops of the 2d Brigade on LCM's and LVT's moved in toward the beach with the slow-moving buffaloes in the first wave. They were protected by an umbrella of fire from three rocket boats (two LCV's and one LVT) operated by amphibious engineers.

[83]

The wave of buffaloes drew up to the beaches, and it appeared that they were going to make it without opposition until an enemy machine gun opened up from east of the landing beaches. Immediately the buffaloes responded with machine-gun fire, and two PT boats moved close in. With 100 rounds from a flak boat added to this fire the machine gun was silenced. Two waves of landing craft followed the buffaloes to the shore in rapid succession and the narrow beaches, backed either by jungle or a high bluff, were soon congested with assault troops.

On the east beach, men of Troop A began a vigorous drive toward Lugos Mission and Number Three Road, which follows the coast eastward to the 1st Squadron's objective, Lorengau airdrome. Led by Capt. Raymond J. Jennings, the troop stormed the bluff where Lugos Mission was located and overran the mission before the few Japanese who had survived the bombardment could put up effective opposition. Pre-designated groups worked their way into the mission compound and cleared out the area with grenades. Subsequent groups mopped up bunkers which were sited to cover the approaches from the beach. Troop A was soon on its way along Number Three Road leaving behind it some 20 dead Imperial Marines, without the loss of a single cavalryman.

From the western beach, Troop C drove through the jungle without opposition. On a ridge 800 yards inland, they stopped and dug in, having accomplished their mission of establishing a defensive perimeter to protect the landing of successive elements. Additional waves of the 1st and 2d Squadrons quickly followed the assault troops ashore and moved toward their objectives. The 1st Squadron followed Troop A down Number Three Road east toward the airdrome while the 2d Squadron pushed inland directly south toward Number One Road, its intermediate objective. Col. William J. Bradley, the regimental commander, came ashore with the third wave to set up an advance CP and establish communication with the fast separating squadrons.

The decision to split the regiment into two forces bound for initial objectives 2 miles apart was a bold one, but was considered necessary. Attack along the coast road might be stopped by heavy opposition from Lorengau, or the coast might prove impassable for vehicles. Furthermore, by sending one force toward Lorengau from Number One Road, the 2d Brigade could prevent the escape of the Japanese garrison west to the mountain areas of the interior.

84

8th Cavalry Moves East (15-16 March)

Leading elements of the 1st Squadron, advancing down the coast road, found movement slow and difficult on the red-clay trail which had a glue-like consistency from the recent rains. Troop A reduced enemy bunkers along the road and progressed about a mile from the beach. At 1120 the troop was stopped cold. Three mutually supporting bunkers covered a section of the road which was hemmed in by the beach on one side and a heavy mangrove swamp on the other. With no room to maneuver, the attackers could approach these bunkers only from the front. A squad led by S/Sgt. D. H. Yancey, former stable sergeant and one of the few old Regular Army noncoms in the troop, rushed the position without waiting for orders from Captain Jennings. Before the squad was able to get within grenade range, Sergeant Yancey was killed and the attack faltered. The enemy bunkers were clearly a job for the artillery.

One of the forward observers of the 271st Field Artillery Battalion was now called on to bring in artillery fire from the battalion's howitzers on Hauwei. First, the area would be swept with time fire to clear out snipers protecting the position, and then the bunkers themselves would be softened up with a battalion concentration of delayed fuze.

Troop B had been alerted to go through Troop A and attack the bunkers. However, shell fragments from time fire bursting less than 100 yards away kept the men in their fox holes. Moreover, tanks which had been called for did not show up. Strong leadership got the men going shortly after the artillery lifted, but the bunkers had withstood the artillery pounding; again enemy fire broke the attack.

Again artillery fire was called for, and 81-mm mortars went into action from positions on the very edge of the ocean. An air strike was also requested of P-40's which had maintained an alert since H Hour. Each plane carried a 500-pound bomb in addition to its regular armament. When the position had been turned into a waste of craters, Troop B advanced again. This time there was no opposition. Examination of the position showed that the Japanese had remained in their bunkers until the massed fire power pulverized the position. The row of bunkers had evidently been the final defense of the western edge of the Lorengau air strip. Without any further opposition, the 1st Squadron came suddenly out of the jungle into the clearing and

85

at 1700 occupied a commanding ridge in the coconut palms overlooking the southern edge of the airdrome. There the tired soldiers dug in for the night.

Our casualties were 2 killed and 11 wounded; about 40 Japanese had been killed in the advance down Number Three Road. At 1800 Troop C joined the squadron, having been relieved from its beach-

86

head position by the 7th Cavalry. Throughout the night the cavalrymen near the airdrome were harassed by a number of snipers occupying a fringe of coconut palms north of the dispersal area.

On the tortuous track leading south to Number One Road, the 2d Squadron with Troop F in the lead made its way over a continuous succession of ridges. Sniper fire as well as the difficult terrain made

87

the cavalry's advance, followed by borrowed artillery tractors towing ammunition and supplies, extremely slow. But by 1500 the leading elements had reached Number One Road. There three bunkers, situated to protect both the track and the road, obstructed the column. Scattered mortar fire from undetermined positions in the jungle also began to be troublesome. It seemed advisable to establish a perimeter for the night and attack the bunkers on the following day. Artillery fire placed on the general area of the bunkers silenced them for a time. Under cover of the protecting fire, the 2d Squadron dug in.

The 7th Cavalry forming the brigade reserve had come ashore on the second trip of an LST and completed its landing on the west

88

beach at 1635. Engineers accompanying the first waves ashore had discovered that the Lihei River could be forded by men and vehicles using the sand bar at its mouth. However, by the time the 7th Cavalry arrived the sand bar was washed out, and this necessitated the ferrying of all light equipment, and the towing of heavy equipment by D-7 bulldozers. Troops of the 7th Cavalry forded the Lihei River, about waist-deep, and moved to Lugos Mission to establish a perimeter defense covering the west half of the entire beachhead while Troop C, west of the river, protected the right flank. The balance of the 8th Cavalry defended the left flank, with a perimeter extending from Yellow Beach 2 to the eastern edge of Lugos Mission. The 1st and 2d Squadrons radiating east and south would be well protected from the rear.

In the morning the 2d Squadron got off to an early start, under the direct command of the brigade and regimental commanders. The position which had delayed the advance the previous night was overrun with the aid of one light and two medium tanks. A D-7 bulldozer was absolutely necessary to keep them going over the difficult terrain. The dozer cut down grades, cleared heavy jungle growth, and towed the tanks. Bulldozer operator Pvt. Webster J. Ough did his work under sniper fire with mortar shells falling close by. Another engineer, Sgt. Sammie C. Mandel, with the squad protecting the dozer, was wounded in the foot by a sniper as he climbed on one of the tanks to show the tankmen the route.

Once on Number One Road, the squadron moved slowly northeast. Camouflaged bunkers, sited to give fields of fire up and down the road, made the advance difficult. The only maneuver space was in heavy jungle, yet by using it for cover the cavalrymen isolated eight bunkers. Then, with the aid of one tank that remained with the squadron up Number One Road, the troopers destroyed the bunkers with grenades. No artillery was called for, and at the end of the day the squadron halted at a position on Number One Road about 100 yards from Lorengau and the eastern end of the air strip. The squadron had sustained only seven casualties in its move up the inland road.

On the other wing of the 2d Brigade's push east, the day had told a different story. Although the 1st Squadron attacked the air strip all day, the enemy still held the eastern half of that objective on the evening of 16 March.

89

Check at the Airdrome (16 March)

In defense of Lorengau airdrome, the enemy put up the heaviest resistance yet encountered on the Manus beachhead. Japanese in well-defended bunkers farther along the southern edge of the airdrome were to prove a more difficult obstacle for the 1st Squadron than the snipers in the coconut grove north of the strip who had harassed them during the night. In the morning, squadron commander Maj. Moyers S. Shore sent a platoon from Troop A north across the strip after the snipers. No attack would be made along the open strip until this danger was removed, but Troop C was ordered at the same time to advance along the south edge and wipe out any enemy encountered there (Map No. 11, below).

Before Troop C had moved 2100 yards over a series of small ridges studded with coconut trees, the leading platoon ran into

MAP NO. 11 Check at the Airdrome, 16 March

90

heavy machine-gun fire from commanding ground 150 yards to its front. Capt. Winthrop B. Avery, commanding Troop C, emplaced his attached platoon of water-cooled machine guns and the regimental 81-mm mortars and attempted to launch a coordinated attack by maneuvering one platoon around the south flank of the enemy position.

When Major Shore ascertained that Troop C was held up by the enemy on the ridge south of the air strip, he committed the balance of the squadron to move around Troop C's left flank. Since the snipers north of the strip had been cleared out by noon, an attack could be made in the open. Troop B, supported by light tanks on its left, was to go down the strip, followed by Troop D and squadron headquarters. Troop A was directed to cross the strip and drive east along the north edge. This attack moved out at 1300.

Meanwhile Troop C was making progress against the stubborn enemy position. Although a frontal attack at the enemy-held ridge failed, the platoon sent out to flank the position from the south had succeeded in getting literally on top of the enemy. Led by

91

S/Sgt. Ervin M. Gauthreaux after the platoon leader had been wounded, the platoon destroyed two bunkers with grenades and drove several Japanese from the connecting tunnels of the bunkers into the open. Suddenly the platoon was pinned down by friendly fire coming from the direction of the airfield. Troop B had been stopped in its advance down the open strip by fire from enemy in the area under attack by Troop C. Thereupon, the cavalrymen on the strip fired south at the position to cover the removal of their wounded to a protective grove some 200 yards away. This fire was hitting Sergeant Gauthreaux's platoon as it assaulted the same position from the other direction.

The tanks, advancing along the north side of the strip, fired their machine guns diagonally across the front. An enemy machine gun in a coral cave on the south side of the strip opened up, but the tank crews held their fire because they knew that Sergeant Gauthreaux's platoon was immediately beyond the cave. They pulled back to a position from which they could fire at the cave without endangering the Americans on the other side, and succeeded in knocking out the machine gun. Unfortunately, the tanks were not fitted with two-way radios, so they were unable to stop Troop B's fire against Troop C's platoon.

Troop C's commander realized what was happening and made a difficult decision. He ordered Sergeant Gauthreaux to withdraw to avoid further casualties from Troop B's misdirected fire, although the platoon was on the enemy's main position and was mopping it up. Captain Avery then called for artillery on the position whose fire had successfully held up the advance of the entire squadron. Four hundred shells were put down on the well-defended ridge. As the fire lifted, Troop C advanced, this time in a frontal move. Heavy fire from some still untouched bunkers again broke up the attack and Troop C reformed on its line of departure. Under cover of Troop C's attack, Troop B was able to disengage and reorganize in the palm grove north of the strip.

The unsuccessful attack on the bunkers cost the 1st Squadron 9 killed and 19 wounded. Their line extended from the beach across the air strip at about midpoint, and over to the high ground on the south. General Mudge ordered the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry, in reserve at Lugos Mission, to relieve the exhausted men of Troop C holding the high ground south of the air strip. During the relief,

92

the 7th Cavalry suffered 5 killed and 15 wounded from the still active enemy bunkers to the front. The 2d Squadron, 7th Cavalry established a perimeter defense back of the front lines, which were held by the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry on the right and the remaining 8th Cavalry units on the beach side of the air strip. Both regiments dug in for the night.

To the Lorengau River (17 March)

After the unfortunate day at the air strip, careful plans were laid for a coordinated attack the next morning to take the strip and push through to Lorengau, lying beyond the Lorengau River in a cup-shaped valley surrounded by jungle hills rising to 400 feet. To link up the two columns and coordinate the advance, the 2d Squadron, 7th Cavalry would move south of the strip and make contact with the inland force (Map No. 12, page 95). Both these squadrons would then advance to the river along Number One Road. All troops on the left wing at the air strip came under the 7th Cavalry commander, Col. Glenn S. Finley, who ordered the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry to attack the bunkers which had held up the 8th Cavalry advance. Assault squads from the 8th Engineer Squadron were attached to the 7th Cavalry for use against the enemy bunkers.

Preparation the night before the attack was extensive. The Navy put down harassing fire; the artillery battalions, from their excellent island locations, brought fire down on Japanese bunkers as close as 50 yards from our own positions. In the early morning a barrage from twenty-four 81-mm mortars preceded the attack, and two towed 37-mm's and two light tanks fired at point-blank range into the enemy bunkers. Troop D of the 8th Cavalry gave excellent support to the 7th Cavalry attack. When the troop commander, 1st Lt. Donald D. Taylor, observed the enemy across the strip working on a bunker which had been neutralized the day before, he obtained a direct hit with an 81-mm mortar which completely demolished the position, later discovered to have been defended by 15 Japanese with a .50-caliber and several .30-caliber machine guns. Troop D also destroyed an enemy machine gun which disclosed itself by firing at our troops.

As the mortar barrage ceased, the automatic weapons opened up to cover the assaulting troops of the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry.

93

They came out of their fox holes at 1033, with shouts of "Garry Owen," the regiment's traditional battle cry. The 1st Squadron met little resistance, as the artillery fire had practically wiped out the bunkers. A secondary enemy position similar to the first was encountered on a ridge further east. An artillery and mortar concentration was placed on this position and the cavalrymen occupied it at 1130. All remaining pillboxes were demolished by the engineer squads. While the 1st Squadron pushed across the pulverized air strip, the 2d Squadron, 7th Cavalry moved around the south flank to the right and by noon contacted the 2d Squadron of the 8th Cavalry along Number One Road near Lorengau. The 8th Cavalry had encountered little resistance on the road, destroying whatever bunkers were encountered with the aid of fire from medium tanks. The light tank accompanying the squadron had a track blown off by the first Japanese antitank mine encountered in the operation.

94

MAP NO. 12 Advance Through Lorengau, 17-18 March

95

At 1300 contact had been established between all front-line troops, from the air strip to Number One Road, and another forward movement was started. Because the backbone of the enemy resistance had been broken at the previous positions, little enemy opposition was encountered on this drive. Covering the 1,500 yards to the river took 2 hours because the Japanese had hurriedly put in large quantities of antitank and antipersonnel mines. They had been emplaced, however, with no prepared plan, and many were poorly camouflaged or left lying completely on the surface. The Japanese had also dug holes and refilled them without emplacing any mines. As the cavalrymen slowly made their way to the river, they suffered a few casualties from the mines.

As soon as the 7th Cavalry reached the river at 1500 the Reconnaissance Platoon was sent across. The patrol immediately drew fire from bunkers on the hills overlooking Lorengau, and withdrew. Mortar fire was placed on the bunkers that could be spotted. Since it was evident that the Japanese were well entrenched around Lorengau, the troops dug in for the night on the west bank of the river and established perimeter defense against expected counterattacks. These did not develop. Landing craft bringing in supplies to the jetty northwest of the river entrance received fire from the bunkers on the hills above the village, but they were able to land the much-needed supplies. Attack by the 2d Brigade on the next morning would determine how much Japanese resistance was left at Lorengau, long considered to be the best defended area in the Admiralties.

96


page created 28 June 2001


Return to Table of Contents

Return to CMH Online