Both the Americans and the British struggled to make this work. The worst symptom was a poor fighting spirit. Many infantrymen lacked the boldness and self-belief needed to make them into effective soldiers. They relied on the artillery to take out enemies and so allow them to advance unhindered. When faced with serious opposition, they faltered, unable to believe that they could overcome a foe. When targets were visible, many American infantrymen were busy taking cover or pressing themselves against the ground, trying to avoid being shot at.
A report from General Clark, reflecting on operations in Italy, said that infantry suffered heavy casualties and that to be effective they had to have the courage to advance despite the danger and losses. On far too many occasions, the American infantry lacked the aggressive spirit to do this.
By the spring of , the problem had been identified. Official reports within the army shocked commanders into action. To counter the recruitment problem, a hunt began for both officers and men who could be diverted from other forces.
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Among those deprived of their promised choice of service were 30, aviation cadets transferred into the army in March , mostly into the infantry. It was the beginning of a solution, but it brought its own problems. Recruitment needed to be paired with effective training and unit building. General Bradley and his commanders effectively undid the lack of a fighting elite, as they came to rely on such effective units as the 1 st and 4 th divisions.
These units had the experience of fighting in war forged divisions and thus had a stronger spirit, on which commanders could rely for the tough tasks. This is reflected in how little attention it has since been given compared with other forces. Our CO began to feel sympathy toward the men. He showed a sense of sympathy and never came out with an order to fire. If our operations would only start, I would fire again and again, even though our positions would be exposed and we in turn would be fired upon.
As it is now, we are being fired upon, and we have not returned fire. If we were to fire now, they would concentrate their fire on us, and our emplacements would be leveled. We shall fight. Right now, living is more important. In the last stages of this battle, if we can stop the tanks from coming in from the south, then we can die laughing. July My, the shelling is fierce, but aside from a little scare, the results have been nil. All of the personnel, wearing steel helmets within the shelters, waited quietly for action.
The heat in the shelter was like that of a cellar, and the unpleasant odor drifted about.
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It is suicidal to go to the latrine. I put on my helmet, and after I had made complete preparations, I took off for the bomb crater, which was in front of me. While I was defecating, six or seven shells fell, so I took off and came back. We never can tell when we are to die.
Oh, God! I would like to die after seeing the action of our invincible imperial forces. July The 13th Infantry Regiment, which was scheduled to land last night, did so at Bairoko Harbor. We are about to take the initiative. Aside from a close hit, all of the rest of the bombs were dropped elsewhere.
The enemy has fired at least 2, rounds today. Some hit within five meters of my shelter. The enemy is firing about 20 rounds at a time. Regardless of what shelter I may be in, at the present rate, it will be of no avail. July Last evening, I was watching the shelling and some fell within three meters of the positions. It is really a mystery why there have not been any personnel losses up until now. Right now, I am lying on my side, facing Rendova, with the acting operator, 1st Class Pvt. If our last gun were to be destroyed, then our company would become a labor outfit.
We went out to take a peep to the south several times. Fortunately, there were no tanks. When the shelling ceased, we were on the verge of collapse from fatigue and lack of sleep. After about , we had a concentration of fire on our positions. One [shell] burst south and to one side of our shelter, and this made several marks on the aiming apparatus and the barrel. The ammunition was set afire. Demolition shells must be good only for things above ground level because, queer as it may seem, the personnel are still intact.
This winds up things for this 3rd Platoon leader with the loss of three guns. Losing the guns puts a sense of guilt on me, yet the personnel are intact. There is nothing for us to do but to feel fortunate in the midst of all the bad luck.
World War II: The Pacific Islands
July All the personnel assembled where the Field Defense HQ was located, in the midst of shelling, after having come through the dark jungle and over muddy paths. We dug dugouts in the empty area. After getting wet from the evening dew, we lay down. The distance we traveled really was hard going, so much that it hardly can be expressed. Takagi died last night in the naval shelling. The dead already amounted to 6 to 7 men. Lance Cpl.
Ito and four men, who were handling rations, are missing.
WWII—the world at war again.
What do you call this? How could such action be called modern war? I keenly feel the poor liaison of the Japanese forces and the weakness of our military strength. This is really disheartening. Probational Officer Oura [the author] has been ordered to be the rifle platoon leader.
World War II Photos
We are to provide defense and security against the enemy, who is penetrating into the area of North Munda. The organization is now 27 men and a company of three squads. We are to make it impossible for an advance and attack to be made from any direction.
July Several enemy planes came over early this morning and circled at a low altitude to our rear. After every reconnoitering, shelling would follow. We are doing our best camouflaging right now. The sick, with 2nd Lt. Hattori, are to return from the 41st Battalion sometime today.
I am supposed to be in charge of them, and they are to be the 2nd Platoon. I am also to be in command of the rifle platoon. We rested at battalion headquarters for a little while when the order came for us to wait at the former positions, so we returned. Shells were falling, and there were patients being carried in on stretchers while fighters hovered over us in plain daylight. At 11 a.