Tulagi

A 34th Inf game held at Fireball Squadron, Birmingham
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cjw957
Fought at Waterloo
Fought at Waterloo
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Tulagi

Postby cjw957 » Fri Jan 01, 2016 12:05 pm

At 08:00 on August 7, 1942, two battalions of U.S. Marines, including the 1st Raider Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Merritt A. Edson (Edson's Raiders), and the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines (2/5) made an unopposed landing on the western shore of Tulagi about halfway between the two ends of the oblong-shaped island.[21] Beds of coral near the shore kept the landing craft from reaching the shoreline. The Marines, however, were able to wade the remaining 100 m (110 yd) without hindrance from the Japanese forces, who were apparently taken by surprise by the landings and had yet to begin any organized resistance. At this time, the Japanese forces on Tulagi and Gavutu, a detachment of the 3rd Kure Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) plus members of the Yokohama Air Group—commanded by Captain Shigetoshi Miyazaki—signaled their commander at Rabaul—Captain Sadayoshi Yamada—that they were under attack, were destroying their equipment and papers, and signed off with the message, "Enemy troop strength is overwhelming, We will defend to the last man." Masaaki Suzuki, commander of the SNLF unit, ordered his troops into pre-prepared defensive positions on Tulagi and Gavutu.


Map overlay on an aerial photo of Tulagi showing U.S. Marine advance on the southeastern end of the island and the center of Japanese resistance around Hill 280
Marines of 2/5 secured the northwest end of Tulagi without opposition and then joined Edson's Raiders in their advance towards the southeastern end of the island. The Marines advanced towards the southeast end of the island throughout the day while defeating a few isolated pockets of Japanese resistance. Around noon, Suzuki repositioned his main defenses into a line 9°6′26″S 160°8′56″E on a hill—called Hill 281 (Hill 280 in some sources) by U.S. forces based on its elevation—and a nearby ravine located at the southeast end of the island. The Japanese defenses included dozens of tunneled caves dug into the hill's limestone cliffs and machinegun pits protected by sandbags. The Marines reached these defenses near dusk, realized that they did not have enough daylight left for a full-scale attack, and dug in for the night.

During the night, the Japanese attacked the Marine lines five times, beginning at 22:30.[24] The attacks consisted of frontal charges along with individual and small group infiltration efforts towards Edson's command post that at times resulted in hand to hand combat with the Marines. The Japanese temporarily broke through the Marine lines and captured a machine gun, but were thrown back soon after. After taking a few more casualties, the Marine lines held throughout the rest of the night. The Japanese suffered heavy losses in the attacks. During the night, one Marine—Edward H. Ahrens—killed 13 Japanese who assaulted his position before he was killed. Describing the Japanese attacks that took place during the night, eyewitness raider Marine Pete Sparacino said:

"...full darkness set in. There was movement to the front...you could hear them jabbering. Then, the enemy found a gap and began running through the opening. The gap was (sealed) when another squad closed the gate. Some Japanese had crawled within 20 yards of (Frank) Guidone's squad. Frank began throwing grenades from a prone position. His grenades were going off 15 yards from our position (and) we had to duck as they exploded. The enemy was all around. It was brutal and deadly. We had to be careful not to kill our comrades. We were tired but had to stay awake or be dead."

At daybreak on 8 August, six Japanese infiltrators hiding under the porch of the former British colonial headquarters shot and killed three Marines. Within five minutes, other Marines killed the six Japanese with grenades. Later that morning, the Marines, after landing reinforcements in the form of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines (2/2), surrounded Hill 281 and the ravine, pounded both locations with mortar fire throughout the morning, and then assaulted the two positions, utilizing improvised explosive charges to kill the Japanese defenders taking cover in the many caves and fighting positions spread throughout the hill and ravine.[27] Employing the improvised explosives, the individual Japanese fighting positions were destroyed. Significant Japanese resistance ended by the afternoon, although a few stragglers were found and killed over the next several days.[28] In the battle for Tulagi, 307 Japanese and 45 U.S. troops died. Three Japanese soldiers were taken prisoner.
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