Captain Pickup had only just returned to his headquarters, when he
discovered the enemy on Denver. His first reaction was to pull a
platoon off the beach and retake the battery but in discussion with
First Lieutenant William Harris, he decided to keep his beach
defenses intact and await reinforcements. Marine Gunner Harold M.
Ferrell went to 1st Battalion headquarters to alert Captain Noel O.
Castle, commanding Company D, to the Japanese landing. He had sent a
runner to Denver Battery where he found Japanese in the gun pits.
Castle, a distinguished marksman and pistol shot who carried two
pearl-handled .45-caliber pistols, assembled the Marines of
Headquarters Company and the few Marines available of Company D to
drive the Japanese off of Denver Hill.
Castle dispatched Sergeant
Matthew Monk with 15 drivers and cooks to occupy an abandoned beach
defense position and secure his left flank. "Do the best you can,"
he ordered Monk, "Keep the Japanese out of the tunnel." Castle also
scouted the reserve stations at critical road junctions, and
cautioned the men, "Maintain positions." He then gathered his men
for the counter attack to Denver Battery, declaring, "Let's go up
there and run the bastards off."
warned Castle from leading the attack himself, but the captain
replied, "I'm going to take these people up there and shoot those
people's eyes out" and led his men to the hill. Castle met the
Marines falling back from the Japanese advance, and joined in the
battle. At 0140, the Japanese attacked the water tower and ran
directly into the reinforced platoon led by Castle. The two forces
collided in furious combat, practically "face to face," remembered
Corporal Joseph J. Kopacz. The Japanese advance was halted but the
Marine attack was bloodily repulsed.
the battle line and ran to an abandoned .30-caliber machine gun,
which he put into working order, while "completely covered by enemy
fire." Castle opened a devastating fire with the machine gun,
forcing the Japanese to cover, which allowed the American advance to
continue. The Japanese fell back from the water tanks to the Denver
Battery positions, but Castle was hit by Japanese machine gun fire
and killed. With their commander down, the attack ground to a halt.
Department of Defense
Photo (USMC) 7563