Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War Page: 219
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Easy-1 put one of its squads near the Rock as an outpost. "The other rifle squad
and the machine gun squad were spread along the ridgeline, commencing sixty yards
east of 'The Rock,' to give an appearance of depth as any attack was expected to come
west to east along the spine of the ridge." In addition, the AT Assault Platoon was sent
to reinforce Fox Company.8
Sniper-accurate fire from enemy 76mm high velocity artillery hit the Marines
through the rest of the daylight hours. These guns were described by one Marine as an
"UNGODLIKE NOISE," that made one's ears ring constantly and shook up the nerves
Ralph Steele described the 76 this way:
... what was firing at us then was what they call a 76. It's a Soviet artillery piece
they used at Stalingrad where it got it's fame, and it got tires, wheels and of
course it's tough to get them up in the mountains, but those guys, they're rugged.
Those little Gooks got that thing up. And it's high velocity piece . . . in all
honesty, it wasn't that effective because.., it doesn't make a very big fragment
field . . . but it's so high velocity the projectile is going about the same speed,
2,600 feet per second that a rifle bullet does. It comes so fast that a lot of times
you see the detonation [then] hear the sound of it's coming, where otherwise you
always hear a shuuu and then the boom....10
The northern slopes of 812 were particularly vulnerable. Both Easy and Fox
Companies came under fire from Hills 980 and 1052. However, "as the Marines had
dropped their packs-with entrenching tools attached-several hundred yards behind
on the ridge, practically none was equipped to dig foxholes." Easy-l's Platoon Leader
sent a working party back to get the "E-tools," but even after the party brought back the
shovels, the enemy fire was such that the Marines could not venture to the forward
8 "Historical Diary," Second Battalion, Fifth Marines, 48-49.
9 A. Andy Andow, Letters to Big Jim, 64-65.
10 Transcript of Interview with Ralph B. Steele, Library of Congress.
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Montandon, Joshua W. Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War, thesis, August 2007; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3938/m1/234/?rotate=90: accessed January 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .