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-01-0074

<Begin Segment 74>

TI: But okay, so let's go back. So now you're, you have this information and you report back that there's gonna be this pre-dawn attack. So what happens next?

RM: Well, what happened, Colonel ordered, quietly, see, since gonna be dawn so we have, I just came back just before midnight. So we got about four hours to prepare, do something. So what I did is don't make any noise, enemy are there. So quietly, booby trap the foxhole, get out there and quietly dig slowly about fifteen yards back to twenty yards, because we couldn't go any higher than that because we're almost at the top of the hill. So dig a new foxhole. Then we're gonna reinforce you with a automatic weapon. So Colonel really believed me because I'm not telling lie, made, not a made-up story. So he said actually gonna happen. So he says they're gonna reinforce me. So we send up the machine guns, from, machine guns Weapons Squad 2, reinforce the rifle platoon and BAR, Browning Automatic and also Thompson sub machine guns and waited. And then things break out. But we had a weapon and they told, "Don't shoot, don't commence fire until ordered to do so." So even though enemy charge up, don't do anything, see, let them come up. And that's what exactly happened. They came up.

Then came up to the foxhole, they knew where we were. But we weren't there -- [laughs] -- empty. But they didn't know. So at night couldn't see so well. They know exactly where that is, only their enemy only fifteen yards away, in the bush somewhere, and came up there, charge up the hill. And not steep, gentle, was easiest way to come up, so just run up there and put a bayonet there. Nothing there. Then, well, they thought might be little bit farther up, you know. Then come up there and come to about ten yards or so, all of a sudden I, about fifty, say, automatic weapons open up and each one has carbine and the thing is, we had more firepower and Japanese had Arisaka sanpachi, is a .38 model, bolt action, five-round clip. And each time you squeeze the trigger you have to cock it, so takes time. Whereas, even the carbine, semi-automatic if you pull the trigger, fifteen rounds and then automatic weapon just squeeze, just like a machine gun, Browning Automatic and so more firepower. So...

TI: So you had a lot of firepower, they got within ten yards, they opened up --

RM: Yeah.

TI: And shot down that first wave. And then what happened?

RM: Well, there's the second wave coming up there. Then they decided they didn't give order to retreat, but they're talking, maybe could be the sergeant, "Hike, hike," that means "withdraw." Well, I didn't mention this before, but that's what I heard. That means retreat.

TI: And this was the sergeant in the first wave or second wave?

RM: Second wave. And so instead of retreat, they stop, so they, well, some of 'em jump in the foxhole, then all of a sudden trip wire then, then either wounded or killed. We found some of 'em in, dead in our own foxholes, see, so they just killed by, well, some may be wounded, we don't, couldn't see too well. But at the time tell 'em, totsugeki, so see some sort of a -- all confusion because the firepower and the open up, doin'. And so I gave my, "Totsugeki ni."

TI: Okay, so, at that point you stood up and gave this --

RM: Yes, stood, otherwise they don't hear, because in the foxhole you can't... so that goin' on there, fire, I see the flash all over.

TI: So in all this confusion, so the first wave was pretty much mowed down.

RM: Yeah, some were mowed down.

TI: The second --

RM: Well, not all of 'em get killed, I don't think. Wounded, maybe retreated, tried to...

TI: They're retreating, the second wave is --

RM: The second wave --

TI: -- a sergeant essentially called for a retreat and so they're sort of pulling back a little bit.

RM: Yeah.

TI: At that point you stand up?

RM: Stand up, yes.

TI: And you say...

RM: Give a 'em order. Of course, right now I'm not shouting, but I shout, give 'em order so that it could, everybody hear among the noise goin' on there, poppin' everything else.

TI: So please give me the command again.

RM: So, "Totsugeki ni! Susume! Tokkan! Tsukkome!" All those things. The totsugeki ni is you have to give 'em order, preparative order because that's like a, track and field race, on your mark, you have to say, then let them anticipate the order. So you say, "Susume, susume," they won't move. You have to give 'em a -- so I learned this in field manual, in Japanese and also lecture, see, I remember that. So actually I never gave order before, but this will work because that's the way they've been trained. So totsugeki ni mean, that mean, they get prepared to charge. Then susume, you could say that or they say tokkan is another word. So I use all of 'em there, then confusion, so you know, susume, susume, that's, book just say, "Susume, susume," but actually, I said, "Totsugeki ni."

TI: And what gave you the idea to do this?

RM: Well, I mean, I don't want them to retreat. I want them to get killed because we have machine gun waiting there.

TI: So you saw them retreating and you knew that, that you were ready up here, so you didn't -- so you wanted them to keep going.

RM: Yeah, keep going.

TI: And so it just came to you in your mind that if you did this they would keep going?

RM: Yeah, sure. They follow orders. Japanese, if give them a charge order, different charge, they'll either get killed by own coward, court-martial or whatever, but this is the war, you have to --

TI: So you gave the command and then what happened?

RM: Then they charge up, everybody. So they'll open up and they shoot at, of course, they see ours, muzzle flash, too, and theirs, too, but theirs is slow and also our caliber is thirty caliber and Japanese was twenty-five caliber and also each time cock, so nobody got hurt our side because they didn't have a chance to shoot much.

TI: So on your side no one was hurt?

RM: No one hurt.

TI: And when daylight was there --

RM: Day come, then we had a head count and found out that the body count, fifty-four right immediate area and two of 'em were officers and the one carry a nice sword. According to book I didn't explain all of 'em but one of the officer I saw is, his name is Tanaka. Tanaka, Minoru Tanaka, second lieutenant.

<End Segment 74> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.