SEATO forces battle Borneo jungle heat
KOTA BELUD, North Borneo — U.S. Marines and British Foresters taking part in Operation Saddle Up moved some 4 miles inland Wednesday through semi-jungle terrain to find their worst enemy, a searing tropical sun.
Water supply became one of the major problems of the infantrymen who slogged through swamps and up vine-entangled hills carrying gear on their backs.
Twelve cases of sunstroke had been reported by Wednesday, but troop commanders of both British and U.S. forces said the number of cases was relatively few.
The SEATO operation was still moving ahead of schedule with fuel supplies being run ashore in plastic pipes attached to ships anchored near the beach.
By Thursday, all objectives were to have been reached and the area cleared of "enemy" troops.
Marines and Foresters manning the outposts spent Tuesday night in damp silence — hot and humid.
Several parachute flares lighted the forward area as infantrymen moved out on a night attack.
One Marine was bitten by a scorpion and treated immediately with no aftereffects. A member of a recon party said he stepped on what he thought to be a log in a swamp. It turned out to be a. crocodile. Both retreated.
Earlier in the day some 54 aircraft from the carrier Shangri-la made low-level strafing runs over the landing area before the troops hit the beaches.
Four waves of marines from the 1st Bn., 1st Marine Regt. of the 3rd Marine Div. and first waves of British troops moved in a simultaneous attack on "blue" and "red" beaches.
As the attacking forces under USMC Lt. Col. William C. Chip moved inland, one officer and seven enlisted Marines of a Pathfinder unit parachuted from a plane behind the attack line to set up landing areas and communications for incoming helicopters.
Waves of helicopters from the 1st Marine Aircraft Wg. with attack elements of Marines and Foresters aboard moved to objectives miles inland in the vertical envelopment phase of the SEATO operation.
About 2,300 3rd Div. Marines and 750 Sherwood Foresters made up the landing force.
Observers of the assault included Maj. Gen. Carson Roberts, commander of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wg., and Sir Richard Hull, commander-in-chief of the British Far East land forces.
All SEATO nations except France and Pakistan were represented in Operation Saddle Up.
U.S. Seventh Fleet commander, Vice Adm. Frederick N. Kivette, visited the helicopter assault carrier Thetis Bay and chatted with United Kingdom and Marine troops waiting to make the assault on the beach.
In the jungle "combat" area, Brig. Gen. L. C. Hudson, commander of the 3rd Marine Div., said he found the North Borneo jungle "a perfect maneuver area."
T/Sgt. Robert Hollman, recon platoon sergeant and a veteran of Guadalcanal and Korea, summed it up for the troopers in the field: "It's hot, sticky and dirty, but so what — no one is firing back at us."