The present day Barana village was not built until the 1960's on the western edge of 'The Gifu' situated between
Hills 31 and Hill 27 to the west of Mount Austen.
Battle of the Gifu
'The Gifu was the strong point (the jungle
area between Hills 31 and 27), named for Gifu Prefecture, the hometown of most of the defenders. To the west of The Gifu is Seahorse and Galloping Horse (Thin
Red Line) battlefields. Henderson
Field is about 9 miles to the west. US Army forces wanted to eliminate the Japanese from their flank. Intense fighting occured here for two months.
The present village was built
in the 1960's on the western edge of the Gifu between
Hill 31 and Hill 27.
70mm Japanese Mountain Gun
locals found the wheels from the 70mm gun captured
by the Americans on the hill.
Peter Flahavin reports:
"During the American surprise attack the Japanese
crew had been caught resting under trees 30 yards from the
gun and been cut down as they ran to man it - one wheel
has a bullet hole through it. The Americans
then used the gun against the Japanese until the ammunition
supply ran out. The gun had been taken apart
and buried in foxholes - 50 years in the ground but
90% paint and wood still remained on the wheels."
G4M Betty Wing Section
Peter Flahavin adds: "In 1995 the first things we
noticed as the taxi pulled up was a large segment of Betty
bomber wing, still with the red primer paint and most of
the "meatball". There were also engine controls
and a Zero drop tank leaning against a tree, (from the
Lunga Point area they said). Not
wanting to see these items go the way of the Betty tail
fin at Bloody Ridge the museum let it be known they would
not be pleased if the aircraft remains went "missing". These
fragments were still there in 1996, although deteriorating
and losing paint out in the open."
Site of Japanese defense, Japanese memorial to "Oka Force".
Site of the mass grave of
the last 85 Japanese defenders killed during the final breakout
Hill 35 (Japanese Memorial)
Main Japanese memorial dedicated in 1984 at the foothills of Mount Austen and the Gifu.
Gifu US Army Memorial
Memorial to "The Final Destruction of Organized Japanese Resistance"
Road constructed by the US Army up to Mt. Austen to support the battle
to reduce that position. Named in honor of LTC William Curtiss
Bill Wright adds:
am the son of LTC William Curtiss Wright, and the
nephew of CPT (Later COL Howard Wright and MSGT (later Major)Donald
R. Wright all of the 132nd Infantry Regiment. The 164th Infantry,
Americal Division anchored the Eastern end of the Marine defensive
line during the major battles to retake Henderson Field. Later, the
164th and the 184th ran combat patrols in force to the East and ran
into strong opposition. The HQ, Americal Division and the 132 Infantry
Regiment with division engineer and artillery landed on about 7 December
1942 and the same convoy took the 1st MARDIV off the island. The
132 Inf Regt was the first to take the offensive in the time frame
17 -19 December against Mt. Austen. The Gifu area of Mt. Austen was
one of the most heavily defended sites of the War in the Pacific.
There were many well fortified machine gun nests and snipers in a
U-shaped defensive perimeter as you first go up Wright Road from Henderson
Field. General Patch and the Americal Staff had no idea how well Mt
Austen was defended. The marines thought there were just a few soldiers
up there. General Patch initially sent a company up there. They could
make no progress, were pinned down by fire, and could find no machine
guns or snipers. On 17 December, the 3/132 (3rd Bn, 132nd Inf. Regt)
was sent up with the same results. The Bn Commander, LTC William C.
Wright, pulled the Bn back and on 19 December, accompanied only by his bodyguards,
his radioman (Johnny DiCicco), and two FO's (Forward Observers, Arty) they made
contact, identifying one machine gun nest. The body guards and the radioman were
wounded. In trying to lift the fire by wiping out the machine gun nest and save
his men, LTC Wright was mortally wounded and later was brought back by members
of his Bn.
The entire regiment was later thrown at the defensive site with the 1st and 3rd
Bns taking a frontal assault and the 2nd Bn scaling up the extremely steep back
slopes using ropes established by expert climbers. This maneuver finished that
portion of the defense. The regiment took heavy loses and the only records after
that indicate that the 2nd Bn was part of the force which landed on the West
side of the island and helped push the Japanese off the island at Cape Esperance."
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
May 3, 2016