First-Hand Account, Ebeye Island

e5114d1a005fc05070b60efa4168fe1f

Action at the Pigpen

by: Lt.Col. S.L. A. Marshall

While on Ennylobegan Island, Kwajelein Atoll, Marshall Islands, Lt. Col. Albert Hartl, of the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry, received orders that they were to attack Ebeye Island the following day, 2 February 1944

The mile-long 250-yard wide target island was battered throughout the day by naval gunfire and air strikes.  In the afternoon, Major Maynard Weaver reconnoitered it first from the deck of a destroyer and then from a naval observation plane.  He was over the island for 2 hours… Weaver noticed that there were heavy concrete structures and fire trenches still in good condition…

There was no sudden, sharp hail of bullets.  By squads and by little groups, they heard the warning zing-zing-zing overhead or saw something rip through the foliage above them…  Company C, when the men went to the earth, they could not see one another.  No man knew where the next man lay on his right or left.

Ebeye Iland being shelled, 1944

Ebeye Island being shelled, 1944

Along the lagoon, a half-squad advancing up the beach speeded ahead with no interruption and outdistanced the men on their right.  The other half became echeloned toward the rear as enemy machine-gun fire, came from a blockhouse… they went to the earth just inside the tree-line.  It was a fateful pause, for there the Japanese artillery found them.  These things contributed to the stretching of the line.

The tankers said they were taking orders only from the battalion commander.  The tanks remained in place while there was a hot argument.  During the debate, Privates Gerald Draughn and Edward Hodge, who were handling the bazooka, were ordered to move up to an advanced position and fire at a shelter beyond the blockhouse.  Draughn’s second [rocket] hit fair at the entrance.  He was ready to fire a third when he saw 2 Japs charging him.  He yelled, “Get ’em, Hodge!”

One BAR man, Pvt. James Gatlin, had carried on a one-man mop-up campaign during the 1st phase of fighting, working over every debris pile at close range with his weapon.  As the day wore on past noon, the fires still blazed about the island, but a strong wind from the east was whipping the smoke to the lagoon side.  They were through shooting for the day.

The 2nd Platoon advanced perhaps 125 yards when along the shoulder of the beach they saw a Jap caliber .50 air-cooled gun to the left.  The gun pointed in the direction of the morning landings…  The tank had passed on beyond the gun…  Sgt. Roger Horning crawled up to within about ten feet of the gun and fired one round from his M-1 into the magazine.  The gun blew up.

Kwajalein Atoll

Kwajalein Atoll

Some of the men covered him as he crawled up to the pit and looked in.  He was face-to-face with a live Jap who blinked at him.  It scared the living hell out of Horning.  He recoiled back into a shell hole while throwing a grenade.  It came back at him.  The grenade was a dud.

[Two BAR men finally took care of the enemy soldier, but this was the beginning of the spider holes on the island.]

That was the way it went.  The holes were everywhere.  Each one had to be searched from up close.  Every spot where a man might be hiding had to be stabbed out.

[After the 3rd Platoon moved up.]  Lt. Blue noticed the men had already started to hit and hole and then skip one.  The man ahead of him stepped across a palm frond patch and kept moving.  Blue yelled: “Godammit, what are you doing!  There may be a Jap in there.”  From underneath, a hand reached up reaching for a rifle.  Blue shot at the hand, hit the knuckles and it blew the man backwards.  Two more slugs went into him.

It was here that SSgt. Pete Deini noticed the men weren’t behaving right.  He could feel it.  He began talking and kept talking as he moved from group to group showing them how it [spider holes] had to be done.  Still, the spider holes confronted the left of the line.  Deini again led the way through them, working 4x harder as any other and talking the entire time.

[On Ennylobegan Island, Deini had accidentally shot a fellow soldier while handling a Japanese pistol.  He was told it was his job to make up for that loss in the unit.  They were to find out later that the Medical Corps was able to save him and he went on to continue fighting.]

Condensed from: Island Victory, published by The Infantry Journal.

Click on images to enlarge.

 ####################################################################################

Military Humor – military-humor-please-tell-me-how-bad-your-day-was

military-humor-horsepower

 

 

 

#####################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Pegg Bailey London, ENG; British Women’s Army, WWII

Roscoe Brown – Riverdale, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Tuskegee Cmdr. 100th Fighter Sq/332nd Group

Edward DuBeck – Philadelphia, PA; USMC, WWII, PTO, D & A Co’s/1/24th MarinesBIABoNLCEAEPa7G (599x769)

Clark McIntire, Jr. – Portland, ME; US Navy, Cuban Missile Crisis, USS Saufley (DD-465)

Kenneth Miller – Ruskin, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187th Reg/11th Airborne Division

John Moser – Whitefish Bay, WI; US Navy, WWII & Korea, Cmdr.

Ernesto Santoro Sr. – New Haven, CT; US Navy, WWII, Chief Petty Officer

Morris Turner – Aiken, SC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 8th AAC/ Korea, Lt.Col. (Ret. 26 years)

George Whalen – Hillsboro, IL; US Navy, WWII, Chief Metalsmith

Roldan Vigil – San Francisco, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

#####################################################################################

Advertisements

About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on July 11, 2016, in First-hand Accounts, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 44 Comments.

  1. War sure is ugly. Thanks for sharing GP. Commander John Moser would have some interesting stories having served form World War One to Korea. As would all of the fallen. Another reason to remember how valuable it is to pass on these stories as you are doing.

    Like

  2. Pardon my lateness reading this! I missed my history lesson. Thanks..😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great interesting reading gp, those Monkey holes sound very much like the tunnels in Vietnam, which gave rise to the Vietnam Tunnel Rats, ie the Tunnels of Cu Chi.
    A new form of jungle warfare may have its origins in the Ebeye Island.
    Slainte

    Like

    • Not necessarily. The spider holes created in the Philippines were much bigger and were being worked on all throughout the Japanese occupation of the islands. As far as Nam goes, I would imagine they did get the idea from the Japanese methods of WWII..

      Liked by 1 person

      • The tunnels in Vietnam existed during the Indo-Chinese war of 1946-1954. The French must have used them as well as the Viet minh as I first learned of their existence as a young girl reading one of the biographies from the book Nurses Who Led The Way. The tunnels had been expanded to such a size they were used as underground operating theatres and the story was about a French nurse. I leant my book to my grand-daughter who promptly lost if. Grrrr. Otherwise I would look up the details for you.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Those first hand accounts really put you on the spot. That was the first time I’d heard about spider holes and their danger.

    Like

    • And this was on a mile-long island; just wait till they get to the Philippines!!
      I am so pleased that this site is holding your interest after so long, Bev. You’re a good friend.

      Like

      • I seem to be interested in many things, but that makes life exciting. I had a couple favorite uncles who served in WWII, so I can picture them in some of these situations.

        Like

        • And it’s been great having you here. You’ve been a great friend. I too travel to many sites other than WWII, I think every personality has numerous sides to them.

          Like

  5. Not even I had heard of this battle for a small piece of earth. It always saddens me to know young men died there. I cannot imagine how family took the news when the telegram would come then realize years later what a senseless place it was albeit of strategic importance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Where both my parents grew up (and I was born) was a mile-long island – so i can relate to the size, but not the fact that it was important in a theater of war the size of the Pacific Ocean.
      Good to see you back!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What an awful battle to have to fight. You must become immune to death after a while.

    Like

  7. Exciting stuff, GP. I could feel the tension as I read it. These first-hand accounts are enthralling, but it is important to remember how terrifying it was to those involved.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean. When you don’t know where that zing-zing-zing is even coming from, how do you stand up and keep going forward?
      Thanks for taking the time to read it, Pete. Have a great day!

      Like

  8. Wow, what courage they had looking at all the spider holes and not knowing if it was empty or not. Excellent post, Everett!! Looking at the humor section don’t know how they carry that much, either.

    Like

  9. How on earth did they do it?

    Like

  10. War has so many intricacies we are NEVER exposed to. Thank you for sharing these memorable, IMPORTANT pieces of history.

    Like

  11. They certainly know how to wreck a place.

    Like

  12. Interesting little vignettes. They show many of the different perils our soldiers faced, fighting a crafty enemy. I love the poster of the guy with full gear. Don’t know how they carry such loads.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Very good information

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: