Memories, Pozzilli, Hill 600 – November 1943

Our company had seen action in Alife and was now in reserve while the rest of the 100th Inf. Bn. crossed the Volturno River at night in early November and fought their way around Pozzilli, and had taken the Hills 600, etc. An urgent call came that the Battalion was in short supply of mortar shells. So, half of C Company left early in the morning, carrying only their rifles and mortar shells. They were told to leave their combat packs behind since they would be returning by nightfall. We took the trail behind the hills due to enemy observation on the main road. There were casualties when a “Bouncing Baby” mine was tripped. We reached the battalion CP (command post) and unloaded the mortar shells, but were prevented from returning to Pozzilli, as we were needed for an anticipated enemy counterattack on Hill 600. I found an empty well-dug foxhole and spent the night chain-smoking because of the chill mountain air and with only my field jacket to keep me warm. There were two wounded men waiting to be carried down to Pozzilli, but litter bearers could not go down the mined trail in the dark. Next morning, I saw that one of the men had died and I was deeply saddened at the loss. We were still held back all that day and as darkness fell, I was ordered to take five men with me to guard the D Company OP (observation post) on Hill 600 from enemy troops. The night was quiet with no enemy attacks, but it rained heavily for a half hour. All six of us became wet since our raincoats were down in Pozzilli in our combat packs. Next day was sunny and warm. Enemy artillery shelled us in the morning, but no counter-attack came. In the afternoon, as I sat near the OP, I suddenly saw enemy troop movement about 700 yards away, going through a gap in our lines. I alerted the D Company OP which was manned by S/Sgt. Tadayoshi Hamasaki and Sgt. Wataru Michioka, and they notified the Bn. CP by field telephone. By then about 70 of the green uniformed enemy troops had run up the draw. As soon as the last man had gone through our lines, our men closed the gap and began firing on the enemy. The men of C Company that had been held back until now also went into action and began firing. Accurate mortar shells also began exploding among the enemy troops and finally our machinegun crew added to the carnage. It was a short but intense battle with half the surviving enemy troops throwing down their weapons and surrendering. Later, we were told that our troops had seen the enemy troops go through the gap, but had waited until all of them had gone through the lines before firing on them. Shortly after that, I was ordered to withdraw my five men back to Bn. CP and all of C Company went down to Pozzilli carrying our wounded men down with us. About a week later, our battalion was relieved and went into reserve. I went up to Hill 600 again with Chaplain Yost on the sad mission of bringing down the men that had been killed in action. This time we used the main dirt road above Pozzilli because the enemy had been pushed back out of artillery range.—Tom Nagata