100th Infantry Battalion
Military Service: Champagne Campaign
Moriso leaves Camp Shelby and sails for France in November 1944. He is assigned to D Company of the 100th Infantry Battalion.
The 100th has been fighting for 16 months in Italy and France. After fierce battles in the Vosges Mountains, including the rescue of the Lost Battalion, the 100th/442nd is assigned to guard the southern coast of France, a relatively quiet duty known as the “Champagne Campaign.”
Moriso joins this veteran squad as a replacement.
[The following text is excerpted from "My Legacy: The Inheritance of a Will" by Moriso Teraoka.]
100th Infantry Battalion, D Company
At last, we left Camp Shelby, Mississippi, in November and sailed for Europe. It was sometime in the last days of December 1944 when our troop ship docked in Marseille, France. After a few days in Marseille, we were loaded into boxcars and railed to Nice. We were then assigned to various companies in the regiment.
I was assigned to the 3rd platoon, 81 mm mortar squad, Company D of the 100th Infantry Battalion.
View of 88mm mortar in the Maritime Alps. Champagne Campaign. France. Winter of 1944 to Spring of 1945.
When I joined Company D in Menton, the 100th Battalion had been fighting the war for sixteen months in Italy and France, the 2nd and 3rd Battalion of the Regiment for six months also in Italy and France.
Atsushi Iwai, Clarence Watanabe, nicknamed “Big Boy.” and Moriso Teraoka, nicknamed “Legs,” relaxing after being on duty in the Maritime Alps.
After fighting some of the more fierce battles in Europe in the Vosges Mountains, the regiment was pulled out of the sector in early November.
They were then assigned to protect the southern coast of France and the Franco-Italian border that is separated by the Maritime Alps.
My introduction into the 81 mm mortar platoon squad was on a dark and moonless night in Menton, France, and my initiation was not under enemy fire. Rather, it was from a bottle of wine. As I was introduced to the men in the dimly lit room, a bottle was thrust into my hands. “Drink,” Pfc. Richard Ige said. I was not about to refuse and offend these veterans, S/Sgt. Kanichi Nishi, Pfc. Ted Hoshino, and Pfc. Fred Toyama, so I took a swig. The wine was fresh, bitter and sour; it would not go down. The next “drink” sounded like an order. I swallowed twice. My head started to spin; I reached for my helmet and threw up.
I was never a drinker. My limit was one bottle of beer at Camp Shelby and two bottles got me drunk. I inherited this inability to tolerate alcohol, and like my father, I stay within my limits today. My father never drank beer. His alcohol consumption was limited to one tiny cup of sake during his evening meal.
The mission of the Combat Team was to protect and guard against possible enemy breakthrough along the southern coast of France. The front was relatively quiet. Leaves to the resort city of Nice were liberally granted. This period of time was called “The Champagne Campaign.”
One of my first impressions of war came not in fighting the enemy but after eating a hot meal. When I went to empty my mess kit in the garbage can, an elderly man thrust his container in my face, motioning me to empty my leftovers into his container. Hunger was prevalent among the civilians in Menton. After this encounter, I always had some clean leftovers to give to the hungry.
For me, this was a period of adjustment. I got to know the members of our 81 mm mortar squad, and we worked ourselves into a smooth and coherent team. Fire missions, day or night, were dispatched without a hitch. Of course, I had experienced mortar men teaching me, S/Sgt. Tsugio Watanabe and Pfc. Clarence Watanabe.
An unidentified soldier in the Maritime Alps dropping shell into an 81mm barrel to fire over the mountain into Italy.
But one night our squad received a call from our forward observer. Looking down to the Italian side of the mountain, the observer detected some movement and called for a fire mission. While dropping the shell down the barrel, I held one round too close to the barrel, and the outgoing shell hit the shell I had in my hand. Fortunately, I was not injured. Only my pride was bruised.
The assignment in Southern France ended in March of 1945, and the “Champagne Campaign” came to an end.
"My Legacy: The Inheritance of a Will" was reprinted with the permission of Moriso Teraoka. Photographs courtesy of Moriso Teraoka.