Thursday, January 25, 2007

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: September and the Ridge; Guadalcanal continues*3

The raging battle of Edson's Ridge is depicted in all its fury in this oil painting by the late Col Donald L. Dickson, who, as a captain, was adjutant of the 5th Marines on Guadalcanal. Dickson's artwork later was shown widely in the United States. Captain Donald L. Dickson, USMCR


FIRST OFFENSIVE: The Marine Campaign for Guadalcanal

by Henry I. Shaw, Jr.

September and the Ridge (continued)

On the morning of 13 September, Edson called his company commanders together and told them: "They were just testing, just testing. They'll be back." He ordered all positions improved and defenses consolidated and pulled his lines towards the airfield along the ridge's center spine. The 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, his backup on Tulagi, moved into position to reinforce again.

The next night's attacks were as fierce as any man had seen. The Japanese were everywhere, fighting hand-to-hand in the Marines' foxholes and gun pits and filtering past forward positions to attack from the rear. Division Sergeant Major Sheffield Banta shot one in the new command post. Colonel Edson appeared wherever the fighting was toughest, encouraging his men to their utmost efforts. The man-to-man battles lapped over into the jungle on either flank of the ridge, and engineer and pioneer positions were attacked. The reserve from the 5th Marines was fed into the fight. Artillerymen from the 5th Battalion, 11th Marines, as they had on the previous night, fired their 105mm howitzers at any called target. The range grew as short as 1,600 yards from tube to impact. The Japanese finally could take no more. They pulled back as dawn approached. On the slopes of the ridge and in the surrounding jungle they left more than 600 bodies; another 600 men were wounded. The remnants of the Kawaguchi force staggered back toward their lines to the west, a grueling, hellish eight-day march that saw many more of the enemy perish.

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