The Capture of Makin: (20 November-24 November 1943)

By Harold W. Nelson; United States. War Dept. | Go to book overview

The Drive Eastward

The First Night

THE FIRST NIGHT ON BUTARITARI was marked by energetic enemy activity. No air attacks were delivered, the limited air power of the Japanese having been concentrated on the Southern Carrier Force off Tarawa, but ground fighting was continuous. Some of the enemy who had been left during the day's fighting in the western area tried to work their way eastward to rejoin their own forces. Others moved back from the east into areas which had been cleared on D Day, either to harass the invaders in their many fox holes or to set up machine guns in positions of advantage for the following morning. Before the night was over, they had succeeded in preparing at least seven such positions, and had infiltrated into the company perimeters enough to inflict a few casualties and cause much sleepless anxiety.

Moving in total darkness, the Japanese used many ruses to discover the hidden locations of the American troops. The men had been ordered to observe complete silence. They even struggled to control their coughs by chewing on handkerchiefs and shirtsleeves. When an armed Japanese came to a perimeter and called out, as several did: "Psst! Hey, Sarge!" he was therefore readily recognized as an impostor and shot. Although this disposed of that offender, the spurts of flame from rifles revealed targets at which other Japanese promptly fired rifles or threw grenades. At some points snipers in trees dropped firecrackers, the explosions of which resembled Japanese rifle fire enough to draw response from excited Americans. Snipers then shot into the fox holes revealed by gun flashes. When one captive was taken to the 1st Battalion aid station, he attracted enemy fire by making loud animal noises until he was clubbed into silence.

"Medics! Medics! Send a medic out here," some of them called; and others, "Hey, Charlie! Where's my buddy?" As daylight

-93-

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The Capture of Makin: (20 November-24 November 1943)
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Foreword to Cmh Edition iii
  • Foreword iv
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Preparing the Attack 6
  • The Assault from The Western Beaches 29
  • Taking the West Tank Barrier 51
  • The Drive Eastward 93
  • The End of the Makin Expedition 125
  • Conclusion 132
  • Annex No. 1 136
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