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From Makin to Bougainville:
Marine Raiders in the Pacific War
by Major Jon I Hoffman, USMCR

n February 1942, Lieu- ducted numerous forays against the
tenant General Thomas Two completely independent European coastline, and Prime
Holcomb, the Com- forces were responsible for the ap- Minister Winston S. Churchill en-
mandant of the Marine pearance of the raiders in early 1942. thusiastically endorsed the concept to
Corps, ordered the cre- Several historians have fully traced President Roosevelt. The Marine
ation of a new unit designated the 1st Commandant, Major General Tho-
one of these sets of circumstances,
Marine Raider Battalion. This elite which began with the friendship mas Holcomb, allegedly succumbed
force, and its three sister battalions, developed between Franklin D. to this high-level pressure and or-
went on to gain considerable fame for Roosevelt and Evans F. Carlson. As ganized the raider battalions, though
fighting prowess in World War II. a result of his experiences in China, he himself thought that any proper-
There is more to the story of these Carlson was convinced that guerrilla ly trained Marine unit could perform
units, however, than a simple tale of warfare was the wave of the future. amphibious raids.
combat heroics. The inception, One of his adherents in 1941 was That scenario is mostly accurate,
growth, and sudden end of the raid- Captain James Roosevelt, the presi- but it tells only half of the story.
ers reveals a great deal about the de- dent's son. At the same time, another Two other men also were responsi-
veloprnent and conduct of amphib- presidential confidant, William J. ble for the genesis of the raiders. One
ious operations during the war, and Donovan, was pushing a similar was General Holland M. Smith.
about the challenges the Corps faced theme. Donovan had been an Army Although the Marine Corps Schools
in expanding from 19,000 men to hero in World War I and was now had created the first manual on am-
nearly a half million. The raiders also a senior advisor on intelligence mat- phibious operations in 1935, during
attracted more than their share of ters. He wanted to create a guerrilla the early days of World War II Smith
strong leaders. The resulting combi- force that would infiltrate occupied faced the unenviable task of trying
nation of courage, doctrine, organi- territory and assist resistance groups. to convert that paper doctrine into
zation, and personalities makes this He made a formal proposal along reality. As a brigadier general he
one of the most interesting chapters these lines to President Roosevelt in commanded the 1st Marine Brigade
in Marine Corps history. December 1941. In January, the in Fleet Landing Exercise 6, which
younger Roosevelt wrote to the took place in the Caribbean in early
Major General Commandant of the 1940. There he discovered that sever-
On the Cover: The Browning air-cooled Marine Corps and recommended cre- al factors, to include the lack of
.30-caliber machine gun was the weapon ation of ifa unit for purposes similar adequate landing craft, made it im-
of choice for raider battalions because of to the British Commandos and the possible to rapidly build up combat
it5 low weight in comparison to other Chinese Guerrillas:' power on a hostile shore. The initial
available machine guns. The raider bat-
talions were not armed with heavy assault elements would thus be vul-
These ideas were appealing at the
weapons. Department of Defense Pho- nerable to counterattack and defeat
time because the war was going bad-
to (USMC) 56108 while most of the amphibious force
ly for the Allies. The Germans had remained on board its transports.
At left: Marine riflemen take on Japanese forced the British off the continent of
snipers while others put a captured Europe, and the Japanese were As a partial response to this
37mm field gun into operation during
sweeping the United States and Bri- problem, Smith seized upon the new-
the raid on Koiari. Parachutists and raid-
ers expected to surprise the enemy, but tain from much of the Pacific The ly developed destroyer transport.
were themselves surprised instead when military forces of the Allies were too During FLEX 6, his plan called for the
they landed in the midst of a well- weak to slug it out in conventional Manley (APD 1) to land a company
defended supply dump. The enemy battles with the Axis powers, so guer- of the 5th Marines via rubber boats
pinned the Marines to the beach with rilla warfare and quick raids ap- at H-minus three hours (prior to
heavy fire, until evening. Department of peared to be viable alternatives. The dawn) at a point away from the
Defense Photo (USMC) 69783 British commandos had already con- primary assault beach. This force
:1
Major General Merritt A. Edson, USMC
erritt A. Edson's military name "Red Mike" (in honor of the color-
career began in the fall of ful beard he sported in the field).
1915 when he enlisted in the Edson spent the first half of the 1930s
1st Vermont Infantry (a National Guard as a tactics instructor at the Basic School
outfit). In the summer of 1916 he served for new lieutenants, and then as ord-
in the Mexican border campaign. When nance officer at the Philadelphia Depot
the United States entered World War I of Supplies. During the summers he con-
in April 1917, he earned a commission tinued to shoot; ultimately he captained
as a Marine officer, but he did not ar- the rifle team to consecutive national
rive in France until just before the Ar- championships in 1935 and 1936. In the
mistice. summer of 1937 he transferred to Shan-
He ultimately more than made up for ghai to become the operations officer for
missing out on "the war to end all wars." the 4th Marines. He arrived just in time
In 1921 he began his long career in com- for a ringside seat when the Sino-
petitive shooting as part of the 10-man Japanese War engulfed that city. That
team that won the National Rifle Team gave him ample opportunity to observe Force Pacific and closed out the war in
Trophy for the Marine Corps. He earned Japanese combat techniques at close charge of the Service Command.
his pilot's wings in 1922 and flew for five range. In June 1941, Red Mike assumed Following the war Edson headed the
years before poor depth perception command of the 1st Battalion, 5th Ma- effort to preserve the Marine Corps in
forced him back into the infantry. In rines at Quantico. the face of President Truman's drive to
1927, he received command of the Ma- After his stint with the 1st Raiders and "unify" the services. lie waged a fierce
rine detachment on board the Denver the 5th Marines on Guadalcanal, Edson campaign in the halls of Congress, in the
(CL 16). He and his men soon became remained in the Pacific. He served as media, and in public appearances across
involved in the effort to rid Nicaragua chief of staff of the 2d Marine Division the nation. Finally, he resigned his com-
of Augusto Sandino. Edson spent 14 at Tarawa, and as assistant division com- mission in order to testify publicly be-
months ashore, most of it deep in the in- mander on Saipan and Tinian. During fore committees of both houses of
terior of the country. In the process, he each of these campaigns he again distin- Congress. His efforts played a key role
won a reputation as an aggressive, sav- guished himself under fire. Ultimately, in preserving the Marine Corps. After
vy small-unit leader. He bested Sandi- the Marine Corps discovered that Ed- stints as the Commissioner of Public
no's forces in more than a dozen son's courage was matched by his skill Safety in Vermont, and as Executive
skirmishes, earned his first Navy Cross as a staff officer. He spent nine months Director of the National Rifle Associa-
for valor, and came away with the nick- as chief of staff for the Fleet Marine tion, Edson died in August 1955.

would advance inland, seize key ter- regiment (gliderborne troops), a light directly to his headquarters. The
rain dominating the proposed beach- tank battalion, and "at least one APD operations plan further attached the
head, and thus protect the main [highspeed destroyer transport] bat- Marine division's sole company of
landing from counterattack. A year talion:' With a relatively secure tanks and its single company of
later, during FLEX 7, Smith had three beachhead, the more ponderous parachutists to the APD battalion.
destroyer transports. He designated combat units of the assault force The general did not use this task
the three companies of the 7th Ma- would come ashore. The third eche- force to lead the assault, but instead
rines embarked on these ships as the lon would consist of the reserve force landed it on D plus 2 of the exercise,
Mobile Landing Group. During the and service units. on a beach well in the rear of the ene-
exercise these units again made night In the summer of 1941 Smith was my's lines. With all aviation assets
landings to protect the main assault, nearly in a position to put these ideas working in direct support, the mo-
or conducted diversionary attacks. into effect. He now commanded the bile force quickly moved inland, sur-
Smith eventually crystallized his Amphibious Force Atlantic Fleet prised and destroyed the enemy
new ideas about amphibious opera- (AFAF), which consisted of the 1st reserves, and took control of key
tions. He envisioned making future Marine Division and the Army's 1st lines of communication. Smith called
assaults with three distinct echelons. Infantry Division. During maneuvers it a "spearhead thrust around the
The first wave would be composed at the recently acquired Marine base hostile flank:'
of fast-moving forces that could seize at New River, North Carolina, Smith The AFAF commander had not
key terrain prior to the main assault. embarked the 1st Battalion, 5th Ma- randomly selected the 1st Battalion,
This first element would consist of a rines, in six APDs and made it an in- 5th Marines, for this role. In June
parachute regiment, an air infantry dependent command reporting 1941 he personally had picked Lieu-
2
tenant Colonel Merritt A. "Red Mike" thing of headquarters:' recommended a new table of organi-
Edson to command that battalion Edson's unit was unique in other zation that made his force much
and had designated it to serve per- ways. In a lengthy August 1941 lighter than other infantry battalions.
manently with the Navy's APD squa- report, the lieutenant colonel evalu- He wanted to trade in his 81mm mor-
dron. Smith began to refer to Edson's ated the organization and missions tars and heavy machine guns for
outfit as the "light battalion" or the of his unit. He believed that the APD lighter models. There also would be
"APD battalion:' When the 5th Ma- battalion would focus primarily fewer of these weapons, but they
rines and the other elements of the on reconnaissance, raids, and other would have larger crews to carry the
1st Marine Division moved down to special operations—in his mind it ammunition. Given the limitations of
New River that fall, the 1st Battal- was a waterborne version of the the APDs, each company would be
ion remained behind in Quantico parachutists. In a similar fashion, the smaller than its standard counter-
with Force headquarters. Reports go- battalion would rely on speed and part. There would be four rifle com-
ing to and from AFAF placed the bat- mobility, not firepower, as its tacti- panies, a weapons company, and a
talion in a category separate from the cal mainstay. Since the APDs could headquarters company with a large
rest of the division of which it was neither embark nor offload vehicles, demolitions platoon. The main as:
still technically a part. Lieutenant that meant the battalion had to be sault craft would be 10-man rubber
Colonel Gerald C. Thomas, the di- entirely foot mobile once ashore, boats.
vision operations officer, ruefully again like the parachutists. To The only thing that kept Smith
referred to the battalion as "the play- achieve rapid movement, Edson from formally removing the 1st Bat-

Brigadier General Evans E Carlson, USMC
vans K Carlson got an early orgia. In the latter job Carlson came to
start in his career as a maverick. know Franklin D. Roosevelt.
He ran away from his home in Captain Carlson arrived in Shanghai
Vermont at the age of 14 and two years for his third China tour in July 1937.
later bluffed his way past the recruiters Again like Edson, he watched the
to enlist in the Army. When war broke Japanese seize control of the city.
out in 1917, he already had five years Detailed to duty as an observer, Carlson
of service under his belt. Like Merritt A. sought and received permission to ac-
Edson, he soon won a commission, but company the Chinese Communist
arrived at the front too late to see com- Party's 8th Route Army, which was fight-
bat. After the war he tried to make it as ing against the Japanese. For the next
a salesman, but gave that up in 1922 and year he divided his time between the
enlisted in the Marine Corps. In a few front lines and the temporary Chinese
months he earned a commission again. capital of Hangkow. During that time he
Other than a failed attempt at flight developed his ideas on guerrilla warfare
school, his first several years as a Ma- and ethical indoctrination. When a ly brought him onto active duty. Ten
rine lieutenant were unremarkable. senior naval officer censured him for months later he created the 2d Raider
In 1927 Carlson deployed to Shanghai granting newspaper interviews, Carlson Battalion.
with the 4th Marines. There he became returned to the States and resigned so After his departure from the raiders in
regimental intelligence officer and deve- that he could speak out about the situa- 1943, Carlson served as operations
loped a deep interest in China that tion in China. He believed passionately officer of the 4th Marine Division. He
would shape the remainder of his days. that the United States should do more made the Tarawa landing as an observ-
Three years later, commanding an out- to help the Chinese in their war with er and participated with his division in
post of the Guardia Nacional in Japan. the assaults on Kwajalein and Saipan. In
Nicaragua, he had his first brush with During the next two years Carlson the latter battle he received severe
guerrilla warfare. That became the se- spoke and wrote on the subject, to in- wounds in the arm and leg while trying
cond guiding star of his career. In his clude two books (The Chinese Army to pull his wounded radio operator out
only battle, he successfully engaged and and Twin Stars of China), and made of the line of fire of an enemy machine
dispersed an enemy unit in a daring another trip to China. With war loom- gun. After the war Carlson retired from
night attack. There followed a tour with ing for the United States, he sought to the Marine Corps and made a brief run
the Legation Guard in Peking, and a stint rejoin the Corps in April 1941. The in the 1946 California Senate race before
as executive officer of the presidential Commandant granted his request, made a heart attack forced him out of the cam-
guard detachment at Warm Springs, Ge- him a major in the reserves, and prompt- paign. He died in May 1947.

3
Destroyer Transports

T
he origins of the destroyer transports are relatively
obscure. The first mention of them came in the 1st
Marine Brigades after action report on Fleet Land- ii
ing Exercise 3 (FLEX 3). Brigadier General James J. Meade
suggested in that February 1937 document that destroyers
might solve the dual problem of a shortage of amphibious
transports and fire support. With such ships "troops could
move quickly close into shore and disembark under pro-
tection of the ships' guns" The Navy apparently agreed and
decided to experiment with one of its flush-deck, four-stack
destroyers. It had built a large number of these during
World War I and most were now in mothballs.
In November 1938 the Navy reclassified Manley (DD 74)
as a miscellaneous auxiliary (AG 28). After a few weeks
of hasty work in the New York Navy Yard, the ship served
as a transport for Marine units in the Caribbean. In the space — no ventilation, no bunks, and just four washbasins
fall of 1939 Manley went back into the yards for a more for 130 men. It took a high-level investigation, launched
extensive conversion. Workers removed all torpedo tubes, by one Marine's letter to his congressman, to get the billet-
one gun, two boilers, and their stacks. That created a hold ing spaces upgraded.
amidships for cargo and troops. The Chief of Naval Oper- These original six APDs would be the only ones availa-
ations made it a rush job so the ship would be available ble until the Navy rushed to complete more in the after-
for FLEX 6 in early 1940. Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th math of Pearl Harbor. As the two raider battalions moved
Marines, was the first unit to use the revamped Manley. out into the Pacific so did the APDs. All six ships saw serv-
It used rubber boats to execute its 23 February 1940 assault ice in the Solomons campaign, but only Manley and String-
landing against Culebra in the Caribbean. ham (APD 6) survived. Japanese bombers sank Coihoun
Satisfied by the utility of the destroyer transport, the (APD 2) on 30 August 1942, just after it had transferred
Navy redesignated Manley yet again, this time as the lead a company of the 1st Raiders from Tulagi to Guadalcanal.
ship of a new class, APD-1. The APD designation denot- Enemy destroyers sank Gregory (APD 3) and Little (APD
ed a highspeed transport. By the end of 1940 the Navy 4) in the early morning hours of 5 September 1942 after
yards had reactivated five of Manley's sister ships and con- the two transports had participated with the 1st Raiders
verted them in the same fashion. In its haste, the Navy had in a reconnaissance of Savo Island. A torpedo bomber end-
left out any semblance of amenities for embarked Marines. ed the existence of McKean (APD 5) on 17 November 1943
When Lieutenant Colonel Edson took his battalion on as she ferried troops to Bougainville. Before the war was
board the APD squadron in the summer of 1941, each over, the Navy would convert another 133 destroyers and
troop compartment was nothing more than an empty destroyer escorts to the transport role.

talion, 5th Marines, from the 1st Ma- General Holcomb sought the reaction Smith's new force as a convenient
rine Division was the lack of troops of his senior generals to the Presi- means to channel outside interference
to make the regiment whole again. dent's plan to place Donovan in toward a useful end. His plan did not
As it was, many units of the division charge of a Marine Corps version of entirely work.
still existed only on paper in the fall the commandos. In his 20 January re- On 23 January the Navy leader-
of 1941. At the very beginning of ply to the younger Roosevelt, the ship, undoubtedly in response to
1942, with the United States iow at Major General Commandant point- political pressure, directed the Pacific
war and recruits pouring into the ed out that "the APD Battalion Fleet to put together a commando-
Corps, Smith wrote the Major is organized, equipped, and trained type unit. The 2d Separate Battalion
General Commandant and asked him for this duty, including in particular officially came to life on 4 February.
to redesignate the battalion. On 7 the use of rubber boats in night land- To ensure that this new organization
January Edson received word that he ings." He expressed the hope that the developed along proper lines,
now headed the 1st Separate. Bat- Navy would make destroyer trans- the Commandant ordered Edson to
talion. ports available on the West Coast in transfer a one-third slice of his unit
A week later James Roosevelt the near future to support organiza- to California as a cadre for the 2d
wrote his letter to the Commandant tioñ of a second APD battalion there. Separate Battalion, which initially
about raid forces. On 14 January Holcomb obviously intended to use existed only on paper. Headquarters

4
also adopted Red Mike's recommend- ture of Chinese culture, Communist dox and unexpected methods:' He
ed tables of organization and pro- egalitarianism, and New England and Roosevelt were developing the
mulgated them to both battalions. town hall democracy. Every man guerrilla unit they had envisioned.
The only change was the addition of would have the right to say what he Edson's battalion retained the ta-
an 81mm mortar platoon (though thought, and their battle cry would ble of organization he had designed.
there was no room on the ships of be "Gung Ho!"— Chinese for "work It was based on an eight-man squad,
the APD squadron to accommodate together:' Officers would have no with a leader, two BAR men, four
the increase). Holcomb even offered greater privileges than the men, and riflemen armed with the M-1903
to transfer Edson to the 2d Separate, would lead by consensus rather than Springfield bolt-operated rifle, and a
butin the end the Commandant al- rank. There also would be "ethical in- sniper carrying a Springfield mount-
lowed the commanding general of the doctrination," which Carlson ing a telescopic sight. (Later in the
2d Marine Division, Major General described as "giv[ing] conviction war he would champion the four-
Charles R B. Price, to place Major through persuasion:' That process man fire team that became the stan-
Carlson in charge. James Roosevelt supposedly ensured that each man dard for all Marine infantry.) With
became the executive officer of the knew what he was fighting for and smaller squads, his companies con-
unit. In mid-February at Price's sug- why. tained three rifle platoons and a
gestion, the Major General Comman- The 2d Raiders set up their pup weapons platoon. His weapons com-
dant redesignated his new organ- tents at Jacques Farm in the hills of pany provided additional light
izations as Marine Raider Battalions. Camp Elliot, where they remained machine guns and 60mm mortars.
Edson's group became the 1st Raid- largely segregated from civilization. (The 81mm mortar platoon, added
ers on 16 February; Carlson's outfit Carlson rarely granted liberty, and to the headquarters company by the
was redesignated to the 2d Raiders sometimes held musters in the mid- Commandant, would not deploy
three days later. dle of the night to catch anyone who overseas with the battalion.)
slipped away for an evening on the Training was similar to that in the
The raider battalions soon received town. He even tried to convince men 2d Raiders, except for more rubber
first priority in the Marine Corps on to forego leave for family emergen- boat work due to the convenient lo-
men and equipment. Edson and Carl- cies, though he did not altogether cation of Quantico on the Potomac
son combed the ranks of their respec- prohibit it. River. The 1st Raiders also strove to
tive divisions and also siphoned off reach a pace of seven miles per hour
Training focused heavily on on hikes, more than twice the nor-
many of the best men pouring forth weapons practice, hand-to-hand mal speed of infantry. They did so
from the recruit depots. They had no fighting, demolitions, and physical
difficulty attracting volunteers with by alternating periods of double-
conditioning, to include an empha- timing with fast walking. Although
the promise that they would be the sis on long hikes. As the men grew
first to fight the Japanese. Carlson's Red Mike emphasized light infantry
tougher and acquired field skills, the
exactions were much greater than tactics, his men were not guerrillas.
focus shifted to more night work. Instead, they formed a highly trained
those required to fill out Edson's bat- Carlson also implemented an impor-
talion, but both generated resentment battalion prepared for special oper-
tant change to the raider organization ations as well as more conventional
from fellow officers struggling to promulgated from Washington. In-
flesh out the rapidly expanding di- stead of a unitary eight-man squad, employment.
visions on a meager skeleton of ex- he created a 10-man unit composed Edson's style of leadership con-
perienced men. The raiders also had of a squad leader and three fire teams trasted starkly with that of his coun-
carte blanche to obtain any equip- of three men each. Each fire team terpart. He encouraged initiative in
ment they deemed necessary, boasted a Thompson submachine his subordinates, but rank carried
whether or not it was standard issue gun, a Browning automatic rifle both responsibility and authority for
anywhere else in the Corps. (BAR), and one of the new Garand decision-making. He was a quiet
Carlson and Roosevelt soon broke M-1 semiautomatic rifles. To keep man who impressed his troops with
the shackles that Holcomb had at: manpower within the constraints of his ability on the march and on the
tempted to impose on them. They re- the carrying capacity of an APD, firing ranges, not with speeches. His
jected most of the men whom Edson each rifle company had just two ri- raiders received regular liberty, and
sent them, and they adjusted the or- fle platoons and a weapons platoon. he even organized battalion dances
ganization of their battalion to suit Carlson's system of organization and attended by busloads of secretaries
their purposes. They also inculcated training was designed to create a from nearby Washington.
the unit with an unconventional mili- force suited "for infiltration and the The two raider battalions bore the
tary philosophy that was an admix- attainment of objectives by unortho- same name, but they could hardly

5
._) Ceder of Japanese Resistonce

—-
'' Palm Tree, cod Scrub Brush

1Q00 0 000 2000 3000 4000 5000

SCALE IN FEET

Sgt Clyde Thomason was posthumous- against Japanese machine guns and land for an hour, again with most of
ly decorated with the Medal of Honor snipers. Then the enemy launched the ordnance hitting enemy-occupied
for his leadership in turning back a two banzai attacks, each announced territory. Another air attack came
Japanese counterattack during the with a bugle call. Marine fire easily late in the afternoon.
Makin raid. He was the first enlisted Ma- dispatched both groups of charging The natives on the island willing-
rine so decorated in World War II. enemy soldiers. Unbeknownst to the ly assisted the Americans throughout
Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 310616
Americans, they had nearly wiped the day. They carried ammunition
out the Japanese garrison at that and provided intelligence. The latter
point in the battle. reports suggested that enemy rein-
At 1130 two enemy aircraft ap- forcements had come ashore from the
peared over the island and scouted seaplanes and from two small ships
the scene of action. Carlson had in the lagoon. (The submarines later
trained his men to remain motionless took the boats under indirect fire
and not fire at planes. WiIh no with their deck guns and miraculous-
troops in sight and no contact from ly sunk both.) Based on this infor-
their own ground force, the planes mation, Carlson was certain there
finally dropped their bombs, though was still a sizable Japanese force on
none landed within Marine lines. the island. At 1700 he called several
Two hours later 12 planes arrived on individuals together and contemplat-
the scene, several of them seaplanes. ed his options. Roosevelt and the bat-
Two of the larger flying boats land- talion operations officer argued for
ed in the lagoon. Raider machine a withdrawal as planned in prepara-
guns and Boys antitank rifles fired at tion for the next day's landing on Lit-
them. One burst into flame and the tle Makin. Concerned that he might
become too heavily engaged if he
other crashed on takeoff after receiv-
ing numerous hits. The remaining tried to advance, Carlson decided to
aircraft bombed and strafed the is- follow their recommendation.
7
mainder of the landing force was performance. No one questioned his cant threat to the maritime lifeline to
back on board the Nautilus and Ar- demonstrated bravery under fire, but Australia. After the Midway victo-
gonaut. Since the entire withdrawal some junior officers were critical of ry opened the door for a more offen-
had been so disorganized, the two his leadership, especially the attempt sive Allied posture, the Japanese
companies were intermingled on the to surrender to a non-existent enemy. advance positions in the Solomons
submarines and it was not until they Carlson himself later noted that he became a priority objective. In late
returned to Pearl Harbor that they had reached "a spiritual low" on the June the Joint Chiefs of Staff shifted
could make an accurate accounting night of the 17th. And again on the that region from MacArthur's com-
of their losses. The official tally was evening of the lath, the battalion mand to Nimitz's Pacific Ocean
18 dead and 12 missing. commander contemplated remaining Areas command, and ordered the sei-
Only after the war would the Ma- on the island to organize the natives zure of Tulagi. The Americans soon
rine Corps discover that nine of the for resistance, while others super- discovered that the Japanese were
missing raiders had been left alive on vised the withdrawal of his unit. building an airfield on nearby
the island. These men had become Those who criticized him thought he Guadalcanal, and that became the
separated from the main body at one had lost his aggressiveness and abil- primary target for Operation Wat-
point or another during the opera- ity to think clearly when the chips chtower. The 1st Marine Division,
tion. With the assistance of the na- were down. But he and his raiders with the 1st Raider Battalion at-
tives the group evaded capture for a would have another crack at the ene- tached, received the assignment.
time, but finally surrendered on 30 my in the not too distant future. In answer to Edson's repeated re-
August. A few weeks later the quests, the rear echelon of his bat-
Japanese beheaded them on the is- talion (less the 81mm mortar
land of Kwajalein. The Makin operation had not been platoon) finally joined up with him
The raid itself had mixed results. Nimitz's first choice for an amphibi- on 3 July in Samoa. The entire unit
Reports painted it as a great victory ous raid. In late May he had pro- then moved on to New Caledonia.
and it boosted morale on the home posed an attack by the 1st Raiders The 1st Raiders received definitive
front. Many believed it achieved its against the Japanese seaplane base on word on Watchtower on 20 July.
original goal of diverting forces from Tulagi, in the lower Solomon Islands. They would seize Tulagi, with the 2d
Guadalcanal, but the Japanese had The target was in the Southwest Pa- Battalion, 5th Marines, in support.
immediately guessed the size and cific Area, however, and General The 1st Parachute Battalion would
purpose of the operation and had not Douglas MacArthur opposed the take the conjoined islets of Gavutu-
let it alter their plans for the Solo- plan. But Tulagi remained a signifi- Tanambogo. The 1st Marine Divi-
mons. However, it did cause the ene-
my to worry about the potential for
other such raids on rear area instal-
lations. On the negative side, that
threat may have played a part in the - -

subsequent Japanese decision to for- c"uu':'S..v ?a -

tify heavily places like Tarawa Atoll, 'lO!j,1,, %,4,
the scene of a costly amphibious as- ""ni,siuj,, '¼,,
'4S% "",
'04,,
C' ''0, S -q4 -

sault later in the war. At the tactical
level, the 2d Raiders had proven
themselves in direct combat with the 4sS
S fl "%.
enemy. Their greatest difficulties had Blue S*F, %4 S Phase theA
Beach
"* -
"*,,,,s ..

'
involved rough seas and poor equip-
ment; bravery could not fix those N
5, 01,,0pfl 0ç9
limitations. Despite the trumpeted p1¼4
success of the operation, the Navy A
never again attempted to use subma- S1tOiflijH %
't,0J
, 0'
I ,
'ffjjflfl,,
S
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rines to conduct raids behind enemy TULAGI
lines. 7 -8 Aug 1942
Carlson received the Navy Cross O 1/4 1(2
for his efforts on Makin, and the C
public accorded him hero status. A Miles
few of those who served with him
were not equally pleased with his
9
sion, less one regiment in reserve, ly followed them. The four rifle portions of Hill 281. The remaining
would capture the incomplete airfield companies spread out across the enemy were now isolated in a ravine
on Guadalcanal. waist of the island and then advanced in the midst of the small ridge. Af-
Edson offered to make amphibious in line to the southeast. They met ter a lengthy barrage by the 60mm
reconnaissance patrols of the objec- only occasional sniper fire until they mortars of Company E and their
tives, but the naval commander re- reached Phase Line A at the end of heavier 81mm cousins of the rifle
jected that idea. Most of the the ridge, where they halted as battalion, infantrymen from both
information on Tulagi would come planned while naval guns fir?d an ad- outfits moved through the final ene-
from three Australians, all former ditional preparation on the enemy my pocket. Grenades and dynamite
colonial officials familiar with the defenses. were the weapons of choice against
area. Tulagi was 4,000 yards long and The attack jumped off again just the Japanese still holed up in their
no more than 1,000 yards wide, and before noon, and promptly ran into caves and dugouts. At 1500 Edson
a high ridge ran along its length, ex- heavy Japanese resistance. For the re- declared the island secured. That did
cept for a low, open saddle near the mainder of the day the raiders fought not mean the fighting was entirely
southeast end. The only suitable to gain control of the saddle from the over. For the next few days Marines
landing beaches from a hydrographic entrenched enemy, who would not scoured the island by day, and fend-
standpoint were those on either side surrender under any circumstances. ed off occasional infiltrators at night,
of this low ground, since coral for- The Marines quickly discovered that until they had killed off the last ene-
mations fringed the rest of the island. their only recourse was to employ ex- my soldier. In the entire battle, the
Intelligence officers estimated that the plosives to destroy the men occupy- raiders suffered losses of 38 dead and
island held several hundred men of ing the caves and bunkers. As 55 wounded. There were an addi-
the Japanese Special Naval Landing evening approached, the battalion tional 33 casualties among other Ma-
Force; these were elite troops of settled into defensive lines that cir- rine units on the island. All but three
proven fighting ability. Aerial recon- cled the small ridge (Hill 281) on the of the 350 Japanese defenders had
naissance indicated they were dug in tip of the island. The 2d Battalion, died.
to defend the obvious landing sites. 5th Marines, had already scoured the On the night of 8 August a
Planners thus chose to make the as- remainder of the island and now Japanese surface force arrived from
sault halfway up the western coast at took up positions in the rear of the Rabaul and surprised the Allied
a place designated as Beach Blue. raiders.
naval forces guarding the transports.
They wisely decided to make the first The Japanese launched their clas-In a brief engagement the enemy
American amphibious assault of the sic banzai counterattack at 2200 that
sank four cruisers and a destroyer,
war against natural obstacles, not night. The initial effort punched a damaged other ships, and killed
enemy gunfire. small hole in the raider lines between 1,200 sailors, all at minimal cost to
Companies A and C. A second as- themselves. The American naval
The raiders sailed from New sault, which might have exploited
Caledonia on 23 July and joined up commander had little choice the next
this gap, instead struck full against morning but to order the early with-
with the main task force for rehear- Company As front. This time the
sals on Koro Island in the Fijis. These drawal of his force. Most of the
raiders held their ground. For the re- transports would depart that after-
went poorly, since the Navy boat mainder of the night the Japanese re-
crews and most of the 1st Marine Di- noon with their cargo holds still half
lied on infiltration tactics, with full. The raiders were in a particular-
vision were too green. On the morn- individuals and small groups trying
ing of 7 August the task force hove ly bad way. They had come ashore
to make their way into the American with little food because the plan
to and commenced unloading in rear by stealth. By this means they
what would become known as Iron- called for their immediate withdrawal
attacked both the 2d Battalion's com- after seizing the island. Moreover,
bottom Sound. Although Edson's mand post (CP) and the aid station
men had trained hard on their rub- set up near Blue Beach. They also since they had not cleared the ene-
ber boats, they would make this came within 50 yards of the raider my from the only usable beaches un-
landing from Higgins boats. After a til D plus 1, there had been little time
CP. Edson tried to call for reinforce- to unload anything. The result would
preliminary bombardment by a ments, but communications were
cruiser and destroyer, the first wave, be short rations for some time to
out.
composed of Companies B and D, Inthe morning things looked come.
headed for shore. Coral forced them much better, just as they had on The 1st Raiders performed well in
to debark and wade the last 100 Makin. At 0900 two companies of their initial exposure to combat. Like
yards, but there was no enemy op- the 5th Marines passed through raid- their compatriots in the 2d Raiders,
position. Companies A and C quick- er lines and swept over the southern they were both brave and daring.
10
r

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 50969
This enemy Model 92 7.7mm Lewis machine gun was sited to of Tulagi. The 1st Raider Battalion made a safe landing by
cover the obvious landing beaches on the southeastern shore assaulting unfavorable but undefended terrain elsewhere.
Major Kenneth D. Bailey demon- grenade into the firing port. In the portant, he aggressively employed
strated the type of leadership that process he received a gunshot wound his force in battle, while many other
was common to both units. When an in the thigh. Edson established his senior commanders had grown timid
enemy machine gun held up the ad- reputation for fearlessness by spend- after years of peacetime service.
vance of his company on D-day, he ing most of his time in the front lines, Major General Alexander A. Van-
personally circled around the bunker, where he contemptuously stood up degrift, commander of the 1st Ma-
crawled on top, and pushed a in the face of enemy fire. More im- rine Division, soon wrote Com-
Marine Gunner Angus H. Goss (shown here training other raiders in 1943) played mandant Holcomb that "Edson is one
an unexpected lead role in the seizure of Tulagi. When Japanese holed up in caves, of the finest troop leaders I ever saw:'
Goss and his demolition platoon attached TNT charges to ends of poles and
fashioned the techniques needed to root out the remaining defenders on the island.
Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 55268
As August progressed the Japanese
moved a steady stream of reinforce-
ments to Guadalcanal in nightly runs
by destroyers and barges, a process
soon dubbed the "Tokyo Express:'
The Marines repulsed the first ene-
my attack at the Tenaru River on 21
August, but Vandegrift knew that he
would need all the strength he could
:1 ':<
hi' muster to defend the extended
perimeter surrounding the airfield.
At the end of the month he brought
the raiders and parachutists across
the sound and placed them in reserve
near Lunga Point. The latter battal-
ion had suffered heavily in its assault
on Gavutu-Tanambogo, to include
the loss of its commander, so Van-
degrift attached the parachutists to
Red Mike's force.
Edson quickly established a rap-

11.
port with Lieutenant Colonel Tho- a
mas, the division operations officer,
and convinced him to use the raid- 0 G UADALCANAL
0 Sep 1942
ers offensively. The first product of
this effort was a two-company patrol 0 10
I
20
I

on 4 September to Savo Island, Savo
Miles
where intelligence believed the ene-
my had an observation post. While
Griffith commanded that operation, Sea/ark Channel
Red Mike planned a reconnaissance- ±
in-force against Cape Esperance for
the next day. When the Savo patrol A
returned in the late afternoon on Lit-
tle (APD 4) and Gregory (APD 3),
the men began debarking before they
received the order to remain on board
in preparation for the next mission.
Once he became aware of the mix- Guadalcanal
up, Edson let the offload process pro-
ceed to completion. That night
Japanese destroyers of the Tokyo Ex-
press sank the two APDs. It was the
second close escape for the raiders.
During the shift to Guadalcanal, ene-
This photo, taken on Guadalcanal in 1942, captured three men rear, played a major hand in creating the raider concept. Maj-
who figured prominently in the brief history of the raiders. Gen Alexander A. Vandegrift, left rear, relied heavily on the
LtGen Thomas Holcomb, left front, authorized the activation raiders in winning the Guadal canal campaign, then disband-
of the raiders in February 1942. Cot Merritt A. Edson, right ed them in early 1944 when he became Commandant.
Department of Defense Photo (USMC} 5132

rj Li

12
my planes had sunk the Co/houn he sent Griffith and Company A since it revealed many of the details
(APD 2) just after it had unloaded a wide to the left flank. of the coming Japanese offensive. Fi-
company. Concerned that he might be fac- nally, the setback hurt the enemy's
Marine attention soon shifted from ing the enemy main force, Red Mike morale and further boosted that of
Cape Esperance as it became evident radioed a plea for a supplemental the raiders. They had defeated the
that the primary terminus of the landing to the west of Tasimboko. Japanese yet again, and were literal-
Tokyo Express was the village of The last part of the message indicat- ly feasting on the fruits of the victory.
Tasimboko. On 6 September Edson ed there was trouble: "If not, request Edson's Ridge
and Thomas won permission from instructions regarding my embarka-
tion:' Forty-five minutes later Edson The next day Red Mike discussed
Vandegrift to raid the area on the the situation with division planners.
eighth. After the loss of three of their again asked for fresh troops and for
more air support. Division respond- Intelligence officers translating the
APDs, shipping was at a premium, captured documents confirmed that
so the raiders boarded the McKean ed the same way each time — the raid-
ers were to break off the action and 3,000 Japanese were cutting their way
(APD 5), Manley (APD 1), and two through the jungle southwest of
converted tuna boats for the opera- withdraw. Red Mike ignored that
order and continued the attack. Not Tasimboko. Edson was convinced
tion. The raider rifle companies that they planned to attack the cur-
would comprise the first echelon; the long afterwards, enemy resistance
melted away, and both wings of the rently unguarded southern portion of
ships then would shuttle back to the the perimeter. From an aerial photo-
Lunga for the weapons company and raider force entered the village
around noon. The area was stock- graph he picked out a grass-covered
the parachutists. Native scouts ridge that pointed like a knife at the
reported there were several thousand piled with large quantities of food,
ammunition, and weapons ranging airfield. His hunch was based on his
Japanese in the area, but division own experience in jungle fighting and
planners discounted that figure. up to 75mm artillery pieces. Van-
degrift radioed a "well done" and with the Japanese. He knew they
However, Edson did rely on their liked to attack at night, and that was
reports that the enemy defenses faced repeated his order to withdraw yet
again. also the only time they could get fire
west toward Marine lines. He decid- support from the sea. And a night at-
ed to land beyond the village at Taivu The raider commander chose to tack in the jungle only had a chance
Point and then advance overland to stay put for the time being, and his if it moved along a well-defined
take the target from the rear. men set about destroying as much of avenue of approach. The ridge was
When the raiders went ashore just the cache as they could. Troops the obvious choice. Thomas agreed.
prior to dawn on 8 September, they wrecked a powerful radio station, Vandegrift did not, but they con-
quickly realized the scouting reports bayoneted cans of food, tore open vinced the general to let the raiders
had been accurate. As they moved bags of rice and urinated on the con- and parachutists shift their bivouac
along the coast toward Tasimboko, tents or spilled them on the ground, to the ridge in order to get out of the
they discovered more than a thou- tied guns to landing boats and towed pattern of bombs falling around the
sand life preservers placed in neat them into deep water, and then final- airfield.
rows, a large number of foxholes, ly put the torch to everything that The men moved to the new loca-
was left. They also gathered all avail- tion on 10 September. Contrary to
and even several unattended 37mm
antitank guns. In previous days able documents. As the sun went their hopes, it was not a rest zone.
Major General Kiyotaki Kawaguchi down, the men reembarked and Japanese planes bombed the ridge on
had landed an entire brigade at headed for the perimeter, many of the 11th and 12th. Native scouts
Tasimboko, but it was then advanc- them a little bit heavier with liberat-
brought reports of the approaching
ing inland. Only a rearguard of ed chow, cigarettes, and alcohol. enemy column, and raider patrols
about 300 men secured the village The raid was a minor tactical vic- soon made contact with the advance
and the Japanese supply dumps lo- tory in terms of actual fighting. The elements of the force. The Marines
cated there, though this force was Marines counted 27 enemy bodies worked to improve their position un-
nearly as big as the raider first eche- and estimated they had killed 50. der severe handicaps. There was very
lon. The Marines soon ran into stub- Their own losses were two dead and little barbed wire and no sandbags or
born resistance, to include 75mm six wounded. But the battle had im- engineering tools. Troops on the
artillery pieces firing pointblank portant repercussions. The raiders ridge itself could not dig far before
down the coastal road and the ord- had put a serious dent in Japanese striking coral; those on either flank
erly rows of a coconut plantation. logistics, fire support, and commu- were hampered by thick jungle that
While Edson fixed the attention of nications. The intelligence gathered would conceal the movement of the
the defenders with two companies, had more far-reaching consequences, enemy. Casualties had thinned ranks,

13
or the result of lack of familiarity reserve line around the front and
with the terrain. In any case, the sides of Hill 120. Japanese mortar
thick jungle offset the Marine advan- and machine-gun fire swept the
tage in firepower, and the Japanese ridge; the Marines responded with
found plenty of room to infiltrate be- artillery fire on suspected assembly
tween platoon strongpoints. They areas.
soon isolated the three platoons of The assault waves finally surged
Company C, each of which subse- forward at 2200. The attack, on a
quently made its way to the rear. The front all across the ridge, immediate-
Marines on the ridge remained com- ly unhinged the Marine center. As
paratively untouched. As daylight Japanese swarmed toward the left
approached the Japanese broke off flank of his Company B, Captain
the action, but retained possession of Harry L. Torgerson, the parachute
Company C's former positions. battalion executive officer, ordered it
Kawaguchi's officers began the slow to withdraw. The parachutists in
process of regrouping their units, Company C soon followed suit. Tor-
now scattered over the jungle and to- Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 310563 gerson gathered these two units in the
tally disoriented. Maj Kenneth D. Bailey was awarded the rear of Company A's position on Hill
In the morning Edson ordered a Medal of Honor for his part in the hat- 120, where he attempted to reor-
counterattack by his reserve compa- tie of Edson's Ridge, which saved Hen- ganize them. The remaining Compa-
nies. They made little headway derson Field and the entire Marine ny B raiders were now isolated in the
against the more-numerous Japanese, perimeter. Although he survived that in- center. The situation looked
tense fight, he died just two weeks later
and Red Mike recalled them. Since he desperate.
leading his men against a Japanese po-
could not restore an unbroken front, At this point, the Japanese seemed
sition along the Matanikau River.
he decided to withdraw the entire line to take a breather. Heavy fire raked
to the reserve position. This had the his attack on the open ground of the the ridge, but the enemy made no
added benefit of forcing the enemy ridge. The new assault kicked off justfresh assaults. Edson arranged for
to cross more open ground on the after darkness fell. The initial blow more artillery support, and got his
ridge before reaching Marine fight- struck Company B's right flank near own force to provide covering fire for
ing holes. In the late afternoon the the lagoon. A mad rush of scream- the withdrawal of the exposed raid-
B Companies of both raiders and ing soldiers drove the right half of the ers of Company B. For a time it
parachutists pulled back and an- raider company out of position and looked like the series of rearward
chored themselves on the ridge mid- those men fell back to link up with movements would degenerate into a
way between Hills 80 and 120. Company C on the ridge. Inexplica- rout. As a few men around Hill 120
Thomas provided an engineer com- bly, Kawaguchi did not exploit the began to filter to the rear, Red Mike
pany, which Edson inserted on the gap he had created. Possibly the took immediate steps to avert dis-
right of the ridge. Company A of the maneuver had been a diversion to aster. From his CP, now just a dozen
raiders covered the remaining dis- draw Marine reserves off the ridge yards behind the front, he made it
tance between the engineers and the and out of the way of the main known that this was to be the final
Lunga. The other two parachute effort. stand. The word went round: "No-
companies withdrew slightly and Edson had to decide quickly body moves, just die in your holes:'
bulked up the shoulder of the left whether to plug the hole with his Major Bailey ranged up and down
flank. The remains of Companies C dwindling reserve or risk having the the line raising his voice above the
and D assumed a new reserve posi- center of his line encircled by the next din and breathing fresh nerve into
tion on the west slope of the ridge, assault. The enemy soon provided those on the verge of giving up. The
just behind Hill 120. Red Mike's com- the answer. By 2100 Japanese soldi- commander of the Parachute Battal-
mand post stayed in its previous lo- ers were massing around the ion broke down; Edson relieved him
cation. southern nose of the ridge, making on the spot and placed Torgerson in
The Japanese made good use of the their presence known with the usual charge.
daylight hours and prepared for a barrage of noisy chants. They The new position was not very
fresh effort. This time Kawaguchi presumably were going to launch a strong, just a small horseshoe bent
would not make the mistake of get- frontal assault on the center of the around the hill, with men from sever-
ting bogged down in the jungle; he Marine line. Red Mike ordered Com-al units intermingled on the bare
would follow the tactics Edson had pany C of the raiders and Company slopes. Red Mike directed the ar-
originally expected and concentrate A of the parachutists to form a tillery to maintain a continuous bar-
15
fire as the troops assembled and
never presented much of a threat. A
THE RIDGE small band actually made it past the
Night of 13-14 Sep 1942 ridge and reached the vicinity of the
Div 200 300
0 100
airfield; the Marines providing secu-
Yards
rity there dealt with them.
The onset of daylight brought an
end to any organized effort, though
remnants of Japanese assault units
were scattered through the fringing
jungle to the flanks and rear of the
Marine position. Squads began the
long process of rooting out these
snipers. Edson also ordered up an air
attack to strike the enemy units cling-
ing to the southern end of the ridge.
A flight of P-400s answered the call
and strafed the exposed enemy
groups. Kawaguchi admitted failure
that afternoon and ordered his tat-
tered brigade to retreat.
The raiders and parachutists had
already turned over the ridge to other
Marines that morning. The 1st Raid-
ers had lost 135 men, the 1st
Parachute Battalion another 128. Of
those, 59 men were dead or missing-
in-action. Seven hundred Japanese
bodies littered the battlefield, and
few of Kawaguchi's 500 wounded
would survive the terrible trek back
to the coast.
The battle was much more than a
tremendous tactical victory for the
Marines. Edson and his men had
turned back one of the most serious
rage close along his front. When the flank. Edson ordered Torgerson to threats the Japanese were to mount
Japanese renewed their attack, each launch a counterattack with his two against Henderson Field. If the raid-
fresh wave of Imperial soldiers boiled reorganized parachute companies. ers and parachutists had failed, the
out of the jungle into a torrent of steel These Marines advanced, checked landing strip would have fallen into
and lead. In addition to the firepower the enemy progress, and extended the enemy hands, and the lack of air
of artillery and automatic weapons, line to prevent any recurrence. Red cover probably would have led to the
men on the lines tossed grenade af- Mike later cited this effort as "a deci- defeat of the 1st Marine Division and
ter grenade at whatever shapes or sive factor in our ultimate victory:' the loss of Guadalcanal. Such a
sounds they could discern. Supplies At 0400 Edson asked Thomas to reversal would have had a grave im-
of ammunition dwindled rapidly, commit the reserve battalion to bol- pact on the course of the war and the
and division headquarters pushed ster his depleted line. A company at future of the Corps.
forward cases of belted machine gun a time, the men of the 2d Battalion, Vandegrift wasted no time in
ammunition and grenades. 5th Marines, filed along the top of recommending Edson and Bailey for
One of the Japanese assaults, prob- the ridge and into place beside those Medals of Honor. Red Mike's citation
ably avoiding the concentrated fire who had survived the long night. By noted his "marked degree of cool
sweeping the crest, pushed along the that point the Japanese were largely leadership and personal courage:' At
jungle edge at the bottom of the slope spent. Kawaguchi sent in two more the height of the battle, with friend-
and threatened to envelop the left attacks, but they were hit by artillery ly artillery shells landing just 75
16
yards to the front, and enemy bullets vent the enemy's return. That would a narrow shelf between the water and
and mortars sweeping the knoll, Ed- keep Japanese artillery out of range a steep ridge. The Japanese had
son had never taken cover. Standing of the airfield. placed a tight stopper in this bottle
in the shallow hole that passed for On the 24th Puller's men surprised with infantry supported by machine
a CP, he had calmly issued orders a Japanese unit and routed it, but lost guns and mortars. Bailey responded
and served as an inspiration to all seven killed and 25 wounded in the in his typical fashion and tried to lead
who saw him. War correspondents process. Division sent out the 2d Bat- the assault—he soon fell mortally
visiting the scene the day after the talion, 5th Marines, as a relief force, wounded. Griffith ordered Compa-
battle dubbed it "Edson's Ridge:' since Puller had to use most of his ny C up the ridge in an effort to out-
Matanikau battalion to get the casualties safely flank the enemy. The Japanese had
this approach covered too. When the
The depleted parachutists (55 per- back into the perimeter. Puller then battalion commander appeared on
cent casualties in the campaign) left continued on with his one remaining the ridgeline to observe the action
Guadalcanal on 17 September on rifle company and the 2d Battalion. firsthand, a sniper put a bullet in his
board the convoy that brought in the The combined force reached the
Matanikau on 26 September, pro- shoulder. With no outside fire sup-
7th Marines. The 1st Raiders (33 per- port, the raiders could make no head-
cent casualties) remained, and ceeded down the east bank, then
tried to cross the sandbar at the way against the dug-in Japanese.
received precious little rest. Just six
river's mouth. A Japanese company Poor communications made things
days after the battle, Vandegrift or-
blocked the way and drove the Ma- worse. Edson misinterpreted a mes-
dered them to make a reconnaissance
south of Edson's Ridge and destroy
rines back with heavy fire. Mean- sage from the raiders and thought
any Japanese stragglers. The raiders while another enemy company they were across the river. He
moved into defensive positions on launched the 2d Battalion, 5th Ma-
passed through their old position,
now strongly defended by the 7th the eastern end of the single-log rines, in yet another assault, this time
bridge that served as the only cross- with help from additional mortars
Marines, and followed the track of
their beaten foe, a trail marked by ing upstream. The Marines remained and 37mm antitank guns, but it met
abandoned weapons and bodies. Ed-
ignorant of that move. That after- the same fate as all previous at-
noon Vandegrift ordered Edson to tempts. Upon landing in the enemy's
son made liberal use of artillery and
his crew-served weapons against the
take charge of the operation, and rear, the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines,
sent the raiders along to assist him. was surrounded by a large-force ene-
slightest sign of resistance. At a cost
of three wounded, the raiders cap- Puller and Edson jointly devised a my bivouaced in the vicinity. The
tured a single dismantled howitzer new plan that evening. In the morn- unit had brought no radios ashore
and killed 19 enemy soldiers. The ing the raiders would move upriver, and consequently could not immedi-
greatest point of danger in the oper- cross at the bridge, and then come ately inform division of its plight.
ation turned out to be the return trip. back downriver on the far bank to Eventually the Marines used air
As the battalion neared friendly take the Japanese at the river mouth panels to signal supporting aircraft.
lines, the jittery new arrivals of the in the flank. To ensure that the ene- When that word reached Puller, he
7th Marines opened fire on the raid- my force did not retreat out of the wanted the 2d Battalion to renew the
ers. Luckily no one was hit. trap, the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, assault to take pressure off his men,
That same day Vandegrift shipped but Edson refused to incur further
would pressure them with its own at-
out several excess colonels and reor- casualties in a hopeless frontal
tack across the sandbar. Finally, the
ganized the senior ranks of the divi- bulk of the 1st Battalion, 7th Ma- attack.
sion. Edson took command of the 5th rines, then in the perimeter after the Puller eventually extricated his be-
Marines and Griffith succeeded him casualty evacuation, would make an leaguered force with naval gunfire
as head of the 1st Raiders. Red Mike's amphibious landing beyond Point and messages passed by semaphore
departure did not take the raider bat- Cruz to slam shut any possible escape flags. Red Mike then ordered the
talion out of the spotlight. Lieutenant route. The ambitious plan received raiders to pull back to the river
Colonel Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller's 1st division's blessing. mouth to join 2d Battalion, 5th Ma-
Battalion, 7th Marines, departed the After a night of heavy rain, the 2d rines, after which both units with-
perimeter on 23 September with the Battalion launched its assault at the drew to the division perimeter. The
mission of clearing enemy units from river mouth, but made no progress units engaged had lost 67 dead and
the vicinity of the Matanikau River. against continuing strong opposition. 125 wounded in the course of the
Once that was accomplished, divi- The raiders, reinforced by Puller's operation. This aborted action along
sion wanted to place the raiders in a lone company, advanced upriver, but the Matanikau was the only defeat
patrol base near Kokumbona to pre- soon found themselves wedged into the Marines suffered during the
17
Guadalcanal campaign. "Jake" Irwin. The battalion was worn sisted that they would soon ship out
Raider casualties during the all-day down by two months of steady fight- like the parachutists. One raider later
action had been comparatively light ing, and by the ravages of the tropics. recalled that "a more sickly, bedrag-
— two killed and 11 wounded — but Large numbers of men were ill with gled, miserable bunch of Marines
that total included both senior malaria and other diseases. The bat- would have been hard to find:'
officers in the battalion. Command talion had seen more action than any The 1st Raiders had one more bat-
now devolved upon Captain Ira J. other on the island, and rumors per- tle to go on Guadalcanal. In early

Raider Weapons and Equipment
iven their special priority early in the war, sub-machine gun, were favored weapons, particularly in
the raider battalions had ample opportunity to the 2d Raiders, where each fire team boasted a BAR and
experiment with weapons and equipment. The a Thompson.
result was an interesting collection of items that were often Perhaps the oddest weapon carried by the raiders was
unique to the raiders. The most famous of these were the the Boys antitank rifle, a 35-pound behemoth firing a
various models of raider knives. One was a heavy Bowie- .55-caliber round. Edson adopted these Canadian weapons
type knife with a blade more than nine inches long. These to provide his men with a light but serviceable capability
were manufactured specifically for the 2d Raiders and con- against enemy armor. The rifle eventually saw use with
sequently came to be known as "Gung Ho" knives. An en- other raider battalions. The heavy round was accurate at
tirely different version, a lighter stiletto-type, was modeled more than 1,000 yards, and the 2d Raiders used a Boys on
on the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife used by the British Makin to destroy two Japanese seaplanes.
commandos. These raider stilettos were issued to all four The raiders experimented with a number of odd items
battalions for the later campaigns. of equipment, everything from collapsible bicycles to bel-
The emphasis on rapid movement on foot drove both ly bands. Carlson introduced the latter, a cloth rectangle
Carlson and Edson to emphasize the acquisition of light that could be wrapped around the midsection, where it sup-
weapons with a lot of firepower. Both men rejected the posedly prevented intestinal disorders. The 2d Raiders also
standard heavy machine guns and 81mm mortars carried employed a hunting jacket that could double as a pack—
by regular infantry and adopted lighter models. The 2d inevitably it was dubbed the "Gung Ho" jacket. Edson's men
Raider Battalion was one of the first Marine units to receive tried out portable individual field stoves, toggle ropes, and
the semiautomatic Ml Garand .30-caliber rifle as standard other innovative items. The eight-foot toggle ropes had a
issue; most units, including the 1st Raiders, started the loop at one end and a peg at the other; they were helpful
Guadalcanal campaign with the old bolt-action Springfield when it came time to scale cliffs. The raiders also pioneered
M1903. The Browning automatic rifle, the reviled Reising the use of camouflage-patterned uniforms and of burlap
sub-machine gun, and the more dependable Thompson strips to break up the distinctive outline of their helmets.
A two-man Boys antitank rifle crew mans their weapon vide flank protection against enemy infantry. The Boys
during a training exercise in 1943. Two other raiders pro- rifle fired a .55-caliber round guaranteed to penetrate armor.
Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 56107

-4

18
October intelligence indicated that Company As commander until Ed- fresh line farther back along the coast
the Japanese were building up their son had brought him over as opera- road. In the morning there was some
forces west of the Matanikau in tions officer for the 5th Marines.) more fighting with a handful of
preparation for another offensive The raiders drove in a few enemy Japanese who had sought refuge in
against the perimeter. Division head- outposts, but could make little head- Marine foxholes. Company C of the
quarters decided to strike first to se- way against the interlocking fires of raiders moved up to occupy the aban-
cure the crossings over the river. In the concealed Japanese positions. doned enemy position and killed
a plan reminiscent of the beginnings Meanwhile, heavy rains during the three more Japanese still holed-up
of the previous operation, two bat- night had continued into the day, and there. They found an elaborate com-
talions of the 5th Marines would division delayed the move across the plex of trenches and bunkers con-
move down the coast road, seize the river for 24 hours. Vandegrift also nected by tunnels to an underground
near bank of the Matanikau, and fix decided to alter his original plan to command post. The Marines count-
the attention of the Japanese forces a quick envelopment of the west ed 59 bodies stacked up against the
on the far side. Three other battal- bank and a return to the perimeter. wire or strewn about the perimeter.
ions would cross the Matanikau at Based on these changed circum- The battalion lost 12 dead and 22
the single-log bridge and attack north stances and his own observation at wounded during this stint on the
toward the sea. Once they cleared the close range of Company As predica- Matanikau.
far side of the river, a force would ment, Edson halted the attack on the The raiders suffered one additional
garrison Kokumbona and prevent strongpoint. His 3d Battalion would casualty during the operation. When
further enemy operations in the vi- continue to encircle most of the ene- Red Mike had gone over to the 5th
cinity. In addition to strengthening my position, while Company A went Marines, he had taken with him his
the assault forces, this time division into the defense on their right flank. longtime runner, Corporal Walter J.
provided ample fire support. All The latter's position was shaped like Burak. While carrying a message
units were to move into position on a horseshoe, with the left linking up along the river on the afternoon of
7 October in preparation for launch- with the 3d Battalion and facing 9 October, Japanese machine-gun fire
ing that attack the next morning. south toward the bunker complex, killed the former raider. He was the
When the 5th Marines deployed the center facing west toward the last member of the 1st Raiders to die
forward on 7 October, they ran into sandspit, and the right on the beach in action on Guadalcanal. On 13 Oc-
a Japanese company dug in on the facing north toward the sea. To fill tober a convoy delivered the Army's
near side of the river just inland from out the thin line, mortarmen and 164th Infantry to the island and em-
the sandbar. Edson's 2d Battalion company headquarters personnel oc- barked the raider battalion for trans-
managed to secure most of its as- cupied the left flank positions. The port to New Caledonia. There were
signed frontage farther upriver, but raiders expected a Japanese assault barely 200 effectives left in the
his 3d Battalion was unable to break across the river mouth to relieve the unit— just a quarter of the battalion's
the enemy resistance centered on a surrounded bridgehead, so the Ma- original strength.
well-fortified defensive position. He rines strung barbed wire at the
committed Company L to the battle friendly end of the sandbar. The re-
and then radioed division for rein- mainder of the raider battalion came Not long after the departure of the
forcements so he could reconstitute up the coast road and went into 1st Raiders, it was the turn of the 2d
a regimental reserve. Division as- reserve. Raiders to fight on Guadalcanal.
signed Company A, 1st Raiders to Just after dusk the Japanese in the Carlson's outfit had been refitting in
the task and the unit marched off strongpoint rushed from their posi- Hawaii after the Midway and Makin
down the coast road to bivouac next tions in an effort to break through battles. In early September the unit
to Red Mike's CP. to their own lines. They quickly boarded a transport for Espiritu San-
That night the Japanese on the overran the surprised left flank of to in the New Hebrides, the primary
near side of the river probed the lines Company A and hit the center of the staging area for most reinforcements
of the 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, and raider line from the rear. The enemy going to the southern Solomons.
mauled the company nearest the who survived the close-quarters There they continued training until
sandbar. Early in the morning of 8 fighting in both locations then ran Rear Admiral Richmond Kelly Turn-
October, Edson decided to commit headlong into the wire, where fire er (Commander, Amphibious Force,
the raiders of Company A to the task from the remaining Marines cut them South Pacific) decided to land a force
of reducing the Japanese pocket. He down. The lieutenant commanding at Aola Bay on the northeast coast
placed Major Lewis W. Walt in the raider company tried to recover of Guadalcanal to build another air-
charge of the effort. (Walt had been from the confusion and establish a field. He assigned Carlson and two
19
companies of raiders to secure the
beachhead for an Army battalion,
Seabees, and a Marine defense bat-
talion. The McKean and Manley
placed Companies C and E ashore on
the morning of 4 November. There
,
..i(—
Enemy forces
encountered

Roof, of atom
body
CARLSON'S PATROI
4 NOVEMBER - 4 DECEMBER 942

5000 0 5000 10000
US, perimeter

SabsidiOry potrOls (. — —

was no opposition, though it soon YARDS
I

became apparent the swampy jungle /
was no place to put an airfield.
30 NOV- Sorpnses 100 enatn.y
On 5 November Vandegrift sent a in biwOaoO, killing 75,
the final oction of Ihe p01,01.
message to Carison by airdrop. Army
and Marine elements were moving 29 ROy— Fo,nd and destroyed
large binouoc 0700
east from the perimeter to mop up a including nApplieS end anIiIIery,
large force of Japanese located near
the Metapona River. This enemy 24N0V- POtrol reaches eppm
unit, the 230th Infantry Regiment, Tenaru River ornd es-
tablishes base for tyslemnatic
had cut its way through the jungle patrolling of Ihi area.

from the west as part of a late-
October attack on Edson's Ridge by II NOV- Mom body •ngagei
Japanese bof lotion
of Asomano and awaits retwfl
the Sendal Division. For various rea- of Co F Patrol.

sons, the 230th had failed to partici-
pate in the attack, and then had 14 NOV - Co F Petrol encount-
ers and destroys IS
completed a circumnavigation of the man ouspost in defile near Gino.

Marine perimeter to reach its current
location in the east. The Tokyo Ex- I SNOV- Bose e,tabhshed
at Binu,
press had recently reinforced it with
a battalion of the 228th Infantry.
Vandegrift wanted the raiders to
j, 8NOV- Ambush by somalI en.-
my force at Reko.

march from Aola and harass the 7NOV- Patrol by-passes re-
ported enemy concen-
Japanese from the rear. Carlson set tration at Koilotumorio.

out with his force on 6 November, 4
NI
with a coastwatcher and several na- 4 ROy- 2d Raider Bn (lest

/
dets) lands of 0010
tive scouts as guides. Among the is- Boy logethar with elements of
147th 1sf and 5th Def Bn. -"ç4uib %Monley
landers was Sergeant Major Jacob Raiders move Out on combat
) 8cm,
patrol.
Vouza, already a hero in the cam- %titcteman

paign. The men initially carried four
days of canned rations.
/(
Neville

TASK
FORCE %HvSomood

The raiders moved inland before 65

heading west. The trails were narrow 3. LAOS

and overgrown, but the native scouts
proved invaluable in leading the way. their commander. (Company D was On the nights of 9 and 10 Novem-
On 8 November the point ran into only a platoon at this point, since ber about 3,000 Japanese escaped
a small Japanese ambush near Reko. Carlson had used most of its man- from the American ring encircling
The Marines killed two Japanese; one power to fill out the remaining com- them on the Metapona. They were
native suffered wounds. The next panies prior to departing Espiritu hungry and tired, and probably dis-
day the column reached Binu, a vil- Santo.) From that point on the raid- pirited now that they had orders to
lage on the Balesuna River eight ers also received periodic resupplies, retrace their steps back to the western
miles from the coast. There Carlson usually via native porters dropped on side of the perimeter. But they were
halted while his patrols made contact the coast by Higgins boats. Rations still a formidable force.
with Marine and Army units closing were generally tea, rice, raisins, and On the 11th the 2d Raiders had
in on the main Japanese force, On 10 bacon — the type of portable guerrilla four companies out on independent
November Companies B, D, and F of food Carlson thrived on — reinforced patrols while the fifth guarded the
the 2d Raiders landed at Tasimboko by an occasional D-ration chocolate base camp at Binu. Each unit had a
and moved overland to join up with bar. TBX radio. At mid-morning one out-

20
;dy

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 51728
Native scouts lead a combat/reconnaissance patrol of the 2d lasted for less than a month, during which the Marines co-
vered 150 miles and fought more than a dozen actions.
Raider Battalion across the hills of Cuadalcanal. The patrol
fit made contact with a patrol from mid-afternoon, Carlson himself led and launched Company F in a flank-
1st Battalion, 7th Marines, and Company F toward Asamama. ing attack against the main Japanese
learned of the enemy breakout. A By the time he arrived, Company force. Those raiders completed the
few minutes later Company C ran C had extricated itself under cover- maneuver by dusk, only to find the
into a large force of Japanese near ing fire from its own 60mm mortars. enemy position abandoned. The bat-
Asamama on the Metapona River. Carlson called in two dive bombers talion assembled back at Binu that
The Marines had been crossing a on the enemy, ordered Company B night. There Company D reported
wide grassy area. When the advance to break off its independent action, that it had run into yet another group
guard entered a wooded area on the Maj James Roosevelt, the president's son, served as executive officer of the 2d Raiders
opposite side it surprised the enemy during the Makin raid and commanded the 4th Raiders after that unit was activated.
in their bivouac. In the initial action, Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 56328
the advance guard inflicted signifi-
cant casualties on the Japanese, but
lost five men killed and three wound-
Ti:
ed. In short order the enemy had the
remainder of the company pinned
down in the open with rifle, machine
gun, and mortar fire.
Carlson vectored two of his patrols
in that direction to assist, and dis-
patched one platoon from the base
camp. As it crossed the Metapona to
reach the main battle, Company E
tangled with another enemy group
coming in the opposite direction. The
more numerous Japanese initially
forced the Marines to withdraw, but
Major Richard T. Washburn reor-
ganized his company and counterat-
tacked the enemy as they attempted
to cross the river. The raiders inflicted
significant casualties on their oppo-
nent, but could not push through to
link up with Charlie Company. In
21
of enemy and been pinned down for center team, from which point he whom died soon after). The raiders
most of the afternoon. The under- could quickly reinforce either of the spent a tough night on the mountain,
stength unit had lost two killed and flank detachments. since there was no water available
one wounded. On 30 November the battalion and their canteens were empty. The
On 12 November Carlson led crossed over the steep ridgeline that next day Carlson led the force down
Companies B and E back to the divided the valleys of the Tenaru and into the Marine perimeter, but not
woods at Asamama. Throughout the Lunga. Discovery of a telephone wire without one last skirmish. Seven
day enemy messengers attempted to led the raiders to a large bivouac site, Japanese ambushed the point and
enter the bivouac site under the mis- which held an unattended 75mm succeeded in killing four men before
taken notion that it still belonged to mountain gun and a 37mm antitank the raiders wiped them out.
their side; the raiders killed 25 of gun. Marines removed key parts of The long patrol of the 2d Raiders
them. In the afternoon Carison or- the weapons and scattered them was extremely successful from a tac-
dered Company C to join him there. down the hillside. Farther on the ad- tical point of view. The battalion had
The next day he observed enemy vance guard entered yet another killed 488 enemy soldiers at a cost of
units moving in the vicinity, and he bivouac site, this one occupied by 16 dead and 18 wounded. Carlson's
placed artillery and mortar fire on 100 Japanese. Both sides were equally subsequent report praised his guer-
five separate groups. After each such surprised, but Corporal John Yancey rilla tactics, which undoubtedly
mission the raiders dealt with charged into the group firing his au- played an important role in the
Japanese survivors trying to make tomatic weapon and calling for his favorable exchange ratio. Far away
their way into the woods. On 14 squad to follow. The more numerous from the Marine perimeter, the
November Carison decided to pull enemy were at a disadvantage since Japanese became careless and allowed
back to Binu. That same day a Com- their arms were stacked out of reach. themselves to be surprised on a regu-
pany F patrol wiped out a 15-man The handful of raiders routed the lar basis, a phenomenon other Ma-
enemy outpost that had been report- Japanese and killed 75. Carlson rine units had exploited earlier in the
ed by native scouts. called it "the most spectacular of any campaign. Since the 2d Raiders oper-
After a brief period to rest and of our engagements:' For this feat ated exclusively in the enemy rear,
replenish at Binu, the 2d Raiders Yancey earned the first of his two they reaped the benefit of their own
moved their base camp to Asamama Navy Crosses (the second came years stealthiness and this Japanese
on 15 November. During two days later in Korea). weakness.
of patrolling from that site, Carlson The next day, 1 December, a The stated casualty figures,
determined that the main enemy Douglas R4D Skytrain transport air- however, did not reflect the true cost
force had departed the area. At Van- dropped badly needed rations, as to the Marines. During the course of
degrift's request, the raider com- well as orders for the battalion to the operation, the 2d Raiders had
mander entered the perimeter on 17 enter the perimeter. Carlson asked evacuated 225 men to the rear due to
November. Vandegrift directed Carl- for a few more days in the field and severe illness, primarily malaria,
son to search for 'Pistol Pete;' an ene- got it. On 3 December he held a dysentery, and ringworm. Although
my artillery piece that regularly "Gung Ho" meeting to motivate his sickness was common on Guadal-
shelled the airfield. The battalion exhausted men for one more effort. canal, Carlson's men became disabled
also was to seek out trails circling the Then he divided the 2d Raiders in at an astonishing rate due to inade-
perimeter, and any Japanese units half, sending the companies with the quate rations and the rough condi-
operating to the south. The raiders most field time down to Marine lines. tions, factors that had diminished
moved forward to the Tenaru River The rest he led up to the top of significantly by that point in the cam-
over the next few days. Mount Austen, where a raider patrol paign for other American units. Since
On 25 November Company A ar- had discovered a strong but aban- only two raider companies had spent
rived from Espiritu Santo and joined doned Japanese position. The force the entire month in combat, the ef-
the battalion. For the next few days had barely reached their objective fect was actually worse than those
the 2d Raiders divided into three when they encountered an enemy numbers indicated. Companies C and
combat teams of two companies platoon approaching from a differ- F had landed at Aola Bay with 133
apiece, with each operating from its ent direction. After a two-hour fire
officers and men each. They entered
own patrol base. Each day they fight and two attempts at a double the perimeter on 4 December with a
moved farther into the interior of the envelopment, the Marines finally combined total of 57 Marines, bare-
island, in the area between the head- wiped out their opponents. The ly one-fifth their original strength.
waters of the Tenaru and Lunga result was 25 enemy dead at a cost Things would have been worse, ex-
rivers. Carlson remained with the of four wounded Marines (one of cept for the efforts of native carriers
22
The Raider Training Center
T
he Raider Training Center got its start in late 1942, combat operations. Lieutenant Colonel Samuel B. Griffith
when the Major General Commandant authorized II had been a prime proponent of the improved setup.
a slight increase in the table of organization of the The course was eight weeks long. Carison's vision of the
newly formed 4th Raider Battalion. These additional two raiders initially influenced the training program, probably
officers and 26 enlisted men became the cadre for the center, via Lieutenant Colonel James Roosevelt's part in setting up
which formally came into being at Camp Pendleton, Cali- the center. Their hands were obvious in the selection of
fornia, on 5 February 1943. The purpose of the center was classes on guerrilla warfare and "individual cookery" The
to train new men up to raider standards and thus create a latter was a fetish of Carison's — he thought regular infan-
pool of qualified replacements for the battalions overseas. try relied too heavily on bulky field kitchens. There also
Prior to this, each raider unit had solicited fresh volunteers was a week-long field problem in which the students divid-
from other organizations in rear areas and then incorpo- ed into a main body and two guerrilla bands acting as ag-
rated them directly into their ranks. Since most of these gressors. Rubber boat operations occupied a significant
young Marines had only rudimentary training in weapons block of the schedule. Otherwise, the course focused heav-
and tactics, the raiders had to expend considerable effort ily on traditional individual skills and small unit tactics:
on individual instruction. Worse still, that old system marksmanship, scouting, patrolling, physical conditioning,
provided no means to replace casualties during prolonged individual combat, and so forth.

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 55234
Shown here is one aspect of raider training, crossing a river
on a two-rope bridge, not often encountered in combat.
Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 54683
While other raiders watch, two instructors demonstrate
the dexterity required for hand-to-hand knife fighting.
Clad in camouflage utilities and fully combat equipped,
a raider vaults a barbed-wire obstacle while in training.
Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 55237

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 54686A
Negotiating an obstacle course while TNT charges explode
nearby, this raider carries a folding-stock Reising gun.
Hiking was a major training component for raiders, con-
sidering their primary mission as light infantry in combat.
Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 54678

23
to keep the raiders supplied. Guerrilla on 23 October 1942. Major Roosevelt nouncing his decision to establish
tactics inflicted heavy casualties on commanded this new unit. The 3d Marine Raider Organization Day, he
the enemy, but at an equally high and 4th Raiders both arrived in Es- reviewed the battalion's first year of
cost in friendly manpower. piritu Santo in February 1943. existence. He noted that his morale
Nevertheless, the 2d Raiders could There as yet existed no common had been "low" at times, as the
hold their heads high. Vandegrift cit- raider table of organization. Carlson officers and men struggled to learn
ed them for "the consumate skill dis- retained his six companies of two ri- and implement the philosophy of
played in the conduct of operations, fle platoons and a weapons platoon. "Gung Ho:' In his mind, the tactical
for the training, stamina and forti- Griffith adopted the fire team con- successes of the outfit were less sig-
tude displayed by all members of the cept, but added a fourth man to each nificant than the way in which he had
battalion, and for its commendable team and retained the four rifle com- molded it. "Makin brought the sto-
aggressive spirit and high morale:' panies and a weapons company es- ry of our methods of living and train-
Reshaping the Raiders tablished by Edson. Roosevelt's ing to the world. Perhaps this fact
battalion had four rifle companies was of even greater importance than
The 2d Raiders boarded a trans- plus a Demolition and Engineer the material gains of the raid:'
port on 15 December and returned Company. However, the days of Carlson's in-
to Camp Gung Ho on Espiritu San-
On the anniversary of the creation fluence on the raiders were
to. There they recuperated in pyram-
of the 2d Raiders, Carlson addressed numbered.
idal tents in a coconut grove along
the banks of a river. The camp and his men in a "Gung Ho" meeting. He On 15 March 1943 the Marine
the chow were Spartan, and the only issued a press release later to publi- Corps created the 1st Raider Regi-
relief came when a ship took the bat- cize his words. In addition to an- ment and gave it control of all four
talion to New Zealand in February Col Harry B. "I-larry the Horse" Liversedge brought the 3d Raider Battalion into
1943 for two weeks of liberty. The existence in September 1942 and then became the first commander of the 1st Ma-
1st Raiders had returned to Camp rine Raider Regiment upon its activation in March 1943, Here he cuts a cake for
Bailey in New Caledonia in October
1942. Their living conditions were
similar, except for a slightly better
__
his raiders in honor of the Marine Corps birthday on 10 November 1943.
Department of Defense Photo (USMc) 67934

hillside site looking over a river. They
spent a month in New Zealand over
the Christmas holidays.
These were no longer the only
raider battalions in the Marine
Corps. Admiral Turner had tried to
force each Marine regiment to con-
ULL
vert one battalion to a raider organi-
zation, but General Holcomb, with
an assist from Nimitz, put a stop to
that interference in the Corps' inter-
nal affairs. However, the Comman-
dant did authorize the creation of
two additional battalions of raiders.
The 3d Raiders came into being on
Samoa on 20 September 1942. Their
commander was Lieutenant Colonel
Harry B. "Harry the Horse" Liver-
sedge, a former enlisted Marine and
a shotputter in the 1920 and 1924
CT
• -¼
Olympics. The battalion drew on
volunteers from the many Marine
units in Samoa, and also received
small contingents from the 1st and 2d
Raiders.
The Corps activated the 4th Raid-
er Battalion in Southern California

24
-4—

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 60133
MajGen Alexander A. Vandegrift (with riding crop) troops LtCoI Alan Shapley, the battalion commander, is on Van-
the line of the 2d Raider Battalion in New Caledonia in 1943. degrift's left. Shapley ended Carlson's "Gung Ho" experiments.
battalions. Liversedge, now a toons. Edson's other imprint was the threaten Rabaul from two directions.
colonel, took charge of the new or- concept of a highly trained, lightly With that in mind, Admiral William
ganization. A week later, Lieutenant equipped force using conventional K Halsey's South Pacific command
Colonel Alan Shapley took over tactics to accomplish special missions prepared to drive farther up the Solo-
command of the 2d Raiders. He was or to fill in for a line battalion. The mons chain, while MacArthur con-
an orthodox line officer who had 1st Raider Regiment was no guerril- tinued his operations along the New
earned a Navy Cross on board the la outfit. Given the changing thrust Guinea coast.
Arizona (BB 39) on 7 December of the Pacific war, the choice was a Halsey's planners initially focused
1941. He thought the Makin Raid wise one. In the future the Marines on New Georgia, a large island lo-
had been a "fiasco," and he had no in- would be attacking Japanese forces cated on the southern flank of the
terest in "Gung Ho:' Shapley wasted holed up in tight perimeters or on Slot about halfway up the Solomons
no time in turning the unit into "a small islands. Guerrilla tactics chain. By December 1942, the
regular battalion:' Carlson temporar- provided no answer to the problem Japanese had managed to complete
ily became the regimental executive of overcoming these strong defensive an airstrip on New Georgia's Mun-
officer, but served there only briefly positions. da Point. Seizure of the island would
before entering the hospital weak thus remove that enemy threat and
from malaria and jaundice. Soon advance Allied aircraft one-third of
thereafter he was on his way state- As the fighting on Guadalcanal the way to Rabaul. However, the
side. A month later Lieutenant drew to a close in early 1943, Ameri- South Pacific command also was
Colonel Michael S. Currin, another can commanders intensified their worried about enemy activity in the
officer with more orthodox views, planning for the eventual seizure of Russell Islands, located 30 miles
took command of the 4th Raiders Rabaul, the primary Japanese strong- northwest of Guadalcanal's Cape Es-
from Roosevelt. hold in the Southwest Pacific. This perance. The Russells had been a
The regiment enforced a common major air and naval base on the staging point for the enemy's rein-
organization among the battalions. eastern end of New Britain was cen- forcement and subsequent evacua-
The result was a mixture of Edson trally located between New Guinea tion of Guadalcanal. Strong Japanese
and Carlson's ideas. Carlson be- and the northwestern terminus of the forces there would be a thorn in the
queathed his fire team and squad to Solomons. That allowed the Jap- side of an operation against New Ge-
the raiders (and later to the Corps as anese to shift their air and naval sup- orgia and possibly a threat to
a whole). But each battalion now port from one front to the other on Guadalcanal itself. Halsey thus
had a weapons company, and four ri- short notice. Conversely, simultane- decided to seize the Russells prior to
fle companies composed of a ous American advances through New action elsewhere in the Solomons. As
weapons platoon and three rifle pla- Guinea and the Solomcins would an additional benefit, American
25
fighter planes stationed in the Rus-
sells would be able to provide more
effective support to the eventual as-
sault on New Georgia.
The landing force for Operation
Cleanslate (the codename for the
Russells assault) consisted of the 43d
Infantry Division and the 3d Raider
Battalion. The Army division would
seize Banika Island while the Marines
took nearby Pavuvu. The APDs of
Transdiv 12 carried the raiders from
Espiritu Santo to Guadalcanal in mid-
February. Four days prior to the 21
February D-day, a lieutenant and a Department of Defense Photos (USMC) 54765
sergeant from the raiders scouted A BAR man in the bow of the rubber landing craft provides covering fire as the
both objectives — they found them 10-man boat crew reaches the undefended beach of Pavuvu in the Russell Island5.
empty of the enemy. The 3d Raiders
thus made an unopposed landing in
their first offensive action. The 159th
Infantry followed them ashore and
assisted in the occupation of the
island.
The greatest challenges the Ma-
rifles faced on Pavuvu were logisti-
cal and medical. Due to the Navy's
legitimate concern about an enemy
air and naval response, the landing
plan relied on a rapid offload and
quick withdrawal of the transports.
The Higgins boats of the APDs were Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 54468
The 3d Raider Battalion squad pulls its boat into cover on Pavuvu and heads inland.
preloaded with raider supplies, while
the men went ashore in their rubber As the raider skirmish line maneuvers cautiously through the coconut groves and
boats. A rash of outboard motor keeps an eye out for snipers in the treetops, it is also wary of enemy elsewhere.
failures played havoc with the land- Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 54473
ing formations, and Liversedge's af-
ter action report noted that this could
have resulted in "serious conse-
quences." Once ashore, the light raid-
ers suffered from their lack of organic
transport as they struggled to man-
handle supplies from the beach to in-
land dumps. During the battalion's
subsequent four-week stay on I,
Pavuvu, the diet of field chow and
r.
the tough tropic conditions combined
to debilitate the troops. Fully one-
third developed skin problems, all
men lost weight, and several dozen
eventually fell ill with malaria and
?t
other diseases. Although it was not
entirely the fault of planners, the
hard-hitting capabilities of the Ma-
rine battalion were wasted on 'tit.t c'A -. it
26
Cleanslate. Only the two-man scout-
ing team had performed a mission in RUSSE ISLANDS
accordance with the original purpose SI-tOWING LANDING PLAN AND
SCHEME OF MANEUVER
of the raiders.
In the midst of the execution of
Cleanslate Halsey continued prepa-
rations for subsequent operations in
the Central Solomons. This includ-
ed repeated use of the scouting capa-
bility demonstrated in the Russells.
At the end of February a Navy lieu-
03
tenant and six raiders landed at New
Georgia's Roviana Lagoon. With the
aid of coastwatchers and natives,
they spent the next three weeks col-
lecting information on the terrain,
hydrographic conditions, and
Japanese defenses. On 21 March
Condolidated Catalina PBYs landed
four raider patrols at New Georgia's tack overland to take Enogai Inlet from Guadalcanal to Segi. Compa-
Segi Point. From there they fanned and Bairoko Harbor. This would cut nies 0 and P loaded on board APDs
out with native guides and canoes to off the Japanese barge traffic that that day and made an unopposed
scout Kolombangara, Vangunu, and supplied reinforcements and logistics. landing the next morning. On 22
New Georgia. Other groups visited The last D-day operation would be June two Army infantry companies
these areas and Rendova over the the Southern Landing Group's seizure and the advance party of the airfield
course of the next three months. The of the northern end of Rendova and construction unit arrived to strength-
patrols provided valuable informa- its outlying islands. On D plus 4 en the position.
tion that helped shape landing plans, many of these same units from the Viru presented a tougher problem.
and the final groups emplaced small 43d Infantry Division would conduct The narrow entrance to the harbor
detachments near designated beaches a shore-to-shore assault against the was flanked by high cliffs and cov-
to act as guides for the assault forces. undefended beaches at Zanana and ered by a 3-inch coast defense gun.
During May and June the Japanese Piraka on New Georgia. Planes from Numerous enemy machine guns, in-
reinforced their garrisons in the cen- Segi Point and artillery from the Ren- cluding .50-caliber models, occupied
tral Solomons to 11,000 men, but this dova beachhead would render sup- supporting positions. Most of the
number was grossly insufficient to port as the Army regiments advanced defenses were oriented toward an at-
cover all potential landing sites on the overland to capture Munda airfield. tack from the sea, so American lead-
numerous large islands in the region. D-day was 30 June. ers quickly decided to conduct an
That gave Halsey's force great flexi- Things did not go entirely accord- overland approach. But that was not
bility. The final plan called for several ing to plan. During June the Japanese easy either, given the difficulty of the
assaults, all against lightly defended used some of their reinforcements to trails. After reconnaisance and con-
or undefended targets. On D-day the extend their coverage of New Geor- sultation with higher headquarters,
Eastern Landing Force, consisting of gia. They ordered a battalion to Viru Currin decided to take his raiders by
the 103d Infantry, an Army regi- with instructions to clean out native rubber boat to Regi, where they
ment, and the 4th Raider Battalion, forces operating in the vicinity of would begin their trek. The assault
would occupy Wickham Anchorage, Segi. The Solomon Islanders, under on Viru would be a double envelop-
Segi Point, and Viru Harbor. Naval command of Coastwatcher Donald ment. Lieutenant Devillo W. Brown's
construction units would immediate- G. Kennedy, had repeatedly attacked 3d Platoon, designated Task Force B,
enemy outposts and patrols in the
ly build a fighter strip at Segi and a would take the lightly defended vil-
base for torpedo boats at Viru. Thearea. As the Japanese battalion ad- lage of Tombe on the eastern side of
Northern Landing Group (the 1st vanced units closer to Segi Point, the harbor. The remainder of the
Raider Regiment headquarters, the Kennedy requested support. On 20 force would attack the main enemy
1st Raider Battalion, and two army June Admiral Turner ordered Lieu- defenses at Tetemara on the opposite
battalions) would simultaneously go tenant Colonel Currin and half of his shore. The simultaneous assaults
ashore at Rice Anchorage, then at- 4th Raiders to move immediately were to take place on the originally

27
The Raider Patch

T he use of Marine Corps shoulder patches in
World War II originated with the creation of the
1st Marine Division insignia following the Guadal-
canal campaign. This was not a new practice for Marines,
since members of the Fourth Marine Brigade wore the Star
and Indian Head patch of the Army 2d Infantry Division
in France during World War I.
The 1st Marine Division emblem consisted of the word
"Guadalcanal" lettered in white on a red numeral "1" placed
on a sky-blue diamond. The white stars of the Southern
Cross surrounded the number. By July 1943, the I Marine
Amphibious Corps had adopted a variation for its own
patch — a white-bordered, red diamond, encircled by the
white stars of the Southern Cross, on a five-sided blue back-
ground. Non-divisional corps units each had a specific sym-
bol inside the red diamond. The emblem of the I MAC
raider battalions was a skull. While the raider insignia may
not have been the most artistic of Marine Corps shoulder
patches in the war, it certainly was the most striking.
The skull device originated with the 2d Raider Battal-
ion, which began using it not long after that unit came into
existence. Carlson issued paper emblems, consisting of a
skull-like face superimposed on crossed scimitars, to his blem had evolved into a skull backed by a crossed "Gung
raiders prior to the Makin raid. Each piece of paper was Ho" knife and lightning bolt. It is not clear who selected
backed with glue and allegedly raiders were to use them the skull for the official raider patch, but that device read-
to mark enemy dead for psychological effect, but they stuck ily conveyed the image the raiders effectively cultivated —
together in the humid tropics and proved impractical. By that of an elite force trained to close with and destroy the
the time Carlson's battalion reached Guadalcanal, the em- enemy in commando-style operations.

commander in charge was aware of ward. Most of the defenders appar- talion column, quickly deployed two
Currin's message altering the date of ently died in the initial burst of fire. platoons on line astride the trail. The
the land attack, he chose to order his The two Marine platoons secured the raiders continued forward and des-
APDs to approach the harbor on 30 village without a single casualty and troyed Japanese outposts, but then
June. The Japanese 3-inch gun quick- counted 13 enemy bodies. Just as that ran into the enemy main body, which
ly drove them off. Unable to contact engagement came to a close, six was bolstered by several machine
Currin, higher headquarters then American aircraft appeared over the guns. Progress then was painfully
decided to land the Army force em- harbor. These were not part of the slow as intermittent heavy rains
barked in the APDs near the same original plan, but headquarters had swept the battlefield. Company 0's
spot where the raiders had begun sent them to soften up the objective reserve platoon went into line to the
their trek. The new mission was to when it realized that the raider attack left as noise indicated that the ene-
move overland and support the Ma- would be delayed. Although this un- my might be gathering there for a
rines, who were apparently ex- coordinated air support could have counterattack. As the day wore on
periencing difficulties. The Japanese resulted in disaster, it wojked out the raiders pushed the Japanese back,
commander at Viru reported that he well in practice. The planes ignored until the Marine right flank rested on
had repulsed an American landing. Tombe and concentrated their efforts high ground overlooking the harbor.
Both wings of the raider assault on Tetemara. The Japanese aban- Currin fed some of Company P's
force moved out early on the morn- doned some of their fixed defenses machine guns into the line, then put
ing of 1 July. By 0845 Walker's and moved inland, directly into the his remaining platoon (also from
detachment reached the outskirts of path of the oncoming raiders. Company P) on his right flank.
Tombe without being discovered. Currin's point made contact with Demolitions men moved forward to
The men deployed, opened fire on the enemy shortly after the bombing deal with the enemy machine guns.
the tiny village, and then rushed for- ceased. Company 0, leading the bat- In mid-afternoon a handful of
29
Japanese launched a brief banzai at- dicated that there were about 100 reached their line of departure a few
tack against the Marine left. Not Japanese occupying the island. The hundred yards north of the village.
long after this effort dissolved, Cur- plan called for the raiders to make a The plan of attack was simple. The
rin launched Lieutenant Malcolm N. predawn landing at undefended Army units passed through the raid-
McCarthy's Company P platoon Oloana Bay. The Army would follow ers on the east-west trail to assume
against the enemy's left flank, while them ashore after daylight, establish the eastern-most position. The entire
Company 0 provided a base of fire. a beachhead, and then deal with the column of files then merely faced to
McCarthy's men quickly overran the enemy, thought to be located in a vil- the right, which placed the compo-
3-inch gun and soon rolled up the lage along the coast several miles to site battalion on line and pointing
enemy line, as the remainder of the the east. toward the enemy to the south. Com-
Japanese defenders withdrew toward The night landing under condi- pany Q held the right flank on the
the northwest. The raiders had tions of low visibility and heavy seas bank of the Kaeruka River. Compa-
suffered 8 dead and 15 wounded, turned into a fiasco. The APDs be- ny N in the center and Company F
while killing 48 of the enemy and gan debarkation in the wrong spot, on the left flank would guide on the
capturing 16 machine guns and a their Higgins boats lost formation movements of Q. Company C held
handful of heavier weapons. when they attempted to pass through back and acted as the reserve. Within
The 4th Raiders consolidated its the LCIs loaded with soldiers, and the minutes of beginning the advance,
hold on Viru and conducted numer- two raider companies ended up be- the attack ran into resistance.
ous patrols over the next several ing scattered along seven miles of Japanese fire from the west bank of
days. The two Army companies coastline. When the Army units be- the river was particularly heavy and
landed near Regi finally reached gan to land after daylight, they found Company Q crossed over to deal
Tombe on 4 July. The Navy brought just 75 Marines holding the designat- with this threat. At the same time
in more Army units on 9 July and the ed beachhead. A two-man patrol Company F moved to its left to skirt
Marines boarded the LCIs for (one lieutenant each from the raid- around strong defenses. Company C
Guadalcanal. ers and the Army battalion) had been soon moved in to fill the gap. By late
The other half of the 4th Raider ashore since mid-June to reconnoiter afternoon the Americans were able
Battalion (Companies N and Q) with the aid of native scouts. They to clear the east bank of the river.
received its baptism of fire during this provided the exact location of the Lieutenant Colonel Brown ordered
same period. This unit was under Japanese garrison, and the joint force Company Q to disengage from the
command of the battalion executive soon headed to the northeast toward west bank and join in the battalion's
officer, Major James R. Clark. It was its objective. Native scouts and the perimeter defense at the mouth of the
assigned to assist the Army's 2d Bat- handful of Marines led the way, with river. The Marines had lost 10 dead
talion, 103d Infantry (Lieutenant two Army companies (F and C) in and 21 wounded, while the Army
Colonel Lester E. Brown) in seizing trace. The remaining raiders were to had suffered similarly.
Vangunu and the approaches to join up with their unit as soon as The enemy made no ground attack
Wickham Anchorage on 30 June. In- they could. All but one platoon did that night, but periodically fired
telligence from the coastwatchers in- catch up by the time the Americans mortars and machine guns at Amen-

.'
'-1

6110
JUNE 1943

SOLOMON

30
Bairo ko
Things were worse for the 3d Bat- an.1-

talion, 148th Infantry. After break-
ing off from the line of march of the
1st Raiders on 6 July, the soldiers had
moved over equally difficult terrain e
to assume their blocking position on
the Munda-Bairoko Trail on 8 July.
After initial success against surprised
Japanese patrols, the Army battalion
fought a bloody action against an
enemy force of similar strength that
pushed the American soldiers off
high ground and away from the im-
portant trail. Heavy jungle and poor
maps prevented aerial resupply of Department oi Defense Photo (USMC) 54650
their position, while illness and A raider 60mm mortar crew goes into action on New Georgia. Because the raiders
casualties sapped manpower. Liver- had no heavier weapons, their initial efforts at Bairoko were mostly unsuccessful.
sedge led a reinforcing company from Most of the Rice Anchorage garrison to its position. Marine patrols in mid-
the 3d Battalion, 145th Infantry, to had also moved up to join the main July noted that the Japanese were
the scene on 13 July. Disappointed at force. This gave Liversedge four bat- busily fortifying the landward ap-
the results of this portion of the oper- talions, but all of them were signifi- proaches to their last harbor on the
ation, and unable to reinforce or cantly understrength due to losses north coast of the island.
resupply this outpost adequately, the already suffered in the New Georgia Liversedge issued his order for the
raider colonel decided to withdraw campaign. The 4th Raider Battalion attack. It would commence the
the force to Triri. There the soldiers was short more than 200 men. The morning of 20 July with two compa-
would recuperate for the upcoming 1st Raiders reorganized into two full nies of the 1st Raider Battalion and
move on Bairoko and disrupt enemy companies (B and D), with A and C all of the 4th advancing from Enogai
movement on the Munda-Bairoko becoming skeleton units. A detach- while the 3d Battalion, 148th Infan-
Trail with occasional patrols. ment of the 3d Battalion, 145th In- try, moved out along the Triri-
Prior to dawn on 18 July four fantry remained at Rice Anchorage. Bairoko Trail. The American forces
APDs brought the 4th Raider Battal- More important, the enemy at would converge on the Japanese from
ion and fresh supplies to Enogai. Bairoko was now aware of the threat two directions. The remaining Army
battalion guarded Triri; Companies
SEIZURE Of VIRU HARBOR A and C of the raiders defended
4th MARINE RAIDER PAl IALION Enogai. These units also served as the
en Co,npaflItS N -

B JEE JULY 943 reserve. Liversedge requested an air-
At strike on Bairoko timed to coincide
AAflCJA'O tCTO
with the attack, but it never materi-
SCALE
alized.
The movement toward Bairoko
kicked off at 0800 and the 1st Raid-
er Battalion made contact with ene-
my outposts two hours later.
9— ILNI
Companies B and D deployed into
line and pushed through a series of
Japanese outguards. By noon
Griffith's men had reached the main
defenses, which consisted of four for-
tified lines on parallel coral ridges just
a few hundred yards from the har-
bor. The bunkers were mutually sup-
porting and well protected by
coconut logs and coral. Each held a

33
short supply and everyone had to
take turns carrying litters. The
column moved slowly and halted cv-
cry few hundred yards. In the after-
noon rubber boats picked up most
of the wounded and ferried them to
the rear. By that evening the entire
force was back in its enclaves at
Enogai and Triri. PBYs made another
trip to evacuate wounded, though
this time two Zero fighters damaged
one of the amphibian planes after
take-off and forced it to return to
Enogai Inlet. Total American casual-
THE ATTACK ON BAIROKO ties were 49 killed, 200 wounded, and
NORTHERN LNDNG GROUP 20 JULY two missing — the vast majority of
posI.oNs EEv osE LE them suffered by the raider bat-
ENEMY OUTPOST LINE U 'EUETEP NIGHT OF
NLG FINAL ATTACK 2O-2I JULY
talions.
LINES 20 JULY TRAILS

TQU_ 0
The failure to seize the objective
TAKES
FORM LINES AND SCALE 4UFROXIMkE
and the severe American losses were
plainly the result of poor logistics
machine gun or automatic weapon. and a lack of firepower. A Joint
the raider battalions for their input.
Here the 1st Battalion's attack ground Griffith and Currin checked their Chiefs of Staff post mortem on the
to a halt. Liversedge, accompanying lines. They were running out of water operation noted that "lightly armed
the northern prong of his offensive, and ammunition, casualties had been troops cannot be expected to attack
committed the 4th Battalion in an at- heavy, and there was no friendly fire fixed positions defended by heavy
tempt to turn the enemy flank, but support. Neither battalion had anyautomatic weapons, mortars, and
it met the same heavy resistance. The fresh reserves to commit to the fight.
heavy artillery1 Another factor of
raider companies slowly worked Moreover, a large number of men significance, however, was the ab-
their way forward, and by late after- would be needed to hand-carry the sence of surprise. The raiders had
noon they had seized the first two many wounded to the rear. The 4th taken Enogai against similar odds be-
enemy lines. However, throughout Raiders alone had 90 litter cases. cause the enemy had not expected an
this advance enemy 90mm mortar From their current positions on high attack from anywhere but the sea.
fire swept the Marine units and in- ground the Marine commanders Victory at Enogai provided ample
flicted numerous casualties. could see the harbor just a few warning to the garrison at Bairoko,
The southern prong of the attack hundred yards away, but continued and the Japanese there made them-
was faring less well. The Army bat- attacks against a well-entrenched selves ready for an overland assault.
talion made its first contact with the enemy with fire superiority seemed The raiders might still have won with
enemy just 1,000 yards from Bairoko, wasteful. Not long after 1700 Liver- a suicidal effort, but Bairoko was not
but the Japanese held a vital piece of sedge issued orders for all battalions worth it.
high ground that blocked the trail. to pull back into defensive positions
The 1st Raider Regiment and its
With the lagoon on one side and a for the night in preparation for a assorted battalions settled into defen-
deep swamp on the other, there was withdrawal to Enogai and Triri the sive positions for the rest of July. The
no room for the soldiers to maneu- next day. He requested air strikes to sole action
consisted of patrols
ver to the flanks of the enemy posi- cover the latter movement.
toward Bairoko and nuisance raids
tion. With the approval of the The move back across Dragons from Japanese aircraft. In early Au-
executive officer of the raider regi- Peninsula on 21 July went smoothly gust elements of the force took up
ment, the commander of the Army from a tactical point of view. After new blocking positions on the
battalion pulled back his lead units failing to provide air support for the Munda-Bairoko Trail. On 9 August
and used his two Simm mortars to attack, higher echelons sent 250 sor- they made contact with Army troops
soften the defenses. ties against Bairoko to cover the from the Southern Landing Group.
When news of the halt in the withdrawal. The Japanese did not (Munda Airfield had fallen four days
southern attack made it to Liversedge pursue, but even so it was tough go- earlier.) Later in the month two
at 1600, he asked the commanders of ing on the ground. Water was in Army battalions moved cautiously
34
perimeter. There were occasional en-
gagements with small enemy patrols,
- but the greatest resistance during this
period came from the terrain, which
i' consisted largely of swampland and
dense jungle once one moved beyond
the beach. The thing most Marines
would remember about Bougainville
would be the deep, sucking mud that
seemed to cover everything not al-
ready underwater. On 4 November
another unit relieved the 2d Raider
Battalion on the line, and both bat-
•-lY talions of the raider regiment were at-
,—
tached to the 9th Marines. The
raiders maintained responsibility for
Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 63165 the roadblock, and companies rotat-
Demolition men of the 3d Raider Battalion landed on Torokina Island on 3 Novem- ed out to the position every couple
ber, but found that supporting arms had already killed or driven off all Japanese. of days.
Raiders pose during a lull in the battle next to one of the Japanese dugouts they cleared on Cape Torokina on I November.
Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 68117
a

1.

•SSA1 til

37
Marine force unexpectedly came
ashore on the edge of a large Japanese
supply dump. However, the enemy
reacted quickly and pinned the Ma-
rines to the beach with heavy fire.
Landing craft attempting to extract
the force were twice driven off. It was
not until evening that artillery, air,
and naval gunfire support sufficiently
silenced opposition that the
parachutists and raiders could get
back out to sea.
Army troops continued to pour
into the enlarging perimeter. On 15
December control of the landing
force passed from the I Marine Am-
phibious Corps to the Army's XIV
Corps. The Americal Division gradu-
ally replaced the 3d Marine Division,
which had borne the brunt of the
fighting. For much of the month the
2d Raider Regiment served as corps
1 reserve, but these highly trained as-
sault troops spent most of their time
Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 70785A
Raiders move up the muddy Piva Trail to safeguard the flank of the beachhead. on working parties at the airfield or
carrying supplies to the front lines.
Two small attacks hit Company E ry Gurke of Company M covered an On 21 December the raiders, rein-
at the roadblock the night of 5 enemy grenade with his body to pro- forced by the 1st Parachute Battalion
November, and a larger one struck tect another Marine. He received a and a battalion of the 145th Infan-
Company H there two days later. posthumous Medal of Honor for his try, assumed the position formerly
Company G came forward in sup- heroic act of self-sacrifice. occupied by the 3d Marines. The
port and the enemy withdrew, but The raider regiment celebrated the regiment remained there until 11
the Japanese kept up a rain of mor- Marine Corps' birthday on 10 January, when an Army outfit
tar shells all that night. On the morn- November by moving off the front relieved it. The raiders boarded trans-
ing of 8 November Companies H and lines and into division reserve. Other ports the next day and sailed to
M occupied the post and received yet than occasional patrols and short Guadalcanal.
another assault, this one the heavi- stints on the line, the next two weeks
est yet. In midafternoon Companies were relatively quiet for the raiders.
E and F conducted a passage of lines, The Army's 37th Division began ar- While the 2d Raider Regiment had
counterattacked the enemy, and riving at this time to reinforce the been fighting on Bougainville, the
withdrew after two hours. perimeter. On 23 November the 1st raiders who had participated in the
The next morning Companies I Parachute Battalion came ashore and New Georgia campaign had been
and M held the roadblock as L and temporarily joined the raiders, now recuperating and training in the rear.
F conducted another counterattack acting as corps reserve. Two days Both the 1st and 4th Battalions en-
preceded by a half-hour artillery later the 2d Raider Battalion partici- joyed a month of leave in New
preparation. Japanese resistance was pated in an attack extending the Zealand, after which they returned
stubborn and elements of Companies perimeter several hundred yards to to their base camps in New Caledo-
I and M, and the 9th Marines even- the east, but it met little opposition. nia. Just after Christmas 1943
tually moved forward to assist. On 29 November Company M of Colonel Liversedge detached and
Shortly after noon the enemy retired the 3d Raider Battalion reinforced the passed command of the 1st Raider
from the scene. Patrols soon disco- parachutists for a predawn amphibi- Regiment to Lieutenant Colonel
vered the abandoned bivouac site of ous landing at Koiari several miles Samuel D. Puller (the younger
the Japanese 23d Infantry Regiment southeast of the perimeter. This oper- brother of "Chesty" Puller). The regi-
just a few hundred yards up the trail. ation could have been a repeat of the ment embarked on 21 January and
In the midst of this action PFC Hen- successful Tasimboko Raid, since the arrived at Guadalcanal three days

38
later. In short order the 2d Raider defense battalions, parachute battal- for the light assault units envisioned
Regiment disbanded and folded into ions, raider battalions, barrage bal- by Holland Smith at the beginning
the 1st, with Shapley taking com- loon detachments, and many others. of the war. Since then the raiders
mand of the combined unit and Since there was no prospect of in- generally had performed the same
Puller becoming the executive officer. creasing the Corps beyond 500,000 missions as any infantry battalion.
Bougainville, however, was the men, the only way to add combat di- Sometimes this meant that their
last combat action for any raider visions was to delete other organi- training and talent were wasted, as
unit. Events had conspired to sound zations. happened on Bougainville and
the death knell of the raiders. The Another factor was the changing Pavuvu. In other cases, the quick but
main factor was the unprecedented nature of the Pacific war. In the lightly armed raiders suffered be-
expansion of the Corps. In late 1943 desperate early days of 1942 there cause they lacked the firepower of a
there were four divisions, with was a potential need for commando- line outfit. The failure at Bairoko
another two on the drawing boards. type units that could strike deep in could be partially traced to that fact,
Even though there were now nearly enemy territory and keep the With many large-scale amphibious
half a million Marines, there never Japanese off balance while the Unit- assaults to come against well—
seemed to be enough men to create ed States caught its breath. However, defended islands, there was no fore-
the new battalions needed for the 5th there had been only one such oper- seeable requirement for the particu-
and 6th Divisions. In addition to the ation and it had not been a complete lar strengths of the raiders.
usual drains like training and tran- success, the development of the am- Finally, there was institutional op-
sients, the Corps had committed phibian tractor and improved fire position to the existence of an elite
large numbers to specialty units: support also had removed the need force within the already elite Corps.
Weary members of the 2d Raider Battalion catch a few mo- the hallmark that all troops experienced as soon as they ad-
ments of rest in the miserable, unrelieved wetness that was vanced inland from the beach in the Bougainville operation.
Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 70777

V

rT-

I.,

'p
1.

39
ned out by raiders could have been weapons company. Personnel in the
performed equally well by a standard Raider Training Center transferred to
organization specially trained for the newly formed 5th Marine Divi-
that specific mission:' The CNO con- sion. Leavened with new men, the
curred in the suggestion to disband 4th Marines went on to earn addi-
the special units, and Vandegrift tional distinctions in the assaults on
gladly promulgated the change on 8 Guam and Okinawa. At the close of
January 1944. This gave Thomas the war, the regiment joined the oc-
everything he wanted — fresh man- cupation forces in Japan and partic-
power from the deleted units and ipated in the release from POW
their stateside training establish- compounds of the remaining mem-
ments, as well as simplified supply bers of the old 4th Marines.
requirements due to increased The commanders in the Pacific
uniformity. Theater may not have properly used
The raiders did not entirely disap- the raiders, but the few thousand
pear. On 1 February the 1st Raider men of those elite units bequeathed
4 1! • --
Regiment was redesignated the 4th
Marines, thus assuming the lineage
a legacy of courage and competence
not surpassed by any other Marine
Ii of the regiment that had garrisoned battalion. The spirit of the raiders
Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 59036 Shanghai in the interwar years and lives on today in the Marine Corps'
Marine raider Pvt Roy Grier examines fought so gallantly on Bataan and Special Operations Capable battal-
the Nambu pistol he liberated from Corrigedor. The 1st, 3d, and 4th ions. These infantry units, specifical-
an enemy officer of the Special Landing
Force in an encounter on Bairoko. Raider Battalions became respective- ly trained for many of the same
ly the 1st, 3d, and 2d Battalions of missions as the raiders, routinely
The personnel and equipment priori- the 4th Marines. The 2d Raider Bat- deploy with amphibious ready
ties given to the first two raider bat- talion filled out the regimental groups around the globe.
talions at a time of general scarcity
had further fueled enmity toward .Seabee Chief Earl I. Cobb and Marine raider Cpl Charles L. Marshall shake hands
these units. Now that the war was at the site of a sign erected near Bougainville's travelled "Marine Drive Hi-Way."
progressing toward victoiy there was Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 73151
less interest on the part of outsiders
in meddling in the details of Marine
Corps organization. Just as impor-
tant, two senior officers who had
keenly felt pain at the birth of the
raiders —Vandegrift and Thomas —
were now coming into positions
where they could do something
about it. On 1 January 1944 Van-
degrift became Commandant of the
Marine Corps and he made Thomas
the Director of Plans and Policies. So when we reach the
In mid-December 1943 Thomas' Isle I Japarr'
predecessor at HQMC had already With our caps at a
Jauntu tilt
set the wheels in motion to disband Well enter the citullo[
the raiders and the parachutists. On the roads the Sraa:
Built.
Among the reasons cited in his study Third Marine
Ruder
was that such "handpicked outfits
are detrimental to morale of
other troops:' A week later, a Marine
officer on the Chief of Naval Oper-
ation's staff forwarded a memoran- —

!- I
a
*
dum through the Navy chain of - t—rsrfl 44C -.

-
-— . -
-

command noting that the Corps
"feels that any operation so far car- -
* U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1995 386—768/20002 40
The best primary documents are the
relevant operational and administrative
M ajor Jon T. Hoffman, USMCR, has spent
more than 12 years on active duty as an
infantry officer, an instructor at the Naval Acade-
records of the Marine Corps held by the my, and a historian at Headquarters Marine
Washington National Records Center in Corps. Presently he is serving as a reserve field
Suitland, Maryland. Of particular note historian for the Marine Corps History and
are the files of the Amphibious Force At- Museums Division. He has a master's degree in
lantic Fleet, which detail the efforts of military history from Ohio State University and
Edson and Holland Smith to create their a law degree from Duke University. In 1994 Presi-
version of the raiders. Another impor- dio Press published his biography of Major
tant source is the Edson personal papers General Edson, Once A Legend, which won the Marine Corps Historical Founda-
collection at the Library of Congress tion's Greene Award. He is the author of numerous articles in the Marine Corps
Manuscript Division. The various offices Gazette, Naval Institute Proceedings, Naval History, Leatherneck, and Vermont
of the Marine Corps Historical Center History. His works have earned several writing prizes, including the Marine Corps
provide additional useful information. Historical Foundation's Heinl Awards for 1992, 1993, and 1994.
The Reference Section holds biographi-
cal data on most significant individuals. ERRATA
The Oral History Section has a number In the pamphlet. The Right to Fight: African-American Marines in World War II, in this series, among
"Sources" listed on page 29 is Blacks and Whites Together Through Hell: US. Marines in World War
of interviews with senior raiders and II. The bibliographic listing misspells the name of one author and assigns a wrong World War II unit
other Marines, particularly Brigadier to the second. The volume is by Perry F. Fischer, a veteran of the ath Marine Ammunition Company,
General Charles L. Banks, Brigadier and Brooks F. Gray, who was a member of the 51st Defense Battalion.
General Fred D. Beans, Colonel Justice
M. Chambers, Brigadier General Samuel
B. Griffith II, Major General Oscar F.
Peatross, Lieutenant General Alan
Shapley, and General Gerald C. Tho-
mas. The Personal Papers Section holds
numerous items pertaining to the raiders.
A number of secondary sources deal 94 10
with the history of the raiders in some WORLD WAR II
depth. The Marine Corps' own World
War II campaign monographs were THIS PAMPHLET HISTORY, one in a series devoted to U.S. Marines in the
based on interviews and other sources of World War II era, is published for the education and training of Marines by
information in addition to the service's the History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps,
archives. Jeter Isely and Philip Crowl's Washington, D.C., as a part of the U.S. Department of Defense observance
The U.S. Marines and Amphibious War, of the 50th anniversary of victory in that war.
James Roosevelt's Affectionately, RD.R., WORLD WAR II COMMEMORATIVE SERIES
Michael Blankfort's Big Yankee, and
Samuel Griffith's Battle for Guadalcanal DIRECTOR OF MARINE CORPS HISTORY AND MUSEUMS
Brigadier General Edwin H. Simmons, USMC (Ret)
are valuable books. The Marine Corps
Gazette and Leatherneck contain a num- GENERAL EDITOR.
ber of articles describing the raiders and WORLD WAR II COMMEMORATIVE SERIES
their campaigns. Of particular interest is Benis M. Frank
Major General Peatross' account of the CARTOGRAPHIC CONSULTANT
Makin raid in the August and Septem- George C. MacGillivray
ber 1992 issues of Leatherneck. Charles
EDITING AND DESIGN SECTION, HISTORY AND MUSEUMS DIVISION
L. Updegraph, Jr.'s U.S. Marine Corps
Robert E. Struder, Senior Editor: W. Stephen Hill, Visual Information Specialist
Special Units of World War II and Lieu- Catherine A. Kerns, Composition Services Technician
tenant Colonel R. L. Mattingly's Her-
ringbone Cloak— GI Dagger are two Marine Corps Historical Center
monographs specifically addressing the Building 58, Washington Navy Yard
formation of the raiders. The publica- Washington, D.C. 20374-5040
tions of the two raider associations, The 1995
Raider Patch and The Dope Sheet, con-
tain a number of first-person accounts PCN 190 003130 00
written by former raiders.