WWII (1943-46)

“Shore Bombardment at Guam” — July, 1944

Memory from: Robert Hatfield

Setting the Scene

Robert Hatfield, relates in an interview with KIDD historian Fred Benton how the KIDD provided shore bombardment to the Marines fighting to retake the island of Guam during World War II. In many instances, gunfire support from vessels like the KIDD lying offshore enabled the Marines to overcome opposition with a minimal loss of life to American forces.

The Recollection

Robert Hatfield: We had a call for fire, where they . . . go in close ashore, pick out a target that had so many Marines bogged down [that] they couldn’t move. And it was a tank that was up under the side of a mountainous cliff right on the edge of the ocean. And they [the Marines] were coming up this roadway going up around the back to try to clean up whatever was left [of an enemy position], and they couldn’t go back because they had Japanese [troops] in back of ’em that had come up behind ’em. They couldn’t make it around this turn ’cause they had a Japanese tank up there shooting at ’em every time they shoved their nose out. And they had us come in there and pick him out and we blasted him right off the cliff. We knocked the whole side of the cliff away and they couldn’t get through then. I mean the road went and everything with it. We had another time like that, I think it might have been Guam or one of the islands [that] had a mountain to it, where the Marines had called for fire. They were sorta like trying to advance over an area that they couldn’t get through without somebody giving ’em a hand at cleaning it out and it meant shooting over a mountain, which is what they call enfilade fire.

That means taking a shell, like say you’re gonna fire say 15 degrees and hit a target? You’d put it at 75 [degrees] and she’ll go up in the air and reach her orbit [apex] and come back down the other side like a depth charge. Fred Benton: Like field artillery. Robert Hatfield: Yeah. Howitzer stuff. And so we put that bugger up. We figured it all out on our range tables and all that and put it up there and we were missing like so much. We’d get a spot, you know, here, front or back, and so many yards. We’d go to the table and we’d–this was actually done without the computer, you know, the rangekeeper. You’d just crank this in off your range tables, which was something they don’t–never do now. In them days, you had to have real good knowledge of how to do it in case your equipment went down, . . . completely out. We kept spotting it up 300 yards and the Marines say “You got a hit. Beautiful. USS KIDD, you’re all right!” We wiped out this certain thing they had that was holding ’em from getting through.

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