Astory of the 2nd marine division and the battle for tarawa atoll, 20-28 november, 1943
21 Novmeber, 1943
The pace of peter's platoon hadn't slowed much. within minutes, they joined the marines attacking the three 80mm coastal defense guns further down the beach. as they approached the scene, swarms of american marines were overrunning the japanese emplacmements. the ease of their assault was a testimony to the well done job of peter and his comrades, in taking out the menacing machine gun nests. with each step, ryan's men were gaining greater prizes.
there was little time to rest however. the momentum of the battle was sweeping the entire division. in all his life, peter hadn't experienced a thrill such as this. "if what they had done a day before was pay their dues, this was one hell of a quick reward." HE thought.
directly in front of them, however, lay the 2nd company, sasebo 7th special naval landing force. if not properly respected, this group would present a rude awakening for those who beleived the worst of this day's fight behind them. they stood in the way of a group of machine gun nests and a pair of 8" coastal defense guns at the southwestern tip of the island.
As they advanced through the palm trees, they were confronted by the japanese soldiers, and immediately shots flew back and forth between the two contingents. Bullets whizzed through the air over vannover and his men, as they ducked and took cover behind the palms. advance units of ryan's battalion sought to outflank the enemy, as vannover pulled his men forward to support them. as a group of enemy soliders moved against thier left flank, peter's platoon moved to confront them. the ensuing engamement did not last too long. Peter noticed the desperation of the forces they were combating. He figured they had to know that the outcome for them would not be desirable. but one thing peter did not yet know, was the determination of the japanese soldier, today and the previous day being his first encounter with them.
the eventless night before had left a shadow of doubt in most of the american soldier's minds, about the capabilities of the enemy facing them. The horror stories of guadalcanal had come to fruition in a different manner on tarawa. with the savagery of the landings on d-day, they had witnessed, first hand, the incredible might of the japanese war manchine. today they were getting some measure of revenge, and the speed at which they were advancing on green beach was fueling these thoughts.
to the right, other elements of ryan's unit were attacking machine gun nests, defending the beach. now, with bayonets affixed to their rifles peter and his companions were prepared for more hand to hand combat with the japanese. vannover opened up at the advancing regulars, with peter and the rest joining in. the fury of combat was an extreme contrast to the life peter had led before.