Fishman, 3rd Squad, 1st Platoon, "D" Co. cradles his BAR while on patrol - Negros, May 1945)
D Company on patrol - Negros, July 1945)
Maurice St. Germain of Vermont - the entire 2d Bn was loaded on a train from Fabrica to Malapasoc - and was bombed by a wayward B-24.
Mail Call, Negros, July 1945 - Robert C. Roberts, of 3rd Squad, 1st Platoon, "D" Co. Note the height of the grass.
11 April 1945.
First real action of the Negros Campaign. Two (or more) enemy soldiers could be heard talking in front of the company outpost and moving directly toward our perimeter. They were met by a burst of fire. Daylight revealed one enemy KIA approximately 30 ft in front of our position. My first impression was that they were acting more like a group of GI's returning from an evening out on the town than a combat patrol. This impression was never felt again during the campaign.
14th or 15th of April
It was about the 14th or 15th of April when we moved into new forward positions and someone discovered an abandoned 55 gallon drum in the perimeter . It was filled with alcohol distilled from sugar. Sugar cane was one of the principal crops of the island, and the Japanese had apparently been using it as motor fuel. Some brave soul sampled the contents and declared it potable and potent. Mixed with lemon powder and water, it quickly became a popular drink. I recall the incident primarily because I was selected to carry the BAR on a patrol when the assigned BAR man became a bit indisposed after sampling the alcohol concoction. To speed things, I simply took his webbing and gear, including the BAR belt filled with ammo, a pistol, two canteens, etc. and headed down toward the river. As usual, it rained, and the patrol headed back with no contact. By the time I staggered back up the now muddy hill, I could barely walk with the ill fitting belt, pistol hitting me about the knees, and hips raw from the ammo pouches. I believe it was this evening that our machine gunners, in high spirits, provided the entertainment by firing their machine guns to the tune of "shave and a haircut - six bits" They were answered by Jap machine gun some distance away across the valley, and a little duel ensued. I distinctly remember our guns red tracers going out - and the Jap white tracers coming back at them.
An overnight patrol in company with Filipino guerrillas. Set up a perimeter the night of 17 April and moved out in the morning of 18 April. I remember the night well, primarily because we had set up our perimeter on a hilltop with the guerrillas. It was hot, humid, and the mosquitoes were thick and hungry. We had repellent that we used, but our guerrilla comrades had none, and spent the night loudly slapping the hungry insects. They also had no water, and I recall sharing one of my two canteens of water with them. Filipino civilians in the area were questioned and indicated that Japanese activity in the area was common. About noon the guerrillas made contact and two were wounded in the ensuing firefight. I recall the firefight well primarily because of their actions. When the shooting began, they continued advancing in a skirmish line across a fairly open field, while we hit the ground. They responded to whistle commands by their leaders to advance, commence firing, cease firing, etc: I was impressed. We had moved forward and across a relatively open hillside facing dense forest. We thought the affair had been settled to our satisfaction and that the enemy had pulled back until Pvt. Rickard sighted an individual in the trees ahead of us. He and I had a little discussion concerning the individual's identity. We decided he was a Japanese, so Rickard shot him. At the same time PFC Bates, who was in charge of our mortar section, lobbed a round of mortar fire into the area. The response was immediate and effective. A barrage of knee mortar and rifle fire erupted from the forest to our front and hastened our immediate departure to the rear.
A morning air strike on enemy positions directly ahead of us was observed and cheered by all hands as the Air Force A-20's pounded enemy positions ahead of us. The sound of Japanese machine gun fire could be heard with each aircraft pass and its effect observed when one of the planes was hit in an engine and turned in a glide back over our positions with one engine flaming. As he crossed over our perimeter, an explosion sent a burning object from the plane and into our position. It was a tire that the flames had caused to explode and fall from the plane. We dove for cover as the tire hit near our positions. Our shouts for the crew to "jump" were answered as one chute could be seen as one of the crewmembers bailed out and we could see his chute open as the plane glided out of our sight. We later heard that the pilot and gunner rode the plane to the ground and jumped from the burning plane as it skidded through the brush and just before it exploded on the ground. We heard that the jumper we had observed bail out was an Associated Press correspondent who had went along for the ride.
My platoons assault on the ridge to the left front of our position resulted in no casualties to our platoon, but an education in the sound of Japanese knee mortars being fired at you and the actual sight of incoming mortar rounds. The company lost several men in this assault and I found out just how powerful the explosion of a mortar round could be. I dove into a shell hole at the sound of a round being fired and the sight of it coming in my direction. I was untouched as the round exploded beside my hole, but deafened by the explosion for a time.
The night of April 20th and morning of the 21st were ones I shall never forget. We had dug in on top of the ridge and it was the longest night I have ever endured. Japanese shouting in perfect English "Americans, you will all be dead by morning", and " We will kill you all". It made you wonder if perhaps they knew something we didn't. We threw grenades at the sound of Japanese creeping into our positions, exchanged fire with them, and it was here I remember asking the Lord to help me through the night. It was on this ridge at about 4:00 AM that several enemy came charging into our positions with a machine gun and sprayed fire into one of our positions, killing two of our people. The position they hit had originally been one of their gun positions, so they knew exactly where it was located. Fortunately, I was in a foxhole that I had dug myself.
Shortly after noon the company moved through "F" Company to take a ridge some 500 yards to our front. The third (my) platoon was following the first and second in the advance. After mortars and small armís fire hit the first, we moved through them to take over the advance. I noticed several of them alongside the trail, wounded and bleeding and being cared for by medics. I noted one was a friend I had come overseas with (Raines)- fortunately, he was only slightly wounded. We continued to the ridge position, the enemy retreating under heavy fire. As the ridge was being secured, my friend and fellow BAR team member (Hearne*) was killed at my side by a sniper. A few moments later, as PFC Sierra and I checked out a road to our front concerning a wrecked field gun that had been left immediately in front of our position. As we peeked over the hill at the gun, a sniper put a round directly between us, spraying us with gravel. By now I was certain that I was no longer invincible, but a very mortal and very scared individual, who had matured from a teenager in a very short time. When replacements arrived that afternoon to fill our depleted ranks and replace those soldiers we had lost, I felt as I had been there forever.
* HEARNE, Elwood H., Pfc; SN 32762155, "D" Co., 503d PRCT. Enlisted NJ. 2 May 1945.
Heavy rain as usual. Everything soaked. At about mid-morning a report that one of our patrols had been hit and two men killed. One body was not recovered. My platoon was called out to assist in the recovery. As we moved up the trail, a "short" round of our own mortar fire burst in the trees just ahead of us. The rain had soaked the powder charges and made mortars useless. As we continued on up the trail we met up with a machine gun section on the trail. It was one of their men that we had been sent out to recover. It was decided that under covering fire from the machine gun section and our squad that Dablock and I would race out to recover the body of Sgt. Wister. As the machine gun section and 1st squad poured covering fire into the area, we raced out to recover the body. Encumbered with my Thompson sub-machine gun, I was having trouble picking up and carrying the body by its feet - which had been stripped of its boots by the enemy. I took Dablocks sub-machine gun and he threw the body over his shoulder and ran back to cover while I sprayed fire from both guns into the area to our front to cover our retreat with the body. As I turned to race back to cover, my helmet was knocked from my head - perhaps by a tree limb; or perhaps somewhere on Negros Island, along a trail called Tokaido road, there is a rusting helmet, possibly with a bullet hole in it. Needless to say, I did not go back to retrieve it and find out.