Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tosh Yasutake Interview
Narrator: Tosh Yasutake
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: November 14, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-ytosh-01-0025

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: I think to end up, I wanna go back. So you, after four months, returned back to the unit and it was, they were in, I think, the Champagne Campaign at that point.

TY: Right.

TI: But after that they were then transferred back over to Italy.

TY: Right.

TI: And there was another key battle, the breaking of the Gothic Line.

TY: Gothic Line, yeah.

TI: And...

TY: I remember that. Yeah, at that time I was, when we went back to Italy, well, they asked me, "Where do you want to go? You wanna go back to Company I?" and I said, "Well, I don't think so." And he said --

TI: Tosh, before we go there, just to, to, the amazing thing about Company I was after you were wounded, was the battle of the Lost Battalion.

TY: Lost Battalion, yeah.

TI: And Company I took, took huge hits.

TY: Yeah. Well, as the legendary story goes, I think Company I ended up with two hundred and some odd men, let's see, in the company, how many... let's see, each platoon is about forty-five men that's, I think it must be about two hundred and fifty men and only seven or eight were left in Company I.

TI: So out of a full company only seven or eight were left standing.

TY: Standing, the rest were either wounded or killed in action.

TI: Including your, your, one of your replacements.

TY: Yeah, I think Victor Izui -- one of the medic, I think. He has been one fellow who has been very lucky. He had nine lives, I think. He just, he got wounded a couple times but it was just a scratch. Superficial wound. But he was in the thick of battle all the way through. And he survived all that. And I think -- interesting story about him is that when he came back, he went to dental school. And since the GI Bill didn't quite pay for that he decided to reenlist in the army so that the army would send him to the dental school. And he went to, got his dental degree, and then he had to sign up for two years commitment and they asked him, "Where do you want to be assigned to?" He said, "Fort Lewis." And so they sent him to Fort Lewis. And about two weeks after that, the Korean War started, and they sent him to Korea. [Laughs] And he told me that it was worse in Korea because you didn't know where the front line was. I mean, they just, the enemy is just all around you. And so they carried, they carried, the medics carried firearms there because of that. Anyway, and he survived that. So some people are just lucky, unlucky at some things, unlucky that he had to go to Korea but he was lucky that he survived.

TI: So let's go back to the Gothic Line.

TY: Yeah. I'm sorry.

TI: No, that was good. I'm glad you talked about that. So describe that, your role in that.

TY: Well, this is where I, when I looked at, looked at the books last night I found out that the -- I wasn't too clear how the anti-tank guys were assigned as litter bearers. And I read that book, segment of that book yesterday, about the Gothic Line, and I guess shortly after I got assigned to the anti-tank, they give me a choice of where I wanted to, company I wanted to go to and I picked anti-tank because they're mobile and I didn't have to do all the hiking. We were riding most of the time and my leg was such that I thought that it would be better for that, for me for that, so, and I asked for it and I got the assignment to anti-tank and the 1st Platoon. I was the 1st platoon aid man. And we went to -- when we got to Italy and during the Gothic Line -- Gothic Line, most of it was very wooded area and very, very hilly, and several mountains that we had to climb. And the first time we hit the line it was so pitch dark you couldn't see anything, it was so dark. And apparently what happened was that anti-tank, guys from the anti-tank -- the two platoons were attached to company -- to the 3rd Battalion, and one platoon was attached to the 2nd Battalion and, as litter bearers, because they knew there were going to be, probably be a large, a lot of casualties, so they were all assigned as litter bearers. And the platoon that I was with, the 1st Platoon, I think we were assigned to the 2nd Battalion.

But one of the first things we had to do was to go up a very, very steep mountain. I mean, it was really steep. It must have been about, how many degrees is that? Anyway, it was very, very steep. And it was so dark, it was very, couldn't see a foot in front of you. And when you started getting casualties, we had difficulty, litter bearers had difficulty traversing the steep hill, mountain, so, and since you couldn't see very well, what I decided to do was to -- in my aid kit I had this gauze roll bandages, several hundred feet of that, and so I went on top of the hill and I made a trail with that. I tied it to several branches that coming down so that the litter bearers can use that as a guide coming down. And it was so steep, not only a few times, several times some of the men would trip. And I remember one or two occasions where the one wounded on the litter, they dropped him, the individual, and we had to stop him from rolling down the hill and then put him back on the litter and, so he could be taken down below. But it was a pretty stressful situ-, time for us at that time, I remember. It was so dark. I can't believe how dark it was. And so at that time the company, anti-tank just, I think, spent about two weeks as litter bearers at that time. And that's all we did for a while during that stretch. After that it wasn't all that bad, I don't think, for the anti-, at, the only time they use the anti-tank gun is for retreating, and of course our unit never retreated, so they never really used the gun that much. Once or twice they did. But those 75mm Howitzer, they were not very good. And one of the reasons for that was that when they shoot it they have such a big muzzle blast, I mean huge, that you could probably see for hundreds of miles away, because it's -- and it's a dead giveaway where you are. And so they didn't like to shoot it. And so it was actually, for my money, it was absolutely useless, but we had 'em anyway.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.