That well known photo of yourself and 6 of your scouts - when and where was that taken?
"..Oh that .. that was taken a couple of days after I joined the Marines..about August 15th....down at the airfield near Headquarters . I was attached to the Division Intelligence section . After Colonel Goettge got himself killed on that patrol Colonel Buckley took over as Intelligence officera nice chap , but not really trained in Intelligence work , although he never pretended to be. Two of the scouts are still alive {bottom row ,2nd from left and far right}..".

Did the scouts only carry the .303 rifles in the photo or use American weapons too?
"..No..we had the .303s . We had 7.000 rounds of ammunition that the Australian Air Force left us when they pulled out.and I had to organize rescuing it from Tulagi".

When did you first meet Jacob Vouza?
"..That was in 1938 when I was first posted to Malatia . He was a Sargeant then in charge of a contingent of 20 policemen, the largest contingent on the Island..".

What did the islanders think of the Japanese soldiers?
"..They didn't like them at all from the very start - the Japs kept pinching food from their gardens.."

What was your first impression of the Marines when you entered their lines ?
"Well , I was no military expert to comment on them , but they were all very friendly and took me in.."

What did you think of General Vandergrift?
"I had great respect for General Vandergrift..He was a fine man and stuck out his chin and did what had to be done..".

What was your impression of the aftermath of the Ilu River battle on August 20/21st?
"..well of course I went down and viewed the battlefield..When you haven't seen war before and you see the remain of 700-800 men lying dead it is a shattering experience . You looked and thought 'there but for the grace of God go I'. Ichiki was a fool attacking so hastilynot even waiting for the rest of his Regiment..".

Did you visit Bloody Ridge after the battle?
"..Yes, I was up there. The boys {scouts} and I were deployed further back near the Division CP . It was all going on to our front..the artillery was firing over us and some rounds were hitting the trees and showering us with schrapnel. We tossed a few grenades and took care of one sniper who had got up a tree .

One thing that I should like to correct - the term "Bloody Ridge" is a journalists invention . To those of us who were there it is "Edsons Ridge" or "Raider Ridge" . War is bloody enough without naming a ridge like that . It should be named after Edson , the fellow who defended it . I organized to put the Pyramid memorial up there and was also involved in the memorial near the control tower that was dedicated in 1992..".

Did you inspect the Matanikau/Point Cruz battle area?
"..Oh yes , I was down there regularly taking down scouts and bringing them back and talking to the Marines to ensure they and the scouts  understood each other.."

Like when the scouts were active down there spotting the Jap artillery pieces?
"..Yes , that's right . This {pointing to a 150mm shell case next to his desk} is one of the cases from General Kawaguchi's artillery pieces . On the mantelpiece there {pointing} is a cup {blue/white} from General Kawaguchi's personal dining service. I used to have a few others but they broke over the years..".

Did you examine those knocked out Jap tanks on the Matanikau sandbar after the October 23rd action?
"..Oh yesI went down there and climbed into,oh..I think about 4 of them . Do you know,in every one of them I found small bottles of British Whisky . The only other place I ever saw that same brand was at Kennedy's coastwatching station up at Segi..".

What was the worst food you had on Guadalcanal?
"..The worst food? Oh God,it was all the worst! The Marines had tins of C rations that we all had {listed contents} . You were fed at 10.00 a.m. and again at 3.00 p.m . 10.00 a.m. because there was always a bit of fighting or something in the mornings .Sometimes we also had pancakes.Well , most times I would be out in the afternoon taking out scouts or bringing them back in and by the time I got back dinner would have already been served..! I lost 3 stone in 3 months.".

How many Solomon scouts were under your command?
"..On Guadalcanal it was about 300 in total . Around November 1942 about 150 Fijian commandos arrived . They were keen to get into the fight and were sent up to us . In June 1943 the scouts became the Solomon Islands Defence Force . With the Fiji commandos added I was made Battalion Commander and we all went up to Munda.."

Where were your quarters situated at Henderson Field?Were they near the CP?
"..Yes , they were near headquarters . One point I would like to make is that the hill near the Lunga where the HQ was mostly isn't there anymore . Over the years the Lunga has changed course and then its course was a bit farther to the west . In the 1960's they had a flood that washed half the hill away .

There was a coral outcrop that was a protection from incoming fire , then you walked up the hill to where General Vandergrift's tent was and then down towards the Lunga . Some of the 90mm AA guns were nearby too.One of my more vivid memories is following Colonel Buckley to get under cover during a raid when a strafing Zero put a burst into the ground between us..!".

What did the islanders think of the Americans?
"..they thought the Americans were much better than the Japs of course! Friendly people to them and people you could get as much out of as possible..!"

What was the quality of the information you got from Japanese prisoners?
"..I talked to a lot of them of course..they were quite talkative after capture and you could get quite a lot out of them about their unit organization etc.but as for any higher information about plans etc..they didn't know anything..".

What did they think of Guadalcanal?
".some of them didn't have any idea of where they were..".

When did you leave Guadalcanal?
When the Marines were relieved in December I went for a months leave in Australiaabout December 15th I think..When I came back we organized the scouts and Fijians and then in June we went up to Munda.

What did you think of the 50th anniversary commemorations?
"Good . There were about 5,000 people from the States , New Zealand , Fiji etc..all over . I spent 2 weeks there then and was interviewed for Bob Ballard's documentary "THE LOST SHIPS OF GUADALCANAL".At the moment I am helping organize a new metal plaque for the US Skyline Ridge memorial.".

Has any particular book written about the Campaign impressed you?
"..Yes , the one by Sam Griffiths ,who was Edsons right hand man in the Raider Battalion".

Thayer Soule , Marine Photographic Officer
I had about four men doing photo work, plus two on Tulagi. The rest of my
crew were busy with terrain studies,and especially maps, 44,000 litho
impressions, hundreds of aerial pictures (processing only) and about 5,000
still pix of various things.

We took a huge number of photos, and made a great many maps. The maps were lousy . Very few of our still photos were released, and I suspect have since been discarded .

All the movies of the Guadalcanal operation were taken by me or my men.We took about 3,000 feet of 16mm colour film .We lost all our 16mm color film somewhere between there and Washington, but most of the 35mm black and white film made it. Movies were a tiny part of our work, but the part the public saw .

The picture of me with the Nambu was taken at what we called the Tenaru, after the battle. I narrowly missed going on the Goettge patrol. It was decided at the last minute that since it would be mostly at night, taking pictures would not be practical.

The picture of Martin and his scouts was taken by me just a few yards out
from our CP on the edge of the airfield, where we were most of the time.
The picture of Holcomb, Edson, and Vandegrift was taken on Edson's
(Bloody) Ridge. Incidentally, I was wounded on Guadalcanal on August 7 (1992)! While were there for the fiftieth, I cut my hand on the wire at Edsons Ridge.  Makes a good story.

All bodies were removed from Edsons Ridge and everywhere else as soon as
possible, usually within hours- mainly for health reasons. The picture you refer to
of the 4 dead Japanese on the ridge trail was taken a bit farther down the trail, as you suspected. The photo of the Marine with the tommy gun is on the front of the ridge.

No, we got no movie footage up on the ridge after the battle. We were very low on movie film at that point, and felt it was best covered with stills. The Marine in the picture of the final knoll at Bloody Ridge was my driver, Corp. Mike Winters. I haven't heard from him since 1942.

We used a lot of the captured Japanese weapons, but found it was risky
because they sounded, of course, Japanese, and sometimes drew fire from
our boys. We did destroy a lot of them, and shipped a lot back to the
States for testing and instruction.

The marine who took that terrific shot of the running Jap infantry on Tarawa was Norman Hatch, Photo officer of the Second Division. He retired from the Corps as a major some years ago, is now alive and well in Washington, DC, running a photo business on war pictures. He probably knows more about all this stuff than anyone. I have tried to get him to write a book, so far without success. His footage was only black and white, but several people say they saw it in color.
Not so.

Hatch's pictures of Japanese breaking cover on Tarawa were the only ones
I know from the war, but they were black and white, 35mm. There was a lot
of color footage too, and very good, but not that scene. I think the Norm Hatch's black and white footage may have been tinted to go in with the color stuff. The scene is so short and so filled with action, it would be easy to think it was in color.

The picture of General Vandergrift and staff around the table was taken at sea, when the forward echelon was on its way to New Zealand, or perhaps on the way from there to Guadalcanal (probably the latter). In any case, I was not on board either ship at the time, and can't tell you much of anything about the photo. It probably was taken on the McCawley, and looks like a posed shot in a not-too-serious situation.

Chris Merillat , Marine Combat Correspondent
One more entry from my journal in which Martin Clemens is mentioned.  This was written September 13 1942 , during the Battle of Bloody (or Edson's) Ridge.  The battle was going on 2-300 yards from the Command Post and a few Japanese were infiltrating the spur of the ridge on which the CP had been set up.

".. I watched the time closely, praying for dawn., when I knew the mess would be
cleared up.   I lay there for an hour at least, then as it began to grow  light I realized I was in full view of snipers on the opposite ridge.  Others about me had already begun to find other cover and though it was now so light that I knew I could be clearly seen & might draw fire from Marines as well as Japs I dashed up the slope into the D-2 tent & hit the deck.  Two others closely followed & just as we got inside a bullet pinged against a steel plate propped near the entrance - in a direct line with me, it seemed.

I ducked around behind the D-2 tent, saw Col. Buckley  [the D-2, chief Intelligence officer] who also seemed to be looking for cover, asked him
where everyone was going  (no one was in sight), and he said I could hop in
one of the D-2 shelters - which I did with alacrity, to find that I shared it with Capt. Clemens (who didn't recognize me in the dark and was inclined to dispute my entry), a wounded Raider, two British missionaries huddled in the far corner, & 2 Marines.  This was about 0500 and I stayed until the sky was bright.."

Recently, for the first time in many years, I have been looking at the  journals I kept during the campaign there. The entry for October 19 1942, during a lull after the most stressful few days of the whole show, includes the following.  Sadly ironical now.

".Monday, October 19.
Last night I lay on a poncho outside the tent, looking up at a brilliant  half moon, chatting with Cromie and Keyes and our 2 District officers - Martin  Clemens & Major Mathers.  Listening to their descriptions of Guadalcanal in peacetime, of its marvellous fertilitiy, its pleasant places, I could scarcely remember there is a war on, that the Japs are making a major drive to annihilate us.  There had been an incredibly beautiful sunset - soft rosy glow over jagged blue mountains"

Thanks for the comments on my 1944 book "The Island".  Despite my careful avoidance of anything barred for security reasons -- not that I knew much of anything  at the time -- the Navy banned publication of the book for many  months, on so-called security grounds, until Gen. Vandegrift became USMC Commandant early in 1944 and got it released.  There could be no mention at that time, of course, of  coastwatcher work, and I had carefuly avoided it in the book.  I suspect the main reason for holding the book up was public relations.

No, I didn't inspect the knocked out tanks at the Mantanikau sandbar.  I only wandered among the corpses at Alligator Creek and picked up, from an officer's bag, a bakelite - this was before plastics now familiar - toothbrush case that I use to this day when traveling.

Sgt Ore Marion , L Company , 3rd Battalion,5th Marine Rgt
There will always be a soft spot in my heart for Australia because of the way your people welcomed and treated us when we arrived there in December 1942.
After the 1st Marine Division left Australia more mail went from the Division to Australia and visa versa (for the first  6 to 8 months) than was sent back and forth to the US.

You asked about the action of October 23rd 1942 when those Jap tanks were knocked out on the Matanikau sandbar.That battle is still vivid in my memory . We were is reserve for that shindig, up the river a ways and holding there . Next morning we went down to the sand spit , where our Regimental Commander could not believe what he was looking at, and where the Division Commander was cursing a supposedly famous Battalion Commander for being a blubbering idiot .

Anyway , it was an old friend of mine with his 37mm anti tank gun (Davidson) who knocked out a tank or two . After that engagement I could never figure out why those tanks weren't blown to smithereens at once , because we always had to be cautious about the Japs sneaking back into them and giving us hell every time we went back down there (remember that our main line of resistance was back towards Kukum until the last big assault in November 1942) .

I recently read a narrative of what happened during the November battle of Matanikau/Pt Cruz . The story , with a detailed map, showed how I and K Companies of 3rd Batl,5th Marines closed in on Pt Cruz . True and correct , except that he left out L Company ! If L Company wasn't there , then what the hell was I doing there with all 11 men of my platoon (1st Platoon,L Company)? I was acting platoon leader for that pisser . We were about 25 yards behind I or K Company . The Battalion Exec officer came by and said "..Have your men fix bayonets and when I pass the word I want you to charge!". Very scary  even now .

We charged and ended up with K Company . There was nothing at Pt Cruz then . We stood on the rocks and fired at bobbing heads of Japs who were trying to swim away . Small detail , except for those involved . In all the time the 5th Regiment was on Guadalcanal I never saw a map ,  I never saw a person with a Camera and I never saw a correspondent  and I wasn't blind either .

One subject that was extremely important,which involved each and every person , every minute,was that we very seldom had communication (radios,telephones). We were fighting or patrolling in the jungle without any communications.

Sargeant Frank Guidone , 1st Marine Raider Battalion
During the Ridge battle I was a Platoon Sergeant in "A" company of the 1st
Raider Batl.  If you were facing the Ridge as the Japanese did "A" was on the
left flank and our flank was on the Lunga River.  We were tied in with "C"
company on left.  My platoon had the right flank of the battalion's line. That night the Japanese in their attack broke through between "A" company and
"C" company.

I was occupying a fox hole in the center of our company position.  There was much firing and screaming to my left about 30 or 40 yards.  We were not able to give any assistance to our left flank and were paying attention to our front and waiting for the Japs to make their attack on our front.  They did not come.  Not many Japs made it to the top of the ridge.

We re-established our lines to better support C company -- this was done early
the next morning. The next night they came again -- this time they attacked the center of our line where B company was positioned.  The paratroopers were to B company's left and once again the Japs found a gap between these two units but were decimated with rifle and machine gun fire aided by grenades.

My first thought about these two nights of combat was that it was the nosiest -- our artillery fire, mortar fire, machine guns and rifles coupled with many hand grenades.  It was all done at night.  Before the Ridge battle, I had been in several small fire engagements such as Tulagi and, on Guadalcanal, two battles on the Matanikau plus the Tasimboko raid.

On Tulagi I was a squad leader and I was positioned with my squad in a defensive line on the night of 7 August.  From dusk to daybreak we fought off about 50 Japanese who were trying to infiltrate our line.  We stopped them but not until they were within 20 yards of us.  This was a closer fight for me then , the Ridge battle was.

The battle of the Ridge was a turning point as the largest force the Japanese
had on the island was the Kawaguchi force and they were stopped here. It was
a crushing blow to HQ in Tokyo.

I have always searched for the stories about the other side. In many respects their soldiers were no different than we were . When I reflect now I have some sorrow for those troops under Kawaguchi when they assaulted us on the Ridge  the artillery , the rain, their hunger and being without direction or leaders . I did not know that then.

Sgt Fred Harris - H Company , 3rd Battalion , 5th Marine Rgt 
When I passed the tanks at the mouth of the Matanikau in late October 42 (in what we called "the big push") only the open turret cover of a tank in the ocean was visible .

One tank had turned part way down a slight incline to the sand bar . Either 3 or 4 were bumper to bumper on the sandbar . Up the river only the open turret cover on another tank was visible .

There was a fear of mines around the tanks and our unit crossed the river on what was called the Nippon Bridge (sort of a suspended walk way) and I don't know until this day if it was Jap or ours . It was only 100 or so feet up the river from the sand bar .

At Kukum (nor far inland from the big Jap radio station) there is (or was) a small weed choked, barely moving stream . H  3  5 had our four 81mm mortars mounted in the side of the stream bed . It was a lucky location , and allowed us to bath and wash our clothes . The stream had  sluggish fish , but drinking water came from Lunga . We uncovered the power cable for the Jap radio while digging a fox hole for a listening post .

The power generator was located near the airfield and also furnished the power for the Jap bakery and ice plant . A member of our platoon was detached to operate the ice works and the bakery with the Korean workers (he died in the past July) . I had my 17th birthday on Guadalcanal

I am convinced that the CBs simply covered that Jap anti-aircraft gun at Kukum . Nobody today would consider building a runway over a steel projection , but considering the small amount of equipment we had on hand at the time , and maybe covering the dirt with the steel matting . It seems possible that gun is still where I saw  it in 1942 . Very likely it was on a concrete base , as the Japs had a big supply of bagged concrete .

Back in 1967 the 1st Division Association flew Vouza to the East and West coast re-unions , had him dressed in the full dress uniform of a Master Sargeant , had his picture featured in the Marine Magazine "LEATHERNECK" . Vouza like California so much that is what he named his own village .

A national USMC band master located himself to Guadalcanal and taught the natives to play on instruments collected by US Marines and former 1st Division Marines on the East Coast . When the island received its Independence it was on these instruments that their national anthem was played

Your picture of the Kukum gun looks real enough , but the emplacement I recall was sandbagged . There was a coconut log shelter covered with dirt at ground level and a dug in and covered ammo supply , also sand bagged . Very neat and well planned and constructed , as was the shelter I marked on my map .

There was another shelter (well built also) up near the Matanikau River . It was practically on the road and we used it when the Jap sub and our half track were blasting away at each other at this location , before we even mounted our guns,very early after landing . I could see the Seabees moving dirt out on the field near the gun , but don't know if they moved it or covered it .

Never saw it again after walking out from our own guns to look at it in the very early time of us locating there . This would have been before the H Company men used it to fire at the Japanese bombers . It made a white explosion  ours made black . All before we received our 90mm AA guns . Some of the 1st Section built their shelters on stilts over the stream , which I show on my map .

I don't recall being subjected to any outright propaganda or to have any feelings about the Japs , except what we all knew  they were the enemy .
It was said the Marines never taught their people to hate any particular entity . We just fought who we were told to and that was the end of it .

That said, I am sure that most of us considered Japanese men to be hardly equal to animals . We didn't show much respect for their dead , not they for ours. I don't know of a single instance of prisoner mistreatment  - never heard it suggested or rumoured .

I have seen movies when a captured Jap was led off into the bushes , a shot is heard and one or two triumphant warriors reappeared without the prisoner . The scene didn't elicit any cheers from those of us old hands . A living Jap soldier was far too valuable to waste. Our officers made sure we were aware of this finding.

Replacement Marines who rushed to enlist after watching movies like "GUADALCANAL DIARY" and "GUNG HO" had to be re-educated to reality when they entered the real world of combat . I never thought that those of us who started our military service with the 1st Division were a particularly brutal bunch . We talked more about girls than we did about God,Country or Japs.

While many of us were conveniently located and were often detached for work details, we always left enough to man the guns.For all our grousing and goofing off , we took our obligations seriously. Firing mortars in such close proximity to men we had shared fun and games with since boot camp made us extremely careful to achieve accuracy . Certainly there was no exhibitionism such as a downward swing of an arm on the command to fire . There were no Movietone News camera teams to record our action.

On one occasion after the Japs withdrew , we fired harassing fire all through the night,each gun in rotation. As long as the range was set high enough to clear the known positions of our troops the gunner could set his own sites .

My turn came and I scanned the pitch black horizon for the explosion which would mean I had hit the big Jap ammo dump I had aimed for . It was bad enough to hear that distant "splat" which meant I had put it off in the ocean ,
but then to hear ones own buddy say "..Hell Fred, you put it out in the ocean..!".

We faced some of the best fighters Japan fielded in World War 2 . Their artillery teamwork was uncanny  I can bear witness to some of its art.
They didn't have many guns emplaced when we landed . One was an AA gun of about 75mm located near the middle of the field at Kukum that eventually developed into a fighter strip . It was this Jap gun with a M Company crew that fired the first large calibre round at the Jap bombers that sent us running for cover for so long .

They eventually landed some standard field pieces with the tractors to pull them about and the skilled crews to make them a frightening prospect.

My first eyewitness contact was under a shade tree near our 81mm mortar positions at Kukum. There was nothing else to look at but some Seabees coming down off the hill at the far edge of the field. As the group left the shadow of the hill and started out onto the field in single file , the first artillery round struck about 20 feet in front of the first man .

The group them turned back towards the hill and the second round struck about 20 feet in front of the lead man again . This time they continued on towards the hill and the third round struck in exactly the same place as the first one .If I didn't know better , I would have sworn that one of the 4th squad was directing the fire .

The last round tossed a big hunk of smoking shrapnel half way to our shade tree. Not the first time the hill had been pounded  the morning after the night of "Battleship Thursday" it was sprinkled with the base plates from the night of bombardment . They shone like washtubs in the morning sun,but soon rusted over to blend with the grass.

The Japs fired at anything that moved within range of their guns. It wasn't long before a battery of 105's moved into the coconut grove that was our left front yard  maybe 200 yards from where the Seabees were fired on . At about the same time we moved our guns through this area and dug in on the ridge which ran the distance of the future airstrip.

On the trip back to our old location to wash clothes we noticed that most of the trees around the 105;s had been blown down by the Jap artillery . By this time "Pistole Pete" had become more feared than "Washing Machine Charlie".
Charlie dropped his small bombs at random . Pete was deliberate and on target. The Officers mess hall was as well concealed as any installation on the island , but Pistol somehow calculated its exact location and blew it to smithereens.

It was events of the next day that motivated me to pass by the mess hall , which was on my way to view the wreckage of a Jap plane shot down by our water-cooled .50 cal machine guns. The Officers Mess was just that  groceries hanging from the tree tops,the uninjured cook out looking for a job!

That 200 yard gully reached down from the ridge to the end of what would be the fighter strip . The Mess Hall was about halfway . The Jap plane had burnt out and was no longer smoking . Some of the other mortar platoon members had ventured down to the crash site earlier and I met one with the pilot's hand still in his glove with snap popped open.

There must have been a dozen accounts of this Jap plane,from a small passenger plane loaded with sightseers through the whole Jap Air Force inventory. All of us in the vicinity could hear the plane passing back and forth below us on the ridge and unseen through the trees . The strange thing was that it was not being fired on and no fighters had been sent up to give chase .
If it had been a passenger plane then it had unloaded them some place between runs , because the only body in the wreckage was the pilot. A few locals were still probing for souvenirs when I reached the scene, but there was nothing worth anything . I don't recall what happened to the pilot's hand.

At any rate, the word went out that the Japs had lost a plane to ground fire and some fighter was in the vicinity to exact revenge . Before I had time to complete my quest for a souvenir he comes in right on top of the trees with all guns firing! It was the closest I had ever been to a strafing Zero, and between passes I started to change my foxhole for a larger one . Then I thought of a buddy I had lost while doing what I had in mind . I stayed put until this angry fighter pilot left the area.

It seemed th 50's that downed the plane had left the Jap Radio Station area before the second plane arrived . All in the Kukum area.

I can tell the world I missed our old gun positions there on the bank of a fresh water stream,washing clothes,even though they were on your back and maybe just before darkness going for a quick,au naturel swim/bath. No Marine in his right mind spent many minutes stark naked on Guadalcanal.

Pistole Pete became a challenge that the combined forces in the Solomons
Accepted . Ships of every size and shape,planes likewise-even beautiful P-39s got in on the act . And Pistole Pete fired on and on and on. Fully half his shells went right over my head on that ridge top. Another month went by and he still fired . We moved the lines up a notch and he still fired .

So the land powers decided to send the 4th mortar squad of M-3-5 far,far out in front of the front lines to shoot an azimuth on his muzzle blast when darkness fell. We were ready and caught him on the second round. He was much farther inland than he was supposed to be. He had a first rate crew.

He was still firing when what was left of the 1st Division sailed for Australia.

George Bodman B Company, 1st Batl, 1st Marine Regiment
I joined the USMC on January 2, 1942 and got out in Jan. 1946.  My brother
William and I served together in B-1-1. I was in 60mm mortars, my brother  was in the rifle unit.

We landed on Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942. The fighting was fierce. We
lost lots of men.The chow was hardly edible, lack of drinking water was a real
hardship. We survived on Japanese rice with the weavils in it for protein.

I was probably the only US Marine with a horse on the island.  I heard a noise in front of my foxhole, carefully went to investigate and found a horse hung up in the barb wire. I gently got him lose and made a halter for him with the belts I had. He was >real helpful to carry our heavy mortar ammunition. I shared my lousy food with him and the little water I had.

One day, while on patrol along the beach, a Jap destroyer spotted us and began to shell us. Our men ran to the jungle for cover. I stayed with my horse, trying desperately to make him move but he would not budge. I had no choice but to run to save myself. I did not see the horse again. When the shelling stopped, I went looking for him, but could not find him. I lost not just the horse but the much needed ammunition. What a bad day that was!

When we were there only a few days, I brought a wounded Jap soldier to the
Battalion for medical care. I was told by the doctor that we did not have enough medicine for our own men and this man was in such a bad shape, he was going to die anyway. He told me to take him out back and shoot him. I could not do that. A corporal in the tent offered to do it and he did. After being on this island for 6 months I saw such horrible atrocities that Japs did to our men and the locals that I did not have a problem killing them.

Our troop left Guadalcanal on Christmas Eve 1942 and headed for Brisbane,
Australia. We arrived there but did not embark due to the tremendous number
of mosquitoes and malaria already raging amongst us. We continued on to
Melbourne, where we stayed in the cricket stadium.

The experience here was very pleasant, probably the best R&R overseas that I ever had. The locals treated us as their own sons. I went to spend 2 weeks with a family on a farm. It was great. Their friends and neighbors made us feel at home. About 15 of us went to different homes.

While on this beautiful farm, my malaria symptoms came back and I landed in
a Melbourne hospital for 3 weeks. The doctors and nurses seemed like miracle
workers. When I got back on my feet, I joined my outfit and was headed to New Guinea.

We went on to Cape Gloucester on New Britain. Here we had some fierce fighting. It rained and rained. I've never seen so much rain in my life! We suffered major losses. The rain and the Japs made this a hell hole. We were covered in mud, slept in mud and water. We were all happy to get off this island.

We went on to Goodenough Island for an R&R. My brother and I were rotated
home from here. Our buddies who stayed behind went on to fight in Peliliu. Casualties were 75% wounded and killed! I was sure happy to have missed that one!

Rest of my time I spent in the States getting ready for the invasion of Japan but due to the atom bomb we were not needed. I was discharged Jan. 1946 and joined my family on a farm in Maine.My brother William also came home to Maine for a short time.

PS. While on Guadalcanal in 1942 George lost his dogtag. It was found by a military history enthusiast,Richard Godin, a few years ago and recently returned to George after 58 years..!

Bud De Vere First control tower operator at Henderson Field
Sometime when you are walking the areas near the Henderson airstrip, imagine our SBDs being lined up with their tails pointed toward the jungle, so if there was a break through, we could use the rear seat twin 30s to mow down the invaders
(if they got through - which, by the great work of the mud sloggers, they
never did).

Imagine being in the tower just after sunset and having a flight  of sneak low level bombers coming in over the strip strafing and dropping 500 pound bombs before you could get down from there, and later digging shrapnel out of the wooden supports as souvenirs. Imagine Pistol Pete being so active during the day that you could write letters in your squad tent next to the foot of the mountain while listening to hundreds of rounds headed for Henderson whine over head. Imagine so many Washing Machine Charlie single plane flights going over during a night under rain-glistening flares that you sleep on the bare ground on top of a shelter for fear of getting too far away in the pouring rain between attacks. Imagine the sky lit up with tracers and search lights trying to make a hit on night invaders.

Imagine walking up from the field to the front lines to hunt souvenirs, and experiencing the odor of hundreds of decaying bodies a day or so after they had been killed. Picture the big green flies almost blocking your vision, and the millions of maggots crawling under the skin and filling every orifice in a dead body. You have experienced the stings of mosquitoes. Imagine the terrible feeling of malaria that almost everyone got from them. Fortunately I never got that or the Muu Muu, or yellow jaundice that went with it, but I did know complete trench foot from constant soaked feet that were impossible to keep dry socks on.

Imagine standing in a chow line minutes after a 20 or 30 "V" shaped formation
of Japanese bombers went over to see and hear other delayed bombs going off
while you jump in the mud to escape getting hit. Imagine the sight of a Japanese sniper hanging upside down by his foot from a tree while his life's blood drips off the end of his fingers, after he had been discovered by someone with a Thompson submachine gun. Imagine a night of total and complete saturated bombing, artillery duels with Pistol Pete and the 11th Marines, 14 inch shells from Japanese Battle wagons standing in Iron Bottom Bay raking the island from the strip to the shore line time after time the night of October 13th. 

I manned the Henderson field tower from late October 1942 to mid December
1942, and do remember the Pagoda before it was bull dozed down to make the
bombing of the air strip more difficult for the Japanese. Engineers figured
out that they were using the building as an aiming center.

I'm sure you have spoken to many vets that were there at that time, and have
heard these kind of recollections, and much much worse, but I remember some
good things as well. Making aluminum bracelets out of the skin of a downed
zero, and hunting for native shells to make souvenir bracelets for my
childhood sweetheart (who I married when I returned in 1944).

Getting Red Cross packages with cigarettes, and a barrel of hunting knives from stateside donors from their own collection to be given to the Marines who wanted them. Yes, there were good things to remember. I wrote a book called "Lions, Leathernecks, and Legacies" in 1992 that is still carried by the Marine Corps Books store at Quantico and the Marine Corps Museum in Washington, DC, that tells these and other stories in detail about the 'Canal and other aspects of my life.

Sargeant Bill Mc Laughlin , Americal Division , Guadalcanal
We landed in Melbourne in February 1942 after a 37 day cruise from Brooklyn, NY.  our ship, the Argentina was Hq of the convoy, and as we sailed up in to the harbor there, the decks were crowded with the 4 or 5 thousand guys aboard.  A couple of us climbed to the crow's nest on the  foremast, and since this was already crowded, we climbed on the metal roof , standing, holding the stays.  What a sight!  The dock was crowded with people cheering our appearance. We were the first force of any size to come out after Pearl Harbor was bombed.

We had a brief stay there, about a week, before re boarding the ships to
sail to New Caledonia.  Our unit took a train out to Bendigo where we had a
delightful time, 2 lads to a family. Only place I've ever slept in  a feather bed.
Thos were the days, buddy

Re the relics:  I still have my dogtags from when we went into Federal
Service in 1941, but lost the ones from overseas years ago out there. I got a second set on Bougainville in 1944, and was sent to a rest camp there.  I began surfing on the huge waves and got ahead of one.  It slammed me down on the seabed and i did a few barrel rolls, losing the new dogtags. Never got any more.

The coins you got on the Canal  are collectibles now.  Back in the 70's, the US began issuing coins of base metal.  Those before were all silver.   Also, the 50 cent pieces no longer exist here.  When John Kennedy was assassinated, a coin was issued with his likeness and immediately disappeared as everyone collected them.  Even the ones which came out later of base metal disappeared promptly, and cash drawers formerly in tills for 50 cent coins were dropped.

It's my thought that the native may have found Geiger's dogtag somewhere else
and carried it up to Edson's Ridge. I don't really know where the 247th  FA Bn spent most of its time.  I know that at the end of the campaign they were close to Cape Esperance.

The 247th FA Bn was formed over in New Caledonia, as were the others, 245th and 246th, while we were changed from the 180th FA, 1st Bn, and 1st Bn, 200th
FA Reg't, to the 221st FA Bn.  We were heaviest of division artillery with our 155mm Howitzers.  The other 3 had more modern weapons, 105mm howitzers.    I enjoy your stuff, and forward it to others like Col. Jim Taylor in South Carolina.  Jim was an officer in the 97th mule pack FA Bn attached to the Americal on Guadalcanal, and a West Point Regular Army graduate. 

There was our battalion of 12 howitzers (Schneider WW 1 6" guns) almost hub to hub on that spit of land Pt. Cruz, then loaded with half buried bodies, and foxholes full of Japanese dead, coated with slimy white shifting covers of maggots.  It was the pits!

Our howitzers were strung out some 10 yards apart on Pt Cruz, from
close to the beginning to past the midpoint on the peninsula.  2 500 lb
bombs straddled my hole, one of which blew up a pyramidal tent with a kid
inside.  Fortunately, the "blockbuster" 2000 lb bomb was last and beyond
our guns, which although blown around by the 500 pounders, with shell piles
strewn around, were not damaged.  The blockbuster buried some Marine
coastwatchers on the shore, but they were dug out by our guys before they
were hurt.   The hole from the bomb made an instant swimming pool of great
size there.

Our colonel then, Barney Landers was angry that Division would cram us in such a spot, his later replacement, Col. John F.P. Hill, USA (Ret) told me, but they said it was the only spot to maximize our range, as we were leapfrogged ahead of all other artillery, even the pack howitzers (mule) were firing over our heads.    Guadalcanal was the limit I saw in 3-1/2 years out there.  

Three of us were caught in a Japanese air raid on the hill to the left of Pt Cruz where we were looking over dead Japanese "marines" up there.  We saw the strings of bombs coming down from the low flying planes, and snuggled up to the corpse of a huge dead Japanese bent back over a log.  The escorting Zeros peeled off to strafe our position on Cruz, sparing us as they flew low overhead, but riddling the pyramid tents and cots there.  The outfit, we found, had got a "Condition Red" and were already in their holes

We were lying in the bunk one night after the battle was over and the moon was so bright someone said, "There's a real bombing moon.." and we laughed at the
thought. Someone was playing the song on a phonograph.  "A sleepy lagoon, a tropical moon, and you in my arms..." when suddenly we heard someone yelling "Condition Red" and at the same time bombs began bursting from the interior coming toward us.   That was a night to remember....  

I got two brand new cavalry rifles (Japanese) model about 1910 still in
cosmoline for my son and grandson with built in bayonets. I'd never seen them before, and wrote Akio Tani, the "Pistol Pete" of Guadalcanal in Japan.  He had read a Japanese flag which I got from a dead soldier on Cebu, Philippines, and found his relatives earlier for me.  Akio sent me a picture from an old Japanese field manual of the rifle slung on a cavalryman's back as he leaped a hurdle on horseback.  I told him how we carried our '03 Springfields in a boot under our left leg in cavalry days, and thought at 10 lbs the rifles must have bruised the riders.   He agreed that ours was a better way.    

I brought home some stuff finally after 43 months out there, and gave a lot of it away:  a native kris, Japanese flag, cap from a Japanese I shot, and other things. The second Japanese flag I got was a beauty, all silk, and I tried for
years to find someone who could read the characters, to no avail.  Finally,
Akio Tani, who was one of the "Pistol Pete's" of Guadalcanal, sorted it out
from a photo I sent him, and found relatives of the soldier in Tokyo.  I
sent it to them.  Found from Tani that Gen. MacArthur had shortened the
characters to make the language less cumbersome, and younger people could
not translate it.

Actually, I was almost one of the Marines.  Tim Coffey and I joined the horse cavalry back in January 1937.  I was only 16, and had gone to a camp the previous year, which was called CMTC (Citizens' Military Training Camps) which with a camp of a month in the summer and correspondence courses led to a Reserve Commission at the end of 4 years. I had opted for cavalry as my branch of service.

A neighbor, Ed Hopkins, who was a Sgt in the Nat'l Guard cavalry, heard of
it and convinced me I should join his regiment, the 110th Mass.  Since the
minimum age limit was 18, and I was tall, (6'2") he told me to tell them I
was 19, and they wouldn't ask for a birth certificate. I did and they didn't. Anyway, Tim and I finished our hitch in Jan. 1940, and we decided to join the Marines.  He went first since I was working then on the railroad.

They turned him down as "too tall"   Tim was a robust lad of 6'3", and the
Marines were only taking up to 6'2".   I said, "Screw them.." when they turned Tim down and we both rejoined the cavalry. Tim was rotated home after Guadalcanal, and stationed at the artillery school at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  He retired from the military a Command Sgt Major.

I opened my  big mouth to a sergeant in the Recon to which I'd transferred after being busted and court martialed on Bougainville (another story), and
supplied the name of an obscure part on a BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle)
when he was stalled.   He sent a man down with the BAR to me.It never worked .

Anyway, I got an M-1 then, and lost it in an ambush when I picked up what I
thought was my rifle, but belonged to a chap carrying one of our wounded.
By great good luck, a replacement came in from the States with a brand new
M-1, and the lieutenant commanding our platoon had him give it to me.
It was like pointing your finger, and I loved that piece. When I was rotated after 3-1/2 years of war out there, and had to turn it in, I almost cried.  I was part of me.

I carried an M-1 in my year with the Recon Troop, through 3-1/2 campaigns
in Bougainville and the Philippines.  Best rifle there was then.  They were
invented by Garand who worked in the Springfield, Massachusetts Armory.  He
never patented it nor got a cent from selling them, gave it to the Army. The Marines opted for the Johnson Semi Automatic, which, they claimed was
more accurate at a thousand yards or so.   When they got involved in Guadalcanal, and fought an enemy only feet away with their Springfield
'03's, cranking a bolt for each of 5 shots, and saw our infantry pumping 8
rounds as fast as the trigger could be pulled, they turned green.

Our guys had to sleep with their arms and legs wrapped around the M-1's to
keep them from being stolen.  I had an M-1 given me by a Marine friend who
was on Guadalcanal with the 1st Marines. 

We had the flat helmets going overseas, and got the pots just before we
went up to Guadalcanal.  When we landed in Noumea, it was thought our 155mm howitzers had been left behind, so we got Australian 18 and 25 pounders, plust a group of Army men to teach us their eccentricities.  All they taught us was their drinking games (Here's to Captain Poof) and rowdy songs (My name is Sammy Hall) before we found the guns had been packed deeper. Since we had big trucks to haul our heavy guns, they were used to transport the materiel up island to caches where it would be available to our thin force spread out along the coast in anticipation of the Japanese offensive.

I remember giving a couple of new helmets to one of the Aussies with us,
and he told me, "Bill, you're like Rob Roy, you take from the rich and give
to the poor." They were great guys. Later, I was in the Recon Troop, and on Bougainville, I went on patrol with the Fiji Battalion which had Aussie and New Zealand officers.  They were fantastic soldiers, and good officers in the jungle.
Guadalcanal was the worst country we found down there in more than
3 1/2 years.

Bill Coggin , Headquarters Company , 2nd Batl,1st Marine Rgt
I was in Headquarters Company,2nd Battalion,1st Marines. Battalion C.O. was Lt. Col. Pollock. I was in the Bn. intelligence section. At Bn. level it was pretty basic.Patrolling, maintaining observation posts and trying to keep our current position plotted on the poor maps we had. The majority of us were recent recruits { Jan. 42.  }and had been aboard ship since mid June, so we were ill prepared for the campaign.It was a learning experience for all of us.

Our maps of that time showed the Ilu River as the Tenaru. The Ilu was farther east  at Red Beach where we landed. We crossed this river ? { more like a creek }many times as it wound like a snake inland { south }. After landing at Red beach our Bn's mission was to proceed on a compass azimuth to the top Grassy Knoll and command the high ground behind the airfield.We never got there. After 2 days of hacking through the jungle {single file this made a long column} the Co. commander abandoned the mission.

We withdrew north toward the beach by wading {up to our armpits } down the Ilu We came out of the river where a large unit had crossed into the southern end of a long grass field and then south up onto a high open ridge.{ this field was the same one later defended by the 3rd & 2nd. Bns. } There was a telephone wire alongside the trail so contact was made with the unit that had passed. It turned out to be the rest or our Bn.

As we were taking a break there a person in army fatigues scanned us with a camera. We had been resting there a while before the photo was taken.The Ilu {Tenaru} was close by on the left of the photo and the telephone wire in the background went up onto high ground to the right.{where we followed it }.Head netting was only worn at the time of the invasion.On the bottom edge of the photo I am the one laying down with my hands behind my head,knee's up and looking directly at the camera. I remember the incident clearly.

This photo shows up in various history books and on page 90 of "The Old Breed". " The Old Breed " was mailed to me in the early 1950's from some government agency..I recognized the photo almost immediately. It is highly valued family history with the folder you made up for me . Actually that group included "G" company {Capt.Sherman} one platoon of "F" Co.and approx.half of Hq.Co - almost half the Bn. After reaching the heavy jungle we were in line following one man with a machete and became separated from the rest of the Bn.

I have a blowup of the photo on page 90 of "The Old Breed". I've studied the person you mentioned and I see on the back of his pack a entrenching tool [shovel] and to the left of that a bayonet in scabbard where there is attaching devices for this equipment.At that time I don't recall hearing of anyone picking up Jap equipment.

Soon after it became standard for everyone to carry 2 canteens.I don't recall if the second one was issued or scrounged up individually.Later at the beach I found one. It was hard plastic(?) wooden stopper and rope carrying strap.I assumed it was lost by an  airfield laborer [Korean?].
On page 92 of "The Old Breed" , the road from the edge of the field [ defended by 3rd & later 2nd Bn.]went west thru jungle and over that bridge into the clearing [grass fighter strip] beyond.I walked over many times. This bridge was also at Red Beach at the first crossing of the Ilu on "D" day. The brackish stream mentioned I believe was the headwaters of the Tenaru [Ilu].I don't remember that much water in the Tenaru as your photo shows.As I recall it wasn't that wet the time we were there compared to Cape Gloucester. At our 2nd. location I walked over that bridge often.It was the only road in or out of our area to the fighter strip, Henderson and  onto the beach. That must be the one that was over the Ilu at Red Beach.

We followed the wire up onto high open ground until darkness and then laid down where we were.This was Aug.8th.It was hard trying to sleep on hard coral ground.As there was intermitent rain we were under our ponchos.

Sometime after midnight a plane flew over. It sounded so different from ours I knew it was Japanese.It dropped a series of flares [?? ]  that lit up the area like day.We felt naked being exposed on that open ridge. Later after the flares went out we heard  naval gun fire and flashes on the horizon to the north west.This lasted a while and it then it was quiet.[ This was the Battle Of Savo Island that was a disaster for the U S Navy]

The next  morning[Aug 9th] we made contact with the rest of our Bn. up ahead of us and was told our mission to Grassy Knoll was cancelled as the 5th Marines and balance of the 1st Marines had occupied the airfield.Also our ship George F. Elliot  had been sunk during an air raid the day before.The last 2 days we had U S planes overflying us [SBD s& F4Fs ]also sporadic rifle & machine gun fire on the ground.This day was quiet, no planes or ground fire.

Our Bn was the last to withdraw to the beach and was given the mission of defending against seaborn attack {north} and along the Tenaru {east} and with a open flank some distance south of the sand spit.I am including this prelude to the Tenaru battle so you might understand how vulnerable we were and lucky that the Japanese were so arrogant and stupid to believe that one of theirs {with his willingness to die for his Emperor} was equal to10 Caucasians.

This was a strange time.{Aug 10th-20th} We were elated it had been so easy.{ lower ranks weren't told of losses at Savo} and yet we knew because of the food situation we were in trouble .

There was no mosquitoes or jungle growth to contend with in the palm grove along the beach and western bank of the Tenaru lagoon.Our C.P. was approx.200yds.west of Tenaru and 100yds.south of the beach.Our O.P. was on the beach north of the C.P. There was a coastal road running East & West.There was a herd of 4-6 horses on the Lunga plain, also Brahma cattle some of which were killed for meat.I saw Chevy trucks with Jap marking's being driven by Marines.

here was a lot of material such as photo albums,candy,toothpowder,sake and lumber also rice & oatmeal.This was all put to good use.Our food situation was critical right away.We found out eating coconuts could cause diarrhea and some of us paid that price.

Jap planes started flying over around Aug.11.They didn't bomb at first but then did so on a daily basis usually arriving about noon.They were twin engine Betty's [27 in V formation] Occasionally our 90m.m.A.A knocked one down. Some of our equipment proved to be faulty.[hand held radios & Reising sub machine gun]Word of the Savo Is.battle was getting around and we were beginning to understand our predicament. Patrols stripped wire off plantation fences to use at our defense positions.

Around this time most of the Div. intelligence section were killed.[Goettge Patrol]One of our Sgt's was transferred there. All marine units provide their own security at night and those on watch would sometimes fire at suspected Jap infiltrators resulting in return fire from other marines.The use of passwords was supposed to prevent this.It never really did.

Occasionally a Jap sub would surface off Lunga Pt. A 75mm Half Tract.would shoot at it and force it farther off shore.At sunrise Aug.19th. our O.P. reported 2 Jap.destroyers on the horizon steaming back & forth apparently shelling Tulagi.This went on until a B-17 arrived and dropped 2 bombs and left. One bomb hit the stern of one of the ships and started a fire which soon went out as they left.

The next day Aug.20th.late afternoon the first American planes landed on Henderson Field . [SBDs&F4Fs] Everyone cheered anticipating tomorrow's aerial combat. Our section was bivouacked near the Col's tent with our foxholes nearby.Around midnight a lot of activity occurred and about an hour later all hell broke at the Tenaru.

There was constant rifle & machine gun fire also shouting and the heavy thump of a 37mm A.T. gun.This continued all night.The Bn.switchboard was busy all night and next day. At dawn the Col.left in his jeep. A  "G" co.platoon moved up the beach toward the Tenaru.Planes took off at this time also outbound artillery rounds were passing over head. We were in our foxholes facing a little clearing to our south. In about an hour our section chief suggested some of us go to the Tenaru where the Col. was as observers. Scotty,Burnham and myself did so.

As we approached the front we passed a Amtrac { Alligator} parked about 40 yds.from the action}behind which the two Bn. Dr.were attending the wounded.Scotty chose to stay there and lay in a foxhole in front of the tractor.Burnham and I advanced to the edge of the lagoon and out onto the beach at the beginning of the sandspit.There were two empty foxholes dug in the sand just below the beach bank at the edge of the palm trees.We occupied these.

Col. Pollock was standing and walking around erect telling everyone to stay low and squeeze them off.His jeep was parked nearby with bullet holes in it. Jap bodies covered the sandspit from the waters edge slightly behind us to the opposite grove across the lagoon.

"G" Company.had set up a 60mm Mortar section and was dropping shells in the edge of the grove across the lagoon.When the shells exploded in addition to bodies and parts flying there was clouds of dust and the Japs would run trying to take advantage of the concealment.They didn't get very far as many rifles would fire.Occassionally one would rise out of the bodies on the sandspit with the same result.One actually stood up and surrendered waving a white handkerchief only front of marine rifle's.

This went on for quite a while before the firing slacked off and the word came the 1st.Bn.was advancing from the south & east.During this time Jap fire came our way. Rifle fire hit the sand in front of us and near the Colonel's feet as he was standing near us.Also a mortar barrage hit the top of palm trees showering us with coconuts.This same barrage hit the aid station behind the Amtrac.killing one Doctor and wounding others, including Scotty who took a piece of shrapnel in his buttock.

Like everyone else Burnham and I had fired our rifles and emptied our cartridge belts.{100rds.} and then some.As it was pretty much over when we got there I don't feel we contributed much more then being executioners.Not enough credit can be given to those who held these positions during the night.

After the middle of the day the sun was very strong.The carnage and odor became unbearable. I actually vomited.I went back to the C P for a while.On the way I passed the surviving doctor [Dr. Goldman] He looked worse than I felt. After awhile I went back and rejoined Burnham.We watched the tanks moping up in the grove across the lagoon and we saw the tank crew rescue incident then we left.

During the night there was sporadic rifle fire from our side of the lagoon.The next day the burial detail was busy with a bulldozer and Jap [Koreans?] prisoners. I heard the count was around 800.There was all kinds of equipment laying around. These people were well equipped.

Among the things nobody had any interest in were some pieces of pipe about 4ft. long. A few days later I was at an new O.P. location near the sandspit. I spent much time at this new O P location. A marine was boiling clothes over a open grated fire.Unfortunately he was standing close to it when it exploded. He was killed.These pipes were bangalore torpedoes for removing barb wire.We could have used that 6 months training at New Zealand. . After the battle at Tenaru the Pioneer Bn. built a tank barricade across the sandspit, more wire was strung and more machine gun positions dug and all positions with overhead protection.
The Amtrac you pointed out in the well known west bank pic is the one the Aid Station was behind.There was another one abandoned in the middle of the lagoon right where all the action took place.The lagoon being only about 3ft. deep with a mucky bottom could be waded.I didn't notice any bodies in the lagoon or near the abandoned Amtrac.

My foxhole was just outside the left side of photo as you surmised.When we were there the tide was coming in and almost high.There was bodies to the left and behind us in the edge of the water.To our front we could touch bodies with our rifles.We were close to the beach bank which was higher there than in the photo.It occurred to us later the original occupants may have been casualties as these two positions were so exposed.

The photo of the runway extension you sent shows a different shape lagoon at the sandspit. I have a map prepared by Don Moss that I believe was fairly accurate.It shows the widest part of the lagoon then as 75 yds. It figures rivers over time will change depending on the watershed and other factors.

On that oblique aerial photo are you sure of the date (pre August 21st) ? That lagoon is so different in shape & size from the vertical aerial photos our maps were taken from. Another factor is , we were there 10 day's before the battle and a lot of motor traffic went over that sandspit from Red Beach.Could it all have been erased by tides and river current or the camera wasn't close enough to pick up any detail. ?

The length of the lagoon parallel to the ocean is much longer than at the time of battle and what my map shows.Could these lagoons change shape & size every few days?    Our C.P. was closer to the ocean [to the right in the photo] We could see the ocean thru the trees where our O P was.[about 100 yds.from the C P]. Our 2 foxholes side by side facing east were close to the corner of the palm grove a little left of where you indicated. The Amtrac. was in the middle of the lagoon grounded  and tilted at a angle. I had heard that the Japs had set up in it but I didn't see any bodies in it or in the lagoon.Of course we were occupied with what was close by and in front of us.

The the lagoon was closer to the sand spit [I think] and it was not against the river bank but near the middle of the lagoon.The 37mm gun was on our right also a machine gun nest.It couldn't have been too far from us as we were all covering the sand spit facing East.Ther were many riflemen in foxholes and crouched behind palm trees firing at any Jap that showed himself.

DEFENSE SOUTH OF THE AIRFIELD                                         
Our 1st. position was defending the beach and inland a short ways along the Tenaru { Ilu } river. {more like a lagoon } on the right {east } flank of the perimeter. At that time it was all coconut grove extending from Lunga to Koli Point along the beach and inland 100 - 300 yds

The 3rd.Bn. 1st.took up position extending south from our position on the Tenaru {previously undefended }It ran along a wide kunai grass field {1-300 yards .} approx. 600yds.and ended against high ground curving back into the jungle with a open flank. This line generally faced east across a open high grass field. Immediately behind this defense line was approx.200yds.of jungle, the grass fighter strip and then Henderson Field.

History records more accurate than I  the actions of the Japs. I do know we had patrol contact and we were probed at night at the Tenaru. 3rd Bn.was attacked at night and next day Marine tanks were knocked out in the field in front of them.This all culminated in the battle of Edson's Ridge

In the middle of Sept.  2nd. Bn. relieved 3rd. Bn.I think they went to Kukum and then the Matanikau R. We {2nd.Bn.} were in that position until Oct.13. It involved patrolling every day,to the East, following the main trail the Japs had cut to the south of our perimeter, bringing back Jap equipment. and sick stragglers.{after the battle of Edson's ridge }

Everyone was angry and griping when we got the word to relieve the 3rd.Bn.on our inland right flank.We hated to leave our strong positions on the Tenaru and the pleasant palm grove where there were no mosquitoes and little mud.

Our new defense line ran north to south along the western jungle edge of a wide kunai grass field approx 600 yds.and then curving back west into the jungle a short distance with an open flank.Facing east across the field {1-300yds.wide} was a tree line that bordered the Ilu creek .It was from here the Japs had launched their attack across the field against 3rd.Bn.positions on the western edge that we now occupied.Also from here Jap gunners had knocked out Marine tanks in the field the morning after the attack.At the Tenaru we had Jap probing action at the same time as the 3rd. Bn.action.I seem to remember it happened after "Bloody Ridge" but I can't be sure.

From our new position daily patrols went out to the east.As usual for this time they were full company size and important enough to warrant the attention of the Regimental Intelligent Officer {Capt. Hunt} who participated along with 2nd. Bn. Intelligence people.

The area to the east was flat grasslands intersected by patches of jungle that lined the waterways meandering to the coast.The Japs had cut a trail from the east to the Ilu and then south onto jungle covered high ground.It was deemed this was the unit that hit "Bloody Ridge".Many interesting things were found on this trail.

At the turnback point in a big open high grass field {6ft.some places} a Jap Zero had crash landed and burned.The fuselage and wing frames were still intact but no sign of the pilot.In these high grass fields sometimes cattle would jump up and go charging off.Whereas you couldn't see them it would be quite startling to say the least.

On one patrol a Jap 75mm. mountain gun was found hidden near the trail.It was easily disassembled and had harness's for man carry or dragging all assembled.We dragged it until almost dusk and then hid it with the intention of going back for it the next day.The next day it was gone.On another occasion we found a sick Jap following the trail. The word was out for live prisoners so he had to be carried back.There was much griping over that ! We learned the Japs cut their trails with hand saws instead of machetes. It was much more quiet.

Going on these patrols we passed a Marine Stuart tank stuck in the Ilu creek bed between the high banks.The upper half was burnt and there was the stench of death as we passed. Just a short distance past the tank off the trail there were two bloated Jap bodies.In just a few days they were reduced to skeletons in uniform.

We were only at this location about 3 weeks during which there was a full moon.I remember our at the edge of the field playing cards by moonlight. We didn't have planes taking off over us constantly as at the Tenaru {there they would test fire their guns right over us and the brass would come whistling down.}The air raids were still a daily event.

We had an Army Officer that had been flown in and was staying near our O.P.,so we knew the first army troops were due.We had been told we would be relieved by 164th Reg.{North Dakota National Guard} and we would take up new positions across the Lunga,South-West of the airfield.

The day they arrived,after unloading they had to spend their first night on the beach. We had become used to the navel shelling at night,but when this started we knew this was something different.The star shells,salvos of six,and the heavy impact concussion. {the ground shook.}Fortunately for us we were not that close to Henderson.{ about 1 mile I would guess} but we still had a 14" base plate land near "E" Company's galley.

The next morning our army relief showed up bedragled and bleary eyed.Some Marines had to say "You ain't seen nothing yet..!", which was of course "Bull". These men on average were older than us.{any Marine private over 25 gets called Pop.} and were carrying M1 Garands which we admired.

That first day,myself and other marines went on patrol with an army platoon to familiarise them with the area.It was uneventful except for the usual air raid around noon. That morning we learned there were Heavy Jap Ships west of the Matanikau unloading troops and equipment and there was little our demolished air force could do about it.

We left this location feeling we were being moved into harms way not knowing that in  12-14 days those defending this corner and the line extended west would be severely tested.

After the night of the Battleships Oct.13. we were relieved by Army troops and moved to the south west of Henderson.This was an area of high coral ridges {sparse , thin grass } and thick jungle ravines.This area was only lightly defended and the rifle co.'s had a difficult time cutting heavy jungle and digging into coral to prepare positions. We had a O. P. on the highest ridge and with a 20 power scope we had a view of the whole perimeter also to the west where the Japs beached 4 ships.

We sent patrols every day along the ridge tops to the base of Grassy Knoll {about 1 mile} From the top the Japs had a good view of our perimeter. Along with the airfield they shelled us constantly.They located our a ravine between 2 open ridge tops and laid shells on both ridges. There was casualties and we finally moved theC.P.

We couldn't see the Lunga River,but we knew we were close to it. Facing south our defense line started on our left on a very high bare ridge { where our Bn, O. P. was } F Company  extending west into jungle ravines {E & G Co.'s} some distance onto high ground again.I don't remember who was on our right flank { If anyone }.

History books have shown a solid line of defense around the airfield. This was not possible, but always an objective.On our left from our high ridge {F Company} east down to the Lunga it was thick jungle .Exact distance not known ,but not far. I don't believe there were any defense positions on our side of the river. As was the practice it was no doubt covered by artillery & mortar concentrations.

At this time there were more frequent air raids and artillery fire coming from the high ground South of us {Grassy Knoll} . Following the Battleship bombardment the Japs shelled the airfield at night more frequently.We knew there was a Jap troop build up in the West and it was just a matter of time before we were attacked somewhere.2nd Battalion sent daily patrols to the base of Grassy Knoll without any contact that I can recall.

Once a patrol I was with went past the usual turnback point and followed a very steep trail { almost a cliff } down into a jungle ravine. At the bottom was a shallow running brook next to which was a crude lean-to shelter.Three dead Japs lay around a fire site.They were fully clothed {one wore a Helmet} and were skeletons.
The trail continued South up into the open fields on the lower slopes of Grassy Knoll.We turned around at that point and retraced our steps.The climb up out of that ravine was so difficult I don't believe any "one day" patrol went that far again.These patrols were usually a Rifle Squad led by the Platoon Leader { Lieutenant.} and accompanied by a person from our section to help with the map work if any.It usually evolved just following a trail out and back.

The October attacks were to the East of us and then North West {sounded almost directly behind us}There was no sleeping those nights as there was continuous small arms and artillery fire.This went on for 3 or 4 nights.If this had been coordinated? I hate to think!

Later in November our Battalion sent a two day combat patrol {platoon size} to the top of Grassy Knoll.I did not participate.They ambushed the Japs standing in a chow line at dusk.They beat a hasty withdrawal and returned the next day with no causalities. In  November things were building again. We heard of continuing Jap landings in the West and daily air activity over us most of the day.

I remember one humorous event. The Colonels jeep left the C.P. one morning taking a medical corpsman to Regiment. In a short time they were back with 5 or 6 Japs hanging on the jeep.They were wearing what looked like white pajamas, sandals and were carrying towels.They obviously were lost looking for the Lunga River. They must have been recent arrivals as they were so clean.So much for our continuous line of defense!

This was a time when a lot of us were reaching the end of our endurance.A lot of us had contacted Malaria.I was taking Quinine ,confined to my sack , Scotty bringing me chow when I could eat.When my temperature came down I was back to duty with ringing ears and sweating more than usual.

We could hear the naval battles that took place in November. As conditions slowly improved {better chow, more troops& a squadron of P-38 s showed up} we began to realize we may get off this island after all.

We were there about a week waiting for transport.We could hear the action continuing at the Mantanikau and I was grateful we didn't have that assignment. A convoy arrived  December 23rd,discharged Army Troops and we boarded ship to leave. As these were dangerous waters the ship got underway quickly. Maybe now we dared look ahead without apprehension.

We spent longer at this location south-west of the Lunga than any where else { 2 months. } and in that time the battle reached a climax and turned around in our favor.From our high ridge O P we saw some remarkable air battles. Also probably the shortest bomb mission ever. a SBD  would take off, turn west, just get his wheels up and drop bombs on 4 Jap ships beached.

Although we were all mentally and physically operating slow motion we continued our daily routine until we were relieved in December 42.I remember the tiresome but happy walk to the beach where we had a backlog of mail waiting. By this time we were all down to skin & bones and couldn't climb a cargo net.Dec.23 we went aboard President Johnson and was our way to the Melbourne Cricket Grounds.

Your notes mention a S.B.D. crashing in the jungle. I believe I was a witness to that.At our new command post location at dusk, we were all in our sacks.This was very thick jungle with areas cleared only for tents , galley and paths.As usual for this hour planes were passing overhead to land.One plane's propeller started clipping the tree tops and he cut the power. He came down thru trees bringing branches and debris and landed with a thud. No explosion.

We rushed toward the sound.He landed on the path between the tent area and the galley.About 100 yds. separates the two.He had hit a big tree at almost ground level and had spun around 180  The engine was laying to one side with just a flicker of fire..As it was dark a lantern was brought out.Only the fuselage remained in one piece.

The pilot was a Marine Capt {Captain Bill Spang} .alive, incoherent and in bad shape.He was a big man.They cut him out of the plane and onto a stretcher where the Bn. doctor attended him but to no avail. The next day airfield ordinance arrived to salvage the 1000 lb bomb that had jarred loose but didn't explode.I hadn't noticed the aerial gunner but had heard he was O K. Your notes tell me this happened Dec.5 1942.

After more study of your information I am convinced the plane in the photo.has to be the plane that crashed into our Company area.

The darkness and restricted light from the lantern would explain my not seeing the wings as everything was focused on removing the pilot who was completely exposed with nothing in front of him except a few strands of metal and cable. The next day I had to leave early to accompany a G Company patrol, which was a daily routine event.When I returned late afternoon the ordinance people had already left.

As this happened 58 yrs ago I can't be sure of my memory but I don't remember seeing that plane again or any parts of it. It would have been logical for ordinance to remove it along with the bomb as it would've been a safety hazard {gasoline} so close to our living area.{only yds.}. It being a Carrier plane I assume the wings folded and with the loss of weight {engine & bomb} it wouldn't be as difficult as I first thought .Anyway it was moved at that time or later. This C P location was not that close to the Lunga R. I can only guess 3 or 400 yds. or more.

The crash site was in thick jungle and the plane had spun around creating a small clearing as it came to rest. Radio Section people were the first there and were the ones that pulled the pilot out. I don't recall seeing wings left on the plane.There was no odor of gas and the rescue person was standing on something so there must have been at least partial wings left. I wasn't there the next day when the bomb was removed. It was difficult I heard because the ground was so soft.

I do remember clearly Capt.bars on the pilots shirt and a wedding ring with others on his left hand.We left the area around the 15th of December.I don't remember clearly but I think the plane was still where it fell{along with the engine closeby}.It was probably 50 yds. or so to the galley where there was a jeep & truck road , so I suppose it could have been dragged out with some difficulty.I can't see this happening with the wings left on unless they cut down jungle. Your location of the plane (west bank of the Lunga) on the aerial photo is exactly right.
The troops were wearing fatigues or utilities, a light green dungaree type material which was the uniform of the day in the field.The trousers I was wearing were new and being too long were rolled up and were a hindrance so at some point I cut them off.It was usual to wear a kaki shirt under the blouse if the weather required it.

From memory when we landed we were carrying half packs .Rolled up poncho,3 days C ration,toilet gear w/ towel and change of underwear & socks.Bottom pack & bedroll were left on ship to follow us later.Each man was issued a " Unit of Fire" One cartridge belt {100rds.} plus 2 bandoleers {120 rds.?}In addition 1 entrenching tool and a bayonet,also hand grenades.

Having been aboard ship all those weeks we were not in good shape when we landed. With the heat & humidity it wasn't long before excess equipment was being discarded. Later in the beachhead underwear was used up to clean weapons and we all became "Raggerty Ass Marines" literally.

Shoes & socks were priority items and a doctors approval was required for shoe replacement if one's size was available. Other than line troops I saw all kinds of kaki and other combinations of clothing being worn.Any physical activity at all one would be more comfortable bare waisted and this was a common sight. Many Marines grew full beards until they left the island.
Later in May & June 44. the 1st Div. was at Pavuvu in the Russell Islands.Some marines made the short trip to visit the Div. cemetery at the Canal and were surprised by the changes that a had occurred. Of course at this time it was a rear area staging & training location.

On June 6, 1944  I boarded ship, having been rotated back to the States. The ship stopped off Lunga Point as darkness fell. My last view of the South Pacific was Grassy Knoll. It looked the same then as it had on the morning of Aug. 7th. 1942.

The P T information is very interesting and I'm looking forward to reading it in detail.They were used extensively for ferrying reconnaissance patrols to the New Britain coast along with the other mission of interrupting night time Jap barge traffic.

On pages 167-168 "The Old Breed" describes a patrol which our Section participated. Whereas our Battalion was landing at this location our personell made up the 2nd. boat crew ,which had a section of the landing beach to  reconnoiter along with the other boat from Div.2 sect.{ Lt. Bradbeer} . Each boat had 7 men with each a specific task.We were armed only with handguns so we relied solely on not being detected.

We had trained for this weeks before the event and for us landlubbers it was an exciting experience.These PT boat's could idle at 5 knots {under water mufflers} and not make a sound ,only the water passing by the hull.With all their firepower standing by we felt confident they would pull us out of any difficulty.

After being picked up I was on the 3rd PT in line making a quiet slow approach to the barges {I only saw 2 ?? } .When we got close the Japs opened up first, with MG s hitting the first PT with green tracers ricocheting off the boat.Then the PT s made a run at high speed firing all guns to starboard.It was quite a sight with all those tracers flying around.I was crouching near the stern on the last boat watching the 20mm gunner empty the whole drum as we went by the last barge.The gun actually glowed red.As we left that barge was still shooting at us with green tracers cracking over head.Also a flash from the shoreline and a splash astern in our wake indicated a shore battery had given us a parting shot.

We were about 5 hours getting back to Finchafen,the last part in daylight.At the  PT base there was some excitement with combat correspondents waiting to interview us for hometown newspapers.Of course they didn't report it right ,saying "the Marines help man the guns sinking the barges..".We have to keep up the Homefront Morale. With our conversations with the PT crew then and later we learned what an important contribution that service made to the defeat of the Japanese in the South Pacific.

I don't recognize the street but those 2 marines on the right appear to be wearing the French shoulder decoration from WW1 which would indicate they are from the 5th Marines.Also the on the extreme right is wearing a Marine issue blouse with leather belt where as every one else is wearing the Australian battle jacket we were all issued.This would mean that person is a recent replacement from the States.I don't recall where the 5th. was billeted.I believe the 7th.was at "Mt. Martha".Of course the 1st.had the best deal being in the "Melbourne Cricket Grounds".

I do remember at Dandenong on maneuvers all the rabbits running around the open sheep pastures.There was a local greyhound hanging around our Bn. Galley making a sport of chasing down rabbits and catching them before they could zig zag down a hole.It was a sight to watch.

At the Scout & Sniper School  we {4 man team} would be given a 3 legged compass course across open country to retrieve a flag or banner placed at the end of the last leg.We were supposed to sleep out 2 nights an subsist on K rations supplanted by cooking rice and raisins.The flag was always at a road intersection.{where a jeep could go}Rather than stride distances on 3 bearings we would lay it out on our map, determine the location and stroll down the roads{it was always longer but better than climbing thru fences}and occasionally stop at a house to ask for water.

We were always welcomed and invited in for tea and refreshments and directed to the nearest hamlet where we could stay the night in a building reserved for the local militia. This defeated the purpose of the training but we felt why practice being miserable {we knew it would come soon enough} when it could be done an easier way.?These are my memories of Australia. The people welcomed and treated us as their own.
In which branch of the armed forces did you serve?  
Where were you stationed during World War II?
Stateside 1st 6 mo. So.Pacific 24mo. Stateside last 18 mo.
What were your duties?  
Infantry  Bn. Hq. Co.   Combat Intelligence Section .Primarily Reconnaissance Scout and standing Observation Post Watch also detached to Rifle Co. during attack phase for map orientation of unit.
How was the morale in your unit(s)?
At first good but as living conditions worsened and success was in doubt it would deteriorate until things turned around .
How was the food?  Give a typical menu.
Stateside it was O K  Aboard Ship  and in combat it was 2 meals a day when a galley could operate otherwise it was C & K field rations when available. On Guadalcanal food was a critical problem until late in the campaign.
How were your quarters? 
Stateside good.  Aboard ship just fair. In combat sleeping on the ground in foxholes or under a shelterhalf. In a defensive position command post personel would live in tents with cots.
Were any aspects of your war experience boring?
War for infantry soldiers has been described as 95% fear, apprehension, boredom and 5% pure terror. ,Another description of a soldiers life would be "Hurry Up And Wait"
What did soldiers in your unit do for entertainment?
In rear areas there were Movies also a beer issue. Where there were civilians we dated girls and went to movies and enjoyed eating and drinking in restaurants.
What part of the war do you remember as being the worst time? 
4.5 Mo. On Guadalcanal       4 mo. On New Britain

When were you most afraid during the war? 
All  Of The Above
When did you start feeling that the war effort was going our way?
After Guadalcanal
What did you think, at the time, about:
FDR? Good Guy
Churchill?  Good Guy
Stalin?   Bad Guy
Hitler?   Bad  Guy
Mussolini? Bad guy
The Japanese? Soldiers Bad   Civilians ?
The Germans?  Soldiers Bad  Civilians ?
The Italians? Victims of there own Gov.
The internment of the Japanese-Americans?  I Didn't think anything about it
The dropping of the Atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
Gratefull . It saved many lives on both sides and probably my own.

Have any of these opinions changed over the past years?  If so, in what way?
I don't think so.

Where were you (or what were you doing)  when you heard about:

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor?
18yr. Old High school Senior resting up from a Sat. hunting trip.
Boarding ship in the Russell Is. So. Pacific {Rotated back to the states}
VE day?
Attending "Marine Corps Schools" Quantico, Va.
VJ day?
Attending  "15th Platoon Commanders Class" traing Plt. Com. {2nd. Lt.s} in preparation for the invasion of Japan.

When you came home from the war did you have trouble finding a job? 

Do you remember any other problems returning soldiers faced?
It was an adjustment but it wasn't a problem in my case.
Do you still see any of the men in your former unit(s)?
No.  Being one of the youngest in my section I have outlived most of those I knew.
I think you are right about the location of this well known pic. This had to be the extreme penetration on the flank at the water line.The incoming tide had covered the bodies and then retreated. The log you see was driftwood.

There was only a single strand of rusty barbed wire across the sand spit which I believe was what hindered and confused the initial Jap charge.I heard this stated by an Marine officer who was there.I don't recall seeing any wire standing when I arrived.At the time of the battle it looked nothing like Don Moss's map.This came later.

The photo on page 63 {Old Breed} does show metal stakes for wire farther west down the beach but none in the vicinity of the sandspit as what was across the sandspit could have been knocked down by the initial Jap charge.



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Copyright 2004. Peter Flahavin