Saturday, April 4, 2015

Nhpum Ga Battle as told by Merril's Marauder ROY MATSUMOTO, 2nd Bn, 5307th Composite Unit~ The day before Easter, 1944

Roy Matsumoto post War
  "Around the first week of April, we'd been surrounded.  The trail was sealed.  In the meantime, we got our food and ammunition from airdrops.  The waterhole changed hands several times.  Finally we couldn't get any more water since they (the Japanese) occupied it.  Every day we were getting bursts from mortars and were under small-arms fire.  The Japanese would attack our position daily.  There was not a place to bury the dead.  Their stomachs were so swollen, juice and maggots would ooze out from the dead Japanese.  And the stench!
General Frank Merrill with Nisei interpreters (Roy Matsumoto at Left)  
     Something was going on in McLogan's sector, so I was sent there by Colonel McGee.  I couldn't figure out what was going on because there was too much noise.  I was ordered to go to this area where they were hearing noise like a theater letting out.  
     Nobody understood all these people talking, so I went out there.  I took my field jacket, pistol belt and carbine, and helmet off and left them there.  I went down there to find out what they were saying.  I crawled down the side (of the hill).  It was in the evening, total darkness.  I got to their position and listened.  I found out that the following morning at dawn, they were going to attack McLogan's sector.  I reported this to McLogan.  They thought they got us, but it turned out the other way.  When they attacked at dawn, they were charging and yelling and everything:  'Death to Americans!  Die! Banzai!'  They got no response because we were not there. (Laughs)
     They came further up the hill, and we opened up.  They tried to retreat, so I issued an order to countermand that order that said to charge.  I told them to "Charge!' in Japanese.  They they jumped into foxholes, which were booby-trapped.  Grenades go off and we're throwing hand grenades after that and firing.  The dead were scattered all over.  
Roy Matsumoto at Right; one of 14 Nisei Patriots in the 2,700 member Merrill's Marauders; one of only 200 to make it home

     There was a certain dialect from this area of Japan.  My folks came from Hiroshima so we had this Hiroshima dialect.  The people that were attacking came from the 18th Division.  I learned their dialect because twice a week when I was younger, I was a delivery boy.  I delivered groceries in the United States, but the people I delivered to came from the same prefect as the men from the 18th Division.  When they heard my voice in their dialect, they charged.  According to many of the men, I saved six hundred lives twice-- once at Walawbum and then at Nhpum Ga."

~excerpted from "INTO THE RISING SUN"
by Patrick K. O'Donnell
pgs.  102-103