Saipan. D+12. June 27, 1944.

The good times on Kagman Peninsula couldn’t last forever. The Word passed down the line in darkness; grab your gear, get ready to move out. Riflemen slung their modified combat packs over their shoulders, machine gunners and mortar crews dismantled their weapons, and Corporal Bob Williams dismantled the parapet of TNT blocks he always built on the lip of his foxhole.[1] The scouts were on the move well before dawn, and the forward echelon command post of HQ Company was in motion by 0530. “The light of morning showed lines of troops heading toward Tapochau and then north once again,” remembered Lieutenant Fred Stott. “It often happens that there is far more apprehension when behind the front than when on it, so we were unconsciously relieved when a distant Nambu machine gun opened up without damage and our return was complete.”[2]

"BOSTONIAN EXAMINES CAPTURED JAP GUN. 1st Lt. Endecott Osgood of 116 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, Mass. examines a captured Jap machine gun which his platoon of scouts took from 46 Japs which they captured on Saipan in the Marianas."
“BOSTONIAN EXAMINES CAPTURED JAP GUN. 1st Lt. Endecott Osgood of 116 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, Mass. examines a captured Jap machine gun which his platoon of scouts took from 46 Japs which they captured on Saipan in the Marianas.”

“Oz” was a liaison officer with HQ/1/24.

It took the 24th Marines most of the day to reach their objective, a “reserve assembly area” convenient to the connecting flank of the 4th Marine Division and the still laggard 27th (Army) Division. The 27th was taking a beating in the hellish terrain of central Saipan. “Hell’s Pocket,” “Paradise Valley,” and “Purple Heart Ridge” would not soon be forgotten by the soldiers who survived, and further command shake-ups exacerbated the problem.[3] Gaps developed once again as the right flank (elements of the 23rd Marines) overran the towns of Donnay and Hashigoru, which were under the observation of Japanese troops on the high ground inland. This high ground, according to the Marines, should have been seized by the Army long ago. Thus the left flank of the Marine line had to bend back like a fishhook, and 3/24 was told to fill the hole in the unexpectedly lengthened line.

Even the usually levelheaded Stott voiced his frustration.

Our foxholes were pre-dug by units which had passed on to the north, but this exposed flank faced higher wooded hills toward [Mount] Tapochau and the west, and this higher ground was as yet untouched. Patrols dispatched before twilight discovered no enemy in the immediate vicinity. But several accurate bursts from hidden machine guns confirmed our fears that once again we were seated under an enemy position which possessed superior height and observation; except the machine guns rather than artillery constituted the major danger, and most of us preferred the machine guns. 

All of “D plus 12″ we sat and sat and watched these woods, unable to deliver any effective fire, for every time we requested permission to open up, it was denied on the grounds that the Army was advancing and would soon be occupying that hill. So we sat and watched the Nips flit safely back and forth amongst the trees while our distaste for the terrain grew hourly.[4]

Despite their advances during the day, 1/24 remained in division reserve and no major offensive operations were carried out. The battalion settled in to their pre-dug foxholes, watched the Japanese run to and fro, and waited for orders.

One of their corpsmen needed no orders to do his duty. Maurice Tellier, an eighteen-year-old pharmacist’s mate, heard cries for help somewhere in front of the battalion. Going forward of the lines to rescue wounded men was Tellier’s trademark, and he volunteered to investigate despite increasingly heavy incoming fire.

Doc Tellier, 1943.

His dedication paid off. Lying helpless on the ground were three wounded Marines, one officer and two enlisted men. Though nicked by a piece of flying metal, Tellier helped to evacuate all three before trotting back to his own aid station for a bandage. He had no intention of leaving the lines, not while there was so much work to be done.

june27marked

WOUNDED
COMPANY Name Assignment Cause Destination
Headquarters PhM3c Maurice Tellier Corpsman Unknown Not Evacuated

NON-COMBAT EVACUATION

COMPANY Name Assignment Cause Destination
Able Cpl. Edward L. Stewart
PFC Herbert J. Mauritz [5]
PFC Howard S. Voeltz
Fire Team Leader
Rifleman
Rifleman
Sick
Sick
Sick
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown

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FOOTNOTES

[1] Robert L. Williams, “In My Own Words,” interview conducted by Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh, March 12, 2014. Williams was in charge of a demolitions team, and part of his combat load was 20 one-quarter pound blocks of explosive. “Every night, whenever I had it, I would put it up in front of my foxhole for protection. You can shoot at TNT all you want, [to set it off] you need the blasting caps.” The explosive primers were another story and always treated with care; Williams noted that they were “temperamental.”
[2] Frederic A. Stott, “Saipan Under Fire” (Andover: Frederic Stott, 1945), 9.
[3] Major General Ralph Smith was not the only 27th Division leader to be relieved of command; on D+11 the 106th Infantry lost its CO to a similar situation, and Marine Corps historian John C. Chapin notes that “Nineteen other officers of the 27th Infantry Division were also relieved after the Saipan battle was over, although only one of them had commanded a unit in battle.”
[4] Stott. In his narrative, Stott evidently conflates the events of June 27 and June 28, as he mentions an assault that, according to both Battalion and Regimental documents, was scheduled for the following day.
[5] PFC Robert Tierney states that Mauritz was not sick but ”slightly wounded,” returning to the lines within a few days.

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