Southward on Tinian1
The 2d Division Goes Ashore
The landing of the 2d Division on 25 July was partly accomplished before the 4th Division resumed its advance that morning. The Japanese counterattack had depleted ammunition stocks and necessitated some reorganization of the Marine units that had been involved; the attack hour was delayed, therefore, from 0700 to 1000.
First to land was the 8th Marines, less its 1st Battalion already on Tinian. A double column of LCVPs carried the men from the transports to the reef off White Beach 1, where they waded the last 100 yards to the shore. The 2d Battalion had landed by 0922, and by 1100, Colonel Clarence R. Wallace's entire regiment was ashore. During the landings, Japanese mortar and artillery fire, directed from the enemy observation post on Mt. Lasso, plagued the troops and caused some boat damage. American naval gunfire and artillery eventually quieted the enemy guns.
With the remainder of the 8th Marines coming ashore, 1/8 reverted to its parent regiment at 0920. The battalion had begun the day under the control of the 24th Marines, which had ordered it to relieve 1/24 along the coast on the extreme left flank of the beachhead. As the 8th Marines landed, the regiment was attached to the 4th Division and given the northernmost sector of the front.
At noon, after the 8th Marines had cleared the beach, the 2d Marines began landing and by 1755 was bivouacked some 500 yards inland.2 The 6th Marines completed the loading of personnel and vehicles in LSTs at Saipan on 25 July and moved to the transport area off Tinian, but, except for 2/6, the regiment stayed on board ship until the next day. At 1745 of the 25th, the 2d Battalion was ordered to land on White Beach 2 and, upon moving to an assembly area 700 yards inland, it was detached from the 6th Marines and designated division reserve. General
Watson, commanding the 2d Division, left the Cavalier, and at 1600 of 25 July, set up his command post on land. Division armor moved ashore during the evening. The landing of the 2d Tank Battalion had not been rushed; the tanks were not immediately required, and the beach congestion would not permit rapid deployment.
Before nightfall on the 26th, the 2d Division shore party, 2/18, had unloaded from LSTs a two-day reserve of rations, water, hospital supplies, and three units of fire. The work then went on under floodlights as a round-the-clock schedule was begun. On Saipan, the resupply machinery started to function when LCTs, with preloaded trucks and trailers, flowed toward Tinian.
The Second Day of the Battle3
The objective of the 4th Division on 25 July was the O-2 Line, which began at a point about 1,200 yards north of White Beach 1; it extended south through the middle of northern Tinian and formed a juncture with the Force Beachhead Line (FBHL), which lay like a relaxed rope below Mt. Lasso, crossing the island east to west. The O-2 Line had first been mentioned in General Schmidt's operation order for 25 July, when he directed General Cates to seize the O-1 Line and then "on division order seize the division O-2 line and be prepared to seize FBHL on NTLF order."4 The landing plan had designated but two objectives: the O-1 Line and the FBHL. (See Map 22.)
The withdrawal of Japanese troops from some areas to a new line, which Colonel Ogata had fixed south of Mt. Lasso, considerably eased the Marines' task on 25 July. The advance of 1/8 up the coast, however, was hindered by coral rocks and thick undergrowth and was not made easier by certain survivors of the counterattack, who harassed the Marines with rifle and machine gun fire from holes and caves. At 1115, a pocket of 20 to 25 well-hidden Japanese briefly checked the advance at a spot where tanks could not operate and where the fire of armored amphibians was not effective.
With the front of the 8th Marines expanding, Colonel Wallace committed the 2d Battalion on the right of 1/8 and ordered it to attack to the east. Units of 2/8 were soon at Airfield No. 1 and found the prized area weakly defended; most of the Japanese had left to join the counterattack of the night before, never to return. The battalion reached the middle of the airfield, and at the end of the day, made contact with 1/24, some 400 yards to the south. Colonel Hart had taken the 1st Battalion out of reserve to cover a gap between 3/24 and the 8th Marines for the night's defense.
The 3d Battalion, 24th Marines, moving out to the east, had reached the O-2 Line at 1025 with no opposition. The unit then turned south along the
objective to support 2/24, which was receiving small arms fire while advancing toward Airfield No. 3. By mid-afternoon, the 2d Battalion was at the O-2 Line, which crossed the airfield. The strip and the adjoining buildings were found to be abandoned.
At the end of the second day on Tinian, the 24th Marines was in contact with the 25th Marines on the right and the 8th on the left. That night, the Japanese attempted only petty infiltration, but a sharp clash occurred when Marines of a regimental combat outpost near a road junction ambushed an enemy patrol. Manning the outpost was a platoon of the division reconnaissance company, attached to the 24th Marines for the night.
By the evening of 25 July, the 23d Marines had advanced halfway to Faibus San Hilo Point. The 1st Battalion had relieved 2/23, which passed to division reserve, and then moved through cane fields and underbrush against the light opposition of Japanese stragglers from the counterattack. The O-1 Line was reached at 1637, and a position in advance of it was secured before dark. The 3d Battalion, the regimental reserve which had followed 1/23 during the daylight hours, moved up for the night to relieve left elements of the 1st Battalion.
The hardest fighting on 25 July took place at Mt. Maga and involved the 25th Marines, advancing at the center of the division line.5 Mt. Maga lay just inside the O-1 Line and stood astride the path of the regiment. That side of the hill which rose before the advancing Marines was the most precipitous one; Colonel Batchelder saw that a frontal assault would be arduous, and probably costly in Marine lives. He settled, therefore, upon the tactic of a double envelopment, using the 1st Battalion on the left and the 3d Battalion on the right. The 2d Battalion would hold to the front of the hill, delivering suppressive fire upon it.
While the Japanese were retiring from other sections of their defenses, they still clung to Mt. Maga. Marines of 1/25 were able to get safely into position at the foot of the hill, but when they tried to climb the east side, they were opposed immediately by such a hail of rifle and machine gun fire that Lieutenant Colonel Mustain ordered withdrawal. A road to the peak was then discovered, and engineers searched it for mines. When the path had been cleared, tanks made a strike on top of the ridge, but after being unable to locate the well-concealed enemy firing upon them, the vehicles were ordered down from the ridge. A second attempt by 1/25 drew the same violent response as the first, but now the sources were spotted. The battalion commander then employed 81mm mortar fire on the top of the ridge, while tanks fired from the hill base into pillboxes and caves in the face of the cliff. These fires did the trick. At 1200, the infantrymen again started up the hill, encountering much less resistance. Once at the top, however, the Marines received considerable fire from Japanese positions to the front. As there were yet no friendly units either on the right or left, Colonel Batchelder ordered 1/25 to hold up the
attack. At 1330, the enemy succeeded in setting up machine guns and mortars on the open right flank, forcing 1/25 to withdraw 200 yards under this fire. The ground was soon retaken, however, after Marine mortar and machine gun fire, helped by 75mm fire from the tanks, destroyed the Japanese positions. Two hours later, Colonel Hart ordered the 1st Battalion to continue the attack to the right front, encircle Mt. Maga, and join forces with the 3d Battalion before digging in for the night.
As 3/25 had started along its envelopment route, the movement was delayed by enemy fire from the hill, causing Lieutenant Colonel Chambers to order tanks and combat engineers forward of the leading Company L. The fire by the tanks, added to the work of flamethrowers, bazookas, and demolitions employed by the engineers, appreciably lessened the resistance; another delay ensued, however, while 3/25 waited for restoration of contact with the approaching 23d Marines. During the hold-up, the battalion commander requested naval and artillery gunfire upon the west slope of Mt. Maga. Under such cover, combat patrols destroyed three unmanned 47mm guns near the foot of the hill.
When the 23d Marines came abreast, Chambers ordered resumption of the attack, and by 1600, all companies of 3/25 reported being at the top, where they established contact with 1/25. The O-1 Line in the center of the division perimeter was secured by 1715. After dark, a few bypassed Japanese attempted vainly to get through the Marine lines. The mop up of the Mt. Maga area was left to 2/25, which finished the task by noon the next day, when the battalion was put into regimental reserve.
Casualties in the assault of Mt. Maga had been light, but a tragic toll resulted elsewhere on 25 July, when at 0920, a Japanese 75mm shell exploded on the tent pole of the Fire Direction Center, 1st Battalion, 14th Marines. The battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Harry J. Zimmer, was killed, as were the intelligence officer, the operations officer, and seven assistants. Fourteen other members of the battalion headquarters were wounded. Major Clifford B. Drake, the executive officer, assumed command.
During the same morning, enemy artillery fire was laid upon the pier, under construction by Seabees, at White Beach 2, causing several casualties there. As the shells were believed to be coming from Mt. Lasso, the 14th Marines directed counterbattery fire at caves in the face of the hill. During the afternoon, however, the Japanese guns were again active for a few minutes, setting fire to one DUKW and causing more casualties among men at the beach. An air strike that morning had supposedly destroyed two guns at the base of Mt. Lasso, and fire support ships had been directed to search for and silence Japanese guns in the vicinity. It was evident, however, that some well-concealed weapons had escaped the best efforts to destroy them.
Japanese power in the Mt. Lasso area, both of guns and men, was hard to measure. At a point 1,000 yards northwest of the hill, Marine air spotters saw a force, reported of battalion size, moving south. The 14th Marines took the enemy under fire, reducing the
force by an estimated 25 percent; the rest of the enemy scattered into the cane fields where hiding was easy. The evasive Japanese soldier and the well-hidden gun would continue to be obstinate threats on Tinian. At the end of the second day, however, the Marines' attack was proceeding beyond expectations.
Preparing to Drive South
General Schmidt's operation order for 26 July took note of a rapidly changing picture. Although the southern half of the O-2 Line and the entire FBHL had not been reached, the Marine commander omitted both objectives from the order. Instead, he spoke of O-3 and O-4 for the first time. He drew the O-3 Line from the shore 1,000 yards south of Faibus San Hilo Point to the coast at a nearly equal distance north of Asiga Point. The line almost converged with O-4 on the west, but the two lines diverged increasingly toward the east, finally becoming nearly 5,000 yards apart. General Schmidt put the O-3 Line across the width of the island because it appeared that the 2d Division would reach the east coast with relative ease. After that, the two Marine divisions would be in position for the sweep to the south. The FBHL stretched across the island between O-3 and 0-4, but the beachhead line was now omitted as being incompatible with a change of tactics then being considered at General Schmidt's headquarters. On 26 July, the 4th Division was to move toward Mt. Lasso, encompassed by O-4A. The 2d Division, leaving NTLF reserve, would take over the left sector of the front, advance east to the coast, and envelop Airfield No. 1 in the process. (See Map 22.)
Prior to the attack hour of 0800, General Watson regained control of those of his units which had been under 4th Division control. The 1st and 3d Battalions, 6th Marines had begun landing at 0630 over White Beach 2 and were moving inland to an assembly area to await attack orders. Over the same beach, during the morning, the 2d Tank Battalion completed landing, and its elements went up to positions from which the battalion could support the 2d Division attack.
General Watson's 1st and 2d Battalions, 2d Marines relieved 1/24 and 3/24 as the battle for Tinian went into the third day. The two battalions of Colonel Hart's regiment were put into division reserve, but 1/24 was designated at a later hour as NTLF reserve. The 2d Battalion, 24th Marines was attached to the 25th Marines and committed to the left flank of that regiment to maintain contact with the 2d Division. To the right of the 25th Marines was the 23d, ready to push further down the west coast. On the left of the front, the 8th Marines waited to bring Airfield No. 1 entirely into American hands for early use.
The pace of the advance on the morning of 26 July led General Schmidt to amend his operation order shortly before noon. Instead of requiring that the division commanders wait for NTLF orders before advancing to the O-4 Line, he permitted them to continue south of the O-3 Line at their own discretion.
The 8th Marines crossed Airfield No. 1 on 26 July, finding it abandoned, wet,
and cluttered with Japanese planes wrecked on the ground by the American bombardment. The adjoining village, which housed airfield personnel, was likewise deserted. The Marines left the airstrip to the 121st Naval Construction Battalion, and after just a few hours of clean up and repair, the Seabees had the field usable for small observation planes. Two days later, on 28 July, the first P-47 landed and took off from airfield No. 1 with no difficulty.
In the rapid advance of 26 July, Colonel Wallace had his assault battalions, the 1st and 2d, followed by 3/8, on the east coast at the O-3 Line at 1140. That afternoon, the 8th Marines became division reserve. The next day, 27 July, the regiment took up position as NTLF reserve, but the 2d Battalion continued in division reserve the 8th Marines, Colonel Stuart took the 2d Marines to the east coast by 1230 on 26 July, at which time he realigned his regiment to begin the attack southward.
On the right of the corps front, the 23d Marines was at the O-3 Line by 1200, despite thick cane fields and densely wooded areas along the coast. Once at the O-3, Colonel Jones pushed on to a point well below Faibus San Hilo. His 2d Battalion was relieved from division reserve and mopped up the rear areas as the attack progressed. The resistance encountered by the 23d Marines was not heavy; it consisted mostly of isolated machine guns or individual riflemen employing hand grenades.
For the 25th Marines, Mt. Lasso was the chief objective on 26 July. As the 1st and 3d Battalions moved out from the Mt. Maga area, they expected considerable resistance on the higher hill, whose steep approaches made it a better citadel than Mt. Maga. Moreover, Colonel Ogata's command post had been set up on Mt. Lasso, and the guns on the hill had been effectively employed since J-Day. To the Marines' surprise, however, they were able to occupy Mt. Lasso without opposition; the enemy had pulled out during the night.6
While 1/25 climbed Mt. Lasso, the 3d Battalion, on the right, gained the O-4A Line which circled around the hill. Lieutenant Colonel Chambers requested permission to advance to the O-4 Line, some 1,000 yards farther south, but the regimental commander felt that a contact problem would result. The 3d Battalion 0-4A sector lay in a depression commanded by enemy positions visible on the 0-4 ridge, so the unit was pulled back 450 yards to a more favorable location. As the 1st Battalion dug in for the night, the men put a ring of defense around the summit of Mt. Lasso.
With the advance to Mt. Lasso, the Marines on Tinian had begun to outdistance the support of artillery on Saipan. Consequently, on 26 July, the 3d Battalion, 14th Marines moved across to Tinian where it was assigned the mission of general support. The 105mm howitzers of the battalion were the first artillery heavier than 75mm to land on Tinian. The next day, 3/14 was followed ashore by the 3d
and 4th Battalions of the 10th Marines and the 4th 105mm Artillery Battalion, VAC.7 Colonel Raphael Griffin of the 10th Marines set up his command post on Tinian, signifying the break up of Groupment A of the Corps Artillery which he had commanded on Saipan. As the colonel's regimental units landed on Tinian, they reverted at once to control of the 2d Division.
Movement of Corps Artillery 155mm howitzers from Saipan was begun on 27 July, and the next day the first of these guns began firing from Tinian positions. General Harper, commanding XXIV Corps Artillery, moved his headquarters to Tinian on the same day, leaving on Saipan only the long-range 155mm guns which could reach any part of Tinian. The increasing abundance of Marine and Army artillery on the island was reflected in the complaint of one Japanese POW: "You couldn't drop a stick," he said, "without bringing down artillery."8
As the Japanese withdrew under the pressure by Marine infantry, who were now supported by intensified artillery fire, any repetition of the initial enemy counterattack seemed most unlikely. Yet, on the night of 26-27 July, there were attempts to get through the lines of Lieutenant Colonel Richard C. Nutting's 2d Battalion, 2d Marines from both the front and rear. While enemy troops probed and poked along the entire battalion front, other Japanese, presumably some that had been bypassed, tried to break through the Marine rear areas, evidently hoping to get back to their units. A party of about 60 such Japanese, armed with a light machine gun and grenades, fell upon Company F from the rear and was destroyed. The enemy's activity cost him 137 dead, while the Marine battalion suffered 2 men killed and 2 wounded.
Despite the incident involving 2/2, the withdrawal of the enemy was becoming obvious. Marine patrols lost contact, so rapidly were the Japanese pulling back before the American advance. General Schmidt had his troops well forward, and the two Marine divisions were now spread across the width of the island.
After appraising the situation on 26 July, the NTLF commander decided to use elbowing tactics. In other words, he would not employ both divisions equally each day, but instead, would charge just one division with the main effort while the other made the secondary attack. On the following day, the roles would be switched; it would be like a man elbowing his way through a crowd.
By adopting such tactics, General Schmidt could put the bulk of the artillery support behind a single division. Each was to have a different attack hour; that is, the division chiefly involved that day would jump off at 0700 or 0730, while the other waited until 1000 to attack. The 0-4 Line lay much farther from the O-3 on the east than on the west, so General Schmidt picked the 2d Division to receive the strongest support the next day. Then, looking ahead to 28 July, he drew the O-5 Line farther from the 0-4 on the west than on the east, permitting a shift of
27 July-1 August 1944
emphasis to the 4th Division. Two days of elbowing tactics would be tried. After that, plans would have to be reviewed against the situation. (See Map 23.)
27-28 July--"Magnificent Work"9
At 0730 on 27 July, General Watson moved out to the attack, employing the 2d Marines on the left, along the east coast, and the 6th Marines on the right. The advance lay mostly across rolling farm country, marked by cane fields and patches of woods. Only scattered rifle and machine gun fire was encountered, and by 1345 the two assault regiments were at the O-4 Line. The 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, on the extreme left, had moved 4,000 yards along the coast of Asiga Bay. Marines then sent patrols forward about 500 yards; only five Japanese were found by a patrol from 2/2. The strong positions near Asiga Bay had been abandoned without a fight, thanks considerably to naval gunfire. Just the day before, the battleship Tennessee had demolished a blockhouse by main battery fire.
In the 4th Division zone on 27 July, the 23d Marines continued the attack at 0950, and meeting no enemy resistance, was at the O-4 Line an hour later. Both the 1st and 3d Battalions then sent patrols up to 1,000 yards forward of the line, but none of them reported enemy activity, and the regiment consolidated positions on 0-4 for the night. To the left, along the division boundary, the 25th Marines had moved out at 1000, with 2/25 following the assault battalions at 500 yards. Opposition was negligible, and the O-4 Line was gained by 1200. The progress of the 2d Division during the day closed the previously existing gap on the 4th Division left flank, so 2/24 was pinched out and moved into regimental reserve, still attached to the 25th Marines.
It was planned to bring the 24th Marines back into the lines on 28 July, and with a view to that, General Cates took 3/24 out of division reserve. The 1st Battalion was returned from NTLF reserve to its parent regiment. At 1800 of 28 July, 2/24 was detached from the 25th Marines and replaced 1/24 in the corps reserve. Lieutenant Colonel Richard Rothwell, the regularly assigned commander of 2/24, had been able to rejoin his battalion, relieving Major Garretson, on 27 July, after being in the hospital during the first three days of the campaign.
Scarcity of opposition to the 4th Division advance on 28 July--the O-5 Line was reached by 1250--made it unnecessary to use any unit of the 24th Marines that morning. Not until 1300 was the regiment put into attack position between the 23d and 25th Marines, and it was then utilized because the island expands to its widest where the O-5 Line was located. About two miles south of the line, however, a bay cuts into the coast, narrowing the island. Here was where General Cates desired to end the day's advance, at a shorter and more defensible line, and he received permission to go beyond O-5 to a line he designated O-6A.
After naval gunfire and artillery
prepared the forward area, the 24th Marines moved out at 1325, initially in a column of battalions with 1/24 in assault. As the advance progressed, 3/24 was put into the expected gap that developed between the 24th and 25th Marines.
With resistance light, O-6A was reached at 1730, when the 23d Marines, pinched out by the bay indentation, reverted to division reserve. The regiment had moved 7,300 yards on 28 July; the spectacular advance was "accomplished in blitz fashion," said the regimental report, "with troops riding on tanks and in half-tracks."10 Progress of the regiment beyond the O-5 Line had enveloped Airfield No. 2 near Gurguan Point. The field was secured at 1420 against ineffective fire from Japanese small arms and light automatic weapons.
Throughout the day, the armor of the 4th Tank Battalion had led the attack, demolishing cane stalks and other tropical vegetation to gain the infantry fields of fire. At such work the medium tanks were joined by flame tanks. The fast-moving Marine infantry set a merry pace for both armor and artillery. Units of the 14th Marines had to displace frequently to avoid getting out of range.
The 2d Division jumped off at 1024 on 28 July. The 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, which the day before had advanced 4,000 yards, now found itself restrained by division to a gain of only 350 yards, the distance from O-4 to O-5. With 2/8 attached for the day, the 2d Marines reached the O-5 Line at 1130, just an hour after moving out. Patrols roved 500 yards forward of the line and encountered no Japanese, but the regiment was kept at O-5 for the night. At 1730, 2/8 was returned to its parent regiment, when the 8th Marines, less its 3d Battalion retained in NTLF reserve, became division reserve. The 6th Marines, which had more ground to cover than did the 2d Marines, reached the O-5 Line by early afternoon. Both regiments dug in at O-5 and reported minimum enemy activity that night: two Japanese soldiers tried to infiltrate the perimeter of the 2d Marines, and two small enemy patrols were discovered in cane fields near the 6th Marines.
Logistics Versus Weather
Progress on Tinian had been all that could be wished; more than half of the island was already in American hands. It seemed too much to expect that the weather would likewise stay favorable. In fact, Admiral Hill had originally been hopeful of no more than three days of relatively quiet sea.
On the afternoon of 28 July, the period of moderate wind and rain suddenly ended. The Marianas felt the edge of a typhoon born in the Philippine Sea, and the storm caused such heavy swells off the White Beaches that unloading had to be suspended at 1800. The next day, the whipping winds prevented unloading except by LVTs and DUKWs; then, at last, by the amphibian trucks alone.
An LST ventured to dock at the pier on White 2; it debarked 24 loaded trucks with their drivers and took on a number of casualties. While
retracting, however, the ship was seized by a squall and broached, then ran hard aground on the reef. The casualties were transferred to another ship, but all efforts to refloat LST 340 proved unsuccessful. The same squall washed a control craft, LCC 25473, onto the reef north of White Beach 1, where it was salvaged the next day.
The causeways at each of the beaches held until the night of 29 July. Then the pier at White 1 broached when the anchor chains parted, and the pier at White 2 split. The causeway at the smaller beach was restored by the evening of 31 July, but it was then broached for a second time by the heavy surf.11
The entire burden of unloading could not be put upon the DUKWs, efficient as they were, and besides, Admiral Hill did not propose to do that. He had foreseen and prepared for a change in the weather. Plans included the readying of approximately 30 tons of varied supplies for delivery by parachute drop. Moreover, the admiral called forward a previously alerted Army Air Forces squadron of cargo aircraft at Eniwetok to supplement the planes available on Saipan for transporting supplies to Tinian.
On 29 July, the 9th Troop Carrier Squadron at Eniwetok sent its C-47s (Douglas Skytrains) to support the emergency air-supply plan for Tinian.12 Except for a few other priority items, only rations were actually delivered by air; on 31 July, approximately 33,000 (99,000 meals) were flown to Tinian. On the way back, the planes carried wounded men to Saipan. The 30 tons of parachute drop material, while valuable emergency resources, were never needed on Tinian.
By 28 July, the day when the good weather ended, supply requirements on Tinian consisted only of rations, ammunition, and fuel. A fourth indispensable, water, was never a problem; Marines were well taken care of by their initial supply and by the output of engineer distillation units, which at the beginning of the campaign, used a small lake near the White Beaches. As to rations, a reserve supply of approximately two days was kept undiminished, thanks partly to the airlift. The demands for ammunition rose with the flow of artillery ashore, but here again no shortages were suffered. Two ammunition ships, the Rockland Victory, which arrived on 26 July, and the Sea Witch, which anchored on the 27th, remained off shore until the island was secured, and DUKWs shuttled back and forth to keep the guns firing.
The only near supply shortage occurred in the matter of fuel. Here, the rapid advance of the Marines stepped up the estimated requirement of 400 drums a day. Beginning 27 July, a daily supply of 600 to 800 drums of fuel was provided via pontoon barge, from which the oil would be delivered to the dumps by amphibian tractors. A satisfactory
reserve had not been built up on shore before the weather reverse made further unloading into the tractors too risky. Only the DUKWs could then be relied upon; so, in addition to their other chores, the tough amphibian trucks undertook the transporting of fuel. Their service, coupled with the fact that much gasoline was captured from the Japanese, averted a major fuel shortage on Tinian.13 Delivery of fuel by air, though contemplated, did not become necessary.
Progress on 29 July
The logistics of the Tinian campaign were spared the complication of a pressing enemy. Until the withdrawing Japanese made a stand beside their comrades in southern Tinian, the path was devoid of collective opposition. General Schmidt, who moved his headquarters to Tinian on 28 July, desired to put no restraints upon his fast-moving Marines. Let the advance be as rapid as practical--such was the essence of the orders for 29 July. The elbowing technique was abandoned; both divisions would again move out at the same time, 0700, and their commanders, after seizing the O-6 Line, could advance to the O-7 Line as they saw fit. The usual preparatory fires were not to be delivered on the morning of 29 July. It seemed idle to draw upon the depleted supply of artillery shells left on Saipan, or waste naval gunfire on areas largely deserted by the enemy.
General Watson did not expect to gain the O-7 Line on the 29th because of the distance involved; O-7 lay nearly 5,000 yards forward of the 2d Division line of departure. Instead, he fixed an intermediate O-7A Line, 3,000 yards away. The 2d Marines and the 6th Marines both reached the O-6 Line about 0800 with no difficulty; after that, however, fire was received periodically along the entire division front. Local resistance developed near the east coast when the 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, on the regimental left, approached a 340-foot hill on Masalog Point and was met by machine gun and mortar fire. In the center, 2/2 made good progress, and the same was true for 2/8, which had been again attached to the 2d Marines on 29 July.14 Such relatively easy advances put those two units a few hundred yards past the 1st Battalion, prompting Colonel Stuart to bring up two companies of his reserve 3d Battalion to attack the Masalog Point elevation from the right. The companies moved through the area cleared by 2/2 and 2/8. By 1715, much of the high ground had been taken by the 2d Marines, and the entire capture of it was left to 3/2 for the next morning. The regiment dug in between O-6 and O-7A. The day's advance had been mostly across thick cane fields; Colonel Stuart reported a number of casualties from heat exhaustion.
Resistance to the advance of the 6th Marines on 29 July was erratic, as enemy groups kept up a constant fire from machine guns and mortars but fell back whenever units of the assault
battalions, 1/6 and 3/6, deployed to attack. By 1500, the regiment was on line just short of O-7A but on the commanding ground of the area, so no further advance was attempted that day. During the night, a patrol of 20 Japanese tried to break into the lines of the 6th Marines; otherwise, there was no enemy activity.
To the right of the 2d Division, the advance of the 25th Marines lay across dense cane fields which impeded progress, especially when crossed diagonally. As the Marines pushed through, in the heat of the day, units had difficulty keeping contact. Scattered nests of Japanese, well-hidden in the fields, harassed the advance with rifle fire and occasional machine gun fire. Still, the 3d Battalion reached the O-6 Line at 1030, and the 1st Battalion was there shortly after.
The 25th Marines chief encounter with the enemy on 29 July occurred after the 3d Battalion had gained O-6 and been ordered to continue the attack. While moving along an unimproved road, Marines of the battalion came upon a number of well-dug-in Japanese, and a heavy firefight ensued, resulting in several Marine casualties before the resistance was overcome. The tanks supporting 3/25 were involved in the fight, and one light tank was knocked out by a mine. The crew was evacuated with one casualty.
Near the west coast, the 24th Marines reported no opposition before passing the O-6 Line at 0900 on 29 July. Then the 1st Battalion, on the regimental right, encountered an enemy strongpoint, consisting of a series of mutually-supporting bunkers. They were believed to be defensive works meant to oppose a landing at Tinian Town. It took a tank-infantry assault to destroy the resistance offered by rifle fire and crossfire from automatic weapons. Company B, 4th Tank Battalion reported that the area "had to be overrun twice by tanks."15 By 1300, the Marines of 1/24 were again able to move freely. The 3d Battalion had preserved contact with the 25th Marines, and when the 24th Marines halted for the day, at 1525, a company of the regimental reserve, 2/24, moved into a gap which had developed between 1/24 and 3/24.16 The 23d Marines (less 2/23) continued in division reserve; to keep up with the assault regiments, it had displaced twice during the day.
As the Marines of the 4th Division dug in for the night on 29 July, some of them could see Tinian Town from their foxholes and gun emplacements. The town and Airfield No. 4 lay inside the O-7 Line. East of Tinian Town, a valley stretched across the island. Cheerful prospects of the campaign ending were dampened, however, by a night of heavy rain which soaked everything from the ground up. Added to this unpleasantness was incessant enemy artillery and mortar fire, which kept Marine gunners replying throughout the wet and dark hours. In front of 3/25, the rustling sounds of enemy movement were heard and silenced. The next morning, 41 Japanese dead were found, victims chiefly of Marine mortar fire.
30 July--Tinian Town and Beyond
Inasmuch as O-7 still lay ahead, General Schmidt had fixed no additional objective line for 30 July; he ordered simply that the divisions continue operations to complete the mission assigned. He set H-Hour at 0700 but moved it later to 0745, following a request from the 25th Marines. Colonel Batchelder had asked a delay to 1000 to permit the men time to clean and service weapons.
Preparatory artillery fire, omitted the day before, was resumed on the morning of 30 July. All battalions of the 14th Marines took part, opening 10 minutes of fire at 0735 and shelling areas just ahead of the Marine front lines. Then, at 0800, the gunners delivered five minutes of fire, lifting it to areas 400 yards farther out.
Two destroyers were assigned a preparation fire mission on the slopes just south of Sunharon Harbor from 0745 to 0845, and a cruiser was assigned to 1/24 to deliver preparatory fires in support of the attack on Tinian Town. By 1100 of 30 July, however, as Admiral Hill reported, the Marines "had advanced so rapidly that only four square miles of the island remained for safe firing by ships not supporting battalions (i.e., not with shore spotter)."17
For the 4th Division--specifically, the 24th Marines--Tinian Town was a significant objective on 30 July. For the Japanese, the coming of the Marines by land to the area where they had first been expected by sea must have been a regretful event; against it they could summon only a shadow of the resistance once available. Indeed, the only tangible opposition to the 24th Marines as the regiment approached Tinian Town came not from the area itself but from caves along the coast north of the town, where Japanese machine gunners and riflemen were holed up. The 1st Battalion, 24th Marines had progressed about 600 yards from its line of departure when the left flank was stopped by enfilade fire. The resistance was overcome with the help of tanks and of armored amphibians offshore. Flame tanks seared the caves, and following that, combat engineers employed demolitions. It was the approach that had become a Marine classic, and it was extremely effective. In one cave the Marines destroyed a 75mm gun sighted toward Tinian Town.
At 1000, Colonel Hart committed his reserve 2d Battalion in a column of companies, between 1/24 and 3/24, in the vicinity of the cliff line. When 1/24 resumed the advance at 1100, the 2d Battalion was assigned to follow the attack. The 3d Battalion, ordered to preserve contact on the left with the 25th Marines, advanced rapidly; in fact it got so well forward that it stretched the battalion lines, causing a temporary gap inside the unit.
At 1420, the 24th Marines reached Tinian Town, to find it virtually leveled by the American bombardment and almost entirely deserted--the population had left, and only one Japanese soldier was discovered. By 1700, Marine infantrymen had thoroughly combed the ruins and gone on to occupy the O-7 Line south of the town. The
only enemy fire received came, it was believed, from tanks in the distance and caused no harm. Enemy emplacements in the town had been evacuated as useless, for the guns were trained to repel an attack from the Tinian Town beaches. Nearby, there were also some deserted emplacements and abandoned caves. In the streets of the town, the Japanese had left barriers, such as log barricades or timber cribs filled with stones, but none of these obstacles was sufficient to stop a medium tank.
Where the peril lay for the Marines was in the mines which the Japanese had planted. From the Tinian Town area, the engineers removed a new type of antipersonnel mine. It consisted of a wooden box containing 10 to 12 pounds of dynamite. A pressure type of igniter required an estimated pressure of 200 pounds, while a companion pull type seemed explosive with just 8 pounds of pull. The enemy had also conceived a device to make the beach mines more dangerous. Some of the horned mines--78 were removed from the Red Beach alone--were joined by rods about 20 feet in length fastened to the horns. Pressure applied by a vehicle to any part of the rods could theoretically detonate two or three of the mines simultaneously.
While the 24th Marines found Tinian Town deserted, the 25th Marines beheld the same forlorn scene at Airfield No. 4, though enemy mortar fire from beyond it was received as the Marines pushed across the strip, gaining the O-7 Line at 1430. Prior to reaching the airfield, the Marines had met little else but scattered enemy sniper fire. The area of advance was dotted with concrete dugouts and emplacements, but few Japanese.
The strip surface of Airfield No. 4 consisted of rolled coral, pocked with holes from artillery hits but repairable. Marines reported finding one small Zero-type plane. In a supply room, the Japanese had left some flying suits, helmets, and goggles. The field was still under construction; prisoners said that until the Marines came, it was being rushed to completion upon orders from Tokyo, to bring help by air. Such rumors gave enemy morale a needed lift.
The seizure of the Tinian Town airfield marked the last battle action of the 25th Marines on the island. The regiment, less its 3d Battalion assigned to division reserve, was put into NTLF reserve and continued there for the rest of the campaign. The 23d Marines relieved elements of the 25th Marines on the O-7 Line at 1600 of 30 July; 3/23 reverted from NTLF reserve to its parent regiment.18 The 1st Battalion, 25th Marines was relieved by 1/8 at 1800, shifting the division boundary.
On 30 July, the 2d Division had encountered fitful opposition, sometimes amazingly strong, which the Japanese offered as their hold on the island slipped away. Shortly before the attack hour, a 1/2 patrol, pinned down only 500 yards from the front lines by enemy machine gun fire, was rescued by a platoon of tanks. The offending strongpoint was destroyed by Marine artillery, removing it from the path of the battalion, which then moved rapidly
south along the coast below Masalog Point.
A task for 3/2 that had been left unfinished on 29 July was the capture of the Masalog Point high ground, but most of the Japanese there had withdrawn under cover of darkness, and the Marines gained the objective early on 30 July. The battalion then hastened to catch up with 1/2 on its left. The advance of 3/2 was briefly delayed by a Japanese 70mm howitzer, which was destroyed by a combat patrol. At 1345, the 2d Marines reached the O-7 Line. The 2d Battalion was then detached and designated as NTLF reserve, relieving 3/8. The attached 2/8 had been pinched out before noon, so both battalions of the 8th Marines were back with their parent regiment, whose 1st Battalion, however, was still in division reserve.
At 1700, after the 2d Marines dug in for the night along the O-7 Line, the 3d Battalion began to receive enemy machine gun and mortar fire from caves in the cliffs to its rear. The positions were reduced by flamethrowers and demolitions prior to darkness. The night was quiet except for some movement to the front of 3/2, apparently from small groups of the enemy digging in caves. The Japanese attempted no fire upon the Marine positions.
The advance of the 6th Marines was mostly uneventful on 30 July. By 1245, the 1st Battalion, on the right, had reached the O-7 Line. The 3d Battalion, however, received fire from a Japanese field piece which caused a brief delay. A combat patrol sent out to locate it was unsuccessful, but the weapon did become silent; it was probably the 70mm howitzer which Marines of 3/2 had knocked out. At 1604, 3/6 reported its position on the O-7 Line. The 2d Battalion had been detached at 1345 when General Watson ordered it into division reserve. The 3d Battalion, 8th Marines relieved 1/6, which then went into regimental reserve. By 1830, the 8th Marines, with its 2d Battalion as regimental reserve, was in position and wired in for the night, relieving extreme left elements of the 4th Division and the rightmost elements of the 6th Marines.
The Fight Still Ahead
The commitment of additional 2d Division troops took care of a widening in the division front, as General Schmidt prepared the concluding moves of the campaign. His operation order issued at 1730 on 30 July was more detailed than usual, and it had a single purpose--"to annihilate the opposing Japanese," now cornered in southern Tinian.19 The two divisions, jumping off at 0830, were to seize O-8, the southeast coastline between Lalo Point and Marpo Point.
Preparatory naval gunfire of exceptional intensity was scheduled to begin at 0600; assigned to deliver the goods were the battleships California and Tennessee, the heavy cruiser Louisville, and the light cruisers Birmingham and Montpelier. At 0710, the ships would cease firing for a period of 40 minutes, to permit a bombardment by 126
aircraft.20 Corps and division artillery were to step up their fires of the previous night. Once the Marines moved to the attack, all three supporting arms would be on call.
There were good reasons, indeed, for General Schmidt's cautious preparations. In the first place, the Japanese would be making their last desperate stand on Tinian, and experience indicated that it would be a very tough one. Marines speculated on whether the enemy would wait concealed, to exact a high price for the last one-fifth of the island, or stage a counterattack in a final banzai, the most likely tactic. A third but lesser possibility was a mass suicide by the enemy, using ammunition dumps and hoping to take some of the Marines with them.
According to a 4th Division intelligence report of 7 August,21 based upon interrogation of Japanese prisoners, Colonel Ogata issued his last order on 29 July, directing Army and Navy units to assemble in the wooded ridges of southern Tinian, to make their last stand. It was to that area below Tinian Town that the Japanese commander moved his CP the same day. Captain Oya, supposedly, issued his own orders to the naval troops; they were to defend the high ground of southeast Tinian. A rumor among Oya's men was that their commander had received a radio message from Tokyo on 29 July, advising that the Imperial Fleet was en route.
The Battle of the Philippine Sea, a month before, had rendered such help most illusory, for with its air arm destroyed, the Japanese fleet was crippled. Nevertheless, there were enough enemy troops left on Tinian to keep the Marines from undue optimism. A Japanese warrant officer of the 56th Naval Guard Force, captured on 29 July, said there were about 500 troops left in that force. He believed the 50th Infantry Regiment still had 1,700 to 1,800 men. Marines had met elements of the 50th, but as the 4th Division D-2 emphasized, there was "no concrete evidence" that the regiment "has been committed in force."22
Another reason for General Schmidt's modified optimism on 30 July was the geography of Tinian at its southern end. Not only would the Marines probably experience their hardest fighting of the campaign, but most certainly they were approaching the most difficult terrain on the island. The gentle landscape around Tinian Town ended suddenly about a mile to the south. There, the ground rose to a high plateau, thick with brush and rock, measuring about 5,000 yards long and 2,000 yards wide, with altitudes over 500 feet. Approach was blocked by cliffs and jungle growth. Along the east coast, the cliffs rose vertically and were next to impossible to scale. In the center, a road leading to the plateau had to wind a tortuous way; a prisoner said it had been mined. Only on the
west were the cliffs relatively easy to negotiate.
Such was the picture as Marines dug in for the seventh night on Tinian. The land itself, not the Imperial Fleet, would try to save the Japanese. The toughness of that ground matched the enemy's will.
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (V-2) * Next Chapter (V-4)
 Unless otherwise noted, the material in this chapter is derived from: TF 51 OpRpt; TF 52 OpRpt; TF 56 OpRpt; NTLF OpRpt; NTLF OpOs 31-44 through 37-44, dtd 24-30Jul44; NTLF G-2 Periodic Rpt 46, Anx A, dtd 31Jul44; NTLF G-3 Periodic Rpts 41-46, dtd 25-31Jul44; 2d MarDiv OpRpt Tinian; 2d MarDiv D-2 Periodic Rpts 75-80, dtd 27-31Jul44; 2d MarDiv D-3 Rpts 72-77, dtd 25-30Jul44; 2d MarSAR; 6th Mar SAR; 8th Mar SAR Tinian; 4th MarDiv D-2 Periodic Rpts 71-78, dtd 24-31Jul44; 4thMarDiv Translations (Tinian); Chapin, 4th MarDiv in WW II; Crowl, The Marianas; Hoffman, Tinian; Isely and Crowl, Marines and Amphibious War; Johnston, Follow Me!; Morison, New Guinea and the Marianas; Proehl, 4th MarDiv History; Smith and Finch, Coral and Brass; Stockman and Carleton, Campaign for the Marianas.
 Pending the commitment of the 2d Division, it was, except for the 8th Marines, in the status of NTLF reserve.
 Additional sources for this section include: 1/8 Rpt Tinian; 1/24 Rpt of Ops, dtd 25Aug44; 2/24 AR, dtd 5May45; 2/24 Narrative Tinian; 3/24 AR, dtd 5May45; 3/24 Narrative of Tinian Is Op, dtd 5May45; 1/25 Rpt on FORAGER, Phase III, dtd 19Aug44; 3/25 CbtNarrative of Tinian Op, n.d.; 2d TkBn SAR.
 NTLF OpO 3144, dtd 24Jul44.
 Battalion action reports referred to Mt. Maga as Hill 440, but a captured Japanese map put its height at 390 feet.
 A Japanese POW said that Colonel Ogata switched his command post from Mt. Lasso to a cave about two miles northeast of Tinian Town.
 The 4th 105mm Artillery Battalion, VAC, was referred to in 14th Marines reports as 5/14, its original designation.
 4th MarDiv Translations (Tinian).
 General Holland Smith departed for Guam at 1800 on 28 July. Before leaving, he sent a message to General Schmidt: "Magnificent work. Keep the heat on." NTLF G-3 OpDisps 27-29Jul44.
 23d Mar SAR, Anx H, p. 23, to 4th MarDiv OpRpt Tinian.
 The wrecking of these piers prevented the landing of the 4th Battalion, 14th Marines, which was kept on board the Cambria until 1 August. The unit then landed over the beaches at Tinian Town.
 The two-engine C-47, known as the R4D by the Navy and Marine Corps, was the aerial workhorse of World War II, useful for transporting either soldiers or cargo.
 The 8th Marines, for example, captured 1,600 gallons of Japanese gasoline, 90 octane.
 3/8 continued in NTLF reserve and 1/8 in division reserve.
 4th TkBn Rpt, Encl B, p. 3 to 4th MarDiv OpRpt Tinian.
 2/24 had reverted to regimental control at 0600 of 29 July, being relieved as NTLF reserve by 2/23.
 TF 52 OpRpt, Pt VI, p, 78.
 3/23 had relieved 2/23 as NTLF reserve at 1000 of 30 July.
 NTLF OPO 37-44, dtd 30Jul44.
 Assigned for the air strike were 80 P-47s of the 318th Fighter Group, 16 B-25s of the 48th Bombardment Squadron (Medium), and 30 torpedo bombers from the escort carrier Kitkun Bay.
 SpecIntlRpt No. 4, D-2 Sec, 4th MarDiv, dtd 7Aug44, in 4th MarDiv Translations (Tinian).
 4th MarDiv D-2 Periodic Rpt No. 77, dtd 30Jul44.