The names of Kakazu Ridge, Tombstone Ridge, Tabletop, Gate, Needle Rock, Hill 153, Big Escarpment had now become a legend as the battle-weary doughboys came out of the lines for a much needed and deserved rest. For 30 days these men had fought and defeated a stubborn and smart enemy in some of the bloodiest fightings yet encountered in the Pacific warfare. Battle casualties had been high. During the month of April, the division had suffered 565 KIA, 2771 WIA and now the infantry regiments were only 52% combat efficient based on the T/O strength.
During the first nine days of May, the 96-ID entered into a reorganization and training period. By May 8, over 4000 infantry replacements had joined the division and began intensive training in scouting and patrolling, marksmanship, and known distance firing. As part of this training program, the replacements patrolled bypassed pockets of enemy resistance within the rear areas. As these patrols combed the area, numerous Japs were killed and US and enemy equipment recovered. The maintenance of vehicles, guns, personal arms, and equipment was stressed and Ordnance inspections were held by all units of the Division.
Much time was devoted to rest and recreation for the troops as they came out of the line. Red Cross and Special Service Officers initiated the preparation of recreation camps for all types of sports such as baseball, football, and volleyball.
The 96-ID Band provided musical entertainment and extensive use was made of PA (Public Addressing) systems bringing radio and transcribed programs to the troops. The Red Cross made available tons of supplies such as magazines, books, games, writing materials, and toilet articles. The Special Service Office provided many late movies. The movie ‘Wilson’ was shown for the first time on the island to the men of the 383-IR. Approximately nine enemy air-raid alerts took place during the showing of the picture and each time the men would head for their holes and when the all-clear was sounded they would return. It took most of the night to complete the movie but every man stayed to the end.
The 383-IR was in paper in reserve for the 77-ID during this reorganization and training period but was not committed. However, the 96-ID Artillery remained in position and continued to reinforce the fires of the 77-ID Artillery under the XXIV Corps Artillery control.
May 9–10 1945 – Back in the Line
On May 6, Field Order # 20, (HQ 96-ID), was issued ordering all units to make plans for the relief of the 7-ID in the line, by echelon. The 382/96 was directed to move to an assembly area in the rear of the 17/7 on May 8 and to relieve them on May 9 under control of the 7-ID. The 383/96 was directed to move to an assembly area in the rear of the 184/7 on May 9 and to relieve them on May 10. The 381/96 was directed to make a reconnaissance and to move to a reserve position on May 10 in relief of the 32/7. On May 8, the 382/96 moved 2 battalions forward to an assembly area and on May 9, began the relief of the 17/7 at 1300. By 1700, the relief was completed. The 96-ID CP moved from Futenma to a new location situated at 8577-A at 1330, on May 8. From positions previously occupied by the 17/7, the 382-IR jumped off in the attack south at 1000 on May 10 under the control of the 7-ID until 1420, when the Commanding General, 96-ID, assumed command of the new zone of action.
During this attack, with the 1/382 on the right and the 3/382 on the left, the Regiment advanced initially against light resistance on the right flank then extremely heavy resistance in the center and left flank. As the 1/382 approached the Zebra Hill 8173-Q, they encountered heavy mortar, machine gun, and rifle fire coming from the draw between the Zebra and the How Hills at 8173-MN. At 1500, a coordinated assault using tanks, flamethrowers, and pole charges, began on the draw. This strong point was finally reduced after numerous casualties had been received. Finally, the Zebra and the Item Hills were both secured.
On May 9, the 383-IR moved to a new forward assembly area in the preparation for the relief of the 184/7-ID. On May 10, the 2/383 completed the relief of the 3/184 at 0930, and at 1200, the 1/383 completed the relief of the 1/184. By 1300, the assault elements of 383-IR were in position and had assumed all responsibilities of the 184-IR zone.
After this relief, the 1/383 sent out 4 strong recon patrols to the front in the vicinity of the Easy Hill (8172-03), and by 1700, had advanced elements forward to occupy this hill. The 381-IR (Division Reserve) closed into the forward assembly positions by 1300 and assumed all responsibilities of the 32-IR’s zone. The 96-Recon relieved the 7-Recon at 1300 and occupied positions 100 yards north east of the Yonabaru Airfield. As a result of these activities, the 96-ID completed the relief of the 7-ID and continued to attack south in a new zone of action securing four important hills in the preparation for the 10-A coordinated attack southward planned for May 11 at 0700, an operation whose objective was to envelop and reduce the Shuri position.
May 10, 1945 – The 96-ID Prepares for Offensive
On May 9, Field Order # 50 (HQ XXIV Corps) ordered the 96-ID (Reinforced) to attack with its main effort initially on the right; seize the high ground east of Shuri within its zone of action; then move from the northwest and west to capture the Conical Hill northwest of Yonabaru and continue the attack to capture that portion of the Corps objective within its zone of action. On May 10, Field Order # 21 (HQ 96-ID) was issued ordering the 382-IR from positions held on May 10-11, to attack in its assigned zone making the main effort on the right, to seize the hill mass at (8072-RW) and Queen Hill (8171-P), and continue the attack to the Corps objective. The 383-IR, from positions held on May 10-11, was ordered to attack in its assigned zone, making the main effort from the northwest, right, to seize the Conical Hill (8271-KLM), and continue the attack to the Corps objective. The 381-IR, (Division Reserve) was ordered to be prepared to support the advance of either regiment and patrol from the rear of the reserve battalions to a line between (8777-Q) and (8578-G), within the division zone of action.
May 11, 1945 – Drive for the Conical Hill
On May 11, after a 30-minute artillery preparation by all the battalions of the Division Artillery, the 96-ID began the attack at 0700 toward the Corps objective and immediately met stubborn resistance across the entire front. The 1/3B2 on the Division right was engaged in a firefight with the enemy beginning at daylight. This firefight was a continuation of a counter-attack that had taken place at 2200, May 10, as an estimated Company of Japs assaulted the crest of the Zebra Hill. The attack was repulsed after heavy close-in fighting. At 0730, 1/382 was still engaged in the firefight with the Japs who were defending the south slopes of the hill making it impossible for the battalion to advance over the crest.
Artillery was placed on the south slopes of the hill and by 0930, elements of the battalion reinforced by tanks were advancing slowly around the right flank. By 1050, these elements had advanced 400 yards to reach the saddle at (8073-Y1-2). At 1200, the remainder of the battalion made a coordinated attack down the exposed south slopes of the hill, and by 1600 leading elements had pushed forward as far as the base of the Dick Hill (8072-D), against murderous machine-gun crossfire coming from the front and both flanks of their position. At 1630, these elements were still tenaciously hanging on, but the Japs kept continuous intense mortar fire on their position making further advances up the hill impossible.
The position slowly became untenable as a supply of ammunition and evacuation of wounded became critical. It was necessary to put the seriously wounded in tanks to evacuate them across the valley floor as these elements were forced to withdraw and consolidate back in the battalion lines for the night on the south slopes of the hill at (8173-U5-V5).
The 3/382 on the regimental left flank, advanced slowly forward against heavy fire from their front and both flanks. Numerous caves and pillboxes were encountered on the south and west slopes of the Item Hill necessitating reduction one by one. Tanks were brought up but were unable to operate effectively because of swampy ground and numerous minefields. Throughout the day enemy fire was received from the west slopes of Easy Hill and William Hill (8172-E4). At the close of the period, the 3/382 had made only slight gains and occupied positions on the south slopes of the Item Hill at (8173-R3) to (8173-X2), and were in physical contact with 1/382.
The 383-IR began their attack with the 1/383 on the right and the 2/383 on the left. The advance of 1/383 was opposed by extremely stubborn resistance throughout the day. Little progress was made during the morning hut at 1200, this battalion renewed their attack on Charlie Hill at (8172-X2) and Fox Hill at (8172-R4), and by 1715 had succeeded in reaching these two hills where positions were consolidated for the night. Meeting only moderate resistance, advance elements of 2/383 moved into the town of Yonagusuku (8272-X) at 0800.
From this point on heavy enemy mortar and machine-gun fire from the front along the north slopes of the Conical Hill, the eastern slopes of the Charlie Hill, and the south edge of the town of Kibara (8272-PQR), limited further advances. The 2/383 then side-slipped to the right to occupy the east slopes of the King Hill (8171-E), at 1800. As a result of these activities, the 382-IR gained 200 yards on the division right flank while in the center of the division zone, the 383-IR pushed forward over 600 yards and occupied two key hills (Fox and Charlie) and the east slopes of King.
(Above) Marine M-114 155-MM HOW of III Amphibious Corps fires in support of 10-A advance. On May 9, 1945, US Army Gen Simon Bolivar Buckner ordered a coordinated 10-A attack for May 11. The plan of attack called for the 10-A to renew the assault on the Shuri defenses with its two corps abreast, III Amphibious Corps on the right, XXIV Corps on the left. The initial scheme of maneuver was an envelopment of Shuri by the Marine divisions on the west and the Army divisions on the east, while a strong holding attack was maintained in the center. The 10-A staff believed that the Japanese positions were weaker on the right and that the fresh Marine divisions had a chance for a quick break-through on that flank. Moreover, the terrain was more favorable along the western coast. The wide flanking maneuver around Shuri that later developed was not projected in the original plans. Gen Buckner explained on May 10 that there would be nothing spectacular. He added: It will be a continuation of the type of attack we have been employing to date. Where we cannot take strong points we will pinch them off and leave them for the reserves to reduce. We have ample firepower and we also have enough fresh troops so that we can always have one division resting. The initial order for the attack provided for a 30-minute general preparation by the artillery just before the ground attack. This provision was revoked two days later in favor of the pinpointing of targets. The new order stated that the maximum practicable number of known enemy guns and strong points will be destroyed or neutralized prior to the infantry assault. The attack launched on schedule, although coordinated initially along the entire front, soon broke down into a series of intense battles for particular landmarks. For ten days of continuous fighting, from Sugar Loaf on the west coast to Conical Hill on the east, the Japanese, except for local and relatively minor retreats, held tenaciously to their long-prepared positions. Finally, on May 21, after some of the fiercest action of the battle of Okinawa, the American forces were to seize the eastern slope of Conical Hill, close to the east coast, and thereby to make an opening in the enemy lines which permitted an attempt at envelopment.
(Bellow) M-4A3 Sherman of the 706-TB attached to the US 77-ID (10-A), stuck crossing a 5-foot stream. Other Shermans are behind it. Both the Americans and the Japanese could not maneuver in a constant torrential downpour known locally as the Plum Rains. The tank commander looks on as the driver bales the tank out. Note ‘Pop’ written on the driver’s helmet. The tank would have to wait until a tractor could be available to pull it out. The 706-TB fought at Guam, Leyte, Ie Shima, Okinawa, and was back at Luzon in the Philippines at the end of the war. (Source: WW-2 Database)
On May 12, at 0800, the Division continued the attack. The 382-IR made its main effort in the center of the regimental zone in order to outflank enemy positions deeply entrenched along the south slopes of Item Hill. During the morning, the 1/382, right flank, employed tank-infantry teams to mop up the enemy pillboxes on the northwest slopes of the Zebra Hill while the 3/382, moved one company around the right and into the 1/382 zone, advancing down the southeast slopes of the Zebra Hill closely supported by tanks and by fire from 1/382. By 1200, this company had succeeded in advancing to the draw at (8173-W3) and was in physical contact with the 1/382 and the remainder of the battalion. The 3/382 had cleaned out the enemy positions and pillboxes in the draw and the south slopes of the Item Hill by 1230 and had advanced their front lines for about 400 yards to (8173-V5–8172-C2). At 1330 the regiment reorganized and launched a second coordinated attack against Dick Hill with the main effort by the 1/382. This battalion fought bitterly throughout the afternoon struggling forward through the intense rifle and machine-gun fire, employing smoke, and managed to advance to the lower slopes of the Dick Hill. However, by 1800, the fighting became so fierce that it was evident that the hill could not be taken before dark and the battalion consolidated in positions previously occupied.
While the 1/382 was battling the stubborn resistance to their front, one company of the 3/382 advanced and secured the Baker Hill (8172-G2), and at the close of the period, the 3/382 consolidated their lines on the north slopes of Baker Hill with their right flank tied in with the 1/382 on the south slopes of the Zebra Hill. The 383-IR, in its attack toward the Conical Hill, concentrated the main effort on the regimental left flank making only small gains. The 1/383 on the regimental right flank, spent the day in mopping up by-passed enemy positions on the Fox and Charlie Hills, making slight advances to the west and up to the northwest slopes of the Conical Hill. Tanks were moved forward in the vicinity of the Gaja Hill and by 1130 had cleaned out many enemy positions on the north edge of the town of Yonagusuku (also called Gaga) (8272-Y), but despite this tank support, Fox Co fought bitterly throughout the day on the north edge of the town and by 1800 were still unable to overcome the resistance to their front. The remainder of the 2/383 moved forward very slowly up the north slopes of the Conical Hill.
As a result of these activities, the 382-IR on the division right advanced elements of the 1/3822 against extremely heavy enemy opposition to the northern slope of the Dick Hill, but were forced to withdraw against this bitter enemy mortar fire and machine-gun crossfire to the south slopes of the Zebra Hill. An advance of 400 yards made by the 3/382 succeeded in seizing the Baker Hill, while the 383-IR, having cleaned out the enemy positions along the Fox and Charlie Hills, reorganized and consolidated their lines in preparation for the continued attack on the Conical Hill.
May 13, 1945 – The North Slopes of the Conical Hill Secured
The attack south jumped off at 0800 on May 13, and immediately strong resistance was met on the division right flank. The 1/382 initially supported the advance of the 3/382 by neutralizing and softening up heavily fortified enemy positions on the Dick Hill with AT guns, medium tanks, and artillery. Many direct hits on enemy positions were observed by elements of 1/382 while destroying numerous occupied caves and pillboxes on the valley floor at (8172-A1) and (8172-A2).
After spending the morning softening up the enemy positions to their front, the 1/382 moved forward at 1230 taking the Emily Hill (8073-X1) and (8073-X2), and at 1400 jumped off in a coordinated attack with the 2/306 on the right and the 3/382 on the left. By 1630, the 1/382 had advanced 400 to 500 yards against heavy resistance, fighting all the way with the enemy looking down on their positions. Numerous caves and pillboxes encountered were completely destroyed, and the 1/382 consolidated and dug in for the night on the base of the Dick Hill, at (8273-S3), (8273-XL), (8273-3), (8274-YL), and (8273-2).
During the morning, the 3/382 had pushed strong patrols 200 yards south of the Baker Hill while the remainder of the battalion was moving forward to occupy the ridge at (8172-F). At 1400, the battalion jumped off in a coordinated attack with the 1/382 and the 2/306, and by 1630 this battalion had advanced 600 yards to the base of the Oboe Hill (8072-R), at (8072-N2-03) over difficult terrain against heavy resistance. Most of the fighting was done at close range and the battalion engaged in hand-to-hand combat all the way. It is estimated that these two battalions killed 500 to 550 Japs as a result of this action. During the day, the 1/383 made slow progress against determined enemy resistance coming from the King and Love Hills.
Against this resistance, the battalion had, at the close of the period, advanced 100 yards along the southeast spur of the Charlie Hill and the left flank was extended to the cut between the Charlie and King Hills. The 2/383 began the attack on the Conical Hill with elements on both sides of Razorback Ridge, running north and south from the base of the hill to the peak at (8271-BG). The right flank immediately pushed forward 200 yards to a point forward of the base of the ridge, but the left flank, Fox Co, was held up by machine-gun fire coming from the vicinity of Yonagusuku. By 1100, Fox 383 supported by tanks, had cleaned out the resistance in this area and the remainder of the battalion moved rapidly up to the crest of the ridge running northeast from the peak of the Conical Hill.
At 1330, Love Co (383-IR) was committed on the right flank of the 2/383 with the mission of securing the west slopes of the King Hill. At 1420, Love Co was pushing slowly up the east slopes of the King Hill but was unable to reach the high ground between the King and the Conical Hills prior to darkness. At 1525 an estimated enemy company launched a counter-attack against the advance positions of the 2/383 on the Conical Hill but prompt artillery barrages and 4.2 Chemical Mortar fire directed by an observer in a liaison plane stopped this attack. At 1600, the left flank of this battalion was on the skyline just 50 yards east of the highest peak on the Conical Hill and the front lines, at the close of the period, extended along the high ridge running east and west.
At 1100, the 2/381 was attached to the 383-IR for operational control. This battalion moved to new positions on the Gaja Ridge during the afternoon to protect the division left flank and to send strong patrols to the vicinity of the town located at (8372-X). As a result of these activities, the division advanced for approximately 800 yards on the left and about 600 yards on the right. The 382-IR fought bitterly over the extremely contested ground in the face of heavy enemy opposition, while the 383-IR overcame all resistance in Yonagusuku and advanced to within 50 yards of the highest point of the Conical Hill and to a point halfway up the northeast slopes of the King Hill. The 2/381 moved to new positions on the division left flank abreast of the 383 on the Conical Hill.
May 14, 1945 – The Japs Reinforce Dick Hill
There was a really considerable increase in enemy activity during the night of May 13-14 with numerous attempts of infiltration being repulsed by all front line battalions. It was believed that the enemy reinforced the Dick Hill during the night as, beginning at dawn, on May 14, and lasting throughout the day, the 1/382 received intense machine gun and rifle fire from the vicinity of the Hill. All available supporting weapons were used to neutralize and destroy these enemy positions, and tanks were employed to supply ammunition to our front lines.
At 1400, the 1/382 and the 3/382 jumped off in a coordinated attack and fought bitterly throughout the period in an all-out effort to secure the enemy’s strong point on the Hill. Elements of the 1/383 advanced as far as the draw between the Dick Hill and the Flat-Top Hill (8073-W5) and (8073-W4), but the enemy fire became so strong that it was impossible to maintain this position. At the close of the period the front lines of the 1/382 were the same as the previous night.
The 3/383, during the coordinated attack, had succeeded in advancing one company 400 yards to seize the Mary Hill (8072-IL), southeast of the Dick Hill. Although advances of this Regiment were generally small, the fighting in their zone was the heaviest encountered for some time.
In the 383-IR’s zone, the 1/383 engaged in a heavy firefight throughout the day against enemy positions located on Love and Mike Hills (8171-M2). Elements of 1/383 on the regimental right advanced 200 yards to secure the high ground southwest of the Charlie Hill, approximately 200 yards north of the Love Hill. The left flank elements of this Battalion were advanced 200 yards and succeeded in knocking out the enemy resistance on the northeast slopes of the King Hill which had been holding up advances in the center of the regimental zone. The 1/383 in the center of the regimental zone advanced 200 yards and by 1800 had secured the high ground just west of the Conical Peak (8271-K), and was abreast of the 2/383. Elements of the 763-TB rendered excellent fire support during this advance of this Battalion.
The 2/383, during the day, received heavy enemy machine gun and mortar fire coming from the southeast slopes of Conical Hill. This battalion, supported by tanks, concentrated on knocking out enemy pillboxes and softening up enemy strong points to the front and flanks. At the close of the period, the 2/383 had maintained its right flank just east of the highest peak on the Conical Hill, and had advanced its left flank 200 yards to (8271-N). During the period, the 2/381 moved to new dispositions with George Co abreast of and protecting the left flank of the 2/383. As a result of these activities the 382-IR captured the high ground southeast of the Dick Hill, while the 383-IR captured the southwest slopes of the Charlie Hill and high ground, 200 yards northwest of the Conical Peak.
May 15, 1945 – Dick Hill Finally Reached
Continued enemy infiltration attempts, were prominent all along the front during the night of May 14-15. Heavy rains during the night which lasted until noon of May 15, resulted in little progress initially in the attack by the Division due to poor footing. However, at 0900, the 382-IR attacked in conjunction with 3/307 (77-ID) to capture the Dick Hill and supported the 3/307 (77-ID) in the capture of the Chocolate Drop Hill on the boundary between the 77-ID and the 96-ID.
At 1430, the 3/382 began to advance up the steep slopes of the Dick Hill by infiltration. In order to conceal this advance, fires from the Division Artillery were placed on the enemy position by numerous heavy artillery concentrations before the all-out assault was made. By 1600, one company had reached the skyline on the Dick Hill and by 1700 the remaining elements of the 3/382 and one company of the 1/382 were on top of the hill. As these four companies attempted to cross the skyline, intense machine gun and rifle fire opened up raking the ridgeline from end to end, making further advance impossible. At 1300 these four companies were digging in on the north slopes of the hill just short of the skyline within 50 yards of the Japs dug in on the south slopes. The 383-IR with the 2/381 attached, on the division left, made little advances during the day. Extremely heavy enemy fire from Love and Mike Hills prevented any advance of the 1/383 on the right flank.
This battalion, however, employed all supporting weapons, knocked out considerable enemy emplacements, and definitely killed 105 Japs. The 2/383 advanced George Co approximately 200 yards to the top of the Conical Hill and adjusted their position to tie in with Love 383 on their right. During the day, strong feeler patrols were sent 200 yards forward of the front lines to probe enemy positions while the 2/381 continued to patrol the Yonagusuku and the Gaya areas with negative results.
In spite of the day’s rain, the 382-IR advanced four reinforced rifle companies just short of the skyline on the Dick Hill against strong enemy resistance and poor footing while the 383-IR continued to knock out strong enemy positions and to consolidate and reinforce their position on the Conical Hill. Contact was maintained with the enemy during the night of May 15-16, as troops were engaged in hand grenade duels with the Japs dug in on the south slopes of the Dick and the Conical Hills. The Regimental CO of the 382-IR stated that the reason the troops had taken the Dick Hill and had held it was due to the fact that they were able to get a larger supply of grenades up the hill than the Japs before dark.
May 16, 1945 – Rain Delays Advance
On the morning of May 16, the 2/382 passed through and relieved the 1/382 and at 0930, the 2/382 and the 3/382 attacked the peak of the Dick Hill. The enemy met this attack with heavy knee-mortar fire, hand grenades, satchel charges, making the ground untenable. Heavy fire was placed on these positions on the south slope of the hill, and by 1100 one company of each battalion had succeeded in getting advance elements over the skyline.
By 1200, one company of the 2/382 had crossed the peak of the hill and was working down the southwest slopes, engaged in bitter hand-to-hand fighting with bayonets and grenades. By 1400, the 2/382 had been successful in gaining slightly more than 100 yards down the south slope of the hill. At 1430 the remainder of the 3/382 renewed their attack and attempted to cross the skyline southeast of the hill but made little progress. Heavy machine gun and rifle fire from the enemy positions on the Oboe Hill completely covered the exposed terrain just forward of the crest of the Dick Hill making any further advance during the day impossible. The 1/382 after being relieved, supported by fire the assault of the 307-IR (77-ID) on the Flat-Top Hill.
During the day, extremely heavy fighting throughout the regimental zone resulted in only slight advances for the 383-IR. The 1/383 continued mopping up during the morning and attempted to bring up tanks to support their advance. The roads were impassable due to previous rainy conditions, but at 1430 this battalion resumed their attack against the King and the Love Hills without the aid of the tanks. The right flank of this attack was stopped almost immediately by the intense machine-gun fire from the Love Hill, and from the vicinity of the Victor Hill, (8071-D2). However, Charlie Co on the battalion left flank succeeded in bypassing the King Hill and by 1700 had pushed one platoon up the northeast slope of the Love Hill. At this time an estimated 50 enemy machine-guns opened up from the enemy fortified position on the Love Hill to their front, from the vicinity of the Victor Hill on their right, from the southeast slopes of the Conical Hill on their left, and from the south slopes of the King Hill to their rear.
Extremely heavy casualties were inflicted on our own forces as no elements of this platoon that had reached the Love Hill were able to return to our front lines. Only slight gains were made by the 2/383 during the day as they attempted to advance down the southeast slopes of the Conical Hill against heavy machine gun and small arms fire. However, one platoon of Baker 763-TB, had pushed forward to reach the northwest corner of Yonabaru and immediately began bombarding the town with 75-MM and machine gun fire. The heavy enemy fire covering the south slopes of the Conical Hill prevented the infantry from exploiting the tanks rapid advance and at the close of the period, after exhausting their ammunition supply, the tanks withdrew to positions held previously. As a result of these activities, the 2/382 on the Division right flank gained slightly more than 100 yards down the south slopes of the Dick Hill. On the Division left, the 2/333 made only slight gains along the southeast slopes of the Conical Hill, as medium tanks penetrated the enemy right flank 1000 yards in a reconnaissance in force along the coastal road to the outskirts of Yonabaru.
May 17, 1945 – The 381-IR is Committed
Field Order # 22, HQ 96-ID, issued on May 16, ordered the 381-IR (less the 1st battalion) into the line on the left flank of the Division. New regimental boundaries were established. The 381-IR was ordered to relieve elements of the 383-IR in its zone of action on May 17, and to attack with the main effort on its right. The 382-IR was to continue the attack in its assigned zone and seize the Oboe, Peter, and Victor Hills mass; the 383-IR was to continue the attack in its assigned zone making the main effort in its left.
The attack jumped off at 0630 on May 17, as the tank-infantry teams and demolition teams from the 382-IR covered the west, southwest, and south slopes of Dick Hill, the men cleaned out a number of enemy fortified positions along these slopes. A net advance of 200 yards was made by the 2/382 on the division right flank as this battalion worked slowly down the southwest slope destroying numerous caves and pillboxes with pole charges and flamethrowers. Extremely heavy fire coming from the high ground to their front made further progress slow. The 3/332 spent the day sending out mop-up patrols to work along the high ground at (8072-CL) cleaning out the numerous enemy positions and fortifications between the right flank of the 3/382 and the 2/382.
Two strong tank-infantry teams were employed by the 1/383 on the regimental right flank along the south slopes of Charlie Hill and the west slopes of King Hill. One tank-infantry team patrolled out as far as (8171-B) to the foot of the Love Hill, while the other tank-infantry team, operating under direct enemy machine-gun fire throughout the day, managed to clean out the west slopes of the King Hill as far forward as (8173-D3).
The 2/383, after being relieved by the 3/381 at 0945, maintained strong pressure against the enemy positions throwing hand grenades, satchel charges, and mortar shells over the Conical Hill Spur to their front. Several termite patrols were sent to operate along the King – Conical Ridge to destroy numerous enemy positions which had fired on Charlie 383 from the rear the day before. The 3/381 after relieving the 2/383 spent the remainder of the day in bringing forward all available supporting weapons, registering in artillery, chemical mortars, regimental, and battalion weapons on key points in preparation for the attack the following day. During the afternoon, a small patrol from the 2/381 advanced south along the coastal road to the north edge of Yonabaru and returned without receiving any enemy fire. As a result of these activities, the 3/381 relieved the 2/383 and prepared for the future attack while the 382-IR advanced approximately 100 yards on its right down the southwest slopes of the Dick Hill.
During the night of May 17-18, enemy activity along the division front was generally light with the usual intermittent artillery and mortar fire and infiltration attempts, except in the zone of the 2/382. Throughout the night, this battalion received extremely heavy artillery and mortar fire and engaged in numerous hand grenade duels killing an estimated 52 Japs.
May 18, 1945 – Patrols Reach Yonabaru
On May 18, the 382-IR was engaged in mopping up and eliminating close in enemy positions without any change in previous front lines. An enemy minefield at (8072-C5) was cleared during the day using Bangalore torpedoes and tanks were then able to advance into the valley behind Dick Hill. The 3/382 received heavy machine gun and mortar fire throughout the day from both, the Oboe and the Flat-Top Hills which prevented any advance down the south slopes of the ridge southeast of Dick Hill. Strong patrols were sent forward by the 1/382 to scout the area between Baker and Victor Hills. These patrols received only light sniper fire and machine-gun fire and some enemy artillery from positions in the vicinity of Victor Hill. In the 383-IR zone, there was no change in the front lines as termite patrols and tank-infantry teams from both 1/383 and 2/383 operated along the south slopes of Charlie Hill and the west slopes of King Hill destroying enemy positions in this area. During the afternoon these patrols received heavy fire from the vicinity of Love Hill. Our tanks returned the fire and it is believed that several guns were destroyed.
The only substantial gain made by the Division was on the left flank in the zone of the 381-IR. The 3/381 advanced approximately 400 yards across the fingers extending toward the sea from the high ridge extending south from the Conical Hill. Medium tanks operating between the Conical Hill and the coastal road rendered excellent direct fire support against machine-gun positions in the (8271-UPQ) area. Despite this support, advances were very slow against the heavy machine gun and mortar fire opposing this battalion. Patrols from the 3/381 advanced as far as (8270-B2) without receiving fire from Sugar Hill at (8270-F2), but enemy machine-gun fire from the Hogback Ridge (8271-P2-8271-P-4), prevented further advance and it was necessary for this patrol to return under the cover of a smokescreen.
May 19, 1945 – The Rains Came
Heavy rain set in during the night of May 18-19 resulting in very little enemy activity along the division front. However, the 2/382 on the right flank engaged in hand grenade battles throughout the night killing an estimated 60 Japs. Little progress was made by the division on May 19, except on the left flank. In the 382-IR zone heavy enemy fire from both, the Oboe and the Peter (8072-W1) Hills prevented any material advance during the day. The Regiment employed medium tanks, flamethrower tanks, assault guns and infantry demolition teams throughout the day in mopping up enemy emplacements to their front. Despite heavy AT fire, the tanks destroyed at least fifteen caves and other emplacements. The 383-IR also continued its mop-up activities throughout the day in the King and Charlie Hills area employing tanks and infantry demolition teams. Many machine gun emplacements were destroyed and numerous caves sealed. Due to this intensive mopping-up within their zone and the heavy enemy fire coming from their front, there was no change in the front lines of this Regiment.
End of Part 1 – Go to Part 2 (Below)