Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Roy H. Matsumoto Interview
Narrator: Roy H. Matsumoto
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 17 & 18, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-mroy-01-0066

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TI: So, let's continue with your I&R, so that's Intelligence and Reconnaissance --

RM: Yes.

TI: -- work that you're doing. So you're sort of a scout team out there looking and checking, so...

RM: Well, we have a scout and, not everybody goes, we split 'em up and, see, just lookin' around. We're, they ahead of. Then we have a radio so come in if it's safe to move in, and the people follow us. So we're, I&R is the scout outfit and also we have a sniper, too, if I located the enemy, see...

TI: So why don't you talk about now what your scout team did at Walawbum, because you did some important things there.

RM: See, 3rd Battalion was first and we were reserve, that next village there at Wesu Ga and they just started fighting and Sergeant Henry Gosho was there and we didn't, we didn't know that the enemy was there. We came out of jungle, then we open field, all of a sudden we found a road there, goin' there. So they tried to go on the road, then the Japanese open up. They were there but we didn't, we didn't know that. Then the battle started so they been fighting for almost a day. Then, since there's a road there, 2nd Battalion reserve came to open and then that road, Japanese were sending a truck to supply the front line who were fighting the Chinese in two divisions and then they also had a tank, too, and go through the road there. So we wanna prevent that. So we made a roadblock, cut the tree down and lay on the road so the truck must stop then we shoot. So we're hiding in jungle but about, well, about thirty-six hours they been fighting, not us but the 3rd Battalion were fighting there. We just got there, then made a roadblock. Then I was with them, too, I&R, first group, see. And look up, there's a telephone wire there, so I thought our telephone wire, because we have a weapons platoon, it's mortar and some observer see where it's landed, see, so we use the wire, field wire. But then the unit, the person of the association was a lieutenant in charge of the weapons, heavy weapons platoon, see. So says, "Is that ours?" He says, "I don't think so." So I borrow his handset, climb up a tree, see. There was a live wire and the Japanese. I didn't expect it, so, then...

TI: So let me, before we go on, let me recap. So you came across, by surprise, a road first that was built by the Japanese to help supply the lines.

RM: Uh-huh.

TI: And then you observed, next to the road, a telephone wire. You climbed up there and it was a live wire --

RM: Yeah.

TI: -- that the Japanese were using to communicate from probably their headquarters up to the front.

RM: Yeah.

TI: Okay, so go ahead.

RM: Yeah. See, then we thought ours, but we didn't lay there, and, of course, normally if you set up a mortar position, we just lay on the ground, see. But some people say telephone post, but no telephone post, that's a tree there. And maybe up in the field they might have a post, but see, right, way top in the big tree there. And so I climb up in the big tree branch and just sat on there. Then, well, been there for a while but then they start to shoot, me --

TI: But Roy, before you even climbed up there, how did, how did you tap into the line? This was a Japanese telephone wire --

RM: Jump-, I mean, a clip. Clip into wire.

TI: Okay, so you had, you had clips or someone had clips that you could clip in --

RM: Uh-huh.

TI: -- and then with your, sort of, radio set you could listen...

RM: Not radio, telephone.

TI: It was more -- just a telephone, just a little telephone. You would clip in and you could hear the Japanese talking back and forth.

RM: Uh-huh, yeah.

TI: And then you would climb the tree and so you would sit up in the tree and you would listen with the telephone --

RM: Yeah.

TI: -- what was happening. Okay.

RM: Uh-huh. Well, first, well, they're makin' lotta noise and down there, too, so have to cover by hand, that mike. So listen, then you cannot write. So then I got an idea, unscrew the mouthpiece. And so kinda hard, then I had a pad there and what they'd say, just translate and just drop it. And down there's a I&R platoon and it has a radio set and then one of hand crank, generator and then send the radio message to where headquarters is, our. And so we take turn. Other people go up there and no report come down.

<End Segment 66> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.