World War Two: Papuan Campaign (11B); First Two Weeks at Buna (Attack on the left)

Things had gone no better on General Harding’s left flank. Colonel Smith’s 2nd Battalion, 128th Infantry, had begun moving from Ango toward Buna during the morning of 21 November. The battalion’s orders were to advance on Buna Mission by way of the Triangle, the jungle-covered track junction from which the Dobodura-Buna track forked to Buna Village and Buna Mission.

Captain Yasuda, whose Yokosuka 5th, Sasebo 5th, and supporting naval pioneer troops totaled more than double the strength of Smith’s battalion, was ready. He had a series of concealed machine gun positions south of the Triangle covering the track, and an elaborate system of bunkers in the Triangle itself. There was heavy swamp on either side of the Triangle, and the bunkers had the effect of turning it into a position of almost impregnable strength. Strong bunker positions in the Coconut Grove north of the Triangle, and in the Government Gardens northeast of it, lay astride the trails leading to the village and the mission, both of which were also honeycombed with bunkers.

Yasuda’s defensive position was excellent. His short, secure, interior lines of communication enabled him to concentrate almost his full strength at any threatened point and, when the threat passed, or he chose to withdraw, to use the same troops to beat off another attack elsewhere.

The 2nd Battalion, 128th Infantry, moving forward toward the Triangle along the Dobodura-Buna track, knew nothing of the Japanese defenses in the area and very little about the terrain. At 1330 Sergeant Irving W. Hall of Company F, leading the point, caught a swift glimpse of an enemy machine gun about fifty yards away. Coolly turning his back on the gun so as to give the impression that he had not seen it, Hall motioned his men off the track. Before the Japanese knew what he was up to he turned around and fired a burst at them from his submachine gun. In the heavy fire fight that ensued, the point suffered one casualty.

Stopped on the trail by apparently strong enemy positions, Colonel Smith at once began flanking operations. Company G was ordered to move out on the right and Company F on the left. Company H was given orders to engage the enemy frontally, and Company E went into reserve.

At 2130, Colonel Smith reported to General Harding that he had run into opposition at the junction and that, while he was moving forward slowly on either side of that position in an attempt to flank it, he was being delayed by heavy swamp which was causing him more trouble than the enemy. General Harding immediately asked New Guinea Force to reinforce Smith with a battalion of the 126th Infantry from the other side of the Girua. Harding pointed out that it could march directly to Buna via the Soputa-Buna track.

[NOTE: Msg, Lieutenant Colonel Herbert A. Smith to General Harding, Ser 1100, 1101, 21 Nov 42; Msg, General Harding to NGF, No. 1099 [sic], 21 Nov 42. Both in 32nd Div G-2, G-3 Jnl. The fact that the serial of General Harding’s message to New Guinea Force is lower than the serials on the messages from Colonel Smith to General Harding was apparently due to an error in filing, since the messages from Smith were received at 32nd Division headquarters at 2130, and Harding’s message to New Guinea Force did not go out until 2205—thirty-five minutes later.]

General Herring quickly acceded to General Harding’s request and ordered the 2nd Battalion, 126th Infantry, across the river. Major Herbert M. Smith, commanding officer of that battalion, reached Colonel Smith’s command post at 0930, 23 November. The two 2nd Battalions thereupon took the name of Urbana Force, and Colonel Smith, as senior officer present, took command. To avoid confusion in radio messages, General Harding designated Colonel Smith as White Smith, and Major Smith as Red Smith.

The terrain Urbana Force had run into, especially on the right, was (as Colonel Smith had already intimated to General Harding) appalling. The main track was deep in mud, and Company G, 128th Infantry, attempting to advance on the right, hit stretches of swamp in which the troops sometimes found themselves up to their necks in water. Company F, 128th Infantry, met better terrain on the left but discovered that Entrance Creek, which paralleled the left-hand fork of the Triangle, not only was tidal and unfordable but seemed to be covered by enemy machine guns at every likely crossing.

Company G’s experience in the swamp had been particularly wearing. The men had moved out into the swamp to the right of the Triangle in the late afternoon of 21 November. As they made their way eastward, darkness fell. The acting company commander, 1st Lieutenant Theodore Florey, decided to go on, but the swamp kept getting deeper. Since there seemed to be little chance of reaching dry ground before morning, Florey finally called a halt at 2100. The company spent a miserable night. A few of the men were able to find perches on the roots of trees, but the rest waited in the mire for morning. Wet to the skin and in need of sleep, the men started moving again at daybreak.

After a slow and difficult march, they hit dry land at about noon. Taking their bearings, the troops discovered that they were on one of two kunai flats running southeast of the Triangle, and that only about 200 yards of sago swamp lay between them and the flat adjacent to their objective.

Though he now had a company in position to strike, Colonel Smith had grave doubts whether an attack from that quarter would be practicable. Reports from Company G, from the Ammunition and Pioneer Platoon, which was carrying rations forward to it, as well as from wire-laying parties of Headquarters Company, which were having a difficult time laying wire on the right, convinced him that it would be virtually out of the question to try to supply Company G in the terrain in which it found itself. Since the reports from Company F were much more favorable and indicated that the swamp on the left of the Triangle was never more than waist-deep, he decided to pull Company G back from its untenable position on the right and concentrate his entire force on the left where the going, though far from good, was obviously much better.

On 23 November Colonel Smith sent a message to division headquarters informing it of his plan. The supply route to Company G, he wrote, was “neck-deep in mud and water,” and he asked permission for the company’s withdrawal. After waiting until about 1400 for a reply and receiving none, Smith ordered the company to pull out of the swamp and report to him for further orders. So ordered, the company severed its wire connection with battalion headquarters and started for the rear. Division headquarters had received Smith’s message about 1400 and, because of an error on the part of the decoding clerk, understood it to say that the supply route to Company G was “knee-deep in mud and water,” and not, as Colonel Smith sent it, “neck-deep.” The headquarters replied at 1425 that Smith was under no circumstances to with- draw, but was instead to proceed with the attack.

Colonel Smith sent a messenger to intercept Company G and return it to its former position. Having only limited knowledge of the enemy positions he was supposed to attack, he asked division for a delay of a day or two in which to learn more about the enemy and the terrain, and perhaps find a better route of supply to Company G. Division would not give him the time. At 2045 it informed him that there would be an air strike on the Triangle at 0800 the next morning, 24 December, following which he and Major Smith were to attack.

At 2330 the two Smiths held a staff meeting at Colonel Smith’s command post, 1,200 yards south of the nearest Japanese positions below the Triangle. There they worked out a plan which envisaged simultaneous thrusts at the Triangle from left, front, and right. The three-way attack would be preceded by air bombardment and strafing scheduled for 0800, and the troops were to jump off as soon as the air attack was over. Four 25-pounders which had just reached Dobodura that day would fire from Ango in support of the attack as soon as they got the range.

The attack opened at 0800 the next morning with an attempt by the air force to strafe the Triangle. Twelve P-40’s made one pass over the objective and missed it altogether. No bombers followed the fighters, and there was no attempt by the P-40’s to try to hit the Triangle again, since they apparently thought they had executed their mission.

Because the air attack had been a complete failure, the ground attack was held up to give the air force a chance to try again. It was arranged that this time eight P-39’s and four P-40’s would attack at 1355. There was to be no bombardment, since no bombers were available.

At the appointed time only the four P-40’s showed up. Instead of strafing the Japanese in the Triangle, they strafed Colonel Smith’s command post. Fortunately only one man was wounded in the strafing, and he only slightly, but the Japanese positions in the Triangle were left completely untouched.

After the last of the P-40’s had finished strafing his command post, Colonel Smith waited a few moments to see if any more planes would follow. No more planes arrived; so he ordered the attack to begin without further support from the air force. Following a short mortar preparation, principally by the 60-mm. mortars (the two battalions then had only two 81-mm. mortars apiece and little ammunition for them), the troops jumped off at 1428. At 1437 the 25-pounders at Ango found the range, and joined in the attack.

On the left, Company E, 126th Infantry, began by swinging wide around Entrance Creek; then it moved north about 400 yards and turned northeast. Just as it had finished covering another 400 yards and was approaching a small bridge over the creek northwest of the Triangle, a strong Japanese force struck with accurate machine gun fire. The troops dug in at once in foxholes which immediately filled with water. They went no further that day.

Company F, 126th Infantry, though soon joined by Company H, Colonel Smith’s heavy weapons company, did little in its frontal attack on the Triangle. It moved forward about 300 yards, only to find heavy barbed wire entanglements strung across the track. The enemy covering the wire was laying down intense fire. Having neither wire cutters nor the materials with which to make Bangalore torpedoes, the Americans dug in and requested engineers with explosives to clear the way.

Companies E and G, 128th Infantry, on the right, fared worst of all. Using newly found short cuts through the deep swamp, Company E managed to reach the kunai flat in much less time than Company G had taken to reach it after its groping efforts of 21 November. The men of Company E therefore joined up with Company G in plenty of time for the attack.

Leaving its weapons platoon on the flat with Company E, Company G under Lieutenant Florey started moving northwest through the sago swamp to flank the Triangle. A little less than 200 yards out, the leading platoon came upon a small grassy area, just outside the Triangle, where it surprised a group of Japanese working on what appeared to be an antiaircraft position.

The Americans opened fire, but there were more Japanese about than they thought, and the company, after suffering several casualties, was forced back into the swamp. Attempts to maneuver around the grassy strip were unsuccessful because of intense automatic weapons fire which greeted the company at every turn. Darkness found the troops pinned down at the edge of the strip, where the slope of the ground leading into the swamp afforded them a little cover.

While the main body of Company G was held up just outside the right-hand fork of the Triangle, the Japanese from the Government Gardens moved forward to within firing distance of the kunai flat held by Company E and the weapons platoon of Company G. They attacked just as it was turning dark, killing one man and wounding five others and greatly disheartening the troops on the flat, most of whom were under enemy fire for the first time.

The weapons platoon of Company G had had two days to get its weapons in order after its march through the swamp, and Company E had been on the kunai flat five or six hours, long enough for it to do the same. But the Americans apparently lacked oil, and parts of the equipment were wet, and they may have been negligent. Whatever the reason, when they were caught in the open, with the sounds of Japanese yells coming from a short distance away, the men tried to hit back at the unseen enemy as best they could, only to find that their weapons would not function properly. “. . . Mortars fell short because increments [the propelling charges in the mortar ammunition] were wet. Machine guns jammed because web belts were wet and dirty and had shrunk. Tommy guns and BAR’s were full of muck and dirt, and even the M1’s fired well only for the first clip, and then jammed because clips taken from the belts were wet and full of muck from the swamp.” Low on ammunition, completely out of food, and fearing that they had been ambushed, the troops pulled back hastily into the swamp, leaving some of their crew-served weapons behind them.

Colonel Smith in the meantime had been in communication with Company E by telephone. Learning that the Japanese attack had driven the company off the flat and into the swamp, he ordered the troops to remain where they were until he could come up in the morning and give them further instructions. At that point the phone went dead, and Smith could make no further contact with the two companies.

Company E was at this time strung out in a single file all the way back from the kunai flat, with the weapons platoon of Company G somewhere in the middle of the line. At the far end of the line, nearest to battalion, was the executive officer of Company E, 1st Lieutenant Orin Rogers, and at the head of it, nearest to the flat and the dead telephone, was the commanding officer of Company E, Captain A. T. Bakken.

Shortly after darkness fell, an order passed along the line to Lieutenant Rogers to move back to the battalion command post. Rogers assumed at the time that the phone at Captain Bakken’s end of the line was working again and that there had been a change in orders. He nevertheless made it a point to ask if the order had come from the captain. The answer came back a few minutes later that it had. Thinking no more of the matter, Rogers started the lead troops back to the command post. At the other end of the line, Captain Bakken had also received an order to move to the rear. Knowing that the phone near him was out, he assumed that a messenger from battalion headquarters had delivered such a message to Lieutenant Rogers. Just to make sure, he asked whether the message had come from battalion headquarters. The answer came back (again via the chain method) that it had, and the entire column started moving to the rear, the weapons platoon of Company G with it.[NOTE 39C]

[NOTE 39C: Ltr, Colonel Herbert A. Smith to author, 20 Jan 50. Despite a thorough investigation of the matter, Colonel Smith was never able to find out who originated the message for the troops to return to the rear. As he put it in the letter cited above: “A number of men told of passing the messages back and forth, but no one could say definitely where they originated, and many of the men did not even know who stood next to them, especially where Company E and the Weapons Platoon of Company G were badly intermingled.”]

The rest of Company G, under Lieutenant Florey, still pinned down just outside the grassy strip leading to the Triangle, had sent a runner back with orders to the weapons platoon to bring up more mortars. The runner returned with the report that Company E and the weapons platoon were gone. An officer was sent back to the kunai flat to check. When he returned with confirmation of the report, Company G, after waiting for further orders and receiving none, also began to move to the rear.

Company E, 128th Infantry, and the weapons platoon of Company G reached Colonel Smith’s command post in the early morning hours of 25 November, and Company G, except for a few stragglers, arrived there by 1007. At 1020 Colonel Smith, who only the night before had informed General Harding that he had instructed the men to remain near the edge of the kunai flat until morning, gave “faulty communication” as the reason for their return to the rear in apparent contravention of his orders.

Because the men were exhausted and hungry, and also because he did not believe that an attack on the right would succeed, Smith decided against ordering the men back into the swamp. His decision, as he himself phrased it, was “to abandon for the time being any action on the right and concentrate on the left, and to continue patrolling on the right in the hope of finding a more suitable route forward.”

Though he now shared Colonel Smith’s views about the impracticality of an attack on the right and the need to make the main effort on the left, General Harding had gone one step further in his thinking. A study of the trail which led from the left hand fork of the Triangle to Buna Village and Buna Mission had convinced him that it would be possible to bypass the Triangle and at the same time take both the village and the mission, if troops could be gotten onto the large grassy area northwest of the Triangle through which, in his own phrase, “the left hand road to Buna” ran. He therefore ordered Smith to contain the Triangle with a portion of his troops and to deploy the rest in the swamp south of the grassy area in question, preparatory to seizing it and moving westward on Buna Village.

Smith began deploying his troops in accordance with this tactical plan early on 26 November. Company F, 128th Infantry, and Company G, 126th Infantry, moved into the area west of the bridge over Entrance Creek which had been occupied and patrolled by Company E, 126th Infantry, since 24 November.

The troops had scarcely begun moving when General Harding, who had for some time felt that the attack on the Urbana front was not being pressed with sufficient vigor, ordered his chief of staff, Colonel John W. Mott, to that front. Mott’s instructions were to take strong action when he got there and, if he thought the situation required it, to take command.

Colonel Mott reached Colonel Smith’s command post on the afternoon of the 27th. Surveying the situation quickly, he came to the conclusion that he would have to assume command and did so at once. He relieved the captains of Companies E and G, 128th Infantry, of their commands and ordered them to take patrols into the area forward of the kunai flat from which the Japanese had driven Company E and the weapons platoon of Company G two days before. In addition, he ordered Companies E and G under their new commanders to retrieve their abandoned weapons on the kunai flat. They did so by sundown, but Company E returned without one of its mortars and had to be sent back a second time to get it.

Mott at once prepared to attack. He adopted a suggestion made to him by Major Smith, that the attack on the grassy strip leading to the village be mounted initially from two smaller grass strips just south of the larger kunai patch, and made his dispositions accordingly. Major Smith’s battalion was ordered to assemble near the Girua River, directly below the two strips that Smith had proposed as the jump-off point for the attack. Company F, 128th Infantry, occupied the area west of the bridge over Entrance Creek. Companies G and H, under Colonel Smith, were ordered to take over the positions south of the Triangle in order to contain the enemy there. Company E, left in reserve, was deployed around task force headquarters.

Mott reported his dispositions to General Harding on the evening of 28 November, and the division commander approved them. Following a suggestion from General Herring that he try night attacks, Harding ordered an attack on Buna Village that night. Pleading that he was not ready to attack, Mott asked for a twenty-four-hour delay. Harding granted his request, and the attack was set for the last night of the month—29-30 November.

The Attacks of 30 November: Integrating the Attacks

On the Warren front, a two-day lull had followed the reverse of 26 November. On the 28th General Harding ordered Colonel Hale to prepare to attack the next day. A report that evening, subsequently found to be false, that the Japanese were making a ground attack on Dobodura caused General Harding to postpone the attack to the early morning of the 30th.

Both Urbana Force and Warren Force were now scheduled to attack on the 30th, Urbana Force a few hours before Warren Force. Each was still suffering from the most acute deficiencies of supply, all but one of the luggers that had come in on 21 November having by this time either gone aground or been destroyed by the enemy.

Colonel Mott’s Attack

Preparations for the attack on the Urbana front were complete by evening of the 29th. In a large coconut tree that overlooked the front, Colonel Mott had an observation post connected by telephone with the artillery at Ango and the mortars. Both artillery and mortars were registered on the objective—the large grassy area just north of the two clearings below which Urbana Force was preparing the attack. Mott’s command post was a hundred yards behind the most forward element of Company E, 126th Infantry. His aid station and part of a collecting company were in place near the Girua River.

The final details of the attack were worked out with Major Smith. The troops would move off toward the main strip as soon after midnight as possible. A thirty minute mortar and artillery preparation would be laid down on the strip. Immediately afterward the men would proceed to their objective in darkness. Lacking white material for armbands, even underwear, the men would have to keep in close contact with one another. Companies E and F, 126th Infantry, would attack in a northeasterly direction and occupy the main strip, making sure that they first secured that part of it which was nearest to the Coconut Grove, a small coconut plantation immediately north of the bridge over Entrance Creek. Company G, 126th Infantry, would attack along the track and take Buna Village. Company F, 128th Infantry, after being relieved in its present positions by Company E, 128th Infantry, would proceed to Siwori Creek, seize the crossing near its mouth, and outpost the area between the creek and the Girua River. Company H, 128th Infantry, would be immediately behind Companies E and F, 126th Infantry, and would support them with fire. Company E, 128th Infantry, operating immediately to the right of Company E, 126th Infantry, would clear the Japanese out of the Coconut Grove. Company G, 128th Infantry, under Colonel Smith, would operate south of the Triangle and thus cover the track, the artillery at Ango, and the rear of the forces attacking toward Buna Village.

The jump-off was delayed. Enemy fire from the strip, flares from enemy aircraft that flew over the area during the night, the rising tide in the swamp, and the confusion attendant upon moving so many men through the treacherous swamp terrain in the dark held up the attack for several hours.

Robert H. Odell, then a lieutenant and platoon leader in Company F, 126th Infantry, has this recollection of the matter: As soon as it was dark, preparations began. When these were completed, we each grasped the shoulder of the man in front, and slowly shuffled forward in the pitch black of the night. Our only guide was the telephone wire leading to the jump-off point, and the troops in the foxholes along the way who had been holding the ground recently captured. There was no trail and consequently several hours were required to travel as many hundreds of yards. We all had bayonets. Rifle fire was forbidden until after the attack was well under way. Japs encountered along the way were to be dealt with silently.

At 0400, Companies E, F, and G, 126th Infantry, finally attacked. It was still dark, and about one hundred yards out, they made their first enemy contact—a line of machine gun posts dead ahead. At that moment, Odell recalls: All hell broke loose. There was more lead flying through the air … than it’s possible to estimate. Machine gun tracers lit the entire area, and our own rifle fire made a solid sheet of flame. Everywhere men cursed, shouted, or screamed. Order followed on order. . . .Brave men led and others followed. Cowards crouched in the grass literally frightened out of their skins. . . .The attack gathered momentum. The two companies—E and F, 126th Infantry—overran the enemy outposts and gained their objective—the eastern end of the main strip. There they found and dispatched an indeterminate number of Japanese, and began to consolidate.

Company G, 126th Infantry, which was to have taken the track to Buna Village as soon as it gained the western end of the strip, accomplished only part of its mission. Led by its commander, 1st Lieutenant Cladie A. Bailey, it overran strong enemy opposition on its part of the strip but lost its way when it tried moving toward the village. When daylight came, the company found itself in the swamp along the northern edge of the strip. Finding Company G out of reach, Colonel Mott immediately assigned Company E, 126th Infantry, to the task of taking the village. Moving directly on Buna Village by way of the main track, the company attacked at 0600. About 300 yards out of the village, it ran into a well-manned enemy bunker line and found itself unable to advance because of enemy crossfire.

On Major Smith’s orders Captain Harold E. Hantlemann of Company H came up with Lieutenant Nummer, commanding officer of Company F, and some troops from Headquarters Company. Putting Hantlemann in charge of the mortars, and Nummer in command of front-line action, Smith made a determined effort to take the village. Preceded by the heaviest concentration of mortar fire yet seen on the Urbana front, the second attack met even fiercer resistance than before. Again the troops could make only slight advances. When the attack was finally called off that afternoon, they had taken considerable casualties but gained very little ground. [Note 51C]

[NOTE 51C: 2nd Bn, 126th Inf, Jnl, 30 Nov 42; Colonel Mott’s Memo; Gen Harding’s Diary, 30 Nov 42; Ltr, Lieutenant Colonel Herbert M. Smith to author, 16 Mar 50. Lieutenant Nummer was wounded in the course of the attack but continued in command in spite of his wounds. He was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The same award, though posthumous, went to Sergeant Boyd L. Lincoln, a squad leader of Company E, 126th Infantry, who was killed that afternoon after leading his squad with great distinction all day against the enemy outpost on the outskirts of the village. Nummer’s citation is in GHQ SWPA GO No. 3, 6 Jan 43; Lincoln’s, in GO No. 1, 1 Jan 43.]

Company F, 128th Infantry, which had been given the task of securing the left flank of Urbana Force from enemy attack and cutting the enemy’s land communications between Buna and Sanananda, succeeded in its mission. It secured the crossing over Siwori Creek and out-posted the trail between it and the bridge over the Girua River. The troops east of Siwori Village had already killed several Japanese from Buna who had tried to cross the bridge, presumably to get to Giruwa or Sanananda.

The other companies of the 2nd Battalion, 128th Infantry, had been less successful. Company E, attacking from the southeast end of the strip, failed to take the Coconut Grove, and Company G had very little success in its attacks into the southern tip of the Triangle. Both were subsequently ordered by Colonel Mott to contain these ob jectives and to make no attacks upon them until otherwise ordered.

In the mop-up of the large grassy strip, the troops overran a Japanese headquarters area from which apparently a considerable number of troops had very recently fled. The place consisted of a headquarters building, an infirmary, and several huts containing weapons, ammunition, food, and medicine. The two main buildings had bunkers to the rear with which they connected by tunnels. The buildings were of canvas and frame construction and had wooden floors covered with floor mats. When overrun, the headquarters building was strewn with military documents, codes, and diaries, and contained a large radio set which took eight men to carry. After removing the papers, the radio, the food, and the medical supplies, the buildings were burned to the ground and the connecting bunkers blown up.

Colonel Hale’s Attack

The attack on the Warren front, though more heavily supported than that on the Urbana front, was even less successful. By this time General Waldron and his second-in-command, Colonel McCreary, had opened an artillery command post at Dobodura and had established firing data for all known targets in the area. The Australian artillery consisted of the eight 25-pounders and two 3.7-inch mountain howitzers of the Manning, Hall, and O’Hare Troops. The Manning Troop, four 25-pounders, was north of Ango; the Hall Troop, the remaining 25-pounders, and the O’Hare Troop, the two mountain howitzers, were at Boreo.

A flight of Australian Wirraways had just arrived from Port Moresby to aid the artillery in its spotting of enemy targets, and one 105-mm. howitzer of Battery A, the 129th U.S. Field Artillery Battalion (the only U.S. field piece to be used in the campaign) had reached Debodura by air the day before with its crew and 400 rounds of ammunition. The gun, under command of Captain Elmer D. Kobs, was emplaced at Ango on the 30th, too late however to take part in the attack.

General Harding, more than ever convinced that it would take tanks to clean out the enemy bunker defenses in the Duropa Plantation, had meanwhile continued to plead for armor. He radioed General Johns of the Combined Operational Service Command (COSC) on 27 November and asked him to do his best to get the tanks at Milne Bay to him. He suggested that Johns try to get some of the Japanese landing barges captured on Goodenough Island in the hope that they might prove big enough for the task. New Guinea Force replied for Johns that there were no barges anywhere in the area big enough to carry the tanks, and that they were sending him Bren carriers instead. Thirteen carriers, tracked, lightly armored reconnaissance vehicles mounting Bren machine guns, arrived with their crews at Porlock Harbor from Milne Bay the same day, 27 November. Advised that at least four of the carriers would reach him in the next couple of days, Harding immediately drew up plans for their use by Warren Force on the 30th.

The plan of attack on the Warren front called for Colonel McCoy’s battalion (reorganized into two rifle companies and one heavy weapons company) to move straight up the track in column of companies, with Company A leading. The advance would be on a 350-yard front, and two of the Bren carriers would spearhead the attack. Colonel Carrier’s troops with the two remaining Brens leading, and the 2/6 Independent Company on its left, were to strike westward in the area immediately below the New Strip preparatory to a break-through in that area. Besides the Australians and the Bren carriers, four 81-mm. mortars from Company M, 128th Infantry, would support Carrier’s force. Colonel Miller’s battalion, less Company I, would be in reserve, ready to assist either McCoy or Carrier, as required. Company I would remain in its blocking position astride the Dobodura-Simemi track, a few hundred yards south of the bridge between the strips.

H Hour was to be 0630. Between H minus 15 and H Hour, the 25-pounders would lay down fire on the southwest end of the New Strip. Thereafter they would fire on the woods northeast of the strip to knock out known Japanese mortar and artillery concentrations. The 3.7-inch mountain guns would first fire a preparation on Cape Endaiadere and then switch to local support of Colonel McCoy’s advance. The air force, then fighting off an enemy convoy bound for Buna, would bomb and strafe enemy positions whenever it could find the planes to do so.

Because of an acute shortage of shipping at Porlock Harbor, the Bren carriers failed to arrive as scheduled, and the attack was launched without them. The 105-mm. howitzer was not yet ready to fire and took no part in the attack. Nor was there the usual preliminary air bombardment, since the air force was still busy with the enemy convoy.

The 25-pounders, the mountain guns, and the mortars opened up at 0615, and the troops jumped off at the appointed time, 0630. Allied bombers, after successfully chasing the enemy convoy back to Rabaul, joined in the fray at 0900. At 0945 there was a further friendly artillery barrage, and at 1345 and 1448 Allied planes came over again, strafing and bombing.

Despite this support, Warren Force made very little progress that day. Pressed tightly against the Japanese defensive positions and without tanks or enough heavy artillery using projectiles with delayed fuse to demolish the enemy fortifications, the Americans could make little headway. The troops fought desperately, but could not get through the enemy’s protective fire.

Company A, 128th Infantry, leading the attack along the coast, advanced less than a hundred yards when it ran into a massive log barricade which Colonel Yamamoto’s troops had thrown across the trail. Automatic fire from behind the barricade and from concealed positions on its left soon brought the company’s advance to a complete halt The artillery at Boreo was unable to reduce the barricade, and sustained fire from 81-mm. mortars and from a 37-mm. gun brought up specifically for the purpose seemed to make no impression upon it. By noon Company A had been definitely stopped, and the men began to dig in, in the intense heat of the day. When Company A was relieved by Company B that night, it was about 900 yards south of the Cape. Its right flank was still in front of the barricade, and its left, which had not kept up, was curved almost all the way back to the line of departure.

Colonel Carrier, on McCoy’s left, facing west, had fared a little better. Ordered to infiltrate the eastern end of the New Strip with a view to striking along its northern edge, Company B tried to fight north into the fork but was stopped by enemy fire from a strongpoint dominating the spur and the strip. Company C, with the Independent Company on its left, was to flank the strip by advancing westward along its southern edge. It advanced to about the center of the strip before enemy fire became so heavy that it too had to dig in. Except for the slight progress on Colonel Carrier’s front, the attack had again failed.

The situation was serious. Despite repeated attacks on it, the Japanese line stood intact. In the two weeks since the 32nd Division had marched out so confidently on the enemy positions at Buna, it had sustained 492 battle casualties but had made not so much as a single penetration of the enemy line. It was obvious that something would have to be done to intensify the attack. The bodies of many of those listed as missing in action were later recovered and went to swell the number killed.

SOURCE: Victory in Papua, BY: Samuel Milner (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Papuan Campaign (12): I Corps Reaches the Front

World War Two: Papuan Campaign (11A); First Two Weeks at Buna (Attack on the right)

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World War Two: Guadalcanal (9); Situation in December-General Patch Takes Command

By the end of November, the higher commanders in the Pacific clearly recognized that the 1st Marine Division needed to be relieved and evacuated to a healthier climate. The division had begun the first offensive undertaken by American ground troops in World War IL Despite the lack of the powerful air and surface support that American infantrymen in later campaigns were to take almost for granted, and in spite of air raids, naval bombardments, inadequate diet, inadequate armament, and resolute Japanese infantry attacks, it had captured and successfully defended an airfield of great importance. Its achievements were rewarded by the Presidential Unit Citation.

Marine battle casualties had not been excessive. Over 600 men of the division were killed in action or died of wounds and other causes between 7 August and 10 December 1942. During the same period the dead of other American units on Guadalcanal totaled 691. Over 2,100 sick and wounded men of the 1st Division had already been evacuated.

In the Solomon’s battle casualties did not accurately reflect a unit’s losses. Hospital admissions resulting from sickness must also be taken into account. Up to 10 December 1942, of the 10,635 casualties in the division, only 1,472 resulted from gunshot wounds; 5,749 malaria cases had put men out of action. In November malaria alone sent 3,283 into the hospital. Gastro-enteritis, which had struck nearly 500 men during August and September, materially decreased during the following months and in December only 12 cases appeared. War neuroses afflicted 100 during October when enemy bombardments had been heaviest, but in November only 13 were affected. These figures are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Many malaria victims were hospitalized more than once; many of the same men were also later killed or wounded. Thus the number of men in the division who were not hospitalized may have been larger than the statistics indicate. Yet many other malaria victims did not report for treatment, and many milder cases were not hospitalized.

The men who had remained on duty were ready for relief. They had endured months of intermittent combat, air raids, and naval attacks. Inadequate diet had caused nearly every man to lose weight. Secondary anemia was common. Weakness resulting from malnutrition, heat, and disease was causing an excessive number of march casualties in all units. Merely living in the Lunga perimeter was an ordeal in itself. Water was insufficient for bathing and laundry, and fungi frequently infected those who bathed in the rivers. The old October perimeter had included less than thirty square miles, so there were no real rest areas, nor any recreational facilities. Flies, attracted by unburied enemy corpses lying beyond the perimeter, harassed the troops constantly. They clustered so thickly that men messing in the open had to brush flies off their food with one hand while eating with the other.

As early as 3 November Halsey had wished to relieve the worn-out division, but he was unable to do so until he could send more fresh troops to Guadalcanal. The 43rd Division was already on its way to the South Pacific; the first elements of the division had arrived in the area in early October. On 3 November Harmon repeated an earlier request that General Marshall send the 25th Division, then assisting in the defense of the Hawaiian Islands, to the South Pacific.

While General Marshall had alerted the 25th Division for movement as early as 19 October, it was not then definitely decided whether the division was to go to the South or to the Southwest Pacific Area. One combat team of the 25th Division was to have left Pearl Harbor in November, but it was delayed when the ship aboard which it was to sail, the President Coolidge, sank on 26 October when it struck two U. S. mines off Espiritu Santo. The Coolidge was carrying the 172nd Regimental Combat Team of the 43rd Division.

On 30 November the Joint Chiefs of Staff decided to send to the South Pacific the 25th Division, commanded by Major General J. Lawton Collins. The 1st Marine Division was to be relieved, with the first echelon leaving in early December. It was to go to the Southwest Pacific Area to be rehabilitated and to provide General MacArthur with a division having amphibious training.

On Guadalcanal staff officers of the Americal Division, who had arrived in November and been working closely with the Marine division staff, were preparing to take over. At the beginning of December they moved into the Marine staff sections to acquaint themselves with the problems peculiar to Guadalcanal. The Americal Division’s supply sections completed an inventory of the stocks on the island, and on 1 December they assumed responsibility for supply. By 8 December all Army staff officers had assumed complete responsibility.

The selection of a commander to succeed General Vandegrift was left to General Harmon. He chose Major General Alexander M. Patch, commanding general of the Americal Division, to direct tactical operations on Guadalcanal. On 9 December General Patch relieved General Vandegrift, who was to leave with his division. The evacuation of the 1st Division began on the same day, when three ships carrying the 5th Marines sailed out of Sealark Channel for Australia. By the end of the month the rest of the division had followed.

General Patch, the new commander, born in 1889, was graduated from the U. S. Military Academy in 1913. He saw active service in France during World War I, taught military science and tactics at Staunton Military Academy in Virginia during three separate tours of duty, and was graduated from the Command and General Staff School and from the Army War College. From 1936 to 1941, he served on the Infantry Board at Fort Benning, with the 47th Infantry, and commanded the Infantry Replacement Training Center at Camp Croft in South Carolina. Early in 1942 he had been ordered, as a brigadier general, to command the American force which had been organized to defend New Caledonia.

On 10 December 1942 the Guadalcanal-Tulagi area assumed somewhat the same status as the other island commands in the South Pacific. General Harmon became responsible for providing supplies for the troops. Admiral Turner was relieved of responsibility for defending Guadalcanal but was to retain responsibility for transporting troops and supplies to the area. General Patch was responsible to Admiral Halsey. His command included the Guadalcanal airfields, the seaplane base at Tulagi, and the naval bases as well as the troops of all services. The troops were then occupying Tulagi, the adjacent islands, and Koli Point, Lunga Point, and the Matanikau River-Point Cruz area on Guadalcanal. The mission given him was clear and direct: “eliminate all Japanese forces” on Guadalcanal.

Troop Strength

For the Americans on Guadalcanal October and November had been primarily periods of stubborn defense interspersed with hard-fought local offensives. The first half of December was a period of transition, a time of organization for offensive action while reinforcements were on their way. Prior to the relief of the 1st Marine Division American forces had included almost 40,000 men. Although in December there were about 25,000 Japanese troops on Guadalcanal, the Americans were not sure of the 17th Army’s precise strength or dispositions, and there always remained the dangerous possibility that it might be reinforced by the nocturnal Tokyo Express.

Prior to his assumption of command General Patch had estimated that he would require at least two reinforced divisions to hold the airfields, and three to prevent the Japanese from making any more landings. But there were then no other divisions in the South Pacific which could be spared. The 37th Division, the only other complete U. S. Army division in the South Pacific except the Americal, was then holding the strategically important Fiji Islands and could not be moved. The departure of the 1st Marine Division reduced troop strength so much that no major offensives could be undertaken until the 25th Division arrived. The Americal Division, the 147th Infantry, the reinforced 2nd and 8th Marines of the 2nd Marine Division, and the Marine defense battalions were the only ground forces available to General Patch during most of December, and most of these were needed to hold the ground already gained.

Most of the remaining units of the Americal Division reached Guadalcanal in December. The 132nd Regimental Combat Team (less the 1st Battalion and A Battery of the 247th Field Artillery Battalion) landed on 8 December. The 2nd Marine Division Signal Company and the 18th Naval Construction Battalion landed on 12 December, followed on 13 December by the 3rd Battalion, 182nd Infantry, and C Company, 2nd (Marine) Engineer Battalion. The next day more Americal Division units landed—the Mobile Combat Reconnaissance Squadron, the 1st Battalion, 132nd Infantry, A Battery of the 247th Field Artillery Battalion, and a detachment of the 39th Military Police Company. The 221st Field Artillery Battalion did not arrive until January 1943. These units were inexperienced, but the 164th and 182nd Regiments had seen heavy fighting.

The Americal Division was a unique Army unit, for it bore a name instead of a number and had been activated in New Caledonia instead of on United States territory. The name “Americal” is a contraction of the words America and New Caledonia. The division, activated in May 1942, was composed of elements of the force sent to defend New Caledonia in the early months of the war. Composed of infantry, artillery, and supporting units and led by General Patch, this task force had left the United States on 23 January 1942. After a short stay at Melbourne, Australia, it had reached Noumea, New Caledonia, on 12 March, to occupy and defend that island. New Caledonia, valuable as a military base and source of nickel, was a French colony held by the Vichy government during the first years of World War II until a popular uprising overthrew the Vichy governor and installed a member of General Charles de Gaulle’s Fighting French Forces. In co-operation with the Fighting French authorities, General Patch’s force had organized the defense of New Caledonia.

The main units of the Americal Division were the 132nd, 164th, and 182nd Infantry Regiments; the 221st, 245th, 246th, and 247th Field Artillery Battalions; the 57th Engineer Combat Battalion; the 101st Quartermaster Regiment; the 101st Medical Regiment; the 26th Signal Company, and the Mobile Combat Reconnaissance Squadron. The division, which had been widely dispersed in New Caledonia, was to operate on Guadalcanal as a complete division for the first time.

The first element of the division to land on Guadalcanal was the 164th Infantry, a part of the North Dakota National Guard. It was followed by a Massachusetts National Guard regiment, the 182nd Infantry. The units of the Americal which served with the 1st Marine Division also received the Presidential Unit Citation. The 132nd Infantry, of the Illinois National Guard, arrived last. The division’s artillery battalions came from the old 72nd and 180th Field Artillery Regiments. The Mobile Combat Reconnaissance Squadron, equipped with jeeps, rifles, machine guns, automatic rifles, mortars, and 37-mm. antitank guns, was a special unit which had been organized in New Caledonia by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander M. George to provide a mobile striking force to strengthen the defense of the island. Guadalcanal’s terrain was too rough and densely jungled for motorized combat units, however, and the squadron fought on foot.

Brigadier General Edmund B. Sebree, then assistant division commander and soon to command the division, was by December a veteran of Guadalcanal. He had reached the island in early November, had conducted the closing phase of the Koli Point action, and had commanded part of the perimeter defense. On General Vandegrift’s order he had directed the offensive of 18 November which, though it bogged down short of the Poha River, succeeded in establishing the American lines west of the Matanikau River.

There were no experienced fresh troops on Guadalcanal in early December. The 132nd Infantry was fresh but untried, and the veteran Marine and Army units were in little better condition than the 1st Marine Division. All were suffering from general debility, battle weariness, and malaria, and most of the Americal Division units were understrength. On 11 December the Americal Division numbered 13,169 men—23 officers and 3,102 enlisted men below full strength. The 132nd, 164th, and 182nd Infantry Regiments, with an authorized strength of 3,325 men each, lacked 329, 864, and 869 men, respectively.

General Harmon resorted to emergency measures to increase the strength of the forces on Guadalcanal. With Admiral Halsey’s approval, he ordered the ships bearing the 25th Division from Hawaii to sail to Guadalcanal without reloading at New Caledonia. In doing so General Harmon knowingly took a risk, for, as General Marshall warned him on 7 December, shipping space had been too limited for combat-loading, or even unit-loading the ships before they left Pearl Harbor. Discharging these ships in the forward area would be dangerous.

But in view of General Patch’s urgent need for more troops, combat-loading the 25th Division’s ships at Noumea, where dockside congestion had caused a crisis, would delay the landing of the division on Guadalcanal by six weeks—until early February 1943. General Harmon therefore carried out his plan despite the dangers involved, and the 25th Division, protected by air and surface forces, went to Guadalcanal without taking time to reload at Noumea. The 35th Regimental Combat Team landed at Beach Red on 17 December; it was followed by the 27th Regimental Combat Team on 1 January 1943, and by the 161st Regimental Combat Team on 4 January. All units landed without loss. On 4 January 2nd Marine Division headquarters and the 6th Marines, Reinforced, having moved up from New Zealand, also landed, thereby bringing the 2nd Marine Division to nearly full strength. General Patch had now, in addition to miscellaneous units, three divisions.

The additional duties assumed by General Patch’s staff during December imposed heavy burdens upon it. Americal Division headquarters, the highest headquarters on Guadalcanal in December, had been acting as a full corps headquarters—acting simultaneously as island headquarters, Americal Division headquarters, and headquarters for part of the 2nd Marine Division. To remedy this situation, General Harmon recommended to General Marshall that a corps headquarters be designated for the Guadalcanal-Tulagi area. General Marshall, who on 5 December had informed General Harmon that all Army Air Force units in the South Pacific Area were to be designated the Thirteenth Air Force, acceded to this request, and on 2 January 1943 General Harmon activated the XIV Corps. The Corps consisted of the Americal and 25th Divisions, with the 2nd Marine Division and other Marine ground forces attached.

General Patch was given the command of the XIV Corps, and General Sebree succeeded to command of the Americal Division. Headquarters and Headquarters Company, VIII Corps, then in the United States, was re-designated and assigned to the XIV Corps, and in late December Brigadier General Robert L. Spragins arrived to assume his duties as XIV Corps chief of staff. The XIV Corps’ staff section chiefs assumed their duties on 5 January 1943, but most of the posts at XIV Corps headquarters were manned by Americal Division staff officers. The Americal Division staff section chiefs acted simultaneously for their division and as assistant staff section chiefs for the Corps. As late as 1 February 1943 XIV Corps headquarters proper consisted of only eleven officers and two enlisted men. The Corps was not only insufficiently staffed, but also lacked service troops and organic corps artillery. It used the 155-mm. guns of the defense battalions and the Army coast artillery battery as corps artillery.

The arrival of reinforcements in late December and early January increased American strength on Guadalcanal sufficiently to make possible the opening of large-scale offensive operations. By 7 January 1943 Allied air, ground, and naval forces in the Guadalcanal area totaled about 50,000 men. The Americal Division numbered about 16,000; the 25th Division, 12,629; the 2nd Marine Division, 14,733.25

Air Power

By December the difficulties and shortages which had limited the campaigns in the South and Southwest Pacific were partially overcome. In the Solomon’s, Allied air strength was on the increase. Control of the air and the sea in the southern Solomon’s enabled Halsey and Turner to send troops and supplies to Guadalcanal regularly. The number of heavy Army bombers in the South Pacific had increased. The veteran 11th Heavy Bombardment Group had been operating in the theater since July, and in November it was reinforced by the 5th Heavy Bombardment Group and the 12th and 44th Fighter Squadrons, which arrived at Espiritu Santo from Hawaii.

By November forty B-17’s of the two groups were operating in the Solomon’s, and General Harmon released heavy bombers of the 90th Bombardment Group which he had been authorized to divert en route to the Southwest Pacific. On 20 October twin-engined Army fighter planes (P-38’s) had arrived in the South Pacific, but not until November, when Henderson Field was safe from shell fire, could they be based at Guadalcanal. When heavy bombers from Henderson Field raided Buin on 18 November, P-38’s escorted the B-17’s all the way for the first time.

Unfortunately the B-17’s frequently had to be diverted from bombardment to patrol missions. The Navy’s twin-engined flying boats (PBY’s) were too vulnerable to enemy attack. The B-17’s, on the other hand, could patrol over long stretches of water, locate enemy convoys, and beat off attacking Japanese fighter planes. The effectiveness of heavy bombers was also diminished by the fact that most fixed enemy objectives lay beyond the range of bombers based at spiritu Santo. The heavy bombers when not flying patrol missions were usually limited to the bombardment of shipping and thus did not meet with conspicuous success as compared with the dive bombers and torpedo bombers which the Navy had designed for just such work. A sustained air offensive against the enemy in the northern Solomon’s could not be mounted until a strong bomber force was permanently based at Henderson Field.

[NOTE-25XK: XIV Corps Strength Rpt, 7 Jan 43, in Amer Div Strength Rpt. Figures in the Corps report, incorrectly totaled, have been corrected. The Corps’ report does not show the 221st Field Artillery Battalion, which landed on 4 January 1943. As strength figures for this battalion for 7 January 1943 have not yet been found, those for 1 February 1943 have been used to reach the approximately correct figure.]

Allied air power on Guadalcanal had greatly increased since the grim days in October. On 23 November General Vandegrift reported that eighty-four U. S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Royal New Zealand Air Force planes were operating from Guadalcanal. By 29 November there were 188 aircraft of all types. By December the 1st Marine Air Wing included Marine Air Group 14, with elements of the 12th, 68th, and 339th Fighter Squadrons and of the 70th Medium Bombardment Squadron (equipped with B-26’s) of the Army Air Forces attached. The advance elements of Brigadier General Francis P. Mulcahy’s 2nd Marine Air Wing, which was to relieve the 1st Wing, arrived on 26 December.

By December, in spite of all difficulties, air and naval power had almost, but not completely, isolated the Japanese on Guadalcanal. The Tokyo Express could slip through on occasion, but the island’s air forces limited its trips. Allied air power was also able to prevent Japanese aircraft from successfully attacking ground installations in force during daylight and from using aircraft for daylight reconnaissance.

Henderson Field was in fair condition by December. Although its operational facilities were still crude, it could support the efficient operation of eighty planes. On returning to the United States after his tour of duty as commander of land-based aircraft in the South Pacific, Admiral McCain had recommended building gasoline storage tanks with a minimum capacity of half a million gallons. He had recommended storage tanks with a million-gallon capacity if Guadalcanal was to be used as a base for further advances, and by December construction of storage tanks with that capacity had begun. Henderson Field could be used in all weathers. By 10 January steel mats had been laid over 320,750 square feet of runway but 600,000 square feet remained without mats.

Fighter Strip No.1, east of Henderson, was being regraded in December but 1,800,000 square feet of matting were required. It was later to serve Navy and Marine Corps aircraft. The coral-surfaced Fighter Strip No. 2 southwest of Kukum was nearly complete by the end of December. It was to furnish U. S. Army and Royal New Zealand Air Force pilots with an excellent runway. At Koli Point naval construction forces, unhindered by enemy ground forces, had nearly completed the bomber strip, Carney Field.

The daylight air attacks, naval shellings, and artillery fire that had pounded Henderson Field so heavily in October were over, although harassing air raids continued to take place at night. Antiaircraft guns of the Marine Corps defense battalions and, until its relief, of the 1st Special Weapons Battalion defended the airstrips. Automatic weapons ranging in size from .30-caliber water-cooled antiaircraft machine guns to 20-mm. and 37-mm. antiaircraft guns beat off strafers and dive bombers, and 90-mm. guns and searchlights defended the field against high-level bombers.

One of the features of the campaign was the nightly nuisance attacks by the Japanese planes, which the troops called “Louie the Louse,” or from the engines’ sound, “Washing-machine Charley” and “Maytag Charley.” Charley bombed at random and caused little damage, but the bombs forced the troops to take cover in dugouts and foxholes, losing sleep and exposing themselves to malarial mosquitoes. Charley was a difficult target for the antiaircraft guns since he usually flew high and maneuvered violently when searchlights and guns went into action. Night fighting, radar-equipped planes, which would have been effective against him, were not to reach the South Pacific until late in February 1943. On several occasions air forces and antiaircraft batteries successfully coordinated fighter attacks with searchlight illumination.

The long-range radar used on Guadalcanal, the SCR 270, functioned fairly well, although the antiaircraft batteries’ fire control radar, the SCR 268, was too primitive for accurate fire control. The coast-watching stations supplemented radar to warn the Lunga area of approaching enemy planes, for the enemy occasionally attacked Lunga Point from the south and southwest over the mountains which screened the planes from radar beams.

The American Situation on Guadalcanal

The area of Guadalcanal which was held by American troops in December was not much greater than that captured in the assault landing. The Lunga perimeter had been enlarged in the November offensive to include the Matanikau River and the area west to Point Cruz. By December the American lines extended from Point Cruz south to Hill 66, from there were refused east across the Matanikau River, and joined the old Lunga perimeter line east of the river. At Koli Point Colonel Tuttle’s 147th Infantry, the 9th (Marine) Defense Battalion, and the naval construction battalion had established a perimeter defense.

Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tanambogo, successfully stormed on 7-8 August, were in American hands. The Japanese had shelled and bombed these islands but had directed all their ground assaults against Henderson Field. Tulagi Harbor provided a good anchorage for warships and transports. American patrols from Tulagi regularly visited Florida Island across the channel from Guadalcanal, to check on possible enemy forces.

The fundamental importance of health and supply in the American situation on Guadalcanal had not diminished. But by December supply had greatly improved over that of the early days, and a major crisis at Noumea had been surmounted. In November, a break-down in the handling of incoming ships at Noumea threatened to cut off supplies for the Army troops on Guadalcanal.

The South Pacific Amphibious Force was already short of ships, and with the torpedoing of the Alchiba off Guadalcanal in November Admiral Halsey reported that only four undamaged cargo ships were left in the South Pacific Force. At Noumea the increased flow of supplies and troops from the United States had resulted in a serious congestion of the harbor, where 91 vessels carrying 180,000 tons of cargo were waiting to be unloaded. Eighty-three of the vessels carried supplies and equipment which Were to be trans-shipped to the New Hebrides and to Guadalcanal. Noumea, like the few other partially developed ports in the South Pacific, lacked enough men, equipment, and storage and berthing space to unload the ships. Army, Navy, and Marine Corp units had formerly each handled their own supplies, but in late November Admiral Halsey suggested that the Army assume responsibility for loading and unloading ships at Noumea. The Army took over the task immediately. In November 34,327 long tons of cargo had been discharged at Noumea, and in December the amount rose to 126,216 long tons. Cargo shipments to Guadalcanal, which had totaled 5,259 long tons in November, increased to 7,271 long tons in December.

Once supplies reached Guadalcanal, however, further difficulties arose. In the absence of docks, all supplies had to be unloaded from ships standing off-shore, lightered to the beaches, unloaded, reloaded on trucks and hauled inland to the dispersed dumps. Since the shortage of shipping space stripped units traveling to Guadalcanal of much of their motor transport, there were never enough trucks. As the number of service troops was also inadequate, combat troops as well as native laborers were forced to handle cargo, a duty for which the combat soldiers showed a marked lack of enthusiasm. As General Patch wrote, combat troops were “apathetic toward labor.”

Moreover, poor roads hindered the movement of supplies inland. Engineers and pioneers of the 1st Marine Division had built roads and some bridges, and the 57th Engineer Battalion was continuing the work. Known before the war as Government Track, the coast road served as the main route between the Ilu River and Point Cruz. An additional road net served Henderson Field and the infantry positions to the south. The marines had begun a jeep trail southwest from the perimeter toward Mount Austen; the 57th Engineers were to complete this trail, over which supplies for the forthcoming attack on Mount Austen were to be carried. A permanent motor bridge enabled heavy vehicles using the coast road to cross the Matanikau. The coast road supplied the troops near Point Cruz, while jeeps carried supplies to Hill 66 on a trail leading over Hills 73 and 72.

These roads, which rain turned into mudholes, were never completely adequate even in dry weather for the supply of front-line units. Before the American invasion no real motor roads had existed. The Japanese had hacked trails through the jungle but many had been obliterated by the trees and undergrowth. When American troops advanced, the engineers would build supply roads behind them, but since they were muddy and narrow, small supply dumps, widely dispersed as a protection against bombing and shell fire, were situated well forward. Jeeps and hand-carriers usually brought supplies to the units in the front lines. Despite these efforts, American troops in January were frequently to outrun their supplies and in some instances were even to fight for considerable periods without water.

Malaria, too, affected operations. By December 1942 the problem of malaria control had not been solved, nor was it to be solved until after the campaign. Malaria, the greatest single factor reducing the effectiveness of South Pacific troops, caused five times as many casualties as enemy action in the South Pacific. No malaria control personnel had been permitted on Guadalcanal until mid-November. The island had been occupied almost a year before sufficient aerosol dispensers and insect repellent were available. Quinine was scarce; suppressive atabrine treatment had been inaugurated but had not halted the spread of the disease. Many men swallowed atabrine tablets reluctantly if at all. Many falsely believed that it was poisonous, that it caused sexual impotence, or that it stained the skin permanently. Little had been done to check the breeding of mosquitoes. The natives were all heavily infected, as were the Japanese. Each rain filled the numerous swamps, streams, lagoons, craters, and foxholes, and provided ideal breeding areas for mosquitoes. Malaria discipline had been lax in all units.

Of the ineffective troops in the Army units on Guadalcanal, nearly 65 percent were put out of action by disease as compared with about 25 percent wounded in action. The rate of malaria per 1,000 men per year for units of all services on Guadalcanal was high. It rose from 14 cases per 1,000 in August to 1,664 per 1,000 in October, 1,781 in November, 972 in December, and 1,169 in January 1943. The hospital admission rate from malaria in Army units alone on Guadalcanal from 1 November 1942 to 13 February 1943 averaged 420 admissions per 1,000 men per year.

The Japanese Situation

As the American situation on Guadalcanal improved, the enemy’s situation correspondingly deteriorated. By piecemeal commitment the Japanese had dissipated their air, surface, and troop strength. Hard fighting with Americans of all services had cost the enemy dearly, as had his own lack of perception, demonstrated by repeated attacks, without sufficient artillery support, against superior forces. Malnutrition and disease exacted a heavy toll from the enemy on Guadalcanal.

The Japanese Army command in the South Pacific was altered in December when a higher headquarters than that of the 17th Army moved into Rabaul. On the orders of Imperial General Headquarters, General Hitoshi Imamura, commanding the 8th Area Army, left Java for Rabaul to assume command of army operations. General Imamura reached Rabaul on 2 December 1942 and was followed later by his army. On Guadalcanal the forward echelon of 17th Army Headquarters continued to direct operations. General Hyakutake, the army commander, and his staff remained on the island until February 1943. In December, the 17th Army kept the bulk of its combat forces between Point Cruz and Cape Esperance, while patrols covered the south coast. The Japanese front lines extended from the Point Cruz area to the high ground about 4,500 yards inland, curving east about 3,000 yards to include Mount Austen. The only Japanese troops east of the Lunga in December were stragglers.

[NOTE-40ZL: USSBS, Allied Campaign Against Rabaul, p. 9. This source occasionally calls Imamura’s command the 8th Group Army, 17th Army Opns, I, states that Headquarters, 8th Area Army reached Rabaul on 22 November. 17th Army Opns, I, II. Many Allied sources affirm that Hyakutake left the island well before February. According to the XIV Corps and Americal Division’s intelligence reports, Maruyama directed operations in Hyakutake’s absence.]

On the island were the remnants of General Maruyama’s 2nd Division, General Sano’s 38th Division, and the Kawaguchi and Ichiki Forces. Major General Takeo Ito, Infantry Group commander of the 38th Division, commanded about 1,000 troops of the 124th and 228th Infantry Regiments and supporting units on an inland line extending from Mount Austen to a point about 3,000 yards west. Of this force, Major Takeyosho Inagaki with the 2nd Battalion, 228th Infantry, occupied the northeast slopes of Mount Austen. Colonel Oka, with part of the 124th Infantry and other units, held the center of the line between Mount Austen and the Matanikau, while Colonel Masaichi Suemura commanded the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 228th Infantry on the high ground west of the Matanikau. In the coastal area, part of the 2nd Division, operating occasionally under 38th Division command, and units of the latter division faced the Americans along the Point Cruz-Hill 66 line, while the rest of the 2nd Division was concentrated farther west. In early December the Americans were not completely aware of Japanese strength and dispositions on Guadalcanal, especially on Mount Austen and the hills to the west.

Japanese troop strength had declined from the peak of 30,000 men, reached briefly in November, to average about 25,000 in December. Almost no reinforcements had arrived since the 38th Division survivors had come ashore from their blazing transports on 15 November. During the entire campaign about 33,600 troops of the 17th Army and 3,100 of the Special Naval Landing Forces saw action on the island at various times. In December the Americans underestimated the total strength of the Japanese on Guadalcanal; their estimates varied from 9,100 to 16,000. But all Japanese units were understrength, and many soldiers were unfit for duty.

In all sectors the enemy, incapable of offensive action, had dug in for defense. The front-line troops especially were in poor physical condition. The increasing shortage of supplies had reduced rations to a bare minimum, to less than one-third the regular daily allowance. Stealing of food was common. As the few supplies which were brought in were usually landed near Cape Esperance and carried by hand to the front, rear-area troops fared best. Front-line troops were often reduced to eating coconuts, grass, roots, ferns, bamboo sprouts, and what wild potatoes they could find. There are even a few apparent instances of cannibalism on Mount Austen.

[NOTE-47ZL: Interv with Colonel Stanley R. Larsen, 19 Aug 46. Colonel Larsen commanded the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, on Mount Austen and saw butchered corpses. See also statements by Colonel R. B. McClure (CO, 35th Inf), 20 Jan 43; Lieutenant Colonel James L. Dalton, II, 31 Jan 43; Major Lome S. Ward, 29 Jan 43; and Lieutenant Colonel Stuart F. Crawford, (G-2, 25th Div), in 25th Div FO’s, in misc USAFISPA docs in files of Hist Div, SSUSA.]

But hunger was not the only serious problem. If malaria decimated the American ranks, it caused havoc among the enemy. Among the Japanese probably every man was a victim. They had no systematic malaria control, few mosquito nets, and inadequate field hospitals. While American troops operated and bivouacked on high open ground whenever possible, the enemy’s need for security from air attack made him travel, bivouac, and fight in the jungles, where the Anopheles mosquito breeds in the sluggish streams and swamps. According to enemy figures, of 21,500 casualties, 9,000 died of disease—malaria, malnutrition, beri-beri, and dysentery. [NOTE-48KL] Illness and malnutrition weakened the troops so much that late in the campaign one Japanese officer is reported to have classified his men in three groups: those who could move and fight, those who could fight only from emplacements, and those who could not fight at all. In several instances when hospitals moved west during the retreats in January and February the medical personnel apparently evacuated only ambulatory patients. That the others were left behind to die or be captured was indicated by the fact that American troops, during the January offensives, were to find numbers of unwounded enemy corpses in abandoned hospital sites.

[Note-48KL: 1st Demob Bureau table, attached to Interrog of Hyakutake, et al. 17th Army Opns, II, gives figures which substantially agree, but shows the total dead as 21,600. Amer Div Int Rpt, Tab B, gives 27,000 enemy dead; Japanese Medical Problems, p. 11, estimates that 2/3 of enemy deaths were caused by illness; XIV Corps, Enemy Opns, gives larger figures—42,554 committed; 24,330 killed; 3,000 evacuated; 14,724 died of wounds or sickness.]

The Japanese troops lacked food because air and naval power had almost completely isolated them from their bases. They could not use transports for supply and reinforcements. The nocturnal Tokyo Express was able to bring in only a scattering of supplies and reinforcements. The Express made about eleven trips to Guadalcanal between 16 November 1942 and 9 February 1943, and lost ten destroyers sunk and nineteen damaged in the process. To deliver food to Guadalcanal, the Japanese at Rabaul packed rice in empty gasoline drums, roped fifty together, and loaded four of these 50-drum bundles on the deck of each destroyer. The destroyers would then sail down the Slot, arrive at Cape Esperance at night, and throw the drums overboard to float in with the morning tide. Destroyers transported over 20,000 drums, but the troops ashore recovered less than 30 percent. Some were destroyed on the coral reefs, the ropes often broke, and Allied fliers on dawn patrol strafed them whenever possible. When the drum method failed the Japanese tried supply by submarine, but with little success. According to former 17th Army officers, the Japanese on Guadalcanal not only failed to receive the greater part of their heavy equipment, but also lost all but 10 percent of their ammunition.

Thus it was impossible for the Japanese to undertake offensive operations. Not only were the soldiers too weak, but ammunition stocks were too low. Enemy artillery lacked shells to hit Henderson Field, and Allied aircraft and counterbattery artillery made the extensive use of artillery dangerous. Farther north, however, enemy activity was increasing. After their failure to retake the Lunga airfields in November, the Japanese had begun to build an airfield at Munda Point on New Georgia, just 207 miles from Henderson Field. It was so well camouflaged that it was not discovered by the Americans until 3 December. Despite almost daily attacks by aircraft, the field was completed by 29 December. Thereafter Guadalcanal-based aircraft struck it regularly to prevent its fighters escorting the Tokyo Express or intercepting Allied bombing formations bound for the Shortlands and Bougainville, and to discourage its bombers from attacking the Lunga airfields.

An Allied victory on Guadalcanal seemed to be assured by December, but only at the cost of more hard righting. Though weak from hunger and disease, the Japanese were not disposed to surrender and were to continue to fight with bravery and skill.

Source: Guadalcanal: The First Offensive ; BY: John Miller, Jr. (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Guadalcanal (10); December Offensive

World War Two: Guadalcanal (8); Advances Toward Kokumbona

Today’s Extra for Jan. 21: Release Stress with One Simple Technique

Release Stress with One Simple Technique

Ever wondered what the biggest problem in life is? Yes, it’s the inability to relax! This is a true story: I met John at a stress-release workshop I was teaching in Scotland. He was a schoolteacher in a run down area of Glasgow. As if that wasn’t hard enough, he was a history teacher, a subject that most of his pupils were completely uninterested in.

Teaching had become a source of immense stress; John would regularly lose his temper and was planning to quit. I saw him again a year later at a follow-up workshop. John looked refreshed and radiant, so I fully expected to hear that he’d got a different job. Instead, he told me that he’d become head of the department. The difference? John had done nothing other than Yoga Nidra, an ancient yogic relaxation practice that I had taught him, every morning before going to school. This had led to a state of deep calm. As a result, both his attitude and approach at work had radically improved. Being mindfully relaxed is the ultimate life-changing gift we can give ourselves.

Stress is nothing new. Ever since the beginning of time we have encountered stressful situations, such as the cavemen who had to hunt for food and the resulting fight-or-flight dilemma when confronted with wild animals. The stress-producing factors may be different now but they have the same effect. It’s quite amazing to me that after thousands of years we still haven’t figured out how we need to relax! And in our current world situation, relaxation is vital.

Unless we can look at stressful difficulties with mindful awareness then all we really do is create more stress: a tense mind creates greater tension, while a calm and clear mind creates clarity and positivity. When we are stressed then everything becomes an irritation, no matter how well intended. Friendships are lost and families broken as achievements and possessions become more important than kindness and caring.

We can’t hide from stress, but we do take being stressed for granted without doing anything about it until it becomes unmanageable. We think relaxation can be accomplished by indulging in mindless and distracting activities. At times this is true. But more often they become an escape from our inability to cope in a world of conflicting pressures and prejudices. Stress throws us into regrets of the past and fears of the future and we lose the ability to be in the present moment. Meantime guilt, shame and blame create unimaginable scenarios. As the anxiety becomes too much to handle we begin to look outside ourselves for help, such as to alcohol, drugs, or therapy. Such is our ‘normal’ state of being!

Do you get upset or angry when matters don’t go as planned? Do you need to be in control, or can you allow events to take their natural course? Do you believe you are right and so others are wrong? Are you able to see things as they are without prejudice or bias? Do you bear grudges and hold on to things or can you let go and move on? These are important questions to ask ourselves in order to become more tolerant, kind, and relaxed.

Confusion and misunderstanding make us desperate for change, but we don’t know how to bring about the transformation we yearn for. So we change the superficial things, like our hairstyle or clothes, we even have a facelift or hair transplant. All we want is to be wanted! But if we change our lives from within then the outer will also transform. Being mindfully relaxed has a hugely positive effect on our looks, health, on others, and the world we live in. What more could we want?

 

Ed Shapiro is the author of The Art Of Mindful Relaxation, The Heart of Yoga Nidra. Award-winning Authors Ed and Deb are mindfulness, meditation and yoga experts. Deb is the author of Your Body Speaks Your Mind, now in 19 languages. They have six meditation downloads. See more at EdandDebShapiro.com

Source:

Care2.com

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Jan. 21: SNOWSHOEING IN THE WINTER: TIPS TO GET STARTED

 

SNOWSHOEING IN THE WINTER: TIPS TO GET STARTED

Snowshoes have come a long way since their origins some 7,000 years ago. Back then, it’s safe to guess that snowshoeing was not considered a leisure winter sport.

In fact, without even researching it much, I can safely wager that snowshoes were made so that people could survive winter. You know: head out, forage for food, return home with a dead animal—also known as “dinner for the family.”

 

Times have changed. And so have snowshoes.

Originally, snowshoes were made from wood and rawhide. Current-day versions using those materials are still available to buy, as are authentic antique versions that are often found adorning the walls of vacation ski homes. However, the rapid growth of snowshoeing as a sport in the 1990s was due to modern versions of snowshoes made with aluminum or stainless steel frames and nylon, plastic, or polypropylene decking. They are light and relatively inexpensive.

 

Old versus new snowshoes!

I bought a pair of Tubbs snowshoes in the late 1990s. Except for adjusting the straps or bindings to fit whichever pair of boots (waterproof and insulated work best) I am wearing, they are quite simple to use. Newer versions have even easier to adjust bindings and straps. In fact, if you are reasonably fit and feel comfortable walking, then you should have an easy time learning to snowshoe!

BEST SNOWSHOE EQUIPMENT

• One pair of snowshoes (many outdoor shops rent equipment and offer lessons)

• Proper outdoor clothing

• Sturdy winter boots (or specialty snowshoe boots)

• One pair of ski poles or trekking poles (optional)

• Gaiters (optional)

• Headlamp (for nighttime snowshoeing)

The best way to learn a new sport is from a professional instructor, and many places that rent or sell snowshoes offer short lessons.

SNOWSHOEING TIPS & TECHNIQUES

Here’s what to keep in mind on your first day out:

• Practice on a flat snowy surface without ice. Most modern snowshoes have crampons on the bottom. These crampons work best in fluffy snow and aren’t as easy to use on icy steep slopes, especially going downhill. That’s just something to keep in mind as you are experimenting with this new sport.

• “Put one foot in front of the other.” The movement pattern is the same as walking. Lift your left foot, bending at the knee so that the snowshoe comes off the snowy surface, and take a step. Repeat this with your right foot. That’s it—just like walking, except that you have much larger “shoes” that hinge away from your foot as you lift your foot. Gaiters are also optional for snowshoeing. If the snow is very light and not packed down, and very deep, gaiters will help to protect your boots and the bottom of your snow pants from snow getting inside. In most instances, snowshoes do a great job of keeping you above the snow, and you will not need gaiters.

• Use poles. Though poles are optional, they give you two more points of balance while snowshoeing. I prefer trekking poles that are adjustable so I that can dial in the perfect pole length. The arm motions using poles are the same as when you walk and should feel natural. Simultaneously, step with your left leg and swing your right pole forward with a light flick of the wrist to put the pole basket in front of you, then plant the pole. In this case, your balance is moving from your right foot to your left foot and right pole, as your momentum moves forward. That’s as much physics as I can share with you. Just remember: It feels like walking.

• Look ahead, not straight down at your shiny new snowshoes. There are two reasons you should look ahead. The first: You are outside and it’s a beautiful winter wonderland. Take in the sights, sounds and smells. The second: Looking ahead improves your balance.

Snowshoeing is a great sport for all ages. You can head out on wooded adventures or across a frozen lake.

And that optional headlamp I mentioned in the equipment list above? If you ever venture out for a nighttime snowshoe under a full Moon, you might get hooked on snowshoeing just like I did.

 

During the winter months, Heather Atwell blogs about outdoor activities for Almanac.com. The offspring of parents who met in the lift line at Vermont’s Stowe Mountain, Heather has skied since she could walk. She’s a fully certified PSIA instructor who knows New England ski areas from her four years working for Ski Vermont and from her lifelong love of the sport. Heather’s recipe for winter happiness: Mix fresh snow and a little outdoor adventure.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Jan. 21: WINTER EXERCISE: NO EXCUSES

 

WINTER EXERCISE: NO EXCUSES

Motivation flagging? Live too far from a gym? No room in the house for exercise equipment? Not enough light before or after work? Feeling sluggish?

A lot of people abandon regular exercise during the winter. If that describes you, I know you have a slew of excuses, because I’ve used most of ‘em myself.

But even the best excuses ignore the cardinal law of physical fitness: Use it or lose it. You only get the fitness you earn today. You can’t store it up until the weather improves and the days get longer.

Don’t stop!
By the time the forsythia blooms, your sedentary body will have lost a lot of ground. It will take weeks or months of diligent work to get back to the fitness level (and its corresponding physical and psychological health benefits) you had when you laid off around Thanksgiving.

Just get going.

Walk
To improve traction, balance, and the quality of winter walking, invest in some good quality trekking poles. Get the adjustable kind with spring-loaded shock absorption, and you can use them for snowshoeing and summer hiking, too.

Yaktrax or other pull-on “grippers” can improve your confidence when conditions are icy. Not enough light after work? Take to a well-lit parking lot, streets with streetlights. Turn on the outside light and walk up and down your own driveway. If you have a mall nearby, walk there. Better yet, walk outdoors around the entire mall a few times.

Walk (or run) the stairs

If you have stairs in your home and the knees for it, pump up the volume on your MP3player or radio and hit the stairs. Don’t overdo these workouts; work up by going slowly and starting with only a few repetitions.

I keep my freezer and refrigerator in the basement and my computer workstation in a third-story attic. Besides keeping my leg muscle strong, this arrangement allows me to burn 11 pounds’ worth of calories each year just going about my daily activities.

Jump rope
Jumping rope isn’t just for kids. If you can work up to it, 15 minutes a day will give you the fitness benefits of half an hour of running or a 1000-yard swim. All you need is a rop[e and comfortable shoes. If your home has high ceilings, you can jump indoors. Other locations: a porch, garage, driveway, parking lot or other paved surface.

Strap on the snowshoes
I consider the snowshoes and poles we bought 12 years ago a major health investment. We’ve used them often all winter long ever since.

Snowshoes allow you to walk on water (or at least float on snow). If you can walk, you can snowshoe, especially in today’s lightweight, easy-on-easy-off models. This is the best time of year to buy new and used snowshoes. If you can, invest in a pair of trekking poles, too. They improve balance and stability, offer work for your upper body, and increase the workout intensity (building muscle, burning more calories).

Find a partner
Nothing  helps maintain your motivation to exercise like finding a partner as committed to his/her health and well being as you. A good walking/running/indoor biking partner makes the time fly and helps you forget your discomfort.

You don’t have to share the same political views or travel in the same social circles.The only requirements for a training partner/fitness buddy: 1. someone about the same fitness level as you, and 2. someone who’ll always shows up.

One to remember
But sometimes you have no choice but to go it alone.

My most memorable winter workout took place early one evening during a blizzard—a total whiteout with fierce winds. More than a foot of snow had already fallen, and it was accumulating a couple of inches per hour.

I pulled on my heaviest winter duds, turned on the outside light, and tramped around and around our circular driveway.

Whiteout conditions, where the snow seems to fall and swirl from all directions, confuse spatial perception to the point where it becomes difficult to tell up from down. To orient myself, I followed my footsteps, finding them almost totally obscured by the time I came around again.

I lost track of time in that other-worldly environment, stopping only when the power went out and I lost my light. Though I wouldn’t be able to recreate this event, I won’t forget it or the utter rapture of it.

My point? When it comes to exercise, seize the moment!

 

ABOUT THIS BLOG

“Living Naturally” is all about living a naturally healthy lifestyle. Margaret Boyles covers health tips, ways to avoid illness, natural remedies, food that’s good for body and soul, recipes for homemade beauty products, and ideas to make your home a healthy, safe haven. Our goal is also to encourage self-sufficiency, whether it’s relearning some age-old skills or getting informed on modern improvements that help us live better, healthier lives.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Jan. 21: 10-MINUTE WORKOUTS: ESPECIALLY GOOD IN WINTER

 

10-MINUTE WORKOUTS: ESPECIALLY GOOD IN WINTER

A growing body of research suggests that sneaking in one or several 10-minute bouts of exercise can deliver impressive health and fitness benefits.

That’s good to know, especially in winter, when ice, snow, cold, lack of light, and—face it—low or no motivation encourage us to move less, sit more, and eat holiday goodies for comfort.

Consider also

  • Brief workouts help beginning exercisers ease into a more active life. Begin with one 10-minute block and work up to three or more a day. Of course, you could gradually stretch any of these to 12, 15, or 20 minutes if the situation permits.

Veteran exercisers and athletes can use a 10- or 15-minute workout as a motivational tool on those days when they lose their oomph and can’t work up the get up and go. When that happens to you, negotiate with your lower angels. Say, “Okay, we don’t have to bike for an hour. We’ll only go for 10 minutes.” I’ve found this trick effective. After a few minutes, I almost always find myself willing to stretch it to 20 minutes, 30 minutes, or even longer.

A few favorites

So, what constitutes a 10-minute workout? Simple: keep that body in motion for 10 minutes.

Most exercise specialists say intensity—getting your heart rate up to the point of discomfort, and keeping it up for several minutes—works best for maintaining or increasing overall fitness. Warm up slowly for a couple of minutes before you pump up the intensity; slow down for a couple of minutes toward the end.

If you’re pregnant, sedentary, severely overweight, suffering from a chronic disease or injury, talk to your doctor before beginning any high-intensity exercise, even short bouts of it.

Jump for joy

Jumping rope for 10 minutes will give you a rip-roarin’ workout. It burns more calories than running. It boosts your mood. It improves your balance and your body’s natural rhythm. You can jump indoors or out. You can pack your rope and jump on vacation. You don’t need fancy clothes. You don’t even need a rope. Twirling your wrists as if you had one works about as well.

Start by marching or running in place for a minute or two, then begin jumping slowly. Beginners can try alternating 30 jumps with 30 steps of marching in place. (Even after years of hard-core triathlon training, it took me two months to work up to a few minutes of glitch-free jumping.)

Parking-lot trot

Having trouble concentrating at work (even at home)? Pull out that pair of shoes you keep under your desk and substitute a snack break for a brisk 10-minute walk or trot around the perimeter of the parking lot, grounds, or driveway

During the winter months, parking lots and driveways are nearly always plowed and sanded or salted for safety.

Physical exercise helps break the abstraction of “knowledge work” and the fatigue of repetitive-motion physical work. I’ll testify that it works wonders for breaking writer’s block.

Why wait?

Most of us spend a lot of time waiting: for a child to have his teeth cleaned or finish her swimming lesson, for the doctor after you’re told she’s running 30 minutes late, for a car repair, for the casserole to bake. Just keep a pair of comfortable shoes at the ready, check your watch, and head out.

Step it up

Stuck indoors at home with a small child? Dinner in the oven? Turn on some tunes and work those stairs! Warm up with a slow half-dozen flights up and down. Then charge up, walk down, charge up again, walk down, and repeat. Note: This workout requires stairways, strong knees, good balance, and good concentration, especially going down, to avoid falls. Add more work to this effort by swinging light hand weights as you go up.

If you work in an office building with several floors and well-lit stairwells, or have an appointment in one, walk up and down the stairs for a few minutes. Hold the handrail going down in case you feel dizzy.

Deep-snow after-dark shuffle

I discovered this one many years ago while homebound with a sick child during a three-day blizzard. I bundled up and pulled on my insulated boots after dinner, turned on the outside light, and began tramping around the unplowed circular driveway. The deep snow and my clunky boots cushioned the impact and offered muscle-building resistance. The heavy snow muffled noise from the street and falling snow transformed the night. I’ve continued this magical practice every year during big snowstorms, running, walking, skipping, jumping, or shuffling, often for much longer than 10 minutes.

Load-that-woodbox workout

Remember the old saw about necessity, the mother of invention? In our wood-burning household, we have to cart firewood from the woodshed into the house every day to stay warm. When it’s my turn to load the living-room woodbox, I begin with few shoulder raises with a couple of heavy chunks, perform half-squats with a heavy armload, push the big-wheeled wood carrier around the driveway four or five times before I bring the wood indoors.

You get the idea here, stretch almost any necessary job into an energetic 10-minute workout.

Airport aerobics

You have a flight ahead, during which you’ll probably sit most of the time. Your flight doesn’t leave for an hour or two or more. Although large airports offer plenty of opportunities to eat, drink, shop, and sit, why not walk the concourse? Many large airports offer special walking paths or fitness spaces. I’ve never used one of these, but I’ve logged as many as three miles of brisk walking throughout the concourses before boarding a flight.

What do you do with your carry-on luggage? Well, you could roll it or carry it, rent a locker and stash it, or do what I do, carry it all in a backpack and hike along with it.

Supermarket sashay

You’ve arrived at the supermarket with a two-page grocery list and found the parking lot full. You have to park a football field away from the door. Time for action!

Pull on your action-ready shoes and make at least two full trips around the outside perimeter of the parking lot before you go into the store. Wend your way up and down the center aisles, collecting items on your list as you go. Then walk back along the same route in reverse, picking up anything you might have missed. Now push the cart twice around the interior perimeter of the store, collecting the fresh stuff: fruit and vegetables, eggs, dairy products, poultry, and meat the second time around.

After you’ve checked out, make another brisk turn or two around the parking lot perimeter with your full cart. Watch for traffic!

A final note: Poke around in the activities of your ordinary days for opportunities like these to boost your activity level. Don’t forget to fidget!

 

ABOUT THIS BLOG

“Living Naturally” is all about living a naturally healthy lifestyle. Margaret Boyles covers health tips, ways to avoid illness, natural remedies, food that’s good for body and soul, recipes for homemade beauty products, and ideas to make your home a healthy, safe haven. Our goal is also to encourage self-sufficiency, whether it’s relearning some age-old skills or getting informed on modern improvements that help us live better, healthier lives.

Holidays Around The World for Jan. 21: Babin Den

Babin Den

January 21

In Bulgaria the old women who helped deliver babies—much like the modern midwife—were called baba, or grandmother. It was widely believed that the baby received some of the baba’s wisdom, and it was customary for the baby’s parents to bring the baba flowers on a particular day each year, called Grandmother’s Day or Day of the Midwives . Eventually the children grew up, but they would continue to visit their baba each year.

Most babies in Bulgaria today are born in hospitals, so the children bring flowers to the doctors and nurses who assisted at their birth. Another traditional activity on this day involves boys dunking girls in the icy waters of rivers and lakes, supposedly to bring them good health in the coming year.

See also Grandparents’ Day
SOURCES:
BkFest-1937, p. 66
BkHolWrld-1986, Jan 20

This Day In History: Death of Last Native Speaker Leads to Extinction of Eyak Language (2008)

Death of Last Native Speaker Leads to Extinction of Eyak Language (2008)

Eyak is an extinct Na-Dené language historically spoken by the Eyak people, indigenous to south-central Alaska, near the mouth of the Copper River.

The closest relatives of Eyak are the Athabaskan languages. The Eyak–Athabaskan group forms a basic division of the Na-Dené language phylum, the other one being Tlingit

Numerous Tlingit place names along the Gulf Coast are derived from names in Eyak; they have obscure or even nonsensical meanings in Tlingit, but oral tradition has maintained many Eyak etymologies. The existence of Eyak-derived Tlingit names along most of the coast towards southeast Alaska is strong evidence that the prehistoric range of Eyak was once far greater than it was at the time of European contact. This confirms both Tlingit and Eyak oral histories of migration throughout the region.

Extinction
Marie Smith Jones (May 14, 1918 – January 21, 2008)[1][2][3] of Cordova was the language’s last native speaker, and the last full-blooded Eyak. Because of the dying off of its native speakers, Eyak became a symbol in the fight against language extinction.[4]

The spread of English and suppression of aboriginal languages are not the only reasons for the decline of the Eyak language. The northward migration of the Tlingit people around Yakutat in precontact times encouraged the use of Tlingit rather than Eyak along much of the Pacific Coast of Alaska. Eyak was also under pressure from its neighbors to the west, the Alutiiq people of Prince William Sound, as well as some pressure from the people of the Copper River valley. Eyak and Tlingit culture began to merge along the Gulf Coast, and a number of Eyak-speaking groups were absorbed by the Gulf Coast Tlingit populations. This resulted in the replacement of Eyak by Tlingit among most of the mixed groups after a few generations, as reported in Tlingit oral histories of the area.

Resurrection
In June 2010, the Anchorage Daily News published an article about Guillaume Leduey, a French college student with an unexpected connection to the Eyak language. Beginning at age 12, he had taught himself Eyak, utilizing print and audio instructional materials he obtained from the Alaska Native Language Center. During that time, he never traveled to Alaska or conversed with Marie Smith Jones, the last native speaker.[5]

That same month that the article was published, he traveled to Alaska and met with Dr. Michael Krauss, a noted linguist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Dr. Krauss assisted Leduey with proper Eyak phonological pronunciation and assigned further instruction in grammar and morphology—including morphemic analyses of traditional Eyak stories.

In June 2011, Leduey returned to Alaska to facilitate Eyak language workshops in Anchorage and Cordova. He is now regarded as a fluent speaker, translator, and instructor of Eyak.[6] Despite his fluency, Eyak remains classified as “Extinct” as there is no native speaker left. Currently, Leduey provides instruction and curriculum assistance to the Eyak Language Project from France.

Read More….

Your Daily Inspiration for January 21: Intent

 

 

 

Intent

BY MADISYN TAYLOR

When we live with intent, we own our actions; instead of habitually performing them.

We tend to associate the energy of intent with complicated or profoundly meaningful actions that require our full attention and effort in order to succeed. For example, walking a tightrope, taking a test, and taking a vow are all tasks that call us to be fully present and single-minded. However, intent can also be applied to everyday events, like eating breakfast or going to work. In fact, everything we do benefits from the presence of intent, which has the power to transform seemingly mundane tasks into profound experiences. You only have to try it to find out.

Intent is one of the cornerstones of the Zen tradition of Buddhism in which monks work for years to develop the stillness and sharpness of mind to do only one thing at a time. Most of the time we are doing one thing and thinking of something else, or even doing three things at the same time, such as talking on the phone, doing dishes, and boiling water for tea. There is nothing inherently wrong with multitasking, which seems necessary at times, especially in the midst of family life. However, balancing this with a healthy dose of intentional activity can provide valuable insight into the benefits of doing one thing at a time, being fully present with whatever the task at hand happens to be.

From the moment we wake up, we can apply intent to our situation by simply saying to ourselves, “I am aware that I am now awake.” We can use this simple tool throughout our day, saying, “I am aware that I am driving to work.” “I am aware that I am making dinner.” Or even, “I am aware that I am breathing.” As we acknowledge what we are doing in these moments, we come alive to our bodies and to the world, owning our actions instead of habitually performing them. We may realize how often we act without intention and how this disengages us from reality. Applying the energy of intent to even one task a day has the power to transform our lives. Just imagine what would happen if we were able to apply that power to our entire day.