US Marine Raider monument at the Solomon Islands Memorial Garden at Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. Photo Credit: Bryan T. Stefancyk.
THE pride of the United States Marine Corps are the Raider Battalions, the toughest, most mobile, and "fightingest" men of the Corps. Like all amphibian troops, these Raiders are trained to land on enemy territory under difficult conditions and drive a spearhead into the enemy defenses by day or night. They are the " rough-house " boys of the Corps. Every man is a specialist in his job.
It takes three months to make a Raider, after he has finished his early Marine training. He is chosen for his physical fitness as well as for his above-average intelligence. When trained, he is an important factor in amphibious warfare, his job being equivalent to that of the paratrooper in land operations.
Once on land, their task only begins. They may have to go into action immediately and face a blistering attack, or they may have to find their way across unfamiliar territory in pitch darkness. The enemy may have retreated to the interior, relying on the density of the jungle and intricate defense systems to delay the advance of the invaders.
These Marine Raiders are really fighting scouts. Heavily armed, they carry more weapons than other Marine regiments and they are assigned special missions. Some times they travel in specially designed transport vessels, which have the speed and maneuverability of destroyers; sometimes they approach as near as possible to their objective in rubber boats, then take to the water, swimming with darkened faces and knives between their teeth.
In surprise landings, such as that carried out on Jap-held Makin Island, their objective is to destroy enemy air and naval bases, communication centers, ammunition centers, and defense installations. They are also specially trained to bring back information as to the disposition of enemy troops and supplies, and make maps of the general layout of the countryside. Each Raider is a specialist with a specialist's job, and in such a raid one of the most important tasks is to capture prisoners so quietly that they can be taken away without their comrades being alarmed. On Makin, the "green" Marine Raiders accomplished this against the wiliest of all enemies the Jap, himself a master of stealth and cunning.
Raider attacks are often made to create a diversion, but the Battalions are also used to function as the spearhead of a full-size invasion. Their job calls for superb physical fitness, cold courage, and fighting spirit. The men are hand picked from a flood of volunteers, and after completing their normal Marine training they get special schooling in close-range fighting and a physical-training course which can be undertaken only by the fittest.
The training course is tough and prolonged, but it builds fighting men with fine physique and minds that are quick on the trigger. This kind of work is only an accessory to the other training which the Raiders must undergo before being knitted into a compact fighting unit. As amphibious soldiers they have to learn how to operate with rubber boats. Each Raider Battalion has its quota of snipers, armorers, chemical warfare experts, communication and demolition experts.
The demolition expert learns how to use dynamite for the destruction of bridges, powerhouses, and fortifications. His job is a dangerous one. In the words of a military man, "he is highly expendable" and he knows it. He may be left behind after a strategic evacuation with instructions to destroy a bridge in the face of the enemy. He has to know how to use his explosive charge on the most suitable section of the bridge structure, how to explode it from a safe distance, and be prepared to make a last-ditch stand if the circumstances demand it. Like other marines, he works with his rifle in his hand, and any enemy within five hundred yards is an easy target for him.
A special feature of the Raider training is learning to live and fight under the most difficult circumstances man can be called upon to face. The Raiders have to learn to "navigate" their way across country by the stars as well as by compass, and to "live" on the country they are invading. They learn wood-lore, how to catch game without making a noise, and how to conceal themselves in trees and foliage should the enemy be on guard.
One of the tests given to the Raiders before going into action is to "land" on unfamiliar territory in complete darkness and arrive at a rendezvous twenty miles away without being discovered by watching scouts. The rendezvous is nothing but a speck on a map to the men before they set out, but they must make it, or fail in their test.
Another exercise is a twenty-mile march with pack, at
a minimum speed of seven miles an hour, which is not
easy. The Raiders accomplish this by half-running and
half-walking, with no time out for rests. Sometimes the
test march may be routed across a river or stream. The men
have to get across either by swimming or wading and they
must keep their arms dry. No extra time is given for
crossing the water. War does not allow that. If the
Raiders are ordered to be at a certain spot at a certain time,
they have to be there, water or no water, and their arms
5 z SEMPER FIDELIS
have to be in shooting condition, otherwise they are
wasting their time.
Swimming features in all Raider training for a very
special purpose. While normal Marine landing parties
may go ashore in rubber boats and alligators, the Raiders
often have to take to the water. A swimmer can get to a
closely guarded shore, where a boat would be discovered.
The Raiders learn to swim with their full equipment, and
when they touch land, they have to be ready to fight, wet
or dry. Wearing camouflaged uniforms, with blackened
faces, they learn to swim noiselessly across rivers or up
inland creeks, and then quickly hide themselves in the
nearest foliage they can find on the shore.
The Raiders have lighter equipment than Marine line
fighters. It includes a lighter pack and rubber-soled shoes
to enable the men to march noiselessly along roads, or
creep through the jungles in which they are trained to
The average Marine Raider Battalion is undoubtedly the
best-equipped unit in the Marines. The men are given
large numbers of automatic rifles and sub-machine guns as
well as the semi-automatic Garand rifle and pistols. Every
man is taught to shoot from the hip with whatever weapon
he carries. He must be prepared to open fire from any im
promptu position in which he might find himself during
Like the British Commando, he carries a long knife,
highly important for silencing enemy outposts. This knife
is the Marine Raider's security weapon. He is, taught to
use it in a hundred different ways. Besides its obvious use
as a dagger for dealing swiftly and silently with enemy
sentries, the Raider learns to throw it accurately and with
enough force at close range to kill or disable the enemy.
At one Marine station, the instructor is a Filipino who
RAIDER BATTALIONS 5*
used to earn his living in vaudeville. This man can throw
a heavy knife so accurately that he can trace a pattern on
the target. He has a habit of inviting the recruits to stand
against a wooden blackboard just as does the girl assistant
of such artists on the stage, and then he proceeds to place
the knives with devastating proximity to the living target.
After he has shown his class how it is done, and the men
have got the hang of the game, there are plenty of competi
tions after hours.
That their training stands the boys in good stead is
shown by a report from the Solomons, in which a marine
flung his knife and killed a Jap who was preparing to open
fire with a machine gun from twenty-five yards. So elated
was the young man at his success that he sent his instructor
the cap of the dead Japanese as a souvenir.
One of the most famous of the Marine Raider Battalions
in the Solomons was "Carlson's Raiders." These men,
led by Lieutenant Colonel Evans Carlson with Major
James Roosevelt as second in command, earned for them
selves an enviable record as experts in death, demolition,
and destruction. They are known in the Marine Corps
for their singing as well as their fighting. After chow, they
indulge in their own battle hymn, just as did the Marines
in World War I, who used to sing, "Well Hang the
Kaiser on a Sour- Apple Tree."
The battle song of the detachment of Carlson's Raiders
that took part in the Makin raid is sung to the tune of
"Ivan Skavmsky Skavar," and the words of the song are
In the memory of man there were those who were brave
And fought like the heroes of old,
But none of the fame who carry the name
Of Carlson's Raiders so bold.
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They were gathered from near and were gathered from far,
They were picked from the best in the land.
A hell-raising crew that sailed the blue
Was Carlson's Raider Band.
They carry machine guns like pistols, they say,
And a knife that was tempered in hell,
And the Raiders all claim no mortal by name
Could use them one quarter so well.
They whisper of Raiders who gamble with death
And fought like the demons of old,
And those who were there are willing to swear
By Carlson's Raiders so bold.
They will sing of the sailor and soldier I know
And tell of the deeds that were done,
But Carlson's Raiders will sing for themselves
And tell how the battle was won.
So here's to the Raider who stands by his flag,
Who offers his life for his land,
Who marches to fame with pride in the name
Of Carlson's Raider Band.
Forty-six-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Carlson is par
ticularly suited to lead a band of guerrilla fighters. When
appointed to his command, he set out to make an ace raid
ing battalion in a corps of Raiders which is a Marine
speciality. He called for the fittest and best men he could
find, and started to teach them all he had learned about
guerrilla warfare in China, where as Marine Intelligence
Officer he had an opportunity to study the tactics of China's
famous Eighth Route Army.
Carlson realized, as did the Russians, that the military
powers of the world had a lot to learn from the Chinese,
who are still the finest guerrilla fighters in the world, after
having practiced the art for nearly three thousand years.
During the Chinese-Japanese War, Carlson spent months
RAIDER BATTALIONS 55
with the Chinese guerrillas. He saw how they lived, how
they attacked, and particularly how they hoodwinked
their enemies by simulated retreats and forced marches.
He noted the work of their scouts, their communications
system, and their method of making themselves self-
In 1941 during his last visit to China, Lieutenant Colonel
Carlson was so sure that America would have to fight Japan
that he conceived the idea of forming a Marine ' * guerrilla' '
When he got back to America, he was given command
of a Raider Battalion. Three months after Pearl Harbor,
he began to hand-pick his men for the job ahead. Assisting
him was Major James Roosevelt, the son of President
Every member of the Raiders is a volunteer. Carlson
chose his officers for their democratic outlook as well as
for their efficiency. He warned the men who volunteered
they were in for a tough time and did his best to break
down their resolution to join him by telling them what
faced them the hardships of the jungle, the no-quarter
and butchering policy of the Japs, the danger and brutali
ties they would meet. Their job, he told them, was to
fight to the death in places where the average marine
could not go, and to fight to win or lose, with losing
meaning only one thing.
Most of the men who were chosen came from states
where men live open-air lives; some had been soldiers in
Latin America, others were Marine veterans with good
records. If they still wanted to join after Carlson had done
his best to curb their enthusiasm, he shook hands with
each man and welcomed him to the school of supermen
he wanted his corps to be.
The first job was to get them physically fit and immune
56 SEMPER FIDELIS
from climatic conditions and fatigue. While other Raider
Marines marched twenty miles in a day, Carlson and his
men did thirty-five and forty, and eliminated the usual
hourly ten-minute rest period.
In order to make the unit self-sufficient, the Colonel
broke it up into small squads of six or eight men, each
man being a specialist at his own job, each able to look
after himself by preparing his own food, finding his way,
and foraging for his companions if need be. Knowing that
the Jap fights in the dark, Carlson gave his boys lengthy
training in night action. They had to drill at night, learn
to shoot at night and to creep up on each other in the
swamps and tracks of the Hawaiian jungle.
From the Chinese, Carlson borrowed an idea that con
tributes largely to the success of the Raiders wherever
their darkened faces and deadly knives appear. All Chinese
guerrillas are "co-operative" with, or equal to, their
leaders. Carlson started group meetings, at which officers
and men exchange ideas and opinions, and discuss world
strategy and politics as well as their own work. Anyone
can talk, argue, disagree, and criticize. The Colonel al
ways attends these sessions himself, but he doesn't take
the chair. A private may open the discussion, a sergeant,
or an officer. If Carlson speaks, he speaks as one of the
boys. He is always that. In action, the door of his tent
is always open to any member of the Raiders. He listens
to complaints, considers ideas for improving the fighting
quality of his men, and is always ready with advice when
consulted on a personal problem. Carlson's Raiders are
probably nearer to a crack football team or a fighter-plane
squadron than any other unit.
The boys worship the "old man/' of course. He is a
father to them as much as a commanding officer, but in
spite of the friendly atmosphere there is no let-up in
RAIDER BATTALIONS 57
Carlson aimed at creating a really democratic fighting
organization because he believed that men fight better as
buddies, and that each member of his team should have a
definite job and know exactly what the action is intended
to achieve. In training and in action the Raiders live to
gether. The officers live and eat with their men, carry the
same equipment, and wear the same uniforms.
Lieutenant Colonel Carlson and his officers went through
the same training as their men to harden them for the tests
ahead. Before going into action, the battalion was moved
to Hawaii to be toughened up for jungle warfare. Here,
the men lived under conditions as near to those they were
likely to encounter as possible.
In the Solomons campaign, Marine Raiders have en
countered many tough assignments. On one occasion, four
officers and twenty-one enlisted men were given the mission
of penetrating Japanese-held territory and finding out the
main center of enemy resistance. In the dead of night, with
blackened faces and armed to the teeth, they set out in a
small boat to a remote beach on Guadalcanal. Here in the
tropical darkness they methodically and noiselessly es
tablished a beach-head, then they pushed silently forward
into the jungle to find the enemy.
Guadalcanal is a difficult place at any time. The jungle
is full of small animals and birds that begin to screech if
they are disturbed. These birds work alike for Americans
and Japanese, and they are decidedly unwelcome com
panions when a night reconnaissance has to be made.
Start them squeaking, and you attract the attention of
every enemy in the vicinity. The Raiders worked silently,
and soon they were making their way deep into the enemy
territory through the dense undergrowth of the jungle.
The going was hard and it was difficult to keep in touch
with each other.
58 SEMPER FIDELIS
In order to minimize casualties if attacked, they broke
up into small parties and crept steadily forward. Suddenly,
there was a burst of firing. It ceased as quickly as it had
begun. The news was whispered. Several were wounded.
The others waited and soon the area was alive with Japs.
The little yellow men came pouring out from all directions
and the Raiders were soon badly outnumbered. There
began a series of bitter hand-to-hand struggles. One sec
tion made a bayonet charge against the enemy. When
they had finished, there were scores of Japanese dead. After
re-forming they fought their way slowly back to their
comrades who were waiting at the beach-head.
The Japanese, knowing every inch of the territory,
brought up support troops, and when the leathernecks
finally got to their beach-head they found themselves sur
rounded as bad a situation as could be found anywhere.
When the Japanese began to invade the beach with
machine guns from both flanks, the Marine machine-gun
officer gave his men the only order possible under such cir
cumstances to dig in. The men were short of equipment
but they began to make fox holes in the sand with canteen
cups and helmets. As they dug, others sent volley after
volley into the darkness, where the little spurts of flame
told of the presence of the enemy. Each volley was fol
lowed by cries and screams of the enemy patrol. Soon more
Japs arrived, and bullets began to whistle from all three
sides of the beach.
The marines were slowly being cut to pieces by this
terrible fire. Sergeant Arndt of Oklahoma volunteered to
swim and crawl his way along the shore line to get help.
He set off, screened by the darkness, but had not gone
more than two hundred yards when he was heard shooting
it out with the enemy. The Marine officer in charge of the
party, believing his sergeant had been killed, dispatched
RAIDER BATTALIONS 59
another man, Corporal James Spaulding of New York City,
to fulfill the sergeant's mission.
Both men got through. They arrived at headquarters
exhausted, their feet badly cut from crawling over the
coral reefs. Sergeant Arndt had swum some distance wear
ing only his field shoes and helmet. He carried his pistol
tucked in the chin strap of the latter. As he was coming
on shore he espied two Japs waiting for him. He un
strapped his pistol and took careful aim, knocking out
one Jap with his first shot. The other ran off like a scared
rabbit, but immediately a near-by Jap patrol started a
barrage of machine-gun bullets. Arndt ducked, went
ashore, and calmly stole a rowboat from a Jap camp
near-by. Then he rowed to the Marine base to get the
Spaulding arrived at the same Japanese camp. He
thought it was a Marine outpost, and he walked right into
it till he came face to face with a Japanese soldier. He was
unarmed. He downed the Jap with hard chop on the jaw,
then turned and dove back into the water. The Jap immedi
ately recovered and began firing at him. As Spaulding
swam, he could hear the Japanese soldiers scrambling along
the rocks of the shore line, but they could not see him.
Farther on he came to a beach, where he landed because it
was too long for him to swim around. More Japs were
on patrol, so Spaulding figured that bold action was called
for. He took out his waterproof-wrapped iron-ration
candy bar, unwrapped it, and sauntered cautiously along
the beach, chewing on the chocolate.
Nothing happened for a while, then Spaulding looked
behind him. A Jap sentry was prowling in the bushes look
ing for him. Spaulding waited. The Jap caine nearer.
When he was within arm's length, the Raider tried out
the tricks he had learned at Parris Island. He grabbed the
60 SEMPER FIDELIS
Jap and strangled him. It was all over in a few seconds.
Then he continued his journey.
Both Spaulding and Arndt arrived too late for help to
be sent to the marines on the beach-head. Only a few
members of the patrol returned to the base. One was
Sergeant Frank Few of Oklahoma, who had swum four
miles to a clean, white, sandy beach. "Here I just climbed
out of the water and ran like hell to the main body. I
must have arrived only a few minutes after Spaulding left.
I saw somebody walking right in front of me. I thought
it was one of our boys who had come to help me, so I
asked him for the password. It was a Jap. He let out a
yell and made a stab at me. I knocked his bayonet down
with my right hand, grabbed it away from him, and killed
him cold. He had got me in the right arm, though, and I
was bleeding. That made me mad/' related the sergeant.
"I didn't intend to waste any time. I started back to the
boys and then I came right on another Japanese. He was
standing between the forks of two trees. He didn't see me.
It was easy to get him with my pistol. When I regained
contact with some of the survivors on the beach, we set
tled down to dig fox holes and wait for the reinforcements.
But we didn't wait long. The tide came in and washed out
the fox holes. The Japanese patrols moved in on us, and
soon there weren't many of us left."
Sergeant Few, seeing further resistance was futile, calmly
picked off one or two Japanese snipers with his rifle, threw
the weapon in the water, spat out the ammunition he had
been holding in his mouth, and headed for the open sea.
" As I looked back over my shoulder I could sec the Japs
using their bayonets on our wounded," he said. "That
makes still another score I'll have to settle. Just can't
A typical action by a Marine Raider patrol was a raid
RAIDER BATTALIONS 61
on the Japanese-held island of Malita undertaken from the
Marine base in Tulagi. A party of forty marines landed on
the island at 5 P.M. after a difficult sea trip in motor boats,
which had encountered bad weather and heavy seas. The
patrol was split up into six combat teams and the men set
off, spending twelve and a half hours in the jungle to reach
their objective, which was a Jap encampment.
"We got into our position at 5.30 A.M./' relates Lieu
tenant Grain of Ada, Oklahoma, in charge of the party,
44 It was getting light as we circled the camp. The Japs
were occupying a small clearing on the coastal road that
had been built by the British. We could see four open-
sided shacks, a mess hall, a gallery, and a storehouse.
There was also a wireless shack, our main objective. We
crawled on our bellies to within fifteen yards of the mess
hall. It was the funniest thing to lie there and watch them
walking around, washing up, brushing their teeth, and
getting ready for chow. We waited. At a quarter to eight
there were fourteen of them in the mess hall. Watching
them eat made us feel hungry. They were wolfing native
potatoes and bananas and drinking coffee. We had waited
because we hoped to get all of them together, but when
I saw two of them getting ready to leave, I gave the signal
to open fire.
"The seven of us were well equipped. My corporal had
a tommy gun and we had automatic rifles and Springfields.
We got every one of the fourteen in the mess hall and then
more Japanese came out from other shacks. They put up
a fight, but they hadn't much chance. We got two of them
on the road and a third ran into the bush when he was
wounded. There were two more on the beach, one of
41 Then we 'tackled the others. One of them headed for
the radio shack. We figured that he was probably going to
send a message, but he didn't get far.
6z SEMPER FIDELIS
"It was all over in about five minutes. As far as I
remember, the enemy didn't fire a single shot because our
boys had taken them completely by surprise. We were
happy because we had achieved our objective, even to
bringing back a prisoner, although he was scared and
didn't talk very much.
"When it was all over, we were surrounded by the
natives, who treated us as if we were heroes. They had
been living very happily under British rule, and had been
severely plundered by the Japs, who had lived on their
gardens and stolen their chickens. When they saw that
all the Japs had been killed, they made a really gala occa
sion and brought us all kinds of fruit and some of their
native wine. The fruit was very welcome. When we had
eaten, they serenaded us with native songs. I felt that we
ought to respond, so we all stood up and sang 'From the
Halls of Montezuma.' That pleased them more than ever.
When we left, they all lined up under their chief and
gave three cheers in typical British fashion. We could
hear them yelling 'Hip, hip, hooray' as we went back
through the jungle."
Private August R. Montgomery of Terre Haute, Indiana,
was a member of a Marine Raider Battalion that landed on
TulagL Montgomery got back to the Naval Hospital in
San Diego with wounds in his chest and arm and a strange
story to tell.
He was a member of the first wave of Raiders. They
landed according to plan, and immediately pushed inland
into the depths of the jungle.
We set up for the night alongside a road, ' ' he related,
4 'and after posting sentinels and^patrols, the rest of us
went to sleep. I woke up to hear shots coming from all
around. I found out afterward that nine Japanese had
come sauntering down the trail in the moonlight. They
CAPTURED JAP MARINE BANNER AND EQUIPMENT
RAIDER BATTALIONS 63
would never have gotten so near to us if they had not
kept to the middle of the trail, so that our patrol would
think they were marines.
' ' They put on a good act. When one of them was halted
by a sentry, he gave the password in English. They got
clear up the trail to the head of our unit where I was
asleep. It was quite easy for the sentries to make a mistake
in the dark because their helmets and clothes were some
thing like our own. They made one mistake, though.
"One of them went up to our platoon sergeant. He
asked, *Hey, buddy, what kind of an outfit is this?*
Martin, our ' top/ had been in China. Without waiting to
answer he shot that Nip cold. He had been in the East
too long not to detect the Japanese accent. That started
trouble. A shot whammed past me, then another. I
rolled into a ditch to take cover. Two Japs dove in be
side me and jammed me tight, one on each side.
"They were both armed with rifles and pistols and
knives. So was I, but I didn't have time or space to use
"They both stuck their rifles into my ribs and kept
hissing at me to keep quiet. I wasn't going to let them
get away with that. I hit out at the barrel of the rifle on
the left, but I was not quick enough. The Jap pulled the
trigger and the bullet hit me in the chest. I thought I was
dead. Being so close to a rifle is deafening, but the bullet
hit my dog tag [identification tag]. I figure that saved my
life. I was alive and kicking hard. Just then the Jap on
the right shot me. The bullet went right through my
right arm and hit the Jap on the other side of me. He
screamed like mad and I hit out at him.
"We were all at the bottom of the ditch by this time.
They seemed to be sitting all over me. I was conscious,
but I couldn't move. One of them was pressing my neck
64 SEMPER FIDELIS
down to the bottom of the ditch with his head. I hollered
and he pressed tighter. Then one of our men started to
pull them both off me.
"I had thought that they were both through, especially
as they had not attacked me again, but the Jap who had
been closest to me leaped to his feet like a fury, drew a
big knife, and went straight at the man's throat. That
marine was quicker than the Nipponese. Another shot
went off in my ears and the dead Jap came down on top
"That was some adventure."
Three Marine Raiders who found themselves cut off
from their main body fought more than a hundred and
fifty Japs for over seven and a half hours. One was Private
Thomas Cook of Oliver Street, New York, who is proud
of the fact that he lived in the house where Al Smith was
born. Cook and his two companions were operating in the
Guadalcanal jungle between the Japanese and the American
positions. Their job was to warn the main Marine body
of the Japanese advance.
About three o'clock in the morning the Japanese moved
up in new force. Cook telephoned the information to
battalion headquarters, and then the three found that they
were completely surrounded by the enemy. They decided
to fight their way out and began to retreat, taking cover
in the tall grass. The Japanese knew they were in the
grass and could not locate them. So they began to mow
down the grass with their big swords.
Two of the marines waited until the men with the
swords were within a few yards of them. Then they tossed
hand grenades at the Japanese, and ran for it, while the
other private first class, Walter Leary of New Jersey,
poured a withering fire on the advancing Japanese with his
Browning automatic rifle. How many these three killed
RAIDER BATTALIONS 65
is a matter of conjecture, for they kept this action up hour
The tightest corner of their escape was when they found
a steep cliff at their backs and were hemmed in on three
sides by the Japs. As they began to let themselves down
the face of the cliff, a Japanese officer ran up and slashed
one of them across the back with his sword. Private
Leary immediately killed the officer and turned his gun
on the men behind him so effectively that they retreated
into the long grass.
Finally, the three marines reached the bottom of the
cliff, where they made a final dash along the beach to the
Marine lines, which were under heavy fire from the Japan
ese machine guns and mortars. All three of them returned
safely, although each had been slightly wounded.
From Guadalcanal have come many stories of the ex
ploits of these Marine Raiders. On one expedition, a
Marine patrol traveled several miles inside the enemy lines
and destroyed five Japanese bases and four hundred men
with the loss of only seventeen of their number. This
expedition lasted several weeks, during which time the
marines existed in the mountainous jungles of Guadalcanal,
living as a self-sufficient force and continually stalking and
destroying the enemy.
Private First Class Wallace E. Wyn, a twenty-year-old
marine from Thomasville, North Carolina, was not only
lost in the jungle of enemy-held territory on Guadalcanal
for fourteen days but carried out a running fight with the
enemy and survived.
Wyn was sent to relieve the watch at an outpost on a
hill near the front lines. While he was on guard, he saw
a large number of Japs coming up the hill and gave the
alarm because there were too many of them for the outpost
to take care of. He and two of his mates became separated
66 SEMPER FIDELIS
from the main combat and took to the woods, hoping to
make their way back to their own base. Hearing men
coming toward them, they hid behind a log and kept quiet.
Two Japanese came out of the jungle. One of them
went up to the log and put his hand down into the grass
behind it. ' ' He touched me, but I guess I was so stiff with
fright that he thought I was dead," relates Wyn. "Then
he stepped over me and went to look for the others. I
stayed all night in the bushes. The next morning I seemed
to be right in the middle of the Japanese barrage. Shells
were bursting all around me. The only thing I could do
was to lie still and tuck my head under the log to keep
from being hit by shrapnel. When everything was quiet,
I raised my head very carefully and I saw two other men
peeking out of the tall grass. At first I thought they were
Japs, so I didn't move.
"I just sat watching. Then I recognized them as my
two buddies of the night before. We got together, lying
on our bellies, and decided to remain where we were
crouching down under some bushes. It was a good thing
we did, because later in the day a strong Japanese patrol
came searching the woods.
44 They found some dead marines, and began to search
them and take their clothes. One of the Japs seemed to
have a curious nature He probably suspected that there
were still some marines in the grass, because he came over
toward us and began to kick the grass with his feet. He
was getting nearer and nearer. He was soon within a few
feet. I nudged my buddies. I figured that we'd better get
him before he found us. I raised my rifle and squeezed the
trigger and got him through the head. He didn't die im
mediately, though. He stood like a statue and raised his
arm to beckon to his comrades. Then he fell down flat.
14 We decided to run for it and took off, but we hadn't
RAIDER BATTALIONS 67
gone very far before we came into a clearing where there
were six Japs. Three of them bolted, and the others rushed
at us with fixed bayonets. One of them came at me, and
I managed to turn the blade of the bayonet just as it went
about three inches into my chest.
"I fell to the ground and dropped my rifle because he
had hit me with great force. The wound hurt but it wasn't
enough to cripple me. As I lay on the ground it came to
me that I would have to finish him or he would get me,
so I grabbed my rifle and shot him.
1 ' Then I saw that one of my comrades was headed for
the woods with two Japs after him. One of the Japs
caught up with him and drove his bayonet through his
back. He fell down and the Jap started to stab him again,
yelling and gloating. I was dead cold but furious. I shot
that Jap as he raised his bayonet for the third time, and
then got the other one, who was standing by.
"When I went over to my buddy, he was dead. There
was nothing else I could do for him, so I went back into
the woods. After a few hours I blundered into another
clearing where about a dozen Japs were eating their chow.
I didn't know quite what to do at first. I was tired and
weary. I knew that I was up against it. But I wasn't
going to be captured by the Nips. I decided to be a bit
cunning. I stood up to my full height and motioned with
my right arm to the jungle behind me and shouted, 'Come
on, boys, let's get 'em/
"The Japs caught the idea, and broke from their table
and ran. I grabbed some food and returned to the bushes,
where I kept up a steady fire from various points to make
them keep their heads down and think they were being
attacked. Then I ran as hard as I could in what I hoped
was the right direction. At night I rested in the woods,
but I never slept very much because I could always hear
68 SEMPER FIDELIS
the Japanese moving up on me. Wherever I was at night
' ' Next morning I was awakened by a burst of machine-
gun fire quite near, I figured that it must be ours because
I was still behind the Japanese lines and the fire seemed
to be coming from the direction of our lines. I decided to
do a bit of reconnoitering and climbed up to the top of
a little hill, where I found my position. It looked as if
I had only to go a few miles and I would be back in a
" Getting there wasn't so easy. I hadn't been in the
woods for many minutes before I ran into another Jap,
who had a rifle over his shoulder and a pistol in his hand,
which he had covered with a handkerchief. I 'hit the
deck 1 immediately and lay there watching him move
through the grass. I still don't know what he was doing
or looking for. He might have been talking to himself.
I took careful aim and fired. But for some reason or other
I missed. He suddenly^ stood very still and stiff and began
to call, 'Me hunt, me hunt; don't shoot/ I squeezed an
other shot. ,This time I hit him, and he went down. At
times like this you're very glad of having a rifle. I'd
thrown away all my gear except the rifle and ammunition.
' ' The noise of the shots had brought a whole lot more
of them. Soon they seemed to be all around me, as Japs
always are. I lay low, and then set out again in the direc
tion of the American lines. All the time I was trying to
remember everything I'd been told about wood-lore. I
hid behind bushes, trees, stumps, and tall grass. I believe
I remained in that wood for two or three days, and there
wasn't an hour that I wasn't awakened by the slightest
noise. Once a big snake passed quite near me, and I was
wide awake before it went out of sight. One morning I
caught a wild fowl and ate it raw. It tasted really good.
RAIDER BATTALIONS 69
"Fortunately it rained almost every night, so that when
I was thirsty I only had to take some rotted wood that had
absorbed the rain and squeeze it until the water ran from
it. In one part of the woods I found some kind of cane
that tasted like cabbage. I ate quite a lot of it and took
some of it along with me. However unfamiliar the taste,
it was good to have something regular to eat.
" As I went on between me and what I thought was the
Marine position, I could hear the Japanese squeaking and
talking in their bivouac area. Several times I tried to cross
their lines, but each time they came near and I had to go
back and take cover. I still don't know how long this
went on. I remember that my wound was bothering me
and hurting. When I inhaled and exhaled the air would
come in through the hole in my chest. Sometimes it
whistled and hissed rather like air being released from a
football bladder, I was rather worried about this because
it seemed so loud that I thought it would attract the atten
tion of the Japs.
"One morning just before daylight I decided I had had
enough of this inactivity, so I climbed to another hill and
set off down a path that the Japs had made to attack one of
our outposts. I walked all day and all night. Early the
next morning I was too exhausted to go any farther, so I
decided to take a nap. To be quite sure that I knew the
direction I was going I put my rifle down with the barrel
pointing toward our camp. I didn't sleep for long, and
soon I had mustered up enough strength to follow the trail.
As I went on, I began to see how the Japanese had made
their attacks. They had used the rotten stumps of trees as
cover and little holes with covering of leaves and bushes
over them. I didn't know whether they were still there
and so I kept as far away as possible from the trail, al
though I never let it out of my sight. Having come so
far I didn't want to get knocked off.
70 SEMPER FIDELIS
"I soon found I was in a tough enough spot. The Japs
thought our troops were in the place where I was. Bombers
began to fly over dropping their stuff, and most of it fell
around me. I knew there were no Americans here, because
there was no cussing when the bombs dropped and no
noise of men getting into fox holes. I lay down, taking
as much cover as possible. When the planes had gone, I
thought that the Japs might have left some food, so I
began to crawl from fox hole to fox hole to fox hole, but
all I could find was something that looked like a saddlebag.
I was just going to pry it open when I heard footsteps.
I dropped my head close to the ground and lay quite still.
I could see some men coming toward me spread out in a
wide circle. They were kicking the grass just like the
Japs had done. This was it, I thought. I decided that at
least I'd take some of them with me. I drew a bead on
one of them. I was just about to let him have it, when he
jerked^off his helmet. I guess a mosquito had stung him
or something. He had blond hair. I nearly fainted with
excitement. I yelled: * Don't shoot. I'm an American.'
' ' They all fell to the ground then. Japs yell that kind of
thing first and then shoot as you come on. One of them
came toward me with a gun in his hand and a knife be
tween his teeth. Tm a marine, buddy/ I called. 'Come
on and see/
"He was a swell fellow. First thing he did was to give
me a chocolate bar. I ate it like a man that had never
eaten before. I was suddenly crazy with hunger. Then I
got a drink of clean water, the first for about fifteen days.
Back in camp I got some real food and was put to bed with
that chest still whistling like a bird, but was I feeling
good ! I had lost more than fifty pounds during that trip,
but I know I was lucky to get back at all. When I go back,
I'll know just what to do to those Japs and I'll do it,
The island of Rendova, Solomon Islands. Photo Credit: Bryan T. Stefancyk.
-"islands of destiny"
-intro from "Green Hell" about Solomons being turning point of war
-after write article change post date to 10 Nov 2018 for 75th anniversary
This article was written by:
Bryan T. Stefancyk is the founder/owner of WAR HISTORIAN BATTLEFIELD EXPEDITIONS, a division of WAR HISTORIAN, LLC.
in Q&A go into two distinct branches of War Historian, LLC
nothing like the rush of discovering a WW2 memoir just when you thought there is nothing new out there that you'd not heard about, or uncovering new research that changes entire perspective
Q: What is your favorite WW2 documentary?
A: Hands down my favorite is Hell in the Pacific (2001), followed by The Color of War (2001) as a close second.
Q: What is your favorite Vietnam War documentary?
A: think about this one but chose something like Anderson Platoon or something about the French
Q: What is your favorite WW2 movie?
Q: What is your favorite Vietnam War movie?
A: Hmmm this is a tough one... I don't have a favorite as most play off of the common tropes of the Vietnam War, but I appreciate aspects of Go Tell the Spartans (1978), The Odd Angry Shot (1979), Platoon (1986), Hamburger Hill (1987), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Platoon Leader (1988), Bat 21 (1988), Casualties of War (1989), The Iron Triangle (1989), 84 Charlie Mopic (1989), The Siege of Firebase Gloria (1989), Tigerland (2000), We Were Soldiers (2001), The Quiet American (2002), Rescue Dawn (2006). The Vietnam War scenes in Forest Gump (1994) are well done. I really want to see the French films Patrouille de Choc (1957), The 317th Platoon (1965), Le Crabe-Tambour (1977), Charlie Bravo (1980), and Dien Bien Phu (1992).
Q: What is your favorite movie in the history genre?
A: This is another tough one... I can't possibly narrow it down to just one! But the movies that have most influenced me/impacted my life are the following (listed in order of release date NOT preference!): Bridge on the River Kwai, The Great Escape, Zulu, The Charge of the Light Brigade, March or Die, Breaker Morant, Gallipoli, Das Boot, Bounty, Pirates, The Lighthorsemen, The Beast, Glory, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, Last of the Mohicans, Geronimo, Gettysburg, The Thin Red Line, Legionnaire, Master and Commander, Black Hawk Down, Alamo, Kokoda, The Proposition. Disney movies?
Photo Source: dailymail.co.uk. Photograph edited and enhanced by Bryan T. Stefancyk.
Today, 1 September 2019, marks the 80th anniversary of the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany. In the West and in the historiography of WW2, the invasion of Poland is seen as the catalyst that eventually propelled much of the globe into the deadliest war in human history.
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