The 4th Marine Division Drive on the Right1
Advance into the Meat Grinder2The first six days of the Iwo Jima operation had taken the 4th Marine Division to the eastern portion of the Central Airfield and Charlie-Dog Ridge, which had been secured at heavy cost on 24 February. As of D plus 6, it became the division's mission to seize and hold that part of Iwo that lay east of the Central Airfield and to the south of Hill 362C. The ruggedness of the terrain over which General Cates' Marines would have to advance equalled or outdid that encountered by the 3d and 5th Marine Divisions.
As might be expected, the enemy had made maximum use of the natural terrain features by digging caves, constructing blockhouses, and tunnelling between ridges until the entire area was honeycombed with defense installations rivaling every other sector on the island. Among a large number of nondescript ridges and canyon-like depressions, the following stood out and formed cornerstones of the main line of defense in the northeastern part of the
island: Hill 382, just east of the Central Airfield (Nidan Iwa to the enemy), situated about 250 yards northeast of the east-west runway. About 600 yards south of Hill 382, just west of the remains of Minami Village, was an unsightly elevation which was to become known as "Turkey Knob." Even though its height was not impressive, it sheltered a large communications center made of reinforced concrete. The top of this hill afforded an unobstructed view of the entire southern portion of the island. To the southwest, the high ground gave way to a depression soon to become infamous as the "Amphitheater."
On the evening of D plus 5, units of the 4th Marine Division held a line, facing east, extending from the Central Airfield southward to the coast to the vicinity of the East Boat Basin. From their lines, the men could see Hill 382, the highest point in northern Iwo, second in size only to Mount Suribachi. The hill was readily identifiable from the remnants of a radar station, where the skeleton of a radio tower pointed starkly skyward. The Japanese had hollowed out a sizable portion of the hill, which was bristling with field pieces and antitank guns. The guns themselves were housed in concrete emplacements, often protected by as many as 10 supporting machine guns. Some of Colonel Nishi's tanks, mounting 47mm and 57mm guns, backed up these formidable defenses.
The concrete blockhouse on Turkey Knob was so soundly constructed as to make it virtually immune to bombing and naval gunfire. The Knob dominated a broad, rocky area of a deceptively innocent appearance, the Amphitheater. Prior to the naval bombardment, this area had been covered by heavy vegetation and resembled a slight depression in rolling terrain. The true extent and cohesiveness of this major enemy defensive area had not as yet revealed itself to the 4th Division Marines. To them, it looked just like a slight hollow in rolling terrain, though in reality "the Amphitheater was a veritable large scale booby trap, containing three tiers of deep prepared positions facing their advance."3
The failure of the advancing 4th Division units to be aware of what awaited them on the rocky, cave-studded terrain of northeastern Iwo Jima was not due entirely to a lack of intelligence. Observers had studied the terrain in the zone of advance of the division from battalion observation posts, from a vessel close to the shoreline, and from one of the reconnaissance planes of VMO-4. A detailed intelligence report compiled on the basis of such observation noted:
The volcanic, crevice lined area is a tangled conglomeration of torn trees and blasted rocks. Ground observation is restricted to small areas. While there are sundry ridges, depressions, and irregularities, most of the crevices of any moment radiate from the direction of Hill 382 to fan out like spokes generally in a southeasterly direction providing a series of cross corridors to our advance and eminently suitable for the enemy's employment of mortars. The general debris caused by our supporting fires provides perfect concealment for snipers and mortar positions. From the air, caves and
tracks are observed everywhere, but the enemy's camouflage discipline is flawless and it is the rarest occasion that an Aerial Observer can locate troops.4
The enemy force charged with the defense of the Meat Grinder, which consisted of Hill 382, Turkey Knob, and the Amphitheater combined, was the 2d Mixed Brigade under Major General Sadasue Senda. This force consisted of five infantry battalions,5 an artillery battalion, an engineer battalion, and a field hospital. Prior to D-Day, the 2d Mixed Brigade Engineers had consolidated the three terrain features into a closely integrated defense system, complete with extensive communications and electric lights. Marines of the 4th Division, preparing to move into northeastern Iwo, faced the most extensive and powerful defenses on the island.
In the course of 25 February, General Gates' men prepared to advance into the eastern bulge of Iwo Jima. Early on D plus 6, the 21st Marines which had been attached to the 4th Division, reverted to General Erskine and the boundary between the 21st and 24th Marines became the left boundary of the 4th Division. At the same time, the 23d Marines reverted from VAC reserve to the 4th Division and prepared to attack after passing through the left of the 24th Marines. Plans for the assault on D plus 6 called for 3/23 to move out with 1/23 following 600 yards behind. The 2d Battalion, 23d Marines, was to remain in reserve. In the adjacent sector, the 24th Marines, with 2/25 attached, was to continue the advance with 3/24 on the left and 1/24 on the right. The 2d Battalion, 24th Marines, was to become regimental reserve as soon as it had been relieved by 3/23. The 25th Marines, less 2/25, was to remain in division reserve. The division main effort was to be made on the left, where the 23d Marines was to maintain contact with the adjacent 3d Marine Division.
The attack jumped off at 0930. (See Map VII). Almost immediately, Colonel Wensinger's 23d Marines, advancing in a column of battalions, encountered heavy mortar and machine gun fire from pillboxes, bunkers, and caves. Progress was accordingly slow. Enemy antitank guns and mines, as well as unfavorable terrain, made it impossible to move armor to the front in the 4th Division zone of advance. The adjacent 3d Division was requested to permit tanks of the 4th Tank Battalion the use of an approach route leading through 3d Division terrain to the Central Airfield. Permission was granted shortly before 1300. Once the Shermans had taken up firing positions along the left boundary of the 23d Marines, they were able to lend effective support to the infantry, destroying antitank weapons, pillboxes, and enemy machine gun emplacements. Once these defenses had been eliminated, an armored bulldozer of the 4th Engineer Battalion was able to clear a route of advance for the tanks in the zone of action of the 23d Marines. Throughout the day, 3/23 continued to meet heavy resistance as it gained a
foothold on the high ground at the northeastern edge of the Central Airfield and pushed eastward along Charlie- Dog Ridge. Heavy and accurate enemy mortar fire that blanketed the runways of the airfield made it extremely difficult for Colonel Wensinger's Marines to maintain contact with the adjacent 9th Marines.
The 24th Marines, with 2/25 attached, made only little progress on 25 February, slowed by difficult terrain, mortar fire, and interlocking bands of fire from automatic weapons in pillboxes, bunkers, and caves. Prior to the jumpoff, artillery, naval gunfire, and carrier aircraft attempted to soften up the Amphitheater and Minami Village. While the air strike was in progress, 81mm mortars fired 200 rounds into this area. Offshore, LVT (A)s of the 2d Armored Amphibian Battalion attempted to support 1/24, but rough seas soon made their withdrawal necessary,
Enemy resistance in front of 3/24 came from the Amphitheater, while 1/24 found its advance contested by strong enemy defenses to its front. Five tanks of Lieutenant Colonel Richard K. Schmidt's 4th Tank Battalion eventually got into position to support the attack, but the rough terrain severely limited the movement of armor. Having gained roughly 100 yards, the two battalions were halted by heavy enemy fire that took a steady toll among officers and men. Among those mortally wounded in the course of the morning was the commander of Company A, 1./24. The battalion intelligence officer was wounded and evacuated.
For the remainder of the afternoon, neither regiment made any significant gains. An air strike against the high ground facing 3/24 in the early afternoon temporarily reduced the volume of the enemy mortar fire and enabled Major Stout's men to move forward a few additional yards. In midafternoon, 2/24, which had spent most of the day in regimental reserve, was ordered to relieve 1/24 on the regiment's right. This relief, ordered at short notice, was executed without casualties.
On the evening of D plus 6, the 4th Marine Division was poised for the attack into the enemy's strongest line of defenses in the division's zone of advance. At this stage, even before the division had launched a direct assault into what came to be called the Meat Grinder, its combat efficiency had already been reduced to an estimated 55 percent by casualties and battle fatigue.6 Yet General Cates and the men under his command were unflagging in their determination to see the difficult job through. In commenting on the limited gains of 25 February, the division sized up the situation as follows:
The combination of terrain skillfully employed to the best advantage by the enemy, terrain unsuited for tank employment, the locations of installations in areas which were. defiladed from our artillery, and the stubborn fight to-the-death attitude of the defenders had temporarily limited the advance of this Division; but the Division prepared to continue the attack.7
At 2200 on D plus 6, the rear command post of the 4th Marine Division closed on the USS Bayfield. In the course of the evening, support ships fired night
missions. During the night, there was little activity in the 4th Marine Division sector. A small enemy patrol attempted to infiltrate into the 3/24 area, but all of the Japanese were either killed or dispersed. The enemy fired sporadically into the division sector with rockets, mortars, and artillery.
The 4th Division attack on the morning of 26 February was preceded by a coordinated preparation fired by the corps and division artillery and naval gunfire support ships. Following the shelling, the 4th Marine Division resumed the attack at 0800 with five battalions abreast. Once again, on the division left, Colonel Wensinger's 23d Marines attacked with 1/23 on the left and 3/23 on the right. On the division right, Colonel Lanigan's 25th Marines, which had relieved the 24th Marines earlier that morning, advanced at 0830 with all three battalions. The half hour delay in the jumpoff of the 25th Marines was caused by the necessity of returning 2/25 from 24th Marines' control and moving the battalion to the line of departure.
The division attack encountered the same difficulties that had stymied its progress on 25 February. Enemy resistance from well organized and mutually supporting positions continued undiminished. In front of the 23d Marines, the enemy occupied a maze of pillboxes, bunkers, and caves. All avenues of approach were protected by successive minefield, which made it almost impossible to commit armor in support of the infantry. On the other hand, enemy tanks dug in on the slopes of Hill 382 had a clear field of fire into the advancing Marines. One of the enemy medium tanks, armed with a 57mm gun, occupied a stationary position in a crevice, from where it could fire at will along the entire length of the main runway of the Central Airfield. Three 47mm antitank guns were emplaced in the northern portion of Charlie-Dog Ridge, which also afforded an unimpeded field of fire at the same runway.
Despite bitter opposition, Colonel Wensinger's Marines continued to push the attack throughout the day. Elements of 1/23, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Louis B. Blissard, drew heavy and accurate fire not only from Hill 382, but also from the adjacent 3d Division zone, where the enemy still occupied strong positions to the north of the Central Airfield. To the right of 1/23, the 3d Battalion, commanded by Major James S. Scales, met equally heavy fire, but managed to fight its way forward, eliminating well-emplaced and dug-in pillboxes and blockhouses through the use of flamethrowers, rockets, and demolition teams.
By late afternoon, the 23d Marines had gained about 300 yards and seized the southwest slopes of Hill 382. This advance partially denied the use of this vital hill to the enemy. At 1700, the regiment was ordered to consolidate, but one hour later Major Scales' men were still engaged in close combat with the enemy and vicious fighting at close quarters continued until well into the evening. In addition to receiving fire from the front and flanks, the Marines occupying precarious positions on the slopes of Hill 382 also drew scattered sniper fire from the rear, which did little to ease the minds of the exposed Marines. When heavy enemy mortar
and rocket fire began to hit the southwestern slopes in the afternoon, it became necessary to withdraw all units to the foot of Hill 382.
The 25th Marines was to find the going equally rough on D plus 7. Following a rolling artillery barrage, Colonel Lanigan's regiment, with 3/24 attached, jumped off with 1/25, under Major Fenton J. Mee on the left, 2/25 under Lieutenant Colonel James Taul in the center, and 3/25 commanded by Captain James C. Headley, on the right.
Initially, the advance of 1/25 and 3/24 into the Amphitheater proceeded slowly but steadily against enemy small arms fire. After an advance of about 150 yards, the terrain became extremely difficult. At the same time, Japanese machine guns and mortars unleashed such a deluge of fire from well prepared and camouflaged positions near Minami Village that the men were effectively pinned down. Tanks of Company A, 4th Tank Battalion, attempted to reduce enemy pressure on the infantry but succeeded only in drawing additional artillery and mortar fire which resulted in the destruction of two Shermans just east of the airfield. In the jumbled terrain, artillery forward observers were unable to direct effective counterbattery fire against the enemy. Two spotter aircraft from VMO-4, which had just reached the island, made an attempt to spot the bothersome enemy mortar and artillery positions from the air, but this effort was also unsuccessful due to skillful enemy camouflage.
With the left and center of the 25th Marines pinned down, Company C of 1/25 made an attempt at 1400 to send a platoon, supported by three Shermans, around the right flank to envelop enemy defenses on Turkey Knob. This attempt ended in dismal failure when the Japanese became aware of the maneuver and shifted their mortar fire. The barrage caught the men out in the open and killed several, including the platoon leader. The survivors of this ill-fated platoon were able to withdraw only under cover of a smoke screen.
Along the division right flank, 3/25 made a slow but steady advance against heavy machine gun and rifle fire from the high ground on the left and caves and pillboxes to the front. As Company L slowly moved forward, Company I, supported by two medium tanks and by LVT(A)s offshore, was systematically mopping up near the East Boat Basin. In the wake of Company L's advance followed Company K, using demolition charges and flamethrowers on every position that might possibly shelter enemy troops that had been bypassed.
As D plus 7, 26 February, came to a close, the 4th Marine Division held a very irregular line somewhat resembling the wings of a seagull. On the left, the 23d Marines had gained roughly 200 yards. In the center of the division line, where 1/25 was directly in front of Turkey Knob and the Amphitheater, gains were at best 75 yards. The most progress for the day had been made by 3/25 on the right which by late afternoon had seized a line of cliffs east of the East Boat Basin for an overall gain of nearly 500 yards. One more accomplishment accrued to 3/25: in mopping up the area near the East Boat Basin, the battalion wiped out the last nest of snipers that had interfered with shore party activities on the beaches
below. Even though the unloading was still carried on under the muzzles of the enemy artillery and rockets from northern Iwo still were capable of hitting any point on the island, at least the bothersome sniper fire had been eliminated.
The 4th Marine Division intelligence report for D plus 7 outlined the severity of the resistance that the division had encountered, particularly in front of Hill 382 and Turkey Knob, and noted "that the enemy is now fighting to the death in pillboxes, foxholes, and trenches . . . and is not retreating as he apparently formerly had done."8
The enemy unit to which this report referred was the 309th Independent Infantry Battalion. On D-Day, this battalion had been stationed near the Southern Airfield and since then it had fought a delaying action, gradually withdrawing northeastward under superior pressure. On D plus 7, the attack by the 23d Marines had severely mauled the battalion and pushed it southeastward, where it found itself in the path of the 25th Marines' advance. As a result, when the day ended, the battalion had been for all practical purposes annihilated.
After a day of exhausting action, 4th Division Marines were in for a restless night, Enemy mortars and artillery kept both the division's front and rear areas under steady fire, paying special attention to the division artillery positions. Beyond any doubt, the accuracy of the enemy fire was aided by bright moonlight which emerged after an afternoon of intermittent rain. Less accurate, but equally disturbing to the peace of mind of 4th Division Marines, were the huge rockets wobbling over their positions and exploding far to their rear. In the midst of this bedlam, there was small arms fire from the enemy side.
Small groups of Japanese attempted to infiltrate all along the division perimeter. Around 0530, the sound of tank engines was heard in front of the 23d Marines and there were indications that the enemy was preparing to counterattack. An artillery preparation into the presumed enemy assembly area restored silence. Offshore, support ships furnished harassing fires and illumination. Aside from the enemy probes, no major attack developed and it was assumed that the artillery barrage had dispersed the possible counterattack. Indicative of the bitterness of the action that continued through the long night is the fact that in the area in front of 1/25 alone, 103 enemy dead were counted after daybreak.9
Dawn on 27 February, D plus 8, marked the beginning of the second day of the concerted 4th Division assault into the Meat Grinder. The lineup of units for the attack was substantially the same as on the previous day. From left to right, the five battalions committed were 1/23 and 3/23, and all three battalions of the 25th Marines. The 24th Marines, except for the 3d Battalion which was still attached to the 25th Marines, continued in regimental reserve.
The assault was preceded by a 45-minute preparation of the corps and division artillery. Even though, at this
particular time, the corps artillery was giving priority to supporting General Erskine's 3d Division, Colonel Letcher, commanding the 1st Provisional Field Artillery Group, ordered his 155mm howitzers to expend 300 rounds as part of the preparation. For the remainder of the day, the corps artillery was authorized to fire up to 25 percent of the general support missions for General Cates' division. The 4th Division objective for D plus 8 was capture of Hill 382 and advance to the O-2 Line.
Following a thunderous artillery preparation, the 4th Division attacked at 0800. On the division left, the two battalions of the 23d Marines resumed the assault on Hill 382. While 1/23 attacked northeastward in order to envelop the hill from the north, the 3d Battalion resumed the assault up the southwestern slopes. Since the Japanese atop the hill enjoyed a perfect view of the American lines, smoke was employed to screen the reorganization and movement of frontline companies in the 3d Battalion area. The enemy was not deceived, however, and almost immediately, the advancing Marines came under such severe fire that forward movement was all but impossible. Nevertheless, throughout the morning, 3/23 launched repeated assaults up the southwestern slopes of the hill without making any substantial headway. Strong and determined enemy resistance from the high ground effectively pinned Major Scales' men down. Two of Colonel Nishi's tanks, emplaced in the recesses of Hill 382, further added to the volume of the enemy fire. A new technique resorted to by the Japanese at this time was firing rifle grenades in volleys, which took a further toll of casualties among the exposed Marines.
By noon, the Japanese were still fully in control of the hill. The 1st Battalion, 23d Marines. was slowly gaining ground to the northwest of Hill 382. Once he had bypassed the objective from the north, Lieutenant Colonel Blissard, the battalion commander, planned to attack up the reverse slope. Both battalions, but especially 3/23, had sustained losses that had reduced them to little more than company strength; some of the companies had shrunk to platoon size, Nevertheless, the assault continued. In order to assist 3/23 in its frontal assault, 2/14 fired a 30-minute preparation beginning at noon, against Hill 382. Following this barrage, the exhausted men of 3/23 jumped off. This time, some progress was made, as Marines threw grenades and satchel charges into the caves and other strongpoints still held by the obstinate defenders. Once the Marines had advanced within striking distance of the two tanks, they were able to finish them off with bazooka fire. Slowly and painfully, the assault force fought its way up the hill.
Additional support for Major Scales' men arrived in two forms. First, shortly after 1400, Lieutenant Colonel Blissard's battalion, having bypassed the hill, commenced an attack up the reverse slope. Secondly, almost at the same time, engineers with a tank dozer began to carve out a path over which some of the Shermans could come within striking distance. Once they had gone into position, the supporting tanks took the
Japanese on the higher reaches of Hill 382 under effective fire. This badly needed support, arriving at a crucial time, reversed the situation. The Japanese on the hill found themselves virtually cut off. The deadly fire of the Shermans forced them to stay under cover. As Major Scales' men approached the top of the hill, they discovered that the top had been hollowed out and that it contained a solid wall of artillery and antitank gun positions.
Here, among the ruins of the radar station, the men of 3/23 came to grips with the Japanese in vicious close combat in which no quarter was asked or given. Just when it appeared that the Japanese would be driven off, a heavy artillery and mortar barrage hit the advancing Marines. With darkness approaching, 3/23 still had not gained a solid foothold on top of Hill 382, and rather than risk an envelopment during the night, 3/23 was ordered to consolidate on ground that would permit solid contact with adj scent units to the left and the right. As a result, Major Scales' men withdrew from the hill and spent the night in practically the same positions from which they had launched their attack on the morning of D plus 8.
Progress on 27 February was little better to the right of the 23d Marines, where the 25th Marines, with 3/24 attached, jumped off at 0800. On the regimental left, the advance of 1/25 hinged on the progress made by 3/23. If the latter succeeded in seizing the crest of Hill 382, 1/25 was to advance north through part of the 3/23 zone of attack, then pivot southeastward to envelop Turkey Knob while 2/25 was to attempt an envelopment from the south. When it became evident by 1500 that the advance of 3/23 was progressing much more slowly than anticipated, Major Fenton J. Mee, commanding 1/ 25, ordered the battalion forward, even though Hill 382 still had not been taken. The attack, supported by tanks and preceded by a rocket barrage, initially gained 150 yards across open terrain but came to a halt before cover on the far side could be reached when heavy mortar and antitank fire, as well as intense machine gun fire, hit the assault force. In addition to inflicting heavy casualties on the infantrymen, the Japanese also succeeded in putting two of the three tanks supporting the attack out of action and damaging the third. Shortly after 1700, it had to be conceded that the commanding ground which formed the day's objective could not be reached before nightfall, and the battalion pulled back to its jumpoff positions.
In the regimental center and on the right, 2/25 and 3/25, attacking due east gained between 200 and 300 yards. After having reached ground that was favorable for night defense, both battalions were ordered at 1600 to halt for the day. Since it was still considered possible that the enemy might attempt a flanking attack from the sea, elements of 3/25 were held in reserve near the East Boat Basin with the specific mission of defending that area against any further attack from the ocean.
As D plus 8 ended, an analysis of the progress made that day showed clearly that the gains made were minimal. Summing up the situation at Hill 382, the 4th Division noted with some disgust
that "it was envisaged that the capture of this terrain freak would be a costly and a time-consuming job."10
For 4th Division Marines, the night from 27-28 February proved to be a restless one. Throughout the darkness, both the front and rear areas came under heavy mortar fire. For a while it appeared that the enemy had singled out the division command post for special punishment, and no less than 15 heavy shells hit the CP prior to 2200.12 At the same time, the enemy fired on the beach area with either 20mm or 40mm automatic weapons. Offshore, ships of Task Force 54 furnished normal harassing and illumination fires. The enemy probed various sectors in the 4th Marine Division lines, but no counterattack developed.
THE BATTLE OF ATTRITION11
Shortly before 0100, the 23d Marines reported that enemy cargo parachutes were dropping into the enemy lines about 400 to 600 yards ahead of them. Strangely enough, none of the enemy planes had been picked up by the American radar on and around Iwo Jima. Nevertheless, the visual sightings were sufficient to spur American artillery into vigorous action. Concentrated artillery and naval gunfire into the drop zone, though unobserved, was expected to have resulted in the destruction of most of the supplies that had been airlifted to General Senda's 2d Mixed Brigade, elements of which were still holding the crest of Hill 382. The cargo received by the Japanese that night consisted of medical supplies and ammunition, dropped with paper parachutes from planes based elsewhere in the Bonins. Some of these supplies, still attached to the flimsy parachutes, were recovered several days later when Marines entered the drop zone.
Objectives for the continuation of the attack on the last day of February, D plus 9, remained unchanged though some of the regimental boundaries within the 4th Division underwent a slight change. On the left, the 23d Marines was to continue the assault on Hill 382; in the center, 1/25 and 2/25 were to continue their envelopment of Turkey Knob, while 3/25 along the coast was to advance to the O-2 Line.
At 0815, following a 45-minute artillery preparation, the assault battalions of the 4th Marine Division jumped off. On the left, the 23d Marines, reinforced with one company of the 24th Marines, resumed the attack with 1/23 on the left and 2/23 on the right after the latter battalion had relieved 3/23. The 2d Battalion, under Major Robert H. Davidson, attempted an advance into the area between Hill 382 and Turkey Knob, while 1/23 again assaulted the hill from the east. Following the jumpoff, 2/23 advanced about 200 yards before it came under increasingly heavy mortar and automatic weapons fire from concealed bunkers and pillboxes. The 1st Battalion likewise drew fire
from automatic weapons and mortars, which brought its advance to a virtual standstill. The 3d Battalion spent most of the morning reorganizing and did not start its push up the southwestern slopes of Hill 382 until later in the afternoon.
As a result, the only battalion of the 23d Marines to make any appreciable gains in the course of the morning was 2/23. At 1300, following a 10-minute preparation, 1/23 launched a coordinated attack with the 21st Marines of the adjacent 3d Marine Division. This joint venture resulted in a 300-yard advance of 1/23 near the division boundary. Other elements of 1/23, attacking Hill 382 from the east, destroyed two of Colonel Nishi's dug-in tanks and continued the ascent to a point where they could take the enemy on top of the hill under fire. By midafternoon, Hill 382 was virtually surrounded; the noose around the Japanese was further tightened when two companies of 3/23 were committed to reinforce the lines of the two assault battalions.
Despite the punishment he was taking, the enemy atop Hill 382 continued to fight as if nothing out of the ordinary were happening around him. In addition to resistance coming from the hill itself, the Marines of the encircling force drew heavy mortar, rocket, and artillery fire from enemy positions hidden in the jumbled rocks to the east of the hill. Behind the American lines, the supporting weapons did all they could to support the attack of the infantry against Hill 382. In addition to firing preparations before the jumpoff, the 14th Marines shelled the area ahead of the infantry in an attempt to silence enemy small arms and automatic weapons. Corps and division observers teamed up in an effort to pinpoint as many as possible of the cleverly hidden enemy mortar, artillery, and rocket positions, a slow and time-consuming process that did not always produce immediate results.
The difficult terrain, combined with Japanese expertise in mining the approaches to the front lines and the excellent marksmanship of the enemy antitank gun crews, severely curtailed the use of tanks in close support of the infantry. Nevertheless, individual tanks were able to move forward to deliver overhead fire, which was helpful but still lacked the volume necessary to be really effective. Finally, it was decided that the 4.5-inch rockets of the 1st Provisional Rocket Detachment might provide the massed firepower needed. Initially, whenever the rocket trucks went into action, they invariably attracted immediate counterbattery fire from the enemy entrenched on the dominating heights blessed with the advantage of unlimited observation. In order to compete effectively at such a disadvantage, the rocket launcher crews employed hit-and-run tactics. Rocket trucks would whip into position, fire their launchers, and take off to predesignated assembly points in the rear with all possible speed. If a particularly intensive barrage was desired, six trucks and launchers would fire once, reload with rockets carried on the vehicles, fire a second salvo, and then head for the rear. In this way, a double ripple of 432 rounds could be delivered in somewhat less than five minutes.13
By late afternoon of 28 February, it became evident that despite the deteriorating situation of enemy troops on the crest of Hill 382, capture of this objective would not be completed in the remaining hours of daylight. As a result, the 23d Marines remained active well into the night in an attempt to consolidate its lines for night defense. The 1st Battalion, in particular, found it extremely difficult to close the gap on the left with the 21st Marines. This was finally accomplished under sniper fire from enemy pockets that has been bypassed in the adjacent 21st Marines' zone of advance during the day. Gains made by the 23d Marines on D plus 9 totalled about 300 yards on the left and 200 yards on the right.
As Colonel Wensinger's regiment vainly struggled to complete the capture of Hill 382 on D plus 9, the adjacent 25th Marines faced its own ordeal in its drive to seize Turkey Knob, the Amphitheater, and the area separating the Knob from the east coast. At 0815, the regiment, with 3/24 attached, jumped off in the same formation it had maintained on the previous day. Two companies of the 1st Battalion, plus one company of 3/24, were to attempt an envelopment of Turkey Knob from the north, while another company was to advance along the low ground southwest of the Knob and attack eastward around the Amphitheater until it could link up with the northern pincers.
Following the usual preparation, elements of the 1st Battalion moved into the wooded area just north of Turkey Knob and advanced some 50 yards. At this point, the enemy unleashed a tremendous mortar and artillery barrage; heavy machine gun fire from the front and the left flank began to rake the Marines. Prompt counterbattery fire called for by observers with the 1st Battalion failed to silence the enemy batteries. By noon, the situation of 1/25 in the woods had become critical and the battalion was suffering heavy casualties. Nevertheless, Major Mee, the battalion commander, ordered his men to hold the woods in order to enable the southern pincers to complete the envelopment of Turkey Knob. As Company B, which was to make the envelopment, started its encircling movement, supported by two Shermans, the enemy on the high ground east of the objective started to shower the force with hand grenades, at the same time raking them with accurate machine gun fire. One of the tanks soon hit a mine and was disabled; the other managed to pull back.
As the fury of the enemy fire increased and casualties mounted, the attack of Company B stalled. By 1645 it was readily apparent that continuation of the attack in the face of such heavy enemy resistance during the limited daylight remaining would serve no useful purpose, and both pincers of 1/25 pulled back to their respective starting positions. In the fading daylight, two tanks made their way forward to a point northwest of Turkey Knob and from this vantage point opened fire against the enemy communications center atop the hill. The 75mm shells, to all appearances, did little damage to the concrete structure and the shelling was ineffective.
To the right of 1/25, the 2d Battalion attempted to extend its left flank
to support the advance of the southern pincers of 1/25. To this end, it had to seize the high ground directly to its front. Enemy fire, most of it coming from pillboxes to the left of the battalion zone of advance, pinned down the infantry. The difficult terrain made it impossible for the Shermans and halftracks to give close support to the infantry. The attack soon stalled. At noon, the battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Taul, decided to improvise in order to get the attack moving again. He requested and received permission to have a 75mm pack howitzer rushed forward, to be used as a direct assault weapon. A DUKW was used to transport the howitzer to a position ,just behind the front lines. There, the gun was dismantled and the various pieces were gingerly hand-carried into the zone of advance of 2/25, where the piece was carefully reassembled. Once this feat had been accomplished, the pack howitzer pumped 40 rounds at the concrete structure atop Turkey Knob. Most of the shells bounced harmlessly off the thick concrete walls and did little, if any, damage to the communications center. However, it was not altogether a wasted effort for the battalion reported that while "the direct result to the enemy was not readily apparent, the morale effect on the men of this battalion was of considerable value because after the howitzer was fired our lines advanced approximately 75 yards by 1900."14 Two hours later, under cover of darkness, the pack howitzer was again disassembled and returned to its parent organization.
On the right of the 25th Marines' zone of advance, 3/25 jumped off on the morning of D plus 9 at the same time as the other battalions of the division. Moving eastward roughly parallel to the east coast, the battalion had gained about 100 yards by 1000. At that time, the advance of the adjacent 2d Battalion began to bog down, and 3/25, which was pacing itself by the progress of the unit on its left, also halted the attack. Since 2/25 on the left failed to make any further progress for the day, neither did 3/25. At 1800, units of the 25th Marines were ordered to consolidate for the night.
In summing up the results of the clay's operations, the 4th Marine Division felt that, even though the enemy was still clinging to the crest of Hill 382 and Turkey Knob, the day's limited advance had outflanked these enemy strongpoints. The feeling was that 4th Division Marines could henceforth bypass the Amphitheater and continue the drive along the east coast of Iwo Jima. Despite the small gains made on D plus 9, the division intelligence officer felt that the central defensive core of resistance had been cracked, He affirmed the possibility of an enemy counterattack, but assumed that the Japanese would be least likely to mount any major counterattack in the zone of action of the 4th Division because of the difficult terrain.15 Events were to prove this forecast only 50 percent correct. Throughout 28 February, the assault battalions had received a variety of assistance from the supporting arms. Offshore,
gunfire support ships furnished call-fire missions, while smaller craft fired mortars in support of 2/25 and 3/25. During the afternoon a destroyer approached the east shore and began shelling enemy positions on the high ground in front of the 2j25 zone of advance. Air support extended to the entire 4th Division sector, though half of the napalm bombs dropped in front of the 25th Marines in the course of the morning failed to ignite. A second strike, this time in support of the 23d Marines, took unduly long to be executed. When the aircraft did arrive, they went into action against the wrong target area.16
The night from D plus 9 to D plus 10 turned out to be another restless one for Marines of the 4th Division. The enemy concentrated his artillery fire against rear installations of the 5th Marine Division and scored several lucky hits on the ammunition dumps of that division. The resulting explosions coming from the rear did little to reassure the men of any of the three divisions. Some enemy mortar and artillery fire also fell in the 4th Division area, causing further disruption of sleep. Alert Marines of 3/23 frustrated several enemy attempts to infiltrate their lines, and 29 enemy dead were found in front of the lines on the following morning. Around 2200, the 25th Marines noticed that the enemy in company strength was massing for a counter attack near the coast in the 3/25 area. Naval gunfire and shore-based artillery promptly fired on and dispersed this assembly.
Division orders for 1 March called for continuation of the attack against Hill 382 and Turkey Knob. Beginning at 0530, the 24th Marines was to relieve the depleted units of the 23d, with 2/24 relieving 1/23 and 1/24 taking over the 2/23 sector.17 The relief was completed by 0630 without major incident and, following a 45-minute naval gunfire and corps artillery preparation, the attack against the key enemy defenses resumed. For 10 minutes prior to H-Hour, set for 0830, the division artillery blasted enemy positions in the division zone of advance.
On the division left, the 24th Marines jumped off, with the 2d Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Richard Rothwell on the left and 1/24, under Major Paul S. Treitel, on the right. Almost immediately, 2/24 was hit by heavy artillery and mortar fire. In order to keep his battalion from getting bogged down, Lieutenant Colonel Rothwell requested supporting fire. Shortly after 0930, carrier aircraft dropped napalm about 600 yards in front of 2/24. The aerial assault was followed within the hour by a fire concentration against the same area by the corps artillery; this fire was followed by naval gunfire. This counterfire had a salutary effect and enemy opposition diminished to the extent that elements of the battalion, in the course of the afternoon, were able to make gains of 150 yards.
While part of 2/24, notably Company F, was engaged in attacking northeastward along the boundary with the 3d Marine Division, at times even crossing
the boundary, the gains made by General Erskine's men on 1 March exceeded those of the 4th Division and, in consequence, a gap developed along the boundary. Colonel Walter I. Jordan, commanding the 24th Marines, at 1430 had to commit two companies of 3/24 into the gap in order to regain contact with the 3d Division along the left flank.
Somewhat farther to the south, the battle for Hill 382 continued with undiminished fury. The reduction of the battered strongpoint fell to Company G, 2/24, which assaulted the hill with flamethrowers, bazookas, grenades, and whatever else was at hand. Just as elements of the 23d Marines had previously fought their way to the top to engage in close combat with the defenders, only to be driven off, so it was with the determined Marines of Company G, 2/24. The viciousness of the fighting that ensued has been depicted in these words:
At one time, Company G of 2~24 was astride the top, but still there was no quarter. The attackers fought with rifles and grenades, with flamethrowers and satchel charges. Still the defenders would not give up, even though their own fire fell on them from the ridges further east. These were the men from Kumamoto in Kyushu, a historic battlefield of the 1877 Civil War, and they would not give up. Not even when Major Kenro Anso died, burned from head to foot by a flamethrower. He led the 3d Battalion, 145th Regiment, in defense of the hill. So great was his inspiration that at his death he was promoted two full ranks to colonel.18
As the afternoon wore on, the battle for control of the hill continued without letup. While hand grenades flew back and forth, assault squads were blowing cave entrances, and flamethrowers were incinerating such Japanese as showed themselves. Lieutenant Colonel Rothwell, escorted by his company commanders, appeared on the scene in order to conduct a personal reconnaissance, select positions for the coming night, and make plans for the attack on D plus 11. Despite heavy fire that was coming from nearly every direction, the reconnaissance party completed its inspection and the battalion commander left the hill unscathed. As the day ended, the remnants of Major Anso's battalion clung to the crest of Hill 382, still full of fighting spirit despite the loss of their commander.
Along the southern slopes of the hill and near its base to the southeast, the fighting on D plus 10 waxed just as bitterly as it did at the top. Here, 1/24 was attempting an envelopment of Hill 382 from the south against heavy fire coming not only from the top of the hill but also from a patch of woods directly in front and the high ground beyond. As men of the 1st Battalion inched ahead, two tanks attached to Company C provided covering fire. Just before noon, the company commander was wounded and casualties mounted to a point where smoke had to be employed to screen evacuation of the wounded.
Following a heavy artillery and mortar concentration, and led by a new commander, Company C resumed the attack at 1300. Within minutes, the new commander was wounded and had to be replaced. Despite all enemy opposition, the company continued its dogged advance and by 1700, when it began to
consolidate its positions, it had seized some of the high ground to the southeast of Hill 382.
The biggest gains for the 24th Marines on D plus 10 were to accrue along the 4th Division boundary, where 2/24 made an advance of 400 yards to the east. To the right, the dogged attack of 1/24 to the high ground southeast of Hill 382 culminated in a gain of 200 yards. This forward movement, flanking Hill 382 from two sides, all but surrounded the enemy atop the hill, though this made little, if any, difference to Japanese determined to die there. Of added importance to the further advance of the 24th Marines was the fact that from the high ground southeast of Hill 382, Company C was able to look down on the ruins of Minami Village. Thus it appeared that the day's advance had served not only to outflank most of Hill 382, but a portion of Turkey Knob and the Amphitheater as well.
To the south, the 25th Marines, attacking in the same formation employed in previous days, also was in for a hard day's work. The regiment's plan was ambitious: to execute a double envelopment of Turkey Knob, supported by two companies of 3/23 which relieved elements of 3/24 that had been attached to 1/25 for the past two days. As the 1st Battalion moved out, supported by the companies of 3/23, it crossed an open area prior to entering the woods to its front. Upon reaching the edge of the woods around 1000, 1/25 encountered the same conditions that had halted the advance on the previous day. Once again, Major Mee's men were hit by heavy mortar, artillery, and machine gun fire, which caused the advance to bog down. Despite counterbattery fire and aerial spotting, it proved impossible to put the enemy mortars out of action, nor were the aerial observers able to spot to the cleverly concealed enemy artillery positions.
Fighting for the woods raged throughout 1 March, as Marines of 1/25 pressed the attack. It was an unequal contest with the enemy possessing the advantage of cover, concealment, commanding terrain, and superior fire power. In the end, the assault units of 1/25 had to pull back to their jumpoff positions. As the tired men began their withdrawal the enemy, in a final gesture of defiance, subjected them to a heavy mortar and rocket barrage, which caused additional casualties. The withdrawal was accomplished with the help of a smoke screen, which also made it possible to evacuate the casualties. Shortly after 1600, the Japanese added insult to injury by subjecting Colonel Lanigan's command post to a severe shelling.
Since the remaining two battalions of the 25th Marines were pacing themselves in relation to gains to be made by the 1st Battalion, they remained more or less in place when it became apparent that the attack of 1/25 had bogged down. Nevertheless, 2/25 did succeed in gaining 100 yards along its left. For the most of the day, the division reconnaissance company was attached to 2/25 in order to mop up the rear area. From the 3/25 area, a tank was able to destroy two enemy machine guns, but no additional ground
was taken. Indicative of the artillery support furnished to the 25th Marines by 1/14 on D plus 10 are the following figures. The battalion fired 4,640 rounds for 135 missions, of which 94 were harassing, 31 were aimed at targets of opportunity, 6 were for preparation, and 4 were fired at miscellaneous targets.19 The figures listed above do not include the defensive fires, which 1/14 started at 1640, and harassing fires which continued throughout the night.
As D plus 10 came to a close, the 4th Marine Division could book only very limited gains for itself. After five days of continuous assault into the Meat Grinder, all three of the mutually supporting cornerstones of the enemy defense system, Hill 382, Turkey Knob, and the Amphitheater were still in enemy hands, and, with the exception of Hill 382, firmly so. With the heaviest assaults still ahead, the combat efficiency of the 4th Division on the evening of 1 March remained at 55 percent.20
The night from 1-2 March passed with few untoward incidents, except in front of 2/24, where small groups of the enemy made various attempts at infiltration, keeping the battalion in a general state of unrest. All of the 4th Division units came under sporadic enemy mortar and artillery fire that hit the lines and rear area in a seemingly haphazard fashion. By way of response, the corps and division artillery replied to each enemy salvo with immediate counterbattery fire, the results of which could not be readily determined.
Early on 2 March, General Cates' division again resumed the battle of attrition in the Meat Grinder. Though none of the weary 4th Division Marines was aware of it that morning, the final battle for the Meat Grinder was about to begin. The main effort was to be made by the 24th Marines against Hill 382, while farther south the 23d and 25th Marines were to assault the Amphitheater and Turkey Knob from the north and south. If the heavy enemy fire against Hill 382 from these two staunch bastions of the enemy defense system could be eliminated, the hill itself could be taken.
Following a 25-minute artillery preparation fired by the corps artillery from H-Hour minus 30 to minus 15, and again from minus 10 to H-Hour, the assault resumed. On the morning of D plus 11, there was one change in the preparatory fires. Precisely at H-Hour, 0800, the division artillery unleashed an intensive preparation, followed by a rolling barrage.
On the division left, the 24th Marines with 3/24 on the right, 2/24 in the center, and 1/24 on the left moved out for the attack. The 3d Battalion, commanded by Major Doyle A. Stout, advanced eastward along the division boundary northeast of Hill 382 and, while keeping contact with 3d Division elements on its left, advanced about 300 yards. As the battalion fought its way forward, enemy opposition stiffened until all further movement became impossible.
It was in the regiment's center and on its right that the most desperate fighting for the day was to occur. It
fell to 2/24 to launch an assault against Hill 382 from the northeast, while 1,'24 enveloped the hill from the south. At the time they jumped off, the men of 2/24 had spent an even more restless night than had other units in the division. The front lines on Hill 382 had been active throughout the night. Hand grenade duels and hand-to-hand fighting frequently erupted with small groups of the enemy that filtered out of recesses in the hill in front of the Marine positions, between them, and even to the rear. In fact, two Marines had received saber cuts during the nocturnal fighting.21 Nevertheless, the battalion attacked Hill 382 with vigor, even though it was immediately subjected to heavy machine gun, rifle, mortar, and artillery fire. Since Lieutenant Colonel Rothwell's men constituted the main effort, four Shermans and a section of the 1st Provisional Rocket Detachment furnished support, in addition to the division artillery. As the tanks and rocket launchers blasted the area ahead of 2/24 with shells and flame, they were spotted by the enemy and taken under such heavy fire that the armor had to pull back. The rocket launchers were able to fire three missions before they, too, had to be withdrawn.
By 1100, the frontal assault on Hill 382 was beginning to bog down in the face of interlocking enemy machine gun fire, as well as heavy mortar fire. The importance that the Japanese attached to the defense of the hill was underscored not only by the severity of the mortar fire but also by the unusually large caliber of mortar shells employed. As elsewhere on Iwo Jima, the artillery and naval gunfire furnished in support of the attack was of little benefit to the infantrymen slowly inching their way LIp the reverse slope of Hill 382, exposed to everything the enemy was capable of throwing at them with little else but their own organic weapons to answer.
As the attack was on the verge of bogging down, Lieutenant Colonel Rothwell assembled his company commanders a short distance behind the lines and decided that one platoon of Company E, accompanied by two tanks, was to make an attempt to outflank the stubborn enemy defenders from the right. At this time, a platoon of Company E, commanded by 2d Lieutenant Richard Reich, had already reached the top of the hill and was locked in close combat with the enemy underneath the radar antenna at the same spot which already had seen vicious close fighting when the 23d Marines was attempting to seize the hill. As Major Roland Carey, commanding Company E, attempted to relay the orders for the flanking movement to his men, he was hit by machine gun fire and had to be evacuated. The executive officer, Captain Pat DonIan, took over and prepared to see that his predecessor's orders were carried out.
Just as Captain Donlan was in the process of orienting his platoon leaders and issuing orders for the flanking movement at the battalion command post, he was hit by a fragment of a mortar shell exploding nearby. As one of the platoon leaders, 1st Lieutenant Stanley Osborne, prepared to relieve
him, another large mortar shell scored a square hit on the command post with devastating results:
Osborne was killed instantly, Donlan's right leg was blown off below the knee, and two other officers were wounded, one mortally. Reich, still holding under the radar screen, was in command. He was the only officer left in Company E.22
Despite the loss of five of its officers, Company E continued the assault on Hill 382. When elements of Company F, commanded by Captain Walter Ridlon, joined forces on the hill with Company E, the doom of the defenders was sealed. By 1530, 2/24 reported the objective secured.23 Colonel Jordan, the regimental commander, had by this time apparently grown somewhat leery of optimistic reports concerning the capture of this particular objective, and in consequence, in describing the action of 2 March, the 24th Marines reported only "that small gains were made throughout the day all along the line except in the vicinity of Hill 382 where the bitter opposition continued."24 The regiment did not officially record the capture of Hill 382 until the following day.
There was some truth to the comment that enemy opposition at Hill 382 continued, even though the Marines were now in possession of the crest. In the words of one account of the action on 2 March, "the hill was overrun, but it was not subdued."25 A clue to this seeming contradiction may be found in a 4th Division report for D plus 11, which introduces a new element in assessing the progress made by 2/24 on 2 March by pointing out:
It appears that there are underground passageways leading into the defenses on Hill 382 and when one occupant of a pillbox is killed another one comes up to take his place. This is rather a lengthy process.26
And that is precisely the way it turned out. For the remainder of D plus 11, 2/24 mopped up the objective and consolidated its positions atop the hill. Because of the underground tunnels linking various pillboxes and strongpoints on the slopes of Hill 382, "the mopup proved to be an almost interminable process."27 In fact, sealing the caves around Hill 382 and the elimination of isolated enemy holdouts would require several additional days. But for all practical purposes, one of the three strongpoints of the enemy defense system in the 4th Division zone of advance had been eliminated, which left the remaining two, Turkey Knob and the Amphitheater, somewhat more vulnerable to attack.
Operations on D plus 11 to the south of Hill 382 also differed from those of preceding days. While the enemy atop Hill 382 was treated to an exceptionally heavy preparation on that day, precisely the opposite was the case in the 25th Marines zone of advance. There, Colonel Lanigan decided to employ the element of surprise and launch an attack at 0630 without the benefit of any artillery preparation. During the early stages of the action, while the
enemy was still off guard, 1/25 was to infiltrate and seize the high ground north of Turkey Knob. Elements of 1/25 and 3/23, the latter having been attached to the 25th Marines, were to execute an envelopment from the northwest and the south.
The infiltration got under way at 0630 and proceeded on schedule for about 20 minutes. However, the Japanese soon recognized the multiple threat facing them and at 0650 unleashed a devastating rocket and mortar barrage against the assault forces. As Marines hit the ground to escape the lethal shell fragments, enemy machine guns opened up at close range and raked the area in which the assault force was pinned down. All need for further secrecy having disappeared, Marine artillery and mortars retaliated, and eight Shermans moved forward in support of the attack. Once again, the large blockhouse atop Turkey Knob drew most of the supporting fire. A large number of 75mm shells and no less than 1,000 gallons of flamethrower fuel were hurled against this impressive obstacle, but no immediate effects of this fire became apparent. The blockhouse appeared to be unoccupied after the tank attack, but it was assumed that the enemy would feed replacements into it through tunnels as soon as the fury of the American assault diminished.
Under cover of the heavy supporting fire, the envelopment of Turkey Knob continued, though progress was slow. By 1430, the two pincers of the double envelopment were only 65 yards from each other, and for a while it appeared that the movement might still succeed. However, as soon as the enemy became aware of this latest development, he threw a tremendous barrage against Company B, 1/25, which had been inching its way north to the high ground from positions south of the Amphitheater. This murderous rocket and mortar fire, interlaced with a heavy volume of small arms fire, inflicted over 30 casualties on the company and forced its withdrawal.28
In the center of the 25th Marines line, 2 /25 ~~, was to extend its left flank to assist 1/25, and for this purpose one company of 3/23 was attached to the battalion. Since no appreciable gains were made by 1/25 during the day, the 2d Battalion remained in place and spent the day in mopping up enemy stragglers and reducing such fortifications in its zone as the enemy still occupied or had reoccupied. Similarly, 3/25, nearest the coast, remained in position during the early part of the day. Enemy mortar fire into these positions caused several casualties, leading Captain James C. Headley, the battalion commander, to make this comment:
Throughout this period of time we were suffering casualties from enemy mortar fire and our failure to advance while suffering casualties had a depressing effect upon the morale of the troops.29
During the late afternoon of 2 March, elements on the right of 2/25 and the 3d Battalion finally were given permission to advance to the high ground directly to their front. Surprisingly enough, the enemy did not contest this advance, and the 25th Marines gained
300 yards, enabling the regiment to consolidate on the freshly taken high ground.
By evening of D plus 11, the 4th Division line protruded both in the north and in the south, hanging back only in the center where the Amphitheater and Turkey Knob remained to be taken. Overall, important progress had been made during the day with the seizure of Hill 382 and the unexpectedly easy advance near the coast during the latter part of the day. The fighting for Hill 382 had been costly for 2/24, in particular, which summed up the day's fighting as follows:
Today's fighting more intense than any other day up until now. Enemy resistance very heavy. Many pillboxes and strong emplacements to the direct front. Many officers, NCO'S and experienced personnel were casualties. Leadership now an acute problem. Enemy installations knocked out during the day's advance: 8 machine guns; 15 cave entrances, from which fire was being received, were sealed; one 47mm gun in bunker knocked out. No count of enemy dead, estimated to be over 100.30
Throughout 2 March, Marines on the ground had received excellent support from the sea as well as from the air. Two battleships and one cruiser furnished general support, while destroyers and gunboats deployed near the eastern bulge of the island to shell the rocky draws leading down to the sea. Carrier-based aircraft carried out six strikes against enemy positions in front of the 4th Division. The pilots and observers of VMO-4 flew five missions, including a rather unorthodox one in which a division public relations photographer took pictures from an altitude of 1,000 feet. This improvisation became necessary because "the sustained bombardment of Iwo Jima had so torn the face of the land that pre-D-Day maps were by now of little use in terrain appreciation."31
The night from 2-3 March passed without major incidents, It almost appeared as if the Japanese were beginning to feel the results of the prolonged battle of attrition. Along the 4th Marine Division lines, the only action occurred in front of 2/24, where the enemy attempted an infiltration. Once the presence of the intruders had been discovered, a lively fire fight ensued. It ended when the enemy withdrew, leaving behind 20 dead. Four Marines of 2/24 were killed in this action.32
For the continuation of the assault on 3 March, General Cates made certain changes in the disposition of his forces. At 0500, the 23d Marines relieved the 25th and just before H-Hour, set for 0630, 1/23 passed through 1/25. The 2d and 3d Battalions, 25th Marines, were attached to the 23d and retained their positions in the center and on the right. There were no changes in the 24th Marines' sector, where Colonel Jordan's men were preparing to continue the attack, except that Company L, 3/24, suffered 22 casualties while relieving elements of the 9th Marines near the division boundary.33
In an attempt to use the element of surprise, the 4th Marine Division attack
was not preceded by any preparatory fire. On the division left, the 24th Marines jumped off against formidable new defenses in its zone of advance, the bulk of which appeared to be concentrated on the high ground to the northeast of Hill 382, and in the vicinity of Minami Village. Initial resistance was heavy, and mortar, artillery, machine gun, and rifle fire hit the assault companies as soon as they began to move out. Directly in front of 2/24 were pillboxes and reinforced concrete emplacements, including one emplacement containing a high velocity gun.
Immediately following the jump-off, corps and division artillery began to pound these defenses with some effect. The regiment, with 3/24, 2/24, and 1/24 from left to right, slowly advanced against the enemy positions to its front. Some progress was made until the lines advanced to a point close enough to work on enemy emplacements with demolitions and flamethrowers. Once this close-in fighting got under way, fierce action ensued and the assault slowed to a crawl. The terrain consisted of numerous hillocks, mounds, and shallow cross-corridors with vertical sides. Covered reinforced concrete and sand-covered log machine gun and rifle emplacements with firing ports covering the front and both flanks blocked the advance. It soon became apparent that the line of defense to the north and east of Hill 382 had a depth of over 300 yards.
The difficulties accompanying an advance into prepared positions of this type were only too apparent. Due to the character of the terrain, these defenses were well protected from the supporting artillery fire. Tanks and flamethrower tanks, in particular, encountered major problems in getting into position. Once there, their fields of fire were limited so that they could effectively concentrate only on a few emplacements. As the infantry approached the enemy positions, the very close support needed could be furnished only by 60mm and 81mm mortars emplaced within 50 yards of the front lines. A shortage of ammunition limited the employment of the 81mm mortars, so that these weapons were fired only periodically and when dire necessity made their close supporting fires indispensable.
As usual, the infantry bore the brunt of the fighting. Marines, equipped with demolitions, portable flamethrowers, a variety of small arms, bazookas, and smoke and fragmentation grenades, maneuvered into position in small groups and attempted to neutralize the enemy positions one by one. It was a slow, tedious, and costly process calling for able leadership on the part of squad and fire team leaders, a number of whom were killed or wounded and had to be evacuated.
By late afternoon, the center of the 24th Marines had advanced 350 yards, with smaller gains along the northern and southern flanks. Throughout the day, the Shermans of Company B, 4th Tank Battalion, gave as much support to the regiment as the difficult terrain allowed. Rocket launchers employed their now customary hit and run tactics to escape counterbattery fire from the enemy mortars and artillery.
When Colonel Jordan's regiment consolidated on D plus 12, the 3d Battalion on the left had tied in with elements of the 9th Marines, while 1/24 on the right held a narrow front with only Company B in the line. After another day of fatiguing combat, the men were even more exhausted than on the previous day. Their condition was graphically outlined in a 2/24 report for the day:
Men very tired and listless, lack leaders. Close support by effective close support weapons, such as tanks and 37mm weapons not possible except in rare instances, due to terrain limiting fields of fire. Tank support is seldom sufficient to warrant the casualties resulting from the countermortar fire.34
Bitter fighting also marked the day's operations to the south of the 24th Marines, where the enemy still retained a strong hold both on the Amphitheater and Turkey Knob. There, 1/23 was to make the main attack southeastward above the Amphitheater and link up with units on the left of 2/25. If completed, this envelopment would result in reduction of Turkey Knob and encirclement of the well-dug-in enemy troops in the Amphitheater. In order to support the attack, Company C, 4th Tank Battalion and a platoon of the 4th Engineer Battalion were attached to 1/23.
Following the artillery preparation which came after the jump-off, the enemy initially appeared stunned and, in the words of the regimental report, "the initial phase of the attack progressed favorably."35 However, progress on the regiment's right soon lagged when Marines drew fire from the concrete blockhouse atop Turkey Knob. In addition, the enemy had mined the routes of approach. Any attempt to remove these antipersonnel mines was frustrated by deadly accurate sniper fire, Nevertheless, by 1400 the attached engineer platoon had cleared a path over which flame tanks and infantry demolition teams were able to get within effective range of the blockhouse. As a result of the combined teamwork of these arms, the blockhouse atop Turkey Knob was partially reduced in a slow and costly assault that continued during the latter part of the afternoon. By evening of 3 March, however, when units consolidated for the night, the Japanese were still firmly in control of Turkey Knob.
While 1/23 was battling for possession of the Knob, the remaining two battalions of the 23d Marines remained in position, except for Company K, 3/23, which, supported by tanks and 75mm halftracks, assaulted stubborn enemy defenses along the southwestern portion of the Amphitheater. Towards the end of the day, Company I was moved into a gap south of the Amphitheater between 1/23 and 2/25. The 2d Battalion of the 23d Marines remained in corps reserve for the day; it occupied an assembly area between the Southern and Central Airfields and could be moved anywhere within the Corps zone of action as required. For the remainder of D plus 12, 2/25 and 3/25 remained in their respective positions on the division's right, while 1/25 in division reserve underwent reorganization and
rehabilitation, and got some badly needed rest.
Throughout the day, the slight but nevertheless important gains made by the 4th Marine Division had been achieved with the help of the supporting arms. Within the division, 2/14 had furnished direct support to the 23d Marines, while 1/14 had reinforced the fires of 2/14. The 24th Marines had been directly supported by 3/14, while 4/14 was in general support. The 4th Tank Battalion had furnished such assistance as the difficult terrain permitted. By the end of 3 March, 36 tanks were operational, 12 had been destroyed, and 8 had been damaged.36 Ships of TF 54 continued to provide supporting fire, but the use of such support was restricted because of safety factors dictated by the location of the front lines.
At the end of D plus 12, the combat efficiency of the 4th Marine Division was estimated to be 50 percent. All units were ordered to consolidate at 1700, prepared to continue the attack on the following day. With the capture of Hill 382, one of the main props of the enemy's defensive system in the 4th Division sector had been knocked out, and despite heavy losses, it could be assumed "that the Division was now fighting in the rear of the highly prepared defensive area in which the operations for the past three days had been conducted."37
The night from 3-4 March passed without major incident in the 4th Marine Division zone of operations, except for the sector occupied by the 24th Marines. There, small groups of the enemy attempted unsuccessfully to infiltrate the lines of 3/24. The enemy placed heavy artillery and mortar fire into the 24th Marines area throughout the night, causing moderate casualties. Four destroyers provided illumination during the night.
At 0730, 4 March, the 4th Marine Division continued its attack with no change in its formation or direction of advance. Prior to the jumpoff, the corps and division artillery fired a half-hour preparation, which was further supplemented by naval gunfire. In contrast to the preceding days, the weather on D plus 13 was overcast and showers began to fall in the morning. Because of the leaden skies and the limited visibility, all air strikes had to be cancelled. It also was a very poor day for aerial observation.
On the ground, the battle of attrition continued. On the division left, the 24th Marines attacked in a generally southeasterly direction. The direction of advance was to be parallel to the corridors. Once again, the assault turned into a step-by-step affair, as usual combined with heavy casualties and little gain. Such progress as could be made was achieved with the assistance of the Shermans, which were employed with good effect against the numerous pillboxes and caves. Good results were also obtained from the flamethrower tank which scorched the enemy defenses. Even though the regiment advanced only about 100 yards, the steady destruction of the formidable enemy defenses sooner or later was bound to have a concrete effect. Indicative of the regiment's effort is the fact that 2,200
pounds of explosives were employed on D plus 13 to blow cave entrances and exits.38
On the division right, the 23d Marines, with 2,/25 and 3/25 still attached, 1/23 in line, and 2/23 in corps and 3/23 in division reserve, made small gains in the 1/23 zone of advance. The two attached battalions of the 25th Marines on the regiment's right had to sit it out in their positions, much against their will. As the division was to report the day's activities:
BLT's 2/25 and 3/25 could have advanced within their zones, but such an advance was not deemed advisable because it would have overextended the lines. The terrain in front of this RCT was the most difficult yet encountered; observation was limited to only a few feet, and it was impossible to support the attack with anything heavier than normal infantry weapons.39
By evening of 4 March, the combat efficiency of the 4th Marine Division had dropped to 45 percent, the lowest yet since the Marines had gone ashore on Iwo Jima. The enemy was still offering stubborn resistance from closely integrated positions, and General Cates' men were more exhausted than ever. This circumstance, combined with the murky skies, the discomfort created by the rain, and the ever present enemy snipers in front of, behind, and between the lines should, by all normal yardsticks, have reduced the morale of the wet and tired Marines to a new low.
Yet, strangely enough, this was not the case. There was no definite indication that the enemy's morale was sagging, and in his battered positions in the Amphitheater, he was clinging to every foot of ground as resolutely as ever. Nevertheless, there was a quiet feeling of optimism that perhaps, after all, the enemy might be beginning to crack. Perhaps it was brought about by the decrease in the accuracy of the enemy artillery and mortar fire resulting from the accurate counterbattery fire furnished by the corps artillery. It was also possible that the loss of Hill 382 and the severe mauling that Turkey Knob had taken by this time had deprived the enemy's artillery observers of their choice observation sites.
The battle of attrition being waged all over northern Iwo Jima was beginning to affect the enemy's power to resist, even though his spirit was as high as ever. In recognition of the bitter struggle waged by General Kuribayashi against overwhelmingly superior American forces, his superiors in Tokyo sent a message addressed both to him and Admiral Ichimaru, expressing Japan's admiration for the battle they were waging. Ichimaru replied: "The enemy is hitting us hard, but we Will hit back."40 For his part, General Kuribayashi had earlier stated defiantly "I am not afraid of the fighting power of only three American divisions, if only there were no bombardments from aircraft and warships. This is the only reason why we have to see such miserable situations."41 Looking at the overall situation on Iwo and the decimated remnants of his garrison, consisting of only 3,500 effectives,
General Kuribayashi saw clearly that his time was running short. In desperation, he signalled Tokyo for help on the evening of 4 March, calling for air and naval support. "Send me these things, and I will hold this island", he said. "Without them I cannot hold."42 But there was no response from the Japanese mainland, which itself was reeling underneath the intensified American bombing attacks. In view of total American air superiority in the Bonins and a mighty American fleet patrolling the surrounding waters, Iwo Jima was, indeed, isolated. The defenders of Iwo Jima had the full sympathy of almost the entire population of Japan, whose attention was riveted on the fierce battle in progress there. On its part:
. . . the Army High Command had meanwhile been conducting earnest investigations into the possibility of mounting an effective attack against the U. S. naval forces which were swarming around Iwo Jima. Air power on hand was small, however, while overwater flight training was inadequate; hence a massive effort could not be staged.43
As for the Japanese Navy contingent on Iwo Jima, Admiral Ichimaru did not even bother to radio for help. Admiral Toyoda, Commander in Chief of the Imperial Navy, had sent word that the Navy would be ready for the next expected American thrust by the end of April, but that all plans depended on the outcome at Iwo. The message ended with these words: "I regret that except for full submarine support and some air support, we cannot send reinforcements to Iwo. However, in view of overall requirements, I earnestly hope you will maintain calm and fight staunchly by any means."44
The meaning of this was clear and Admiral Ichimaru, who had never expected reinforcements in the first place, accepted the inevitable. Clearly, the Iwo garrison was on its own, and its prolonged death throes would, in any case, be a lonely business.
In accordance with General Schmidt's order that 5 March was to be a day of rest and rehabilitation for all VAC units, no offensive action was planned in the 4th Division sector on D plus 14. Instead, the division was to reorganize so that by noon it would have one regiment, less one battalion, available to continue the attack on a limited front on the following day. The general direction of the attack on 6 March was to be eastward. (See Map VIII).
REORGANIZATION AND CONTINUATION OF THE ATTACK45
The regiment which General Cates selected for the main effort was Colonel Wensinger's 23d Marines. In order to relieve this regiment from its other duties, the area on the division's right reverted to the 25th Marines. The 2d and 3d Battalions of the 25th Marines, hitherto attached to the 23d, reverted to
the parent regiment. The 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, relieved 1/23 in almost identical positions held by 1/25 on 2 March. Since 3/23 was still heavily committed along the southern fringes of the Amphitheater, where it was mopping up previously bypassed enemy defenses and overcoming other stubborn pockets of resistance, Colonel Lanigan combined the division reconnaissance company, which had been attached to his regiment as of 0700 on 5 March, with Company L, 3/25, into a provisional battalion, commanded by Major Edward L. Asbill, executive officer of 1/25. In the northern portion of the division sector, three companies of the 24th Marines were pulled out of the line and stationed in the regimental rear area, where they were to form a strong regimental reserve. In order to further bolster the 25th Marines, Company B of the 2d Armored Amphibian Tractor Battalion was attached to the regiment. This company was to patrol the beach areas north of the 3/25 sector and fire on targets along the beach.
The reorganization within the 4th Division area of responsibility was completed by noon of 5 March, as scheduled. During the entire period of reorganization, beginning on the evening of 4 March, the enemy did not initiate any offensive action, though his supporting arms remained active. During the night from 4-5 March, only sporadic fire hit the 4th Division zone, with the exception of the 24th Marines' area. There, heavy mortar and artillery fire was received almost incessantly during the hours of darkness. Throughout D plus 14, the 14th Marines continued to fire on targets of opportunity and executed harassing fires. A total of 17 missions employed air observation. VMO-4 flew 10 tactical observation missions. One pilot was wounded and evacuated. By late afternoon of 5 March, the squadron had four aircraft that were still operational. In addition to the artillery fire provided by the 14th Marines on D plus 14, elements of TF 54 fired call fire missions throughout the day.46
It had, for all practical purposes, been a quiet day on Iwo Jima. There had been no gains since there had been no offensive action. Yet, as this day of rest ended, "there had been more than 400 casualties on the line where there was no fighting. The men got ready for the next big push."47
Following the day of rest, the VAC offensive resumed on the morning of 6 March. In order to obtain the maximum results from extensive massed preparations, General Schmidt had ordered his divisions to attack in echelon. Each attack was to be preceded by an intensive artillery and naval gunfire preparation, in which the corps and division artillery, as well as the medium and heavy guns of the fire support ships, were to join.48 Altogether, not including the naval gunfire, 12 artillery battalions would unleash a devastating curtain of fire against the enemy garrison that still blocked the path of the VAC advance. They would first fire for approximately 30 minutes at the western portion of the front, then shift the preparation for a little over half an
hour to the eastern half. Within the overall assault, the 4th Marine Division was to jump off at 0900, H plus 60 minutes, with the main effort on its left in conjunction with the adjacent 9th Marines of the 3d Marine Division.
At 0845, the coordinated fire of the 132 guns and the naval gunfire shifted to support the second phase of the VAC attack along the eastern portion of the front. The shore-based artillery alone had expended 22,500 shells ranging from 75mm to 155mm in a little over an hour. In the zone of action of General Cates' division, the full force of the barrage was brought to bear on the left in the zone of action of the 23d Marines. There, prior to 0600, the 23d Marines, less 1/23, hail moved into position. In preparation for the assault, 2/23 had relieved 3/24 without enemy interference. The weather promised to be fair with good visibility; only a slight haze obscured observation in the early dawn.
Following the earth-shaking artillery preparation, which gave way to a rolling barrage, 2/23 jumped off at H-Hour, followed by the 3d Battalion at a 400- yard interval. As the assault battalion advanced eastward towards the high ground to its front, it became apparent that the heavy volume of artillery fire had not incapacitated the Japanese who emerged from their dugouts little the worse for wear and, in the extremely rugged terrain, put up a spirited fight for every yard of the way and defended each cave, pillbox, and emplacement with the greatest tenacity.
As the advance gained momentum, in the face of accurate fire from rifles and automatic weapons to the front, the assault companies moved forward about 50 yards. On the left, where the terrain favored the employment of armor, Company G, 2/23, supported by four tanks, gained 300 yards. As the company prepared to move into a gap that had arisen between it and Company F, the enemy caught Company G in a murderous mortar barrage that caused numerous casualties and wounded the company commander. Fierce fighting continued throughout the day. At 1800, when 2/23 dug in for the night, Company G on the left still was 350 yards in front of the line of departure; the remainder of the 2d and 3d Battalions, 23d Marines, had gained approximately 100 yards during the day.
To the right of the 23d Marines, 2/24 and 1/24 jumped off abreast at H-Hour. Almost immediately, Colonel Jordan's Marines found themselves in the same type of terrain that had impeded the movements of the 23d Marines to the north. The ground was characterized by a series of jagged ridges and heavy undergrowth, both favoring the defending force. Despite support from gunfire ships and three heavy air strikes, enemy resistance continued undiminished. After a day of exhausting and costly fighting, the regiment gained 150 yards on the left and even less on the right.
Since the Amphitheater and Turkey Knob had, for all practical purposes, already been bypassed prior to D plus 15, no frontal assault was launched against these positions, which still formed a deep salient in the 4th Division lines. Because of these protruding enemy positions, the 23d and 24th Marines north of this salient attacked in an east-southeasterly
direction, while the 25th Marines to the south were attacking generally to the northeast. As a result, it appeared that all the 4th Division thrusts on 6 March were directed generally towards the remnants of Higashi Village.
For the three battalions of the 25th Marines, it was another day of waiting for the left wing of the division to move forward. Since no decisive gains were made by the 24th Marines, 2/25 and 3,/25 stayed in position and conducted mop-up operations within their respective areas. The only forward movement took place in the 1/25 sector, where Marines continued chipping away at enemy fortifications to the east of Turkey Knob near Minami Village, supported by flame and medium tanks and 75mm half-tracks. Once the armor had completed its mission, the tanks were pulled back in order to prevent their exposure to the expected enemy counterbattery fire.
By evening of 6 March, it was evident that the momentous artillery preparation which had so promisingly ushered in the resumed offensive had failed utterly in crushing the enemy's will or capacity to resist. At the time it consolidated for the night, the 4th Marine Division held a line extending for roughly 2,470 yards. A gap of 400 yards still separated the division's left flank from the right of the adjacent 3d Division.
Once again, despite meager gains, the division's losses on D plus 15 had been heavy. The division D-3 report for the day estimated combat efficiency at 40 percent and added that "the result of fatigue and lack of experienced leaders is very evident in the manner in which the units fight."49 Conversely, the enemy seemed to adapt himself readily to the changing conditions on Iwo Jima by making widespread use of American equipment. Thus it was discovered during the day that five enemy bodies in front of the 4th Division lines were fully dressed in Marine uniforms. One Japanese who decided to give American food a try was to record in his diary: "I tasted Roosevelt's rations for the first time, and they were very good." No doubt, the frequently maligned originator of the American combat rations would have been pleased with this compliment.
The night of 6-7 March turned into a veritable hell for many 4th Division Marines. The continuous and exhausting action in preceding days had been enough to wear down many of them, both physically and mentally. Instead of the rest which they so badly needed and desired, the men were kept in a state of upheaval all night by Japanese activity which, according to the official report, was "sporadic but costly".50
At 2130, several enemy mortar shells fell in the lines of 2/23, wounding approximately 30 men. While confusion engulfed this hard-hit battalion, the action shifted to the right flank of the 4th Division. There, shortly after 2200, enemy were reported moving in front of 3/25. Immediate artillery fire was brought to bear on the enemy assembly, which was dispersed. Up to this time,
all had remained quiet in front of 1/25, but as the night continued, an estimated 40-50 Japanese infiltrated the battalion sector and sneaked into the foxholes occupied by Major Mee's men. An occasional bursting hand grenade punctured the quietness of the night‹ a solitary rifle shot, a deep grunt or groan, and then stillness again. It was not until morning that an accurate tally of the 1st Battalion's losses was possible. Then it became evident that 1/25 had lost one officer and 12 men killed; the enemy had lost an estimated 50 men.51 Conversely, 1/24 reported that this had been the quietest night in its sector.
Just as it appeared that this long night was nearing its end, disaster struck once more, this time in the 2/23 area. Shortly after 0500, one of the big, inaccurate enemy rockets wobbled its way into the 2/23 command post with devastating results. The battalion commander, Major Robert H. Davidson, was badly shaken up by the blast and suffered a severe concussion; the communications chief was killed, and the battalion executive officer, the operations officer, the adjutant, and two clerks were wounded. With practically all the headquarters staff officers out of action, a skeleton staff was quickly formed at regimental headquarters under Lieutenant Colonel Edward J. Dillon, the regimental executive officer, who proceeded to 2/23 around dawn and took over the battalion. H-Hour for D plus 16 had been set for 0730. The 4th Division was to continue the assault in the same direction and with the same lineup of units as on the preceding day. There was to be no preliminary artillery or naval gunfire preparation, though neutralization fire against known enemy mortar and artillery positions was scheduled between 0800 and 0830. Because of the disruption caused by the enemy rocket hit on the command post of 2/23, H-Hour was postponed for an additional half hour.
Promptly at 0800 the 4th Division attack resumed, with the battered 23d Marines, less 1/23, in the main effort. The supporting neutralization fire appeared to be having a salutary effect, since there was little response from the enemy supporting arms. As a result, 2/23, attacking along the 4th Division boundary, was able to make slow gains in the course of the morning, particularly along the regimental left. In the center and on the right, on the other hand, enemy resistance was as bitter as ever, and there the advance quickly ground to a halt. By shifting the focal point of the assault quickly between companies, comparable to a boxer who hits his opponent with a low blow and then follows with a haymaker to the uncovered chin, the 2d Battalion was able to catch the Japanese off balance long enough to make a gain of 150 yards within an hour after jumpoff. Following this limited success, strong enemy positions were encountered all along the battalion front and for the remainder of the day progress was minimal. Enemy resistance on 7 March consisted primarily of heavy machine gun fire and extremely accurate rifle fire from concealed positions in the rocky ridge formations
and draws along the front. The virtual absence of enemy artillery fire at the 23d Marines' front was noticeable, though the regiment still drew intermittent fire from enemy mortars.
The 24th Marines resumed the attack with 2/24 and 1/24 on the line and almost immediately encountered heavy opposition, particularly on the right where intense machine gun and mortar fire halted the advance of the 1st Battalion before it really got moving. For the remainder of the morning, the regimental advance could be measured in yards as small demolition teams blasted and burned the enemy out of his well concealed and strongly-held positions. At 1245, the 14th Marines fired a five-minute preparation which signalled a renewal of the attack. Employing the same tactics used during the morning, and with considerable air support, the regiment scored a gain of 50 yards before 1700, when the lines were consolidated for the day.
On the division right, Colonel Lanigan's 25th Marines continued mopping up the numerous stragglers in its rear area. On the regiment's left, the 1st Battalion, supported by regular and flame tanks, destroyed enemy emplacements to its front, while the Provisional Battalion continued the systematic reduction of stubborn enemy defenses in the bypassed Amphitheater and Turkey Knob. Even though the 25th Marines did not seize any new ground on D plus 16, its strategic location along the division right would shortly change its mission into a defensive one. As the 23d and 24th Marines very slowly and inexorably continued their east-southeastward advance towards Tachiiwa Point on the east coast, they threatened to envelop Captain Inouye's forces, which would be compressed in an area bounded by the sea in the east and the 25th Marines to the south. For all practical purposes, the northern wing of the 4th Division formed a hammer while the stationary 25th Marines would serve as the anvil. In all respects, this type of maneuver closely resembled the large-scale German antipartisan operations in Russia where precisely such tactics often led to success.52
In anticipation of increased pressure once this pocket was compressed, Colonel Lanigan took preparatory measures to enable his regiment to cope with any threat posed by the Japanese whose encirclement was imminent. Engineers attached to the regiment laid antipersonnel mines across the front. Barbed wire was strung out along the line. The men sited machine guns, 37mm cannon, and 60mm mortars, waiting for the Japanese to be driven against the regimental line. For the time being, the mission of the 25th Marines would be a defensive one.
Activity during the night from 7-8 March was not comparable to that of the preceding night and along the 4th Division lines consisted mainly of mortar and small arms fire. Some of the enemy mortar shells fell into the positions of 1/24 and in front of the 25th
Marines. At 0300, 3/24 returned to the parent regiment and two hours later relieved 2/24 in the line.
On D plus 17, the division main effort changed from the left to the center, and the direction of the attack shifted to the southeast. Within the shrinking area left to the Japanese on Iwo Jima, the designation of phase or objective lines had become superfluous, and General Schmidt's operations order for 8 March was essentially "to capture the remainder of the island."53 No one familiar with the yard-by-yard struggle expected enemy resistance to cease on this day, or for a number of days to come, but the tenor of the order gave a vague assurance that there was to be an end to the bloodletting. Facing the Marines of all three divisions were only the jumbles of rock and the sea, and a dwindling number of highly motivated Japanese determined to sell their lives as dearly as possible.
H-Hour on 8 March had been set for 0750. However, in accordance with corps orders, the 4th Marine Division jumped off at 0620, 90 minutes ahead of the 3d and 5th Divisions. The jump-off was carried out without any artillery preparation, though for half an hour following it the 14th Marines and the corps artillery fired successive concentrations in support of the attack. In the zone of advance of the 23d Marines, there was initially only light resistance, the enemy apparently being confused by the early morning attack. Even though opposition stiffened in time, gains were made in the center of the regimental zone of advance, as 2/23 drove southeastward in the general direction of Tachiiwa Point.
The 24th Marines, with 3/24 on the left and 1/24 on the right, jumped off on schedule, but encountered far stronger resistance than the 23d Marines to the north, mostly from enemy units concealed in perfectly fortified positions. Enemy opposition was characterized by extremely heavy fire from small arms, knee mortars, and mortars of larger calibers. Gains made during the day were negligible, though at the end of the day the regiment was tied in with the 23d Marines on the left and the 25th Marines on the right. Throughout the day, 2/24 remained in division reserve.
On the right flank of the division, the three battalions of the 25th Marines remained in position and continued to strengthen the regimental lines in the event that the enemy decided to counterattack as he was driven into a corner. Behind the lines, various elements of the regiment and the division reconnaissance company continued to mop up; enemy stragglers were also rounded up in the vicinity of Minami Village.
In the course of D plus 17, Shermans of the 4th Tank Battalion gave such support as was feasible to the regiments of the 4th Division, though the movement of armor was restricted largely to the few existing trails, most of them in the 23d Marines' area. There, several tanks ran into a minefield and three were destroyed. During the time required to clear the minefield, the remaining tanks remained in place. In the course of an air strike, an auxiliary gas tank filled with napalm was dropped erroneously into the friendly lines. It
landed directly behind one of the Shermans, and napalm splashed all over the tank. Even though the outer surfaces of the Sherman caught fire, the crew was able to evacuate the vehicle and put out the blaze with a portable fire extinguisher. There were no casualties and the mishap failed to put the Sherman, at this point somewhat the worse for wear, out of action.54
When the regiments of the 4th Division secured for the night around dusk of 8 March, the combat efficiency of the division was still clinging to a precarious 40 percent, but even this figure fails to convey the excessive number of key personnel, the driving force of any unit, that had been sent out of the lines suffering from wounds or battle fatigue. The weather had turned cloudy and cold, and the men of General Gates' division shivered in their foxholes while attempting to rest their weary bodies for the continuation of the struggle that would await them in the morning.
In the gathering dusk and during the early evening of 8 March, something was beginning to stir in front of the 23d and 24th Marines. At first, there was only the blur of muted voices and movement, nothing definite that would indicate anything out of the ordinary was brewing. But then the intensity of the enemy mortar, artillery, and roc~et fire against the two Marine regiments increased, followed at 2300 by large-scale infiltration of the 2/23 and 3/24 sectors.
THE ENEMY STRIKES BACK55
Had the Marines compressing the Japanese naval force into the pocket near Tachiiwa Point been able to look into the enemy lines, and had they been able to gauge the background and volatile temperament of the Japanese Navy captain commanding the 1,000-odd men about to be trapped, certain inevitable conclusions would have become apparent almost at once. Captain Samaji Inouye, commanding the Naval Guard Force on Iwo Jima, was a Samurai, a noisy, swashbuckling extrovert, a champion swordsman, who was prone to boast of his prowess as a fighter, lover, and drinker in front of his subordinates.56
It was totally incompatible with Inouye's character that he would sit back in his dugout and idly watch his force being encircled. Also, he had felt deeply emotional about the loss of Mount Suribachi and, in his grief at the American capture of this landmark, he had nearly decapitated the hapless survivors of the force that had straggled into his lines following the fall of the mountain. For the Japanese, ever since the attack on Pearl Harbor, the eighth day of each month had a special significance, and Inouye was only too well aware that 8 March would be his last. He planned to make it a memorable one for all concerned.
Late in the evening, at 2200, he gathered the remainder of his troops, a mixture of survivors from many Navy
units on Iwo Jima. It was anything but a uniformly equipped force:
. . . many men had only bamboo spears, but some had hand grenades and rifles. There were a few machine guns, and some men strapped land mines across their chests, determined to blow up some Marines with themselves.57
What Captain Inouye had in mind was, of course, an all-out charge against the American lines. But, short of killing Americans, there had to be a definite purpose to the assault. Still preoccupied with the loss of Mount Suribachi, where the Stars and Stripes fluttering on the summit had kindled his anger anew every day, the Captain announced to his assembled force the objective of the imminent assault was Suribachi itself. En route, after breaking through the American lines, the men were to blow up as many American planes as they could on the airfields.
Judged by the standards employed earlier in the war on islands like Guadalcanal, and particularly when compared to the desperate Japanese all-out charge on the Garapan Plain at Saipan, what Inouye had planned could best be described as a mini-banzai. His objective was unrealistic, the Marines to his front were too alert, and above all, he lacked the approval of his superiors for the action he was about to take. As the attack got under way, the following situation developed:
The band started south, not in a wild charge, but crawling slowly and quietly. One group got within 10 yards of 2/23's command post, where Lieutenant Colonel Dillon was still in command, before the alarm was given. Then the sailors lobbed grenades and charged, shrieking "Banzai!" In a moment there was chaos. The Marines threw up flares and star shells lighted the sky. Machinegun fire, rifles, and mortars began to cut into them, but still the Japanese came on. Some of them carried stretchers and shouted "Corpsman, corpsman" in fair English. Finally the hordes faltered and broke, and no one knew where Captain Inouye was. He had last been seen running and shouting, his sword waving in the air.58
According to an account of Inouye's orderly, who became separated from the captain in the melee, Inouye charged ahead with loud shouts, followed by his men. As accurate Marine fire raked the ranks of the charging Japanese, Inouye shouted "Banzai, Banzai," at the top of his voice, and that was the last heard of him. As one of the Japanese was to comment regretfully later: "It's a pity he could not reach the American position for a full display of his final swordsmanship. "59
As the Japanese charged the boundary between the 23d and 24th Marines, it was inevitable that some of them would get. through the Marine lines. There was vicious fighting throughout the hours of darkness. Some of the action eventually extended to the 24th Marines and, on a smaller scale, to the 25th. Company E, 2/23, continued to bear the brunt of the counterattack, expending 20 cases of hand grenades, 200 rounds of 60mm illumination shells, and an unknown quantity of machine gun, BAR, and rifle ammunition.60 Company E faced a critical situation around 0100, when ammunition began to run out. Finally, additional loads
were sent forward in a jeep and trailer, which brought the badly needed supplies forward over an enemy infested road, with the aid of 60mm illumination. The jeep drew several rounds of enemy small arms fire but was able to deliver its badly needed cargo. Fire support ships expended 193 star shells during the night, thus lessening some of the confusion that accompanied the action. In the flickering light the chewed-up volcanic ground became visible, filled with wriggling forms. Artillery fire soon blanketed the area and many of the would-be infiltrators halted in their tracks.
But many of the attackers did get into the Marine lines and, in the words of one account:
The night became alive with the noise and lights of a determined fire fight. Red tracer bullets shot across the flats. Jap rockets hurtled through the air, leaving a quarter-mile trail of golden sparks. Star shells of yellow and green hung in the sky. The battle kept up all night. Individual men in foxholes didn't know what was happening. They waited for Japs to appear and killed them as fast as they came. Men with telephones whispered into their instruments and tried to discover how strong the enemy attack actually was. Machine guns chattered incessantly. Grenades popped.61
As day dawned over Iwo Jima on 9 March, the area in and around the 2/23 positions, and to a lesser extent in front of the 24th Marines, showed the signs of horrible carnage. Mopping up continued until noon. A body count of enemy dead revealed approximately 650 at the focal point of the attack, while another 150 were discovered in the adjacent sectors. Among those who perished in the counterattack was Captain Inouye, who died as he had wished to die. The counterattack cost the Marines 90 men killed and 257 wounded, a large number of men to lose in one night's bitter fighting; yet beyond any doubt the cost would have been higher had it been necessary to ferret the enemy out of his dugouts one by one.
To the Japanese survivors of the slaughter, the arrival of daylight brought little comfort. Stripped both of the protective cover of darkness and leadership on which all of them so much depended, the 200 sailors that had survived the abortive banzai huddled in small groups, wondering what to do next. It was apparent to all that getting to Mount Suribachi or any of the airfields was far beyond their capabilities. A lieutenant finally gathered them together and those who could crawled away from the place of carnage, constantly harassed by the Marines hunting for them. As to their further operations:
Their fighting was over. Each night the lieutenant sent out patrols of three to five men. They never returned. Others went into caves, and some died of wounds, of sickness, or of thirst. Some drank urine and died.
The lieutenant lasted until April 29, the Emperor's birthday, when he told the others, "We will steal a B-29 and fly to the homeland. You others do as you please after we're gone." He left, accompanied by the chief Navy medical officer, an ensign, and a petty officer.62
There was to be one more sequel to Captain Inouye's counterattack: Obviously aware of General Kuribayashi's
orders to stay in place and fight as long as possible, he had neglected to inform his superior, Admiral Ichimaru, of his intentions. As a result:
. . . on the night of Inouye's last charge, Admiral Toyoda again messaged Admiral Ichimaru, praising the brave acts of the Navy men and again begging them to hold out as long as possible. Ichimaru did not know that Inouye had already sacrificed the last of the Japanese heavy force on Iwo Jima.63
For the men of the 4th Marine Division, Captain Inouye's abortive counterattack at one stroke eliminated a large segment of the enemy force holding the eastern part of the island. With just about all of this force out of the way, there no longer was any central direction of Japanese forces in the east. Major General Senda, with a force of undetermined strength, was still assumed to be blocking the 4th Division's path between Higashi Village and the coast. Enemy remnants were still in control of Turkey Knob, and a few other pockets of resistance still existed, but by this time the enemy's capability to resist was drastically reduced.
Even though the mop-up of survivors of the counterattack continued throughout the morning of 9 March, the 4th Division continued its attack in accordance with previously laid plans. At 0700, following a 10-minute preparation, the 4th Division jumped off. Once again, the division employed the same scheme of maneuver it had used in previous days, with the 23d Marines on the left, the 24th Marines in the center, and the 25th Marines on the right. The 23d Marines, with 2/23 in the assault, was able to advance in the center and to its right against resistance that lacked the bite of the preceding days. However, the left of the regiment drew heavy fire from a ridge near the division boundary about 500 yards north of Higashi. By 0900, the ridge had been seized in direct assault, and the battalion slowly but persistently forced its way forward. At 1500, 1/23 reverted to the regiment. Ordered to consolidate at 1700, Colonel Wensinger's men continued the attack to improve their positions and did not halt until half an hour later. Gains for the day were a respectable 300 yards. As the regiment dug in, it maintained contact with the 3d Marine Division on the left and the 24th Marines on the right.
In the remaining division sectors, enemy opposition was as strong as ever, and, in consequence, no additional ground was seized in the center and on the right of the division. To some extent, lack of progress in the center was due to depletion of manpower, which made it necessary to shuffle companies from one battalion to another in order to bring the assault battalion up to effective strength. As part of the reorganization of 1/24, Lieutenant Colonel Austin R. Brunelli, the regimental executive officer, assumed command of 1/24, relieving Major Treitel. Because of the heavy resistance on its left flank, the 25th Marines, less 3/25 but with 2/24 attached, remained in position.
During the night from 9-10 March, there was a relative lack of enemy activity. A small amount of light and medium mortar fire at infrequent intervals harassed the 4th Division lines during the night, and infiltration attempts
remained on a large scale. In order to counter the threat still posed by groups of the enemy operating in the division rear, the Provisional Battalion, which had been mopping up in the Amphitheater and around Turkey Knob, was disbanded and its mission taken over by 2/25. At the same time, a 4th Provisional Battalion, consisting of 37 officers and 498 enlisted men, was organized from units of the Division Support Group. This unit, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Melvin L. Krulewitch, had special responsibility for mopping up behind the division lines and retained this mission until 12 March, when it was disbanded.64
At 0800 on D plus 19, the 4th Marine Division continued its attack after a coordinated corps and division artillery preparation, which changed into a rolling barrage as the men moved out. On this day, which was to be full of significant developments for General Cates' men, the assault was made essentially by the 23d and 25th Marines. The 24th Marines reverted to division reserve. The 1st Battalion, 24th Marines, was pulled out of the line and replaced by 3/25. The 3d Battalion, 24th Marines, remained in its previous zone of action but was attached to the 23d Marines, while 2/24 remained attached to the 25th Marines.
The 23d Marines, with 2/23 on the left and 3/24 on the right launched a vigorous attack that encountered only light opposition on the right. The enemy, entrenched in the rocky ridges along the left boundary of the division, replied with accurate and effective mortar and small arms fire which reduced gains of 2/23 in this sector. Throughout the regimental zone of advance, small but determined groups of the enemy tried to impede the advance. Since the Japanese no longer held a solid line on commanding ground, the Marine assault elements were able to bypass such nests of resistance, leaving their annihilation to teams of engineers, tanks, and infantry, which blasted and scorched such obstacles with demolitions and flamethrowers.
As the regimental attack gained momentum, an enormous amount of ground was taken by Iwo standards. By 1500, Colonel Wensinger's men had advanced no less than 700 yards and were within 500 yards of the east coast. Having reached commanding ground in this area, the regiment halted in midafternoon. Patrols from 2/23, dispatched during the remainder of the afternoon, reached the coast near Tachiiwa Point without encountering any enemy opposition. A short distance to the south, elements of 3/24 reconnoitered to within 100 yards of the coast without making contact with the enemy.
On the division right, the 25th Marines, with 2/24 and the Reconnaissance Company attached, completed the relief of 1/24 by 0600. Following this relief, 3/25 took over the sector of 1/24. In order to complete the encirclement of those enemy remnants still holding out in the Amphitheater and on Turkey Knob, 3/25 was shifted to the north of the enemy salient, where, together with 1/25, it would attack to the southeast parallel to the axis of advance of the 23d Marines. Along the southern perimeter
of the salient, 2/25 and 2/24 were to advance generally to the northeast or east respectively, which would enable 2/25 to effect a linkup with those units of the regiment attacking towards the coast from the northwest.
Jumping off at H-Hour on 10 March, 3/25 and 1/25 attacked towards the high ground to their front from where the enemy still offered moderate to heavy opposition. It soon became apparent that the 3d Battalion would be able to move faster than 1/25 and, in consequence, 3/25 was ordered to continue regardless of its flanks. As the attacks of 3/25 and 2/25 converged, the distance separating the two units dwindled until, shortly after noon, the two battalions linked up. Overall gains for the 25th Marines on D plus 19 were 600 yards. More important than the yardage gained was the fact that Turkey Knob was at last completely surrounded and all resistance remaining could now be eliminated. As the 25th Marines consolidated for the night, its left flank was tied to the 23d Marines about 800 yards from the coast while the stationary right flank was still anchored on the beach to the south.
The significance of the 4th Division's movements and gains on 10 March was summed up in one historical narrative in these words:
It was now evident that the Japanese counterattack had marked the turning point in the battle. Although bitter and costly fighting continued for six more days, particularly in the 25th Regiment's zone, organized resistance was now dying out in the 4th Division area.
During the 14-day period covered in this chapter, the 4th Division, in constant head-on assault, fought its bloody way from Charlie-Dog Ridge past Hill 382, the Amphitheater, Turkey Knob, through Minami and formidable defenses northeast of 382, almost to the coast. The slow but relentless movement of this division front can be compared to the closing of a giant door. The right flank, which advanced less than 1,000 yards, acted as a hinge while the rest of the division (the door) turned upon it and attacked northeast, east, and southeast to close and sweep trapped enemy toward the sea.65
The 4th Division assault on eastern Iwo Jima thus had broken the back of enemy resistance by 10 March. In the wake of the division's advance, there remained a staggering number of casualties, whose bodies and minds bore ample witness to the ferocity of the fighting. Between 25 February, when General Cates' men first attacked the Meat Grinder and 10 March, when they were within a stone's throw of the coast, the division had sustained 4,075 casualties. A total of 847 Marines had been killed or were dead of wounds; 2,836 had been wounded; 1 was missing, and 391 were suffering from combat fatigue.66
As the three Marine divisions slowly approached the coastline in their respective zones of advance, it became apparent to all on the island that time for General Kuribayashi and his garrison was running out. In Japan, anxious eyes were watching the contest of wills being waged for possession of Iwo Jima. To the military observers, the outcome was a foregone conclusion. But the nation's morale was precariously
perched on the faint hope that General Kuribayashi's masterful defense of the island would give the business-minded Americans food for thought about the cost of a full-scale invasion of the home islands. Thus, in Japanese eyes, the prolonged defense of Iwo Jima pursued not only the immediate tactical objective, but a vastly more far-reaching strategic one.
Few of the surviving members of that garrison had any illusions left about the outcome of the war. One Japanese captured in the 4th Division area late on 9 March was better qualified than most others to comment on the overall situation. A peacetime editor and publisher of one of the large metropolitan newspapers of Japan, he remarked that "this is not a winning war for Japan‹she cannot win, but she is trying her darndest to lessen her defeat."67
That time was running out on the mainland as well was strongly reemphasized on the evening of 9 March, when more than 300 B-29s mounted one of the biggest air raids of the war against Tokyo. This attack severely devastated the enemy capital, serving notice to all Japanese that they were now open to American attack both from sea and air; that henceforth the citizens of Tokyo were as exposed to American explosives as General Kuribayashi's diminishing garrison on Iwo Jima.
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (VI-9) * Next Chapter (VI-11)
1. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this chapter is derived from: TF 51 AR; VAC AR; VAC G-2 Rpts; VAC C-3 Jnl; VAC C-3 Rpts; VAC NGF and Air Rpts; VAC Translations; 4th MarDiv D-2 PerRpts; 4th MarDiv OpRpt; 4th MarDiv D-3 Jnl; 4th MarDiv D-3 PerRpts; 4th MarDiv D-4 PerRpts; 4th MarDiv OPOs, Iwo Jima, 24Feb-9Mar45; 4th MarDiv Translations; 4th MarDiv Dispatch Summaries, Iwo Jima, 19Feb-15Mar45; 4th MarDiv Support Gp OpRpt, Iwo Jima, 28Dec-44-17Mar45, dtd 4Apr45, hereafter 4th MarDiv Support Gp OpRpt; 1st ProvFldArtyGp G-1 Jnl; 23d Mar OpRpt; 24th Mar OpRpt; 25th Mar UJnl; 25th Mar OpRpt; 25th Mar Strength and Casualty Rpt, Iwo Jima, 19Feb-26Mar45; 25th Mar R-2 PerRpts, Iwo Jima, 22Feb-16Mar45, hereafter 25th Mar R-2 Per-Rpts; 14th Mar WarD, 28Dec44-5Apr45; 14th Mar OpRpt; 14th Mar R-3 Rpts, 22Feb-14Mar45, hereafter 14th Mar R-3 Rpts; Iwo Comments; Bartley, Iwo Monograph; Morehouse, Iwo Jima Campaign; Horie Rpt; Morison, Victory in the Pacific; Isely and Crowl, U.S. Marines and Amphibious War; Newcomb, Iwo Jima; Newcomb Notes; Hayashi and Coox, Kogun; Henri et al, Marines on Iwo Jima; Proehl, The Fourth Marine Division; Leckie, Strong Men Armed.
2. Additional material in this section is derived from: 2/14 OpRpt, Iwo Jima, 15Jan-13Mar45, n.d., hereafter 2/14 OpRpt; 4th TkBn OpRpt, Iwo Jima, 19Feb-18Mar45, dtd 18Apr45, hereafter 4th TkBn OpRpt; 1/23 OpRpt, Iwo Jima, 31Dec44-16Mar45, n.d., hereafter 1/23 OpRpt; 2/23 OpRpt, Iwo Jima, 310ct44-16Mar45, n.d., hereafter 2/23 OpRpt; 3/23 OpRpt, Iwo Jima, 18Jan45-16Mar45, dtd 12Apr45, hereafter 3/23 OpRpt; 1/24 OpRpt, Iwo Jima, 11Feb-18Mar45, dtd 20Apr45, hereafter 1/24 OpRpt; 2/24 OpRpt, Iwo Jima, 270ct44-18Mar45, dtd 10Apr45, hereafter 2/24 OpRpt; 3/24 OpRpt, Iwo Jima, 1Jan45-17Mar45, dtd 20Apr45, hereafter 3/24 OpRpt; 2/25 OpRpt, Iwo Jima, 13Jan-17Mar45, dtd 16Apr45, hereafter 2/25 OpRpt; 3/25 OpRpt, Iwo Jima, 22Nov44-17Mar45, n.d., hereafter 3/25 OpRPt; 2d ArmdPhibBn, Iwo Jima, 10Feb-13Mar45, n.d., hereafter 2d PhibBn OpRpt.
3. Morehouse, Iwo Jima Campaign, p. 61.
4. 4th MarDiv D-2 PerRpt No. 62, dtd 5Mar45.
5. 309th, 310th, 311th, 312th, and 314th Independent Infantry Battalions.
6. 4th MarDiv OpRpt, 25Feb45.
8. 4th MarDiv D-2 PerRpt, 26Feb45.
9. 25th Mar OpRpt, p. 8.
10. 4th MarDiv OpRpt, p, 25.
11. Additional material in this section is derived from: 1/14 OpRpt, Iwo Jima, 27Jan-15Mar45, dtd 27Mar45, hereafter 114OpRpt; 3/14 OpRpt, Iwo Jima, 13Jan-13Mar45, dtd 27Mar45, hereafter 3/14 OpRpt; 1/25 OpRpt, Iwo Jima, 27Dec44-17Mar45, dtd 19Apr45, hereafter 1/25 OpRpt; 1st JASCO OpRpt, Iwo Jima, 24Aug44-18Mar45, hereafter 1st JASCO OpRpt.
12. 4th MarDiv OpRpt, p. 26.
13. 4th MarDiv OpRpt, Anx C, p. 27,
14. 2/25 OpRpt, p. 8.
15. 4th MarDiv D-2 PerRpt No. 57, dtd 28Feb45.
16. 4th MarDiv D-3 PerRpt No. 55, dtd 28Feb45.
17. 4th MarDiv OpO 10-45, dtd 28Feb45.
18. Newcomb, Iwo Jima, p. 212.
1/14 OpRpt, p. 16, dtd 1Mar45.
20. 4th MarDiv OpRpt, p. 30.
21. 2/24 AR, p. 16.
22. Newcomb, Iwo Jima, p. 215.
23. 2/24 OpRpt, p. 188.
24. 24th Mar OpRpt, p. 15.
25. Newcomb, Iwo Jima, p. 215.
26. 4th MarDiv D-3 PerRpt No. 57 dtd 2Mar45.
27. Morehouse, Iwo Jima Campaign, p. 66.
28. 25th Mar OpRpt, p. 12.
29. 3/24 OpRpt, p. 11.
30. 2/24 OpRpt, p. 189.
31. 4th MarDiv OpRpt, Sec IV, p. 32.
33. 24th Mar OpRpt, p. 16.
34. 2/24 OpRpt, p.191.
35. 23d Mar OpRpt, p. 14.
36. 4th MarDiv OpRpt, p. 34.
38. Ibid., p. 35.
40. Ibid., p. 225.
41. Horie Rpt., p. 9.
42. Quoted in Leckie, Strong Men Armed, p. 456
43. Hayashi and Coox, Kogun, p. 138.
44. Quoted in Newcomb, Iwo Jima, p. 207.
45. Additional material in this section is derived from: 4th SerBn OpRpt, Iwo Jima, 27Dec44-19Mar45, dtd 2Apr45, hereafter 4th SerBn OpRpt; 4th MedBn OpRpt, Iwo Jima, 19Feb-15Mar45, n.d., hereafter 4th MedBn OpRpt.
46. 4th MarDiv OpRpt, p. 39.
47. Newcomb, Iwo Jima, p. 244.
48. VAC Opo 13-45, dtd 5Mar45.
49. 4th MarDiv D-3 PerRpt No. 61, dtd 6Mar45.
50. 4th MarDiv OpRpt, p. 40.
52. For further information on this subject, see Department of the Army Pamphlet No. 20-244, Edgar M. Howell, The Soviet Partisan Movement (Washington: Department of the Army, Office of the Chief of Military History, Aug 1956).
53. VAC Opo No. 15-45, dtd 7Mar45.
54. 4th MarDiv OpRpt, p. 43.
55. Additional material in this section is derived from: 4th EngBn OpRpt, Iwo Jima, 18Feb-19Mar45, n,d., hereafter 4th EngBn OpRpt.
56. A fascinating account of Inouye's background and mentality is contained in a letter from Fred Saito to Richard F. Newcomb, dtd 5Feb64, in Newcomb Notes.
57. Newcomb, Iwo Jima, pp. 257-258.
58. Ibid., p. 258.
59. Saito ltr to Newcomb, 5Feb64, in Newcomb Notes.
60. 2/23 OpRpt, p. 33.
61. Henri et al, Marines on Iwo Jima, p. 291.
62. Newcomb, Iwo Jima, p. 259.
63. Ibid., pp. 259-260.
64. 4th MarDiv Support Gp OpRpt, pp. 17-18.
65. Bartley, Iwo Monograph, p. 176.
66. Ibid., p. 177.
67. Interrogation of Leading Private Yutaka Oyanagi, 10Mar45, by lstLt G.A. Hoeck, 4th MarDiv Preliminary POW Interrogation Rpt #15, 10Mar45, in 4th MarDiv Translations.