Archive for December 24th, 2008

…and on Guadalcanal
Japanese were still shooting
At us and our pals

The Gifu we’d found
Last stronghold of size
All hidden in foliage
Causing greatest surprise

Fifteen times three
Those pillboxes numbered
And in there no soldier
On Christmas Eve slumbered

And that’s about the gist of it.  By mid-December, the fight for control of Guadalcanal had turned decidedly in favor of the U.S.  As I’ve mentioned before, hunger was our biggest ally.  The Japanese Navy, continuously harrassed by the Cactus Air Force and unable to squelch it, had little success in getting supplies to the beleaguered, and now starving, troops.  The Japanese soldier was reduced to eating grass, leaves, bugs, and even dirt to survive.

But those still healthy could put up a fight, as our little rhyme suggests.  On December 24, 1942, the American 132nd Infantry – the 1st Marine Division had been replaced earlier in the month by the 2nd Marine Division and two Army divisions – discovered the Gifu, a well-hidden network of pillboxes just to the west of Mount Austen.  Defended by more than 500 Japanese, it was the largest remaining enemy stronghold on Guadalcanal.

And so, on this Christmas Eve, the island fight would continue.  And as we’ll see in the future, the Gifu would be one tough nut to crack.

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