August 12, 1942
A Marine patrol, commanded by Lieutenant-Colnonel
Frank 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
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.