Shortly before dawn 31 January the attack transports and fire-support ships of the Northern Attack Force reached station for their D-Day operations: securing key outlying islands adjacent to Roi-Namur and forcing passage into Kwajalein's great lagoon.
The initial objective of the day was to secure Mellu (IVAN) and Ennuebing (JACOB) Islands, southwest of Roi, in order that the intervening passes into the lagoon might be opened, and that the guns of the 14th Marines could go into position to support the next day's main assault.
Landings on both Mellu and Ennuebing were to be executed simultaneously at H-Hour (tentatively set for 0900) by the 1st Battalion, 25th Marines (Lieutenant Colonel Clarence J. O'Donnell) reinforced by Company D,1 4th Tank Battalion.2 Company B, 25th Marines, would seize Ennuebing--it was planned--from seaward, landing on Beach Blue 1, Company C of the same battalion, together with the scout company, would land over Blue 2 on Mellu, likewise from seaward. Battalion troops would proceed from their transports3 by LCVP to rendezvous with and transfer to the amphibian tractors which would take the leading waves in. Thereafter the mine sweepers, a covering fire-support unit, and the balance of the IVAN group would enter the lagoon for the remaining landings, while the 14th Marines' artillery went into position.
The morning, save for the rough sea, was typical of the Marshalls. An overcast, with promise of tropical rain squalls, filled the sky. A steady 19-knot easterly breeze kicked up spray in the faces of the Marines as the ramped LCVP's butted their way toward the area where rode the LST's preparing to disgorge their amphibian tractors.
A few minutes before sunrise, the fire-support units had reached station. Theirs was the task of final preparation for the main landings to come. Southeast of Namur steamed two battleships (Tennessee and Colorado), two cruisers (Louisville and Mobile), and a pair of destroyers. These would work over Roi-Namur and (if needed) Ennugarret. One destroyer each was assigned, from this same area, to bombard Ennumennet (USS Porterfield) and Ennubirr (USS Haraden). West of Roi, lay Admiral
Spruance's flagship, the heavy cruiser Indianapolis, together with one old battleship (Maryland), two light cruisers (Santa Fe and Biloxi), and two more destroyers. These ships would concentrate on Roi, which was still believed to be much the tougher of the two main objectives.4 Despite the good work of the carrier task force and the fast battleships, much remained to be done in the way of deliberate, short-range destructive fire. This was the task of Admiral Conolly's hard-hitting old battleships and escort-carriers, and at 0651 the first salvos cracked out.
Two miles out from IVAN and JACOB as the sun rose, the destroyer Phelps, primary control vessel, marked the lines of departure for both islands5 and conducted fire-support missions. Nearby rode the submarine chaser SC 997 bearing General Underhill, who would personally oversee the initial assault of O'Donnell's battalion.
As soon as they could get off carrier decks by first light, Navy torpedo planes and dive bombers were on their way toward Roi-Namur for the day's first air strike, which was duly executed at 0715 while the ships checked bombardment so as not to endanger planes.6
The Marines of O'Donnell's battalion had been up since reveille at 0330. Following a
GENERAL UNDERHILL AND COLONEL CUMMING directed the seizure of the Northern Landing Force's objectives on D-Day.
breakfast of canned fruit juice7--cold meat and coffee, they had boated in LCVP's at 0530, and were now, after their choppy wet run into the LST area, transferring to the tractors of Company B, 10th Amphibian Tractor Battalion, getting thoroughly drenched and occasionally seasick in the process. Furthermore, with the wind blowing steadily from the east, the rough seas could be expected not only to delay all boating and transfers, but especially the movement of the amphibian tractors toward the beaches. Amtracs, never the most speedy craft, could not make more than two knots (approximately half speed), in the face of this wind and sea.
While the IVAN and JACOB landing forces were thus occupied, the balance of the 25th Marines (reinforced) was likewise boating for its subsequent landings within the lagoon. Due to the multiplicity of objectives scheduled for D-Day, the supply of available amphibian tractors would only permit assault waves of the 2d Battalion, 25th Marines, to embark in these craft. The 3d Battalion would ride out the morning in LCVP's prepared to transfer later in the day to amphibian tractors released by the Mellu and Ennuebing forces. Under the best of circumstances this would be a complicated arrangement.
D-Day in the North
At 0800, not yet fully mindful of the potential delays already becoming apparent in lower echelons, Admiral Conolly announced by radio that H-Hour (the time for IVAN-JACOB landings) would be 0900, as previously planned; A-Hour (for Ennubirr and Ennumennet), at 1130; and B-Hour (for Ennugarret), 1600. Twenty-five minutes later the naval bombardment lifted and 17 aircraft from the escort carrier, Chenango, swept down to plaster the southwest point (WENDY) of Roi and the southeast point (SALLY) of Namur. While this strike was in progress the 4th Division air-observer, flying beneath a 1,000-foot ceiling, carefully scrutinized Mellu and Ennuebing, reporting no signs of enemy activity in the thick brush below.
By the time the air strike had lifted, it was apparent to the Control Officer at the line of departure in the Phelps that H-Hour would not be met. At 0835, he predicted a 15-minute delay; a few minutes later, he anticipated 20 minutes before the leading waves could land. By 0900, Admiral Conolly and General Schmidt, on board the Northern Attack Force command-ship Appalachian, realized that H-Hour must be delayed, and this was done at 0903 by a dispatch establishing the revised time as 0930.
At almost the moment of Admiral Conolly's signal postponing H-Hour, the armored amphibs of Companies B and D, 1st Armored Amphibian Battalion, churned across the line of departure past the Phelps, preceded by the specially armed LCI(G)'s.
Ten minutes later, when the amphibian tractors were 3,000 yards offshore, planes from the Essex screamed down on Ennuebing and Mellu, bombing and strafing the still-silent undergrowth of the two green islets. Roi, however, was not silent at this moment, for hardly had the air strike commenced than the twin-mount 5-inch battery on the northwest tip of Roi opened on Fire Support Unit Two. To this intermittent and fortunately inaccurate fire, the Indianapolis replied with several 8-inch salvos which quieted but, as subsequent events proved, did not destroy the Japanese battery.
As the air strike lifted the LCI(G)'s released their rocket-barrages with an unholy "whoosh," and a few seconds later the beach (Blue 1) was smothered in thudding, erupting clusters of smoke, sand and vegetation. At the same time a final strafing attack by fighters commenced, and both Mellu and Ennuebing received a ten-minute "dusting."
While the tractors bearing the 1st Battalion churned toward Ennuebing, Colonel Samuel C. Cumming, commanding the 25th Marines, radioed the landing team, "Good luck to first Marines to land on Japanese soil."8
The armored amphibs passed through the line of gunboats, firing as they advanced, and sheered off to port and starboard. One platoon [six LVT(A)'s] lay within 200 yards of the beach on each side of the boat-lanes down which the advancing tractors headed for Ennuebing. At 0952 the vehicles bearing the leading wave of Company B, 25th Marines, crunched over the coral reef, and for the first time in World War II U. S. Marines in assault had landed on prewar Japanese soil.9
While all this was in progress, events seemed to be conspiring against the Mellu landing by Company C and the Scout Company. Not only had the reef off Mellu proved more formidable than Ennuebing, but the heavy seas, heaped up by the wind, seemed enough to make the amphibian tractors hesitate.
Despite this, the LCI(G)'s loosed their rocket-barrages, and the LVT(A)'s formed to shell Beach Blue 2 as planned. At the same time, although the ubiquitous fighter-aircraft continued to buzz back and forth over Mellu to cover the mounting delay, fire from Roi began to be received in the vicinity of the Phelps and the assemblage of congregated boat-waves awaiting dispatch to the beach.
Realizing the difficulty and danger in attempting to mount Mellu's reef, the leading waves of the Scout Company were diverted by Colonel Cumming to a more suitable beach just inside Mellu Pass, on the southeast (lagoon) side of the island. Here, only three minutes after the first waves had beached on Ennuebing, the Scout Company reached Mellu. At the same time fighters continued strafing other parts of the island near Beach Blue 2, where Company C was vainly trying to cross the reef.
Offshore, after being peppered by what seemed to be light antiarcraft weapons, the Phelps was now under fire again from the 5-inch battery on Roi. The destroyer promptly replied, finally silencing the Japanese guns after an eight-minute duel.10
It was now past 1000, and the situation on Beach Blue 2 was evidently too much for the tractors carrying Company C, one of which had already capsized in the surf. Providentially at this time one of Colonel Cumming's staff reached Major Michael J. Davidowitch, 1st Battalion Executive Officer, and directed a landing on the southwest shore of Mellu.11 Inasmuch as the Scouts had built up a cross-island skirmish-line facing north, it was a simple matter at 1015 for Company C to land and form in support.
Within another quarter of an hour, as the Marine skirmish-line moved northward up the island, encountering slight resistance from what seemed to be no more than a platoon of the enemy, Lieutenant Colonel O'Donnell had landed and opened his battalion command post on the southeast beach (lagoon shore) of Mellu. By 1145, after a methodical mop-up, in which 17 enemy dead12 were counted and two prisoners taken,13 Mellu was secure.
Meanwhile, on Ennuebing even less resistance had been encountered, and within an hour after the initial landing word was flashed back that the island had been secured. Thirteen enemy dead were counted, and three prisoners were in the hands of Company B.
It was a matter of only a few minutes after news of Ennuebing's capture had reached General Underhill, that the 3d Battalion, 14th Marines was en route in LVT's to the beach. By 1145, the artillerymen were landing their 75mm pack howitzers (less two lost at sea in swamped LVT's).14 Shortly after the artillery battalion landed, the 14th Marines' command post was established on Ennuebing and steps were taken to establish centralized control over the battalion firing units.15
Colonel Cumming had landed on Mellu at 1045 and opened his command post in the vicinity of that already established by Lieutenant Colonel O'Donnell. By early afternoon the 105mm howitzers of the 4th Battalion, 14th Marines, had come ashore on Mellu, and the gunners were heaving their pieces into the position--areas previously selected on the north shore of the island.
Mellu (IVAN) and Ennuebing (JACOB) were now in the hands of the 4th Marine Division, and the first D-Day missions had been accomplished.
ALLEN, ALBERT and ABRAHAM16
The second stage of the Northern Landing Force's complex plan of operation on D-Day involved the assault and seizure of three small islands just southeast of Namur: Ennubirr (ALLEN), Ennumennet (ALBERT), and Ennugarret (ABRAHAM). With these in Marine hands it would be possible to emplace the remainder of the 4th Division artillery to support the main landings on Roi-Namur. Possession would also secure the right flanks of the boat lanes during the assault on that objective. Like the capture of Mellu and Ennuebing, this task was assigned elements of the IVAN Landing Group.
Ennubirr, wooded site of the main Japanese radio-transmitter, was the objective of the 2d Battalion, 25th Marines (reinforced), commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Lewis C. Hudson. Ennumennet, slightly smaller, lay just north of Ennubirr and contained no military installations of importance. It was held only by a security detachment of 10 Japanese, whose sole fortifications consisted of a fire-trench. This island was to be overrun by the 3d Battalion, 25th Marines under Lieutenant Colonel Justice M. Chambers, who would then on order cross the shallow strand separating Ennumennet from Ennugarret, the island immediately adjoining Namur. It was hoped that Ennugarret could be secured, prior to nightfall inasmuch as the enemy defenders were known to be few and lightly armed.
Again, due to the multiplicity of objectives, initially there were only enough amphibian tractors to embark the Ennubirr landing force, and even this unit was required to load one boat-wave (the eighth) in LCVP's. The Ennumennet and Ennugarret force was boated initially in LCVP's. This force was to remain afloat in the transfer-area outside the lagoon and then shift into amphibian tractors released
from the Mellu and Ennuebing landings. Both the 2d and 3d Battalion Landing Teams would then be guided into the lagoon as soon as Mellu Pass was swept, the landings on Ennubirr and Ennumennet proceeding simultaneously at A Hour. As may be readily realized, this boating and landing plan was necessarily complicated and subject to the operation of numerous variables beyond the control of the Marines themselves.
Two destroyers were assigned as fire-support vessels, one each for Ennubirr and Ennumennet, plus the same combination of LCI rocket and gunfire and armored amphibian fires as that which had been used against Mellu and Ennuebing. Fifteen-minute air strikes would hit both objectives prior to the landings.17
The 2d Battalion had been in reserve for the Mellu and Ennuebing landings and had, therefore, made a 0230 reveille and begun debarkation from the USS Sumter, in the dark at 0530. By 0720 the entire landing team had completed the wet and arduous transfer to amphibian tractors and was destined to spend an unhappy morning in the cradle of the ground swell.
At O830, following a more leisurely schedule, the 3d Battalion began boating in LCVP's from the USS Biddle. This landing team constituted the reserve for IVAN Landing Group as a whole and therefore would be the last battalion to land; as a result it was possible to defer debarkation until daylight.
For both units, however, the morning, though not marked by the urgency and confusion already dogging the Mellu-Ennuebing operations, presented problems. In the case of Hudson's battalion, by 1030 all radio communication was
NOT QUITE THE COMFORTS OF HOME! The Marines who seized the islands near Roi-Namur on D-Day set up their bivouac.
lost due to the drenching swells which splashed over and into the amphibian tractors. Chambers' battalion, although it had commenced debarkation promptly, was interrupted from 0950 until 1130 when the Biddle found it necessary to remain underway in order to maintain correct position. This halted debarkation and left part of the battalion in boats while the balance chafed on board ship.
By mid-morning, with Mellu and Ennuebing in Marine hands, Admiral Conolly ordered mine sweepers into the two channels and thence into the lagoon itself. As the stubbily built vessels butted their way in, carrier planes dropped down south of Roi-Namur to lay smoke which would obscure the vision of Japanese gunners on the main islands. By 1116 the sweepers had cleared Mellu Pass without finding any mines and were less than a mile from Beaches Blue 3 and 4, located respectively on Ennumennet and Ennubirr. In their wake followed the LCI(G)'s18 prepared to rake the two islets with 40mm and 20mm fire.
While the gunboats pounded Ennubirr and Ennumennet with flat trajectory automatic-weapons fire, the Intrepid's planes commenced bombing and strafing runs which culminated in a noon strike by six torpedo bombers (TBM's) and seven dive bombers (SBD's) on Ennubirr, coordinated with an attack by four TBM's and four SBD's on Ennumennet. Three minutes later the destroyers lying east of the two islands reopened fire with their 5-inch batteries.
The reinforced concrete radio station on Ennubirr could not stand up under this pounding, and already afire, its central portion caved in at 1219. At the same time numerous small fires added smoke and debris to the dust pall over the island.
A similar fate on a larger scale was befalling Namur, which was dotted with magazines and ordnance installations. As early as 1123 a 4th Division air observer reported a "huge fire" which obscured much of the island. The south beaches of Namur were then under fire from the battleships Tennessee and Colorado, while the heavy cruiser Louisville dropped 8-inch shells into the southeast corner, and the light cruiser Mobile covered the north coast with 6-inch projectiles. Then at 1245, and again at 1256, immense explosions rocked Namur's central explosives area, throwing skyward great columns of smoke, flame, sand, brush and rubble.
Meanwhile, Admiral Conolly, earning the soubriquet which was to follow him throughout the Pacific war, had at 1210 signalled Maryland, then bombarding Roi from the west, to "move really close-in" during the afternoon to fire on enemy batteries and blockhouses. From that moment on, the Admiral became "Close-in" Conolly, a nickname which he was to justify on future occasions when landing Marines.19
A few minutes earlier, however, at 1156, the destroyer Phelps, control vessel for all the D-Day landings, had received from Admiral Conolly an order to leave station as control vessel and enter the lagoon through Mellu Pass.20 In itself, this procedure was in accordance, with plan, inasmuch as it was desired to get a destroyer inside as soon as possible in order to support the small craft now sweeping and bombarding in preparation for the afternoon landings. Moreover, this sequence of events had been anticipated in the operation plan of Commander, Initial Transport Group, (Trans Div 26) which directed that should the Phelps quit station she should turn over primary boat control to LCC (Landing Craft, Control) 33, a vessel properly staffed and equipped with the radio gear necessary to handle the complete landing plan. But this procedure was not carried out. Simultaneously with Phelps being ordered through Mellu Pass, LCC 33 was directed to enter the lagoon through Ennuebing Pass.21 Thereupon, Phelps swung by SC 997, in which General Underhill was embarked, and announced by bull-horn, "Am going to support mine sweepers. Take over."22
As the Phelps then headed into Mellu Pass, this left General Underhill and SC 997 in something
of a predicament. The general and his staff were neither prepared nor supposed to control the boat-movements into the lagoon;23 and the little ship in any case did not possess the communication equipment with which to discharge any such task.24
Thus, with A-Hour only two hours away, General Underhill found himself confronted with a major, unexpected task, while the troops involved tossed aboard their LVT's and LCVP's awaiting Navy control personnel to lead them into the lagoon. Moreover, due to the failure of Transport Division 26 to mark the correct transfer areas in which the 2d and 3d Battalions were supposed to remain, both units were in fact off station,25 a matter further complicated by the fact that most of the amtracs of the 2d Battalion had been led off by their control officers in the wake of the Phelps as she departed.
The first task of Commander IVAN Landing Group was, therefore, to regain control of his two battalion landing teams and to assemble these in the correct transfer areas. The errant tractors of the 2d Battalion were returned after a chase in the Phelps' wake by SC 997. During this maneuver, the LCVP's of Lieutenant Colonel Chambers' battalion were also directed to follow Underhill to the transfer area, where a number of the amphibian tractors from the morning landings were awaiting orders. To these were shortly added 12 more tractors from Company B, 10th Amphibian Tractor Battalion, which had been rounded up by the energetic Chambers.
The balance of the LVT's for the 3d Battalion failed to materialize, however, due partly to losses in the Mellu-Ennuebing landings and partly to the defective control arrangements. The situation then as described by Underhill's report was as follows:
By about 1250, a few more LVT(2)'s had come to the transfer area, and I directed SC 997 to lead LT 3/25 and 2/25 through JACOB Pass to the Phelps . . . . Lt Col Chambers was encountered in his boat. He reported 1½ waves in LVT's. I directed him to make his attack with such LVT's and boats as he had available, and sent an order to the artillery battalion commander on JACOB (3d Battalion, 14th Marines) to send all LVT(2)'s there to the line of departure. A few arrived later . . . .
At 1305, under pressure of time and realizing that little was to be gained by further delay in the transfer area, General Underhill led the two landing teams through Ennuebing Pass while a succession of carrier aircraft buzzed in repeated strikes against Ennubirr, Ennumennet, SALLY Point on Namur, and tiny Obella (ANDREW), a minuscule islet south of Ennubirr.
The Phelps, now nearing station at the new line of departure, was in position to observe what slow work was being made of getting the landing teams into the lagoon. This was reported to Admiral Conolly, who had already sought General Underhill's advice as to the most suitable time for a new A-Hour. At 1315 the Attack Force Commander set this time as 1430. A few minutes later this was changed to 1500, a more realistic selection, and at 1342, the Phelps reached station for the afternoon assaults.
During the next half hour, as General Underhill's amtracs (from Company A, 11th Amphibian Tractor Battalion) churned to the line of departure, naval gunfire continued, mainly on Ennubirr where the Phelps had spotted what appeared to be a concrete pillbox. This was neutralized by a direct 5-inch hit. By 1420, as the assault waves of both battalions formed up behind the line, bombers and torpedo planes from the USS Cabot and Essex hammered
MARINES ON BOARD SHIP watch progress of IVAN Landing Group. (Navy photo.)
Ennubirr and Ennumennet again, and as the air strike lifted the leading waves of the 2d and 3d Battalions crossed the line of departure and headed for Beaches Blue 4 and 3 respectively.
As in the morning, these boat waves of amphibian tractors were preceded first by LCI(G)'s and then by armored amphibians of Company D, 1st Armored Amphibian Battalion. From this time on, the destroyer and LCI gunfire increased in intensity against the two islands. At 1446, the LCI(G)'s released their rocket salvos at the beaches, swept the islands with 40mm and 20mm fire, and then turned to port and starboard as the armored amphibians plowed past, firing their cannon. Three minutes later the fire-support destroyers, Haraden and Porterfield, augmented by Phelps, lifted fires from Ennumennet and Ennubirr while carrier planes formed overhead for the final strafing attack.
Three hundred yards offshore, the armored amphibians parted and the troop-carrying LVT's passed through, receiving scattered automatic-weapons fire from Ennugarret; at this moment the air strike swept down along the beaches, and at 1510, approximately one minute later, the first wave of the 3d Battalion ground through the coral shallows onto the sands of Ennumennet. Within five minutes the assault wave of the 2d Battalion had likewise landed on Ennubirr.
On Ennumennet, which was held by little more than a security-squad, Lieutenant Colonel Chambers' battalion made quick work of the enemy in the face of scattered small-arms fire which killed one Marine and wounded seven more. By the time his tanks had got in, approximately 1530, the assault companies had already pushed across the island, flushed ten Japanese (all of whom were killed), and Chambers had reported the island secured.
The 2d Battalion assaulted Ennubirr with Companies E and F abreast, E on the right with a zone which included the now almost-demolished radio station. This unit encountered no opposition, advanced rapidly and secured the ruins. Company F, however, advancing through the wooded and brush northern half of the island, ran into the Japanese defenders, about one platoon in strength, who had apparently taken to the woods during the shelling. Backed up by the attached light tank platoon (3d Platoon, Company A, 4th Tank Battalion), Company F attacked this position, and, after sustaining seven casualties, reached its objective. Twenty-four Japanese were killed.26
A secondary mission of this battalion had been to land one platoon from its reserve company (Company G) on Obella Island. At 1545, supported by five armored amphibs, this landing was accomplished without casualties or opposition (although, a few hours earlier, 40mm fire had been reported from here) and by 1628 Lieutenant Colonel Hudson could report that both Ennubirr and Obella were secured.
Meanwhile, as nightfall approached and it was evident that no serious opposition had developed on Ennumennet and Ennubirr, the assault of Ennugarret and the landing of the 14th Marines' artillery battalions became the top priority tasks.
Well prior to 1700 the artillery was on its way in, the 1st Battalion, 14th Marines proceeding to Beach Blue 4 on Ennubirr, and the 2d Battalion of the same regiment to Beach Blue 3 on Ennumennet. Both battalions were equipped with 75mm pack howitzers, boated one per amphibian tractor. Once the LVT's were ashore, they delivered the howitzers directly to battery positions previously selected from aerial photographs.27 By 2000 both battalions were in position and the only remaining duties were those of registration (which would be accomplished at dawn next day), and of building up the ammunition supply on Ennumennet and Ennubirr,28 a problem which involved repeated hauls during the night by the already overtaxed amphibian tractors.29
Ennugarret (ABRAHAM), it will be recalled, was to have been attacked on order at B-Hour (originally set as 1600) by the 3d Battalion, 25th Marines. In an effort to set this attack in motion,30 Colonel Cumming landed on Ennumennet at 1630 and conferred with Lieutenant Colonel Chambers31 as to the best means of accomplishing the mission before dark.
Chambers' problems had been aggravated by premature departure of virtually all the amphibian tractors which had landed his unit. These LVT's had not received orders which covered the contingency of their employment against Ennugarret.32 Moreover, the amtracs could not locate the Navy bowser boat33 from USS Epping Forest which had been ordered to meet them at Ennumennet with fuel. Consequently, after looking in vain for the missing bowser boat, virtually all of the LVT's and armored amphibians departed in search of the LST's from which they had been launched.34 An exception to this general withdrawal were the two command tractors which had landed Lieutenant Colonel Chambers and his headquarters; these remained with him on Ennumennet.
Added to Chambers' problems was the fact that neither air, artillery, nor naval gunfire support was available. Although it had been hoped that artillery on Ennuebing could be ready to support this attack, the 4th Battalion, 14th Marines had only just landed and could not fire. Commander Support Air refused a requested air strike, and at this time no direct support ship was assigned to the battalion for naval gunfire.35 This left Chambers in the position of having to assault a defended island over water without landing craft and with no support other than the weapons under his own command. Fortunately, the latter included three 75mm half-tracks of the Regimental Weapons Company which, together with a platoon of 37mm
antitank guns, had been attached to the 3d Battalion for this landing. In addition to these, the battalion had its own 81mm and 60mm mortars, as well as its machine guns.
As soon as it had been decided to attempt this, Lieutenant Colonel Chambers prepared for the attack, which was to jump off--if landing craft were available--at 1800, the most favorable stage of the tide.
During the hour-and-a-half remaining, the battalion secured ALBERT JUNIOR, a small islet 200 yards northwest of Ennumennet. No resistance was encountered here, but fire was received from Ennugarret at this time. Since this sandspit flanked the intended beach, the machine guns of the battalion were manhandled out from Ennumennet, set up and laid to support the assaults. Shortly afterward, two LVT's36 appeared off Beach Blue 3 and were commandeered by Chambers, thus doubling his force of these precious vehicles.
Meanwhile, despite small-arms fire, First Lieutenant Robert E. Stevenson had waded from Ennumennet almost to Ennugarret and returned to give his battalion commander a reconnaissance report. Thereupon Lieutenant Colonel Chambers set up every available weapon to command Beach Blue 5 on the south end of Ennugarret. He planned to risk the assault with a first (and only) wave of four amphibian tractors crammed with 120 officers and men from Company L. This force would seize a limited beachhead pending the return, by shuttle-trips, of the LVT's with the balance of the battalion.
At 1750 a preparation by mortars and the 75mm half-track, was laid on Blue 5. Ten minutes later, as the tractors shoved off, the 81mm mortars laid smoke on the intended beachhead, holding it under an impenetrable cloud until the crossing had been accomplished. Fortunately, it turned out that enemy resistance was light, and the Japanese made no attempt to hold at the water's edge. By 1830, all of Companies K and L had been ferried across to Ennugarret, and the attack had penetrated 250 yards inland, the enemy withdrawing in the direction of Namur. Six Japanese were killed, one enemy machine gun was captured, and the only reported casualty of the entire movement was one Marine wounded by a friendly aircraft which strafed the beachhead through an excess of zeal or confusion. At 1915 Ennugarret was under control. Mopping up continued, however, under intermittent fire from Namur and by the light of star shells from the supporting destroyers.
With Ennugarret in the hands of the Marines, the Northern Landing Force had completed seizure of all its D-Day objectives. Of the individual operations it must be admitted that they proceeded and succeeded despite, rather than in accordance with, plan.
Setting aside the more general origins, such as the enforced hastiness of planning and the newness of organizations, it may be observed that the primary sources of D-Day's troubles were:
Multiplicity of objectives, five of which had to be taken by one regiment during one day on a schedule with interdependent timing; this in turn required a scheme of maneuver which could only be a complicated one.
Faulty or inadequate communications, a product in part of the almost universal tendency of radio sets then mounted in LVT's to swamp out under high seas. Another factor here was the difficulty involved in setting up radio frequencies. Inasmuch as they had been unable to set the TCS radios on assigned frequencies while on the LST's, the LVT(A) crews attempted to do this while moving to the line of departure. This procedure, unavoidable at the time, was not conducive to good radio performance.
Failures of control (many of them in turn begotten by failures of communication), especially on the part of the boat-control personnel of Transport Division 26.37
Heavy seas and difficult reef conditions which imposed maximum strain on the whole landing control organization.
The then division chief of staff subsequently pointed out that what had occurred on D-Day was not totally unexpected:
The Commanding General and Staff of the Northern Landing Force were well aware that things might not go as planned on D-Day. In fact, the 4th Amphibian Tractor Battalion was withheld entirely on D-Day in spite of urgent requests from subordinate units in order that we would be sure to be able to land the 23d Marines on Roi on D-plus 1, either from the outside or the inside of the lagoon. In other words, it was considered that the mission could have been accomplished by the capture of IVAN and JACOB and the subsequent landing on Roi by the 23d Marines utilizing the 4th Amphibian Tractor Battalion, even if landings on the east side of the lagoon had not been possible on D-Day. This would have involved the subsequent capture of Namur by assault from Roi, with or without a landing from the lagoon.38
It is rare that a military operation proceeds exactly as planned, but the final test is whether the objectives were taken within an acceptable period and with minimum loss. It appears that this was accomplished on 31 January.39
Despite all these serious and annoying difficulties, however, the 4th Marine Division was ashore on its objectives, and D-Day, in terms of the missions accomplished and the timetable of the operation, had ended in success.
CECIL and CARTER40
In the early hours of 31 January two destroyer-transports, the USS Manley41 and Overton, approached Ninni Pass, which lies between the islets of Ninni (CECIL) and Gea (CARTER). Designated the Channel Islands Transport Group, the two APD's carried troops of the Southern Landing Force who were charged with the predawn seizure of those two islets. Close behind was the Advance Transport Group bearing the landing teams earmarked for Ennylabegan (CARLOS) and Enubuj (CARLSON).
The mission of securing Ninni and Gea, had been entrusted to the 7th Reconnaissance Troop, 7th Infantry Division, and Company B, 111th Infantry under the over-all command of Captain Paul B. Gritta, commander of the former unit. Both organizations were split into two groups for purposes of the operation. One-half of the Reconnaissance Troop and one-half of Company B were embarked for Ninni in the Overton, and the remaining elements of the two units were in the Manley, scheduled for Gea. At 0330, it was planned, the reconnaissance men would land by rubber boat, secure a beachhead and set up the signal lights. They would then cover the landing of the infantrymen of the 111th Regiment.42
As has already been seen from the difficulties which beset the Northern Landing Force's initial landings, such complex and tightly coordinated operations as the seizure of these tiny offshore islands do not always take place as planned, and here darkness further complicated the situation. It was 0341 (11 minutes past the scheduled landing time) before Manley and Overton were in position to lower boats. The LCVP's, carrying the infantrymen, were to tow the rubber boats, loaded with the reconnaissance men, and at 0530 these craft departed Manley for Gea.
At 0700 the rubber boats from the Manley rode up through the surf in one last leap, and the reconnaissance men found themselves on the beach at the south end of the island. Not a round had been fired, and surprise seemed complete. Twenty-six Japanese, quartered in a small barrack building, had comprised the garrison of Gea, serving, in all probability, as a harbor-entrance control detachment for the Pass.
Although no defenses of any importance had been put in, the little island (only 250 yards long by 100 yards wide) was densely wooded, a factor which slowed up the initial advance.
As the soldiers moved along a trail they spotted some Japanese and immediately opened fire. The defending enemy had entrenched themselves a short distance away and a fight developed with numerous grenades being hurled by the opposing forces. By the time this skirmish ended 20 Japanese had been killed. Two more were shot when the reconnaissance men conducted a sweep of the island, and four were captured.43 By 0948 the little island was mopped up and secured.
Meanwhile, the force scheduled to take Ninni had not been so fortunate, although it had departed Overton an hour earlier than the Gea group left Manley.
The rubber boats were hooked up to the LCVP's by tow lines. . . . After traveling about 3,000 yards, [Captain Gritta] looked behind to check the rubber boats and they were not there. Checking, he discovered that the radio operator in his boat had become excited when the Overton notified him we were 1,200 yards from shore. He [the radio operator] gave the signal for the rubber boats to cast off, which they did . . . [Gritta] had the LCVP he was in, turn around and locate the rubber boat he was to ride in. . . .44
Not a sound of hostile activity broke the silence. So low on the horizon as to be almost imperceptible, the shapes of Kwajalein Atoll's barrier islands could be discerned, and lights glimmered faintly on Kwajalein itself, still smouldering from the pounding it had received the day before.
The bearing on which the boats were supposed to steer in order to reach Ninni was 059°, or approximately east northeast; the heading actually made good, however, turned out to be nearer 015°, a course much to the north of that intended. To the northwest of Ninni lay Gehh (CHAUNCEY), and it was on Gehh's beach the soldiers unknowingly jumped when the first boats touched sand at 0500. Ninni was lightly held, if at all, whereas Gehh not only contained a resident garrison but the shipwrecked crew of a seagoing tug whiich had been beached during the preliminary strikes against Kwajalein. All told, at least 135 enemy were on this inadvertent objective.
Men in Gritta's boat, the first to hit the beach, set up a signal light to guide the remainder of the force, and by 0600 all troops were ashore. As soon as day broke the Reconnaissance Troop detachment began advancing across the island. Four Japanese were killed and two captured in isolated encounters, although one member of a 60mm mortar section was wounded and the mortar ammunition was abandoned. Upon reaching the southern end of the island, it was discovered that the beached tug on the lagoon shore of the island was occupied by Japanese, one of whom showed himself briefly and ducked back to cover before he could be captured or fired on. A wounded Japanese, lying amid a group of dead from the preliminary bombardment was discovered, however, and evacuated to the Overton.
While all this was in progress, it was becoming increasingly apparent to those on board the Overton that something was wrong. Finally, daylight showed that the troops were not on Ninni at all, but on Gehh.
"Viewed from many angles," reported the ship's commanding officer, "it looked, especially in the darkness, exactly like Ninni and Gea, instead of what it actually was, Gehh and Ninni."
As soon as this mistake became evident, the Overton notified both the infantry commander on Gehh and Admiral Turner. Since it was important that Ninni Pass be secured, at 0927 the Landing Force Commander ordered that the troops disengage as rapidly as possible, reembark and secure Ninni. Leaving a security detachment of the 111th Infantry with a machine-gun squad on the southeast tip of Gehh, the balance of the detachment reboated for a new landing, this time on the correct island.
At 1124 elements of the 7th Reconnaissance Troop landed on the northern end of Ninni and, without opposition, proceeded to work their way down the island's long axis (approximately 1,000 yards). Not a shot was fired, for Ninni was unoccupied by the enemy. At 1145 the island was reported secured.
Thus, a little more than two hours after Mellu (IVAN) and Ennuebing (JACOB) had fallen to the Northern Landing Force, Ninni (CECIL) and Gea (CARTER) were in the hands of the southern troops.
CARLOS and CARLSON45
At 0544, just before early dawn, the transports, LST's and fire-support ships with the Advance Transport Group,46 entered their assigned areas south, east and west of Kwajalein Island, whereupon Admiral Turner lost no time in making the traditional signal, "Land the landing force." H-Hour, he announced, would be at 0830, and all landings on Ennylabegan (CARLOS) and Enubuj (CARLSON) would be on the seaward beaches, which were respectively White 2 and Yellow 2.
The task of executing these landings had been entrusted to the 17th Infantry (reinforced), cornmanded by Colonel Wayne C. Zimmerman. The 1st Battalion of that regiment, under Lieutenant Colonel Albert V. Hartl, was to seize Ennylabegan, while the 2d Battalion (Lieutenant Colonel Edward P. Smith) would land on Enubuj. Being nearest to Kwajalein, the latter island had been selected as the position-area for the 7th Division Artillery. The 3d Battalion, 17th Infantry was boated in reserve on the Enubuj line of departure, and Company C, 767th Tank Battalion, was available in the LSD, Ashland.
Less than a half hour after Admiral Turner's signal had set the ball rolling, the fire-support ships of the Southern Attack Force were on station. South of Kwajalein itself lay the battleships Idaho and Pennsylvania and the heavy cruisers Minneapolis and New Orleans.
ARMY TROOPS inspect damaged Japanese power plant on Enubuj (CARLSON). (Army photo.)
D-Day in the South
Screening these larger ships and delivering 5-inch fires were five destroyers (USS Bailey,47 Frazier, Hall, Meade, and Halligan). Covering the eastern islands and northern end of Kwajalein were the battleship New Mexico and the heavy cruiser San Francisco. On the opposite (southwest) side of the V-shaped angle of the atoll, lay the battleship Mississippi, two destroyers, McKee and Stevens, and six LCI(G)'s (LCI(L), 77, 78, 79, 80, 336 and 437). This fire-support unit would cover the landings on Enubuj. Further still to the northwest, the destroyers Ringgold and Sigsbee, together with six more LCI(G)'s (LCI 365, 438, 439, 440, 441 and 442), were on station to support the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry, when it landed on Ennylabegan.
At 0618 the 14-inch guns of the Pennsylvania and Mississippi broke the dawn calm, and a few seconds later sand, brush, and palm-fronds churned skyward from the south end of Kwajalein as the massive salvos landed and D-Day's battle commenced. Meanwhile, as the LST's swung into the
transfer areas, amphibian tractor operators of the 708th Provisional Amphibian Tractor Battalion warmed up their vehicles prior to debarkation. The sea was choppy (but nothing like that being encountered by the Northern Attack Force), the breeze was brisk, and light showers played across the skyline.
At 0700 Ringgold opened fire on two small merchantmen northeast of Ninni, sinking them after 17 minutes of deliberate 5-inch fire. Within the half hour San Francisco, patrolling slowly off south Gugegwe, north of Kwajalein, had repeated the performance, scoring one 8-inch hit on a single merchantman within the lagoon.
Meanwhile, embarkation and transfer of troops had been proceeding slowly, due to delays of the same character, though not so aggravated, as those being experienced by the Northern Landing Force. In the predawn gloom, the LST's had difficulty locating the transports, and there was delay in movement of LVT's to the line of departure. Army amphibian tractor operators had looked to their own section-leaders for control, rather than to the Navy control boats and personnel of Transport Division 4.48 As the situation became apparent to Admiral Turner and Captain John B. McGovern, Commander of Transport Division 4, the former concluded his original H-Hour of 0830 could not be met, and announced a postponement to 0900, which in turn was further delayed until 0910.49
At 0810 the fire-support ships opened with full throat on the prelanding preparation. The New Mexico pounded Ebeye Island (BURTON) with 14-inch shells; Mississippi, Idaho and Pennsylvania smothered the formidable dual-purpose battery on the west end of Kwajalein with 14-inch and 5-inch fire, assisted by the 8-inch guns of Minneapolis' main battery. Another heavy cruiser, New Orleans, worked over the radio station and supporting installations on Enubuj. At the same time the destroyers McKee and Stevens commenced direct 5-inch fire on a number of pillboxes which had been located along the seaward beaches.
A HOWITZER OF THE 7TH INFANTRY DIVISION, positioned on Enubuj, places harassing fire on Kwajalein Island. (Army photo.)
At 0840 the naval bombardment of Kwajalein checked, and carrier aircraft raked the island from end to end. On their heels droned bombers which dropped sticks of bombs from 4,000 feet. Planes from the escort carriers swooped back and forth over Enubuj and Ennylabegan while the destroyers continued point-blank fire at pillboxes. At the lines of departure south of White and Yellow Beaches, the amphibian tractor waves and LCI(G)'s formed up and headed for Ennylabegan (CARLOS) and Enubuj (CARLSON).
As the gunboats came within 1,200 yards of the beaches, they released rocket salvos and parted to permit the leading waves of amphibians to pass through. In the Enubuj landing (2d Battalion, 17th Infantry) armored LVT's covered the flanks and front of the first wave. At Ennylabegan, armored amphibians were not considered necessary. From all LVT's, however, fire by machine guns or 37mm guns swept the beaches ahead.
At 0913 the tractors bearing the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry shouldered their way through surf to a poor beach, and soldiers disembarked without opposition50 on Ennylabegan, still
smoking and debris-covered from the rocket fire and strafing. The battalion first crossed the island and secured the northern end, then moved southeastward 3,000 yards to the opposite end. Light enemy small-arms fire was encountered, but by 1310 the commanding officer could report that Ennylabegan was secured with no U. S. casualties, 16 enemy dead and seven prisoners.
Two minutes after the Ennylabegan landing the first wave of amtracs bore the 17th Infantry's 2d Battalion ashore on Enubuj without initial resistance. With the support of rockets and armored amphibians the battalion established a 300-yard beachhead on the island's northwestern tip by 0930. The front lines moved forward against meager opposition, and four light tanks were landed to provide additional fire power. By noon the battalion gained the southeast tip of Enubuj, and 20 minutes later the island was reported secure.51 Twelve Japanese had been killed, and 21 prisoners (largely Korean laborers) were in the hands of the 2d Battalion, while only one U. S. soldier had been wounded.
Almost an hour earlier, when Army front lines had passed Chain Pier,52 it was plain that the area already taken as well as the light resistance encountered would permit landing the 7th Division artillery (31st, 48th, 49th and 57th Field Artillery Battalions, all 105mm) on Enubuj. This was accordingly ordered. By 1250 the artillery-filled DUKW's were bobbing clear of parent LST's, and two hours later the four battalions were all on shore and going into position. Registration commenced at 1355 upon completion of the initial surveys. At the same time the forward echelon of the 7th Division's command post under Brigadier General Joseph L. Ready, assistant division commander, was landing over Yellow 2. Only the 155mm howitzers of the 145th Field Artillery Battalion remained to be landed by LCM's (due to their greater weight and bulk, which precluded use of DUKW's). Two of these batteries were ashore by 1700, and the third moved into position after darkness.
With the advance division command post established ashore at 1800 and the landing of the 17th Infantry's reserve battalion, the Enubuj operation was complete and the D-Day objectives of the Southern Landing Force attained.
Majuro, Bloodless Conquest53
A glance at a map of the Marshall Islands will show that Majuro Atoll (SUNDANCE) lies in the eastern portion of the group and in the midst of the more important atolls which were being by-passed. (See Map 1, Map Section.) The early seizure of Majuro was important because of its intended use as an advanced air and naval base.
The Majuro lagoon is about 24 miles long by five miles wide and extends generally east and west. On the north and west lie long stretches of reef devoid of islands. Most of the south side of the atoll consists of Majuro Island (LAURA) which curves, snakelike, for 21 miles with a width not exceeding 300 yards until the extreme western part.
The other important islands, all at the eastern end of the lagoon, are Dalap (SALOME), Uliga (ROSALIE) and Darrit (RITA). All are heavily overgrown. The entrance to the lagoon lies on the northern side, something over halfway to the westward, flanked by the islands of Calalin (LUELLA) and Eroj (LUCILLE).
It will be recalled that seizure of Majuro Atoll had been assigned to the Majuro Attack Force (Task Group 51.2), under command of Rear Admiral Hill. The landing force consisted of the 2d Battalion, 106th Infantry, reinforced by the V Amphibious Corps Reconnaissance Company (Captain James L. Jones) and commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Sheldon. It was planned that the Marines would land, locate and fix the enemy defenders, and that the infantry landing team would be committed as and if necessary.
Admiral Hill's fire support group consisted of the heavy cruisers Portland and the destroyers Bullard and Kidd. Two escort carriers, USS Nassau and Natoma Bay, were to provide air support of all types.
Majuro (SUNDANCE) Atoll
MICHAEL MADISON, an English-speaking native, rendered valuable assistance to VAC Recconnaisance Company on Majuro.
On 23 January 1944, the destroyer-transport, USS Kane, departed Pearl Harbor carrying the VAC Reconnaissance Company. Kane remained in the main convoy until 30 January, when she parted company to proceed singly toward Majuro. The APD arrived off the northern passage that night and disembarked the detachments (4th Platoon and Mortar Platoon) which were to reconnoiter Calalin and Eroj, the islands commanding the entrance channel. Despite high seas, the scout group under Lieutenant Harvey C. Weeks landed from rubber boats on the eastern tip of Calalin at 2300. Thirty minutes later a native was discovered who reported 300-400 Japanese on Darrit Island.
The reconnaissance units then proceeded across Calalin and reached the main native settlement at 0100 on 31 January, an hour after D-Day officially began. Questioning of the natives here disclosed that the Japanese force had been withdrawn some months before. It came to light, however, that one Japanese naval warrant officer and a handful of civilians were on Majuro Island. During this time a detail from the Mortar Platoon had proceeded to Eroj Island on the west of the channel at 0230 and found it unoccupied.
The remaining three platoons and the headquarters of the Reconnaissance Company, meanwhile had proceeded on board the Kane to Dalap Island where an initial landing was made on the southwest tip at 0330. Four rubber boats capsized in the high surf, but no one was lost and the bulk of the equipment was saved. Patrols pushed northeastward rapidly without flushing out any Japanese and subsequently worked across the reefs to Uliga with the same result. On Uliga, however, was found an English-speaking half-caste, Michael Madison, who confirmed the report that there were no Japanese forces on Majuro.
Communications had been far from satisfactory. Consequently the Attack Force Commander (and thus the fire-support ships) were not immediately aware that the earlier report of Japanese forces on Darrit was erroneous.
At 0637 naval surface and aerial bombardment of Darrit began, but at 0645 all ships were ordered to cease firing at the nonexistent enemy. The proposed air strike was cancelled, which did not prevent a spotting plane from USS Portland from strafing the 2d Platoon as it crossed the reef to Darrit, luckily without casualties. No Japanese or natives were located on Darrit, but more than 20 frame buildings in good condition, a narrow gauge railroad, construction equipment, a concrete seaplane ramp, and a considerable amount of building materials of various character were found.
Fortunately the brief bombardment had done them no damage. The island itself was covered with coconut palms and thick undergrowth.
There now remained, however, the task of capturing the few Japanese reported on Majuro Island. Landings were made by the 4th Platoon at the western part of the neck just where the island begins to bulge. Natives led the Marines to the houses occupied by the Japanese. Apparently having gotten wind of what was afoot, the alarmed inhabitants (who were in the midst of a chicken dinner, complete with wine) rushed out to conceal themselves in the bush. A search of the houses produced two U. S. .50-caliber machine guns with ammunition, which had been taken from the wreck of a B-24. The natives, still helpful, assisted a detail to dispose itself so that within an hour Japanese Naval Warrant Officer Nagata was seized without resistance, but his companions escaped into the bush.
Meanwhile, another detachment had been dispatched in the Kane to Arno Atoll, lying some ten miles to the east. Although the atoll did not figure in assault plans, it had been reported that the crew of a crashed U. S. plane was there and the scouts were directed to rescue the grounded airmen. A landing was effected just after midnight 1 February. A stray native was found who reported four Japanese traders and no military installations on the island. It was also learned that the surviving crew members of the crashed U. S. plane had recently been removed to Maloelap. Although the Japanese could not be located, their possessions yielded considerable intelligence material. The patrol could find no evidence of military installations and at 1150 reembarked in the Kane and returned to Majuro.
While the Marine Reconnaissance Company was so busily engaged, Admiral Hill's main task force was approaching Majuro. On D-Day (31 January) after daylight, the channel was swept and permanent buoys planted at the lagoon entrance in order that the atoll might be employed as an anchorage at the earliest possible date.
After bombardment had ceased on Darrit, the 2d Battalion, 106th Infantry, (embarked in Cambria) anchored off the island at 0953.
ADMIRAL HILL AND LIEUTENANT COLONEL SHELDON directed the bloodless conquest of Majuro.
Lieutenant Colonel Sheldon, the Landing Force Commander, was immediately advised that no enemy were present and that debarkation of the Army landing team could be deferred pending word that it might not be needed at Kwajalein. When this was clear, on D-plus 1 (1 February), the troops were finally landed. On the same day, the first LST's arrived and began to unload garrison and base-development troops and equipment on Uliga and Dalap Islands. As a precaution, however, radio silence was still maintained.
On D-plus 2, units of the Fleet began to arrive, including the seaplane tender USS Casco and patrol planes. On D-plus 3 more than 30 ships lay in the anchorage, with others due to arrive in considerable numbers. Work had already begun on the Dalap airfield.
On 4 February 1944, Admiral Spruance announced that the capture and occupation phases of Majuro had been completed. The island commander, Captain Edgar A. Cruise, USN, took over the bloodless prize at 0600 that day.
When darkness descended over Kwajalein Lagoon on the night of 31 January, the forces of the V Amphibious Corps had successfully accomplished all objectives. Nine enemy islands (plus Majuro Atoll) were in the hands of
American forces. In the north, held by Marines were Mellu, Ennuebing, Ennumennet, Ennubirr and Ennugarret. The 7th Infantry Division, in the southern landings, had carried out its missions of seizing Ninni, Gea, Ennylabegan and Enubuj, in addition to fighting an action on Gehh. At all these initial objectives troops were now hard at work emplacing artillery, manhandling ammunition, siting infantry weapons and preparing local defenses. Still afloat, but equally busy with final preparations, were the assault units for the main landings. During the day, in both attack forces, these had been transferred to LST's as a preliminary to boating them in amphibian tractors.
After dark, (in the north) and during the day (at Kwajalein Island), final reconnaissance of the main landing beaches had been effected.
In the Northern Attack Force zone, because of the proximity of Ennugarret to Namur (no more than 460 yards from shore to shore) it was quickly realized that the former would provide a direct fire base against the latter. During the night infantry weapons of the 25th Marines plus those of the Division Special Weapons Battalion were concentrated along the north shore of Ennugarret to bear on Namur, and thus support the 24th Marines' assault. By morning the following emplaced firepower glowered menacingly from the north beaches of Ennugarret: five 75mm half-tracks; 17 37mm antitank guns; four 81mm mortars; nine 60mm mortars, and 61 machine guns. Under the direction of Lieutenant Colonel Chambers, whose battalion had seized the island, all weapons were duly coordinated, laid in and registered.54 While the weapons were being emplaced during the night intermittent fires were exchanged between the two islands, but it seemed that the Japanese were more afraid of an attack in the darkness than bent on provoking further trouble.
THE FIFTH FLEET found Majuro lagoon an excellent anchorage. (Navy photo.)
KWAJALEIN ISLAND after its capture by 7th Infantry Division Troops. (Air Force photo.)
In the Southern Attack Force zone, the battleship New Mexico and the destroyer Murray cruised slowly off the southeast angle of Kwajalein, interdicting and illuminating areas believed critical to the Japanese defenders, while the battalions of the 7th Division Artillery fired harassing concentrations until dawn.
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (2) * Next Chapter (4)
1. Under the organization in effect at this time the missions now performed by a division reconnaissance company were then assigned to one company (scout company), D, within the division tank battalion.
2. These units were elements of the IVAN Landing Group, which components were listed in Chapter II. This group was dissolved at 0700 on D-plus 1.
3. 1st Battalion, 25th Marines was embarked in USS Warren, and the scout company, following standard amphibious reconnaissance practice, in a destroyer-transport, USS Schley.
4. Historical Division Interview with Colonel Homer L. Litzenberg, 10Jul45, hereinafter cited as Litzenberg I. Information on fire-support plan from Commander, Amphibious Group 3 Operation Order A157-44, hereinafter cited as OpnOrder A157-44.
5. This ship, whose role was destined to occasion considerable discussion, was also flag of Fire Support Unit 5, composed of herself and six of the new landing craft, infantry (gunboat), designated LCI(G)'s which were to support the landings and cover the mine sweepers. Commander, Destroyer Squadron 1, in Phelps, thus had not only his normal duties to perform, but those of fire-support, covering dispatch of boat-waves and supervision of the line of departure. On the bridge of this destroyer, 11 voice-radio circuits were being manned that morning. Litzenberg I.
6. This and following chronological narrative of IVAN-JACOB landings and associated operations, represent a synthesis of the following sources, unless otherwise indicated: 4th MarDiv SAR, enclosure (A), 6-8; 4th Marine Division Journal, D-Day, hereinafter cited as 4th MarDiv Jnl; Action Report, 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, 16Feb44; Action Report of Commander Destroyer Squadron One, 25Feb44, hereinafter cited as ComDesRonOne SAR.
7. Styled "battery-acid" in the lingo of the Marines.
8. Col Cumming erred in his enthusiasm. Although his unit was the first to assault Japanese soil, as will be seen later in this chapter elements of the VAC Reconnaissance Company had already landed on Majuro Atoll the night before.
9. ". . . immediately preceding the landing [on Ennuebing], Capt Ed Asbill, commanding officer of Company B . . . obtained the signatures of a great many men and officers on an American flag which he promised would be the first to fly over prewar Japanese territory. I saw him late in the afternoon of D-Day and he told me that he raised this flag on the stub of a coconut tree immediately after his company landed on Ennuebing. . . ." Ltr LtCol Arthur E. Buck, Jr., to CMC, 21Jan53, hereinafter cited as Buck.
10. The 6-inch battery of the USS Santa Fe also worked over this enemy battery at 1009. USS Santa Fe serial 0034, Action Report on bombardment of Roi Island, 16Feb44.
11. Historical Branch interview with MajGen Samuel C. Cumming, 24Nov52, hereinafter cited as Cumming.
12. At least eight of these were suicides. Ltr LtCol M. J. Davidowitch to CMC, 26Nov52, and Buck.
13. "Having determined from two prisoners that the Japanese forces, except for small detachments, had been withdrawn from the outlying islands to Roi and Namur, I proceeded to the line of departure for the attack on Ennumennet and Ennubirr Islands. . . . On reaching the LD I boarded the SC 997 and reported to Gen Underhill the conditions on and previous information received in the capture of Mellu . . . ." Cumming.
14. Ltr Maj Alfred T. Brown to CMC, 7Feb53.
15. Ltr Col Randall M. Victory to CMC, 9Dec52.
16. Unless otherwise cited this account is a synthesis of the following sources: 4th MarDiv SAR, S-10; Report of Operations, Landing Team Two, Combat Team 25, 20Feb44, 1-6; Report of Operations, D and D-plus 1 Day, 3d Bn, 25th Marines, 9Feb44, 1-3, hereinafter cited as 3/25 SAR; ComDesRonOne SAR; Report of Operations, 10th Amphibian Tractor Bn, FLINTLOCK, 17Mar44, hereinafter cited as 10th Amtrac SAR.
17. OpnOrder A157-44, Annex A, 2, and Annex G, Appendix 3, 4.
18. One gunboat, LCI(G) 450, grounded in the uncharted waters of the pass and remained there until the next day.
19. 4th MarDiv Jnl, D-Day, 6.
20. ComDesRonOne SAR, 4.
21. Ltr VAdm Richard L. Conolly to CMC, 26Nov52, hereinafter cited as Conolly.
22. Report by BrigGen J. L. Underhill to CG 4th MarDiv, 29Feb44, hereinafter cited as Underhill.
23. "This was a totally unexpected event [departure of both Phelps and LCC 33] and had to be handled by emergency measures. Gen Underhill was called upon to assist in restoring order in the LVT formations. . . . he was most ably assisted by the officers in the control LCVP's and other small naval vessels as directed by me. . . . This was to prove the only case in my experience before or later where I had difficulty controlling the craft making the landings. . . . However, the plans were made to work and that is the final test of a command and its organization." Conolly.
24. SC 997 possessed four radio sets (two TCS, one SCR-608 and one combined TCE transmitter and NC100 receiver) as contrasted with the 11 aboard Phelps which were assigned to control missions alone. Further, due to causes not known, neither TCS had received prior test before D-Day, and one was found to have faulty transmitter and power-supply, while the other in turn developed a defective receiver. The SCR-608 had been preset for use on naval channels of no service to General Underhill for command purposes, and the TCE combination was the only set which could be used. Underhill, 6.
25. Ibid., 3.
26. "While we were advancing through the jungle growth on the northern half of Ennubirr Island, we came upon a group of five or six Japanese soldiers [alive] who were sitting in a circle. Each one had a string tied around his toe and the trigger of his rifle apparently preparing to commit hara-kiri [sic]. . . " Ltr. LtCol H. V. Joslin to CMC, 27Jan53.
27. "The approach to positions was as seen from air photos, and only one battery had to change its front about 50 yards from the area planned . . . " Ltr LtCol William McReynolds to CMC, 6Jan53, hereinafter cited as McReynolds.
28. FLINTLOCK Operation, 14th Marines, report submitted by that unit to CG, 4th MarDiv, undated, 1-2.
29. "The actual landing of artillery . . . was not entirely successful because of the failure of the amphibians to meet our expectations from a logistic standpoint . . . Our convoy took a position several miles to the southwestward of the lagoon entrances and the northeast wind caused the loss of fuel before the tractors could accomplish their assigned task . . . There was not enough ammunition ashore for the artillery to use . . ." Rogers.
30. ". . . we did not know at the time the enemy strength on the island [Ennugarret] and it was considered dangerous to leave it on our flank for the main landing on 1 February. Furthermore, if it had not been taken that evening there was nothing to prevent occupation during the night by considerable Japanese forces, thereby making the main landings more difficult because of the island's proximity to the right flank of the 24th Marines, and because its subsequent capture would have cost more American lives." Ltr MajGen W. W. Rogers to Dir Publnfo, 1Oct48, hereinafter cited as Rogers II.
31. Details regarding the Ennugarret assault have been obtained from a Historical Section interview with Col Justice M. Chambers, 6May48.
32. "We never received orders to include the subsequent operations of LtCol Chambers' battalion on the afternoon of D-Day." Croizat.
33. A bowser boat is equipped with a fuel tank and used for the refueling of boats, seaplanes or amphibious vehicles.
34. OpnOrder A157-44, Annex "L", and report by 3d Platoon Leader, Company A, 11th Amphibian Tractor Battalion, 19Mar44. Running out of fuel while afloat was a far more serious mishap for the amphibian tractor of those days than may be supposed, since the pumps then installed in those vehicles were power-operated, without manual auxiliary, and an LVT out of gas very soon became an LVT sunk.
35. PhibGrp3 SAR, encl (B), 7, states, "Final landing on Dog Day were made on Ennugarret with direct support from Fire Support Units One and Five," but Col Chambers explicitly states that no naval gunfire support was available or employed in this assault.
36. These had been assigned the artillery, one of them being the command LVT of the executive officer, 2d Bn, 14th Marines. They were given up without protest, however, when the occupants learned of the urgent need of the vehicles. McReynolds.
37. For a detailed analysis of this, see Underhill in entirety, as well as the Memo from ADC to CG, 4th MarDiv, 24Mar44, 1-3.
38. Ltr MajGen W. W. Rogers to CMC 1Dec52.
39. Rogers II.
40. Principal sources for this account are: Task Force 51 Operation Plan A6-43, 17Jan44; Field Order #1. 7th InfDiv, 6Jan44; TF52 OpPlan: LtCol S. L. A. Marshall, Island Victory, Infantry Journal Press, 1945, 2-19; V Amphibious Corps G-3 Report of FLINTLOCK Operation, 18Feb44, hereinafter cited as VAC G-3 Report, encl (A), 1-10; 7th Div Report; USS Overton Marshalls Action Report, 8Feb44, 1-18.
41. The USS Manley, well known to Marines of the prewar Fleet Marine Force, was a veteran flush-decked destroyer which had been converted on Marine Corps recommendation for duty as a fast, small transport (APD). The Manley served as the prototype U.S. destroyer-transport. She had supported the Fleet Marine Force in virtually every prewar landing exercise of importance and was based at Quantico over long periods.
42. The 111th infantry was not a part of the 7th Division, although attached for this operation. It was a separate, nondivisional infantry regiment destined for garrison duties at Kwajalein once the atoll had been secured.
43. Ltr MSgt Paul B. Gritta, USA, to CMC, 6Mar53, [Note: Should be CAPTAIN Paul B. Gritta. -- HyperWar] hereinafter cited as Gritta.
45. Sources for this section, unless otherwise cited, are the same as those given in footnote 40.
46. The Advance Transport Group consisted of Trans Div 4, including the USS Zeilin, Ormsby, President Polk, Windsor, Virgo and Ashland, and of Tractor Group 1 which included eight LST's and three LCT's.
47. Named for Major Kenneth D. Bailey, posthumous winner of the Medal of Honor on Guadalcanal. To some Marines it seemed more than coincidence that the destroyer Bailey should be supporting the battleship Pennsylvania, in which Major Bailey had served prior to the war.
48. Commander Transport Division 4 Operational Report, Marshall Islands, undated, 3 and 8.
50. VAC G-3 Report, 3.
51. 7th Div Report, 9, states that Enubuj was secured at 1122. The 1220 time is taken from VAC G-3 Report, 4, which seems more accurate inasmuch as not all the island was occupied at the earlier time.
52. A 200-yard finger pier which jutted into the lagoon.
53. Sources for this account are Operation Report, V Amphibious Corps Reconnaissance Company, FLINTLOCK; VAC SAR, 10; TG 51.2 Rpt.
54. 3/25 SAR, 2.