The Bougainville Campaign
HISTORY OF THE 145TH INFANTRY REGIMENT
By Colonel Loren G. Windom, 145th Infantry
Backround and Tactical Plan
Following the establishment of an American fighter airbase on Munda Airfield, New Georgia?an operation in which the 145th Infantry played an important and courageous role?the establishment of a beachhead on the enemy held key base of Bougainville Island was feasible. The strategic importance of an American bomber and fighter base within the Bougainville perimeter was immense?since bombers with fighter cover based on Bougainville would be in a position to neutralize by air power the strong enemy naval and air base at Rabaul, New Britain. The neutralization of Rabaul, which was the main objective of the Bougainville campaign, would cut the main enemy supply line to its large New Guinea garrisons, and pave the way for American seizure of the vital Admiralty Islands and portions of New Britain Island itself.
The important mission of seizing and securing a perimeter in the vicinity of Cape Torokina on Empress Augusta Bay on the western coast of jungle clad, mountainous Bougainville was given to the First Marine Amphibious Corps. The 37th Infantry Division?at this time occupying a rehabilitation and training area on Guadalcanal following the victorious and grueling New Georgia Campaign?was attached to the First Marine Amphibious Corps for this operation, and on 16 October 1943, the Division issued Field Order 13, directing all units of the command to prepare to embark on or after 1 November 1943 for an amphibious operation in the Bougainville area.
On 1 November 1943 elements of the First Marine Amphibious Corps stormed ashore at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, and established a secure beachhead in the swampy jungle?achieving tactical surprise over the large Japanese garrison (estimated 30,000 troops) defending the strategic island. On 6 November 1943 the first elements of the 37th Division began movement from Guadalcanal to reinforce and assume responsibility for the west sector of the newly won beachhead.
On the eve of the Bougainville campaign, the following changes in unit commanders had taken place since the termination of the New Georgia campaign: Colonel C. B. Whitcomb was Regimental Commander; Lieutenant Colonel R. A. Ramsey was Commanding Officer of the 3d Battalion; and Major Ernest Root was Commanding Officer of the 2d Battalion.
The 145th Infantry was in Division Reserve for the opening phase of this campaign and embarked from Guadalcanal in the second and third echelons of the Division movement.
The 2d Battalion was the initial unit of the 145th Infantry to reach Bougainville. The Battalion embarked on the USS American Legion at Guadalcanal on 11 November 1943 and, following a voyage under almost continuous enemy air attack, landed in the Torokina area with the 2d echelon of the 37th Division on 13 November and moved into an assembly area near the Division Command Post.
On 16 November the remainder of the Regiment embarked at Guadalcanal on the transports Adams, Hayes, Jackson, Titania, and Libra landing at Empress Augusta Bay after an uneventful voyage on 19 November. The 2d Battalion reverted to Regimental control at this time and on 20 November the Regiment occupied an assembly area approximately 500 yards south of the Division Command Post within the rapidly expanding beachhead.
The activities of the 145th Infantry during the Bougainville campaign fall naturally into the following four phases and will be narrated accordingly: (1) Operations as Division Reserve- 20 November 1943 to 12 January 1944; (2) Organization and defense of the right sector of the Division perimeter zone without major hostile contact?12 January 1944 to 7 March 1944; (3) The Japanese attack upon Hill 700; and (4) the continued occupation of the perimeter and eventual relief by elements of the 3d Australian Division in November 1944.
PHASE ONE- DIVISION RESERVE.
During the period that the 145th Infantry was in Division Reserve, its tactical activities (with the exception of the 1st Battalion which was attached to the 9th Marines on 25 November and saw bitter combat in the Torokina sector on the right flank of the perimeter, and the 3d Battalion which was attached to the 129th Infantry on 19 November and occupied the right flank of that Regiment's perimeter zone) were limited to long range patrolling of the coastal area northwest of the perimeter, security and reconnaissance patrols within the perimeter itself, and formulations of plans for the relief of and reinforcement of any sector of the Division perimeter threatened by enemy attack.
A brief description of the perimeter at Empress Augusta Bay, within which the Regiment was initially assembled and which it was to fight desperately to defend, is pertinent. At its fullest extent it embraced within its semi-circular boundaries an area of 35 square miles with a frontage of 10,000 yards along the beach and a maximum depth of 8,000 yards. By 12 January the extent of the division zone of perimeter responsibility was 14,000 yards?with its left flank on the beach southeast of the Laruma River and its right flank in contact with the 164th Infantry of the Americal Division on high ground at the deepest point of the beachhead. The terrain within the beachhead was generally level with large areas of swamp in the east sector and covered with dense jungle growth through which excellent all weather supply roads were gradually pushed by division engineers. With the exception of the north and northwestern sectors of the perimeter where razor backed ridges climbing to heights of 1200 feet were encountered?and which became the Regimental sector on 12 January?the terrain was level. Two large rivers?the Laruma on the west and the Torokina on the east lay just outside the main perimeter and two small streams? the Piva on the east and the Koromakina on the west flowed through the beachhead area itself, furnishing adequate water points.
The activities of the 1st Battalion, and only unit of the regiment to see organized and continuous ground combat during the period the regiment was in division reserve form a tactically separate entity from the operations of the remainder of the regiment and are therefore related chronologically:
On 25 November the 1st Battalion, 145th Infantry, was attached to the 9th Marines, and relieved the 3d Battalion, 9th Marines, on the extreme right flank of the 3d Marine Division.
On 26 November the 1st Battalion, 145th Infantry, passed from control of the 9th Marines to the 3d Marines when that unit relieved the 9th Marines.
On 4 December the 1st Battalion, 145th Infantry, attached to the 3d Marines, was relieved on the Main Line of Resistance by the 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, and reverted to regimental reserve for the 3d Marine Regiment.
On 5 December the 2d Platoon, Company D, was moved to the 3d Marine Command Post to provide security for the Command Post installations.
On 7 December one company (reinforced) from the 1st Battalion, 145th Infantry, established an outpost at the mouth of the Torokina River.
On 13 December a platoon outpost was established on the Amphibious Trail between the 1st and 2d Battalion, 3d Marines.
On 14 December a reinforced platoon from Company B patrolling east of the Torokina River contacted an estimated two squads of Japs, killing one and wounding one.
On 16 December a reinforced platoon of Company C contacted a Japanese platoon 300 yards east of the Torokina River. Japanese casualties were seven. We lost one man wounded.
On 17 December elements of the battalion, after an air strike and a fifteen minute artillery preparation, moved across the river to attack the Japanese positions immediately beyond. At 1000L Company C moved into the defensive position 500 yards east of the river which the Japanese had evacuated. The positions consisted of fifteen to twenty covered pillboxes and forty to fifty open foxholes, estimated to have contained a reinforced company. Four dead Japs were found, but no identification was made. Platoon patrols continued east an additional 500 yards, and encountered two smaller defensive positions, likewise evacuated. The force destroyed all pillboxes, and returned to the west bank of the river.
On 18 December a patrol from Company A made contact with an estimated platoon of Japanese occupying the same defensive positions destroyed the previous day by Company C. During this firefight seven Japanese were killed. The patrol had one man wounded. Corporal Lester, Company A, distinguished himself during this action for which he was awarded the Navy Cross. The patrol withdrew and artillery fire was placed on the area.
The 1st Battalion, 145th Infantry, passed to control of the 2d Raider Regiment on 19 December.
On 24 December a reinforced platoon from Company B plus a two-man Marine Dog Team moving east of the Torokina River approximately 200 yards were hit by a Japanese ambush. At 1400L the remainder of Company B was committed to cover the withdrawal which took approximately five hours. Estimated enemy casualties were ten killed. Our losses were four men killed, ten wounded including one Marine killed and one wounded. The dog, Sgt. Rollo, was also killed. An all night artillery barrage was placed in the area.
The outpost between the 1st Parachute Battalion and the 3d Raiders was increased from a platoon to a company outpost by Company A on 26 December.
On 28 December the 1st Battalion, 145th Infantry, was attached to the Americal Division and on the same day, following an airstrike and artillery preparation, one company of the Marine Parachute Battalion made an attack on positions of the 13th Japanese Infantry, located by our reconnaissance the previous day. Company C, 145th Infantry, established a trail block for the attack. Contact was made approximately 500 yards east of the river's mouth. The Jap positions were not reduced and the Marines withdrew to allow artillery fire to be placed on the area. Total enemy casualties were eighteen. Marine casualties were three killed and four wounded. Our casualty was one wounded. The battalion engaged in no further offensive action while in this sector.
Upon the 2d Battalion?the only Battalion remaining under regimental control during the division reserve phase? fell the burden of long range patrolling and there follows a chronological account of their aggressive and tactically essential patrol activity:
2 December 1943: A patrol of the 3d platoon, Company E, (reinforced), enroute to Kuraio Mission reached the Atsinima River.
5 December 1943: Company E patrol to Cape Molke bivouacked for the night 5-6 December northwest of the Atsinima River.
6 December 1943: Company E patrol to Kuraio Mission reached 143? 58' East 6? 7' south without contact.
7 December 1943: Company E patrol reached the mouth of the Kavuba River.
8 December 1943: Company E patrol to Kuraio Mission engaged an undetermined number of Japanese in the vicinity of Cape Moltke.
9 December 1943: Company E patrol remained in the vicinity of Cape Moltke contacting two Japanese and killing one.
10 -12 December 1943: Company E patrol to Kuraio Mission reached that vicinity on 12 December and began its return to the perimeter.
13 December 1943: Company E patrol reached a point on the coast at 155? 0' 30" south without contact.
14 December 1943: Company E patrol returned to base camp from Kuraio Mission. While this patrol was out several smaller patrols searched the Atsinima-Cape Moltke area.
16 December 1943: The 145th Infantry dispatched the first of a series of weekly patrols to cover the beach area from the Laruma River to Cape Moltke. Company E furnished the first patrol.
18 December 1943: A small patrol from Company E patrol to Cape Moltke conducting a reconnaissance to Kuraio Mission encountered a strongly entrenched Japanese force in the vicinity of the mouth of the Tsinamutu River and in the ensuing firefight lost one man killed and several wounded. Company F was dispatched by boat to reinforce the patrol.
19 December 1943: Company E and F Kuriao Mission patrol returned to base camp.
20 December 1943: Two patrols from the 2d Battalion, 145th Infantry, accompanied a naval force of two LCMs to rescue a party of aviators forced down in the hostile territory near the Purita River. The was mission was successfully accomplished without incident.
The 145th Infantry weekly patrol of one platoon from Company F to Cape Moltke captured one Japanese prisoner out of a group of five near the Atsinima River on 21 December 1943.
A reinforced platoon of Company F established and maintained an outpost near the mouth of the Atsinima River from 24 to 28 December, inclusive.
28-31 December 1943: Company G established an outpost at Cape Molke during the early morning of 28 December. On the morning of 29 December the outpost was hit by a Japanese force, probably from the 2d Battalion, 81st Japanese Infantry. Enemy casualties were eight dead. Our losses were four killed. The outpost was withdrawn during the late afternoon of 29 December.
1-7 January 1944: The normal weekly patrol to Cape Moltke was suspended, and in lieu thereof the 145th Infantry was directed to establish an outpost at House Kispe. This was effected by Company F (reinforced) at 1400L, 2 January, and patrolling was conducted along the beach and as far inland as Atsinima Village.
13 January 1944: The 145th Infantry outpost at House Kispe (Company F reinforced) was withdrawn.
` The 3d Battalion, under the control of the 129th Infantry, spent this period in organizing and building permanent defensive positions along its assigned sector of the perimeter and operated routine security patrols without major contact with enemy forces throughout the period.
On 15 December command of the Torokina area passed from the First Marine Amphibious Corps to the XIV Corps, United States Army, at 0800L.
On 11 January 1944, Division Field Order Number 18 was issued extending the division sector of the perimeter to the east and placing all three regiments on the Main Line of Resistance with the 145th Infantry on the extreme right flank. To enable the regiment to fulfill its new mission, the 1st Battalion reverted to organic control at 1200L, 12 January, and the 3d Battalion was released from attachment to the 129th Infantry and reverted to organic control on 14 January.
PHASE TWO?ORGANIZATION AND DEFENSE OF RIGHT SECTOR, DIVISION PERIMETER
On 14 January the regiment had occupied its assigned sector of the Bougainville perimeter on the division right flank. Holding the Main Line of Resistance from right to left were Companies E, G, L, and I. Both the 3d Battalion on the left and the 2d Battalion on the right had approximately 1800 yards of perimeter to organize and defend. The 1st Battalion, in Regimental Reserve, occupied an assembly area along Craig Road in the center of the regimental zone.
The terrain in the 2d Battalion sector was extremely difficult to organize into a cohesive perimeter defense since it consisted of a high razor backed ridge running generally east and west, full of compartments and noses, deep gullies and steep rock formations.
By the end of January the organization of defensive positions- consisting of well emplaced, mutually supporting pillboxes, with fields of fire blasted and cut through the dense jungle growth- was 70% completed within the regimental zone. The construction and improvement of positions along the Main Line of Resistance was continuous throughout the month of February and by the end of the month, defenses in the regimental sector were adjudged 100% complete. On 4 February 1944 the Regimental Cannon Company joined its organic unit.
On 1 March 1944 a Provisional Battalion, 251st AAA Group was assigned to the Division and was given the mission of assisting in the construction of the Regimental Reserve Line.
PHASE 3- THE JAPANESE ATTACK
During the first week in March, intelligence agencies within the beachhead, on the basis of increasingly frequent patrol contacts outside the perimeter and enemy troop concentrations observed by air spot, reported that an enemy attack upon the Empress Augusta Bay perimeter was to be expected.
Preparations were consequently made by units holding the perimeter- consisting primarily of increasing the supplies of rations and ammunition directly available to front line pillboxes.
On 6 March both the 129th Infantry, holding the perimeter on the regiment?s left flank, and the 145th Infantry reported patrol clashes with enemy forces advancing from the north and the northeast.
The 129th Infantry outposts along the Laruma River, 10,000 yards north of the perimeter, were forced back by superior Japanese forces, and a 145th Infantry patrol encountered estimated platoon of enemy east of Piva Lake, north of the perimeter.
Security patrols in the regimental sector had no enemy contact throughout 7 March, however. Intensive patrolling throughout the day of 8 March developed numerous enemy contacts north of the perimeter, and at 1800L, a sergeant from a regimental patrol who had become separated from his unit by enemy action reported that while returning alone to the perimeter he had stealthily passed through large Japanese forces moving towards the perimeter and established dug-in positions between 2000 and 3000 yards north of Regimental Line of Resistance. During the night, the 135th Field Artillery Battalion, 140th Field Artillery Battalion, 136 Field Artillery Battalion, and one battalion of American Division Artillery laid down a heavy counter-battery preparation 1200 yards wide and 1500 yards deep on this area.
By nightfall of 8 March the stage was set for one of the grimmest and bloodiest battles in the entire history of the regiment, known as the Battle of Hill 700. In this battle the 23d Infantry Regiment of the crack Japanese 6th Division- infamous for its part in the rape of Nanking- launched a determined assault upon the narrow section of the Empress Augusta Bay perimeter held by Company G, 145th Infantry. Attacking under cover of darkness during the rainy night of 8-9 March, the enemy overran several pillboxes defending a long, steep nose extending northwest from a key terrain feature known as Hill 700, and by morning of 9 March held both the nose of this hill and commanding ground atop Hill 700 itself. Complete enemy control of Hill 700 would give the Japanese direct observation over the vital airfields which the Bougainville perimeter was designed to protect, and the battle of Hill 700 resolved itself into four days of bloody counterattacks which ultimately dislodged and virtually annihilated the ferociously resisting enemy tenaciously holding this vital terrain feature. Driven from Hill 700, his initial objective, the enemy transferred his major offensive effort to the west of the 145th Infantry?s sector of the perimeter and until 25 March grim fighting raged in the 129th Infantry?s sector resulting in the complete repulsion and virtual annihilation of the remainder of the Japanese attacking force. No further major threat against the Bougainville perimeter was made by the defeated enemy during the remainder of the Division?s tactical commitment to its defense. A chronological account of the March action follows:
8 March 1944: The situation was quiet during the night 7-8 March. At about daylight hostile artillery fire began falling within the Division sector in the area of the 145th Infantry and 6th Field Artillery Battalion. The hostile batteries were quickly located in the vicinity of Blue Ridge, Hills 1000, 1111, 500, 501, and Jaba River valley and immediately taken under counter-battery fire.
At about 0700L Company E began receiving spasmodic small arms fire which continued throughout the day, and in the evening a small enemy attack upon Company E perimeter was repulsed. Patrol contacts indicated that the enemy was forming in force in front of the 2d Battalion. During the night the 135th Field Artillery Battalion, 140th Field Artillery Battalion, the 136th Field Artillery Battalion, and one battalion of the Americal Division artillery laid down a counter-battery preparation 1200 yards wide and 1500 yards deep on this area.
Our casualties for period: 16 EM WIA
9 March 1944: In the 145th Infantry sector light contact with enemy forces was had in front of Companies E and G. At about 0210L several booby-traps and warning devices were exploded. Hostile fire consisted of knee mortars and rifles. The 145th Infantry replied with small arms fire and mortars. During the development of the action, several Japs were killed inside our wire in the vicinity of the boundary between E and G Companies. At 0520L the 2d Battalion reported heavy fighting and a possible penetration in the vicinity of Hill 700. At dawn it was found that elements of the 23d Infantry, 6th Japanese Division, had occupied the north slope and crest of Hill 700, resulting in a penetration of our line approximately 50 yards in depth and about 70 yards in width. At 0330L one platoon from Company F moved into position on the road directly below the threatened section of Hill 700 and contained the enemy force until daylight.
The 1st Battalion, in Division Reserve, was immediately released to regimental control and was moved forward to support the action on the Main Line of Resistance. The 117th Engineer Battalion was ordered to occupy the sector of the Regimental Reserve Line vacated by the 1st Battalion. Occupation of the Regimental Reserve Line positions by the Engineer Battalion was completed at 1145L.
The gap caused by the hostile penetration on Hill 700 was boxed in by extending our line around the south slope of Hill 700. At 1200L units of the 1st and 2d Battalions attacked in an effort to drive the enemy from our position. This attack succeeded in regaining several pillboxes on the east side of the penetration and making some progress up the south slope of Hill 700. A defensive line was established for the night along the latter line.
During the late afternoon two light tanks from the 754th Tank Battalion were released to the 145th Infantry for the purpose of attempting to wipe out the Japanese positions which were firing upon McClellan Road, the Main Supply Route, between the Rock and Hill 700. One tank was actually deployed with some success, although the Japanese fire was not completely stopped.
The division artillery supported the action throughout the day and placed night protective fires during the night of 9-10 March.
Our casualties for period: 1 Officer KIA
22 EM KIA
3 Officers WIA
125 EM WIA
Enemy casualties for period: 550 KIA
10 March 1944: During the night 9-10 March, the regimental sector was quiet. The Division Artillery placed night protective and harassing fires in front of the 2d Battalion.
At daylight the enemy (23rd Infantry, 6th Japanese Division) on Hill 700 began intermittent small arms and mortar fire upon our 2d Battalion positions. Patrols in the 3d Battalion sector and on the right of the 2d Battalion gained contact with large numbers of Japanese throughout their respective areas.
A Provisional Battalion, 251st AAA Group, occupied the west Battalion sector of the 145th Infantry Regimental Reserve Line at 0930L.
At 1515L, 18 SBD?s and 18 TBF?s placed airstrikes on three hostile concentrations in the regimental sector with results reported as excellent. Areas to be bombed were marked by artillery smoke shells spotted by an artillery Cub plane.
In spite of continuous ground action, the enemy regained possession of the crest and north slope of Hill 700 and kept a small section of the one-way McClelland Road under sniper fire, making it necessary to use the armored half-track vehicles of the 37th Reconnaissance Troop for both supply and evacuation. Three of the armored vehicles were damaged and temporarily out of action by hostile fire.
The 135th Field Artillery Battalion, 140th Field Artillery Battalion, and the Regimental Cannon Company maintained harassing fires in front of the 2d Battalion. At 1250L a Division Artillery air spot Cub plane observed a large body of enemy moving south along the Laruma River, apparently to reinforce the forces in front of the 145th Infantry. These were promptly taken under fire by the Division Artillery.
Efforts to reach the Japanese positions on Hill 700 by engineer ?pole-charges?, bangalore torpedoes and bazookas were without avail, resulting in numerous casualties due to the excellent Japanese field of fire.
After some regrouping of forces of the 1st and 2d Battalions which had become intermixed in the heavy fighting, a general attack on Hill 700 was ordered for 1700L. In spite of intense enemy light and heavy mortar and artillery fire the attack succeeded, after severe fighting, in driving the Japanese from the crest of Hill 700 and regaining all but four of our lost pillboxes. Our original Main Line of Resistance was, with the exception of a gap of about 30 to 40 yards, reestablished by dark. This line was composed of the following units from left to right: Companies B, C, A, F, E. Supply of ammunition was difficult and for a period during the fighting the supply of grenades was completely exhausted. Japanese mortar and artillery fire covered the area, falling along the road, and in the 2d Battalion Command Post, aid station, etc. At 1820L 10 March the 37th Reconnaissance Troop was attached to the 145th Infantry and moved under cover of darkness into support positions south and east of Hill 700. Later the Troop, less small detachments, was moved to the west of Hill 700 and occupied the Main Line of Resistance position reinforcing the Company G area. Increased hostile action was noted along the entire regimental sector during the night; all units receiving mortar, artillery and small arms fire. A number of Japanese flares were observed. In the vicinity of Cannon Hill in the 3d Battalion sector, the enemy used firecrackers and other ruses in an effort to draw our fire. Constant artillery and mortar harassing fire was placed on the Japanese throughout the night.
At 1945L the 2d Battalion, 148th Infantry, (regimental reserve battalion) was ordered assembled, from numerous patrols and outposts, and alerted to reinforce he 145th Infantry at daylight 11 March.
Our casualties for the period: 3 EM KIA
7 Officers WIA
114 EM WIA
Enemy casualties for period: 350 KIA
11 March 1944: During the night 10-11 March hostile contacts increased all along the front of the 145th Infantry. Fires by the Division Artillery, Company D, 82d Chemical Battalion (4.2 mortars) and infantry mortars were maintained throughout the night. Spasmodic contacts were had in the 129th Infantry sector which was given night protective fire by the 6th Field Artillery Battalion. Patrol contacts were made in the 148th Infantry sector.
At daylight the 23d Infantry, 6th Japanese Division, made a general assault on the 145th Infantry line from Hill 700 to Cannon Hill (exclusive) held by the 3d Platoon of Company G, while hostile mortar fire was placed on the 3d Battalion west of Cannon Hill. The 135th, 136th and 140th Field Artillery Battalions fired close-in protective fires in support of the defense.
The attack increased in severity; and at 0640L the 2d Battalion, 148th Infantry, was attached to the 145h Infantry and moved by the Provisional Truck Company, 37th Infantry Division, to the foot of the Rock and then overland to reinforce the 145th Infantry.
By 0800L the enemy attack had been completely repulsed, except in the vicinity of the northern nose of Hill 700, where the Japanese succeeded in slightly expanding their previous penetration. Japanese losses were reported as enormous, with the enemy assault waves attacking over piles of their own dead. Supply and evacuation continued to be made by the armored vehicles of the 37th Reconnaissance Troop, as the enemy was able to keep McClelland Road under small arms fire. Smaller enemy attacks continued throughout the morning.
At 1320L the Division Artillery fired a ten minute preparation in front of Hill 700 while the mortars of the 2d Battalion fired a ten minute preparation of high explosive and smoke on the base of Hill 700. Company E, 148th Infantry, attacked the Japanese penetration on the nose of Hill 700 at 1330L. This attack gained only limited success, and was unbable to dislodge the enemy or to seriously weaken his position.
One light tank of the 754th Tank Battalion was used as a stationery pillbox to cover McClelland Road in the vicinity of Company G, 145th Infantry.
The 117th Engineer Battalion continued to occupy the east sector of the 145th Infantry Regimental Reserve Line. Patrols to the front between the Regimental Reserve Line and the Main Line of Resistance received fire from small Japanese groups that had infiltrated through our lines. The Provisional Battalion, 251st AAA Group continued to occupy the west sector of the 145th Infantry Regimental Reserve Line.
The 37th Reconnaissance Troop (less small detachments) continued to support Company G, 145th Infantry.
Spasmodic hostile artillery fire fell within our perimeter throughout the day causing minor casualties.
Our casualties for period: 145th Infantry
7 EM KIA
13 Officers WIA
84 EM WIA
2d Battalion, 148th Infantry
1 Officer KIA
10 EM KIA
1 Officer WIA
18 EM WIA
Enemy casualties for period: 350 KIA
12 March 1944: In the 145th Infantry sector the situation, except for intermittent hostile artillery and mortar fire, remained quiet during the night. Beginning at 0750L the Division Artillery fired a ten minute preparation in front of Hill 700. At 0800L elements of the 145th Infantry and 2d Battalion, 148th Infantry, began an attack to drive the enemy from Hill 700. Severe fighting ensued on the crest and north slopes of Hill 700. By 1330L Hill 700 had been completely retaken and all Japs within our wire were annihilated. As of dark 12 March, 399 Japanese dead were counted within our wire in the vicinity of Hill 700. Two prisoners were taken.
Reorganization of the east half of the regimental sector was immediately undertaken; and by dark 12 March, the organization was as follows, from right to left: Company E, 145th Infantry, Company F, 145th Infantry, Company F, 148th Infantry, Company B, 145th Infantry, Company G, 145th Infantry. Remaining units of the 145th Infantry and 2d Battalion, 148th Infantry, were held in regimental reserve. The 37th Reconnaissance Troop was relieved from attachment to the 145th Infantry and reverted to Division Reserve at 1900L.
At 2030 L minor contacts began in the sector of Company G, 145th Infantry, and increased in intensity until about midnight when the situation became quiet.
The 117th Engineer Battalion and the Provisional Battalion, 251st AAA Group, occupied the 145th Regimental Reserve Line and patrolled to their front without contact during the period.
The Division Artillery laid down close-in protective fires throughout the night in front of the 145th and 129th Infantry Regiments.
Company D and one platoon, Company C, 82d Chemical Battalion continued in direct support of the 145th Infantry.
Our casualties for period: 5 EM KIA
3 Officers WIA
22 EM WIA
Enemy casualties for period: 125 KIA
Note: At this time the major effort shifted west to the area of the perimeter held by the 2d Battalion, 129th Infantry, when the 45th Infantry Regiment of the Japanese 6th Division launched repeated assaults until finally completely repulsed on 25 March 1944.
13 March 1944: During the night 12-13 March spasmodic firefights continued in the 145h Infantry sector until at about 0330L heavy fighting developed in the draws west of Hill 700, again in the sector of the perimeter held by the 3d Platoon of Company G. Searchlights of the 251st AAA Group assisted in illumination by shining the lights against overhanging clouds which reflected the light back into the ravines and draws in front of the Main Line of Resistance. At 0415L three tanks from the 754th Tank Battalion were dispatched to the 145th Infantry to assist in illuminating the draws with their headlights and in covering the ridge road east of the Rock. At 0445L the attack had been repulsed and by daylight the sector was quiet. The Division Artillery placed heavy close-in fires to break up the night activity of the enemy. 107 enemy dead of the 23d Infantry, 6th Japanese Division were counted immediately in front of our Company G positions. The 754th Tank Battalion detachment was released at 0700L. During the day the 145th Infantry sector was reorganized with the 3d Battalion, 145th Infantry, on the left, 2d Battalion, 145th Infantry, in the center and 2d Battalion, 148th Infantry, on the right. The 1st Battalion, 145th Infantry, was withdrawn into regimental reserve in the valley immediately south of Hill 700. The sector remained quiet until 2100L when a firefight developed on the right in the 2d Battalion, 148th Infantry, area. This hostile effort was easily stopped, although hostile small arms and mortar fire continued intermittently throughout the night 13-14 March.
Heavy close-in protective fires by Division Artillery were placed in front of the 129th Infantry and the 145th Infantry.
Our casualties for period: 3 Officers WIA
12 EM WIA
Enemy casualties for period: 125 KIA
14 March 1944: The 145th Infantry received intermittent small arms, artillery and mortar fire during the night 13-14 March. By daylight the situation was quiet and patrols were dispatched to the front all along the sector. Minor contacts were had by the patrols of the 2d Battalion, 148th Infantry, and 2d Battalion, 145th Infantry, while the patrols of the 3d Battlion, 145th Infantry, were negative.
The Division Artillery continued their effective counter-battery fires whenever the enemy artillery opened up, several enemy gun positions coming under direct fire of the 6th Field Artillery Battalion. Heavy supporting and night protective fires were laid down in front of the 145th Infantry.
Our casualties for period: 1 Officer WIA
7 EM WIA
Enemy casualties for period: 30 KIA
15 March 1944: The 145th Infantry sector was very quiet throughout the night 14-15 March. Patrols dispatched at daylight to a depth of 1000 yards resulted in a few minor contacts. Relief of the 2d Battalion, 148th Infantry, was effected by the 1st Battalion, 145th Infantry, and the 2d Battalion, 148th Infantry, returned to its base camp area in division reserve. The 145th Infantry front was held by the 1st, 2d and 3d Battalions generally in that order from right to left. The companies were organized from right to left E- C- F- G- L- I, with Companies A, B, and K in support. The sector remained very quiet throughout the remainder of the day.
At 1400L the 2d Platoon, Company D, 82d Chemical Battalion (4.2 mortar) was detached from direct support 145th Infantry and moved to positions in direct support of the 148th Infantry.
Our casualties for period: 8 EM WIA
16 March 1944: The 145th Infantry sector, except for patrol contacts, was quiet throughout the period. The 1st Battalion (less Company C, one machine gun platoon, and one section 81mm mortars attached 2d Battalion) was withdrawn into regimental reserve and the 2d Battalion (plus attachments from 1st Battalion) took over the east half of the regimental sector. The company organization on the Main Line of Resistance from right to left was E, C, F, G, L, I.
Our casualties for period: None
Enemy casualties for period: 2 KIA
17 March 1944: The 145th Infantry sector, except for minor patrol actions with scattered enemy groups, remained quiet during the period. Company A, 117th Engineer Battalion, was withdrawn from the 145th Infantry Regimental Reserve Line and attached to the 129th Infantry; the gap on the Regimental Reserve Line being closed by adjustment of both the 117th Engineer Battalion and the Provisional Battalion, 251st AAA Group.
Our casualties for period: 1 EM KIA
3 EM WIA
Enemy casualties for period: 2 KIA
18 March 1944: The entire division sector, except for patrol clashes and spasmodic artillery and mortar fire, was quiet throughout the period.
Our casualties for period: 7 EM KIA
1 Officer WIA
22 EM WIA
19 March 1944: The division sector remained quiet during the period. Patrol activities occurred in both the 145th Infantry and 129th Infantry sectors.
All battalions of Division Artillery fired a heavy general support mission between the Logging Trail and Numa Trail to a depth of 1500 yards.
Our casualties for period: None
Enemy casualties for period: 6 KIA
20-21 March 1944: The division sector was quiet during the entire period. Minor patrol contacts occurred in the regimental sector.
22 March 1944: Minor patrol actions occurred in both the 145th and 129th Infantry areas. One officer was killed and three men wounded in the 145th Infantry during a Company C patrol action. Enemy losses were five killed.
Seventeen sections from the 199th and 951st Anti-Aircraft Artillery (AW) Battalions were attached to the 37th Division. Sections B-6, B-7, B-8, C-8, D-1, D-2 and D-4 of the 199th AAA AW Battalion; and sections A-1, A-3, A-6, B-1, B-6, B-8 and C-5 of the 951st AAA AW Battalion were attached to the 145th Infantry to strengthen the automatic weapons defenses of those sectors.
23 March 1944: The division sector was quiet throughout the day, except for numerous close-in patrol contacts in the 129th Infantry area and on the left of the 145th Infantry. Our losses were one killed and 11 wounded. Enemy losses were 19 killed, 2 wounded and 1 prisoner captured.
24 March 1944: The 145th Infantry sector was quiet, except for patrol actions, during the entire period.
At 1045L, 1800L and 2016L, Division Artillery reinforced by three battalions of the Americal Division Artillery, twenty-four 4.2 mortars, and the 129th Infantry Cannon Company fired the heaviest general support mission ever to be fired in the South Pacific Area in front of the right flank of the 129th Infantry and the left flank of the 145th Infantry on suspected Japanese troops concentrating for their final suicidal attempt to breach our positions. This effective fire so weakened the enemy attacking force that no major attack again developed against the Bougainville perimeter.
At 1252L Company B, 117th Engineer Battalion, was withdrawn from the 145th Infantry Regimental Reserve Line and attached to the 129th Infantry where the unit was used to reinforce the sector of Company F, 129th Infantry. The Provisional Battalion, 251st AAA Group, extended to the east of the 145th Infantry Regimental Reserve Line to cover the gap caused by the withdrawal of the engineer company.
Our casualties for period: 1 EM KIA
1 Officer WIA
8 EM WIA
Enemy casualties for period: 2 KIA
25 March 1944: The 145th Infantry sector was quiet except for minor patrol contacts in which seven enlisted men were wounded.
26 March 1944: The 145th Infantry sector was quiet until late evening when intermittent small arms and mortar fire was received in the 3d Battalion area, wounding two enlisted men.
27 March 1944: Light hostile activity occurred during the night 26-27 March in front of the 3d Battalion and in the area of the Cox Creek draw in the 129th Infantry sector. Otherwise the division sector was quiet.
PHASE FOUR?REHABILITATION, TRAINING, AND PREPARATION FOR THE M-1 OPERATION (LUZON, PHILIPPINE ISLANDS)
Following the complete repulsion of the final enemy attack upon the 129th Infantry sector of the perimeter late in March the Regiment entered into the final phase of the Bougainville Campaign. Tactically, the phase consisted of continuing to secure its assigned sections of the perimeter, aggressive long range patrolling north of the perimeter which extended as far as the top of Blue Ridge and into Java Creek area, and maintaining a Battalion outpost for an assigned period at the Numa Trail and Kariana Trail, blocking all enemy approaches to the coastal area via the Laruma River Valley. For those men and units fo the Regiment not tactically committed, recreation and rehabilitation was emphasized- full use being made of the ideal beach facilities near Torokina Point. In August the Regiment engaged in intensive amphibious training, supervised by expert infrastructure from General MacArthur's Headquarters utilizing actual APAs, LSTs, and landing craft in beachhead exercises.
Specifically, the tactical operations of the regiment during the closing phase of the Bougainville Campaign were as follows:
1 April 1944: The Command Post, 145th Infantry, was moved from its battle location on Hill 430 to the normal administrative location just south of the junction of Piva Road and the Perimeter Road.
The 117th Engineer Battalion (less Companies A and C attached to the 129th Infantry) was withdrawn from the 145th Infantry Regimental Reserve Line and returned to base camp for normal missions.
The Provisional Battalion, 251st AAA Group, (145th Infantry Regimental Reserve Line) and Company D, 82d Chemical Battalion, reverted to Corps control and were withdrawn from the Division.
2-3 April 1944: Company A began a distant reconnaissance across Blue Ridge and into the Java Creek valley.
Our casualties for period: 1 EM WIA
4 April 1944: Company A reached the top of Blue Ridge locating numerous abandoned Jap areas and burial grounds.
Company A reached the Java Creek valley finding quantities of abandoned Jap equipment and many hundreds of Jap dead.
10 April 1944: All sections of the 199th Anti-aircraft Artillery (AW) and 951st Anti-aircraft (AW) Battalion, attached to the 145th Infantry, were detached and reverted to their respective units.
1-15 May 1944: The regiment continued local security patrols to the limit of regimental reconnaissance as far as Blue Ridge, some 4000 yards beyond the main line of resistance. A series of close-in outposts were maintained along the entire front.
On 15 May 1944, XIV Corps lifted blackout restrictions for all troops within the perimeter.
From 16-21 May the 1st Platoon, Company C, accompanied a patrol of the Americal Division on a reconnaissance of the Jave Creek and Hill 1111 areas with negative results.
The regiment was reorganized on 1 June 1044 under Tables of Organization and Equipment 7-11, dated 26 February 1944.
On June 9 a 1st Battalion patrol discovered an old enemy bivouac area consisting of three 90mm mortars, one 37mm gun and 38 skeletons.
The 3d Battalion, 145th Infantry, (- Company L) supported by the 135th Field Artillery Battalion began relief of the 1st Battalion, Fiji Infantry, at the Numa Trail and Kariana Trail Outposts in the Laruma River valley, on 13 June.
At 0400L on 13 June, as the relief was in process, a platoon of the 1st Battalion, Fiji Infantry, was attacked by a small enemy force.
Minor contacts were had by 145th Infantry patrols north of the Numa Trail Outpost. One man was killed and one wounded in the vicinity of the outpost on 16 June. One Jap was killed and others wounded. One Jap was killed on 20 June.
On 20-21 June 1st Battalion, 145th Infantry, relieved the 3d Battalion (- Company L) and continued to make minor hostile contacts in the upper Laruma valley. One Jap was observed killed by artillery fire on 23 June. Vigorous patrolling was continued in vicinity of Mariana, Mageriaopai- Ia, and north along Dovabie River. Enemy elements continued to occupy close-in positions until 26 June when a general withdrawal was effected by the enemy outposts.
The 2d Battalion relieved the 1st Battalion in the upper Laruma Valley on 29 June. A nine man patrol engaged in a sharp fire fight on 30 June, killing one Jap. The patrol drew heavy machine gun fire from an undetermined number of the enemy. Reconnaissance of Kariana- Igaru- Mageriaopai continued. On 2 July a patrol killed four Japs, probably killed two more and wounded several without loss to themselves. A fire fight developed in which the patrol drew heavy machine gun and 90mm mortar fire. Other minor contacts were had during the early part of July.
The 3d Battalion relieved the 2d Battalion at the trail block on 9 July. A patrol, on 12 July, ambushed 12 Japs, killing three and wounding several, without loss. Two of four Japs were killed on 14 July. Other minor contacts were had by patrols in the Kariana- Igaru- Mageriaopai- Ia area.
On 17 July, in preparation for the conduct of a special amphibious training program, the 164th Infantry, Americal Division, relieved all elements of the 145th Infantry in the upper Laruma Valley.
On 2 August, one battalion of the 129th Infantry occupied the Main Line of Resistance positions in the 145th Infantry sector, assuming responsibility for all security missions while the 145th Infantry was engaged in amphibious training.
Patrols of the 145th Infantry conducted reconnaissance of the Atsinima Lagoon- Cape Moltke area on 15-18 August and 23-25 August without enemy contact.
Following the Battle of Hill 700 and prior to the embarkation of the regiment for the Luzon operation, several changes in unit commanders occurred: Lt. Colonel Ramsey was relieved of command of the 3d Battalion to attend a Command and General Staff School and Major S.T. DelCorso became commanding officer. Lt Colonel Ernest Root was relieved of command of the 2d Battalion to assume a post in the War Department and Major Carl Coleman was in command of this Battalion for several months until Lt Colonel George T. Coleman became the Battalion Commander in August 1944. On 14 August Lt Colonel Loren G. Windom became Regimental Executive Officer. Unit commanders remained unchanged from the above when the regiment departed from Bougainville in December 1944.
The final three months on Bougainville was spent in intensive, vigorous and realistic combat training- stressing tank- infantry tactics and coordinated assaults upon fortified positions. A comprehensive school in staff procedure was conducted by the Regimental Executive Officer for officers of the Regiment during this training period.
The tactical participation of the 145th Infantry Regiment in the Bougainville campaign terminated on 17 November 1944 with the relief of the regiment by the 7th Australian Brigade, 3d Division, AIF.
I found this draft of Colonel Windom's History of the 145th Infantry in late June of 2012. It was in a brown redwell folder inside a plastic shopping bag buried beneath piles of shoes and purses in my mother's house in Encinitas, California. My mother, Barbara Case Gauntt, passed away on June 11, 2012, a month shy of her 91st birthday. Over the years my mother had given me several papers, letters, commendations and medals relating to my father, Grover Cleveland Gauntt, Jr., and his service with the 145th Infantry during World War II. But I suspect she forgot about this. I found it as we were in the process of moving her things out of her house.
The History is well preserved, was typed, single spaced, on both sides of legal size 8? by 13 paper and comprises a total of 80 pages.
At the top of the Forward page of the History, handwritten in pencil is "Major Gauntt." At the bottom of that page, also written in pencil but in different handwriting is "Grover- Over at Bailey's tent. Jack." This leads me to believe this was my father's original copy of this draft of Col. Windom's History that the Colonel prepared, and no doubt my father reviewed, while they were still on Luzon.
In October, 1945, the date of the draft, Major Gauntt was Executive Officer, 1st Battalion, 145th Infantry. The War with Japan had ended in August of 1945, and everyone was anxious to get back home. I'm not sure who "Jack" was.
Also in the same redwell was a ten page single space typed document, also on legal size paper, entitled "RESTRICTED-SUMMARY OF INTERROGATIONS OF GENERAL YAMSHITA AND OTHER RESPONSIBLE COMMANDERS AND STAFF OFFICERS" that describes, from the Japanese perspective, the fighting on Luzon, Philippines. This document was generated by Headquarters 37th Infantry Division in San Francisco, California, but no specific author was identified on the document. Handwritten at the top of the first page of this document is "Major Gauntt, Hq 1st Battalion."
In the Spring of 2009 I began in earnest to try and find out what my father actually did and saw during World War II. He, like many veterans, refused to talk about his war experiences and he died in 1970. During my search I found on Military.com this webpage for the 145th Infantry Regiment and it was there I met Rick Tischler, another son of a veteran of the 145th Infantry. Rick had recently posted the 34 pages of Colonel Windom's History of the 145th Infantry Regiment regarding the Philippine Campaign. He also sent me (but has not yet posted) the Summary of Interrogations document mentioned above.
I was very excited when I stumbled upon these additional sections of Colonel Windom's history of the 145th Infantry, but I didn't want to embark on the task of transcribing them if Rick had already done so. I tried to reach out to Rick but haven't been able to reconnect with him. So I've begun the task of transcribing the other chapters of Colonel Windom?s history so they may be preserved and shared with other sons and daughters (and their sons and daughters) of the men who bravely fought with the 145th Infantry in the South Pacific Theatre during World War II.
I?ve started with Chapter 15, Bougainville Campaign, since this campaign immediately preceded the Luzon Campaign that Rick Tischler already posted on Military.com, and it is where my father saw his first action with the 145th Infantry. Other Chapters to follow include Early History, First World War, and additional actions during World War II including New Zealand, Fiji, Guadalcanal and the New Georgia Campaign.
I want to mention that I also found in the plastic bag buried in my mother's closet a 63 page type written manual of how to become a good physical training instructor in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps. Handwritten at the top of the manual is "Lt. Barbara Case." My mother was an officer in the WAC for three years from 1943-1945 achieving the rank of First Lieutenant.
Also in the plastic bag were the medals and ribbons Lt. Case was awarded for her service, along with Lt. Case's and Major Gauntt's dog tags, their necklaces entwined around one another, as now are their spirits.
I dedicate this work in memory of my loving parents and to all of those who have served our great country. God Bless America.
Solana Beach, California
Aug 23 2012 03:49:51:000AM