Shawn Welch 



The attack on Battery Wheeler at the southern end of Topside was typical of the hard fighting and ingenuity that were required to subdue one of the massive gun emplacements. In the Wheeler attack, troopers of Major Caskey's 2nd Battalion, 503d, surrounded the battery from covered positions but kept up a steady volume of small arms fire  on all of the entrances. "Hoot" Gibson sent one of his pack 75s to the area to cover the main entrance with direct fire. In the event that the Japanese had closed a steel door, the pack 75s would smash it. The regimental demolitions section accompanying the 2nd Battalion would already have fashioned some homemade explosive devices. These consisted of a five gallon watercan filled with gasoline and napalm with six to eight WP grenades and two blocks of TNT taped to the sides of each can. Then the demolitions men tied the "bomb" to each of the ventilator shafts that they could find at ground level.  Next the demolitions crew would light a three second fuse that dropped the can down the shaft. Another fuze would go off fifteen seconds later. The resulting fire  not only burned the enemy within but also used up all of the oxygen in the bunkers. The Japanese either died of asphyxiation, burns, or gunfire if they tried to escape from the underground caverns. Nonetheless, Battery Wheeler was so formidable and extensive that it required three days of constant attention before it was reduced.

battery wheeler

No. Guns Cal. Type Troop Range Yards
wheeler.jpg (16176 bytes) 2 12-in DC C-59 17000 wheeler.jpg (16176 bytes)

During the first few hours of the invasion of 16 February 1945, it was thought that Battery Wheeler was clear of Japanese defenders. To an extent, that was true. But the wily defenders had access to the Battery that has not even today been established, and on each occasion it was attacked, they were able to reoccupy it. Ultimately, the Battery was so formidable and extensive that it required three days of constant attention before it was reduced, and then only in extraordinary circumstances.

 Also in the immediate geographical to the east,  was Btty. Boston. To the immediate south-west of the Battery is Wheeler Point, of which John Lindgren writes factually in An Outline of Events at Wheeler Point 18/19 February 1945 and poignantly in Night at  Wheeler Point.


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