During D-Day and while subduing Mount Suribachi, Marines had encountered an alarming number of completely unscathed enemy positions. This disappointing revelation, however, was but a suggestion of the maze upon maze of intact strongholds that would confront American troops throughout the rest of the fight for Iwo Jima.
Into the Main Defenses (D+1--D+5)
General Kuribayashi had concentrated the majority of his forces and installations in the central and northern part of the island, and had used every conceivable means to make his defenses in this sector impregnable. The entire area was a weird looking mass of cliffs, ravines, gorges, crevices, and ledges. Jumbled rock, torn stubble of small trees, jagged ridges, and chasms all sprawled about completely without pattern, and within this macabre setting the Japanese were deeply entrenched in hundreds of excellently constructed positions. From blockhouses, bunkers, pillboxes, caves, and camouflaged tanks, enemy guns jutted defiantly. Every possible approach to the north was contested by weapons with well-integrated fields of fire.
The enemy had so deftly prepared this area that it had been impossible to neutralize or destroy an appreciable number of positions before troops landed. Masterful camouflage had prevented American ships and planes from detecting many of these positions, and of those that were spotted, as often as not a direct hit failed to put them out of business. Complete accomplishment devolved upon ground Marines.
As the 28th Marines were preparing to attack Mount Suribachi on the morning of 20 February 1945, the bulk of General Harry Schmidt's V Amphibious Corps was getting set for the northern offensive. Front line battalions from left to right were 1/26, 3/27, 3/23, 2/24, 1/25, 2/25, and 3/25 (with two companies of 1/24 attached). These units were positioned along a 4,000-yard front that stretched in a northeasterly direction from the western side of the small neck of the island, up across the southern end of Airfield Number 1, along the eastern slopes of the field, and cut sharply down to the coast at the East Boat Basin. (See Map IV.)
Following intensive artillery, naval gunfire, and air preparation, the attack was launched at 0830 with the mission of seizing the O-1 line. To complete the northward pivot, which had
MARINE AMTRACS AND SHERMAN TANKS litter the beaches. These vehicles were victims of the soft volcanic ash and heavy enemy fire. In the distance can be seen part of the vast armada that supported the operation.
begun on D-Day, VAC's left flank and centermost units were to sweep across the airfield and gain positions on an east-west line, generally abreast of RCT 25 on the right.
The attack in the 5th Division's zone was pushed along a regimental front of about 1,000 yards. With 1/26 attached to RCT 27, Colonel Wornham employed two battalions on line (1/26 and 3/27) and two in reserve (1/27 and 2/27). General Rockey held RCT 26 (less 1/26) in division reserve in positions along the southwestern tip of Airfield Number 1.2
The two assault battalions encountered many pillboxes and land mines as they moved forward on D-plus-1, but suffered most from well directed enemy mortar and artillery barrages. Since the route of advance led along the relatively open terrain west of the airfield, attacking units were exposed with little cover against the excellent observation and fields of fire enjoyed by the Japanese. The Marines pushed the attack, however, and with Companies A and B, 5th Tank Battalion in support, they gained 800 yards. When Colonel Wornham ordered his units to halt and consolidate, 1/26, on the left, had to drop back about 200 yards to more favorable ground for night defense. The two front line battalions dug in on an east-west line from the northwest edge of Airfield Number 1 to the coast. The 2d Battalion, 27th backed up 1/26 for the night, while 1/27 dug in behind the 3d Battalion to provide a defense in depth.
The 4th Division employed two regiments abreast for the D-plus-1 attack. On the left of the division zone, RCT 23 (with 2/24 attached) jumped off at K-Hour and ran head-on into intense enemy machine gun, mortar, and artillery fire. In attempting to locate and counter this fire, Colonel Wensinger's regiment temporarily lost contact with Lanigan's RCT 25. Though the going was tough in this area for tanks, one reinforced platoon from Company C, 4th Tank Battalion, got through to help push the 23d's advance, and by 1200 a determined attack had carried past the northern limits of Airfield Number 1. During this move an important part of the Japanese defensive positions was breached and a series of well-concealed pillboxes and infantry strong points reduced.
Wensinger continued to push his units during the afternoon, but the Shermans, slowed by mine fields and increasingly rough terrain, were unable to give much aid. The enemy directed deadly rocket, artillery, and mortar barrages against the front lines, and the Marine attack gained little after the morning advance.
At 1630 the reserve of RCT 23 (1/23 and 2/23) displaced forward to positions along the seaward edge of the airfield to form a strong, secondary line of defense. Contact was established with RCT 27 on the left and regained with RCT 25 on the right, and by 1800 units were solidly tied in. The day's total advance was approximately 500 yards.
RCT 25'a attack plan for D-plus-1 called for three battalions abreast. The 1st, on the left, would make the main effort, while the 2d, in the center, was to seize the high ground to its front and then assist the advance of 1/25 by fire. On the extreme right flank 1/24 (attached) was to remain in position until such time as the other two battalions could advance and come abreast. The 3d Battalion, 25th Marines, having sustained heavy casualties on D-Day, was removed from the line and placed in regimental reserve.
At 0715 a mortar shell burst in the command post of 2/25, wounding the commanding officer, executive officer, and the operations officer. This blast also fatally wounded the commanding officer of Company B, 4th Tank Battalion as he conferred on tank support for the morning attack. Lieutenant Colonel James Taul, executive officer of 3/25, was ordered to relieve the wounded Lieutenant Colonel Hudson. Because of a shortage of officers in the 2d Battalion, Taul functioned throughout the operation without the assistance of an executive officer.
RCT 25 attacked on schedule, but made only slight advances as 1/25 struggled to come abreast of 2/25. Company B (tanks) supported the attack, but was of little value because of the exceptionally rough terrain. Each time a tank reached a firing position it immediately became the target for accurate enemy mortar and artillery fire. Crossfires of machine guns from
MARINE ENGINEERS in one of their most ticklish operations. Before supporting vehicles could move inland lanes had to be cleared through mine fields. The white tapes mark the safe path through the field.
concealed emplacements, coupled with intense and accurate rifle fire, seriously impeding the infantry advance and inflicted many casualties.
Not only the front lines encountered the severity of Japanese fire; there seemed more than adequate disposition of enemy guns to provide continued coverage of all the beaches and routes inland. Enemy gunners appeared particularly adept at searching out various supply dumps, evacuation stations, and command posts. LVT's were relied on heavily to get supplies to front lines, but the nature of the terrain in some parts of RCT 25's zone of action prevented even these workhorse vehicles from getting through, and carrying parties drawn from reserve units hurried forward with critical items.
At 1100, the battalion command post of 1/25 received a direct artillery hit, and six naval corpsmen were killed and seven others wounded. Mercilessly, enemy shell singled out aid and evacuation stations along the entire corps front. It was not uncommon for a casualty awaiting treatment to receive a second and third wound, and the percentage of casualties among naval doctors and corpsmen was extremely high.
Throughout the afternoon, RCT 25 continued its dogged efforts. At 1600, friendly planes misdirected their fire, adding terror to the situation. An air strike consisting of .50-caliber machine-gun strafing, rockets, and bombs fell on troops of Company B, 1/24, which was positioned on top of the quarry some 400 yards inland from the eastern shore. This strike was made without a preliminary "dry-run", and despite the fact that yellow front line panels were displayed prior to and during the aerial attack. The battalion suffered five killed and six wounded as a result of this misguided effort.
THIS SHERMAN TANK was disabled by a land mine and five hits by Japanese artillery, but the crew escaped uninjured. Note heavy planking on side to protect against magnetic demolition charges.
Shortly after the planes left the area, this battalion reported that friendly artillery and naval gunfire was being registered on its lines.
By 1800, the two battalions on the left had gained an average of about 200 yards, but 1/24 on the right inched forward only a short distance. Heavy casualties throughout D-plus-1 further reduced the combat efficiency fo Cates' 4th Division, but the capture of Airfield Number 1 was completed during the day, and the division front had advanced from 200 to 500 yards. (See Map IV.)
General Schmidt had ordered his corps reserve, RCT 21, commanded by Colonel Hartnel J. Withers, to boat and report to its control station at 0800 on D-plus-1, prepared to land on order. But the situation along the beaches, instead of improving, became progressively worse. Congestion was everywhere, with wrecked landing craft, immobilized vehicles, and other gear littering the entire area. Also, during the early afternoon the wind rose, making landing operations hazardous. Schmidt, consequently, ordered RCT 21 to reembark and be prepared to boat on order.3
Desperately in need of all its organic artillery, the 4th Division landed the 3d and 4th Battalions of the 14th Marines on 20 February. By 1012, 3/14 had launched all its DUKW's, but enemy fire along the shore and in selected position areas inland delayed the landing. Over five hours later the amphibian trucks carrying 3/14 began to land over the south edge of Beach YELLOW 1. The battalion's 105mm howitzers were then put into prepared gunpits (made ready by the 3/14 Reconnaissance Party) just inland from the boundary of YELLOW 1 and RED 2. The 3/14 howitzers opened fire at 1728 to reinforce fires of the 1st Battalion of division artillery.4
The first DUKW's carrying 105's of 4/14 slipped into the rough water from LST-1032 at 1511. Disaster struck almost immediately when a DUKW sank as soon as it hit the water. Shortly after this accident, seven others went down carrying with them as many 105mm howitzers, over half of the battalion's weapons.5 The remainder of the DUKW's headed for the beach where two more broached and were lost while landing at 2230. The surviving machines got ashore, however, and the remnants of 4/14 were set up in firing positions by midnight, inland from the YELLOW Beaches.
Of the corps artillery, only Battery C, 2d 155mm Howitzer Battalion, managed to get ashore during the day. It was attached to the 13th Marines for operational control and fired supporting missions as required. This battery commenced landing over Beach RED 1 from LST-7796 at 1630. In spite of unparalleled chaotic beach conditions, tractors pulled the four clumsy howitzers up steep, loose-sand bluffs and into positions by 1840, in the 5th Division zone near the west coast. Batteries A and B of Major Earl J. Rowse's 2d 155mm Howitzer Battalion landed on 22 and 24 February respectively.7
During the night of 20-21 February, gunfire support ships and mortar gunboats8 delivered
CARRIER PLANES ATTACKING ground targets in support of the Marines. Aircraft from escort carriers provided aggressive air support until 11 March when Iwo-based Army P-51's took over. (Navy Photo)
counterbattery and harassing fires while star shells from destroyers pierced the darkness with a ghostly, wavering light. About 2000 a counterattack of undetermined strength in the 5th Division zone was repulsed with the welcome assistance of the 13th Marines. At 0443 the enemy counterattacked in the 4th Division zone with an estimated 100 men, who were unsuccessful in penetrating Marine lines. Intermittently, 3- and 4-man enemy patrols attempted to infiltrate both division zones. Japanese guns harassed front lines and rear areas throughout the night.
At 0740, 21 February, artillery, rockets and naval gunfire commenced blasting away at enemy-held territory in close proximity to friendly lines. Additional support arrived when 68 carrier-based planes bore in, sending rockets and bombs tearing into areas several hundred yards in front of Marines. The 4th and 5th Divisions jumped off in the attack at 0810 and the well-coordinated fires shifted northward to allow for anticipated troop advances. As Marines gradually gained yards, Japanese fire gained intensity. Automatic weapons and rifles spurted accurately from the tiny, well-concealed apertures of pillboxes and caves. Again it was tragically apparent to Marine leaders that human flesh would have to succeed where heavy armament failed.
On the corps' left front, the 5th Division found terrain suitable for tank employment, and throughout the morning substantial gains were made with armor spearheading the attack. By 1340, 1/26 on the left and 3/27 on the right had pushed almost 1,000 yards in their zone and were now just south of the O-1 line. Casualties had been heavy during this advance, and units experienced more than usual difficulties maintaining contact. On the right, 3/27 had a particularly hard time keeping contact with the 23d Marines on its right. Resulting from the rapidity of the 5th Division attack and the intense enemy shelling, a sizable gap developed between divisions by early afternoon. To close this, Company B, 1/27 moved up from regimental reserve, and in order to establish proper contact, this company had to extend a short distance into the 4th Division's zone of action.
Under heavy enemy fire, General Rockey's division spent the afternoon attempting to reorganize, get casualties to the rear, and consolidate lines. By 1600, firm contact had been made with the 4th Division, and units were ordered to start preparations for the night. Colonel Wornham again employed a tight defense, with three battalions on line (1/26, 1/27, and 3/27) and one battalion in immediate support. Colonel Waler's 13th Marines plus Battery C, 2d 155mm Howitzer Battalion provided on-call fires as requested.9
General Rockey closed his division command post on board the USS Cecil (APA 96) in the early afternoon, and by 1500 he and his staff arrived ashore and set up headquarters just off the southern end of Airfield Number 1.
General Cates' 4th Division, facing exceptionally rugged terrain and heavy fire, was able to advance only about half the distance covered by the 5th Division. As the 23d and 25th Regiments jumped off in the morning attack, they met severe mortar, machine-gun, and artillery fire, and after only slight advances encountered a series of extremely well laid mine fields. Expertly covered by enemy fire, these fields further indicated the thoroughness with which General Kuribayashi had prepared his defenses. With Marines assuming covering positions to add their support to the tanks' covering fire, engineer units went forward to remove the mines. The 23d Marines made some gains on the left flank where slightly defiladed areas permitted local and restricted envelopment, but the center and right flank units, despite maximum use of all supporting weapons, advanced only slightly. The 23d Marines' progress during the day averaged a little over 100 yards along its entire front.
After contact had been reconstituted with the 27th Regiment on its left, RCT 23 began digging in deeply at 1745. Because of extremely heavy casualties in assault elements, Colonel Wensinger committed one company from his reserve 1/23 to strengthen front line positions. Battalions 1/23 (less Company A) and 2/23 remained on the regimental reserve line along the eastern edge of Airfield Number 1 as a secondary line of defense directly behind 2/24 and 3/23.
Although enemy mine fields in front of the 25th Marines were skillfully laid, the terrain in this sector was so rocky and irregular that the Japanese were unable to cover all avenues of approach. With 1/25, 2/25, 1/24 in line from right to left, and 3/25 in reserve, RCT 25's attack gained some momentum. Tanks of Company A, 4th Tank Battalion supported the assault of 1/25 and 2/25, while Company B tanks delivered destructive fires on pillboxes and bunkers on the cliff line to the front of 1/24, driving the enemy out of these positions. The 1st Battalion, 14th Marines placed counterbattery and supporting fire across the regimental front. Air strikes and naval gunfire continued to work over troublesome areas, while the 25th Marines maintained constant pressure on obstinant enemy positions. Resistance gradually weakened in the center of the regimental zone and units made fair progress on the right flank along the shore of the East Boat Basin. Gains during the morning varied from 50 to 300 yards.
Inevitably, casualties continued to mount, with a high percentage occurring among unit commanders. Lieutenant Colonel Holllis U. Mustain, commanding 1/25, was one of these.
He was checking his front line positions at 1000 when he was killed by enemy artillery or
mortar fire. Major Fenton J. Mee (battalion executive officer since D-Day) immediately assumed command.
Maintaining contact had been exceedingly difficult, and when a serious gap developed between the 1st and 2d Battalions, 25th Marines, at 1430, Colonel Lanigan committed his 3d Battalion between the two. Company B, 1/25, was withdrawn from that battalion's right flank to make room for the 3d Battalion and committed on the left soon after dark. All units were under heavy enemy fire and 3/25 experienced considerable difficultly getting up into line. At 1700, the order was given to consolidate for the night and contact was established all along the front, except for the extreme left flank of the RCT where physical contact with the 23d Marines had been a problem throughout the day.
With improved beach and weather conditions prevailing on the morning of D-plus-2, as well as even greater need for reinforcements ashore, the 21st Marines was again boated in preparation to land at 0800. General Schmidt placed RCT 21 at General Cates' disposal. A corps message to the 4th Division, received at 0915, read in part: "Prepare receive RCT 21 (3d MarDiv) Yellow Beaches, beginning 1130. Assign assembly area your zone. Will be released to you on your request to assist if required in capture of Airfield Number 2."10 Following landing of the advance command post at 1200, Colonel Withers landed his battalions and supporting units throughout the afternoon. By 1720, all three battalions were ashore and in
105MM HOWITZER fires north from a position south of Airfield Number 1.
assembly areas near the edge of Airfield Number 1.11
Brigadier General Franklin A. Hart, assistant division commander (ADC), 4th Marine Division, had gone ashore at 1245 in order to report on beach conditions and select a site for the division command post. He found Beach BLUE 1 under heavy fire and that Japanese shells had scored direct hits on an ammunition dump of the 25th Marines, explosions from which endangered both BLUE and YELLOW Beaches. Reporting these conditions to General Cates, he recommended that division headquarters remain on board the Bayfield until the next day.
General Hart also recommended that RCT 21 be used to relive the 23d Marines before the next day's attack. Although Cates had previously planned to have the fresh unit relieve Lanigan's battered 25th Marines, the ADC pointed out that location of the assembly areas occupied by the 21st and the general congestion of beaches did not favor this action. The commanding general concurred, and at 1654 issued the following order:
This is a warning order. Intend pass 21st through 23d, repeat 23d, tomorrow AM to continue attack present 23d Zone. Elements 4th Tank Bn and 14th Marines, now supporting 23d, will be assigned direct support 21st effective upon relief of 23d. Arrange necessary liaison and reconnaissance prior thereto.12
Throughout the day, 4th Division elements had made advances of from 50 to 500 yards. The Japanese, although employing every weapon available and using all their cunning, were being forced back yard by yard to positions across the center of the island. But in keeping with past performances, enemy resistance was fanatical and Marine casualties heavy. Combat efficiency for General Cates' division could be rated only 68 percent.
The night of 21-22 February was characterized by enemy harassing fires, local counterattacks, and infiltration in both division zones of action. On the corps' left front, RCT 27 was hit on both flanks at 2100 by a counterattack of undetermined strength, but this was stopped about an hour later without making any penetration. At 0245, the same unit repulsed an attempted infiltration on its left flank.
About the same time, surreptitious activity along the western coast between BROWN Beaches 1 and 2 indicated that the enemy might be attempting a counterlanding. The USS Pasadena (CL) and the USS Twiggs (DD) were ordered to investigate any small-boat activity in that area, and although two strange radar contacts were made, no boats were discovered. General Rockey's division lines were still intact at 0700, but an undetermined number of enemy had been overrun or had infiltrated rearward of Marine lines, which necessitated mopping-up acton during the morning of D-plus-3.13 In the 4th Division area, about 200 enemy troops formed at Motoyama Airfield Number 2 at 2330 and began moving toward the front lines of 3/23. Naval gunfire and artillery quickly gave this unit assistance, combining to smash the grouped enemy before he neared friendly positions. At 2345, the division requested permission from VAC to use RCT 21, if necessary, to assist in repelling expected counterattacks. General Schmidt approved this request with the provision that another of the 4th Division's regiments be designated VAC reserve as soon as possible after commitment of RCT 21. At 0300, RCT 25 reported that an enemy plane had dropped three bombs behind its lines on the BLUE Beach. Along the whole division front, small infiltration attempts continued with negligible results. As had become customary, enemy mortar and artillery fire fell on front lines, beaches and rear areas throughout the night.
Although well tied in, corps front lines bent like a snake across the 3,400-yard front on the morning of D-plus-3. The most acute portion of this bend occurred in the center of the corps' line where elements of RCT 23 were still some 1,200 yards away from the O-1 line. Combat efficiency of both divisions now suffered seriously
from heavy casualties, and the Japanese defense showed little indication of weakening. Most assault battalions that came ashore on D-Day had been in the front lines for three days and nights of grueling, nerve shattering action. Troops of those units had little chance to rest or sleep, and their diet consisted solely of K rations and water, occasionally supplemented by unheated C rations. On this morning, a cold, drizzling rain did little to improve morale.
The advance on Iwo Jima was progressing more slowly than anticipated. In order to provide impetus for the attack on this fourth day of battle, Generals Rockey and Cates decided to effect relief of some front line units. On the corps' left flank, Colonel Grahams' 26th Marines moved out at daybreak with the mission of relieving RCT 27 and continuing the attack northward. Upon the passage of lines, 1/26, already at the front, was to revert to its parent regiment and 2/27, in 27th Marines reserve, would become attached to RCT 26.
The 21st Marines moved out at 0500 to relieve RCT 23 (with 2/24 attached) on the left of the 4th Division. At such time as this relief was completed, the 23d Marines (less mortar platoons of the 1st and 3d Battalions) would take up positions along the northeastern part of Airfield Number 1 as VAC reserve. The mortar platoons were to remain in position to support the attack of RCT 21. The 25th Marines, with 1/24 attached, would remain on the division right, while the 24th (less 1/24) continued as division reserve.
With its 1st, 2d, and 3d Battalions abreast from left to right, Colonel Graham's 26th Marines relieved RCT 27. The move was made in a miserable downpour of rain, under extremely heavy enemy fire, and as preparations for continuing the attack began, so did a series of unfortunate events.
As so often happens in battle, the relief of front line units while under heavy fire brought about confusion and disruption. Information concerning adjacent units was insufficient, contact not what it might have been, and attack orders hastily issued. Lieutenant Colonel Tom M. Trotti's 3d Battalion extended 200 yards into the 4th Division's zone and received demoralizing fire from a bluff on its right flank. This elevation was 100 feet high in spots, and ran down the west center of the island, curving across the 5th Division's front near Airfield Number 2.
Rather than attempt immediate adjustment of lines by lateral movement, Trotti decided to accomplish this move gradually while advancing toward the O-2 line. But heavy Japanese fire from the dominant ground on the right flank permitted only minor gains and caused many casualties. At about 0940, while attempting to pull his battalion together, Lieutenant Colonel Trotti was killed, as was his operations officer, Major William R. Day. Since the battalion executive officer had previously been wounded and evacuated, Captain Richard M. Cook, commanding Company G, assumed command of the battalion, to be superseded at 1200 by Major Richard Fagan, 5th Division Inspector.
By 1400, the centermost units of RCT 26 had gained about 400 yards, but with flanking units not abreast, it was necessary to pull the advanced troops back to more secure positions. Between 1630 and 1800, uncoordinated enemy counterattacks on the left flank, and to a lesser extent in the center, were repulsed by artillery and infantry fire. Heavy fire from the bluff, as well as from positions to the front of the regiment, continued to fall in RCT 26's zone, but by 1730 the three battalions held good positions for the night.
Units of 2/27 operated in close support of front line units. The other battalions of RCT 27 were deployed to defend the west beach against a counterlanding, and at the same time to guard against any Japanese penetration down Motoyama Airfield Number 2.
Although RCT 21 commenced its move to relieve the 23d Marines at 0500, it was not until about 1130 that this relief was reported accomplished. Even then, some of RCT 23's units were not entirely disengaged. With the 2d Battalion (Lieutenant Colonel Lowell E. English) on the left, 1st (Lieutenant Colonel Wendall H. Duplantis) in reserve, Colonel Withers' regiment moved against an intricate network of mutually supporting pillboxes emplaced on high ground between Airfields 1 and 2. Because of fortification, plus deeply scarred and pitted
BROACHED LCM is pounded by waves. With its ramp down, this landing craft loaded with fuel drums is helpless in the surf. Navy salvage boat and LSM can be seen at left. (Navy Photo)
terrain, any maneuver other than direct frontal assault proved impossible. Tanks and supporting arms operated at extreme disadvantage, if at all. The ground afforded the enemy natural tank barriers while only direct hits by major caliber artillery were sufficient to crack the steel and concrete fortifications housing numerous Japanese guns that fired into assault Marines at point-blank range. For the 21st Regiment progress was costly and exceedingly slow. Actually and figuratively, this unit faced an uphill fight all the way.
The weather turned even worse during the morning, with the rain falling in torrents and visibility becoming extremely poor. Although air support was needed desperately, planes could not help ground troops when visibility dropped almost to zero. Tanks were further handicapped and virtually useless since the drivers could see but a few yards ahead. On the other hand, the well-entrenched Japanese took full advantage of the situation with prearranged fires that covered Marine positions. Casualties mounted disproportionately to the few yards that were taken.14 The advance during the morning netted only 50-75 yards.
Because of exceptionally determined resistance in the zone of RCT 21, the 2th Marines, on the right, provided supporting fires across the front of 21's zone of action. Even with this assistance, the regiment's gains were limited to 50-250 yards for the entire day. The attack was halted at about 1700 and all units ordered to prepare positions for the night.
The lines of RCT 25 on the morning of D-plus-3 resembled an almost perfect inverted V. The apex was located on the O-1 line, while the left prong stretched back 950 yards southwest
ARTILLERY FORWARD OBSERVERS adjust fire from post near Airfield. Wrecked Japanese plane and a shell crater provide concealment and cover for the team.
and the right prong carried 750 yards southeast to the coast. Disposed along this frontage, from left to right, were 1/25, 3/25, 2/25, and 1/24. (See Map IV.)
With 1/24 attached and Companies A and B, 4th Tank Battalion in support, the 25th Marines was directed to make a concerted effort on its left in an attempt to reach the O-1 line to straighten the division front. Coordinating with RCT 21's advance on its left, 1/25 would attack northward to the regimental left boundary and hold its positions there until pinched out as the 21st Marines advanced across its front. With this action accomplished, the 21st and 25th would launch a coordinated drive to seize the O-1 line. But with the 21st Marines unable to make any sizable gains in its zone of action, the 25th could not launch a full-scale attack.
During the morning, however, a few units had managed to stage attacks in their respective zones. Against moderate resistance, 1/25 on the left jumped off at 0830 and its left advanced 200 yards by 1030, but for the reasons already noted, the 21st Marines had not made comparable gains. Consequently, after making its quick advance, Major Mee's 1st Battalion had a completely exposed left flank. Although Company A was committed to fill the hole, it was unable to stretch the full distance, and the battalion was ordered to hold up until it could tie in firmly with RCT 21.
The 3d and 2d Battalions, in the center of the regimental line, made only local improvements in their positions during the day. While waiting for units on the flank to come abreast, 3/25 requested and received rocket support. Two barrages fired on a hill some 800 yards northwest of the quarry drove over 200 enemy from their emplacements. Well-placed machine guns of 3/25 quickly wiped out one of the largest groups of Japanese yet seen on Iwo.
With morale already at a low ebb because of excessive casualties and the miserably cold
rain, troops of the 3d Battalion suffered an additional blow at 1503. Lieutenant Colonel Chambers was severely wounded by enemy machine-gun fire when leaving his forward observation post. Captain James C. Headley, who had replaced Lieutenant Colonel Taul as battalion executive officer, reported to the observation post immediately and assumed command. After apprising himself of the situation, he ordered all companies to begin their preparations for the night. Enemy sniper and mortar fire continued heavy throughout the area.
Colonel Taul's 2d Battalion remained dug in for the greater part of D-plus-3, and made only insignificant gains. The Japanese laid down a heavy mortar barrage about 1100, obviously in preparation for a counterattack, and 2/25 suffered many casualties from bursts along its front lines. Only a small group of enemy formed for the attack, however, and the Marines quickly smashed it. Again at 1830, a body of Japanese was observed moving toward the battalion's front, but quick infantry action with artillery support from the 14th marines dispersed this formation with little difficulty.
Over on the right of RCT 25, Major Paul Treitel's 1/24 was engaged in mopping up along the coastal area for most of the day. Many pillboxes and caves were destroyed or neutralized, and although units received enemy small arms and knee mortar fire, casualties were comparatively light. Positions were being consolidated and contact established between units by 1700.
There was no indication during late afternoon that the weather would improve in any way. The cold rain continued, and low-hanging fog allowed little visibility. That these conditions were ideal for enemy counterattacks was only too apparent, and both divisions took extreme care in preparing as strong a defense in depth as possible and maintained close contact throughout the night.
Evacuation of casualties became a critical problem during D-plus-3, as mounting surf almost stopped beaching of small craft and amphibious vehicles. The rain, cold, and the coming of darkness made the evacuation stations almost inoperable, so LST 807 volunteered to remain on the beach under fire to act as a hospital ship. Throughout the night, doctors operated in the wardroom and the crew assisted in caring for the wounded. Slightly over 200 casualties were treated on this ship and only two of this number died.15
During the early morning hours of 23 February, a band of Japanese swam ashore on the western beaches and attempted to infiltrate the area of the 27th Marines, in 5th Division reserve. Alert for such action, Marine security elements quickly detected this force but extensive mopping up was necessary.
In the 4th Division zone, an estimated 100 Japanese attempted to penetrate the lines of both 2/25 and 3/25 at about 0500, but again such efforts proved futile. Though possibly not as heavy as on previous nights, Japanese fire continued to hit all along the corps front, inflicting casualties in both divisions.
In preparation for the morning attack, the 4th Division ordered RCT 24 to relieve RCT 25 prior to 0600. The 1st Battalion, 24th Marines would then revert to control of its parent regiment, while 2/25 became attached to RCT 24 as regimental reserve. When relieved, Colonel Lanigan's 25th Marines (less 2/25) would pass into division reserve.
Availability of aircraft for direct support of ground troops on Iwo was materially reduced when TF 58 departed during the night of 22/23 February for a second air strike against the Tokyo area of Japan. Admiral Spruance, over-all commander of the Iwo operation, accompanied this fleet northward in the Indianapolis. A task group (TG 58.5) of this fast carrier force, composed of the large carrier Enterprise, cruisers Baltimore and Flint, and Destroyer Squadron 54, remained behind at Iwo to provide night fighter protection.
The entire responsibility for providing close air support to Marines ashore now fell on the small (CVE) carriers of Admiral Durgin's carrier support force. These vessels already operated on a full schedule, conducting survivor searches, antisubmarine patrols, combat air patrols and strikes against Chichi Jima. With aircraft of TF 58 gone from the area, the resulting shortage of aircraft for close support
would cause delay in meeting some requests for ground attack, thus depriving Marines of much needed assistance.16
The VAC operation order for D-plus-4 (23 February) directed that the attack be continued at 0730 with O-2 as the objective. The 4th Division was to make its main effort on its left against the second airfield, and the 5th Division was to assist the 4th with fire. Recognizing that the bluffs running north and south along the far left of the 4th Division's zone dominated the entire western side of the island, corps authorized the 5th Division to move across the boundary between divisions if necessary to facilitate its advance and assist the 21st marines. Units concerned were to be kept advised of all plans and movements.17
On the corps left the 26th Marines again found itself stymied by heavy fire from its right front. Colonel Graham had planned to replace 1/26 with 2/27 and then adjust his front to the terrain (high ground on the right, low on the left) by echeloning his advance to the left rear. Although the relief of 1/26 began at 0700, it was not until 0910 that 2/27 was ready to attack. Throughout the day the regiment attempted to advance, but no significant changes in position resulted, and the battalions dug in for the night in approximately the same locations they had held on the previous night.
The serious attrition of leaders continued. About noon, a shellburst in the command post of 2/26 wounded the commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph P. Sayers, and the executive officer, Major Amedeo Rea, assumed command.
The 1st and 3d Battalions of RCT 27 and Companies A and B, 5th Tank Battalion spent the day re-equipping and performing maintenance. The supply situation ashore was improving, but spare weapons were still at a premium, and 81mm mortar ammunition continued to be a critical item. The men of Company B soon found that their tank park at the northwest corner of Airfield Number 1 was too near the front and too well known to the enemy, so they moved some 500 yards south. At 1100, Company C, which had been supporting RCT 28 in the south, reverted to tank battalion control, moved its bivouac area over to the west side of the first airfield and prepared to join in the northern attack the following day.
In compliance with the corps order, the 4th Division made its main effort against Airfield number 2 with RCT 21 on the left and RCT 24 on the right. Relief of RCT 25 by the 24th was delayed by the twin obstacles of rugged terrain and enemy fire, and about one hour and 20 minutes elapsed after K-Hour before the division could move out.
The 21st Marines was in position to attack on schedule but could not because of heavy enemy fire, loss of communications, and late arrival of supporting tanks. Troops of this regiment found themselves in a hot corner, unable to advance and taking many casualties. At 1327, another attack failed when the assault company of 2/21 reached its goal but was forced back off the edge of the airfield. No further offensive efforts ensued, and RCT 21 consolidated for the night along the southern edge of the airfield: no gain for the day. On the division right flank, RCT 24 pressed forward along its entire front and gained as much as 300 yards in places. Because the left flank did not move during the day, RCT 24 received orders to dig in for the night at about 1500.
Terrain on the right flank, where 1/24 was operating, limited 4th Division tank activities, so did rough ground, mines, and antitank fire on the left. Tanks from Company C worked up to the southern end of the airfield on RCT 21's front and fired at strong enemy positions across the long (NE-SW) runway. One of these was knocked out by 47mm antitank fire, the third Company C tank destroyed by these high velocity guns in two days.
The 1st and 3d Battalions of the 25th Marines reverted to division reserve when they were relieved by RCT 24, and RCT 23 continued in corps reserve. Mopping up behind the lines kept these units busy, but they also took time
to clean and service weapons that had become clogged during the rainy previous day.
The beach situation improved steadily as the work of clearance, construction of exits, and unloading continued. Limited general unloading began on D-plus-4, with LSM's used to ferry the supplies from cargo ships to the shore. Approximately 2,500 rounds of sorely needed 81mm ammunition was unloaded from 3d Division shipping, and LST 646 landed 25 tanks of Major Holly H. Evans' 3d Tank Battalion.18
With easterly winds forecast for the next 48 hours, the Attack Force Commander requested VAC to commence immediate development of western beaches. These were opposite number one airfield where units of the 5th Division were still mopping up. Since General Rockey's engineer units had all they could handle, the development of these beaches was left to corps engineers.19
At 0930, 23 February, General Cates closed his command post on board the USS Bayfield, and opened at the advance command post location just east of the northwest-southeast runway of Airfield Number 1. With both the 4th and 5th Division headquarters now established on the island, the corps commander landed to appraise the situation and confer with his commanders.
During this meeting, the generals decided to
AT AID STATION wounded Marines receive emergency treatment before making the trip to hospital LST's lying off the beaches.
assign an intermediate objective south of the O-2 line. This new line roughly coincided with the O-1 at both ends, but the center bowed out as much as 800 yards to the north to include the second airfield. They planned to continue the attack on the next day (D-plus-5) with the main effort along the line of bluffs that ran almost due north from the southwest end of the airfield. This assault was to be preceded by a heavy preparation by air, naval gunfire, and artillery. Most of the serviceable tanks from three divisions were to be placed in support of the main effort, with the 5th Division Tank Officer (Lieutenant Colonel William R. Collins) responsible for coordination.
By 0915 (K-Hour), 24 February, the Japanese must have known that the Marines planned something special for that morning. During the previous 75 minutes, the heavily fortified areas just north of number two airfield had received a tremendous blasting, with lesser preparations all along the front. The might Idaho lay off the western shore and hurled 14-inch main battery salvos into the critical area above the field, while the Pensacola stood off the eastern beaches and fired her heavy guns against positions to the east of the Idaho's targets. The howitzers of corps artillery joined in at K-minus 30 minutes, and 15 minutes later, the naval guns ceased firing as planes came in from the escort carriers to plaster the same areas with bombs and rockets.20
Although wording of the corps attack order for D-plus-5 placed the axis of the main effort on the 5th Division's zone of action,21 the real punch was to be delivered in RCT 21's zone by tanks operating against the airfield. Once this attack was well underway, the efforts of infantry, tanks, and artillery combined to achieve significant results. But it was slow getting started.
Two taxiways led from the northwest tip of Airfield Number 1 to the second airfield. The original plan for employment of tanks in this attack was for the 5th Division vehicles, followed by those of the 3d Division, to gain access to number two field by proceeding along the western taxiway, while tanks from the 4th used the eastern.22 However, Company A, 5th Tank Battalion, which led the way along the western route, encountered mines and heavy antitank fire. The first tank struck a mine and was disabled. After continuing a short distance, the next one was demolished by a buried aerial torpedo, and heavy fire quickly knocked out three more. Finding their advance effectively blocked, the remaining tanks fought their way back to the bivouac area, and the western approach was abandoned.
All tanks now had to use the eastern taxiway in their push to the second airfield. This route was also mined, and most of the morning was spent in clearance activities and untangling traffic jams along this narrow corridor. Finally, about 12 tanks reached the field and opened fire on enemy emplacements north of the strip.
Denied the expected K-Hour armored support, RCT 21 moved out slowly against intense fire of all kinds. During the 4-minute period between 1013 and 1017, Companies I and K lost their commanding officers, but the assault continued despite high casualties. By 1149, the right platoon of Company K had crossed the field and was attacking Japanese positions on a hill just north of the junction of the two runways. Ten minutes later, another platoon had made it to the north side of the east-west runway, and the two units joined in a bayonet assault on the high ground. Three times Marines drove the enemy from these positions only to be beaten off themselves by artillery fire. The 3d Battalion was now receiving enfilade fire as it advanced ahead of adjacent units, and shortly after noon, the drive ground to a halt.
AERIAL VIEW FROM SOUTH TO NORTH shows Airfield Number 1 in foreground and Airfield Number 2 in distance. Charlie-Dog Ridge, Hill 382, and the Amphitheater are numbered 1, 2, and 3 in photo. (Navy Photo)
By then, elements of 3/21 had gained nearly 800 yards in a sustained drive from a line of departure about midway between the airfields. Positions across Airfield Number 2 had been assaulted repeatedly in costly hand-to-hand struggles by infantry employing rifles, hand grenades, picks, entrenching tools, and other makeshift weapons used in place of arms that became clogged with volcanic ash.23
The 2d Battalion encountered considerable trouble moving on to the airfield in its zone. When tanks supporting this unit arrived at 1000, they attracted additional heavy artillery and mortar fire that pinned down the assault companies (F and G) of 2/21. As the supporting armor attempted to push along the runway, enemy antitank guns opened up and stopped this movement.24 Company G on the left finally managed to inch slowly northward around the end of the runway, and by 1300 had drawn nearly abreast of RCT 26 on the division's left.25
The enemy still clung stubbornly to his positions on the north side of the airfield, but after a second preparation by naval gunfire and artillery, the 21st and 26th Marines launched a coordinated tank-infantry attack at 1330.
Once again Company K of the 21st took possession of the hill north of the center of the airstrip
after a vicious hand-to-hand struggle. At 1415, after driving across the east-west runway, Company I moved on to the high ground and tied in with K. Tanks were now operating on the western half of both runways, pounding gun emplacements and pillboxes. Wherever the Marine armor moved, however, it came under blistering attack by antitank guns and mortar barrages. These latter did little damage to the tanks, but were devastating to infantry troops working with them. Horned mines also interfered with movement, but alert tankmen detonated many of these with machine-gun fire.
Meanwhile, in the 2d Battalion's zone, Company G tried to work its way north under cover of the west embankment of the field and continue the attack to the day's objective, while Company E crossed the airstrip where the 3d Battalion was going over. At 1415, as it came abreast of the western tip of the east-west runway, Company G was hard hit by a mortar barrage and taken under fire by machine guns and small arms. The attack stopped dead, and Company F was sent up to cover G's withdrawal and reorganization. Company F immediately became engaged in a close-quarter encounter with the enemy that lasted until dusk.
Company E reached the elevation beyond the airfield about 1500 and began a slow attack westward along the east-west runway to make contact with the left assault company. This attempt made little headway, however, and when Company F was unable to make any progress eastward to expedite the junction, this left company withdrew to the south edge of the field for the night. Companies I and K, 3/21 and E, 2/21, stayed in their hard-won positions north of the strip and tied in securely. Desperately needed supplies for these men were carried forward after dark in a trailer drawn by a tank guided across the airfield by two Marines on foot carrying flashlights.
Immediately following the afternoon preparation, RCT 26 moved out with 2/26 and 3/26 attacking abreast. The ground to the immediate front of the regiment was easily taken, but as the advance carried beyond the 21st Marines, 3/26 was once again exposed to flanking fire from the right. Japanese in caves and pillboxes along the bluff line lobbed grenades down on the Marines. Stretcher bearers suffered heavy casualties as they ran a gauntlet of fire to carry their wounded comrades to the rear. By 1600, 3/26 was about 400 yards ahead of RCT 21 and further advance with an open flank was out of the question, so the regiment began to make preparations for the night. (See Map IV.)
The 1st Battalion moved up out of reserve and took positions along the foot of the ridge line in the division right boundary to tie in with 2/21. Advanced units of 3/26 were ordered to withdraw and make contact with the 2d Battalion on the left and the 1st on the right. Continued enemy pressure made consolidation of the lines extremely difficult, and it was 2200 before Company G was able to break off and move back under the protection of friendly artillery.26
Throughout the day, artillery support was excellent, with the punch and effect of the 155's massed fired being immediately noted. Corps artillery fired 11 group and 40 battalion missions on D-plus-5.27 Noteworthy was the coordination between tanks and artillery during the attack. From 1515 to 1545 all artillery on the island was massed in support of the armor. This fire was spotted and adjusted by the commanding officer, 5th Tank Battalion, and control was exercised by the 13th Marines' fire direction center.
Running along the southeast edge of the east-west runway of Airfield Number 2 was a ridge known only as "Charlie-Dog Ridge."28 In prolongation of this ridge, on a lower level to the southeast, was a semicircular rise of ground that formed the "Amphitheater." In this area, Japanese engineers had constructed some of the most formidable defenses on the island. From the south, the approach traversed bare flat
ground swept by guns on the ridge. To the east, the route led across a weird series of volcanic outcroppings and draws.29 It was against these positions that the 24th Marines moved out on D-plus-5.
During the morning, RCT 24 made good progress on the left where 2/24 and 3/24 attacked abreast of RCT 21 toward the airfield, and by 1100, the 2d Battalion was only 150 yards from the eastern end of the east-west runway.
At 1125, the enemy on Charlie-Dog Ridge opened heavy machine-gun, rifle, and antitank fire into the front lines of the 2d and 3d Battalions at almost point-blank range. To this was added antiaircraft airbursts, mortar, and artillery shells.
Stopped cold by this violent reaction, the Marines called for supporting fires. When air and naval gunfire was refused because of the proximity of front lines to enemy positions, the battalions turned to 105's of the 14th Marines and their own "artillery": the busy little 81mm and 60mm mortars. During the 5-minute preparation fired by these weapons, Company G, 2/24, worked four machine guns into positions from which they could bear on some of the enemy emplacements on Charlie-Dog. Hard-working Marines from the weapons company also manhandled a 37mm gun close to the front and succeeded in knocking out six hostile emplacements.
Yard by yard the Marines advanced. Assault squads worked from one strong point to the next, burning and blasting their way to the top of the ridge, followed by the rest of Company G. By 1700, Companies G and I, and one platoon of E, were mopping up the last stubborn defenders. With the elimination of resistance in this area, Company F, which had been pinned down in the left of the regimental zone of action, was able to advance and regain contact with the 21st Marines.
Company I, left company of the 3d Battalion, had advanced about 300 yards in cooperation with 2/24, but the other two companies met intense fire from the Amphitheater and suffered heavy casualties. At 1500, the battalion mortars fired 80 white phosphorous smoke shells to screen evacuation of casualties along the front. At 1608, the 3/24 observation post was hit by a mortar barrage. Three men were killed and the commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander A Vandegrift, Jr., was wounded. Major Doyle A. Stout, the executive officer, assumed command when Vandegrift was evacuated.
The 1st Battalion, on RCT 24's right flank, did not engage in the main effort, but pushed forward slowly yard by yard over chaotic terrain. The enemy fired machine guns and small arms at short range from cleverly hidden emplacements and cave entrances. Here, as elsewhere along the corps front, Marines caught only fleeting glimpses of the enemy. As the Japanese Naval Headquarters expressed the situation in a report dated 23 February, "At the present time there is the unusual situation in the above [southern sector] area of our [Japanese] troop all being underground, while the enemy troops are above ground."30
At 1700, after a day of extremely bitter fighting, Colonel Jordan ordered all units of the 24th to consolidate for the night. Its left flank, participating in the corps' main effort, had advanced about 500 yards to overrun Charlie-Dog Ridge.
Significant progress had been made on D-plus-5. The enemy salient in the center was eliminated and Marines clung to positions along most of the southern edge of the airfield, with advance units on high ground north of the runway intersection. On the left, the 26th Marines had also pushed northward for another 500 yards. But on the eastern side of the island, 4th Division lines remained almost stationary in the face of rugged terrain and a determined enemy.
Behind the front lines, command posts, artillery positions, medical installations, and supply dumps vied for space on the narrow southern end of Iwo. On 24 February, two additional important command groups crowded ashore. At 0955, General Schmidt closed his headquarters on board the USS Auburn to assume command ashore, and at 1530, General Erskine opened his 3d Division command post on the island.
Meanwhile, the 3d Division, less RCT 3 and RCT 21 (already ashore), began landing. Surf conditions still precluded the use of small craft, so LCM's were used for the ship-to-shore movement. The northern half of Beach RED 2 and the southern half of YELLOW 1 were redesignated Beach BLACK and assigned to the division. By dark, Colonel Howard N. Kenyon's 9th Marines had moved three battalions into assembly areas ready to join in the attack the next day, and the rest of the 3d Tank Battalion landed from LST 477.
Lieutenant Colonel Raymond F. Crist, commanding the 12th marines (3d Division Artillery), landed just after noon on 24 February and proceeded with his reconnaissance party to the area selected the previous day by his executive officer. The only firing unit to land was Battery B, of Major George B. Thomas' 1/12, which brought in its 75mm pack howitzers late that afternoon.31 Other 12th Marine units started landing on the 25th, but it was the first of March before all the pieces were landed and the tactical setup complete.
During their third day in corps reserve, the 23d Marines was strengthened by the arrival of 473 enlisted men and 11 officers from the 24th Replacement Draft. These men were assigned to the battalions in proportion to losses suffered to date in the operation.
By the end of D-plus-5, casualties had risen to 7,758; an increase of 5,338 since the end of D-Day. During the 5-day drive to the second airfield (D-plus-1 through D-plus-5) losses were as follows:
Killed in action 773 Wounded in action 3,741 Died of wounds 261 Missing in action 5 Combat fatigue 558 Total 5,388
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (4) * Next Chapter (6)
1. Unless otherwise, cited, material in this chapter is based on the following: 3d MarDiv SAR; 21st Marines Action Report, Iwo Jima Operation, 10Apr45, hereinafter cited as 21st Mar SAR; 3d Tank Battalion Action Report, Iwo Jima Operation, 9Apr45, hereinafter cited as 3d TkBn SAR; 12th Marines Action Report, Iwo Jima Operation, undated, hereinafter cited as 12th Mar SAR; 4th MarDiv OpRpt; 4th TkBn OpRpt; 14th Mar OpRpt; 23d Mar OpRpt; 24th Mar OpRpt; 25th Mar OpRpt; 5th MarDiv SAR; 5th TkBn SAR; 13th Mar SAR; 26th Mar SAR; 27th Mar SAR.
2. VAC OpRpt, 13, 14.
3. VAC OpRpt, 14.
4. 14th Mar OpRpt, Appendix 3, S-10.
5. Ibid., Appendix 4, 5-8. The motors of the DUKW's failed within minutes after launching. In each case the reason was water in the gasoline, caused by insufficient freeboard resulting from extremely heavy loads and choppy water. All of these sank while attempting to return to the LST after their engines stopped. 4/14 thus lost seven of 12 howitzers before firing a round on Iwo Jima. Ibid., Appendix 5, 3.
6. The first LST to beach at Iwo, this ship remained in at RED 1 all night to unload but was forced to retract at 0430 the next morning when a heavy enemy barrage hit the vessel and nearby beach areas. At 0700, the 779 headed back into the beach but was ordered by Admiral Hill to remain at sea. The admiral extended a "Well done" to all hands of 779 for landing and supplying Battery C's 155's under extremely difficult conditions. From this ship came the now famous American Flag raised over Mount Suribachi on 23February45 to replace the first small flag. VAC ArtyRpt, Encl T, 3-5.
7. Ibid. Artillery battalions continued to experience unusual problems after emplacement ashore. Until Marines knocked out enemy artillery on Mount Suribachi, artillerymen firing to the north received enemy fire from the south that proved more troublesome than Japanese rounds from the front. Ltr, LtCol R.J. Spritzen to CMC, 7Nov52.
8. LCI's mounting 4.2-inch mortars were employed for the first time in support of the V Amphibious Corps at Iwo Jima. That night, harassing fires, their primary mission, proved very satisfactory. Although these craft operated without radar and with inadequate navigation gear, night firing techniques developed prior to the operation were successful. The LCI's steamed in an elliptical track around a reference ship that kept station by radar, and fired during the leg on which they headed toward the island. TF 53 OpRpt, Pt IV, 5, 6.
9. VAC OpRpt, 15.
10. 4th MarDiv OpRpt, Sec IV.
11. The entire 21st Marines landed without incurring casualties in spite of a heavy surf, and suffered no losses during its first night ashore, although enemy shells fell in the regiment's assembly area. Ltr LtCol A. Hedesh to CMC, 13Feb53.
12. 4th MarDiv OpRpt, Sec IV, 7.
13. VAC OpRpt, 17-19.
14. During this day's bitter action, 1/21 lost its commander, LtCol M.C. Williams, who was wounded and evacuated. Maj C.M. Murray, executive officer, commanded until the next day, when he too was wounded. Maj R.H. Houser, transferred from regimental weapons company, assumed command on 23Feb and led 1/21 for the duration of the operation. Ltr LtCol R.H. House to CMC, 3Apr53; Ltr Col M.C. Williams to CMC, 9Feb53.
15. 5th Shore Party Rpt, 6.
16. VAC AirRpt, Summary, 2; TF 51 Rpt, Pt III, 8.
17. Disp Landing Force to 5th and 4th MarDiv, 0725, 23Feb45.
18. Disp CTF 53 to CTF 51, 2126, 23Feb45; Disp LANFOR to EXTROPAC, 2045, 23Feb45.
19. Disp CTF to CTF 56.1, 2140, 23Feb45; Disp 5th MarDiv to LANFOR, 1824, 24Feb45.
20. Although VAC requested the heaviest bombs available for this strike, only 25 of the 146 bombs dropped were 500-pounders, the rest were 100-pounders. On this same day, the CG, 4th MarDiv complained that air support was inadequate and requested that the Strategic Air Force resume regular flights from the Marianas. Message CG 4th MarDiv to CG VAC, 1240, 24Feb45. On subsequent days, the percentage of 500-pound bombs increased. VAC AirRpt, Encl A, 2-4.
21. VAC OpRpt, Annex A, Operation Order 4-45, 23Feb45.
22. 5th TkBn Periodic Rpt No 5, 1600 23Feb to 1600 24Feb45, (handwritten).
23. Ltr LtCol W.H. Duplantis to Historical Division, HQMC, 1946.
24. Ltr Maj T.E. Norpell To CMC, 13Feb53.
25. RCT 26 held up during the morning until RCT 21 could advance on the right to knock out the positions that enfiladed 3/26. 26th Mar SAR, 7.
26. The CO of Battery G, 13th Marines, personally adjusted fire of several batteries to cover the slow withdrawal of Company G with its many wounded. Ltr Maj R.M. Cook to CMC, 22Jan53.
27. VAC ArtyRpt, 13.
28. This ridge took its name from the phonetic alphabet designations for the map grid squares in which it was located. This is a common practice in military operations when otherwise insignificant and nameless ground forms assume importance and must be given a name.
29. Capt J.W. Thomason, III, USMCR, "The Fourth Division at Iwo Jima," a manuscript, no date.
30. 4th MarDiv D-2 Language Section translation, 11Mar45.
31. This was not according to plan. The regimental executive officer had recommended that 2/12 land first, but due to a misunderstanding, the commanding officer of the USS Knox ordered Battery B, which was embarked on board his APA, to land. 12th Mar SAR, 5.