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-01-0070

<Begin Segment 70>

TI: So you were asked, I think it was the 2nd Battalion, to withdraw to Nhpum Ga hill --

RM: Yeah, right.

TI: -- which was a hill.

RM: Backtrack.

TI: And to, and to hold the hill. And in the process of doing that, you were surrounded by the Japanese...

RM: Yeah.

TI: And not just surrounded, but for days. You were surrounded --

RM: Nine days, ten days.

TI: -- for nine days.

RM: Yes.

TI: And, and the Japanese forces were much larger, but you had a perimeter set up with about six hundred men at that time.

RM: Six hundred, yeah, six to seven hundred men. Some of 'em were sick and wounded, so...

TI: And during those nine days, the Japanese would make sort of constant, sort of attacks.

RM: Harassment, artillery.

TI: Assaults, to try to break the perimeter over and over again.

RM: Yeah, uh-huh.

TI: So when this was going on, you would do things at night, to help, again, get intelligence or information about what the Japanese were gonna do the next day. Talk abut that a little bit; what did you do to get the information and how did you do it?

RM: Okay. First we withdrew and there was 3rd Battalion, too. So the 3rd Battalion first moved, then passed Nhpum Ga, then went to Hsamshingyang and there's a rice paddy there and so that we could land L-5, that's a liaison plane to evacuate our wounded out, so 3rd Battalion moved up there, but the 2nd Battalion were told to hold the Nhpum Ga hill, that's a trail there so that the enemy wouldn't come back through air strip, not rice paddy, but, so we stopped there, then they kept harassing and we were told to stay there so we dug up and entrenched and waited. In the meantime, we were able to evacuate the sick and wounded and so happened was that Sergeant Nakada and Sergeant Sugeta were sick, so evacuated, and so only leave Sergeant Honda, Bob Honda and myself. But he was sick in the foxhole. So I'm the only one available. So they're already two were evacuated. Then now we cannot evacuate Honda because it was sealed. So...

TI: At that point you were surrounded.

RM: Surrounded, see. So then 3rd Battalion tried to break through so that the sick and wounded would be, get out of there, but couldn't come. The reason couldn't come was there's a resistance, the enemy was there, that's why. So we been surrounded and we're getting short of water and ammunition and rations and so we don't know what to do, going to starve. Of course, sometime we get air drop on calm day but still wind and some of things like grain for the animal, we have a little more than hundred horses and mules to carry the machine guns, tripods and things like that, so radio equipment. But they cannot, enemy cannot dig a hole, foxhole, so they standing there and then each time artillery burst we get, and die, then how, whether the stomach bloated, burst and juice come out and stink and you couldn't stand the stench. That called "Maggot Hill," too, because lot of maggot come and unbearable but no place to go, enemy were there every time try to move. And we also had a water hole in the spring coming out but we getting water from there but every time we go, we be surrounded so open up machine gun, so we lost the water hole, supply of water. So now we requested drop water by, in, put 'em in the plastic bag and drop it, and grain, too, for the animal --

TI: So the circumstances were pretty dire in that you were at this point surrounded. The water hole wasn't usable because the Japanese had covered it --

RM: Put machine guns, we lost that.

TI: -- or machine guns there. That in addition, because your animals couldn't be in foxholes, whenever there was artillery they would be killed so you had dead animals all around.

RM: All around, yes.

TI: And so the stench from the animals was really bad.

RM: Yeah, we lost about hundred animals.

TI: So you were lacking water, it was hard to get supplies to you so you were lacking food, and so it was really a difficult situation.

<End Segment 70> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.