Captain Lewis H. Pickup of Company A watched from his command post
as the first force of landing craft in echelon headed for his
company's positions. Searchlights picked up the landing craft and
the 1st Battalion commenced firing. The 37mm guns had no trouble
tracking the landing craft, as Sergeant Louis E. Duncan had altered
the traversing mechanism so it could move more freely Gunnery
Sergeant William A. Dudley held up the trails to his 37mm gun to
fire down on the incoming boats.
Private First Class Silas K. Barnes heard the boat
motors from his machine gun position on Infantry Point and for a few
moments was able to hit the approaching landing craft that were
illuminated by the search lights. He effectively enfiladed Cavalry
Beach and cut down many of the Japanese soldiers as they came
ashore. The Japanese struggled in the layers of oil that covered the
beaches from ships sunk earlier in the siege and experienced great
difficulty in landing personnel and equipment. Unfortunately Barnes'
and one other machine gun position were all that remained of 13
machine guns from Infantry Point to North Point. The rest had been
destroyed by the Japanese bombardment.
The 1st Platoon, Company A, commanded by First
Lieutenant William F. Harris, defended the beach from Infantry to
Cavalry Points, while the 2d Platoon under Master Gunnery Sergeant
John Mercurio held the line from Cavalry to North Points. "I've got
word that landing boats will attempt a landing," Harris told his
men, "They'll be coming in here someplace. Fix Bayonets." He ordered
Private First Class James D. Nixon to go to the cliff overlooking
the beach, and report on the location of the Japanese. Nixon looked
at the beach and saw Japanese troops coming ashore only 30 feet
away. The Marines placed a heavy fire on the Japanese as they
climbed the steep cliffs and tossed "Molotov Cocktails" down on the
landing craft. In the darkness, however, the Japanese succeeded in
bypassing many of the Marine positions.