The following five-part text has been written by William Paull, a U.S. Marine who served with the 1st Marine Division in combat throughout the war. He has kindly allowed me to post this, "to balance all this swabby stuff".

Bill Paull: Guadalcanal November 1942 - February 1943

It was hard to believe that Tulagi and Guadalcanal are only twenty miles apart. It was easy to figure out why the officials of the Lever Company had set up their headquarters on Tulagi. The big island felt hotter and swarmed with mosquitoes. There is a narrow strip of coconut plantations on the coast; the rest of the island is steep mountains, covered with dense jungle. We camped in a level area between two sluggish, muddy rivers. The island stank and I never got used to the smell. I felt that the stench reached into my bones. It took months in New Zealand with cool weather, cold milk, fresh fruit, and friendly civilians before I felt clean and human again.

Every night , a lone bomber from Rabaul, or some other Jap base nearby, made a run over Henderson Field and dropped a few bombs. Since our position was near the field, we got clobbered with the near misses. We dubbed the nightly visitor Washing Machine Charlie. I guess that high droning sound reminded someone of his mother's Maytag. Charlie usually managed to dump a couple of bombs on the field, but the SeaBees could always patch up the damage and keep a runway operating. Charlie's real damage was psychological. He kept us on edge as we jumped into our holes two or three times every night. After a week or so, we just ignored him. We'd wake up to that high, scary, drone and decide to take our chances in our fox holes.

G Battery became the artillery support for an Army regiment that was assaulting Mt. Austin. Sam Dallas and I were attached to one of the infantry companies of the 164th Army Regiment as forward observers. I developed love and respect for those "dog-faces." Marines like to feel superior, but those doggies had as much determination and guts as we did. Sam and I had a built-in advantage since we had been in the islands for almost four months and were regarded with respect as grizzled veterans. I know that we capitalized on this and told outrageous stories of our heroic deeds.

I have hazy memories of that long, slow hike up to a ridge overlooking a Japanese strong point. The advance up the slope was painful and the column was stopped whenever a Jap sniper fired. When there was a concentration of enemy troops ahead, the lieutenant would ask us to call for artillery fire. This was scary for me... I hadn't been trained for this kind of warfare. Our field exercises back in California taught us how to register our guns on targets that we could see... to direct artillery fire up, down, left, right, and observe the impacts. In Guadalcanal's dense jungle, none of this applied. Our guns were registered on a checkpoint far in advance of our position so we could call fire back toward us in increments of fifty yards. It is spooky when you see and feel artillery shells exploding in the trees only a few yards away and know that you are responsible. Anyway, our shells were ineffective. They were fused to explode at the first resistance which meant that they blasted all the tree tops but didn't do much damage to the snipers and troops below. Among my memories of bad things is the smell of burnt powder and shredded vegetation.

We finally reached the ridge and dug in. At night we could hear the Japs shouting, "Maline, you die!" They had snipers placed on their side of the slope so it was instant suicide to stick your head up to take a peek. We had two army radiomen assigned to us to send our commands back to the gun batteries. Sam and I used their TBY as a screen when we had to make a firing adjustment. I guess we hoped that Japs would hit the radio and put it out of commission. We reasoned that if that happened, we'd be declared unnecessary personnel and sent back down the mountain. This ploy didn't succeed, but after three hairy, scary nights on the ridge Sam and I were relieved by a couple of Army observers and ordered to report back to G Battery.

We started back down the trail accompanied by two stretcher bearers carrying a wounded soldier. We were almost out of the jungle when snipers opened up on us. Sam was hit and rolled down a steep bank into a little stream. The stretcher bearers ran off the trail with their burden but they weren't able to save the soldier. I jumped behind a fallen log and found myself alongside a decaying Jap corpse. This was a peak of terror and horror. I was lying alongside a stinking mass of putrefaction and too afraid to move. I thought Sam was dead. I could see that the wounded soldier had been killed and I assumed the other two soldiers were dead too. Then my mind went on automatic pilot. I remained aware of what was happening, but I felt a cool detachment. I seemed to be merely an interested observer. This ability to tune out fear and panic and still do my job served me well throughout the Tarawa, Saipan, Guam and Iwo Jima landings. Every time I was in a dangerous, stressful situation, I was able to switch into automatic drive and function without panic. I came to be regarded as a fearless warrior, and I was willing to accept the label. Eventually, I even conned myself into believing that I was the super, splendid, ideal Marine that my peers perceived me to be. But I had a secret. I knew that no matter how terrible the situation might be, I'd emerge unscathed. It was some other guy that looked just like me that was exposed to all those dangers. I'd still be OK when the show ended and the credits rolled by on the movie screen. This ability even earned me a field commission two years later on Iwo Jima.

Eventually an army patrol came down the trail and cleared out the four snipers that had us pinned down. The two soldiers were unhurt. Sam was hit in the side but he could walk, so we stuck with the patrol until we made it out of the jungle. Sam was bandaged and sent out to a hospital ship and I never saw him again. I hope he recovered and made it back to Arkansas.

Soon after arriving back at G Battery, I was sent with Andy to set up a forward observation post at the top of a rocky ridge. We dug in just below the crest. The Japs were dug in on the reverse slope. Our job was to send fire commands back to the gun positions and try to blast the Nips out of their positions. This was a pretty tricky exercise. By their very nature, howitzers are more like mortars than cannons. High velocity artillery and naval guns pack a terrible punch but they have a flat trajectory. We could elevate the muzzles of our 75's so that the shells would climb high, then fall back to earth in a steep dive. This enabled us to hit targets sheltered behind a mountain... but there's a trade-off. This high trajectory shooting is much less accurate. The gun muzzles had to be elevated enough so that the shells would clear the top of the ridge, then raised further and further to make the shells fall back toward us, creeping up the reverse slope. This required careful observations on our part and scrupulous accuracy by our gunners at the battery. Even with identical settings, artillery rounds never hit the same place. Many variables account for this: air temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, powder temperature, temperature of the gun barrel, and just a mere fraction of weight difference of the projectiles. This didn't cause much of a problem for us during the day. We could observe where the shells were landing and make adjustments. Darkness brought on the excitement... when the gun conducted "harassing fire"... intermittent firing to keep the enemy awake and uneasy. This ploy may not have worked on the Japs, but it sure kept me in a turmoil. As the air and powder temperatures cooled, the range would gradually shorten up and the shells were whizzing by over our heads closer and closer. We were tormenting more Japs that way, but I didn't appreciate the possibility that our own battery might blast us off the mountain. It never happened, of course, but there were times when I felt I could reach up and caress a projectile as it whispered over our heads.

*** *** ***

By the first of January, the 8th and 6th Regiments of the 2nd Marine Division had arrived from Samoa and New Zealand; the 2nd Division was together for the first time since the war began. Unfortunately for us, the 2nd Division was considered to be fresh and battle ready. Our little detached force was just as dirty, diseased, and battle-weary as the now relieved 1st, but since we made up only a small percentage of the division, we kind of got lost in the shuffle. We were reattached to our division which was now part of a new organization: CAMDIV: Combined Army Marine Division.

*** *** ***

Six men from our instrument section were sent out to establish an observation post near where the Jap lines were supposed to be. The communications section ran a telephone line up to our position and we were left there with a pyramidal tent and a week's provisions. We set up at the edge of a long clearing in the jungle. All we could see was tall grass, trees, and a series of long, low hills about a mile away. There were no identifiable topographical features in the target area for the howitzers to register on so some lame brain at FDC came up with a great solution -- send a patrol out there into no-man's land and plant a flag to serve as a registration point. Of course, we got the honor to play heroes and were assigned that scary mission. Four of us reluctantly and cautiously sneaked around the edges of the clearing until we reached the far edge, tied some banners to a few trees, and slipped back to our post as fast as we could. We didn't know if the region contained hundreds of enemy or no Japs. As it turned out, there were only a few snipers left in the area and we didn't encounter any of them. At the time, I thought this was a pretty dumb thing to do. Fifty-seven years later, I still think it was a stupid order.

By now, the outcome of the campaign wasn't in doubt. We had control of most of the northern coast of the island, we seemed to have control of the air, and we weren't being shelled by the Jap navy anymore. But there were a hell of a lot of Japs left. There was much bloody, mopping-up to do. I hated the Japs... but I had to respect them too. They were fighting with as much dedication and conviction as we were. Even in the face of practical starvation, they absolutely refused to surrender and we never were able to capture many prisoners.

Other than that silly, scary hike into the enemy boondocks, our life at the outpost was rather monotonous. When we could barely tolerate our sour smell, we would hike down to the river for a bath. One man stood guard with a rifle while we sloshed around in the muddy water. We didn't have any soap so we probably smelled just as bad after our bath as we did before, but we felt cleaner. The rest of the battery was camped near the beach and enjoying light duty. The Scuttlebutt News Factory reported that our battery was soon to be evacuated from any combat areas... but we hapless six instrument men were still stuck out there on the front line. Our mess sergeant made heroic efforts to supply us. I wish I could remember his name. He is one of my heroes. Once a week, he'd send a jeep up to us with hot chow. I can't remember what all the menus were... usually a sloppy mess of beans and Vienna sausage, but it was warm, and warmly welcomed. He always included several cans of peaches and pears.... and thankfully, no figs.

Mostly, we were bored. We had nothing to read except the Marine Corps Manual, so we played endless poker games. None of us had any money so we played "jawbone". Wins and losses were carefully recorded so we could settle up on some future payday. These games took over our lives. I was not a good poker player. At one time, I was over $200. in the hole and in despair. I knew I should quit before I lost everything that I had riding on the books. Then I had a run of good luck. Without really knowing what the hell was going on, I started winning. When the jawbone tally showed that I was even with the board, I quit playing. I have never played poker for money since.

We were finally relieved and sent back to rejoin our outfit at the beach. Since these troops had been sitting around in the shattered coconut plantation for several weeks doing sporadic guard duty and unloading supply ships while we six tattered,hairy heroes had been supposedly enduring hell on the front lines, we were greeted as returning heroes.

The Solomons Campaign was winding down. Someone in authority must have finally realized that there were some tired, sick troops who had made the initial landing in August still being shuffled around from one outfit to another. Later in the war, the Leatherneck Magazine featured an article about the Old 3rd and dubbed it "The Forgotten Battalion" because we continued to be shifted from one combat group to another, and always left behind when the division or brigade was relieved.... Forgotten.

Near the end of January, we were finally loaded aboard a transport. Hopes were high. We were elated. Scuttlebutt was rampant. Certainly we were going to be returned to the States. Henry Ford was going to give a new Ford to every Marine who made the initial landing. I don't recall any particular elation when the announcement was made that the Solomon Islands were declared "secure". None of us was sorry to see those islands drop below the horizon. I guess we mostly felt "So what"? We had lost a hell of a lot of buddies to gain control of an obscure, stinking jungle and we were happy to be sailing away. The transport was pure luxury. Decent food, fresh water showers, and we were headed for home! (We thought.) Life suddenly seemed a hell of a lot brighter.