The Northern Landing Force
The northern Landing Force, commanded by Col. Harry B. Liversedge, composed of the 1st Raider Battalion and two Army Battalions embarked 4 July on APD’s at Tetere Pt. (The movements and missions of the Army units are beyond the scope of this review).
The Task Force entered Kula Gulf early 5 July,and began debarking troops at 0130. The landing in darkness was made under difficult and confusing conditions and harassing fire from 140mm guns located at Enogai Inlet. However, Raider training and know how prevailed and by 0600 troops were safely ashore and reorganizing.
At dawn the Raiders began their advance toward Enogai that was about six air miles distance. The obstacles encountered paralleled those that faced Currin’s Raiders on their march to Viru. Hampered by heavy rains, deep slimy mud, swamps, swollen rivers and streams the Raiders moved relentlessly toward their objective. On 10July,the fought two fierce battles at Triri and Enogai resulting in capture of Enogai Inlet and all facilities. Casualties were heavy but the Raiders quickly organized the area for defense. In the following days they were able to evacuate their wounded, rest and begin extensive reconnaissance of the next objective Bairoko Harbor.
Following their missions at Viru and Vangunu the 4th Raiders reverted to the command of Col. Liversedge. On 17 July, they embarked on APD’s and joined his command the next day at Enogai. On landing they took up defensive positions and prepared for the assault on Bairoko.
NOTE: The operational plans for the attack on Bairoko were based on intelligence estimates of 500 Japanese troops divided between Enogai and Bairoko. In reality Bairoko had been reinforced by the 2nd Battalion,45th Infantry and 8th Battery, 6th Field Artillery from Bougainville. The Raiders were in a no win situation.
Early morning 20 July,the Raiders began their approach to Bairoko. The attack force consisting of companies B and D 1st Raiders and the 4th Raiders with companies N thru Q in echelon. A reinforced platoon of the 1st would provide a base of fire from a sand spit near the beach. An air strike had been requested on their objective for 0900 but it was never delivered. Soon contact was made with the enemy’s outpost line and the 1st Raiders quickly deployed and went into the assault. The ensuing battle raged for more than 8 hours. One by one the companies joined the assault and the enemy was pressed into an area estimated to be 300 X 800 yards. By dusk both battalions had suffered very heavy casualties and were exhausted. Reluctantly the order was given to terminate the action and retire. Bringing out their wounded with panchos they slowly withdrew to defensive positions. (From my viewpoint in volume of fire and sheer savagery this battle has no equal - I was there and am prejudiced.)
The Raiders withdrew to Enogai the following morning, took up again their defensive positions and resumed extensive patrolling. On the 28 & 29th August the Raiders embarked on APD’s and returned to their base at Tetere, unaware that they had fought their last battle as Marine Raiders.