(enlargement - courtesy Chad Hill)

A view of the 4th Marines beach defenses, at this point consisting of sandbagged bunkers and trenches. Note that the Japanese bombardment has taken every leaf from nearby trees.

Company O, behind Company P, had almost reached the fork in the road when they began to take Japanese rifle and machine gun fire. Sergeant Carl M. Holloway remembered, "we had been so accustomed to . . . heavy artillery fire and bombs for so many months, that the bullets kicking up dust around our feet seemed at times almost like rain drops hitting the dust." Flares then lit up the night sky followed by a thunderous Japanese barrage. The lead platoon was able to take cover in nearby bomb craters but still lost eight men in the first few minutes of the shelling. The rest of the company was caught in the open and cut to pieces. The 3d Platoon was left with only six Marines unhurt while 2d Platoon had only five.

As soon as the barrage lifted, Quartermaster Clerk Frank W. Ferguson advanced his 1st platoon as ordered but came under heavy machine gun fire from Battery Denver hill. Ferguson deployed his platoon to the left of the road and tried to tie in with Company P. He believed that the two platoons behind him would soon be up to anchor his right to the beach and to support his advance. A few isolated Marines did reach him, but only a handful. Ferguson then led his men up the hill into the face of concentrated machine gun fire. The commitment of the regimental reserve was now whittled down to two isolated platoons, each advancing unsupported.

At 0300 Ferguson's platoon came to a halt on the hillside. The steep slopes were covered by interlocking machine gun fire and despite three attempts, only a few yards were gained. The 1st Platoon halted only 30 yards from the Japanese positions and dug in. The battle now raged around the two concrete water tanks on top of the ridge, just ahead of the Denver Battery position. Ferguson's immediate concern was for his flanks and he moved a Lewis gun and an automatic rifle to cover the road to his right. His left still had no connection with Company P, but Quartermaster Sergeant John E. Haskin brought up his five men of 3d Platoon and Ferguson sent them to the left to extend that flank. Captain Chambers ordered the five survivors of the 2d Platoon to Ferguson who also sent them to his left. Soon word reached Chambers that Company P had been joined.

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) OOR-11004