Guadalcanal Goettge Patrol

August 12, 1942
A Marine patrol, commanded by Lieutenant-Colnonel Goettge was sent to investigate a report about Japanese in the area who were waiting to surrender. The patrol was ambushed, shot bayonetted and killed. Only three men escaped alive.

Goettge Patrol Area
Early in the Guadalcanal campaign, the Japanese were pushed to the west side of the Matanikau River, (visible in the top of the map) and were driving back American patrols sent across the river. The Goettge Patrol area was in the middle of the map. Point Cruz is the peninsula in the foreground. Map from Peter Flahavin

Aftermath
Officially, the incident was not reported. Partly due to the strict censorship of the war, and partly to to spare the relatives. One must remember that the first pictures of dead American soldiers were reluctantly and selectivly published years later. For American fighting men in the battlefield, and even those who had never actually met the Japanese, the Goettge Patrol became synonomous with the brutality of Japanese. In turn, it helped to fuel American brutality against the Japanese. The idea of "Kill or be killed" ruled the battlefield, accelerating the violence of both sides.

Lt. Col. Goettge
Lt Col. Goettge

Area Map
Goettge Patrol Area

 

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