Battle for Piva Trail
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The Battle for Piva Trail was a battle between United States Marine Corps and Imperial Japanese Army forces on Bougainville Island. The battle took place on 8–9 November 1943 during the Bougainville campaign in the days following the US landing at Cape Torokina.
In early November, US forces had landed around Cape Torokina and established a beachhead. Facing the American beachhead at Cape Torokina were troops of the Japanese 17th Division, commanded by General Harukichi Hyakutake. Men of the U.S. 2nd Marine Raider Battalion had set up a roadblock on the Piva Trail and Hyakutake determined to dislodge it. To this end, he brought north troops of the Japanese 23rd Division from southern Bougainville.
On the night of 5–6 November, the Marines drove off two preliminary attacks. Colonel Edward A. Craig surmised that this was just a preparatory action and brought up more Raiders to reinforce the roadblock. When the Japanese attacked the following afternoon (7 November), the Marines were ready and drove the Japanese back to Piva village. Early on the morning of 8 November, Major General Shun Iwasa renewed the attack with two full battalions. The Americans brought up men of the 3rd Raider Battalion to protect the flanks of the Marines already engaged, as well as some light tanks. Frontal attacks by the Japanese were repulsed.
Major General Allen H. Turnage, in command of the 3rd Marine Division, determined that the Japanese lodged on the trail represented a threat to the airstrips and had to be removed, with the assault beginning on the morning of 9 November. The Japanese had several well-placed machine guns and were attempting an attack of their own; a bloody stalemate developed. Private First Class Henry Gurke of the 3rd Marine Raider Battalion was awarded the second Medal of Honor of the Bougainville Campaign during this fight by throwing himself on a grenade and saving his foxhole-mate.
Marine firepower eventually proved too much for the Japanese, who retreated to and through Piva Village in the early and mid-afternoon. The Marines took possession of the vital intersection of the Piva and Numa Numa Trails.
- Gailey 1991, p. 101
- Gailey 1991, p. 101
- Gailey 1991, pp. 99-101
- Gailey, Harry A. (1991). Bougainville, 1943–1945: The Forgotten Campaign. Lexington, Kentucky, USA: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-9047-9.
- Shaw, Henry I.; Kane, Douglas T. (1963). Volume II: Isolation of Rabaul. History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II. Archived from the original on 20 November 2006.