"My Guadalcanal"
Part III

by
Genjirou Inui

(*Later, I've found a photo of a soldier kneeling in prayer before the Virgin Mary in 'the Picture History of the Pacific War' edited by Robert Sherrod and Goro Nakano.)

Oct. 10, 1942

Dreamed of my parents, little sister Utako, Kikuko, brother Seizaburou and Shigeo. Shigeo was carried on Utako's back and got her sick. A odd dream. A peaceful day.

(*Shigeo was my youngest brother who had died in 1937, at the age of 5.)

Oct. 11

The name of Ichiki-Shitai was changed to Kitao unit. I dug potatoes, did the washing and bathed for the first time in 25 days. I feel better lately.

1st Lt. Sakakibara brought us packs of cigarettes from Rabaul. 5 pieces to each, I took 7 'Hikari' cigarettes for myself. Takeda was on sentry duty, I and Oki had delicious rice and sweet potato porridge, and potato leaves boiled in soy sauce for lunch. Sick of the long nights.

(*1st Lt. Sakakibara returned from Rabaul with Maj. Gen. Kawaguti who had made a summary report of the unsuccessful attack.)

(*We had no lighting on Guadalcanal. From sundown to sunup we were subject to the natural darkness.)

(* Pv. 2nd Masuo Oki was my orderly then. He burnt dry twigs with no smoke and cooked tasty gruel. In the distance we heard the roar of enemy planes passing over, but there we had nothing to be afraid of.

The sunlight was dazzling where the sun broke through the trees, and after the roar faded away, on the silent hillside, we felt great peace of mind for a short while.)

Oct. 12

Made a report of the battle about the death of Kondo, Kihira, Kato and Yoshimura, changing their cause of death from illness into glorious death in the Battle of Tenaru R. on Sept. 13. I feel I've done my duty as an officer.

The sending of provisions to the front has been suspended since yesterday. We are waiting for another order. Received provisions for 10 days.

(*Each battalion and above were required to make a report of the battle. 8Th Independent Anti-tank Gun Company(8TAS) was also required to make one because 8TAS was an independent unit.

Of course, it was a fabrication of an official document that I had altered the cause of their death. But there were many differences between the payment from the social security systems according to the causes of death. Such a fabrication was not a rare thing then, but I couldn't alter reports any more in the latter days of the battle when soldiers started dying from disease and or starvation one after another.)

Oct. 13

Our planes were up in superior numbers to the enemy lately. Unloaded on a large scale, 4000 soldiers by 5 cruisers last night. Our army are steadily getting ready for a new battle. Somebody suggests that we should dig out our guns and join the battle, and another says that we can order the rest of our guns (3 guns) from Rabaul. A good idea.

But after I had suffered hardships beyond description, I wished that I could stay there for 10 or 20 days more having gourmet food, moderate exercise and peaceful rest without guarding against enemy.

To tell the truth, the gourmet dish is 15 cm pickled yellow Japanese radish or 10 days ration for 3 men. But I don't feel any discontentment with this furnishing of food when I think of the days of retreat in the mountain.

Counting the number of arms and clothing began. Capt. says he doesn't approve the loss of gas masks. He himself made soldiers carry his binoculars, katana-sword and gas mask with no consideration of their pains. Perhaps he thinks his soldiers' lives are lighter than his equipment.

Oct. 14

15:30, Departed Cape Esperance where we had lived so long and peacefully. We return to the 28 km front, Tasivarongo Point. The duty is the same.

Enemy planes don't attack this morning because our planes are making a violent attack. Takeda, Oki and I stayed behind in the jungle of Sekiro to assemble and organize the 3rd and 4th platoons. They carry a heavy load of kitchenware. I carry 11 lit. rice.

Oct. 15

Surprised to find 4 destroyers on the sea in the morning glow. Planes that flew over us seemed to be our force. At a rest point, a marine said that 6 transports were unloading at Tasivarongo under 10 destroyers' escort. The main force of Aoba regiment is unloading! Another large force is landing at Esperance.

Our battleships and convoy are anchoring in daylight. Only our planes are up and few enemy planes are flying! What a glorious and delightful day!

Because of the late arrival of the 3rd and the 4th platoon, the work was 10 hours behind schedule. They can't be reproached under their present condition.

Our planes flew over the island all day long.

Corp. Kawai brought us sweets (special nutritive of the Navy). He sometimes sends me kind present. I must get something for him in return for his kindness.

(*Oct. 13th, the 6 fast and precious transports departed from Shortland with a full load of supplies and ammunitions.)

(*The 3rd and the 4th Platoon is Taniguchi Platoon and Kinoshita Platoon of our Company. I (the 2nd Platoon Leader and predecessor) had to command and keep a watch over the entire Company when Cap. Nakaoka had gone ahead. )

(* Ochi's book described this unloading like this. "Oct. 14th , 2 cruisers 'Chokai' and 'Kinugasa' / the 8th Fleet, bombarded the airport just as planned. The convoy were air raided twice during the day, but arrived off the coast of Tasivarongo 22:00 undamaged. They unloaded at full speed throughout the night, but with all their efforts they were hit by air raids again at day break. About 20 enemy planes attacked the convoy each time, on 8:00, 9:30 and 11:00. They carried out bombing, dog fighting with Japanese escort planes.

Nankai-Maru and Sasago-maru were bombed in the 1st attack, Azumasan-Maru in the 2nd attack, and Kyusyu-Maru was bombed in the last attack. Fire broke out on board the ships except Nankai-Maru. Ammunition on one ship caught fire, went up in a explosion and sank. Another was filled with water and capsized, and the 3rd was stranded on the shore by decision of the captain who would save the supplies that were not still unloaded.

Nankai-Maru made good escape on 10:00. At that time, all soldiers (16th Infantry Regiment / 2nd division, 230th Infantry Regiment / 38th division, and others) had landed, but the unloading was unfinished and quite insufficient.)

(*A crew member of Kyusyu-Maru noted in his memoranda reported that the Asahi, Sasago-maru, Azumasan-Maru and Kyusyu-Maru had gone up in flames in the night. 'Many records of the war reported that Kyusyu-Maru, her body ablaze, was rushed onto the beach to save the cargo. But the plain truth is this. A bomb hit the ship squarely on the bridge and our captain and other officers were all killed. But the engineers below deck didn't know that. So they put the ship on full steam till she was stranded on the beach of Guadalcanal.')

Oct. 16

A fierce attack on a landing spot in the morning. Supply bases in the jungle and near the Mbonehe R. were utterly destroyed. 3rd platoon was expected to arrive at 7:30, and 4th platoon at 10:00, but the very end of the line had not arrived till after 12:00. At the suggestion of the other platoon leaders, I agreed that soldiers were not to start carrying provisions to the front until tomorrow morning, because they were tired out. Every day they had conveyed provisions on the extending supply route. 3rd platoon started one after another. We started at dusk. No Japanese planes today, and enemy planes destroyed as they liked.

Arrived at Tasivarongo on 21:40, and joined the main force.

(* Every day, soldiers of 8TAS carried provisions on their backs for 30 km from Cape Esperance to the front. They sent the sick and wounded back to the rear, carried provisions to the front starting the day after they returned alive from 2 weeks retreat of starvation.)

(*Coming back to the main force, first I heard of the death of Cpl. Kawai, the Squad leader. He bivouacked in a foxhole near the beach, and was suddenly strafed and shot in the neck.)

08:25 Cpl. Kawai died in battle. Shojiro Nakai is missing.(6)

(*I recorded the total of the war dead in of my diary of the day. )

At night, we marched along the beach near the unloading spot, and saw 3 Japanese transports burning, blazing red flames rising up into the sky. Bright and greater flames rose from a ship and suddenly it listed with a terrific noise. A Commander of the Independent Ship Engineering Regiment died in the battle. A soldier of a Ship Engineering Company said "We unloaded all munitions and provisions. But we were completely destroyed and only 8 survived. Please avenge our buddy on them." 3 transports were stranded at last.

(*Soldiers of 2nd, 3rd,4th platoon carried provisions on their backs from Cape Esperance to the front. We passed through Aruliho, Ndoma, Sekiro, and unloading point Tasivarongo near the front, and saw the ship engineering unit soldiers unloading equipment, ammunition and provisions by many "Daihatsu" and "Shohatu" landing boats.

And on our way back after we parted from the main force, about 22:40, we saw burning red sky and ships. When we approached the first ship, it listed with a terrific noise, fierce flames bursting out and black smoke from the forecastle deck. We could do nothing but look on the scene in utter amazement, standing motionless on the path through coconut grove 30 meters away from the ship. How miserable! And at about 100 meters intervals, 2 other big transports were also burning. Even now I remember the heat of the flame.)

(*Supplies were unloaded at the cost of many lives, but most of them were reduced to ashes before the next All-out-attack. )

(*When I revisited Guadalcanal in 1977, the wreckage of ships were only some pieces. The old path and surf were just as they used to be, but ships were completely rotted away.)

On our way back, Oki picked up some canned foods. Gathered copra for fuel.

Oct. 17

Fierce air raid on Tasivarongo as yesterday. It was funny that Oki was at a loss what to do with the cans. Fierce bombardment by enemy warships. Our planes didn't come. A fire at ammunition dump spread to all the ammunition and went up in a furious and miserable explosion, the desolate scene of the night sky reflecting the red flame.

2nd Lt. Kinoshita went to the unloading point with 100 soldiers to order the provisions. Furukawa 'detachment' got a lot of 'Pirate' cigarettes.

Oct. 18

17:40, led 259 soldiers of Kitao unit and carried 100 sacks of rice to Kakambona. (*Maj. Junjirou Kitao succeeded Maj. Eishi Mizuno who had died in the attack of Kawaguchi detachment. We were in the same unit till we went into a field hospital at Bougainville. Weights of rice packed in a hemp sack is not clear. Perhaps 20 kg or so.) Arrived at 20:00, then let each unit go back to their camp. An attack of fever of 40.00 degrees on 19:20. First I felt uneasy but somewhat better when I had arrived at Tanavasa. But after arrival at Kakambona, I became worse and took a rest at Maj. Kajiki's tent. With 2nd Lt. Umeda.

(*Kakambona was a village where the late Mr. 'Billy' Bennett had lived. He was a Coast Watcher in WWU, and helped us build a stone monument for all the war dead of both sides.)

(*The depot was to the mountain side of White river, about 300 meters Honiara side of Kakambona village. An Engineer Unit cut a path named Maruyama-Dou up the river. And there the attacking force of 2nd division were to advance.)

Oct. 19

3:30, feeling good, left Kakambona. Luckily found a bicycle and got back in an hour.

My fever went down and I have a big appetite. I had an excellent coffee yesterday morning when I was hungry, for the first time since I had coffee in Java. Had another this morning. All sorts of delicacies for a side dish and 'Chesterfield' cigarettes! 23:30, left our camp for Kakambona again.

To Be Continued...