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“We Need to Exterminate Them”: A Marine Describes the Battle of Guam

The Pacific theater was the most inhospitable environment in all of World War II, with all-out assaults that were unparalleled in their barbarity. The ferocity of the battles and the atrocities committed by both sides were further encouraged by the pervasive racism expressed by Americans toward the Japanese enemy. Fighting the war in the Pacific left indelible impressions on the men who served there. Because employees at the Library of Congress thought marines might have time to do ethnographic recordings of the music and culture of the native peoples they encountered in the South Pacific, several marine units were given metal disc recording machines to carry with them. Though they never managed to use the recorders for their intended purpose, several marines did have the presence of mind to record what happened during major battles at sea and on the islands. In one such recording, made on the island of Guam in 1944, an unidentified marine described his foxhole.

Listen to Audio:

U.S. Marine: I’d like to describe this foxhole to you. It is typical of hundreds on this island.

This foxhole is about two feet deep. Now, I would like to be able to speak louder and with more clarity, but unfortunately, the slightest noise, the slightest rustle, will draw fire not only from the Japanese, who are someplace, perhaps, in the dense foliage around us or up on the ridge, but from our own Marines who are huddled nearby in foxholes like this one. I don’t know how they [the Japanese] do it. We can lie here absolutely breathless listening to the slightest sounds and not see anything—in fact, not hear anything—and then we wake up and find that they’re all around us. And it’s a very tough and tedious job to root them out, [inaudible] them and exterminate them. We lost quite a few people in our unit. A very popular captain was killed.

Source: Courtesy of Andy Lanset.

See Also:"Hello, You Fighting Orphans": "Tokyo Rose" Woos U.S. Sailors and Marines
A Japanese Soldier Describes the Horrors of Guadalcanal