Part II by
Sept 15, 1942
The first day of the retreat. I feel like the remnants of the Genji clan defeated in the Heiji war. Lived on water today.
(*We started at dawn. Following the tracks left by advance units, soon we came to a brook and found another unit taking a short rest. All gave a sigh of relief. But they started in advance leaving us behind, and we lost sight of them in a grove. Of course, it was I who gave orders to rest or march to the company. They were glad when I extended one rest at my own discretion, but looked at me with reproach when we were left behind due to the time lag caused by the rest between advance unit and us. 8TAS, the very end of the line, went upstream on the gentle slope of a low mountain, following in the footsteps of more than two thousand men except for 487 deaths and 396 casualties.)
An escape journey. I don't know where I will arrive today. We can never go with the regimental gun in the daytime. Enemy is after us all the way, and the situation of remnants is deplorable. For the first time since 13 we got thin rice gruel. The greatest dinner in this war! Buried regimental gun on the mountain at last. The course at upper reaches of Lungga R. was abandoned because of enemy's landing, and changed at upper reaches of Matanikou R..
(* It's a wonder they could carry a Regimental gun for four days half starving. It's because the gun could be taken apart and carried by human power.)
Wandering about on the mountain, we traversed some ridges and waded valleys, on the brink of starvation. I saw a soldier who had been left behind, wounded in the foot, but no tears welled up in my eyes. I saw tears in a straggling soldier's eyes, but I looked away self-consciously. We camped out in the jungle on the right bank of upper reaches of Tenaru R. Fortunately no stragglers out of my platoon so far. Heard noisy shots of the enemy after midnight. Searchlights cut the dark night. All squads buried their breech-blocks.
(*I had been sure that we buried breech-blocks with ammo till I read my diary again. Japanese army cut their way by compass heading for one course through the thick undergrowth. Cutting down branches and thicket by turns, climbing up and down, the head of the line went straight on. Luckily, 8TAS were helped by a path left by many footsteps. But we, the tail end of a too long procession, were always at risk of falling behind or missing.
We had consumed two weeks' food issued before landing, rice for seven days and some dried bread. I took command of our Anti-tank Gun Company then. I gave orders of 'Forward, march!', 'Halt!', 'Short rest!', 'Long rest!'. I cry 'Forward, march!' on the steep slope, but my head swam and I leaned against a tree nearby, and awaited recovery. Meanwhile, the file fixed, then finally we started. We repeated this, and marched the path that no one would follow behind us.)
We started the march in the morning helped by the Great Power of thin rice gruel. I shared two mess kit lids of rice with three platoons. Two soldiers were left on the mountain. What can we do to take the sick or the wounded, when its all the strong can do to carry himself? Arrived at small village at half past 15:00, and all the company got a little papaya fruit and sweet potato vines boiled in water. Nearly wept for joy!
(* At first the rice gruel seemed to give the Great Power, but in a minute we all realized that our step was no better than yesterday. Standing up, I cried 'Forward, march!', waited for my swimming head to recover, and went ahead with soldiers.
In the beginning of this march, I saw many soldiers carrying casualties on makeshift canvas stretchers with respect. Their efforts were really admirable when they could support themselves with their full strength, but what could they do except put the stretchers down when they could no longer even carry themselves in the mountains. Fortunately (?) we could bury the dead on the spot, but what could we do for soldiers who were still conscious? A pathetic sight.)
Waded all day along the river. 8TAS were one hour behind the Regimental Gun Company because we had breakfast. We wasted time where the path branched off because soldiers had doubted my decision. We all were selfish when we got tired and hungry, and soldiers turned deaf ears to whatever I told them. Some of this might have been caused by gutless squad commanders. This weighed on my mind, and I bawled out, humored, encouraged those sleepwalking soldiers many times. Bivouacked at a point where a branch diverges. Happily we had three meals today. Rice gruel with potatoes for breakfast, hot water for lunch, and grilled fish and hot water for dinner.
(*I don't remember how many grains of rice were in this rice gruel. Perhaps it was the leftovers from the previous night. Anyway, the breakfast time had put a rather long distance between the unit that had gone ahead and us. Soldiers looked uneasy and I felt blaming atmosphere spread over them, though they were glad to get plenty of rest and breakfast. Wading in the river, soldiers stopped at a point of the riverside where grasses were trampled by many footsteps. I thought it was a short and useless detour made by soldiers tired from wading and ordered to keep wading. They reacted immediately. 'Leader, the route is in this direction!' They would not move.
'Okay, If you'd found the right route on the ground, come back.' I let two soldiers go scout it out. They came back at once saying 'Leader, the path leads to the river right over there!'.
'I told you so! Walk in the river! Let's go!' Such happened often, and every time my decision was right.
The water level of the river was about one foot and flowed full and gently on the sandy riverbed. Gradually stones were bigger and we walked on the stony, rocky riverbed. Sometimes we could walk on dried shores, and sometimes we were forced to wade with a heavy step into the hip deep pools.
We went deep into the mountains and were little afraid of a chase, and 'grilled fish and hot water for dinner' set my mind at ease though I was exhausted and with no shack.)
It was hard for exhausted soldiers to cross the gorge, but fortunately we all have done it. I'd like to have anything salty. It was the hardest day of this march. We walked a steep mountain path of 10 degree grade all day long. Bivouacked in the mountains with neither food nor water.
(*I subtitled a diary of the day 'March of Bedrock', 'March of Monkey'. We might have marched up the source of the river this day, and have crossed over a watershed. We had to advance to the WNW, and arrive at the left bank of Matanikou R. We went ahead with the march on this day crossing the line of the mountain ridge at a right angle.
As you know, mountains around here are not high. For example, Mt. Austen is 416 meters above the sea, Mbelapoko Hill NW of Kakambona is 741 meters, much less to say, we also marched the folds of low mountains carved by the heavy rain and streams. And up and down was less than 100 meters. But we went on the route on steep slopes in the primeval forest that no one had passed before, felling trees and bushes, sweeping away, clinging to the roots, grasses, trunks and boughs. Gasping, staggering, and stopping, we pulled ourselves up and slipped down and down the hill.)
Yesterday we expected that the upper reaches of the Matanikou R. was about 16 km. I believed this and told my soldiers so, but at 9:00 we were going up Lungga R. once again headed for the West. We caught fish at the upper reaches of the river. Corporal Takeuchi, an expert fisherman, I appreciated his work and catch. We had broiled fish and potato vines to fill our stomachs for dinner. It has been seven days since we last had dinner. Bivouacked at the middle reaches of Lungga R. Chanted a poem looking at moonshine streaming through the leaves of trees.
(*I don't remember what poem I chanted.)
(**Itirou: A Chinese poem or a Japanese Tanka poem?)
(*We threw the scanty remnant of grenades upstream in the river, where the river was 10 meters wide and the shores were stony. Japanese soldiers had been ordered to carry at least one grenade till the last moment. It might have been for suicide rather than for attack. We waited and grabbed fish coming down floating on their back. Of course I stood in the river with soldiers and peered at the surface of the water so as not to miss a killifish. One NCO encouraged some soldiers who were exhausted and sank down idly so that the platoon leader wouldn't take a rest and he took the lead in the work. Each soldier got a 20 or 30 cm fish; looked like carp.
We gathered withered branches, skewered and broiled fish on the bank. We shared the dinner equally and devoured. I have not had such a delicacy before or after that. The head of the fish was half broiled. Its eyeballs were jelly-like and a little salty while its meat was 100% salt-less. It was incomparably delicious and how reluctantly I swallowed the jelly-balls! We also ate up re-broiled bones and left no remains.
Smelling the appetizing aroma of broiled fish, I watched the chef Corporal Takeuchi with great interest at how he would give out fish to all the company. He put broiled fish in rows and said, 'I will divide these equally, sir!' He brought me the biggest one, but it was too large for a portion. He cut the tail of the fish and put it on the smallest one and said, 'I've set them, sir!'. I thought I should not keep the biggest fish to myself if he had brought it, but I didn't even have 50% confidence. I might have eaten up the fish with an empty determination.)
I feel well on the camping ground on the riverside. I have enjoyed a tasteful view of the foggy mountain in particular.
Going up Lungga R. headed for the West and crossed over a steep mountain ridge, we finally found the river, the river of the upper reaches of our destination. The morale of the company is high and our steps grew quicker believing that the assembling point is in the lower reaches of this river. We had clear fish soup last night, and after that only clear water.
(*The landscape in front of me was just like a drawing in Chinese ink. Though the 'fish soup' was only of fish bone and heads of the previous night, it might have had something to do with the raised 'high morale of the company'.)
I felt nostalgia looking at the moon of the twenty-third night. A night fog hung low over the river like a drizzle.
22:00 I feel chilly just like in late autumn.
When we were starting down the river in high spirits, we met 2nd lieutenant Inoue of the Regimental-gun and were ordered to go backward. (This is Lungga R., Matanikou R. is to the west.) Discouraged!
First of all, we must get food. We had a good catch of fish and had enough. At about 12:00, we met 2nd Lt. Taniguti and next Capt. Nakaoka. All were exhausted but were glad to meet again. A long rest after one hour march backward. I listened to the antitank gun company commander of Kuma battalion tell about their combat. Very interesting.
(**(Itirou) The word 'Kuma' means a bear in Japanese. The main force of Ichiki-Shitai had been put in Asahikawa city, Hokkaido. Kuma battalion was named for many ferocious brown-bears living on this island.)
(*The beams of searchlights of the enemy airbase were crossing right and left in the night. It made me uneasy, but it was strange that I half felt a relief that the coast was near and we were to go out of the mountains.)
Had a BM just as I woke up - 10 days since I had last. But only two or three hard ones like chips of wood. The HQ of the Detachment brought the big news of coming of rice. A great cheer arose in all officers and men. I felt I had found a light on the dark edge of death. But it turned out to be misinformation at 7:30. Went fishing with Capt. in the afternoon, but no catch.
(*A soldier flung himself down on the sands in tears, crying 'Rice is coming! Rice is coming!'.
By that time, officers and men had given up their rifles, helmets, gas-masks, etc. I had already thrown away my binoculars and other equipment, and carried only a pistol. All that equipment, light or heavy, bit terribly into our shoulders, who were faced with starvation and forced on excessively hard march. We left these things, hardest to carry first, one after another, in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening. We had been equipped with 1.5 square meter cotton net for camouflage and it was very useful as a fishing net. But we grabbed fish with our hands on that day and had already no fishing net.
At this bad news, I fired off my automatic six-chambered Browning and buried it in the sand of the bank. I had carried this shoulder-biting pistol for suicide with the self-confidence of an officer, but I had persuaded myself that the 'Katana' saber which remained would be enough for suicide.)
It's the hardest day to wait for food. I feel we have recovered from our exhaustion after three days rest, but the head-swimming from starvation is really terrible. I can't stand up without something to lean on. I toppled down once. Had a few young buds of areca palm tree. Rice will not arrive till tomorrow afternoon blocked by the mountain. Soldiers don't have energy for searching for food; three soldiers sick in bed.
(*Of course, there is no bed in a jungle. These were already serious cases who couldn't stand up.)
Rice didn't arrive. At the news that a strong unit of the enemy landed to the NW, we decided to make an advance to the line of the Matanikou R. before the relief column's arrival. We were forced to wander around the edge of starvation again. 23 days since the All-out attack. Kondo, unable to walk. Kato, attempted suicide. I left Furukawa, Nonoyama, Kawai, Nishimura, Takagi, for care. Bivouacked on the steep slope of the mountain.
(*Many casualties and cases had already died in the mountains, and things had at last come to the worst in our company.
Thanks to Col. Oka and his unit that secured the whole of Mt. Austen, we could now make a retreat, detouring the mountain. Kawaguti detachment began to reorganize its formation adding one battalion from Aoba detachment, and Maj. Gen. Kawaguti restored his force two thousand strong. Sept 25, three battalions of enemy troops attacked Kawaguti detachment from SE but were driven back. But there is no account in my diary of this fierce battle on the coast.)
We couldn't go with Kato, Kondo and Kihira for all efforts by squad men.
8:50, Furukawa and the other men caught up with us. Uemura and Minamihata looked better today. We crossed over a low mountain pass and came to the opposite slope at about 9:00. Heard violent shots and roars of guns to the lower reaches of the river. Is it from the direction of an advance troop of the artillery or the HQ of the Detachment? We were forced to bivouac for we had spent an unexpected long time crossing a log bridge. Bivouacked in a cave (*rock eaves). We felt bad because of the damp ground with spring water.
(*My friend Yamamoto (Kuma battalion, 2nd Lt.) touched upon the log bridge:'We found a log bridge that our soldiers had built on a mountain stream, perhaps upper reaches of Matanikou R. It was only 10 meters long and strong soldiers could have run across the bridge, but we advanced with much difficulty, because we had already lost stamina and were tottering. I fell off too and crossed the river clinging to the log and soaked in the water. Our unit went up north along the stream for a position where Japanese army had taken up. I saw several soldiers lying dead around the root of a big tree wearing the uniforms of a naval landing force. I could not make it clear what unit they had belonged to, for they had no arms and their bodies were decomposed. I supposed they had been workers of 11th or 13th construction party of the navy because they had no badges of their rank. Also I supposed they might have been evacuated from the coast to the south when the first US forces had landed and died there by starvation.')
We 8TAS advanced at the very end of the line of Kuma battalion. I remember clearly that I had encouraged one soldier to lie down feebly beside the path, crying 'Don't move! Never leave here!'. Suggesting a rescue party would be coming that I knew would never arrive, I left him there and advanced along the path of no return.
I am sure that even if all the other remains of war dead were returned to their homeland, these soldiers would never come back. They will never return and Guadalcanal is a grave for them forever. I never think of Guadalcanal without this conviction.
When we had a short rest sitting down on the path-side in the jungle in the dusk, a trail of big ants came from my left like a black belt (10 cm in width), it climbed over a stump, climbed up and down on my knees, and disappeared into the jungle. I gazed at the black trail struck dumb. I don't know why I didn't write of this happening in my diary, but I remember this with strange clearness. My wife said 'It's neither a daydream nor an illusion. You saw it and was deeply impressed by it.')
We spent two hours passing a dangerous part. The ravine and cliff we crossed this morning was hard to pass and looked endless, but we finally came to an open area at 9:50. We went down a grassy plain feeling quite relieved.
10:30 We had a view of the sea. The sea and sky were filled with enemy ships and airplanes.
11:50 At a stream-side (Matanikou R.) 4 km to the HQ of Detachment, we were told that the enemy had landed and captured our provisions. We were forced to move westward again. After reaching an agreement with 1st Lt. Wada (*Regimental Gun Company), we advanced in vain to the western coast without food once again.
14:42 News arrived that overjoyed us. Watanabe unit, the relief column has come! 'The front 8TAS, Halt!' How long I waited this moment! I cried for joy. But it was only a messenger that had come, and our provisions were still 5 km behind us. Though disgusted and discouraged, we went upstream avoiding danger. But at the news that the relief column is standing by, our step grew light. 'We'll finally get rice tomorrow!' Bivouacked on the bank.
(*With a light step we walked the grassy plain, scattered with big tropical trees . The wind was high in the treetops and the sunlight was dazzling in the blue sky. Then we came to the edge of a knoll. But we were really lucky not to have been strafed by enemy planes. I looked beyond the small knolls at the loose shoreline of Lungga point and saw enemy warships and three or four transports. I saw those black silhouettes on the silver-shining sea as if I were in a dream. One or two enemy planes were strafing, diving down on coastal knolls obstinately. I knew that Japanese soldiers were fighting hard under the strafing fire, but it was strange that I could not feel it real. I only felt vast stretches and dazzling light of the sea and the sky, perhaps I might have felt some hope for the future now that we were near the coast.)
(**(Itirou) It might have been this strafing that J.R. Garrett mentioned in his diary, 'September 27, 1942 Our Aerocobras are strafing Japs on Matanikou. They say that 2,000 of them are cornered.')
The morning we had long been looking forward to! We don't need a commander for today's march. What a change! But their elation was short-lived and they were to wait on provisions again. They believe in the news of relief and would not look for any food but wait patiently and optimistically.
9:20 We met relief column commanded by Maj. Watanabe. My heart was filled with deep emotion. We have struggled through mountains and valleys for days but we were fully rewarded. Arrived at a point 2 km to the coast. 4.5 ltrs. of rice was distributed to 80 men of our company for dinner. It's about 50 cc for each. How precious the rice gruel of this evening is!
(*We boiled and swelled up grains of rice as large as we could, but grains filled only half a mess kit lid. I enjoyed these precious grains really one by one and felt I came back to life again.)
4:00, enemy planes bombed and strafed the western part of Japanese camp, and flew low above our campsite many times. Darn! I've made a mistake! Fortunately my fears proved groundless. The grass plain overlooks the coast, and on the mountain ridge we have a view of Lungga point far away and can see the enemy's transports are in the port.
9:20, Soldiers devoured coconut meat and drank the milk like starving ghosts in the coconut grove. The enemy that landed to the east of the HQ by the side of Matanikou R. were driven back. Maj. Watanabe led us to the coast and went to the HQ of 3rd battalion / 124th regiment. After 11:00, I met my Capt. at last.
Our company was ordered to the charge of carrying provisions. I was to the commander of sanitary party of Detachment. After 17 days' wandering, I feel I finally have settled down.
(*The commander of the upcoming decisive battle, the commander of 2nd division Lt. Gen. Masao Maruyama, arrived at Rabaul this day. The commander of 17th corps Lt. Gen. Harukichi Hyakutake ordered him to 'Advance quickly to Guadalcanal, and in order to capture the island, prepare for the attack on the airport Oct.17.
First thing I did on the beach, I held a mouthfull of saltwater in my mouth. I could never swallow it again, but it seemed that my life force itself had needed the salt.
There were sunny grassy plains studded with shrubs. We found many raspberry trees with yellow berries. Though American planes were roaring and flying over the sea right and left, we ate endlessly in the shade of shrubs watching out for planes. I remembered my childhood when I had gone to pick raspberries on the hill of my hometown
When I visited the island for the second time after the war, I searched where my strawberry fields had been. But I couldn't find any vestiges. Perhaps it was about halfway between Point Cruz and the bridge across Matanikou R.
A failure of Kawaguti Detachment made the supremacy of US corps decisive, which was already clear when Ichiki's advance troop had been annihilated. But in spite of repeated failures, the Imperial HQ committed new units one after another. It took four months till those insensible war watchers understood that this operation had nothing to show but a marked sharp increase of casualties and damage.
Though Maj. Gen. Kawaguti instructed at the meeting at Taivu point on Sept. 1st that he wouldn't make the same mistake Ichiki's advance troop had made, I believe that he must have understood that the annihilation of Ichiki-Shitai should not be attributed only to their tactics and the combat. What he said and did after his defeat is worthy of note.)
I got plenty of sleep last night. Washed my face and mouth after the sun had risen high. I'm happy in the peaceful morning.
The company commander went for his post.
8:00, we set out for Bo-ne-gi (**(Itirou) sorry I don't know how to spell this place name.).
We took one American soldier prisoner and deported him to the HQ of 2nd battalion of Aoba Detachment.
We walked and looked about three hours or more for Sanitary Party. Met an army surgeon Uchiyama, and arrived at the position in the rain. My men are all from Kuma unit. Reliable. I shared the Cigarette 'Mascot' with my party, which 'A' gave to me yesterday. They were very glad.
(*We waded across Poha R. and went for Mamara in a fine rain falling from brightening sky. From the coconut grove we had a wide view of the sea just as I had when I had revisited there after the war.
We took a short rest in the grove, when we found a figure of a man in a bush. Had he escaped from a crashing plane or infiltrated from the sea? Two or three soldiers chased and caught him after five min or so. He was a young American soldier.
He got a bayonet cut on his forehead and was bleeding. He sat down on the ground leaning on coconut trunks and had his hands tied behind his back. He looked thin, unshaven and wore a waterproofing overcoat.
He pleaded with me to help him, 'General, Help me! 'General, Help me!' He thought I was senior and an officer of higher rank. In the rain, I stood hesitant about what to do with this American soldier.
It was impossible for me to set him free. We couldn't take him with my party. After all, I deported him to the HQ of 2nd battalion of Aoba Detachment. We had not roughed him up after capturing him, but the moment I had deported him, the men of the HQ treated him violently. I thought later I should have released him.
I regretted what I had done to him. He didn't make me feel any hatred as an enemy. It was a strange feeling for me. He looked quite young and mild-mannered, and didn't look strong or ferocious at all. He was gentle but fully composed and never disgraced himself. I can't say what befell this young soldier. I am sure he was not a soldier who would easily leak out a military secret. And I am afraid he never returned to his camp. And I was a young fellow of 27 in 1942 too.
(**(Itirou) My father wrote this note in Apr. 8, 1980:
"I visited Visale Mission near Cape Esperance when I visited Guadalcanal for the second time after the war in 1979. I made a contribution to the church for the memorial of American soldiers. He was the only American soldier whom I had met and had some relationship with on Guadalcanal. I am now 65 years old and it is Buddha's Birthday today. I pray his soul may rest in peace.")(*The sanitary party of Detachment's main task was sending casualties back to the rear. The Room of the History of War, Japanese Defense Agency published that 740 casualties were repatriated during the battle. I believe we had sent back a good number of them. We couldn't live in coconut plantations near the coast though such an area was dried, sunny, airy and had beautiful surroundings. We lived in a riverside grove near the coast, where the water was available. All woods on Guadalcanal are not jungles blocking our passage, and we could live at the riverside area perfectly camouflaged and covered up from the air. We gathered nippa palm leaves grown in the plantation and thatched the roof of a shack, and covered the ground with fronds of ferns (2 m or so). We had built a shelter after two days with this and that.)
Oct. 1, 1942
October has come when we admire the harvest-moon, flights of wild geese and colored leaves of Japanese autumn. Though leaves are evergreen on Guadalcanal, there is a chill of autumn in the air after midnight. I had a good rest today.
Enemy planes flew over us many times but no casualties. I'm happy that Matsumi had arrived though miserable he looked. I will keep him here for the present. I have had plenty. I'm happy.
(*When I was beyond the fear of death for a moment, and ate my fill, I felt the world was quite at peace. Is it only myself that felt such a tranquility? I don't think so. It's a common nature given to all human beings, and that's why soldiers can survive the war.)
Got up at 4:00. Strolling, I went to the river to wash my face. I washed my face in the cool, clear stream, looking up four enemy planes flew westward in the scattered clouds sailing in a morning glow colored with a pale pink. The forest is deep and I feel bracing as if I were in deep mountains. I took a walk too. This is the best for health. Didn't have much except a little gruel for breakfast, all I could do was only control my hunger. Provisions, come quick! Japanese planes attacked Guadalcanal and enemy planes didn't come after 10:00 at all. Quite still.
(*A cool, clear stream and pool was the habitat of mosquitoes carrying Malaria. We knew it later.)
In the morning, 27 men including Corp. Yasuno returned from sending back cases to the rear. They couldn't get rice till they had got some at Komimbo. Thank them for their pains. Our provisions didn't come and we had urgent tasks to do. I asked for help from the commander of 2nd battalion, Aoba Detachment. Thanks to his kindness, we got 9 lit. rice and four packs of dried bread. My soldiers were very glad and refreshed. This entreaty was well worth the asking! He also gave us powdered soy sauce. All men of the party had 90 cc rice for gruel.
(*Komimbo was 20 km westward of the camp. They went 40 km to and from sending back casualties though they still had not yet recovered from their exhaustion.)
Nisshin-Maru arrived in Mbonehe (**(Itirou) I spelled this place name 'Bonegi' before. Mbonehe R. is to the SE of Tasivarongo Point) and unloaded many tanks and trucks. Refreshed by rice gruel, men of the sanitary party went out to get part of the provisions of main forces of Aoba Detachment (with four heavy guns(*100-caliber howitzer) and 22 field guns(*72-caliber gun same as regimental gun)) and its HQ. I awaited their return after 20:00 sleepless. Meanwhile, Takeda came back with rice in a straw bag (*has a capacity of about 30 kg) and miso, Yamashita and Oki with rice in a straw bag, and Shime and Yoshizawa with two boxes of canned food. It was great fun that we had a good catch but did wrong tonight. Though it was unavoidable. We have got vitality to work hard at last. We saved 36 lit. rice for Sanitary party and carried the rest to our HQ. We spent two days having no rice.
Unloading began at Mbonehe area last night and will continue every night. We are very busy sending back casualties.
8:50, Pfc. Nagasawa died.
13:00, put simple offerings on him and had memorial service. Unknown endemic disease. They were all worn out for 20 days or more and died. One more case in sanitary party.
14:00, New commander of Kuma battalion asked me to send back soldiers of 1st company. Sgt. Sato says that casualties should be carried to the field hospital by their units' men, and we must not act on account of other units. Yes, I would rather send back the injured in the battle than help stragglers in the march. I've learned it was the very thing that Commander of Detachment had ordered. We need eight men to send back one in the long-distance. In the evening, 180 cc of rice was provided for one day ration to each.
(*It was amoebic dysentery or white dysentery. Cases showing dehydration and other symptoms of this disease were soon hopeless.
Maj. Kitao succeeded Maj. Eishi Mizuno (who had died in the battle) as commander. Kuma battalion changed to Kitao unit.
I should not speak of stragglers differently from the injured. They never wanted to be!
180 cc was one sixth of one day ration.
With the HQ of 17th corps. The main force of 2nd regiment commanded by Lt. Gen. Maruyama left for Guadalcanal loaded on 16 destroyers this day.)
4:20, Were strafed because we sent up too much smoke for cooking. Kinjiro Inomata was shot in the right chest. Set to moving right away. (Juice of coconuts rained on our shack)
7:50, Finished moving. Had delicious miso soup for lunch. One month since I had it last.
15:30, Kawaguti Detachment was removed from supporting the unloading of Aoba regiment (*2nd regiment). Sanitary party returned to their original unit too. We will enjoy a carefree trip for Komimbo in the refreshing air of twilight time.
(* We got careless having had no air raid for a short while. Then a surprise attack!)
12:10, Pv. 3rd Kitazawa died. His death grieves me deeply. The second death. I planned to hold a funeral service at 14:00, but the group leader Sato didn't come back. When he had returned I questioned him why. He said with tears in his eyes that he had gone fishing so that Kitazawa could take in nourishment. I was ashamed of getting angry with him thoughtlessly. Read Jul. and Aug. issue of 'Asahi' magazine. Nothing important. Many soldiers have indigestion in HQ.For his buddy, he fished(**(Itirou) 'indigestion' was supposed to be one of symptoms of malnutrition.)
Praying the grace of God to help him
ran all the way to the camp
with a catch, but only to find
it had been for nothing
5:20, Pv. 3rd Kitagawa died. We started for Komimbo at dusk. We have 6.3 lit. rice for each. No problem. Fierce bombing and strafing this morning (40 min.). Navy suffered serious damage. On the march, I've been stumped by a pain in my chest. A soldier of HQ, Oka regiment gave us some candles, which helped us greatly passing through jungles near Sekiro
(**(Itirou) couldn't find this place name in the map of 'Guadalcanal/British Solomon Islands, published perhaps in 1968. My father used this map during his trip to the island, and marked the place a little to the north of the center of Tasivalongo Point and Ndoma.)
We advanced more than we had expected and bivouacked on the seaside.
(*We could go with little guarding against an air raid. We advanced along the edge of coconut grove facing to the coast or a path through the grove. The thickness of leaves had shown a clear contrast between light and shade on the ground, and furthermore, nippa palms and high weeds had grown where natives hadn't cleared undergrowth. We couldn't see far ahead and often lost our way. How grateful we were for those candle lights! I remember the path ran through a level coast area just as it does now. Perhaps we had bivouacked at Novu Point near Ndoma.)
The march at dawn made good progress. The moment we took a rest, it began to rain. Cooking was miserably disturbed by both an air raid and rain. I was sick of soldiers complaints on the march. They say 'I hate to get wet.' 'How about staying?' 'Let's take shelter under a shack.'. You fool!
Started at 15:00. I went ahead hearing their complaints behind me. In the evening, we had contact with Umeda unit and were relieved. Heard of our company. Bivouacked and slept well. I had good digestion today.
(*This day, 17th corps reported the plan for their strategy 'after' capturing Guadalcanal. They said:'Oct. 8 - The Point of the Strategy After Capturing Guadalcanal:17th corps planned this operation regarding the victory at Guadalcanal as an accomplished fact. There was no change in the self-confidence (too much? or false?) they had stuck to since the landing of US corps.
Some units of 17th corps will capture other strategic points of Solomon islands quickly cooperating with Navy. After that we advance to East New Guinea without delay, capture Port Moresby and other strategic points, and we secure a firm line of defense between Solomon Islands and East New Guinea. The other units of 2nd regiment, following the capturing of Guadalcanal, will recapture the other strategic points such as Rennel, Turagi, San Cristobal.'
'Shall we be cooking lunch?' We advanced through seaside coconut grove quite carelessly, when one enemy plane, a Grumman (?) strafed us from ahead parallel to the coast line. Less than 20 men hid themselves behind coconut trunks. Enemy strafed us doggedly again and again. All we could was to hide around and stick to trunks. Tracer bullets zipped close to me and hit the ground. It's all up for me! I gave up all hope of life for an instant. No casualties in my party, but in a unit that had gone ahead, an army surgeon and his attendant were shot. I remember the surgeon cried out in a panic.)
With many thanks to 2nd Lt. Umeda , we started at 7:30. Fine day, scenic beauty and no air raid! After a two hours' pleasant march, we returned to our company. Reported to my Company commander and the Battalion commander without delay. Taniguchi and other men were fine. The return of Matsumi pleased men of 3rd platoon very much. 2nd. Lt. Taniguchi is on duty at Cape Esperance, and 2nd. Lt. Kinoshita at Komimbo. I had a little beef. Delicious. Taniguchi was angry at what our commander had said. To my sorrow, they said Pfc. Yoshimura had died only a day after being hospitalized. We carried him to Kakambona really carefully but let him die in the hard march afterward. A regrettable event! I feel quite easy in this place as if I were in another world. In the rear far from the front, I feel I lack something but have peace of mind.
(* Cape Esperance and Komimbo were ideal place to bring 'Dai-hatsu' or 'Sho-hatsu' landing boats alongside the shore, and were points of the last evacuation.
Cape Esperance is a place I will never forget. Feb. 4, 1943 I went on board a landing boat for evacuation there, but got off by the order from Capt. Nakaoka. I was to assemble remaining soldiers on the island. I would evacuate on Feb. 7, on the day of last evacuation.
(*(Itirou) Capt. Nakaoka ordered my father to assemble remaining soldiers, and he evacuated a company of men on Feb. 4. My father was left alone on the beach, but fortunately, he would evacuate on Feb. 7, on the last day of evacuation, with 40 men of Kitao unit whom he assembled.)
There was a church in the village and it had a red roof and upon it a cross. I had passed by the church, Visale Mission, three times and saw an image of the Virgin Mary standing in front of the church. It stood unspoiled on a pedestal of about 1.5 m high. When I saw the image last, the church had been bombed and destroyed mercilessly. But I remember with a firm belief the image stood like a miracle in the front garden. When I visited Visale Mission for the second time after the war, the church had been reconstructed into a beautiful church. While the image of the Virgin Mary of that time had been removed to Honiara for the convenience of tourists, another image was put there in its place. It's all I know about the image. But it made clear to me that our camp had been in the mountain to the west of the church for Komimbo.
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.)
To Be Continued...