Home Pacific Theater of Operations Hill 260 (Bougainville) (2/182-IR) March 10 1944 (AAR)

Hill 260 (Bougainville) (2/182-IR) March 10 1944 (AAR)

0
109
Marines torch a Japanese defensive in Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi by using flamethrowers in 1945. These military tools were an effective weapon for burning out entrenched fighters who would have otherwise continued to fight, costing more lives. Pictured are Pvt. Richard Klatt and PFC Wilfred Voegeli. (Illustration)

#afteractionreport, #182infantry, #23division, #americal, #march1944,
Document Source: After Action Report, 2nd Battalion, 182nd Infantry Regiment, 23rd Infantry Division (Americal Division), March 18, 1944, Operations of Hill 260, from March 10, 1944, at 0600 to March 11, 1944, at 2000. Lt Col Dexted Lowry, Infantry, Commanding. (Document found on 182ndinfantry.org)

US 23-IDHeadquarters 2nd Battalion, 182nd Infantry
March 18, 1944
Operations of Hill 260
March 10, 1944, 0600 to March 11, 1944, 2000

Original Garrison
2/Lt Roush, Commanding
2/Lt Hogan 2nd in Command
George Company: 36 Riflemen and 9 men from the 60-MM mortar section.
How Company: 15 Men from the Machine Gun section and 2 81-MM observers.
Regimental Headquarters Company: 2 Radio Operators.
2nd Battalion, Headquarters Company: 4 Intelligence Observers.
246th Field Artillery Battalion: 6 Observers (1 officer and 5 EM).
Aid Men: 2 from 2nd Battalion Medical.
Total: 75 EM and 5 Officers.
Rations for 5 days (90 cases ‘C’)
Ammo for 3 days (3 units)
Water for 3 days (200 gallons)

Marines firing mortar shells in the Solomon Islands

Map

The attack by the Japanese started at 0610, March 10, 1944. Lt Hogan moved out from the Mortar CP at 0650 to do a personal reconnaissance for an attempt to restore the perimeter by a local counterattack, this was the last time, Lt Hogan was seen. The attack came at the South East Corner of the perimeter and by 1020 the Japanese, estimated at one Rifle Company with a heavy machine gun platoon attached, had penetrated to a point shown on the overlay above. There were an estimated 20 men of the garrison holding the South Perimeter and 42 holding the Northern End. We had no communication at this time between the North and the South, due to the Japanese having made the penetration between the two and they had then cut the wires.

Fox Company received orders to retake Hill 260 at 0735 and moved out at 0753. Col Lowry received orders to take charge at 0650 and left the Battalion CP at 0840. At 0650, George Company was ordered to hold open the line of communication with Fox Company. At 0845, Easy Company was ordered out and they reported across the Eagle River to Col Lowry at 0910. George Company had not yet moved from the RRL. Col Lowry took personal command of Easy Company and had radio contact with Fox Company. At 0930, communication was made with Lt Stone at the South End of Hill 260 and the decision was reached (it was then believed the entire South End was overrun by Japanese) to move Fox Company to the North and reinforce the garrison, giving a strong holding force on the Northern End. This force arrived at 1020 and Lt Stone, Fox Company assumed command of the Northern Perimeter.

Hill 260

Our casualties at 1030, March 10, 1944, were 16 EM missing, one officer missing, wounded, not determined. Enemy casualties, 20 known dead, 20 additional estimated. Easy Company moved out from the East-West Trail at 1000, toward Hill 260. At 1045, the Southern Perimeter had been reached and a personal reconnaissance was made to check the South Perimeter Garrison. An attack was ordered to reestablish the Perimeter. A base of fire was set up at the South End (weapons platoon Easy Company) and Lt Oberle with the 5th platoon of Easy Company was ordered to attack. This attack started at 1115 and stopped at 1530, after having gained approximately 55 yards. Lt Ricker and a platoon of Fox Company attacked at the same time and were stopped at 1200, gaining 5 yards. A new plan of attack was devised, a double envelopment, and Lt Willard was ordered, at 1405, to take his platoon inside the West Wire, establish contact with Lt Stone of Fox Company, and make his attack from the West, azimuth 90°. Lt Karl with his platoon was ordered to move East and envelop the enemy from the East. He moved out at 1420 to envelop the enemy and cut their line of supply. The attack was to be launched after Lt Willard had established contact with Lt Stone. Lt Willard started moving out at 1445. Lt Carlson was wounded at 1420 and Lt O’Rourke assumed command of Easy Company.

Map

At 1503, Lt Karl came back wounded in the neck. He reported running into an enemy machine gun and rifle fire which pinned him down and prevented his carrying out his mission. Lt Karl was evacuated and Lt Oertle, the Battalion S-2, was given command of the 2nd Platoon of Easy Company and ordered to carry out the envelopment. He took a route just inside our wire. A flame thrower was asked for by Lt Oertle and as all trained flame thrower men had been wounded and evacuated Sgt Denslow of the 60-MM mortar section of Easy Company, volunteered. After two minutes of instruction by the Battalion Commander, he accompanied Lt Oertle and burned the Japs out of one pillbox. He then returned, under machine gun fire, got the second flame thrower returned to Lt Oertle, and got a second Jap position. At 1540 Col Long came up to the Battalion CP and inspected the front lines. He attempted to follow Lt Willard’s route to the North Perimeter but was pinned down by machine gun fire, He withdrew and asked the Battalion CO if there was anything he needed. The Battalion Commander stated that the perimeter would be re-established in approximately 1 hour. In the meantime, Lt Willard had made contact with Fox Company and had launched his attack in conjunction with Lt Oertle. The remainder of Easy Company then attacked in the center under the personal command of Lt O’Rourke. The attack was stopped about 1700, only after Easy Company had received over 50% casualties. It was then decided to use M-15 WP Hand Grenades to burn out the Japs. One hundred and fifty grenades were used and at 1800 we attempted to advance — still, Jap machine guns opened up and at 1900, it was decided to organize a perimeter for the night. A check was made and only forty-six men were left and available for the perimeter. It was necessary to pull Lt Willard and Lt Oertle back to hold a perimeter. Lt Oertle was evacuated with severe WP burns. Lt Hammett, 2nd platoon of Fox Company, assumed command of the 2nd platoon of Easy Company. Later Lt Hurley was given command of this platoon. By 2030, all troops were dug in, MG’s sighted, etc., and the perimeter was checked by the Battalion CO and Lt O’Rourke. A quiet night – several belts of MG ammo were fired at the Japanese, who could be heard moving on the Southeast Shoulder. A few rounds of harassing 60-MM mortars were also fired.

Captured Weapons on Hill 260

From 0600 to 2000, March 11, 1944.

At approximately 0645, a firefight again broke out in the Southern Section. From the greatly increased volume of Japanese MG and rifle fire, it was apparent that the Japanese had made strong reinforcements during the night. Several new positions could be seen running down the South East spur from the OP. Tree past the perimeter. A group of three MGs could be heard and the muzzle blast was seen at the base of a large fallen tree twenty yards to our front. Several bazookas had been brought up the night before, but only one round left the tube and this failed to explode. A representative of the Regimental Munitions Officer came up and stated they were damp. Enemy fire steadily increased. Our 60-MM mortars went into action, firing over 100 rounds. Japs were flushed into the open by this fire and about fifteen were killed. At 0850, 300 rounds more of 60-MM mortar ammo were brought up. Under a heavy MG and rifle and knee mortar barrage the Japanese attempted to over-run the Southern Perimeter. One Jap platoon took part in this attack and an estimated 20 or more were killed. Only one Jap reached our line. George Company was ordered up to join Easy Company at about 1000. At this time Easy Company had left 5 officers, all wounded, and 55 enlisted men, 15 wounded. At 1057, George Company CO reported to the Battalion Commander. He was ordered to take George Company to the West guided by Lt Willard of Easy Company, and the 6 men left in his platoon. George Company was to attack in a column of platoons, azimuth 90°, and take the high ground in the vicinity of the tree OPs. Easy Company with the Weapons Platoon of George Company as the base of fire from Easy Company’s positions. George Company took over an hour and a half to issue orders to move out. When the leading platoon had just gotten well started on his route of advance, the Japs opened an attack of their own from the South East shoulder and from the East. Over 150 60-MM mortar shells were thrown at our troops. George Company could not move. Constant heavy machine gun and rifle fire came from the Jap positions. George Company was suffering heavy losses. We called for artillery and mortar (81-MM) fire against the Japanese but some fell short. The Battalion CO was wounded.

Hill 260

The Japanese had attempted to cut our line of supply and evacuation. Capt Dawson, a Battalion Surgeon personally killed one Jap. The Battalion CO decided to immediately evacuate all wounded and move the Battalion Forward Aid Station back to the vicinity of the Rear CP. The fire coming from the East was believed to be from a reinforced Jap Rifle Company. Several 90-MM shells hit near the Artillery Fire Control Center group, but caused no casualties. At this time, the Battalion Commander suggested to the Regimental Commander a withdrawal to the base of Hill 260 and cover the South End (South of OP tree) with heavy artillery and 81-MM concentrations. The Regimental Commander ordered the withdrawal. At 1330 George Company moved out first carrying the wounded. Lt Hammond with three or four men of George Company covered the withdrawal to the South West. Lt C’Rourke with seven men of Easy Company covered the withdrawal to the West and broke up a Jap attack from the North with heavy losses for the enemy. All withdrew leaving no known wounded behind. Artillery and 81-MM fire hit the hill directed by the Regiment. A roadblock was set up under Lt O’Rourke at the base of Hill 260 and the troops withdrew to the Eagle River carrying their wounded. Men were left along the trail in groups of two, twenty-five to thirty yards apart to prevent Jap infiltration to the West. At 1450, Col Lowry contracted Baker Company which came under his control. An order was given by the Regimental Commander to immediately move Baker Company forward. An order in writing from the Division Commander directed that six 132nd Infantry flame thrower teams then on the way to join him were to be used in the attack. Baker Company was moved to the base of Hill 260 and at 1530, upon the arrival of the flame thrower teams, the group moved out. The Battalion Commander led this group made of four scouts with an SCR-300 radio, one Baker Company wire party, the flame thrower party, and a reorganized George-Easy Companies under George Company Commander.

Hellfire on the Hornet's Nest: Flamethrower Tanks at Bougainville

At about 1645, the Battalion CO entered the Fox Company Perimeter and at 1715, acquainted the Baker Company CO with the situation. The flame throwers having been ordered forward, a base of fire was established on the North Knoll outside our wires consisting of 7 60-MM mortars under Lt Trauger of Fox Company. The LMGs of Fox Company were ordered to support the attack with fire on the Southeast Nose. The plan was for Baker Company with one platoon to flank the Jap positions in the vicinity of the OP tree and flame throwers under Lt Allen, 132nd Infantry, with one squad attached plus one platoon of Baker Company in support to make a coordinated attack at 1600 and fix the enemy.

Preceding the attack, the Regimental CO had the artillery deliver two concentrations on the Southeast Nose and How Company 81-MM mortars gave close support approximately 25 yards in front of our jump-off line. Baker Company pushed forward and the flame throwers knocked out two Jap pillboxes. At 1850, two flame throwers from the reserve moved up to and blanketed the base of the OP tree with flame. When the flames died down the advance continued toward the tree, but our troops still received Jap MG fire from holes at the base of the tree, the same area that had just been sprayed by flames.

Flames Thrower in Action

NO COMMENTS

European Center of Military History (EUCMH)