"D" COMPANY ATTACK ON BATTERY MONJA, 24 FEB 1945. 
_________________
John Lindgren

 

Gifford had gotten his orders the night before to return to the beach again from Lawson Caskey at the 2d Battalion command post in the old 59th Coast Artillery's ground floor squad rooms in Topside Barracks. The company, for the third time in four days, was to take Cheney Trail to the beach. They would go south on the beach to to Wheeler Point and "clean out caves" but not before a destroyer stationed offshore would fire on suspected targets at Wheeler Point and vicinity. The ship would stop firing at 1030 or so. One of the "caves" to be cleaned out was the dangerous Battery Monja 150 feet up from the beach at Wheeler Point. Apparently no one knew the name of the battery at the time or very much about it except both C and E Companies suffered considerable casualties trying to reach it. The company was to have all of the usual support units the 2d Battalion furnished on the first two sorties.

It was 1030 before the column, with the 3d platoon in front, marched past Wheeler Point and Battery Cheney to begin their descent into Cheney ravine. They were delayed by the destroyer firing on the targets at Banzai Point. The scouts checking the route moved ahead much faster than they did the first day they went into the ravine. The ravine, of course, was still dangerous and as they went down the trail for the third time, the possibility of an ambush was on everyone's mind. By now the trouble spots were well known; every man in the company knew where every culvert, gully, and cave was and could quickly search them. They reached the bottom of the ravine rapidly and moved quickly to the spring where the column halted for a short rest. Some of the men opened their ration cans and ate cold pork and beans or hash. It had been a long time since breakfast.

The 3d platoon, well back in the long column, halted on Cheney Trail some distance east of the spring where the trail was cut into the ravine's steep southern slope covered with heavy forest and undergrowth as it followed the south bank of the dry stream bed. While on the trail, BAR man Frank Keller pushed aside some branches to better see in the undergrowth was startled to see four Japanese soldiers crouched in the foliage. One of them had his arm drawn back and tossed a grenade at Keller. Instinctively, he dropped down and the missile flew over him, landed and immediately exploded. Harry Drews, the 2d platoon sergeant, standing near Keller was struck by grenade fragments and was seriously wounded. Frank Keller was only slightly wounded by the same grenade. Immediately the rest of the squad jumped up firing furiously at the Japanese quickly killing all of them. The two wounded men were treated by the company medics and the column moved down the trail leaving the two wounded men and some others to watch over them.[27]

The lead squad moved forward of the company, a few yards past the spring, the men spread out and approached the concrete entrance to the storehouse at the ridge crest. The men resting near the spring could watch them maneuvering in the knee high cogon grass. Suddenly three men leapt up and ran toward the entrance while the rest of the squad's riflemen knelt with raised weapons aimed at the opening. The two scouts and the squad leader halted and looked briefly in the entrance and then disappeared inside. They soon reappeared and signaled the squad to continue along the ridge. The store-house was still unoccupied. The squad moved on past the minefield and stopped above the beach on a knob where the ridge ended. The men peering over the ridge could look nearly a half a mile south along the beach. Nothing was seen. The beach and the cliffs above looked very quiet and peaceful. It was nearly noon when the company commander gave the order to move ahead over the rocky beach. CLICK TO TURN PAGE

 

 

 

         

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