After the hard fighting on the Numa-Numa Trail earlier in the month, the Marines of the 3rd Division had finally pushed through the Palm Grove, future site of two airstrips the entire operation desperately needed. Their next missions, ordered by General Geiger, were to push east across the Piva River and along the East-West trail, both to expand the beachhead perimeter and to set the stage for the assault on Hellzapoppin’ Ridge. The Japanese were shelling the beachhead from artillery dug in on the ridge, and the only realistic route to there was along the trail. The Japanese were not going to relinquish this trail any easier than the Numa-Numa Trail.
Attacker: American (Elements of 21st Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division)
Defender: Japanese (Elements of 23rd Infantry Regiment, 6th Infantry Division)