Second Battalion Headquarters Company 163 Infantry: Ammunition and Pioneer Platoon

By Tech Sergeant Normand Mathews and Dr. Hargis Westerfield, Division Historian

 

     Biak. On 12 June 1944, A&P Platoon landed with our 2nd Battalion 163 Infantry to reinforce the hard-fought 41st on Biak. After watching three Zeroes blasted from the sky over our LSTs, A&P perimetered on the coast road west towards Parai Defile and set up 2nd Battalion's ammo dump. For some six weeks until the Japs' 3rd Battalion 222 Infantry died in Ibdi Pocket, supplying our men was our main duty.

     We could truck some supplies to platoons close to the Bosnek-Parai Road, but we had to backpack for outfits high on the coral ridges. We lifted loads up almost perpendicular cliffs and along dim jungle tracks. Both Japs and Yanks sometimes fired on us. Often, we volunteered to carry the wounded back to Medics. We must make many perilous return trips through our own perimeters at night, when guards might kill us for Japs. Backpacking was our most heroic work on Biak.

     After Ibdi Pocket died, A&P landed in 2nd Battalion at Korim Bay to mop up north Biak. There we bridged a stream. We felled and floated logs from great jungle trees down to the crossing. Our bridge was strong enough for jeeps.

     One cold, wet morning, A&P followed a rifle company several miles inland. Riflemen spotted a Jap position topping a long slope with a clear field of fire hundreds of yards down before it. A rifle squad probed from both flanks, and found four Japs huddled under a canvas square from the rain, and a .50 heavy machine gun still cased in waterproof canvas. Jap hands reached skywards when our M-1s menaced them.

     Not wanting to scout farther with prisoners, the patrol left A&P's Miller and Mathews to guard them beside the heavy machine gun. They spent two nervous hours in fear of a Jap attack.

     When the patrol returned and relieved us, a Jap Sergeant volunteered to tote the heavy machine gun back to 2nd Battalion. The gun somehow became A&P's and part of our perimeter defense.

     Later near Korim Bay, A&P manned a trail-block where we had bridged the stream. The air was redolent with Jap corpses. We tried to bury them. Our booby-traps halted some starved Nippo stragglers, but on Milder's advice after a week, the trail-block ended. A&P's Biak war was over.

 

CREDIT: Prime credit is due to Tech Sergeant Norman Mathew's 15-page single-spaced typescript on Toem-Wakde, Biak, and Zamboanga, sent in three installments beginning 28 June and ending 13 August 1982. Mathews also helped me in letters of 19 June, 16 July, 27 July, 4 August, and 13 August - all in 1982. G Company 163 Infantry's Gerald Varney also helped in a letter of 1 August 1982. Although 163's Journals omit mention of A&P, I organized Mathew's story of Zamboanga by reference to 163's Zambo Casualty List.