Everything But The Kitchen Sink
As told by Tery S. Terauchi
The 100th Infantry Battalion entered Salerno on the 22d of September with a strength of 1,300 men and by the end of December had been reduced to 832 officers and men. As the battalion prepared for the attack upon Cassino in late January 1944, its effective strength had been further reduced to 521, or 40% of its original strength – statistics extracted from Murphy’s “Ambassador in Arms.”
Last month, Calvin Shimogaki related an account of his ordeal in clearing a path through the minefield during the opening phase of the battle of Cassino. As an extension of that same episode, Tery Terauchi of Charlie Company tells us about the happenings to his machine gun platoon. Sgt. Terauchi’s story…
Feeling our way through the knee-deep mud, we finally came to the white tape. Moving cautiously, I led my machine gun platoon to the retaining wall on the east bank of the Rapido River where our advance was stopped. Then the word came to withdraw the machine gun platoon about 300 yards to the broad ditch. Overhead fire support was needed since the Germans situated in the barracks on the slopes were spraying the mud flats with machine gun fire and no one could move.
Stumbling our way back through the mud, men and equipment were shortly well coated with mud. But somehow we made it, and at about 2 or 3 in the morning with our machine guns set in position, we opened fire on the German positions and soon were engaged in a duel with the German guns. Tracers were flying all over the place. It was like an old fashioned Fourth of July fireworks display.
Then our guns began to jam. Mud which had gotten into the receivers were beginning to cake up with the head of firing and we had to hand-force the bolts forward to keep the guns firing. It was at this critical stage that artillery fire started coming over to pound the machine gun positions which we had been battling.
What a relief! We could now withdraw to the rear and take then to our guns. On the way forward, we had spotted a farmhouse and that is where we would withdraw to. As my platoon started the withdrawal, I could count my lucky stars that we had even been able to provide some kind of machine gun fire and support to the battalion. For my gun crew was in reality a souped-up “kitchen” crew.
With our strength reduced to half, the only gunner I had was Richard Honda who had been borrowed, I believe, from Dog Company. I cannot now recall properly the names of the others but there was Poison, a motor corporal; and Baker, Uyehara and Asato who had been called forward from their Charlie Company kitchen positions to help fill the shortages in the front lines. But this kitchen crew had fought the Germans in a magnificent gun duel, until their guns could fire no more.
And at this stage, if the kitchen utensils had been available, I’m sure that our kitchen crew would have started tossing pots, pans, knives, and the kitchen sink at the Germans. Including the hash in the C rations. After all, who can sling more hash than a buddahead.