100th Infantry Battalion (Separate)
Volturno River Crossing
In November 1943, Takashi’s company crosses the Volturno River while German shells pierce the fast-moving water.
Somehow left behind, Takashi and a private spend the night in enemy territory. The next day they find their company a mile away.
Takashi negotiates the path up Hill 600. The mine squad has marked mine locations with rocks and toilet tissue.
That night, enemy shells hit the opposite bank. They sustain casualties from the shrapnel.
[After Benevento, we had the Volturno River crossing.] By that time, I was first sergeant, so that my responsibility was the entire company.
We went to a place called, I think, [Sant’Angelo] d’Alife. This is the first few days of the battle [in October 1943].
By the way, we passed the Volturno three different times, the same river. That’s how far we had to go.
Now I’m talking about the third crossing [in early November 1943]. It was at night and we had to walk through the river and the water was coming down pretty fast. This is my personal experience I’m telling you. We were being shelled.
When the Germans shelled us, there is a concussion, a shock, and I happened to be in the water at the time. On top of that, the company wasn’t moving, so I had to make every effort to get on the other side of the bank. We were traveling — this is night now — we were traveling in single file.
Well, anyway, to make a long story short, we got across having experienced this shock from the enemy shells that went through the water.
Pretty soon the company [is gone] — I find myself just with another guy. Nobody told us that the company was moving. There was some miscalculation or miscommunication or whatever. When you travel at night, you supposed to tell the guy right next to you, “We’re going,” but somehow we were missed. So the two of us, we stayed there. (Laughs)
The company left us and we were in enemy territory. So I tell this guy — he was a private — I said, “Hey, boy. We lost the way. There’s nothing we can do now. We might as well stay here.” All night, we stayed there and I told him, “We got each other. I got one hour and then you got the next hour. We take turns like that.” We did that, not knowing where we were. And we kept on. Then the next day, when the dawn came, we had to go find our company. Luckily they were about a mile away ahead of us.
We got to our company. Then, at that particular time, we were on the side of the road and a few German guys [were] on motorcycle. That was some experience to try to shoot, the whole company shooting at these motorcycles, German motorcycle enemy. We got a few of them. I think we did most of them, anyway.
Then that particular night, going up what was known as “Hill 600.” This is the famous one. That particular night, there’s merely pathway, small path. I noticed they had their toilet paper on the road with a rock. The idea was that these are the places where you’re not supposed to walk on because they were mined. We had a mine squad that had gone previous to mark all mines.
Somehow, you see the toilet paper, if the wind is strong enough, gonna blow the stone away. Every time you take a step, you didn’t know whether you were going to hit a mine or what. This is the way we had to go up the hill, like this, up to the hill to the bank where we were supposed to go.
At that time, that same night, we were bombarded by enemy shells. Luckily, we were on the reverse side so that when the shells came, they hit the opposite bank. But the shrapnel would hit us. We had several casualties at that time. That I very well remember.
Takashi Kitaoka's interview courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Takashi Kitaoka.