World War Two: Retaking Guam (4-18) Assault Completed 25-30 July

Late on the afternoon of 24 July, General Geiger issued his orders for the next day’s action—orders that contemplated a completion of the assault phase of the invasion of Guam. Commencing at 0700, 25 July, the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade was to press the attack against Orote Peninsula while the 77th Infantry Division (less the 307th Regimental Combat Team, in corps reserve) held the Force Beachhead Line in the southern zone. In the north, the 3rd Marine Division was to resume the offensive and seize the high ground overlooking the Mount Tenjo road. Efforts were also to be made to link the two beachheads by establishing firm contact between the Marine brigade or the Army division and the 3rd Marine Division.

On the receipt of this order, General Shepherd of the Marine brigade asked for a day’s postponement. His troops, he submitted, were greatly fatigued by four days and nights of steady fighting. Moreover, his 4th Regimental Combat Team had not been fully relieved by Army elements until midafternoon on 24 July and needed more time to move north and get into position to launch the attack on Orote. In view of these representations, General Geiger agreed to delay the assault on the peninsula until 0700 on 26 July.

Meanwhile, the 22nd Marines (less 2nd Battalion) was directed to capture all unseized ground between Agat Bay and Apra Harbor across the narrowest portion of the peninsula’s neck. The 4th Marines was to remain in its current bivouac area and prepare to relieve its sister regiment on order.

While the marines were thus preparing for the final drive against Orote, General Bruce ordered the 77th Division to straighten and improve its defensive lines and take precautions to disperse and camouflage its gun positions. The two infantry regiments on the line (305th and 306th) were to mop up within their defense sectors and carry out security patrols beyond their front lines. On 26 and 27 July, two battalions of the 306th Infantry pushed in a southeasterly direction beyond the Force Beachhead line. Advancing against neligible opposition, they reached Maanot Pass -Mount Lamlam road south of Road Junction 370 and dug in about 1,500 yards from their line of departure. The 305th Infantry extended its right flank and tied in with the new position of 306th. Two of the Army field artillery battalions (304th and 305th) would continue to support the two Army infantry regiments on the line, but the other two (306th and 902nd) were placed in general support and ordered to start moving toward the base of Orote Peninsula and prepare to fire in advance of the marines next day.

Preparations for the Assault on Orote 25 July

Jumping off at 0800 behind a fifteen minute air and artillery attack, the 22nd Marines got an early foretaste of the rigors that still lay ahead before the Japanese garrison on Orote could be subdued.

From Neye Island and from the airfield near the end of the peninsula, artillery rained down on the column of the 1st Battalion as it tried to make its way along the coast of Agat Bay to Dadi Beach, while to the north the 3rd Battalion ran into a hive of concrete pillboxes supported by well-camouflaged machine gun nests. Enemy tanks appeared at intervals throughout the day to obstruct the attack. By noon the 1st Battalion, 22nd, was so depleted that it had to be replaced by the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines. Nevertheless, by nightfall the Americans’ front line had been pushed ahead to extend across the narrow neck from Dadi Beach to a point just east of the thick mangrove swamp that lay inland of Apra Harbor.

On the 24th the 307th Infantry landed near Agat. The two other Army regiments on the line consolidated their positions and tied in together by nightfall in the vicinity of the reservoir on Maanot Ridge. Little enemy opposition was encountered, except for some light mortar fire that fell into the ranks of the 2nd Battalion, 305th, in the early evening. Contact with the 22nd Marines was established during the afternoon, and later Company F of the 307th Infantry was attached to the 305th for the purpose of maintaining contact with the brigade on the left. Meanwhile, an outpost of the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Marines, made contact with a patrol from the 9th Marines at the bridge that crossed the Big Gautali River. Thus for the first time in six days of fighting a link, although a feeble one, was forged between the northern and southern beachheads.

The Fight in the North 25 July

In the zone of the 3rd Marine Division, the prospect on the morning of 25 July was still the same. The 9th Marines on the right faced little opposition and fairly easy terrain; the other two regiments were up against the enemy’s only remaining organized defense line (except for Orote Peninsula), which was drawn up along the hellish approaches to the Chachao-Alutom-Tenjo mountain system. In view of the punishment suffered during the preceding days by the 3rd Marines, one battalion of the 9th Marines was attached to the 3rd Marines early in the morning.

During the day the 9th Marines on the right, with the support of the antiaircraft batteries emplaced on Cabras Island, pushed up the coast line of Apra Harbor as far as the high ground overlooking the Aguada River, This advance so lengthened the division’s lines that during the afternoon General Turnage ordered the 9th Marines to pull back about 1,500 yards to the north of the Laguas River. The movement was completed by noon of the next day. In the division center, the 21st Marines jumped off in the direction of Mount Tenjo, but the way was barred by heavy enemy artillery, machine guns, and mortars well emplaced on the reverse slopes of the ridge that crossed the marines’ line of advance.

By nightfall the regiment was still short of the Mount Tenjo road. On the left, the 3rd Marines, fighting against moderate opposition, captured a stretch of the Mount Tenjo road in the morning. Ahead of them lay Fonte Plateau. Tanks were requested but were slow in arriving, so Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Cushman, commanding the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, which was attached to the 3rd Marines, decided to take advantage of the few remaining hours of daylight and advance without them. As night closed in, this one battalion had succeeded in gaining a foothold on the slopes leading up to Fonte, By that time the division lines had been stretched more than 9,000 yards. The regiments and battalions had almost no reserves to call on, and even division had only one depleted battalion in reserve. Should the enemy choose this time and place for an organized counterattack, the situation for the marines could hardly have been worse. Unfortunately, the Japanese did so choose.

Japanese Counterattack 25-26 July

In fact, General Takashima had been planning and preparing for a full-scale counterattack for several days. Units that had remained in the Agana and Tumon Bay areas even after the American landings were withdrawn to the line facing the 3rd Marine Division. Commander Tamai on Orote Peninsula was notified to launch an offensive in co-ordination with the main attack in the north. [N4-18-9] Detailed orders with accompanying maps and overlays were issued to subordinate commanders. Takashima set up his command post in a cave about 325 yards west of Fonte. In preparation for the attack, General Shigematsu, commanding officer of the 48th Independent Mixed Brigade, moved his command posts to Mangan Quarry, about 540 yards west of Fonte, and Colonel Hiko-Shiro Ohashi assembled the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of his 18th Infantry Regiment in the hill area south of Agana.

[N4-18-9 In spite of the heavy American bombardment, Takashima still had good communications with the isolated garrison on Orote.]

According to the plan issued by General Takashima, the 48th Independent Mixed Brigade would attack on the right against the 3rd Marines, who were drawn up before the Fonte Plateau. Simultaneously, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 18th Infantry Regiment (from right to left) would come down from the hills and attack toward Asan Point and the mouth of the Nidual River in the sector held by the 21st Marines. On the Japanese left, another unit, probably part of the 10th Independent Mixed Regiment, was to push down the valley of the Tatgua River against the 9th Marines. At the same time the force on Orote Peninsula was to launch a drive to the east in co-ordination with the main attack.

On the marines’ left the attack first fell on the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, which had succeeded the day before in establishing only the most precarious of footholds on the western slopes of Fonte. Seven times during the night of 25-26 July the Japanese rolled down from the plateau and seven times they were repulsed. By morning the battle here was over, but not before Colonel Cushman’s battalion had suffered over 50 percent casualties. In exchange, approximately 950 of the enemy were killed in this single segment of the front.

In the center of the line, Major Chusha Maruyama’s 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, struck the lines of the 21st Marines in mass and penetrated as far to the rear as the battalion command post and the perimeters of the mortar sections. There, those Japanese that had survived the first onslaught were eventually eliminated with the help of engineers, cooks, clerks, communicators, and any other miscellaneous troops the regiment could throw into the fight.

About the same time Major Setsuo Yukioka’s 3rd Battalion, 18th Regiment, also hit the 21st Marines, locating and fully exploiting an 800-yard gap that lay between that regiment and the 9th Marines to its right. Here, in the high ground overlooking the Nidual River, the Japanese set up machine gun emplacements that could rake the flanks of both of the Marine regiments with deadly accuracy. Part of the attack through the gap got as far as the division hospital area. Doctors, corpsmen, and pajama-clad patients set up a makeshift line around the hospital tents and held fast until reinforcements arrived in the morning to put the remaining Japanese to rout. Meanwhile, the division artillery regiment (12th Marines) was busily engaged in hand-to-hand combat with numerous small suicide squads that had infiltrated the rear on 25 July and had timed their attacks with that of the main offensive. All morning the artillerymen beat off these desperate Japanese, some of whom had packs of TNT strapped to their backs, others of whom were loaded with magnetic mines. Around noon, when the fighting had let up, some fifty or sixty dead Japanese were located in the area of the 12th Marines alone. Not until early afternoon were the Japanese machine gun positions that had been emplaced in the gap between the two Marine regiments finally overrun. By that time the attack had spent itself, and the few surviving Japanese were fleeing into the hills.

Meanwhile, on Orote Peninsula, Commander Tamai, according to order, had launched his attack against the 22nd Marines. Starting about 2230 a horde of drink-crazed Japanese, mostly naval personnel, armed with anything from rifles to ball bats, swarmed through the mangrove swamps to fall upon the lines of the 22nd Marines. Artillery pieces of corps, brigade, and the 77th Division almost immediately commenced fire and kept up at a rapid rate for the next two hours. Pack howitzers were dragged to within thirty-five yards of the infantry front lines to fire point blank at the onrushing enemy. “Arms and legs,” reported one observer, “flew like snowflakes.”

The marines here, and in the zone of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, which was guarding the regimental boundary, fought off those Japanese that had escaped the barrage of heavy shells with rifle, hand grenade, and bayonet. The American lines held, and by daylight it was apparent that the attack had failed. Not as well organized as Takashima’s counteroffensive against the 3rd Marine Division, and more nearly similar to the traditional and suicidal Japanese banzai charge, Tamai’s counterattack suffered besides from the fact that the marines in this zone were in better position to resist and were backed by the major part of American artillery on the island.

All together on both fronts, the Japanese lost an estimated 3,500 men in the night counterattack of 25-26 July. In the north, three whole battalions were virtually annihilated. Up to 95 percent of all commissioned officers in the sector defense forces were killed, according to later Japanese testimony. Among these was General Shigematsu, who lost his life on the 26th while futilely trying to rally his decimated brigade around Fonte Plateau. Also numbered among the dead were Colonel Ohashi, commanding officer of the 18th Infantry Regiment; Lieutenant Colonel Ichiro Kataoka, commanding officer of the 10th Independent Mixed Regiment; and Majors Maruyama and Yukioka, commanders of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, 18th Infantry. Over 90 percent of all Japanese weapons were estimated to have been destroyed or captured. Radio communications between units on the island, which had remained surprisingly good in spite of the heavy American bombardment, were almost completely knocked out.

On their part, the marines had suffered heavily too, especially the 3rd Marine Division. Between 25 and 27 July, the division reported 166 killed in action, 645 wounded in action, and 34 missing in action, mostly as a result of the Japanese counterattack.

At his command post back of Fonte, General Takashima stayed in ignorance of the outcome of the attack until morning of the 26th. After dawn survivors of the holocaust gradually straggled back to headquarters, and the full story of the failure was pieced together before noon. On the basis of these reports, the island commander decided that all hope of expelling the Americans from Guam was lost. The only recourse left to him, as an officer in the Imperial Japanese Army and a man of honor, was to retire with his remaining troops into the interior of the island and inflict as many losses on the Americans as possible until he himself should go down in the inevitable defeat.

The Capture of Orote

Notwithstanding the counterattack of the previous night, the 1st Marine Provisional Brigade was prepared on the morning of 26 July to jump off on time in the attack on Orote Peninsula. Behind it was the greatest array of artillery pieces yet mustered for any single attack since the beginning of the operation on Guam. Three battalions of General Spalding’s 77th Division Artillery were in position and ready to fire along with four Marine battalions from III Amphibious Corps and the 3rd Marine Division. Lieutenant Colonel Leo B. Burkett’s 902nd Field Artillery Battalion first opened fire at 0645 in deep support of the Marine infantrymen and all together during this preparation phase fired a thousand rounds. From 0800 to 0830, the 305th and 306th Field Artillery Battalions, commanded respectively by Lieutenant Colonel Edward B. Leever and Lieutenant Colonel Jackson B. Serfas, joined in the fire. Some batteries fired as many as two rounds a minute per gun. On General Bruce’s order, all Army artillery pieces were to direct their fire at least 1,000 yards in front of the advancing marines. Closer support bombardment was delivered by Marine artillery as well as by naval planes and by the 90-mm. guns of the 14th Marine Defense Battalion based on Cabras Island.

Jump-off hour for the brigade was 0700, with the 22nd Marines on the right, 4th Marines on the left. Enemy artillery fire delayed the 22nd Marines for an hour, but the 4th Marines got under way on time and made rapid progress against light resistance.

In fact, progress on the left was so rapid that the regiment’s right flank soon became exposed. In view of this, Lieutenant Colonel Alan Shapley, commander of the 4th, requested permission to shift to the right and take over part of the 22nd Marines zone. The brigade commander agreed, and shortly before noon the regimental boundary was laid down at the Agat-Sumay road. On the right, Colonel Merlin F. Schneider’s 22nd Marines found the going harder. Not only was the unit blanketed by heavy enemy mortar fire but, because most of its front line was blocked by the wide mangrove swamp lying inland of Apra Harbor, all forward movement had to be confined to a narrow corridor along the Agat-Sumay road. By nightfall the regiment’s left flank had reached Road Junction 15 and tied in with the 4th Marines. The rest of the line was bent back to the east of the mangrove swamp.

The next morning the attack jumped off at 0715, Once again progress on the right was delayed because the 22nd Marines were compelled to channelize all troops and supplies along the road inland of the mangrove swamp. This narrow corridor had been mined with aerial bombs and was covered by automatic weapons located in well-camouflaged pillboxes. By midafternoon, Colonel Schneider’s men had worked their way through the bottleneck, but only to come up against a series of pillboxes and dugouts on the ridge east of the old prewar U.S. Marine barracks. Late in the afternoon marines on the front lines were rewarded with signs that Japanese organized resistance was beginning to crumple.

The first harbinger of the breakdown of enemy organization occurred when a lone Japanese officer rushed out and attacked an American tank with his sword. Shortly afterward, another officer, waving a huge battle flag, marched his men up the peninsular road straight into American fire and to certain annihilation. Then, about two hours before dark, after an intensive bombardment by American artillery and naval guns and aircraft, the Japanese in front of the 22nd Marines broke and ran—a rare occurrence in the Pacific war. This proved to be the turning point in the battle for Orote Peninsula. Although it was too late in the day for the marines to capitalize fully on this retreat, the 22nd Regiment was able before dark to push forward and set up a line within 300 yards of the old Marine barracks. The 4th Marines on the left had made somewhat slower progress during the day, and a gap existed between the two regiments when they dug in for the night. Fortunately, the Japanese were in no position to exploit the gap.

On 28 July the 22nd Marines swept through the barracks ground and on to the outskirts of the village of Sumay. There, they were halted for the night while demolition teams searched the rubble-littered streets for mines that the Japanese had laid in great numbers. On the left, Colonel Shapley’s regiment was forced to make its way more slowly through dense scrub growth that concealed several coconut log pillboxes. Marine tanks were called in, but could make little headway because the heavy underbrush restricted observation and frequently made it impossible to fire without endangering friendly troops.

In the face of this difficulty General Shepherd, early in the afternoon, put in a call to 77th Division headquarters for Army medium tanks to reinforce those of the brigade. The request could not be honored in full since only the light tanks of Lieutenant Colonel Charles W. Stokes’ 706th Tank Battalion had landed. Five of these from Company D were immediately organized into a platoon under 2nd Lieutenant Charles J. Fuchs and dispatched to General Shepherd, who routed them to the 4th Marines sector to support an attack ordered for 1600. There, they were joined by two Shermans from Headquarters Company, 706th Tank Battalion, which had since come ashore. Two more platoons of Marine mediums were meanwhile shifted from the zone of the 22nd Marines to join the scheduled tank-infantry attack on the brigade left.

Promptly at 1600 Colonel Shapley launched the assault along his whole regimental front. All up and down the line the tanks moved forward cautiously, followed at short distances by the Marine infantrymen. In their zone, the seven Army tanks covered about three hundred yards of front, often firing at ranges of ten to fifteen yards at the reinforced log pillboxes that barred their path. The light tanks of Company D alone expended about 10,000 rounds of .30-caliber ammunition, 100 rounds of high explosive, and 20 rounds of canister. They were credited with the destruction of four pillboxes, numerous dugouts, and about 250 Japanese.

Before this massed Army-Marine armored attack Japanese defenses collapsed, and the infantrymen rushed on and set up their night positions just short of the airfield. One of the strongest enemy defensive lines on the peninsula had been established there to protect Orote field. After the battle, some 250 pillboxes and emplacements were counted in the area taken by the 4th Marines and their supporting tanks. 29 July saw the end of the battle for Orote, except for minor mopping-up activities. Once again tremendous Army and Marine artillery fire, supplemented by naval gunfire, pounded the tip of the peninsula in preparation for the infantry assault Again the seven Army tanks, this time assisted by six M10 tank destroyers as well as the brigade’s own mediums, led the assault By 1400 Orote airfield had been overrun with little opposition, and an hour later the 4th Marines took over the entire brigade zone, the 22nd Marines mopping up Sumay and the cliffs bordering Apra Harbor. The platoon of Army tanks, accompanied by Marine infantry, was dispatched to the tip of the peninsula. On discovering only two live Japanese in the area, they reported back and were released to their parent division.24

Orote was now, to all intents and purposes, secured. An estimated 2,500 Japanese had been killed in the process. In exchange, the American attackers had lost 115 killed in action, 721 wounded, and 38 missing.

On the afternoon of the 29th, with appropriate ceremony, the American flag was raised over the skeleton remains of the old Marine barracks. “Under our flag,” said General Shepherd, “this island again stands ready to fulfill its destiny as an American fortress in the Pacific.” Before the general’s words could be fully realized, however, the marines and soldiers of the III Amphibious Corps would have more than a week of fighting ahead.

The Capture of Fonte and the Force Beachhead Line

Whipped though they were and in retreat after their full-scale counterattack, the Japanese in the north were still capable of putting up a strong rear-guard defense while the main body of Takashima’s troops prepared to retire into the interior. In their favor, of course, was the fact that that they still maintained possession of the high ridge from Fonte south through Mount Alutom, Mount Chachao, and Mount Tenjo. Fonte Plateau, in particular, was the site of an enemy strongpoint that Takashima refused to yield without a battle.

Here, in a hollow depression atop the plateau, lined on all sides with cave emplaced machine gun positions, the Japanese chose to make the advance of the 3rd Marines as costly as possible. The 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, and the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, would spend three bitter days of fighting before the left flank of the corps Force Beachhead Line could be secured.

On the morning of 27 July the attack was first delayed when shells and bombs delivered by American air and artillery fell behind the Marine front lines. Then a force of about 150 Japanese came out of the hills and launched a banzai charge. Once these men were disposed of, the two battalions moved out and by late afternoon reached their day’s objective—the power line that stretched across the forward slopes of the plateau. By the following evening the two battalions had pushed up to the rim of the plateau and on the 29th cleaned out most of the remaining enemy positions in the depression on top.

Sometime on the previous day American machine gun fire had killed General Takashima just as he was about to evacuate to the rear. This left only one Japanese general officer alive on Guam—General Obata, Commanding General, 31st Army, who had only recently arrived from the Palaus and who, up to this time, had exercised no control over the island’s defenses. To him fell the hopeless task of reorganizing the remaining Japanese forces defending Guam’s interior against the invaders.

During these three days (27-29 July) the 21st Marines in the division center had kept abreast of the units struggling on Fonte, while on the right the 9th Marines had been assigned the task of capturing Mount Alutom and Mount Chachao. On 28 July Major John Lovell’s 3rd Battalion, 307th Infantry, which on the 26th had moved north along the Old Agat Road to the vicinity of Piti and was then attached to 3rd Marine Division, reversed its course and attacked south on the 9th Marines’ right, over the same ground it had covered two days before. As the marines pushed their way up the slopes leading to the mountain peaks, they soon spotted elements of the 77th Division atop Mount Tenjo to the south. Meanwhile, General Geiger had moved the boundary between the Marine and Army divisions north so that it ran along a trail leading east from the Old Agat Road through Agafan to the junction of the road between Mount Tenjo and coastal ridge overlooking Harmon Road.

Mount Chachao. This shift of the original boundary line between the 3rd Marine Division and the 77th Infantry Division so as to include Mount Tenjo in the latter’s zone had been suggested by General Bruce. He wanted to get his troops on the high ground so that they could work along the ridges rather than push ahead along a line abreast and get trapped in the ravines. Also, to prevent the piecemeal commitment of his division and to preserve its integrity, he wanted to be given the job of capturing Mount Tenjo. The boundary change meant in effect that the 3rd Marine Division’s right flank would orient its movement to the south while the 77th Division pushed north to establish firm contact along the Force Beachhead Line.

On the 28th the 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, supported by heavy artillery and tank fire, fought its way to the top of Mount Chachao and annihilated an infantry company that had been left behind in the general Japanese withdrawal. At the same time the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, and the 3rd Battalion, 307th Infantry, moved south against light opposition and by 1745 were in contact along the new division boundary with those soldiers of the 77th Division that had meanwhile been moving northwest of Mount Tenjo.

The men who were sighted on Mount Tenjo on the morning of 28 July were members of Company A, 305th Infantry. General Bruce ordered the 305th Infantry to send a company to reconnoiter the approaches to Mount Tenjo. If Japanese were not encountered in great number, Lieutenant Colonel Charles F. Learner’s 2nd Battalion, 307th Infantry, was to occupy the mountain, while Colonel Landrum’s 1st Battalion, 305th, was to take and hold the high ground from Cotal south to Inalas. Once Tenjo was in American hands, Colonel Chalgren’s 3rd Battalion, 305th, was to send out patrols to the north and establish contact with the right flank of the 3rd Marine Division.

At 0500 on 28 July, Company A, 305th Infantry, moved out of its assembly area toward Mount Tenjo. The men encountered no resistance on the way except for occasional sniping, and reached the summit at 0815, There they remained until midafternoon, when they were relieved by Learner’s battalion. While it was waiting, Company A suffered a mishap of a sort that was occurring with alarming frequency on Guam. American planes came up out of the sea and bombed and strafed their own infantrymen. Only the quick thinking of Private First Class Benno Levi, who rushed out from cover under fire to spread identification panels, saved the unit from possible disaster.

With the 2nd Battalion, 307th Infantry, in firm possession of Mount Tenjo, Chalgren’s 3rd Battalion, 305th, according to plan pushed north to establish contact with the southward moving soldiers attached to the 9th Marines. At last, after eight days of fighting, the northern and southern beachheads were firmly joined.

Reconnaissance of Southern Guam With the repulsion of Takashima’s big counterattack and the launching of the drive on Orote Peninsula on 26 July, General Geiger could safely predict a rapid push to the Force Beachhead Line and the termination of the first phase of the battle for Guam. Before initiating the second phase, it was necessary for him to have reliable information as to where on the island the remaining Japanese had withdrawn. All indications pointed to northern Guam as their most likely destination. It was clearly the most logical course for the Japanese command to have taken. Southern Guam was a mass of jungle and mountain, serviced only by roads and trails not wide enough or hard enough to permit the passage of large numbers of troops and vehicles. It was known that before the American invasion few troops had been stationed in the southern area. From captured documents and interrogations of prisoners of war, it appeared almost certain that the enemy troops were moving north toward Mount Barrigada.

Nevertheless, before the corps commander could finally decide to commit his forces to a northern drive, simple military caution demanded a reconnaissance of the southern section. The reports obtained through aerial reconnaissance were inconclusive since the island’s dense jungle made camouflage and concealment of enemy positions and troop movements too easy. Ground reconnaissance was the only alternative.

The task fell to the 77th Infantry Division, which had already been conducting limited reconnaissance. General Bruce had prepared an extensive patrolling plan for covering the southern half of Guam, but it first had to be cleared through corps in order to prevent interference from friendly air, naval, and artillery bombardment. Once the clearance was received Bruce assigned the mission to the 77th Reconnaissance Troop, which for the past few days had been guarding Maanot Reservoir.

Five patrols, each consisting of five men and each accompanied by a native guide, were ordered to leave from Road Junction 370 early on the morning of 28 July and to penetrate inland south and east up to seven miles. Patrols Able and Baker were to proceed directly east to the coast and return. The other three, Patrols Charlie, Dog, and Easy, would move directly south along the ridge below Alifan, Charlie toward Mount Lamlam, Easy to Umatac, and Dog along the coast below Facpi, each patrol was to exercise discretion about its own movements. Each was to report by radio every two to three hours and call for artillery support if needed. [N4-18-33]

Pushing off on order early on the morning of 28 July, Patrol Able got less than half way to Ylig Bay when two of its members as well as the native guide came down with fever and had to return. Consequently, Patrol Baker took over responsibility for the entire area from Ylig Bay to Talofofo Bay. As Patrol Baker started out toward Talofofo, the men sighted a few Japanese, but stayed out of their way and went on to spend the night in a cave overlooking the eastern coast. The next morning they moved north along the coast for about four and a half miles to Ylig Bay, where they were greeted by Chamorros who informed them that the Japanese had all moved north except for groups of less than platoon size that were still roaming around the southern jungles. With this information, Patrol Baker returned to headquarters.

Meanwhile, Patrols Charlie and Dog reached the slopes of Mount Lamlan, but turned back on receiving rifle fire. Patrol Easy went on to Umatac on the west coast below Facpi Point, found little evidence of enemy activity, and came back on up by the coastal road. Later, on 30 July, two other patrols from the reconnaissance troop (Fox and George) were sent out to reconnoiter Pago Bay and the southeast tip of the island. Both reported negative results. The reports brought back by the patrols confirmed General Geiger’s assumptions: no organized enemy resistance could be expected in southern Guam, the main body of the Japanese had retreated to the north, and it was in this direction that the next American attack would have to be launched.

[N4-18-33 The account of the reconnaissance of southern Guam is derived from the following sources: 77th Reconnaissance Troop AAR Guam, pp. 1-2; AFAS, Guam, pp. 57-63; Lieutenant Colonel F. C. Bridgewater, “Reconnaissance on Guam,” The Cavalry Journal (May-June, 1945), pp. 46-48.]

SOURCE: Campaign in the Marianas; BY: Philip A. Crowl (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Retaking Guam (4-19) Pursuit to the North – Japanese Withdrawal

World War Two: Retaking Guam (4-17) Fight for the Beachhead


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