On 5 August 1943 Admiral Spruance, formerly chief of staff to Admiral Nimitz, became Commander Central Pacific Force1 and Commander Fifth Fleet. To him Admiral Nimitz passed the task of initial planning for the Marshalls operation, and he in turn promptly took the matter up with his principal subordinates. These included:
Commander, Fifth Amphibious Force (Rear Admiral Richmond K. Turner), the Joint Expeditionary Force Commander, whose responsibility it was to get troops ashore and support them.
Commanding General, V Amphibious Corps, FMF (Major General Holland M. Smith), Commanding General, Expeditionary Troops, responsible for the troops once ashore.
Commander, Carrier Forces (Rear Admiral Marc A. Mitscher), whose fast carriers were responsible for getting information of the enemy and pounding the targets.
Commander, Defense Forces and Land-Based Air (Rear Admiral John H. Hoover), who was also responsible for target-pounding, as well as for the follow-up, consolidation, and base-development required after capture of the objectives.
To these major commanders, during late September 1943, passed the task of forging over-all plans for seizure of the Marshall Islands. It should be remembered that when this mission was announced by Admiral Spruance on 1 October,2 landings in the Gilberts were more than seven weeks ahead. Thus initial planning for the Marshalls operation (first coded BANKRATE, later changed to FLINTLOCK) had to proceed without the vast benefit of experience which was to result from Tarawa, and without the availability of intelligence data, particularly photo reconnaissance, which possession of the Gilberts would shortly confer upon the U. S. attackers.
The original concept of the Marshalls operation called for two contingent schemes.3 These
VICE ADMIRAL SPRUANCE commanded Fifth Fleet and Task Force 50. (Navy photo.)
1. Neutralization of Jaluit, followed by simultaneous seizure of Wotje, Maloelap, and Mille, and then seizure of Kwajalein--a four-objective operation of considerable magnitude and complexity against well-defended objectives; or,
2. Neutralization of Jaluit, followed in turn by seizure of Mille and Ebon (southwest of Jaluit), to progress to simultaneous seizure of Maloelap, Wotje, and Kwajalein.
Both plans required multi-phase and multi-divisional operations, all to be carried on simultaneously, something never before attempted in the Central Pacific.
Nevertheless, the concept at this stage had begun to show signs of change. As Admiral Spruance announced it on 1 October, both versions of the plan pointed definitely toward Kwajalein Atoll, although each still retained--from the enemy viewpoint--elements of the expected in the steppingstone character of the operations blocked out. Makin, furthermore, had now been substituted for Nauru as a Gilberts objective.
On 12 October Admiral Nimitz issued CinCPOA Operation Plan 16-43, the first formal operation plan to deal with the Marshalls. This document served to ratify the planning of the preceding few weeks, but did not disclose final objectives. Two days later Admiral Nimitz followed with Detail Plan FLINTLOCK, which assigned troops to definite Marshalls objectives and indicated what those objectives would be:
To capture, occupy, and develop bases at Wotje, Maloelap and Kwajalein and vigorously deny Mille and Jaluit. . . . .
The target date for Wotje and Maloelap was to be 1 January 19444 and for Kwajalein Atoll the succeeding day. During the initial landings the Kwajalein forces would remain in reserve (principally with Wotje in mind), and, after seizure of the first two objectives, troops from those landing forces would be available to support the Kwajalein scheme.5
During the month succeeding issuance of the CinCPOA plan, implementing plans and orders were prepared by the major subordinate commands. Based on a preliminary estimate of the situation which was completed on 21 October. Major General Holland M. Smith, Commanding General, V Amphibious Corps, was able on 15 November to issue Corps Operation Plan 2-43. This was the first over-all troop directive for FLINTLOCK, and it was on this basis that Marine planning went forward until the results of the Gilberts assault could be assessed.
The battle for Tarawa constituted the turning point of plans and preparations for FLINTLOCK. At Tarawa theory and surmise fused into concrete reality, and hard experience demanded immediate reexamination of the Marshalls project in light of the 2d Marine Division's 76 bitter hours of combat to win Betio.
Tarawa had been a rude shock to everybody on the planning level. No one felt more strongly about this than Admiral Turner and General Smith . . . Every responsible agency in the Pacific Ocean Areas spared no effort to devise means to put the troops ashore under more favorable conditions than at Tarawa . . .6
By 6 December Tarawa's lessons had been thoroughly studied, and General Smith felt justified in recommending a complete review of the choice of objectives in the Marshalls. He contended that those originally chosen now seemed far in excess of what could be achieved with the forces assigned.
The next day Admiral Nimitz called a meeting of his staff and principal subordinates. Here he disclosed that he was seriously considering dropping the previous FLINTLOCK Plan in favor of capturing Kwajalein first. This recommendation for a bold stroke into the heart of the Marshalls caught his commanders by surprise, as Admiral Turner later testified:
I feel sure that this was the first that Spruance, Smith or I had heard about the scheme . . . Being already well into the planning required by the previous scheme [seizure of Wotje and Maloelap], I, for one, was startled. Spruance, Smith and I all spoke against it. After considerable discussion . . . the meeting was adjourned. No decision was announced . . . [The next day] a second similar conference was held . . . A third meeting was held two days later . . . Smith and I merely said we had not changed our opinions. At the end, Nimitz directed Spruance to submit his views in writing. . . .7
A firm decision was reached on 12 December at a private conference between Admirals Nimitz and Spruance. Here the divergent viewpoints merged, and a plan evolved to assault both Kwajalein Atoll and Majuro Atoll, the latter thought to be lightly defended, if defended at all. The addition of this latter atoll
REAR ADMIRAL TURNER commanded both Task Force 51 and Task Force 52. (Navy photo.)
as an objective lent added protection to the proposed lines of communications, as Admiral Spruance recalled:The principal reason for my objection to the capture of Kwajalein alone, was that units of the Fifth Fleet were scheduled, after its capture, to proceed to the South Pacific to support an operation there [Kavieng]. This would have left our line of communications in to Kwajalein surrounded by Japanese bases--Wotje, Maloelap, Mille, and Jaluit--with the air pipeline back to Japan through Eniwetok intact; and with no fleet support. It was for this reason, as well as my desire to have a protected anchorage available at the earliest possible time for logistic purposes, that I insisted on adding Majuro to our objectives. . . .8
On 13 December Admiral Nimitz informed the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the proposed changes and the reasoning behind them.9 The
JAPANESE SHIPS in Kwajalein lagoon were hit by planes from the Lexington in early December 1943. (Navy photo.)
next day--only two weeks prior to the original D-Day--Admiral Nimitz issued a total revision of his original Operation Plan 16-43. The target date was now retarded10 to 17 January 1944 and the revised mission was:
. . . capture of and development of Kwajalein Atoll as a Fleet anchorage and of Roi and Kwajalein Islands as air bases, preparatory to extension of control to include the remainder of the Marshall Islands.
To which was added still another contingent directive for the heavily burdened planners, namely, that:
Alternate plans be prepared for capture and development of Wotje and Maloelap.11
This realistic contraction of objectives was accompanied by the welcome addition to the V Corps troop-list of one more regimental combat team12 --the 106th Infantry (reinforced), a 27th Infantry Division unit as yet untried in battle; and both this unit and the 7th Division reported to General Smith for operational control.
The deadline of 17 January, however, still represented an unattainable objective. Neither the 4th Marine Division nor the 7th Infantry Division could be satisfactorily equipped by that date, and furthermore not enough time was permitted for the former unit to hold rehearsals. On 20 December, therefore, Admiral Turner requested a delay until 10 February. Admirals Spruance and Nimitz approved the proposed change and sent it along to the Joint Chiefs. They replied, however, that the Marshalls attack must be made in January, so
D-Day was finally firmed at 31 January.13
Three days after adoption of the final version of the FLINTLOCK Plan, CinCPOA headquarters filled in further details by designating the 4th Marine Division and the 15th Marine Defense Battalion for Roi-Namur, and the 7th Infantry Division and the 3d and 4th Army Defense Battalions for Kwajalein. The 22d Marines (reinforced) and 106th Infantry (less one BLT) (reinforced) made up Corps Reserve. One Army battalion landing team (from the newly assigned 106th Infantry) would secure Majuro, although at that time the atoll's identity had not been disclosed to the lower echelons.
On 20 December Admiral Nimitz issued a final Joint Staff Study, FLINTLOCK II, in which all preceding piecemeal changes were ratified, and in which the following strategic decisions were stated:
To neutralize Wotje and Maloelap by sustained bombing, followed by carrier and surface bombardment strikes.
To neutralize Mille by sustained bombing.
To reduce the effectiveness of Eniwetok and Kusaie by air.
To seize Kwajalein Atoll as a Fleet anchorage with air bases at Kwajalein and Roi.
On 23 December, Majuro Atoll was revealed as the selected "Island 'X' " to be secured, and on receipt of this decision on 26 December, General Holland Smith set up the Majuro Landing Force, consisting of the 2d Battalion, 106th Infantry, with the V Amphibious Corps Reconnaissance Company and the 1st Defense Battalion, FMF, attached.14
All elements participating in the Marshalls operation fell under Task Force 50, commanded by Vice Admiral Spruance. (See Chart 1, Map Section.) That officer was to accompany the expedition on board the USS Indianapolis, but would not assume tactical command unless the Japanese Fleet made its appearance,15 a denouement considered quite possible at that stage of the war.
Rear Admiral Turner commanded Task Force 51 (Joint Expeditionary Force) while Major General Smith headed Task Force 56 (Expeditionary Troops), each of these in turn containing subordinate commands. Under Turner were the Southern Attack Force (Task Force 52) also commanded by that admiral and charged with the mission of seizing Kwajalein and the islands in the southern half of the atoll; the Northern Attack Force (Task Force 53) under Rear Admiral Richard L. Conolly, which was to capture Roi-Namur and the islands in the northern half of the atoll; the Majuro Attack Force (Task Group 51.2) commanded by Rear Admiral Harry W. Hill, which was to take Majuro Atoll; the Attack Force Reserve Group (Task Group 51.1) commanded by Captain Donald W. Loomis, and a series of Defense and Garrison Groups (Task Group 51.3-Task Group 51.9) which carried supplies and garrison troops. General Smith's force included the Northern Landing Force (Task Group 56.2), composed primarily of the 4th Marine Division (reinforced) and commanded by Major General Harry Schmidt; Southern Landing Force (Task Group 56.1), consisting of the 7th Infantry Division and attached units under Major General Charles H. Corlett, USA; the Majuro Landing Force Task Group under Lieutenant Colonel Frederick B. Sheldon, USA, and the Reserve Landing Force (Task Group 56.3), under Brigadier General Thomas E. Watson, including the 22d Marines (reinforced) and the 106th Infantry (less BLT 2) (reinforced).
Three other major task organizations were immediately subordinate to Vice Admiral Spruance for the operation. These were Rear
MAJOR GENERAL HOLLAND SMITH exercised over-all command of troops in the FLINTLOCK Operation.
Admiral Mitscher's Carrier Force (Task Force 58), the Neutralization Group (Task Group 50.15) under Rear Admiral Ernest G. Small, and Admiral Hoover's Defense Forces and Land-Based Air (Task Force 57). This latter force was in turn divided into Strike Command (Task Group 57.2) under Major General Willis Hale, USA, and Search and Patrol Group (Task Group 57.3) under the command of Brigadier General Lewie G. Merritt.
All that remained as 1943 neared its close was the issuance of final orders. This was expeditiously accomplished and the mission passed to the troops.
Who Will Command?
Far-reaching decisions during autumn 1943 lay within the field of command relationships among the naval and troop commanders in the amphibious operations to come.
Originally--at Guadalcanal, for instance the amphibious troops who constituted the landing forces had been subordinate and component to the amphibious force, headed by the commander afloat.16 On 9 November 1942, pursuant to recommendations from Admiral Halsey, Admiral King had modified this relationship so that the troop commander and the naval commander (except during the landing phases of the operation) faced each other on equal level.17
However, in mid-1943 when the Central Pacific campaign began to shape up, there was some question as to whether a corps organization would be required to prosecute what were then rather imperfectly visualized as very small island operations. Early in his plans, Admiral Nimitz had given much thought to the matter and by 19 June 1943 had formed his conclusion
. . . I now frankly confess that if I ever entertained doubts that a corps commander was not necessary, I am now not only fully convinced of his necessity--but am sure he should be the best man you can dig up.18
Following this decision, on 25 August the headquarters of Amphibious Corps Pacific Fleet had been transferred to Pearl Harbor, and redesignated as V Amphibious Corps, Major General Holland M. Smith commanding.19
But on 26 August Admiral Nimitz made the corps headquarters of General Smith directly subordinate to Admiral Turner's Amphibious Force. This cut across the grain of Admiral King's November 1942 directive, and two days later the CominCh--as Admiral King was short-titled--so informed his Pacific Fleet commander.20 On 10 September Nimiitz accordingly modified General Smith's position
and reassigned the V Amphibious Corps headquarters one echelon higher, under direct command of Admiral Spruance, Commander Central Pacific Force.21
Although this appeared to represent an ideal solution, the relief of the Marine planners preparing for FLINTLOCK was both premature and short-lived. On 10 October, when Nimitz' headquarters issued Operation Plan 13-43 (that dealing with the Gilberts operation), although the troops of the V Amphibious Corps, itemized, appeared in the task organization, the Corps headquarters itself was missing.22 Two days later General Smith protested this omission to his immediate superior, Spruance, and was informed by the latter that:
It is considered essential for the success of the [Gilberts] operation that the responsibility for the assault be placed on the Commander Fifth Amphibious Force. . . . You will report to the Commander Fifth Amphibious Force for duty under his operational control until further orders.23
The problem which thereupon confronted the amphibious corps planners, not only for the Gilberts but for the infinitely more complex Marshalls operation, was summed up by Colonel Graves B. Erskine, the corps chief of staff, as follows:
. . . It is extremely difficult for the Corps to function unless its command status is definitely and clearly established, and that command relations during the training and operational phases should be the same. My personal idea is that Force and Corps should be on an equal level for command relations.24
To add to the delicacy, not to say the ambiguity of the troop planners' position, it was believed that coequal status for Force and Corps headquarters was in accordance with the personal desires both of the Amphibious Force commander (Admiral Turner)25 and the Central Pacific Force commander (Admiral Spruance). The matter apparently was one which only Admiral Nimitz could rectify.26
After all the backing and filling, the final status of the corps headquarters for FLINTLOCK was established in the ultimate Marshalls operation plan of Admiral Nimitz. Although the corps headquarters functioned under the over-all naval commander during the initial amphibious phases, landing force commanders were entitled to assume command on shore as soon as each felt that the situation permitted.27 Thus a substantial measure of the Marine position in the matter had met with acceptance, and the decisions thrashed out in preparation for the Marshalls landings contributed much to the ultimate body of doctrine in the field of amphibious command relationships.
Force and Corps Planning
On 3 January 1944 Rear Admiral Turner issued Operation Plan A6-43 which set forth the mission of the Joint Expeditionary Force (Task Force 51) and listed its components.
One piece of good news was that the lesson of insufficient preliminary bombardment at Tarawa had been well-learned. Naval guns would begin blasting the targets two days before the initial landings and three days prior to the main landings.28 In addition, aerial bombing from the newly-won Gilberts bases and from carriers would be more intense and of longer duration than at Betio. Later General Smith
COMMAND RELATIONS for the FLINTLOCK Operation.
was to declare, "the magnitude of the Kwajalein bombardment was historic."29
One command innovation for Pacific operations was the AGC,30 generally known as a command ship, which had been first utilized in the Salerno landings in 1943. Amphibious operations required a mass of communications equipment, and this specially designed vessel seemed to be the answer. After its Pacific debut in the Marshalls operations, no United States major amphibious operation on the road to Tokyo was without one. Two AGC's were listed in the plan: USS Rocky Mount and USS Appalachian.31 In his dual role as commander of both Task Force 51 and Task Force 52, Admiral Turner, accompanied by Generals Smith and Corlett, established his headquarters on the first-named AGC. Admiral Conolly, with General Schmidt, flew his flag in the other.
For the Marine landings in the northern sector of Kwajalein Atoll, Admiral Turner allotted 11 attack transports (APA), one troop transport (AP), three attack cargo ships (AKA), two landing ships, dock (LSD), one high-speed assault transport (APD), 15 landing ships, tank (LST), 12 large infantry landing craft (LCI(L)), three mine layers with sweep gear (AM), four fast mine sweepers (DMS), six tank landing craft (LCT), five submarine chasers (SC), four yard mine sweepers (YMS), and three tug boats (AT). Task Force 53 also included three old battleships (OBB), three escort aircraft carriers (CVE), two heavy cruisers (CA), three light cruisers (CL), and 19 destroyers (DD).
The southern force had essentially the same strength. It had no light cruisers but counted one additional battleship, one additional heavy cruiser and two additional destroyers.
Allocated for the Majuro Attack Group under Admiral Hill were one CA, two CVE's, four DD's, one APA, one APD, one DMS, two AM's and one LST. Captain Loomis' Attack Force Reserve Group included seven DD's, five APA's, two AP's, one AKA, and one AK. In addition, three Defense Groups and four Garrison Groups had a total of 13 LST's, three LCT's seven AP's, 12 AK's, ten DE's, and one DMS.
The mission of the Joint Expeditionary Force as set forth in the plan was to capture Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls "for the purpose of establishing air and naval bases from which to maintain and exercise control of the Marshalls."
On D-Day, Task Force 53, attacking in the north, would capture Mellu (IVAN),32 and Ennuebing (JACOB) Islands to the southwest of Roi-Namur and Ennumennet (ALBERT) and Ennubirr (ALLEN) Islands to the southeast. Landings on the first two would be from seaward and on the latter would be from the lagoon. Marine artillery would be landed on all four preliminary objectives to support the main landings on Roi-Namur.
Task Force 52 in the south, was charged with capture of Enubuj (CARLSON), Ennylabegan (CARLOS), Gea (CARTER) and Ninni (CECIL) Islands northwest of Kwajalein on D-Day. Landings would be made from seaward, and artillery would be emplaced only on CARLSON.
The D-Day mission of Task Group 51.2 was the seizure of Eroj (LUCILLE), Calalin
(LUELLA) and Dalap (SALOME) Islands in the Majuro Atoll (SUNDANCE).
On D-Day plus 1 (1 February) Task Force 53 would assault Ennugarret (ABRAHAM), Roi (BURLESQUE), and Namur (CAMOUFLAGE) islands from inside the lagoon. Task Force 52 would assault Kwajalein Island (PORCELAIN) by landing on its western end and advancing east and then north. Task Group 51.2 would continue the seizure of Majuro Atoll by taking Uliga (ROSALIE) and Darritt (RITA) Islands in a shore-to-shore operation from SALOME.
Turner's plan provided for amphibian tractors to get the assault troops ashore "owing to the heavy defensive installations . . . and the difficulty of getting boats across the reef to the beach. . . . . ." Scheduled for the Marshalls were two types: LVT(2) and the LVT(A)(1), the latter making its debut in Pacific operations.
The LVT(2) was the troop-carrying tractor which had been used so successfully by the 2d Marine Division at Tarawa. Before leaving Wellington, N. Z., for that objective, the 2d Division had bolted armor plate on a number of its amphibian tractors, with gratifying results. Therefore, all LVT(2)'s designated for the Marshalls were protected by quarter-inch armor. Crews were required to work 24-hour shifts, and training with the tractors had to be curtailed, but by these efforts the LVT's received the protective coating in time for the operation. In addition, 4.5-inch multiple rocket launchers were installed on a number of the LVT(2)'s as additional fire support. During the landing, however, these proved ineffective, as will be seen.
Nor was this the only project involving the LVT's, as Major Victor J. Croizat, then commanding the 10th Amphibian Tractor Battalion, later pointed out:
While the LST's with my battalion were at Kauai, we received from Pearl Harbor a large load of assorted chain grapnels, cables and steel pipe. This mass was dumped on the pier and a blueprint was handed to me indicating that the hardware when sorted would produce a device for detonating mines. Briefly, the arrangement consisted of a boom about 15 feet long to be fixed by a system of supports to the bow of an LVT. At the forward end of this boom there was a yard from which dangled a set of grapnels. The theory being that as the LVT approached the beach the grapnels would set off mines and the machine would proceed without further hazard. A careful study of this device revealed that it could not be installed while aboard the LST prior to debarking the LVT; it was impossible to install while the LVT was waterborne, and it could only be installed with the LVT on the beach, i. e., after the mine hazard had already been met. The decision made . . . was to forget the whole thing. However, it was decided to weld the supports required on the LVT's and take the gear along in the event it might ultimately prove useful. . . . During the landing the supports were ripped off the LVT's by coral and the gear was abandoned in the Marshalls. . . .33
The LVT(A)(1), or armored amphibian was not a troop-carrier, but an additional means of pounding the enemy's beach defenses. Also wearing a belt of quarter-inch armor, this vehicle mounted a 37mm gun in a turret and three .30-caliber machine guns. It was to drive into the enemy-held beach accompanying, or preceding the first waves of LVT(2)'s.
Additional supporting fire on the beach would be delivered by LCI(G)'s, infantry landing craft converted into gunboats. In the Treasury Islands operation in October 1943 and again in the New Britain landings in December, LCI's were armed with multiple rocket launchers to throw more explosives at the enemy's beach defense. The formally converted LCI(G) made her first appearance, however, during the Marshalls operations. Twenty-four of these vessels were armed with five .50-caliber machine guns, three 40mm, two 20mm guns, and six 4.5" rocket rackets, each holding 72 rockets.
Japanese underwater obstacles and beach mines at Tarawa pointed up the need for demolition men for the FLINTLOCK operation.34 Therefore, Marines, soldiers, and sailors who had had experience with demolition work were hurriedly assembled under Navy auspices and organized into Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) 1. The UDT was assigned a variety of missions which boiled down to beach reconnaissance at Kwajalein and Roi-Namur on the night of 31 January-1 February, and the attemped demolition of obstacles and mines the
following morning. Later, as an anticlimax to these hasty preparations, Admiral Turner cancelled the assignment for Kwajalein35 because a boat reconnaissance indicated the absence of beach obstacles and mines. After the beaches were secured, however, the team was used to remove coral heads, wrecks, and other obstructions.36
On 5 January 1944, only two days after Rear Admiral Turner published his Operation Plan A6-43, Major General Smith released V Amphibious Corps Operation Plan 1-44, superseding Corps Operation Plan 3-43. He noted in a later report:37
It was necessary to issue both Corps Operations Plans before the receipt of an operation plan or task organization from the next higher echelon in the chain of operational command. Only by the closest liaison could the Corps obtain sufficient information upon which to base its plans.
The corps plan established the following forces:
Northern Landing Force (Major General Schmidt)
MILLE ATOLL was one of the first in the Marshalls to feel the weight of aerial bombardment. (Navy photo.)
4th Marine Division (reinforced)
1st Armored Amphibian Battalion
10th Amphibian Tractor Battalion
4th Amphibian Tractor Battalion
Company A, 11th Amphibian Tractor Battalion
1st Joint Assault Signal Company
15th Marine Defense Battalion
Southern Landing Force (Major General Corlett, USA)
7th Infantry Division (reinforced)
708th Provisional Amphibian Tractor Battalion
75th Signal Company
767th Tank Battalion
91st Separate Chemical Company, MTZ
3d Army Defense Battalion
4th Army Defense Battalion
50th Engineer Battalion
145th Field Artillery Battalion
163d Signal Photo Company
31st Field Hospital
Photo Detachment, 972d Signal Service Company
SUNDANCE Landing Force (Lieutenant Colonel Sheldon, USA)
2d Battalion, 106th Infantry (reinforced)
Reconnaissance Company, V Amphibious Corps
1st Marine Defense Battalion
Reserve Landing Force (Brigadier General Thomas E. Watson) (Tactical Group-1)
22d Marines (reinforced)
106th Infantry (reinforced) (less 2d Battalion)
Possible landing beaches for Roi were designated Red 1, Red 2, and Red 3, while those for Namur were labeled Green 1 and Green 2. Although the plan called for the Southern Landing Force to hit the western end of Kwajalein, possible landing beaches were selected on the southern side of the island, the western tip and along the northern side to the northeastern tip. Starting from the latter point the beaches were Black, Purple 3, Purple 2, Purple 1, Green 1, Green 2, Green 3, Green 4, Red 1, Red 2, Blue 1, and Blue 2.
With the issuance of the Corps Operation Plan, it then fell to the various landing force commanders to prepare themselves for their assigned missions.
Preparing for Roi-Namur
Throughout the Marshalls planning the 4th Marine Division, which had been selected to make the assault on Roi-Namur, was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, north of San Diego. It was the only Marine Division during World War II to be mounted and staged into combat directly from the continental United States.
Officially activated on 15 August 1943, and brought to full strength a month later, the division was assigned to the V Amphibious Corps--in which it fought all its subsequent actions--on 20 September 1943. Its required date of readiness for combat operations was then set as 1 December of that year.38 Although the division embodied its share of experienced Marines, it was without previous combat background as a unit, a condition by no means eased by the pressure under which its training was conducted during the autumn of 1943.
Aside from the fact that the 4th Marine Division's leaders knew it to be earmarked for the Central Pacific, and thus for atoll warfare, the 4th had no knowledge of its probable objective until early November, at which time preliminary planning was begun. At the same time it was decided to send certain key officers along as observers on the Tarawa operation.39
The fact that corps headquarters was located in Hawaii, and Division headquarters in California some 2,200 miles away did not render the planning any easier. Close liaison was
maintained by flying staff officers between the two points, and on at least one occasion Brigadier General Graves B. Erskine, corps chief of staff, made a journey to the division.40
Initial division planning as in the case of VAC, was concerned variously with Kwajalein, Wotje, and Maloelap Atolls. With Admiral Nimitz' decision to strike deep in the Marshalls and take only the atolls of Kwajalein and Majuro, however, this original assignment was rescinded and the division was told to plan only for the assault of Roi-Namur and adjacent islands. With little time before embarkation and a scarcity of information, the division staff went to work to rearrange plans in light of the new objective.
In late December Major General Schmidt, accompanied by Colonel William W. Rogers, division chief of staff, and Lieutenant Colonel Evans F. Carlson, assistant operations officer, flew to Pearl Harbor to submit the division's plan to Amphibious Corps. This was accepted, but the planners were instructed to draw alternate plans for the capture of Wotje. Within two days Colonel Rogers, assisted by Lieutenant Colonel Carlson, roughed out a scheme which in turn was accepted by the corps.
The importance of the 4th Division's objective was great, both strategically and tactically. The airfield on Roi constituted the center of many aviation activities--both logistical and operational--in the Marshalls. Deprived of this base, Japanese air power in the area would soon wither. From a tactical point of view, location of Roi-Namur controlled the northern entrances and anchorages of the great Kwajalein Lagoon. If this were not in our firm possession, the prosecution of other operations within or against the northern part of Kwajalein Atoll would be difficult if not impossible.
Although collectively referred to, Roi-Namur in fact constitutes two separate islands for all practical purposes. Roi, the westernmost, was the site of the airdrome proper,41 being joined to
REAR ADMIRAL CONOLLY AND MAJOR GENERAL SCHMIDT commanded the forces attacking northern Kwajalein.
Namur, some 400 yards eastward, by a causeway across a neck of land. Namur on the other hand, served as the supporting base. Roi was little more than an airfield with the aviation operation and communication facilities and the aircraft maintenance installations needed for such a mission. Namur included the dumps of fuel, food and munitions; the shops and industrial facilities; the main power supply; the wharfage and port facilities; the barracks and headquarters buildings--in a word, all the supporting establishments required to sustain Roi's airfield and to maintain Japanese air and surface forces in north Kwajalein Atoll.42 Aside from the main radio transmission station on Ennubirr, a tiny islet some 3,000 yards down the chain from Namur to Kwajalein, the foregoing activities and facilities represented the net sum of the enemy's advanced base at this point.
In terms of terrain, Roi and Namur constituted almost complete opposites. Roi, largely due to the exigencies of aviation, was bare as only a Central Pacific air base can be. On the other hand Namur was not only thickly clustered with every type of structure, but was heavily overgrown with palms, breadfruit trees and miscellaneous shrubs.43 Each island was bounded by coral shelving which extended 600 yards on the seaward side and not more than 300 yards into the lagoon. Within the lagoon there was no surf; outside, heavy swells tumbled and crashed. As a measure of protection against erosion on Roi, concrete seawalls guarded the northeast and northwest corners of the island. None existed on Namur. Beaches were those of the typical coral atoll: rough and generously spotted with heavy boulders.44
Between Roi and Namur ran a sandspit over which the Japanese had constructed a causeway and road to link the two islands. In addition, along the lagoon shore a narrow stretch of beach connected the two.45
The planners for the Marshalls operation were quick to realize the value of seizing offshore islands to be used for artillery positions46 to prepare for and support the main landings.
In the case of Roi-Namur, the necessity for securing such positions was further emphasized by the fact that the entrances to the lagoon (or "passes" as they were called) must be under Marine control inasmuch as the projected transport areas were all outside. Finally, because the immediate approach to the lagoon beaches of Roi and Namur was closely flanked by several islands to the east and west, it would be essential that these be neutralized or controlled as a prerequisite to landings on Roi-Namur.
The Northern Landing Force plan for the seizure of Roi-Namur, therefore, consisted of three phases: (1) seizure of four offshore islands; (2) seizure of the main objective; and (3) seizure of 11 lesser islands on the north and east ring of Kwajalein Atoll.
Inasmuch as entrance into the lagoon and seizure of the cluster of offshore islands represented a task of some complexity, requiring careful coordination and supervision, a provisional headquarters, IVAN Landing Group, was established under Brigadier General James L. Underhill, Assistant Division Commander. IVAN Landing Group consisted of the 25th Marines (reinforced), the 14th Marines, Company D (Scout), 4th Tank Battalion and other attachments normal to the regimental combat team. Landings of this group were to be executed by the 10th Amphibian Tractor Battalion, preceded by Companies B and D, 1st Armored Amphibian Battalion. Upon completion of its assigned mission the group would revert to the normal relationship of its components to the division structure, and the 25th Marines would become division reserve.
While the foregoing plans were being rushed to completion, the 4th Division was terminating its basic amphibious training and preparing for two advanced exercises, one of them of rehearsal proportions. These were to be held in conjunction with Admiral Conolly's newly organized Group 3, Fifth Amphibious Force, which was to serve as support and transport element of the Northern Attack Force.47
Throughout the planning, Admiral Conolly maintained his headquarters at Camp Pendleton near that of the 4th Division. This physical propinquity greatly favored effective joint planning, and all major decisions, therefore, represented the concurrence of Major General Schmidt and the admiral himself.48
The first such division exercise was held at Camp Pendleton's Aliso Canyon beaches on 14-15 December when final details of the Marshalls plan were still necessarily lacking. The second, conducted at San Clemente on 2-3 January 1944, represented an actual rehearsal with all amphibious shipping, plus the bulk of the fire-support ships and carriers participating.49
Two newly organized groups participated in the San Clemente rehearsal: the First Joint Assault Signal Company (1st JASCO) and the 4th Marine Division Air Observers. The former unit was activated 20 October 1943 at Camp Pendleton for the purpose of coordinating supporting fires during an amphibious operation. Its components included Shore and Beach Party Communication Teams, Shore Fire Control Parties, and Air Liaison Parties. On 2 December the 1st JASCO was joined to the V Amphibious Corps and thereupon attached to the 4th Marine Division for the FLINTLOCK operation.50
The division air observers (or "Gunnery and Tactical Air Observers," as they were called initially) were organized to relay from the air an account of the progress of operations as they were occurring. Lieutenant Colonel William R. Wendt, Division Air Officer, trained the observers between October and December 1943.
In view of the fact that the Division's Air Observers would, of necessity, have to be based aboard a carrier, there was much Navy opposition to their being employed. As a result, it became necessary to demonstrate their value. . . . The demonstration took place at San Clemente Island. Lieutenant Colonel William W. Buchanan and Major Charles Duchein were hastily nominated to act as air observers on this occasion. Their
subsequent superior performances during this rehearsal enabled the Division to profit immensely from their services. . . . Thereafter, Marine Air Observers were a vital adjunct of the Division's subsequent operation.51
During the rehearsal at San Clemente, the division was afforded a preview of the unfortunate relationships which would exist between the LVT's and LST's on the night of D-Day--D-plus 1 at Roi-Namur:
The naval elements [at the rehearsal] were poorly trained and uncooperative. LST's frequently refused to take aboard LVT's or LVT(A)'s with the result that several were lost and several men from the 1st Armored Amphibian Battalion were drowned. One LST ran right over one of the LVT(A)'s. . . . All this was very poor for morale just before combat. LST's frequently would refuse to fuel LVT's other than the ones that they carried. This occurred both in the rehearsals and in the operation.52
KWAJALEIN ISLAND was bombed regularly before the amphibious assault. Note falling bomb in the lower center the photograph. (Navy photo.)
As noted earlier, the LVT had just demonstrated its extraordinary usefulness as an assault landing vehicle in the Gilberts. In fact, the 1st Armored Amphibian Battalion, which would spearhead the assault on Roi-Namur, had furnished one officer and 50 men to operate the LVT(2)'s for the 2d Marine Division at Tarawa. The experience in the Gilberts plainly dictated widest possible employment of the amtracs in the forthcoming Marshalls assault, and Admiral Turner wrote them into his plan.
But a problem arose concerning amphibian tractor personnel.
On 5 December the 4th Division's organic 4th Amphibian Tractor Battalion was split, combined with some Marines of the 1st Armored Amphibian Battalion and then diluted with recruits to form an additional unit--the 10th Amphibian Tractor Battalion. This dilution was further increased by the subsequent organization during the same month of still another unit, Company A, 11th Amphibian Tractor Battalion. Thus, the relatively inexperienced personnel of the original battalion had been spread extremely thin--a situation which could not but lead to difficulties and to some loss of efficiency in combat.53
In view of the extensive difficulties subsequently encountered by the amphibian tractors at Roi-Namur (see Chapters IV and V), "it must be emphasized that only 30 days were available to the Amtrac Battalions to accomplish the following:"54
Use the elements of one battalion to organize a total of two battalions plus one additional company.
Erect the housing necessary to accommodate daily drafts of personnel arriving at the amtrac units.
Armor plate all LVT's at San Diego (50 miles from Camp Pendleton).
Install, waterproof (as best as possible) and check LVT radios.
Train new LVT crews.
Familiarize naval personnel with LVT characteristics.
Accumulate, segregate, and prepare the large amount of stores and supplies authorized for LVT units.
Participate in numerous planning conferences with RCT 23, RCT 24, RCT 25, and the artillery units in reference to landing plans.
Embark and participate in a rehearsal at San Clemente Island.
Allocate officers and men reporting in; instruct them in their duties and assign them a job.
Supervise the combat loading of numerous LST's and one LSD.
Prepare LVT's for combat by installing weapons and making necessary vehicle checks.
Nevertheless, by the end of December the 4th Division's work was nearing completion, and the resultant Operation Plan 3-43 (revised) was issued to the regiments on the last day of the year. Less than a week remained prior to initial embarkation, with a rehearsal in between, but somehow all details were attended to. On 6 January the LST's and certain other amphibious small craft of Group 3 sailed from San Diego for Kauai, T. H., bearing the bulk of the amphibian tractors and the 14th Marines. These were followed a week later by the main body of Group 3 with the balance of the Northern Landing and Attack Forces.55
But one final complication remained. The tractor group of LST's sailed from San Diego without having received the operation plans of the Central Pacific Force, the Fifth Amphibious Force and the Northern Attack Force. These plans reached the ships and units concerned on 18 January at Kauai. But since the tractor group proceeded from the Hawaiian area to the Marshalls on a different schedule and routing than the main body, no opportunity was afforded for any consultation or briefing between the command elements, both of Landing and Attack Forces, and the ships and units of the tractor group.
These difficulties were compounded by unforeseen radio troubles, which were subsequently recalled by Lieutenant Colonel Louis Metzger, commanding the 1st Armored Amphibian Battalion:
The four line companies of the 1st Armored Amphibian battalion were attached to the various assault infantry battalions of the assault regiments. As battalion commander I had no command authority over my LVT(A) companies. No operation orders were received from the division, infantry regiments or infantry battalions until after we reached Hawaii. Then the orders varied from complete orders to penciled notes. In addition to the lack of orders, we had not been assigned our radio frequencies until after our arrival
at Kauai, Hawaii. Upon receipt of the radio frequencies I requested permission of the senior Marine officer . . . to drive the LVT(A)'s off the LST in order to set our TCS radios upon the assigned frequencies. He refused in spite of being told what it would mean to the [LVT(A)'s] efficiency. . . 56
Preparing for Kwajalein
While the 4th Marine Division wrestled with time and distance in its preparations for the northern landings, the 7th Infantry Division, located at Schofield Barracks, Oahu, T. H., found its planning far less complicated. This was owing, not only to the division's previous combat experience at Attu,57 but, primarily, to physical nearness of V Amphibious Corps headquarters at Pearl Harbor, less than an hour's drive distant.
The 7th Division had been ordered to the Hawaiian area from Kiska just prior to being included in the Marshalls troop list and arrived at Oahu on 16 September 1943 for an early start in all the plans and preparations necessitated by the ambitious operations in prospect.58 On 14 December the division learned that, with suitable attachments, it would constitute the Southern Landing Force in the seizure of Kwajalein Atoll (see Map 2, Map Section), and that Kwajalein Island would be the division's main objective.
Kwajalein is a crescent-shaped island located at the southeast tip of the atoll of that name. Although the island's development had not progressed to the extent of its northern counterpart, its importance in the southern arm of the great lagoon corresponded closely to that of Roi-Namur in the north. From the United States point of view, Kwajalein, like Roi-Namur, must be controlled if the atoll were to be secure for our use. Further, the island's length would permit something not feasible on the blocky shapes of Roi and Namur: development of a long-range bomber strip from which shore-based air could harry the Carolines and Wake, not to speak of the remaining enemy strongholds in the Marshalls.59
In December 1943, Kwajalein was a green, palm-covered island, flat, composed of sand and coral, with the usual offshore reefs. Ashore, amid the trees, were situated more than a hundred barracks, warehouses, and headquarters buildings, all required to maintain the garrison, its construction units, and the necessary administrative services. These buildings were largely concentrated in the northeastern end of the island. Centered and running east-west was a 5,000-foot airstrip well along towards completion. Parallel taxiways and parking areas to the north, nearer the lagoon, completed the airdrome on Kwajalein proper, but a subsidiary seaplane-base with ramps, hangars and other facilities was to be found on Ebeye, next island to the north. In the triangular bight formed by Gugegwe, Kwajalein, and Enubuj Islands lay the principal Japanese anchorage of the atoll, and Kwajalein's 120-foot concrete pier, reaching out into the lagoon, gave testimony of the island's importance.60
Just as on the islands near Roi-Namur, Kwajalein's neighbors contained outlying installations which supported the Kwajalein headquarters. These were Gugegwe, which controlled the entrance to Bigej Channel into the lagoon; Ebeye, whose seaplane-base has already been described; and Enubuj, site of Kwajalein's radio transmitter.
Heavy surf and steep beaches marked the seaward sides of Kwajalein except in the area along its southwestern end. Good beach existed on the northern end, but surf conditions were bad. The offshore reef, 100 to 130 yards in width, was flat and bare at low tide, necessitating high-tide landings. Within the lagoon, Kwajalein's reef extended out anywhere from 200 to 400 yards without surf, but was flat and shallow, rendering difficult any approach. The western beach of smooth sand,
450 yards long and approximately 20 feet deep. Back of it the Japanese were already erecting concrete seawalls and log palisades.61 The 7th Division's planners, therefore, selected the southwest beaches of Kwajalein for their main landing.
The 7th Division's plan for reduction of Kwajalein and the islands in the southern portion of the atoll was divided into three phases,62 closely corresponding to those in the 4th Marine Division Plan.
While not observing the Tarawa landing, Major General Corlett, the Army division commander, with two of his staff officers visited Betio shortly after its occupation. Here he made a study of the Japanese defense and later imparted this information to his subordinates for use in division training.
Another advantage of the 7th Division's situation in the Hawaiian area was that rehearsals could be held much later there (and under corps supervision) while the 4th Marine Division was en route from the West Coast. Such rehearsals
were held at Maalaea Bay, Maui, with simulated landings and gunfire support coordinated by the 75th JASCO being placed on adjacent Kahoolawe Island, between 12 and 17 January.63
In mid-January 1944, the major portion of the Japanese fleet was believed concentrated at Truk, which at that time was still thought to be a veritable Gibraltar of the Pacific. Intelligence officers believed that an amphibious attack on the Marshalls would not in itself bring forth this main force, but probably a light striking force would do battle with the American Fifth Fleet. If the Japanese commander at Truk then deemed the situation favorable, he might send forth his armada. In any event, at least 20 enemy submarines were believed operating within the Marshalls area.
Japanese air capabilities were not considered formidable, but they did constitute a definite threat. Some 235 planes were estimated to be based in the Marshalls, 181 of these being serviceable. In addition, some 560 planes at such bases as Truk and Saipan theoretically counted as potential reinforcements.
Enemy ground forces in the Marshalls were set at 35,000, and of these between 8,000 and 9,600 were thought to be on Kwajalein Atoll, considered "the most active military-naval area in the Marshalls," containing the headquarters of both the 6th Base Defense Force and the 4th Fleet Commander. Furthermore, Kwajalein lay a mere 955 miles east of Truk as compared with the 2,190 miles separating it from Pearl Harbor. VAC Intelligence also expected defenses on the atoll to be "of a more permanent nature and consequently more formidable" than those encountered at Tarawa. The reasoning here, of course, was that the enemy had been occupying the Marshalls for nearly 30 years as compared with less than two at Tarawa.
Aside from Kwajalein Atoll, Japanese strength on other key atolls within the Marshalls merited consideration in planning the FLINTLOCK operation. Jaluit, Wotje and Maloelap were thought to hold 3,500 troops each. All three had airfields, and in addition Jaluit and Wotje possessed seaplane and submarine bases. Mille, the southern anchor of the eastern Marshalls, held an estimated 5,500 troops. Eniwetok, the western bastion of the group, had a naval base, an airfield, a seaplane anchorage and possibly 1,000 troops.
A study of the two main objectives, Roi-Namur and Kwajalein, produced the following estimate:
Rol-Namur, defended by 2,700-3,100 men, 400-600 of them Korean laborers. Defenses generally centered around strong points on the corners of the two islands with AA guns, pillboxes, machine guns and fire trenches filling in the gaps in the perimeter defense; a few machine-gun and AA positions inside the perimeter, but virtually no organized defense in depth. The seaward approaches are the more heavily defended, but the lagoon beaches have more defensive installations than any of the other fortified islands within the atoll. Kwajalein, defended by 2,300-2,600 combatants, with an additional 1,200-1,600 laborers, mostly Korean. Strong points have been constructed on the corners of the island, to include two twin mount dual purpose 127mm guns, AA guns, pillboxes, machine guns and fire trenches in the gaps in the perimenter defense. A defensive line of antitank and fire trenches east of the airfield cuts the island in half. Seaward approaches are much more heavily fortified than those on the lagoon shores, but the strong points could enfilade any target within the lagoon crescent.65
In order for Majuro Atoll to qualify as an additional objective, it had to fulfill the description of "lightly held." Intelligence officers came to the conclusion that there were few, if any, defensive installations on its islands and "small" defensive forces.
The V Amphibious Corps on 26 November 1943 distributed a G-2 Study of the Theater of Operations, consisting of 141 pages, six annexes, and 26 maps. Forty copies were allocated to each division, and a proportionate number to lower echelons. Additional sections and maps were distributed on 21 and 28 December to accord with the change in plans and with new information.
The first aerial photographic coverage of Kwajalein Atoll was not effected until 4 December 1943, inasmuch as preliminary emphasis
had been on Wotje, Maloelap, and Mille Atolls. Prior to the departure of troops from the Hawaiian area, two additional photographic sorties were flown in December and three in January. Photographs were also made on D-minus 2 and distributed to the assault units. While earlier mosaics had been at a scale of 1:10,000, these final pictures were at a scale of 1:2,500 and showed the Japanese positions in detail, winning an accolade of "excellent" from the V Amphibious Corps.
Although aerial photographs provided the best source of information, submarine photographs were also obtained. Pictures were made by USS Seal in December and by USS Tarpon in January. These provided additional hydrographic information.
Maps for the operation were made from aerial photographs by combining the efforts of the Joint Intelligence Center, Pacific Ocean Areas, the Fifth Amphibious Force, and the 64th Engineer Topographic Company. Three types were reproduced and distributed. These were charts on a scale of 1 inch to 1 nautical mile, terrain maps scaled 1:20,000, and special terrain maps of important island objectives scaled 1:3,000. Approximately 191,000 sheets of maps were reproduced and distributed within 30 days, including 43 different sheets of Kwajalein Atoll and seven different sheets of Majuro. Each division received 1,000 copies of the chart and terrain maps and 300 to 2,000 copies of the special terrain maps within its zone of action.
Relief maps of the various objectives were constructed by the Joint Intelligence Center, assisted by Marine and Army engineers, and distributed to the units involved. The 4th Marine Division received 12 such maps of Roi-Namur, while the 7th Infantry Division received a like number of Kwajalein for use on board the troop transports. Two relief maps of each objective were furnished Corps reserve. In addition, the 7th Division was furnished four relief maps of Ebeye Island and one of Enubuj.
Preparations for the landing on Majuro Atoll included the production of a navigation chart of the lagoon, inasmuch as no charts relating to Majuro could be found. This was accomplished by extensive aerial photographic missions, converting the results into a chart with the assistance of a survey party from the Coast and Geodetic Survey.66
To defend both the Marshalls and the Gilberts, over-all responsibility for joint command was vested in Vice Admiral Masashi Kobayashi, IJN, Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Fourth Fleet, normally based at Truk. Within his organization, Admiral Kobayashi actually commanded very little fleet in the conventional sense since the bulk of his command consisted of island garrisons throughout the Marshalls and Gilberts. Three old light cruisers, Naka, Isuzu, and Nagara, plus a few auxiliaries, constituted his principal forces afloat, while initially, his air strength was embodied in the 22d Air Flotilla commanded by Rear Admiral Shunichi Kira, IJN.67
Japanese garrison forces in the Marshalls were composed principally of naval guards units under the 6th Base Force (responsible for bases and logistics) and commanded by Rear Admiral Monzo Akiyama, IJN, whose headquarters were on Kwajalein.68 On 19 November 1943 (D-minus 1 for Tarawa) Admiral Akiyama was joined by Kobayashi, who, fearing an assault on Japan's Central Pacific bastions was imminent, transferred his flag by air from Truk to Kwajalein on that date.69 The Fourth Fleet continued to be based at Truk, however, and it is evident that its commander rejoined it sometime before 31 January 1944.70
REAR ADMIRAL AKIYAMA commanded the Japanese 6th Base Force from his headquarters on Kwajalein.
Simultaneously with Vice Admiral Kobayashi's aerial move, reinforcements departed Truk for Makin. These consisted of 1,500 Army troops embarked on the Fourth Fleet's three old light cruisers, accompanied by destroyer escort. Two days later, in light of the Tarawa assault, three naval divisions71 and several destroyers of the Japanese Second Fleet sped after the Fourth Fleet units to provide a stronger naval group. These forces rendezvoused at Kwajalein Atoll, and the two commanders conferred on possible courses of action.72
After due consideration, the Japanese admirals decided that discretion was the better part of valor and that they should retire to Truk. They reasoned that their combined forces would be of little avail against the United States Fifth Fleet unless they had their own Third Fleet (carrier forces). As if to emphasize these views, American carrier forces struck the Marshalls at this time, and the light cruisers, Nagara and Isuzu were substantially damaged.73 Thereupon the 1,500 Army troops were landed at Mille, and the Japanese naval forces returned to Truk, arriving there on the night of 7 December. This was the last occasion that the Marshallese had to observe major fleet elements of the Japanese Imperial Navy, and much of this movement was duly noted by USS Seal, the submarine engaged in reconnaissance of Kwajalein Atoll.74
Meanwhile, the Japanese were attempting to build up their air strength in the Central Pacific. On 25 November, just after Tarawa had been secured by the 2d Marine Division, the Japanese 24th Air Flotilla staged into the Marshalls from Hokkaido, Japan, with some 40 bombers and 30 fighters.75 These were to augment the somewhat depleted 22d Air Flotilla which had suffered heavy losses from the pre-Gilberts strikes of United States shore-based air and carrier aircraft. An additional 18 fighters were flown in from Rabaul as well as an undetermined number of single engine bomber-torpedo planes. On 5 December, however, the 22d Air Flotilla left the Marshalls for the Marianas taking nine bombers along. Thereupon Vice Admiral Michiyuki Yamada, IJN, commander of the 24th Flotilla, assumed command of all Japanese aviation in the Marshalls from his headquarters on Namur. There he remained until his death during the aerial bombing on D-minus 3.76
On 25 January there were 35 shore-based
planes at Roi-Namur, ten at Kwajalein, nine on Wotje, 59 on Maloelap, and 15 at Eniwetok.77 Most of these were destroyed on the ground by carrier air and some few which rose to meet the attacking American planes were shot down. During the latter part of November and the first of December an attempt had been made to replace losses with planes from Roi, but it was soon evident that this was impractical. The Japanese, therefore, began gradually evacuating what was left of their aerial forces to Truk, and by 1 February 1944 their air power in the Marshalls was non-existent.78
As has been noted in Chapter 1, the Japanese wrote off the Marshalls as indefensible within the context of "Z" Plan, but these islands were scheduled to make the American advance a costly one. For that reason, during late 1943 they received a considerable share of Army troops which had been drawn from Japan, the Philippines and Manchuria and reorganized into Amphibious Brigades and South Seas Detachments. These were distributed to the outlying atolls rather than to the inner chain on the assumption that any attack would be a natural and gradual step from the Gilberts. As one Japanese naval staff officer later commented:
There was divided opinion as to whether you would land at Jaluit or Mille. Some thought you would land on Wotje, but there were few who thought you would go right to the heart of the Marshalls and take Kwajalein.79
On 30 December 1943 the 1st Amphibious Brigade sailed from Truk for the Marshalls, the last such reinforcements to arrive. The troops were scheduled for Eniwetok, Wotje, Maloelap and Kwajalein Atolls, and on 10 January the ships arrived at the latter base. By that time those ticketed for Eniwetok and Maloelap and a portion of those for Wotje had been disembarked at their respective destinations. The Kwajalein group took up its garrison duties while the balance of the brigade--729 men--were quartered in a warehouse on
VICE ADMIRAL YAMADA, commanding the Japanese 24th Air Flotilla, established his headquarters at Namur.
the island awaiting transportation when the 7th Infantry Division stormed ashore three weeks later, thus unwittingly increasing the size of the defense forces there.80
To garrison the Marshall Islands on 15 January 1944--16 days prior to D-Day--the Japanese had 28,000 Army, Navy, and labor forces scattered over the various atolls. These included 3,500 at Wotje, 3,500 at Jaluit, 1,000 at Eniwetok, 3,300 at Maloelap, 4,000 at Kusaie, and 5,500 at Mille--figures remarkably close (and in some cases identical) to previously quoted U. S. intelligence estimates. Inasmuch as Kwajalein Atoll was the hub of military and naval activity for the Marshalls, it naturally contained the largest single garrison force--8,000 troops. Six thousand of these were evenly divided between Roi-Namur and
Kwajalein, while the remaining 2,000 were distributed variously among the other islands within the atoll.81
The defenses of Roi-Namur, while characteristic of the laboriousness displayed by the Japanese in such matters, were by no means as formidable as they might have been. For example, they were not nearly up to the standard set at Tarawa.82 As previously noted, the Japanese were greatly surprised by the selection of an interior objective such as Kwajalein Atoll, and this surprise was inevitably reflected in defensive unreadiness.83 Glaring deficiencies in the Roi-Namur defense scheme included concrete work of poor quality (and not enough even of that), shortage of barbed wire and little, if any, use of beach and underwater obstacles and mines.
The backbone of the Japanese defenses on each island consisted of a single battery of two twin-mount 127mm (5-inch) dual-purpose naval guns. Those on Roi were installed on the northwest corner, and those at Namur on the northern tip. In addition to these were two 37mm rapid-fire guns (one on each island); 28 emplaced dual-purpose 20mm machine cannon and .50-caliber machine guns, and 19 machine gun-equipped pillboxes (nine on Roi and ten on Namur). The enemy defenses also included four massive circular blockhouses, some 40 feet in diameter, with four-foot reinforced concrete walls. These blockhouses were reputedly of German design, based on works then existing in the Siegfried Line.
The shorelines of both Roi and Namur were ringed with trenches, open rifle-pits and some open mortar and machine-gun emplacements. The north-central portion of Namur contained a veritable maze of trenches amid the heavy undergrowth of this area. Above all, however, two factors were notable: first, the general lack of heavy underground or covered defensive construction; and second, the fact that in all sectors of the two islands, the lagoon shores had received least attention.84
The Japanese garrison on Roi-Namur consisted of approximately 3,000 aviation, ground-defense, and service or construction troops, all naval. Some 1,500 men belonged to the 24th Air Flotilla, comprising a headquarters and elements of three squadrons. A 500-man provisional battalion, the Sonoyama Unit of the 61st Naval Guard Force, had its headquarters on Namur. More than a thousand Naval Air Corps Construction and Service troops rounded out the base personnel. All the latter, of course, were armed and prepared to take part in the defense; noncombatants and women having long since been evacuated from Roi-Namur.85
As was usual in enemy doctrine of this period, the American "enemy will be destroyed at the beach." Should a lodgment be effected, "the enemy will be destroyed by counterattack." To carry out this Japanese tactical concept, troops and weapons were concentrated on probable landing beaches rather than in depth. Neither of the conspicuous points which commanded the lagoon shoreline, (WENDY on Roi, and SALLY on Namur, as they were coded) was organized to deliver flanking fire onto the south beaches.86 Few beach obstacles existed, other than some haphazard wire on the Namur end of the connecting sandspit, and around the northeast terminus of Roi airstrip. A few anti-tank ditches had been dug on Roi, and some antitank obstacles, consisting of large boulders set in concrete, had been installed along the north shore of that island. Secondary to this defensive system, such as it was, the enemy plan included local resistance within and about the numerous shelters, command posts and base installations inside the beach-perimeter.
To Lieutenant Colonel A. Vincent Wilson, CE, USA. Engineer, V Amphibious Corps, "The prepared defenses [of Kwajalein] were surprisingly weak."87 But to the General, 7th Infantry Division, "the fortifications
R0I WAS POUNDED by carrier-based planes in late January 1944. (Navy photo.)
at the south end of the Atoll [Kwajalein] were pretty good."88 As at Roi-Namur, there was a marked paucity of artillery, the principal weapons again being two of the twin-mount, dual-purpose 5-inch batteries. These guns were mounted at either end of Kwajalein and were backed up by two three-gun 80mm dual-purpose naval batteries located in open emplacements equally spaced along the seaward shore, as well as two more 80mm guns sited singly for antiboat missions on the lagoon shore. Five 75mm infantry cannon and two 37mm antitank guns completed the main armament of Kwajalein. In 15 concrete pillboxes and one small blockhouse, as well as in some open emplacements, the Japanese had sited 11 13mm and 18 7.7mm machine guns, as well as numerous Nambus, the ever-present Japanese light machine gun.
Fire trenches encircled the island, usually just inland of the dune line behind the beaches. Three cross-island antitank-ditches, located in the vicinity of the airstrip, served partially to compartment the seaward beaches, but failed to reach across the entire island. Other than these, plus a little wire and the seawalls already
noted, no substantial obstacles existed. Numerous air raid shelters, magazines, etc., were located within the defensive perimeter, but these were generally of inferior or too-light construction, and often incomplete.89
Like Roi-Namur, finally, the weaknesses of Kwajalein were incompleted work, poor construction, and no employment of underwater or beach obstacles.
According to post-operational tabulation, Kwajalein and the other Southern Islands were garrisoned by approximately 4,850 defenders. It is interesting to note that this was close to the total number which defended Tarawa, but the land area of Kwajalein was more than three times that of Betio.90 Of the combat troops assigned to the defense of Kwajalein, the 6th Base Force, with a provisional battalion of mixed Special Naval Landing Force and Naval Guard Force, plus elements of the 122d Infantry, constituted the most imposing element. In addition to these, there were present various "spare-part" headquarters units, plus part of a rudimentary copy--by the Japanese Army--of U. S. Fleet Marine Force organization in the shape of the 3d Battalion, Mobile Shipborne Force. Air Group 952 (a float-plane reconnaissance squadron), and the inevitable semimilitary construction and service
AN OIL DUMP LEFT BLAZING on Namur by carrier-based planes. Roi may be seen in the background. (Navy photo.)
troops completed the Personnel picture.91
Ebeye Island (BURTON) constituted Kwajalein's principal satellite, and was to become an important secondary objective of the Southern Landing Force. Its terrain and beaches were typical of the atoll. Two 80mm dual-purpose guns covered its eastern (seaward) beach, which was otherwise defended by a few concrete pillboxes and a fairly complete system of fire trenches.
Logistics for the FLINTLOCK operation were markedly complicated by the separation of units in the planning and loading phase. As noted previously, the 4th Marine Division was mounted directly from California; the 7th Infantry Division and the 106th Infantry Regimental Combat Team were stationed in Hawaii, and the 22d Marines had to be shipped from Samoa to Hawaii. Despite this, however, the Commander, V Amphibious Corps later reported "no major difficulties were encountered."92
Supply responsibility for the various organizations was as varied as the organizations themselves. Initial supply for the 4th Marine Division was "the responsibility of agencies on the West Coast." The 7th Infantry Division and the 106th Regimental Combat Team were supported by Army and Navy supply channels, principally the Commanding General, Army Forces, Central Pacific Area (who exercised no tactical control over these units).93 The 22d Marines received their support from Marine and Navy agencies in the Pacific.94
Forty-two days' rations were scheduled for the operation, individuals carrying two days' rations each, four days' emergency rations loaded in bulk on LST's, six days palletized on AKA's and 30 days loaded on AKA's. Also allotted were five days' water, ten units of AA and 105mm howitzer ammunition, eight units of other classes of ammunition, and 30 days of all other supplies. These amounts made combat loading of AKA's impracticable. Consequently, initial combat equipment and supplies were loaded on AKA's and between decks of AKA's, the bulk of remaining supplies were placed in AKA holds and loose emergency supplies were placed on LST's. This resulted in a combat load of about 600 short tons in each APA and AKA, with an additional 1,000 tons of maintenance supplies in each AKA.95
The 4th Marine Division was allotted 240 amphibian tractors [LVT(2)] and 75 armored amphibians [LVT(A)(1)] for its landings in the northern portion of Kwajalein Atoll. These were organized into the 4th Amphibian Tractor Battalion, 10th Amphibian Tractor Battalion with Company A of the 11th Amphibian Tractor Battalion attached, and the 1st Armored Amphibian Battalion. No DUKW's were provided, which meant that the LVT's and small boats would transfer supplies from ship to shore. Transportation would be at a premium once the division was ashore, for it carried only 30 percent of its wheeled vehicles: eight 1-ton cargo trucks and 25 2½-ton trucks. General Schmidt later commented that once combat ceased an acute transportation problem arose, requiring the division to borrow defense battalion trucks at the expense of that organization's rapid installation of its weapons.96
Admiral Conolly organized his troop-carrying force into three transport divisions, each consisting of four troop transports and one cargo ship. Three transports carried one battalion landing team each, the fourth embarking the regimental support group and regimental headquarters. The cargo ship was assigned regimental supplies.97
The division's 105mm artillery, with ammunition, was preloaded into 14 LCM's and these in turn placed on board one of the LSD's (Epping Forest). The 75mm pack howitzers were preloaded in LVT(2)'s, and these vehicles embarked on board LST's, as were all the LVT's. Fifteen medium tanks were also preloaded in LCM's and loaded on the remaining LSD (Gunston Hall), while 36 light tanks were carried on AKA's.
One aspect of loading went awry, however. As originally set forth in logistical plans, the combat units were to carry five units of fire for each weapon. Officers of the 7th Infantry Division were fearful that this was not sufficient and successfully pressed for an increase. On 5 January 1944 Admiral Nimitz ordered fire units for 105mm howitzers increased from five to ten and all other ground weapons units of fire increased from five to eight. This change caught the 4th Marine Division in the process of loading and required a revision of plans with attendant difficulties. The Marines later recommended in no uncertain terms "the cessation of logistical planning once the loading has begun." They pointed out that five units of fire would have been sufficient for the operation and that excess ammunition cluttered the beach, making it difficult to land other supplies.98
In December 1943 the 708th Amphibian Tank Battalion99 arrived in Hawaii and was attached (less Company D) to the 7th Infantry Division for the Kwajalein operation. General Corlett desired both amphibian tractors and amphibian tanks for the landing, however, and thereupon Major James L. Rogers, battalion commander, reorganized his unit to fit the task. Company A of the amphibian tank battalion was retained to spearhead the amphibious assault, but four LVT(2) groups were formed to take the troops ashore. The combined force was designated 708th Provisional Amphibian Tractor Battalion, Major Rogers commanding.100 Each LVT(2) group was equipped with 34 tractors, and Company A had 17 amphibian tanks. In addition, a pool of 21 tractors was established on an LSD to replace any LVT's which were damaged or lost. The 7th Infantry Division's total LVT strength amounted to 174 vehicles.
Although possessing fewer LVT's than the Marines, the Army division's amphibious transportation was augmented by 100 DUKW's. This was the first operation in the Pacific in which these 2½-ton amphibian trucks were used on an extensive scale. Sixty of them were set aside to carry ashore the division's four battalions of 105mm howitzers, the weapons being preloaded into the DUKW's and these in turn being placed on board LSD's. The remaining 40 DUKW's were scheduled to serve as floating dumps and to land high priority supplies.101
The 7th Division had experimented successfully with palletized unit loads102 at Attu and planned to use them extensively for the Marshalls. A total of 4,174 loads were palletized including rations, ammunition, fuels and lubricants, engineer, medical, signal and ordnance items.
As Commander, Task Force 52, Admiral Turner organized his craft into transport divisions in much the same manner as Admiral Conolly. The Kwajalein force was embarked in three transport divisions which included 11 APA's, three AKA's, three LSD's, and two APD's. Nineteen LSD's were included but were not listed under transport divisions. The Reserve Group made up two transport divisions, which included six AKA's, one AP, one AKA, and one AK. The Majuro Force was embarked on USS Cambria (Admiral Hill's flagship) and Kane,
the former being an APA and the latter an APD.103
Casualties during the operation were to be evacuated to designated APA's, while LST's were to be used in the event of rough weather. Two hospital ships--USS Solace for the Northern Attack Force and the USS Relief for the Southern Attack Force--were scheduled to arrive on D-plus 3. All casualties were to be evacuated to Pearl Harbor, and air transportation was authorized for those cases warranting it.
Shore parties were to be organized on the basis of one for each battalion landing team. The basic shore party organization for the Northern Landing Force was to be formed from the 20th Marines, while the 50th Engineer Battalion was the nucleus of the Southern Landing Force shore party.104 Garrison troops and defense battalions were to augment the groups. To assist in unloading heavy engineer equipment at the objectives, pontoon causeways were taken along. These were transported on four LST's, eight 175-foot sections on each ship.
Operations preliminary to actual landings in the Marshalls, as in the case of any major amphibious assault, were directed toward two principal ends; namely, accumulation of intelligence, and preparation of the objectives and their supporting positions. Inasmuch as the most important source of preliminary intelligence was in this case aerial photography, it was usually possible to accomplish both aims concurrently during the air strikes set up by Admiral Spruance.
Obviously, any such daring penetration of Japanese-held territory must be preceded and accompanied by thorough neutralization of the surrounding enemy bases. In addition, a prime lesson of Tarawa, had been the demonstration of the need for prolonged and careful preliminary bombardment of actual objective areas. In the case of the Marshalls, this neutralization and preparation, together with the required photo sorties, was to be accomplished by a combination of shore and carrier-based air strikes in conjunction with the most thorough preliminary naval gunfire bombardment yet planned in the history of amphibious warfare.105
As outlined by Admiral Turner, the principal features of the plan were:
Prolonged early and progressively intensified air and naval bombardment "calculated to wear the enemy down and give him little opportunity to repair damage, replenish food, water and ammunition."106
Short-range destruction of carefully pinpointed beach defenses "by accurate, deliberate pointer-fire" in order that every battery, pillbox, blockhouse, or weapon which might oppose the landing would be destroyed or fully neutralized.
Careful selection of naval ammunition best suited to destroy targets.
Intensive training, including rehearsal firings against replicas of Tarawa fortifications constructed at the newly established Shore Bombardment Range, Kahoolawe, T. H.107
Achievement and maintenance of neutralization on enemy air bases which could support attacks against our forces in the Marshalls was the logical entering wedge for our advance. As listed by Admiral Spruance in order of importance, these fields were: Roi, Taroa (Maloelap Atoll), Wotje, Kwajalein, Mille, Eniwetok, Nauru, and Wake. Of lesser importance but subject to neutralization attacks were Ponape, Kusaie, and the seaplane base at Jaluit.
AERIAL BOMBARDMENT of Wotje was one phase of preliminary operations. (Navy photo.)
Mille, Jaluit, and Nauru fell within the exclusive province of Admiral Hoover's shore-based air (mainly the Seventh Air Force), operating from bases in the Gilberts and Ellices. Wake was to be hit by CinCPac patrol squadron strikes launched from Midway. The remaining fields would be taken out by carrier strikes, and Roi, Taroa, and Wotje, the three highest priority targets, would be kept neutral by surface bombardment close on the heels of Admiral Mitscher's carrier attacks.108
The campaign of neutralization got underway as planned on 4 December, with carrier and shore-based strikes. Seventh Air Force conducted high altitude raids against both Nauru and Mille, with satisfactory results, but the important events of the day took place at Kwajalein, Ebeye, Roi, and Wotje, which were hit by carrier task forces under Rear Admirals Charles A. Pownall and Alfred E. Montgomery. Off Kwajalein two of the Japanese Fourth Fleet's old light cruisers, Nagara and Isuzu, received substantial damage at this time, either from direct hits or near misses; three cargo ships were sunk, and approximately ten aircraft destroyed on the island's airfield.109 At Roi, where vigorous interception was encountered and 19 enemy fighters shot down, damage was confined to the seaplane base and radio station, and at Wotje, one cargo ship was sunk and a
number of enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground.110 These strikes were followed by a surface and air bombardment of Nauru111 on 8 December, and were the prelude to a month of shore-based pounding throughout the Marshalls by Admiral Hoover's B-24's.
The Japanese reaction to the raids of 4 December resembled, in tactics and effect, that of an overturned beehive. Throughout the day and night of 4 December, both Pownall's and Montgomery's task groups were subjected to almost continual "snooper" attacks by small groups of enemy torpedo planes (mainly "BETTY's" and "KATE's"), estimated to total as many as 50. Just prior to midnight, the enemy's persistence gained its reward when, assisted by illumination from flares dropped just previously, the attackers launched a torpedo which found its way to the USS Lexington, one of Admiral Pownall's carriers, inflicting 44 casualties and considerable damage aft.112
Throughout January shore-based attacks from new U.S. bases in the Gilberts and the Ellices increased both in tempo and effectiveness. With Makin, Tarawa, and Apamama now operational air bases, it was possible to provide fighter cover for heavy bombers, as well as to hit the enemy repeatedly with medium bombers (generally PBJ's, or B-25's, as the Air Forces termed them) and even with Marine SBD's.113 The goal of this progressively intensified attack by shore-based air was not only to neutralize or destroy enemy air throughout the Marshalls but also to confuse the Japanese as to our exact objectives. These aims had been attained substantially by the latter part of January, when Admiral Spruance's carriers and battleships closed in for the final strikes preliminary to commencement of landing operations in Kwajalein Atoll.
On D-minus 2 (29 January), the full might of the Central Pacific Force descended upon the Japanese in the Marshalls. Carrier task forces struck Taroa and Wotje, to be followed by surface bombardment, while at Kwajalein and Roi-Namur the grim pounding of preliminary bombardment began in earnest.
Taroa was hit by planes from three carriers under Rear Admiral John W. Reeves (USS Yorktown, Enterprise, and Belleau Wood) and bombarded by three heavy cruisers (USS San Francisco, New Orleans, and Minneapolis) with screening craft. Two enemy cargo vessels were sunk by ship's gunfire, and spirited return fire was directed against the cruisers by a coast defense battery which obtained straddles and near misses with such frequency that the Commanding Officer, USS Minneapolis, expressed relief when the range was opened and speed increased to evade this fire. Pensacola, Salt Lake City, and Chester maintained neutralization on Taroa by intermittent day and night bombardments through 3 February. Wotje received carrier strikes from planes of USS Saratoga, Princeton, and Langley, and was likewise bombarded by Pensacola, Salt Lake City, and Chester, which received somewhat less effective fire from the Japanese defenses.114
The two-day preparation of Roi-Namur was carried out by a carrier task force under Admiral Montgomery, together with the old battleships and escort carriers of the Northern Attack Force. The first task was eradication of Japanese air at Roi. Admiral Yamada of the 24th Air Flotilla launched his last 20 fighters--Air Group 281--to meet the dawn sweep of Grumman Hellcats from the carriers Essex, Cabot, and Intrepid. Within a matter of minutes, 11 enemy planes had been shot out of the air and
the balance dispersed. This was the last Japanese fighter opposition to be encountered over Roi.
Grounded aircraft, hangars, communication facilities, fuel and ammunition dumps, and the 5-inch dual-purpose battery on Roi were Admiral Montgomery's targets, for his principal task to ensure local control of the air.115 This he achieved absolutely by effective destruction of the Roi air base as such and by the erasure of Air Group 281's interceptors.
Commencing on the night of 29 January, and continuing until D-Day when it was apparent that air superiority rested with the attackers, the fast battleships and screening craft of the task force began intermittent bombardment of Roi and Namur, first giving area coverage to Roi's runways and air facilities, then concentrating on the destruction of located blockhouses on the north shore and the 5-inch battery on the west shore. On Namur, the 5-inch battery likewise received attention, as did blockhouses on the west and north shores. Lagoon beaches of both islands were thoroughly covered, and the bombarding ships shifted their fires to cover Ennubirr and the islands immediately southeast of Namur. On 30 January Admiral Montgomery's planes were reinforced by those from the three escort-carriers of Admiral Conolly's Northern Attack Force (Sangamon, Suwanee, and Chenango), which continued the air and antisubmarine patrolling necessary to isolate the
A PORTION OF ADMIRAL CONOLLY'S TASK FORCE 53 en route to Roi-Namur. (Navy photo.)
objective, as well as the pounding necessary to soften it.116
On 29 January Kwajalein and Ebeye fell to the successive attentions of a carrier task force under Rear Admiral Frederick C. Sherman, USN (USS Bunker Hill, Monterey, and Cowpens), and on 30 January of Rear Admiral Samuel P. Ginder's Saratoga, Princeton, and Langley. These were likewise reinforced by Southern Attack Force escort carriers (USS Manila Bay, Coral Sea, and Corregidor) as the latter arrived in the area on the 30th. Known ground defenses, plus all means of air defense, such as radar, the seaplane base on Ebeye, and antiaircraft weapons were bombed by the carrier planes and then shelled by the fast battleships and destroyers of the carrier task forces.
As a final insurance against interruption, on D-minus 1 assorted blows were dealt to the already heavily pummelled enemy-held atolls in the Marshalls. Battleships and destroyers from the Northern Attack Force renewed the bombardment of Wotje, as did a similar detachment from the Southern Attack Force at Taroa. Admiral Sherman's task force, which had hit Kwajalein the day before, now appeared off Eniwetok to neutralize and ground the two feeble enemy squadrons at that place, while shore-based bombers hit Mille and Jaluit at the same time as Midway's patrol bombers were over Wake.117
On 21 January, the main body of the Northern Attack Force reached Lahaina Roads, the water area between the Hawaiian Islands of Maui, Lanai, Molokai, and Kahoolawe. This was the day after the tractor groups of both the Northern and Southern Forces had set sail for the Marshalls. The 15th Defense Battalion, which had been training on Oahu and was attached to the 4th Marine Division for the Marshalls operation, joined the larger unit at this time. A busy day was spent in final conferences and briefings, particularly of and by the amphibious group's Navy officers, and the next day both Northern and Southern forces sailed for their final objectives.
On the night of 30 January, D-minus 1, the Marshall Islands were literally threaded by the approaching United States naval task forces. Moving down parallel tracks, with almost the precise timing of a great railroad, the bulk of the Northern and Southern Attack Forces passed between Ailuk and Utirik, well north of Wotje, and swung south towards Kwajalein Atoll. Earlier in the day, Majuro's little task group had broken off and headed southwestward toward its objective, passing less than 50 miles east of smouldering Taroa.
On board the carriers and fire-support ships which had already opened the battle, aviators and gunners prepared for an even more thunderous morrow, while in the humid, cramped troop-compartments of the attack transports, Marines and soldiers waited. They passed the time checking weapons or perhaps working their way onto the blacked-out upper decks for a breath of fresh air and a look at the stars--unknowing that a Japanese diarist at the radio station on Ennubirr Islands a few days previously had recorded, "Convoy left Pearl Harbor on 22d to attack us."118
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (1) * Next Chapter (3)
1. Central Pacific Force corresponded to North Pacific Force under VAdm Frank Jack Fletcher, USN, and to South Pacific Force under VAdm William F. Halsey, USN. All three fell under CinCPOA, although tactically Halsey worked more with General Douglas MacArthur than with Admiral Nimitz.
2. Commander, Central Pacific Force serial 0053, 1Oct43.
3. ComCenPac ser 0053, 1-2. The requirement for extensive and complex alternative planning in this initial directive typifies difficulties encountered by planners throughout the entire planning phase.
4. All dates are west Longitude, the date east of the Date Line.
5.This information is quoted in Report by G-5, V Amphibious Corps, FLINTLOCK, 1, hereinafter cited as VAC G-5 Report. Major troop assignments were to have been:
Wotje-Maloelap: 7th Infantry Division.
Kwajalein Atoll: 4th Marine Division, FMF, and 22d Marines (reinforced).
6. Ltr Col Joseph C. Anderson, USA, to CMC, 9Jan53.
7. Ltr Adm Richmond K. Turner to CMC, 20Feb53, hereinafter cited as Turner.
8. Ltr Adm R. A. Spruance to CMC, 12Jan53.
9. CinCPOA serial 001685 to JCS, 13Dec43.
10. As early as 25Oct, however, Adm Nimitz had indicated to Adm King that the Marshalls target date of 1Jan44 would have to be set back about a month. CinCPac serial 00247 to CominCh, 25Oct43.
11. VAC G-5 Report, 2.
12. This regiment had become available for the Marshalls as early as 3Oct43, consequent upon the abandonment of Nauru as a Gilberts objective. CinCPOA serial 022120 to Commanding General, Army Forces, Central Pacific Area (CGUSAFCPA).
14. Col Wallace M. Greene, Jr., S-3 for Tactical Group-1 during the Marshalls campaign, later recalled the conference where this problem was discussed "Gen Holland Smith paced the floor of the little planning room. . . . His chief of staff, Gen G. B. Erskine, was [advising against] the employment of the entire 106th Infantry regiment for the job [seizure of Majuro]. From the conversation it appeared that even a division or at least Tactical Group-1 in its entirety had at one time been considered for the task. . . . 'I'm convinced that there can't be more than a squad or two [of Japanese] on those islands today,' [Gen Smith said] 'Let's use only one battalion for the Majuro job. . . .' " Ltr Col Wallace M. Greene, Jr., to CMC, 23Nov52, hereinafter cited as Greene.
15. Central Pacific Force Operation Plan 1-44, 6Jan44, Annex H.
16. This was pursuant to a directive issued by Adm King on 29Feb42.
17. ComSoPac dispatch to CominCh, 3Nov42, as approved by CominCh dispatch, 9Nov42; also see Zimmerman, 153-154.
18. Ltr from Adm Nimitz to LtGen Thomas Holcomb, 19Jun43.
19. CMC dispatch of 25Aug43.
20. CinPac dispatch of 27Aug43, and CominCh dispatch of 27Aug43 to CinCPac.
21. AlPac dispatch of 10Sep43.
22. "I was as astonished as [MajGen Holland] Smith was when CinCPac's Gilberts Operation Plan did not designate him to over-all command of the troops. I immediately protested that omission, as well as the rather confused and unsatisfactory command provisions. . . ." Turner.
23. ComCenPacFor serial 0081, 14Oct43.
24. Ltr from Col G. B. Erskine to Col O. T. Pfeiffer, 14Oct43. Erskine was VAC chief of staff. Pfeiffer was on the planning staff of Adm Ernest J. King, CominCh. On 6Nov43 Col Erskine was promoted to BrigGen.
25. "[I if it is assumed] that I favored giving exact equal status in the Pacific Fleet Organization to the Fifth Amphibious Force and the V Amphibious Corps, then [that] is correct. But [if it is assumed] that I ever favored making the Corps a subordinate part of the Force, then [that is] most decidedly not correct." Turner.
26. Ltr from Col O. T. Pfeiffer to Col G. B. Erskine, 23Oct43.
27. Throughout the operation, however, any troop directives involving major landings or major changes in tactical plans required the approval of the Commander, Joint Expeditionary Force, prior to their issuance. This was based on the logical premise that any major change of plans would not involve the troops alone, but the entire Joint Expeditionary Force.
28. Naval and air preparations for the landings will be treated in detail later in this chapter.
29. Holland M Smith, Coral and Brass, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1949, 144.
30. Initially designated an Auxiliary General Communications vessel, hence the "AGC." Later, however, its listing was changed to Amphibious Force Flagship, but the "AGC" designation remained. It is designed for the use of the attack force and landing force staffs, equipped with extra communication gear, photo lab, sound recording devices and similar installations. Large rooms facilitate coordination of staff actions. AGC's are named after mountains and mountain ranges.
31. During simulated battle conditions at San Diego, it was immediately obvious that the war rooms of the Appalachian were blind to events occurring outside the ship. LtCol William R. Wendt, a member of Gen Schmidt's staff, arranged a television demonstration with Paramount Studios, which proved successful. Although Paramount offered to loan the equipment to the Navy for the Marshalls operation, the project hit a snag on Paramount's stipulation of a $100,000 guarantee against battle damage. "However, the interest aroused . . . fostered the development of standard and air-borne television equipment which came into existence in the Navy before war's end." Ltr Col William Wendt to CMC, 9Feb53, hereinafter cited as Wendt.
32. Code names for the islands follow in parentheses the native names.
33. Ltr LtCol V. J. Croizat to CMC, 10Nov52, hereinafter cited as Croizat.
34. TF 51 Report of Amphibious Operations for the Capture of the Marshall Islands, serial 00180, 21, hereinafter cited as TF 51 Report.
35. Elements of UDT 1 carried out the reconnaissance of Roi-Namur, however, approaching within 50 yards of the landing beaches.
36. Amphibious Operations, The Marshall Islands, HQ CominCh, 20May44, 6-5, 6-6, hereinafter cited as AmphibOpn.
37. CG, V Amphibious Corps, Operations Report of FLINTLOCK Operation, 6Mar44, p. 3, hereinafter cited as VAC Report.
38. This and subsequent data from 4th MarDiv serial 00C07744, Final Report on FLINTLOCK Operation, 17Mar44, hereinafter cited as 4th MarDiv SAR.
39 Ltr Col W. W. Wensinger to Director, DivPubInfo, 5Jan48. These officers were BrigGen James L. Underhill, LtCol Walter I. Jordan, LtCol Charles D. Roberts, LtCol Evans F. Carlson and LtCol David K. Claude. Col Claude was killed in action in the operation while with the 3d Bn, 2d Marines. Col Jordan assumed command of the 2d Bn, 2d Marines, during the Tarawa assault. See Capt James R. Stockman, The Battle for Tarawa, Historical Section, HQMC, 1947.
40. Ltr MajGen W. W. Rogers to Director, DivPubInfo, 3Feb48, hereinafter cited as Rogers.
41. "The design of the 4th Marine Division's patch had been approved during the brief period in which the division had been in existence prior to the Kwajalein operation. There was general regret after Roi had been seized that the '4' formed by its runways [See Map 3, p. 22] couldn't supplant the previously approved less-historic design." Wendt.
42. JICPOA Bulletin 46-44, Base Installations, Roi, Namur and Ennubirr Is., Kwajalein Atoll, 15Apr44.
43. "The code name for Namur was CAMOUFLAGE and the code name for Roi was BURLESQUE. These names were chosen because the undergrowth on Namur was so dense, while Roi was bare." Ltr BrigGen Homer L. Litzenberg to CMC, 3Jan53, hereinafter cited as Litzenberg II.
44. Appendix 2, Annex FOX, 4th MarDiv Operation Plan 3-43 (Revised), 5.
45. Because of this connecting strip of beach, Roi-Namur may technically be considered one island. For planning purposes, however, they were considered two separate entities.
46. "As far as the origin of such a procedure is concerned, this method of handling artillery first came to my attention in the Marine Corps Schools in 1936 when a number of students solved the artillery problem in the Trinidad landing schedules by placing artillery on the channel island of Chacachacare to cover the landing on the south shore of the western peninsula." Rogers.
47. Group 3 had been organized on 23Oct43 in the San Diego area with this mission in mind. Conolly commanded Group 3 and Task Force 53 as Turner commanded Fifth Amphibious Force and Task Force 51.
48. Report of ComPhibGrp 3 serial 0025 to CominCh, 23Feb44, 1, hereinafter cited as PhibGrp3 SAR.
49. Ibid., 2.
50. Report of Commanding Officer, First Joint Assault Signal Company, undated.
"While the size of the objective [Roi-Namur] hindered their [JASCO] fullest utilization, the Division was very pleased with the over-all utilitarian performance of the JASCO personnel." Wendt.
52. Ltr LtCol Louis Metzger to CMC, 13Nov52, hereinafter cited as Metzger.
53. 4th MarDiv SAR, 2.
55. PhibGrp 3 SAR, 2.
57. The 7th Division, less 53d Infantry Regiment, had taken Attu in May 1943. Kiska was occupied by a force which included the 17th and 184th Infantry Regiments. The latter, a former National Guard unit, replaced the 53d as an organic regiment of the 7th Infantry Division following the Kiska operation.
58. Report of the 7th Division Participation in the FLINTLOCK Operation, 8Feb44, 1, hereinafter cited as 7th Div Report.
59. CinCPOA serial 00293, FLINTLOCK II-Joint Staff Study, 20Dec43, Annex 3 to Appendix C.
60. JICPOA Bulletin 53-43, "Kwajalein," 1Dec43, 1-17.
61. The foregoing data on Kwajalein's beaches are from 7th Infantry Division Field Order No. 1, Annex #3, 7.
62. 7th Div Report, Annex A.
63. V Amphibious Corps serial 00684, 6Mar44, 5, hereinafter cited as VAC SAR.
64 Unless otherwise cited, this data is derived from VAC Operation Report, G-2 Report, 19Feb44, hereinafter cited as VAC G-2 Report, and Annex H, Northern Attack Force Operation Order A-157-44, 16Jan44.
65. Estimate of Japanese Troops and Defensive Organization on CARILLON Atoll, VAC, 17Jan44.
66. Ltr VAdm Harry W. Hill to CMC, 14Nov52, hereinafter cited as Hill.
67. USSBS, 198-199; also USSBS Interrogation Nav-43, Cdr Goro Matsuura, IJN, 20Oct45, hereinafter cited as Matsuura.
68. RAdm Akiyama remained at his post and was killed in the subsequent fight for that island. He was posthumously promoted to Vice Admiral.
69. USSBS Interrogation, Nav-96, RAdm Shunsaku Nabeshima, IJN, hereinafter cited as Nabeshima. This officer served as Chief of Staff, Fourth Fleet from Dec42 to Dec43.
70. The author can find no record of the date Kobayashi returned his flag from Kwajalein to Truk. That he did so is obvious, however, for he was relieved of Fourth Fleet command on 19Feb44 and sent to Tokyo for naval staff duty.
71. These were the 4th Division, the 7th Cruiser Division and the 8th Cruiser Division.
72. USSBS, 192, 201; USSBS Interrogation Nav-34, Cdr Chikataka Nakajima, IJN: hereinafter cited as Nakajima; Nabeshima.
73. This action is treated from the American viewpoint later in this chapter.
74. Memo to Chief of Staff from ACofS, G-2, VAC, 29Dec43.
76. 4th Marine Division Intelligence Report on FLINTLOCK (undated) 2, hereinafter cited as 4th MarDiv IntRpt.
77. USSBS, 201-202.
78. The United States Strategic Bombing Survey, The American Campaign Against Wotje, Maloelap, Mille and Jaluit, GPO (Washington), 1947, 35-36, hereinafter cited as Campaign.
80. JICPOA Bulletin 88-44, 1st Amphibious Brigade, Japanese Army.
81. USSBS, 107.
82. JICPOA Bulletin 48-44, Japanese Defenses, Kwajalein Atoll, 10Apr44, 27-64. Hereinafter cited as JICPOA Bulletin 48-44, this is the principal source of information on Japanese defenses unless otherwise indicated.
83. Report by Engineer, VAC, 15Feb44, 1, hereinafter cited as VAC Engineer Report.
84. VAC Engineer Report, 3-4.
85. This information is a synthesis of that given in USSBS, 201 and 4th MarDiv IntRpt, 2-3.
86. Ibid., 9-10.
87. VAC Engineer Report, 1.
88. Ltr MajGen Charles H. Corlett to CMC, 29Nov52. Gen Corlett wrote that Kwajalein Island was covered by mutually supporting blockhouses of reinforced concrete. On the other hand, LtCol Wilson's view was shared by a special War Department inspection team. Marshall Islands, Japanese Defenses and Battle Damage, War Department Mission, 1Mar44.
89. JICPOA Bulletin 48-44, 1-20, and VAC Engineer Report, 2.
90. JICPOA Bulletin 48-44, 1, and "The Marshall Islands Operation," Vice Admiral Harry W. Hill, USN, Military Review, January 1948, 10.
91. VAC G-2 Report, 14; also USSBS, 201.
92. VAC Report of Logistical Aspects of the FLINTLOCK Operation, 23Mar44.
93. On the one hand there was the supply headquarters (USAFIORA) without tactical authority or especial tactical consideration, and on the other hand there was the (ultimate) tactical headquarters (V Phib Corps) without supply responsibility. Considerable valuable time was lost in processing requests because of the lack of early definition of responsibility. G-4 Report of Operation, Part III, 6 (7th InfDiv FLINTLOCK Rept, Vol VII).
94. The 22d Marines was unable to obtain bazookas, bazooka ammunition, and shaped charges from Marine supply services, however, and had to make a last-minute appeal to Army sources in order to have them in time for the operation. Greene.
95. AmphibOpn, 5-1.
96. 4th MarDiv SAR, Comments, 29.
97. Enclosure H, CTF 53 Report on FLINTLOCK Operations, 23Feb44, hereinafter cited as CTF 53 Rpt FLINTLOCK.
98. Philip A. Crowl and Edmund G. Love, United States Army in World War II, The Seizure of the Gilberts and Marshalls, MS, X11-13, X11-14, a forthcoming volume to be published by the Office of Military History, Department of the Army, hereinafter cited as Crowl and Love; 4th MarDiv SAR, Comments, 28, 46.
99. Marines referred to the LVT(A) as an "armored amphibian," while the Army designation was "amphibian tank."
100. Special Action Report, Kwajalein Operation, 708th Amphibian Tank Bn, 12Mar44.
101. AmphibOpn, 7-7.
102. A pallet is dunnage, usually of wood, upon which supplies are lashed; so constructed that the pallet and supplies stored thereon may be picked up easily by materials handling equipment. A palletized unit load is a quantity of any item, packaged or unpackaged, which is arranged on a pallet in a specified manner and securely strapped or fastened thereto so that the whole is handled as a unit.
103. AmphibOpn, 5-4, 5-5, 5-6; also Task Group 51.2 Majuro Action Report, 2, hereinafter cited as TG 51.2 Rpt.
104. VAC Opn Plan 1-44, Annex H, 5Jan44.
105. 6,919 tons of naval gunfire ammunition were to be fired from D-minus 2 through D-Day against carefully selected targets in the Marshalls. V Amphibious Corps Naval Gunfire Officer's Report on FLINTLOCK, 1-8.
106. FifthPhibFor SAR, enclosure (E), 1.
107. Ibid., 1-6. The Kahoolawe range, established on an uninhabited island in the Hawaiian group south of Maui, was operated by the Naval Gunfire Section, V Amphibious Corps, and was designed to train fire-support ships in attack of shore targets. Kahoolawe had been reconnoitered by Marine artillery and amphibious gunnery specialists in October 1943, and by the end of that month, had commenced its major role in improving the performance and technique of Pacific Fleet amphibious gunnery under the supervision of Marine and Navy gunnery officers.
108. ComCenPacFor serial 0095, 1Mar44, 2-3.
109. Nabeshima, 412. These results were by no means up to the enthusiastic claims of pilots, who claimed to have sunk both cruisers, as well as four auxiliaries, and to have destroyed more than 50 enemy aircraft. CinCPac serial 001035, 31Mar44, 8-10, hereinafter cited as CinCPac Summary.
110. ComCenPacFor serial 0082, 27Feb44, 8.
111. This was rendered eventful by 6-inch fire from Japanese batteries which put one shell into the USS Boyd's engine room and straddled that ship a half-dozen times while it was retiring after the first hit. CinCPac Summary, 13.
112. Ibid., 11-12.
113. During December and January, the following tonnages of bombs were placed on selected targets in the Marshalls by shore-based air:During the same period, the enemy placed 193 tons on Makin, Tarawa and Apamama. CinCPac Summary.
Tons Maloelap 326 Kwajalein Atoll 313 Jaluit 256 Mille 415 Wotje 367 _____ Total 1,677
114. CinCPac War Diary, Jan44, hereinafter cited as CinCPac WD; ComCruDiv5 serial 0013, 15Feb44, 1-9; USS New Orleans serial 003, 8Feb44.
115. Admiral Montgomery's task force destroyed a total of 92 Japanese aircraft on the field or in the air at Roi during these strikes. Commander Carrier Division 12 serial 0060, 25Feb44, hereinafter cited as Montgomery SAR.
116. Montgomery SAR; and USS Alabama serial 018, 6Feb44.
117. CinCPac WD.
118. Movement schedules are from Commander, FifthPhibForce serial 00180 to CinCPac, 25Feb44, S-9. The diary extract is quoted in 4th MarDiv G-2 Report, 14.