E Company 162 Infantry

by Sergeant Floyd West


Continued from Salamaua and Hollandia Campaigns…

 

When E 162 landed on Biak, I was reassigned to the BAR. On 27 May 1944, shortly after 0900 hours, "E" landed dry at Bosnek Jetty and scouted towards Parai Defile. "E" was securing the inland flank of 3rd Battalion pushing westward down the beach towards Mokmer Strip.

After patrolling about 500 yards to my left along the ridge above the jetty, I still saw only white cliffs ahead. Then we were recalled. For so far, marching 3rd Battalion had seen no Japs and thought that they needed no protection.

While falling back, I suddenly heard a noise and rose up to look over a bush. A Jap was also up and preparing to shoot me with an automatic weapon. This Jap "BAR" had a long curved top cartridge clip, unlike my BAR with the clip under the gun.

Instantly I fired first - squeezing the trigger for six shots a second. First bullet hit the Jap near the left shoulder. Other bullets then cut a strip across his body to the right ear. I felt hot blood on my own hands and face. I had beheaded the Jap, and the wind had blown the blood on me. Slipping around the bush, I saw four Japs including the beheaded man lying with their backs up, like playing possum. The living three lay face down in a six-foot pocket in the brush. They had three automatic rifles, but they made no further attempt to use them. The headless Jap had a star on his shoulder.

I told my platoon to hold fire, then I executed the live three. Blood from an artery or lung squirted several feet up in the air. These four Japs had let our patrol bypass them on the way up the ridge. For an unknown reason, they failed to fire and slip away. Before we recovered from our surprise, they could have killed a number of us and then escaped.

I later wondered whether we should have tried to take the three live Japs for prisoners. But I also thought  that they might have hidden grenades on their bodies to blow up any "E" men who might try to capture them. We left the corpses for foolish souvenir hunters.

On 29 May, my platoon was waiting for orders down in the Defile. A real sniper – not just any Jap rifleman whom we called a sniper – was firing down from Parai Cliff – less than 1,000 yards away.

When the bullet hit me, I was near a large tree. It pierced my helmet and cut my cheekbone just before my right ear. Perhaps the bullet hit the tree first and spent much of its force before it rebounded and hit me. For by just a half-inch, it missed my eye, temple, or ear and did not bore in. After ten days in hospital, I rejoined E Company – with just a small patch on my cheekbone.

Home on furlough, I transferred to the Air Corps as a mechanic. But my heart still belongs to 162 Infantry and our 41st Infantry Division.

 

CREDIT: Floyd West's letters of 15 February, 6 April, 25 June, and 22 November - all written in 1985. These consist of 19 legal size pages and 16 letter size pages - single-spaced and handwritten.