Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith's operation order for 22 June directed the continuation of the attack to the north, with O-5 as the day's objective. (See Map 14.) Objective line O-5 included the village of Laulau (southwestern base of Kagman Peninsula) on the right, Mt. Tapotchau in the center, and extended over to the western coast about 1,000 yards south of Garapan--an optimistic bite to be sure. Possession of this line would guarantee observation over the bulk of the island. But it would also bring up the problem of covering a wider frontage, for Kagman Peninsula, jutting from the east coast for a distance of 4,000-odd yards, expands the island at that point to its maximum breadth.
In addition to the greater yardage to be covered, the northward drive presented terrain difficulties; Mt. Tapotchau's aquiline peaks and Kagman Peninsula's craggy expanses defied normal attack patterns. Frontages would have to be reduced and, to effect this, more troops committed to the attack. With this in mind, General Holland Smith ordered the 27th Infantry Division (in NTLF reserve) to reconnoiter routes to the zones of the two Marine Divisions for possible commitment. The 105th Infantry would remain on its assigned mission--directly under NTLF control--of clearing Nafutan Point of Japanese.
The attack hour was set for 0600, following a 10 minute preparation fired by the two Marine artillery regiments (10th and 14th), plus reinforcing fires from the 27th Division Artillery and the XXIV Corps Artillery: a total of 18 battalions.1
Intermediate Objective O-4A
General Schmidt determined that an interniediate objective would be desirable for his 4th Marine Division. Objective O-5 was 4,000 yards away across difficult terrain--a long, hard drive without pausing for reorganization. Accordingly, objective O-4A, approximately 2,000 yards to the front (see Map 14), was designated. From this point, the attack to O-5 would be launched. Formation for the attack was: 24th Marines on the right (along the coast of Magicienne Bay), 25th Marines on the left, and 23d Marines in reserve.2
Following the preparatory fires, Colonel Franklin A. Hart's 24th Marines moved out at the specified hour (0600). Attacking along the coast of Magicienne Bay with the 1st and 3d battalions abreast, 2d in reserve, the regiment made steady progress. But soon the broken terrain presented special problems. Local detours, necessitated by small cavities or declivities which dipped to the jagged rocks of the coast line, slowed the regiment's movements
and greatly complicated the task of maintaining contact. At one moment adjacent units would be firmly tied in. At the next, one flanking unit would disappear from view and a gap would be created. In spite of these digressions, however, the 24th Marines reached O-4A at 1330.3
The 25th Marines' zone of action was sufficiently narrow, initially, to allow for an attack in a column of battalions, with Chambers' 3d Battalion leading, followed to the left and right rear, respectively, by the 1st and 2d Battalions. Four easily recognizable ridges to the 25th Marines' front were prescribed as intermediate objectives and labeled O-A, O-B, O-C and O-D. These were invaluable throughout the day's action as reference points, plus affording points for checking control and coordination.
Jumping off in the attack at 0600, the battalion forged ahead to O-A by 0630. While it paused for a quick reorganization, a force of Japanese attacked, particularly on the battalion left in the zone of Company K. During the course of the close-in fight, 90 Japanese were killed and a Japanese tank destroyed. Company K lost three company commanders, the first killed, two successors wounded. When the skirmish subsided, a new company commander was sent from battalion, reorganization was effected, and the attack resumed.
Jumping off from O-A at 0740, the battalion met only light scattered resistance in its move to O-B. As a gap had begun to develop between the 3d Battalion's right and the 24th Marines' left, the 2d Battalion, 25th Marines, was committed between the two. In the face of tightening opposition, provided principally by Japanese machine guns and rifles, the regiment reached O-C by 1400.
As the 3d Battalion moved for O-D (coincident with division objective O-4A), an intra-battalion contact problem developed. Company F, on the left, was tied in with the adjacent battalion of the 2d Marine Division (1st Battalion, 29th Marines), while Company I clung to elements of the 2d Battalion, 25th Marines, on the right. The strain on the center was too great. The reserve Company (L), therefore, moved into the middle of the 3d Battalion zone to strengthen the line. Thus left without a reserve company, Lieutenant Colonel Chambers requested that an additional company be attached to his unit. In compliance, Company B was moved up at about 1515 and at 1600 was ordered into the line on the right flank.
Just south of O-4A the 25th Marines encountered severe Japanese machine-gun fire, emanating from a thick wood just south of the objective and from caves in the slopes of the ridge itself. Company L, in the center of the 3d Battalion zone, found itself caught in a deluge of fire converging from two directions. Forward movement was temporarily impossible, and the company withdrew.4
At 1515 a Japanese ammunition dump exploded near the 3d Battalion's observation post and claimed, among others, Lieutenant Colonel Chambers as a concussion casualty. The executive officer, Major James Taul, then took over the unit and, following a reorganization, ordered a resumption of the attack on O-4A. Again, however, well-located enemy positions in the slopes of the hill stopped the attack as soon as it began. Lengthening shadows of late afternoon indicated the advisability of digging in for the night. Although the day's objective had not been reached, approximately 2,000 yards had been gained in the 25th Marines' zone.5
Shortly before noon contact between the 24th and 25th Marines had become increasingly tenuous, and General Schmidt ordered the division reserve (23d Marines) to move into the front between the two assault regiments. After marching about 2,500 yards to get into
position, the regiment attacked at 1500 in column of battalions on an 800-yard frontage: Lieutenant Colonel Haas' 1st Battalion leading, followed at 800-yards by the 2d Battalion.
The 3d Battalion, 23d Marines, designated division reserve, was required to move to three different assembly areas during the course of the day. At each area, the unit prepared itself for the night, digging foxholes, planning all-around defense and clearing fields of fire. And each time, just as the men finished their positions and started to relax, an order arrived to move to a new area. Although this was normal for reserve units, it invariably brought forth grumbles. To personnel unfamiliar with the over-all situation (the "big picture"), the frequent moves appeared useless and annoying.
Fighting especially troublesome terrain, the 23d Marines made slow progress. Only light enemy resistance from riflemen and machine gunners was encountered, but contact difficulties and time lost trudging up, down, around and through the rugged ground formations, limited the speed of advance. Progress ceased at a point about 200 yards south of objective O-4A, where the unit dug in.6
But stopping for the night brought no end to the 4th Marine Division's problems of contact and coordination. In the 24th Marines' sector it was necessary to move the reserve 2d Battalion into a separation between the other two battalions. Even with the advent of this unit, however, a gap existed throughout the night. Fortunately, the Japanese did not exploit the weak point.
In a move designed to facilitate internal contact, the left company of the division (K, 25th Marines) shifted to its right rear to tighten front lines. This shift broke physical contact with the right of the 2d Marine Division (1st Battalion, 29th Marines). Into this hiatus, Company C, 25th Marines, was moved, and by dark the two divisions were firmly tied in again. Company A, 25th Marines, occupied a position in rear of Company C to strengthen the junction further. In the words of the 4th Division action report: "Contact [was] well established and defenses coordinated for the night."7 (See Map 14 for progress lines.)
To Tipo Pale's Summit
Meanwhile, General Watson's 2d Marine Division also made important gains. Attacking in conjunction with the 4th Division, its main effort was made on the right, in the 8th Marines' zone. All three infantry regiments were in the lines, from left to right: 2d, 6th and 8th. Owing to the 2d Marines' advanced position along the beach, however, it was not possible for that regiment to move farther to the north without stretching the division's lines to the breaking point.
Looking to the north of the 6th and 8th Marines' lines, a nightmare of sheer cliffs and precipitous hills could be observed, separated in criss-cross fashion by deep gashes. Excellent defensive positions were afforded the Japanese by these ground formations, but more important, since the Japanese did not fully exploit the defensive potential of this area, was the challenge to contact and coordination. Dense foliage which cloaked the region often limited visibility to a few feet.
The 8th Marines attacked with two battalions abreast: 1st Battalion on the left and the 1st Battalion, 29th Marines, on the right. Initially the movement was reasonably rapid; but, as the advance reached rougher terrain on the lower approaches to Mt. Tapotchau, both battalions were forced to commit reserve companies to maintain contact. About noon it was necessary to move the 3d Battalion, 8th Marines, into the center, between the two assault battalions. Persistent Japanese mortar fire, showing no favoritism, hopped from unit to unit, constantly keeping pace with the advance.
By 1300 the 8th Marines reached a ridge on Mt. Topatchau's mid-slopes, about 1,200 yards from the peak. (This yardage was measured in map-distance--as the crow flies--not as the Marines would be forced to move.) At this point enfilading machine-gun fire from a hill on the right flank (in the 4th Marine Division zone of action) stopped the forward movement. Late in the afternoon a company of the 4th
SUPPLY in the rugged inland portions of the island was often accomplished by man-handling. Here Marines of the 8th Regiment commence the long carry from truck-head to front lines around Mt. Tapotchau.
Division (K, 25th Marines) captured the hill, and Company B, 29th Marines, made contact with it there.
Because of the previously-described tightening of the 25th Marines' lines, however, Company K pulled to its right rear, leaving Company B, 29th Marines, alone on the hill. Getting supplies to the latter was very difficult, involving hand-carry over a perilous route. In addition, the company received almost constant small-arms fire, principally from the open flank. After about two hours Lieutenant Colonel Tompkins, commanding the battalion, ordered Company B to withdraw and secure contact with the 4th Division flank. This was done when Company C, 25th Marines, moved into the lines in the manner previously related.
As the 8th Marines dug in for the night, three of its four battalions, with a total of eight companies forward, were committed to the line. The 2d Battalion remained in regimental reserve near the division right flank.
The 8th Marines' operations around the Tapotchau massif presented a logistical challenge of no mean proportions. As well as observers and patrols could determine, no road or trail for supply and evacuation existed within the regiment's zone of action. Reconnaissance by the regimental-4 Section, however, located a break in the cliff which, after expansion by a bulldozer, served as a main (though makeshift) supply route for several days. Since ground reconnaissance revealed nothing in the way of a better road leading into the Mt. Tapotchau area, Colonel Wallace, commanding the 8th Marines, requested that an observation plane be made available so that his executive officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jack P. Juhan, could be flown over the area in question, attempting to locate a suitable supply route as well as to get a closer look at the terrain. The flight was scheduled for the next day
The 6th Marines' advance was governed by the necessity of maintaining contact with--and thus regulating its speed on--the 8th Marines. Lieutenant Colonel Nutting's 2d Battalion, 2d Marines (still attached to the 6th Marines), was in position on the right of the regimental line, in contact with the 8th Marines. By 0700, advances by the latter unit permitted Nutting's battalion to move forward, but after a short time it became apparent that further advances would overextend the 6th Marines' lines. Colonel Riseley, therefore, ordered the movement held up until the 8th Regiment came abreast. By 1230 this had been accomplished, and the 6th Marines moved forward again. During the morning several isolated, by-passed pockets of resistance within the regiment's zone were mopped up by the Scout-Sniper Platoon.
The day's first resistance developed as the 6th Marines' advance moved upward on Mt. Tipo Pale's eastern slopes. Tipo Pale, a wooded eminence of about 1,100 feet, overlooked the island's western beaches. From its topmost pinnacle, the mountain slopes gradually to the west and south, but to the north and east it dips precipitously to heavily-wooded ravines. There had been some cause for optimism on the previous day when patrols had climbed to the crest without encountering any Japanese. But now, when the coordinated attack moved into the area, the hill suddenly came alive and bristled with defenses. Whether the hill had been deserted of Japanese when U. S. patrols moved thereon or whether the enemy had lain doggo awaiting more choice targets is not indicated in documents consulted.
Company K, 6th Marines, moving along the road with plans to climb Tipo Pale's southeastern slopes, ran unexpectedly into trouble when that route entered a small finger ravine--infested with enemy riflemen and machine-gunners--on the hill's lower approaches. Veering to the left, Company K found the going much easier and swept unopposed to the top. The Regimental Scout-Sniper Platoon, continuing its mopping-up tasks, endeavored to clear the cantankerous trouble-spot developed by Company K. It found more than it could handle. A series of narrow ravines hemmed by steep bluffs housed a number of automatic weapons, making movement into this area suicidal. Under the fusillade directed at them, the Scout-Snipers withdrew.
The remainder of the 3d Battalion (including Company F of the 2d Marines and Company F of the 6th Marines) moved to the summit of Tipo Pale, using the route blazed by Company K, and by 1400 had commenced consolidation and readjustment of the lines. From the newly-won positions atop the hill, the Marines could observe a company of the 2d Battalion, 2d Marines, as it attempted to clear the same trouble-point that had denied movement to Company K and the Scout Snipers. As before, the enemy positions were well protected and so located as to afford covering fire one to another. After destroying several Japanese emplacements and making slight progress, the company was forced to retire under a hail of cross-fire. Enemy in this area remained active for another two days, finally pulling out before being surrounded.
Meanwhile, the 3d Battalion's lines on Tipo Pale had been consolidated, proper frontage assumed, and the advances to the north continued. At first, progress was moderately fast, but when Marines attempted to move down from Tipo Pale they discovered an almost vertical drop. Using the one trail which existed within the zone, Company K attempted the descent but, thus canalized, was stopped by automatic weapons and rifle fire from its front. A few further probes into this area revealed that the Marines were facing an unusually well-defended strongpoint. By 1800, when the order to dig in was issued, little progress on the reduction of this trouble-spot had been made. To establish contact with the 8th Marines, it was necessary to bend the 6th Marines' lines back along the eastern slopes of Tipo Pale. This expansion demanded commitment of all three companies of the 2d Battalion, 2d Marines, facing it more nearly to the east than to
the north. There the unit prepared defenses.9
The 2d Marines, as mentioned before, already had occupied O-5 for several days. Since the whole maneuver pivoted on this regiment, no movement forward other than patrolling could be initiated. In preparation for the unit's eventual advance into Garapan, the systematic levelling of the town by artillery, air and naval gunfire continued. As a defensive measure, the 2d Marines laid a mine field along the beach road leading into the left flank. This precaution was taken in respect for the enemy capability of launching a full-scale counterattack along the coastal road. The value of this obstacle was never tested by a Japanese thrust, however.10
The 1st battalion, 106th Infantry (attached to the 2d Marine Division), swept the Susupe swamp area from north to south. Beginning at 0830 and finishing at 1345, the battalion moved through the marsh, killing 15 Japanese and taking two wounded prisoners. Losses to the battalion itself amounted to two killed and four wounded. After completing its task, this unit was released from 2d Division control and reverted to NTLF reserve.11 Though the sweep was well conducted, it neither cleaned out all of the swamp-dwellers nor prevented other Japanese from moving to the swamp following successful infiltration of the front lines. More was to be heard from the enemy in Susupe swamp.
Commitment in the Center
Major General Ralph Smith's 27th Division accomplished the shifts of position ordered by NTLF, the 165th Infantry pulling off Nafutan Point and moving into the division assembly area northwest of Aslito Airfield. Colonel Bishop commenced adjusting the lines of his 105th Infantry preparatory to seizing the point. In the afternoon of the 22d, however, General Holland Smith returned to his original plan of leaving one battalion and one light tank platoon for cleaning out the Nafutan area. The unit designated for this mission was the 2d Battalion, 105th Infantry, and the mop-up was to begin at dawn on 23 June.12
The remainder of the 27th Division would pass "through elements of the 4th Marine Division within its zone of action," and:
attack at King hour [1000, 23 June], making its main effort initially on its right. Seize Objective O-5 and on Division order, advance and seize Objective O-6. It will assist the 2d Mar Div by rapid advance and by fire and maneuver, on call, in the vicinity of the boundary between these divisions. RCT 106 reverts to control of the 27th Inf Div at 0600, 23 June.
The prescribed zone of action of the 27th Division would place it in the center, between the two Marine divisions, in the process reducing the 4th Marine Division's frontage by passing through the left regiment (25th Marines).13
The 27th Division's attack plan placed the 165th Infantry on the right of the division front and the 106th Infantry on the left. In reserve would be the 105th Infantry (less its 2d Battalion, operating under Northern Troops and Landing Force control in the Nafutan Point area). That General Ralph Smith misunderstood the status of the 2d battalion, 105th Infantry, is indicated by the inclusion of a mission for it in paragraph 3. d. of his field order for the day. Holland Smith considered that, inasmuch as the battalion had been placed under NTLF control at this time, there was neither cause nor justification for the 27th Division to assign it a mission.
In this connection, however, it is important to point out that the mission thus assigned was not at variance with the order from NTLF. Both instructed the 2d battalion to "continue
operations to mop up remaining enemy detachments in Nafutan Point area." As to the time the "operations" were to begin, the NTLF order specified "at daylight," while the 27th Division order failed to mention the time.14 This may have been an inadvertent omission rather than an intentional change. The fact that gave the NTLF staff and, particularly, General Holland Smith the greatest concern was that a subordinate unit was receiving orders from two sources. And, where those orders varied in even the slightest detail, there was a possibility of confusion.
To forestall any further misunderstanding on the exact status of the 2d Battalion, 105th Infantry, the Corps Commander sent a message to the 27th Division Commander at 1411, 23 June: "2d Battalion, 105th by my op order 10-44 not under your tactical control and should not be included in your tactical orders. Please take steps to rectify."15
Owing to the lateness of the afternoon and unfamiliar nature of the road network, General Ralph Smith decided to undertake the movement to the line of departure at dawn of 23 June rather than during darkness. In the meanwhile, he ordered the commanding officers of the 165th and 106th Infantry Regiments to reconnoiter their zones and positions. The 106th, which had been in an assembly area a day longer, made a complete reconnaissance, but the 165th, freshly withdrawn from Nafutan Point, was frustrated by the coming of darkness.16
Night of 22-23 June
Along the entire front, the sentence from the 8th Marines report applied: "The night was unusually quiet." By D-plus 7, a night disturbed by only a few rounds of Japanese mortar fire or an infrequent blast from am enemy rifleman, could indeed be classified as "unusually quiet." And yet, on closer inspection, men got killed and wounded that night. And for them, there was never a noisier night.
Four pugnacious Japanese leaped into the foxhole of Sergeant Major Gilbert L. Morton, acting platoon leader in Company K, 25th Marines. Rather than endanger friendly troops by firing, Morton used his carbine as a bludgeon. Marines from nearby foxholes joined the spirited brawl and killed all of the intruders in a matter of minutes. During the fracas, one of the enemy struck the sergeant major over the head with a rifle butt, but the blow was not fatal.17
Japanese artillery became suddenly active during the night. Commencing shortly after midnight, enemy pieces (estimated as 75mm, 5- and 6-inch) in the vicinity of Mt. Tapotchau, opened up on the assembly area of the 106th Infantry and firing positions of the 14th Marines. The latter retaliated with fires on areas suspected of concealing the enemy guns, but the regiments' flash teams failed to spot the enemy firing positions.18
Just before midnight Japanese artillery firing from Tinian shelled Green Beach. This fire ceased when Battery B. 531st Field Artillery Battalion, opened with a vehement rebuttal. (This battery was the only one laid for firing at Tinian at the time.) Although damage to beach installations was negligible, LST 110, which was beached and unloading supplies, was holed at the waterline. One compartment of the LST was flooded by the shell hole, and steering gear and electrical wiring were damaged.
Just after the shelling from Tinian had subsided, Japanese aircraft appeared over Saipan anchorage. Three raids by three to five planes each developed within the next two and one-half hours. The only loss was sleep; inaccuracy of Japanese bombing, as well as of ships' antiaircraft gunfire, made it a bloodless performance.19
On the morning of 22 June, Major General Iketa, chief of staff of the Japanese 31st Army, sent a situation report to headquarters of the 29th Division located on Yap:
About two companies of enemy have advanced into valley west of Hill 28520 south of foot of Mt. Tapotchau. In the Laulau Bay area about four or five enemy tanks have appeared in front of our positions. In the enemy positions south of Garapan there are three lines of barbed wire. Naval gunfire is as insistent as before.
We have finally completed consolidation of all units. A part of the Homare [43d Division] staged a night attack on Hill 16321 west of Tsutsuuran last night but results are not known. [See page 124.]
In a message addressed to his assistant chief of staff, to the vice minister of war, and to the 39th Division's commanding general, Iketa summarized the situation regarding unit commanders:
Colonel Oka (CO Mixed Brigade) is believed to have died in breakthrough at Charan Kanoa, dawn of the 18th. Colonel Arima (CO 9th Expeditionary Unit) wounded in battle, hospitalized. Colonel Goto (CO 9th Tank Regiment), whereabouts unknown since night of 16th. Believed to have died in battle. Colonel Koganezawa (CO 7th Engineers) missing since morning of 19th, believed to have died in battle. Lieutenant Colonel Nakajima (CO 3d Independent Mountain Artillery) wounded, hospitalized.
In a later message, the voluble general estimated Japanese combat strength as follows:
Homare units [43d Division]--four battalions infantry (two battalions have not yet participated in the battle); 13 field artillery pieces; Mixed Brigade--no combat strength; Former Expeditionary Force--one-half infantry battalion; other infantry units--organized strength about one battalion; tanks--two companies; Army Artillery--Done: Anti-Aircraft--about one battery; Machine Guns--about one company; Army Engineers--organized strength about one company. The personnel is comparatively strong and the Division (including attached units) numbers about 9,000. For other units although they number about 6,000 in personnel, their fighting ability is reduced by lack of weapons.
To the 50th Infantry Regiment located on Tinian, General Iketa issued instructions to shell Aslito Airfield "at a time when the enemy planes are concentrated there." Plans to reinforce the beleaguered Saipan garrison are indicated in his message to the 29th Division:
Until we break the enemy air and sea superiority which he has completely at the moment, transportation of troops from Guam is extremely difficult. Furthermore we are investigating the possibilities of transport of small units from Tinian under cover of darkness.
Keeping other units informed of the Saipan activities consumed a great portion of Iketa's time. His report on the evening of 22 June revealed determination and hope while at the same time admitting that the enemy had made substantial advances:
The enemy [6th Marines] in vicinity of Hill 230 has attacked our positions on the east side of the same hill. This has been repulsed. The enemy [8th Marines] south of Hill 34322 is infiltrating through our positions accompanied by tanks and it is not known at present whether we can hold this hill. Division contemplates smashing the aforesaid enemy tonight.23
But the "aforesaid enemy" had other plans.
The 19th Army Fighter Squadron (P-47's) landed on Aslito Airfield during the day and assumed responsibility for the combat air patrol. This squadron, part of the 318th Fighter Group of the Seventh Air Force, was joined on 23 June by the 73d Squadron, bringing the total of rocket-firing P-47's at Saipan to 111. These squadrons were launched from the CVE's Natoma Bay and Manila Bay, respectively, 60 miles off Saipan. Admiral Turner elaborates on the work of the Army P-47's as follows:
. . . the P-47's were very extensively used for troop support . . . they could make many more flights per day from the field than could planes from a carrier; they were available for extensive personal briefing by troops; and they could carry more bombs and more rockets than could carrier planes.24
In addition to the P-47's, two flights of P-61 "Black Widows" of the 6th Night Fighter Squadron flew to Saipan from Oahu, arriving in time to take part in an air defense mission
MOVING UP on the morning of 23 June are men of the 27th Division. Later in the day these soldiers encountered a stubborn foe in Death Valley.
on 24 June. This was the first appearance of these planes in the Central Pacific.25
During daylight of 22 June, combat air patrols from the escort carriers shot down three Japanese bombers within a 45-mile radius of Saipan. In the late afternoon, a single Japanese torpedo plane sneaked undetected over Saipan anchorage at a very low altitude and launched a torpedo into the Maryland. The projectile exploded on the port side, causing serious damage and reducing the battleship's speed to 10 knots. The next day, she proceeded to Pearl harbor for repairs.26
D-plus 8--23 June
The Introduction to Death Valley
The NTLF operation order for 23 June set 1000 as the attack hour. With the arrival of the 27th Division in the center of the Corps front, the 4th Division's zone of action would be narrowed. This would allow the latter to pull the left regiment (25th Marines) into reserve and to swing the attack out on Kagman Peninsula.
The 27th Division's movement to the line of departure, an uphill hike of about four miles, commenced at daylight. The march was complicated, however, by the 165th Infantry's taking the wrong road and ending up on the same road as the 106th Infantry.27 This situation caused delay and some confusion; but, after a conference between Colonels Kelley and Ayres, commanders of the 165th and 106th, respectively, the difficulty was ironed out and the 165th moved cross country to its assigned route.
The 165th Regiment proceeded to the front and accomplished the relief of the Marines in its assigned area at about 1000.28 Lieutenant Colonel McDonough, commanding the 2d Battalion, recommended to Colonel Kelley that his unit wait for the 106th to come abreast before moving out in the attack. Colonel Kelley concurred in this recommendation, directing McDonough to "await the arrival of the 106th and to push his attack when contact with the 106th had been made."29
Finally, at about 1055, the 106th Infantry jumped off, joined by the 165th when the two units were abreast. The first-named regiment complained that the line of departure was held by the enemy and that the 4th Marine Division lines (through which it was to pass) were located approximately 400 to 500 yards short of the line shown on the NTLF Operation Overlay.30 One Company (K, 25th Marines) had, in fact, been lulled back to its right rear on the previous evening to tie in the night defense; but, otherwise, 4th Division troops remained on the most forward ground taken on 22 June.
The nature of the terrain facing the 27th Infantry Division was to have an unusually vital
22 June 1944
bearing on the unit's operations for many days to come. This terrain is well described by the historian attached to the division at Saipan:
The whole mountain [Tapotchau] was stoutly defended by the enemy, but the situation on the two flanks of it was somewhat unusual. On the west side of the peak, the ground sloped sharply to the sea. On the east, Kagman Point side, it dropped in sheer cliffs to a bench or plateau, some six hundred feet below the summit. This plateau, a saddle-shaped piece of land, was some twelve hundred yards across and bordered on the east by a low chain of hills covered with heavy foliage. Beyond them the ground sloped down to Kagman Point on the east or dropped off abruptly to Magicienne Bay on the southeast. The cliffs of Mt. Tapotchau and the chain of hills made a corridor out of the plateau. In the fighting which ensued this corridor was named Death valley by the men who fought there and the chain of hills came to be known as Purple Heart Ridge.31
The 165th Infantry, attacked with two battalions in assault, one in reserve. The 1st Battalion, in contact with the 23d Marines on the right, moved forward without serious trouble, but the 2d Battalion met frontal fire from Death Valley, and, more seriously, from the high ground to the left within the 106th Infantry's zone. Because of this, the 165th's 23 June advances averaged only about 400 yards.32
The 106th Infantry, attacking with battalions in column, 3d (Lieutenant Colonel Harold I. Mizony, USA) leading, experienced considerable trouble. From the cliff line on the left flank, Japanese riflemen and machine gunners, hidden in caves, delivered accurate fire on the soldiers moving below them. A further slowing factor was a Japanese ammunition dump which was exploded by weapons of the 3d Battalion's Antitank platoon. The spray of shell fragmentation continued for about two hours, completely immobilizing the left assault unit (Company L).
Following a sound pummeling of the cliff positions by medium tanks at 1315, the attack moved out, only to be reversed by the enemy "cavemen." A second effort on the heels of a thundering artillery preparation fired by the 105mm howitzers of the 104th Field Artillery Battalion resulted in similar failure, and at the end of the day the 106th Infantry's front remained on the line of departure. No physical contact existed with the 2d Marine Division, moving atop the cliff line on the left. Late in the afternoon, Company F, 106th Infantry, was dispatched on a mission of gaining physical contact with the Marines; but, though this unit successfully tied itself to the 2d Division flank, the situation was not materially improved, inasmuch as by then the company was out of contact with the remainder of the 27th Division. More detail on this commitment is contained in the narrative of the 8th Marines on 23 June.
At 1715, the 2d Battalion, 106th Infantry (Major Almerin C. O'Hara, USA), was ordered into the lines on the left of the 3d Battalion, and in this formation the 106th Infantry dug in for the night. The day's gains were negligible.33
The 27th Division's 23 June activities were extremely disappointing to General Holland Smith, who, following a mid-afternoon staff conference, summoned Major General Sanderford Jarman, USA, Saipan Garrison Force commander, to discuss the situation. Of this meeting, Jarman writes:
. . . He [Holland Smith] outlined to me the many things that had happened with respect to the failure of the 27th Div to advance. He indicated that this division had suffered scarcely no casualties and in his opinion he didn't think they would fight. He asked my advice. I could give him none because I didn't feel it was up to me to make any recommendation or make any decisions for him. He stated that if it was not an Army division and there would be a great cry set up more or less of a political nature, he would immediately relieve the division commander and assign someone else. After discussing the matter with me he asked me to go see General Ralph Smith, the Div Commander and see what I could do in helping this division to move forward. I immediately proceeded to the Hq. 27th Div and waited until General Smith returned at about 1845. I found that General Smith had been up to the front lines all afternoon and was thoroughly familiar with the situation. I talked to General Smith and explained the situation as I saw it and that I felt from reports front the Corps Commander that his division was not carrying its full share. He immediately replied that such was true; that he was in no way satisfied with what his regimental commanders had done during
the day and that he had been with them and had pointed out to them the situation. He further indicated to me that he was going to be present tomorrow, 24 June with this division when it made its jump-off and he would personally see to it that the division went forward. I explained my interest in the matter was that I was senior Army commander present and was anxious to see that the Army did its job as it should be done. He appreciated the situation and thanked me for coming to see him and stated that if he didn't take his division forward tomorrow he should be relieved.34
Operations at Hill 600
The 4th Division's 23 June plan provided for an attack with two regiments abreast, 24th Marines on the right along the beach and 23d Marines on the left; the 1st Battalion, 23d Marines, would constitute the division reserve. Objective O-5A would be seized initially, followed by the move to O-6 (including all of Kagman Peninsula).
The division launched its assault at 1000 as scheduled.
The 23d Marines, attacking with battalions in column, Dillon's 2d Battalion leading, advanced rapidly over rough terrain against machine-gun and rifle fire from Hill 600. Approached from the south, Hill 600 presented an extremely steep slope; and, in the words of the battalion commander, "It was all you could do to climb it, let alone fight up it." The number of Japanese defending the height was not great, but the area was admirably suited for defense and, for about 30 minutes, the fight was close and vicious. Hand grenades passed back and forth as in an overgrown, uncontrolled game of "hot potato."
Despite their struggle against gravity and an obstinate foe, Dillon's Marines seized the peak and set up a hasty defense against counterattack. Atop the hill were the bodies of several men identified as belonging to the 3d Battalion, 24th Marines. These were probably casualties from a patrol which had moved well forward of the front lines on the previous day. Among them was a radio operator, who had managed to destroy his SCR 300 before succumbing.
From its newly-won position, Dillon's battalion had an unimpaired view of the whole of Kagman Peninsula. This surge had been executed without benefit of contact with the 27th Division on the left; and, when it was apparent that the latter was still some distance to the rear, General Schmidt ordered the 23d to hold up its advance until Army elements had tied in.
Though the peak of the hill was securely in the hands of the 2d Battalion, the battle continued. The hill's northern slope, cloaked in thick vegetation, was alive with Japanese soldiers. Dillon endeavored to strip them of their concealment by burning the area with flamethrowers, but the efforts were largely unsuccessful. Throughout the remainder of the day and during the night the grenade pitching continued.35
While the 23d Regiment worried about its open left flank and tried to achieve contact with the 27th Division, Colonel Hart's 24th Marines drove along the coast of Magicienne Bay. Rothwell's 2d Battalion, on the right, made fast progress, hampered only by flanking fire from the southeastern slopes of Hill 600. By midafternoon it had pushed a salient to objective O-5. The left assault battalion (3d), however, was retarded by the necessity of dragging its inland flank to maintain contact with the 23d Regiment. The 1st Battalion followed the echeloned assault units as regimental reserve. Results of the day's activities in the 24th Marines' zone were good on the right, perforce retarded on the left.
All in all, the speed of the 4th Division's 23 June advance was considerably delayed by the Army unit's late arrival. Contact was finally established with the right element of the 27th Division (1st Battalion, 165th Infantry) by bending the 3d Battalion, 23d Marines, back along the western slopes of Hill 600.36
Colonel Batchelder's 25th Marines, when passed through by the 27th Division, reverted to NTLF reserve. The regiment moved to Hill 500, 3,000-odd yards to the rear, and established a perimeter defense around it. This was
the first day of several to follow during which the depleted 25th would remain in general reserve. Lieutenant Colonel Chambers, a concussion casualty on the previous afternoon, returned to resume command of the 3d Battalion.37
". . . Focal Points of Combat."
The 2d Division's 23 June operation order called for a continuation of the pivoting movement on the 2d Marines, with the 6th and 8th Marines seizing O-5.
The 8th Marines began its advance at 1000 except on the right, where the 106th Infantry's late arrival made forward movement impractical. In response to Colonel Wallace's request of 22 June, the 8th Regiment was provided with an observation plane from VMO-2 to search for routes of supply and evacuation in the Tapotchau area. The observer, Lieutenant Colonel Juhan, regimental executive officer, discovered a road along the mountain's lower slopes which had not been visible to ground reconnaissance. News of this was gratefully received, as the route would be helpful in solving the critical logistical problems that faced the regiment. Other points disclosed by the flight were: the only approach to the top of Mt. Tapotchau appeared to be the ridge along the division right boundary, and advance along this ridge would be possible only after seizure of a high, rocky cliff formation dominating it from the northwest.
The 8th Marines' left and center (in the zones of the 1st and 3d Battalions) advanced slowly against light resistance but difficult up-and-down terrain. By 1130, because of the inability of the right flank to move, the advance was held up. The 1st Battalion, 29th Marines, on the right of the 8th Marines' front, bent every effort to locate and contact the 106th Infantry; but at 1345, when there was still no sign of that regiment, General Watson ordered the 8th Marines to continue the attack without relation to the 106th. Colonel Wallace in turn ordered the attack forward and moved Chamberlin's 2d Battalion, 8th Marines, into position behind the 1st Battalion, 29th, to protect the right flank. Major Chamberlin immediately dispatched a Marine patrol into the 27th Division's zone in yet another attempt to establish physical contact between the two divisions. And, again, the patrol returned without being able to locate units in that zone.
After resumption of the attack, the 1st Battalion, 29th Marines, moved rapidly and seized the cliff that dominated the route to Mt. Tapotchau. On the left, however, Hays' 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, ran into a strong point of about 30 Japanese riflemen and six heavy machine guns. The Japanese, dug into the walls of a ravine overlooking the 1st Battalion's zone, were well prepared to present a formidable challenge to any advance through the area. With admirable understatement, the battalion action report described the reduction of the strong point as "difficult going." Throughout the remainder of the day, all available weapons were concentrated on the strong point, but the area was still in enemy hands as darkness fell.
In the late afternoon, Major Chamberlin led a squad-sized patrol into the 27th Division's zone in an effort to gain contact. This time at last he was able to locate the command post of the 2d Battalion, 106th Infantry, where he discussed the situation with the battalion commander (Major O'Hara). Pointing out that it would be desirable for one Army company to return with him in order to tie in with his battalion, Chamberlin further reasoned that it would then be easier for two companies of the same battalion to establish contact than it had been for the two divisions. The Army officer agreed in principle but felt that a smaller unit would do as well. At this juncture Major General Ralph Smith, then in the process of touring his front lines, appeared on the scene. After listening to Chamberlin's suggestion, General Smith concurred and ordered that a company return to the Marine lines with Chamberlin.
At about dusk Chamberlin came trudging back with a long file of soldiers--Company F, 106th Infantry. Although this company was inserted in the line on the right flank to assist in protecting this exposed area, the situation otherwise was not materially improved, since
the company was then out of contact with the rest of the 27th Division. Company F remained atop the cliff with the Marines for several days, performing all assigned missions in an excellent manner. Because of separation from its parent command, the company drew upon the Marine unit for supplies.
As the 8th Marines dug in for the night, the right boundary rested on the ridge line which fell abruptly to a deep gorge (called "Death Valley" by men of the 27th Division). In tying in the night's defenses, it was necessary to commit all four battalions of the 8th Marines to the lines; the three assault battalions faced generally north, while the 2d Battalion bent back along the ridge, facing toward the exposed eastern flank. To assist further in the task of refusing and protecting this wing, a 37mm gun platoon of the Regimental Weapons Company was used in the ridge line-gorge area with guns pointed east.
The most practicable route for Japanese tanks into the 8th Marines' area was a narrow road entering from the right rear. To prevent enemy use of this road, a bulldozer was parked, blade down, at the narrowest point. In this position, it blocked tank advance down the road, while the terrain on either side denied movement around it. A vital (unidentified) part of the motor was removed to prevent the Japanese from driving the bulldozer clear of the area, and the machine remained an effective road block throughout the night. In the morning it was a simple matter to replace the motor part and use the bulldozer for its normal tasks. This ingenious employment was continued during the several days that the 8th Marines remained in the immediate area.
Regimental patrols operating north and northeast of the lines destroyed one small enemy patrol and observed two others. From this Japanese activity, it was feared that the enemy was aware of the gap that existed between the 8th Marines and the 106th Infantry. All hands were alerted to the possibility of Japanese moves through this area, and preparations were made to stop any thrust.
Late in the day, two platoons of the 2d Division Reconnaissance Company were attached to the 8th Marines. Colonel Wallace, in turn, sent them to join the 1st Battalion, 29th Marines, with which they remained until 5 July.
The 8th Marines' logistical problems were temporarily lessened when a road, spotted by Lieutenant Colonel Juhan on his OY flight earlier in the day, was reached by assault units. Immediately, a bulldozer began carving a lane through a rugged ridge to connect with the newly found supply route. Even with the improvement, however, supply and evacuation would remain great problems in the Mt. Tapotchau region for days to come. The logistical situation would get worse before it got better.38
Soon after the 6th Marines launched its 1000, 23 June, attack, elements of the right flank battalion (2d Battalion, 2d Marines) were pinched out by the reduced frontage. At 1100 all of the latter unit had been relieved from the lines except Company F, which remained attached to the 6th Marines and occupied the extreme right portion of that regiment's lines. The rest of the 2d Battalion, 2d Marines, moved to an assembly area in division reserve and in the afternoon reverted to parent control for the first time since D-Day. In a related move, the 2d Battalion, 6th Marines, which had operated as part of the 2d Regiment since 16 June, returned to the 6th Marines.
The 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, on the regiment's left (pivot) flank, did not advance during the day. Like the 2d Marines (farther to the left), the positions were already forward to such a point that further movement would impose a severe contact strain. For this reason, the day was spent in patrolling the projected zone of advance. This paid dividends; one Japanese mountain gun and several machine guns, together with their crews, were destroyed in the foothills southeast of Garapan.
The only significant advance by the 6th Marines occurred in the zone of Major Rentsch's 3d Battalion. Here the main difficulty experienced was from the rough terrain which canalized forward movement to a single narrow
trail. This condition prohibited rapid travel or even a coordinated attack. The day's advances totalled but 300-400 yards, and the Japanese strong point north of Tipo Pale remained aggravatingly intact. But good contact existed on both flanks as the 6th Marines dug in for the night.39
The constant pressure which the 6th and 8th Marines exerted against the dominating terrain in Saipan's center caused the Japanese 31st Army chief of staff to write that Tapotchau and the hills to the south and west were "gradually turning into focal points of combat."40
In preparation for moves forward, the 2d Marines removed the minefield which it had placed along the beach road. Other activity consisted of replacing the 2d Battalion, 6th Marines, with Kyle's 1st Battalion, 2d Marines. In the afternoon, when the 2d Battalion (less Company F) returned to regimental control, it was placed in reserve. Anticipating subsequent needs upon seizing Garapan, the 2d Division attached a small group of military police and an armored bulldozer to the 2d Marines.
During the afternoon of 23 June some of the 2d Division Shore Party personnel became available for other missions, as the unloading of ships neared completion. General Watson directed that initially a provisional battalion of two companies (each of five officers and 120 men) be formed from these personnel. As additional shore party troops became available, more of such companies would be formed and employed as division reserve units. Eventually, they would become a replacement pool to strengthen depleted units.41
General Holland Smith was greatly displeased with the failure of the 27th Division to attack on time. His disappointment with the 2d Battalion, 105th Infantry, was for a similar reason. This unit, removed from the 27th Division to operate directly under NTLF control, was to attack Nafutan Point "at daylight" of 23 June. The battalion did not commence its attack until 1330, and then only minor actions were conducted. The day's progress was practically negligible.42
Two unfortunate accidents occurred in this area during the day. At noon a Japanese ammunition dump located near the 2d Battalion's command post was blown by U. S. Army ordnance personnel, the blast resulting in five casualties. Then, soon after the attack began, friendly naval gunfire erroneously fired on the unit's command post, killing six and wounding 33 men. Among the casualties were several key headquarters and communications personnel, a loss acutely felt throughout the remainder of the operation.43
Night of 23-24 June
At dusk a report was received by the three divisions that Japanese troops and tanks were massing in front of the 27th Infantry Division. The expected enemy attack materialized at about 1830, when Japanese tanks struck near the boundary between the 165th and 106th Infantry Regiments. The combined efforts of 37mm guns and bazookas in the areas of the 2d Battalion, 165th, and the 3d Battalion, 106th, destroyed five Japanese tanks, but a sixth escaped.
This was not enough for the intruders. At about 1930, in company with infantrymen, five more Japanese tanks struck the right center of the 106th Infantry. The 3d Battalion's Antitank Platoon and the 1st Platoon of the Regimental Cannon Company accounted for four of the tanks while the fifth, though suffering a hit, broke through the 3d Battalion's lines. Firing wildly, it sprayed the battalion aid station with machine-gun bullets and set fire to a large ammunition dump nearby. The resultant exploding shells forced the right of the 3d Battalion to withdraw about 100 yards, returning
to its original positions after the fire had burned itself out.44
Shortly after the attack on the 106th Infantry, the enemy lashed out in another tank thrust, this time against the left of the 23d Marines. The enemy machines attempted to climb Hill 600 by moving along the road on the western side but were met with bazooka and 37mm fire from the 23d Marines as well as the 1st Battalion, 165th Infantry. Of the five Japanese tanks engaged in the assault, three were destroyed and the other two retreated. Throughout the remainder of the night this area remained a beehive of activity with numerous but unsuccessful attempts at infiltration by small bands of Japanese.45
There is indication that all three tank thrusts were intended as part of the same attack, with the Japanese tanks deploying in front of the lines and assaulting in a more or less uncoordinated, haphazard manner.
Although the infantry regiments of the 2d Marine Division experienced only sporadic local activity, units of the 10th Marines (division artillery regiment) were shelled by about one battery of Japanese artillery, firing from north and northeast of Mt. Tapotchau. While many of the rounds (estimated variously as 75mm, 105mm and 6-inch) fell harmlessly, many more found their intended mark. At least one round hit directly in the regimental fire direction center, located near the northern end of the Charan Kanoa airstrip, killing the 10th Marines' Executive Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ralph E. Forsyth and wounding the R-2 (Captain Robert W. Sullivan), R-3 (Major Richard Church),46 and several key noncommissioned officers. In addition, many communication and control facilities were destroyed, making it necessary for the 1st Battalion to take over direction and coordination of the regiment's fire.47
Captain Russell C. White, R-1 of the 10th Marines, provides a description of the shelling, together with an estimate of the fire's density:
Approximately 39 rounds, fired in 13 three-gun salvos, covered the regimental headquarters positions in an area 35-45 feet wide and 100 feet long. The Japs may have been trying to hit four or five OY's which were parked just north of us. In addition to Colonel Forsyth, Captain Sullivan, and Major Church, we lost Sergeant Major Baker and Staff Sergeant Michalski (Operations sergeant), both of whom died of wounds received in this shelling.48
Japanese Plans and Actions
Japanese plans to reinforce Saipan by water had progressed by 23 June to a point where detailed instructions were transmitted. In a joint order from the 31st Army and the Central Pacific Fleet to Army and Navy Units on Rota and Tinian and the 29th Division on Yap, details of movement to Saipan were prescribed:
I would like to have this transmitted to small boat amphibious units.
Although enemy patrolling around Saipan is intense . . . it is comparatively light in the southeast, small boat operations are possible from Tinian in an easterly direction. Two or three destroyers are always patrolling Tinian channel and off Laulau Bay.
Landing points--1st plan: Coast east of Chacha, river entrance at Mt. Hanichiru. . . .
As far as possible you should navigate deployed and land at night. Reply regarding expected time of arrival.
I wish to have the Army Navy Units here cooperate in the complete concealment of aforementioned units.
A peculiarity of this order is that no exact time for the move is mentioned, only the direction to "reply regarding expected time of arrival."
On the evening of 23 June, General Iketa summarized the situation as follows:
The enemy is moving the strong point of his attack to the east and is advancing gradually under cover of shelling and bombing. Hill east of Hill 280 [Tipo Pale] and hill 285 have fallen into enemy hands.49 Even though Hill 343 is still in our hands the situation is unknown. Part of the enemy has infiltrated into area east of Hill 343.50 There is a report of four tanks and about 200 infantry troops have advanced
into Laulau area.51 Details unknown. [Author's italics.]
The Homare [43d Division] Units with the firm decision to hold out until the last the hill line in previous paragraph expects to smash the enemy.
While there is no great change in the enemy tank situation, land artillery is increasing daily. Bombings against our rear supply areas is gradually increasing in intensity.
According to a captured document the enemy is the 4th Marine Division.
The uncertainty displayed in the first paragraph of the foregoing report indicates the extreme difficulties the Japanese experienced maintaining communications among themselves. That this situation existed is a tribute to the volume of artillery, naval gunfire and air support which battered the Japanese without respite.52
During daylight of 23 June the Japanese made two feeble efforts at air interference. The "several" planes that attacked auxiliary ships (Task Unit 16.17.12) at 1205 failed to achieve any hits but escaped without loss to themselves. Later, two Japanese torpedo bombers were intercepted and destroyed near Saipan by a four-plane combat air patrol from the Midway.53
At 2212 a lone Japanese plane (perhaps trying to duplicate the feat of the one that had hit the Maryland the day before) dropped three bombs 1,500 yards astern of the Louisville and hastened from the area.
After midnight (at 0052) "several" Japanese bombers made a reasonably successful attack on U. S. shipping. Dropped over Saipan from a very high altitude, bombs caused minor damage from fragmentation to LCT 988, PCS 1161, PCS 1402, LST 222, and the Phaon (ARB-3).54 A total of 18 casualties was caused by bomb fragments. All of the raiders escaped untouched.55
D-plus 9--24 June
To Gorapan's Outskirts
General Holland Smith's attack order for 24 June directed a continuation of the drive to objective O-6. (See Map 17.) Seizure of this would place Kagman Peninsula in U. S. hands and greatly narrow the landing force front. The scheme of maneuver involved a swing to the east for the 4th Marine Division and a drive to the north by the 2d and 27th Divisions. The time of attack was set for 0800. The 2d Battalion, 105th Infantry, was ordered to continue operations at daylight of 24 June to mop up remaining detachments on Nafutan Point. The NTLF reserve, Colonel Batchelder's 25th Marines, would remain in the vicinity of Hill 500 prepared to defend that hill and to send out antisniper patrols in the area around and east of Lake Susupe.56
For the 2d Marine Division the attack had at last progressed to a point which allowed the left flank regiment, the 2d Marines, to advance. Attacking with the 1st and 3d Battalions abreast, 1st on the right, the advance started rapidly, the 3d Battalion moving 500 yards along the beach in the first hour. The 1st Battalion, however, encountered heavy automatic weapons fire from a ridge southeast of Garapan, which held up its advance. After establishing fire superiority, mainly with organic mortars and 105mm howitzers of the 4th Battalion, 10th Marines, the battalion moved to the ridge's crest. This was at 1500.
Almost immediately after the seizure, peculiar activity was observed just forward of the hill: Japanese officers, brandishing sabers and shouting strident commands, were attempting to incite about one platoon of enemy soldiers to attack the well-positioned 1st Battalion atop the ridge. From the north, as the Japanese counterattackers were forced to approach, the ridge presented a formidable obstacle, being virtually a cliff. Difficulties notwithstanding, the Japanese made the effort; but, with two hands required to scale the slope and another to throw grenades or wave sabers, they were one hand short from the outset. The
INCHING FORWARD AT GARAPAN'S DESOLATE OUTSKIRTS, men of 2d Marines take advantage of the cover afforded by a small rise.
ridge's steepness is revealed in the fact that front line Marines were forced to lean forward to depress the muzzles of their rifles sufficiently to hit their attackers.
Following the repulse the 1st Battalion dug in on the ridge overlooking "Radio Road," which, running at right angles to the direction of advance, was a convenient stopping point. Not only did it practically coincide with objective O-6, but also it ran along the northern slopes of a dominating ridge, an important tactical locality for the defense of the right half of the regimental sector.
The day's excitement was not over for the 2d Marines, however. At about 1625, as the left assault battalion (3d) commenced preparations for its defense of the flatland along the beach, seven Japanese tanks suddenly moved from Garapan's southern ruins and attacked. Since no enemy infantry accompanied this thrust, it is not clear what the tanks hoped to accomplish. "Johnny-on-the-spot" medium tanks from Company C, 2d Tank Battalion, and four 75mm half-tracks (hastily rushed to the scene) opened fire accurately on the advancing enemy machines, destroying six and routing the seventh. Thereafter, the day was uneventful with the 3d Battalion holding up its advance along Radio Road in contact with the 1st Battalion.
The 1st Provisional Battalion, composed of two companies formed from shore party personnel, was attached to the 2d Marines in the late afternoon. Colonel Stuart employed this unit with the reserve (2d Battalion), now dug in behind the front lines, thus providing greater depth to the regiment's defense. Men of the 2d Marines were destined to remain along Radio Road for several days.57
JAPANESE LIGHT TANKS were no match for United States medium tanks. This one was knocked out by a 75mm armor-piercing shell.
In the center of the 2d Division zone, the 6th Marines advanced about 900 yards on the left (1st Battalion zone) but very little on the right (3d Battalion zone). The difference in yardage gained was in direct proportion to terrain difficulties. On the right, thickly-wooded cliffs and ravines--all of which had to be investigated--retarded the advance. Company K continued for the third day its task of reducing the north Tipo Pale strong point. The outer fringes of the area had been whittled somewhat, but the core remained strong.
As the regiment stopped for the night, the 3d Battalion, covering a front of 1,500 yards, was overextended and having difficulty maintaining contact with adjacent units, this in spite of the fact that the 3d Battalion had five rifle companies: its own three, plus Company F, 2d Marines, and Company F, 6th Marines. Good contact was finally established, however, as the 6th Marines dug in for the night.58
On the right of the 2d Marine Division, the 8th Marines continued the fight over nightmarish terrain. As Lieutenant Colonel Hays' 1st Battalion moved into the attack, the troublesome pocket, developed on the previous day, came alive again. Matted with undergrowth and trees, the irregular coral limestone formation was favorable for the type of defense the Japanese were employing. Improving the area's natural assets, they had developed a honeycomb of underground positions. The 1st Battalion, utilizing the most unspectacular of tactics, plodded at its unpleasant task of sealing the caves and killing the occupants. The former chore proved the easier, since in most cases the Japanese had not neglected to plan routes and methods of escape. When the "cavemen" had done as much damage as possible from one position, they would retire to another from which to resume the fight.
Shortly after midday, the coordinated efforts of combat engineers (armed with flame-throwers, bazookas and demolitions) and riflemen showed results; the pocket was eliminated and contact with the 6th Marines again established. (Contact had been temporarily broken during the morning while the 1st Battalion struggled through the labyrinth.) By late afternoon the battalion reached the edge of a vast cleared area, desirable from the defense-for-the-night point of view. Since the next satisfactory site was 100 yards farther to the north, the unit halted and dug in.
Major Larsen's 3d Battalion, advancing along the base of a cliff, made good progress, limited only by fairly difficult terrain (common to the entire Tapotchau region) and the necessity of maintaining contact with flank units.
Above the 3d Battalion, along the top of the cliff, moved Lieutenant Colonel Tompkins' 1st Battalion, 29th Marines. Here the cliff was broken into a rough plateau dotted with smaller plateaus of coral limestone which continued rising like irregular stair steps toward Mt. Tapotchau's crest. The undergrowth in this area was a tangle of fern trees, the roots of which spread out three to eight feet above ground like the ribs of an inverted umbrella, overgrown and interlaced with a strait-jacket of vines. On the battalion's right flank was a narrow flat ledge covered with grass five feet high and the usual tangle of trees. This ledge,
part of the north-south ridge leading to Mt. Tapotchau, was within machine-gun range of the summit.
Moving through this intricate snarl was like attempting to swim through a fishermen's net, and Tompkins' battalion became overextended. At this juncture Colonel Wallace, commanding the 8th Marines, ordered the 2d Battalion to move in behind Tompkins' right (as it had the previous night) to protect the open flank. As the 8th Marines dug in for the night after an advance of about 700 yards, it again became essential to commit the 37mm Platoon from the Regimental Weapons Company to extend south along the ridge facing the hiatus between the 2d and 27th Divisions.59
The Troublesome Cliff
On the morning of 24 June, Lieutenant General Holland Smith sent a dispatch to Major General Ralph Smith indicating his displeasure over the previous day's actions of the 27th Infantry Division:
Commanding General is highly displeased with the failure of the 27th Division on June Twenty Third to launch its attack as ordered at King Hour and the lack of offensive action displayed by the division in its failure to advance and seize Objective O-5 when opposed only by small arms and mortar fire. The failure of the 27th Division to advance in its zone of action resulted in the halting of attacks by the 4th and 2d Marine Divisions on the flanks of the 27th in order to prevent dangerous exposure of their interior flanks. It is directed that immediate steps be taken to cause the 27th Division to advance and seize objectives as ordered.60
As Major General Ralph Smith's 27th Division launched its attack down Death Valley on 24 June, Japanese mortar and machine-gun fire concentrated on open ground between the 106th Infantry's right flank and the 165th's left, denying movement through the area. The terrain was favorable to the enemy and he made the most of it.
To complicate matters of control, heavy concentrations of Japanese mortar fire struck the command posts of the 1st and 2d Battalions, 165th Infantry--the 2d Battalion's at 0800 just as the attack was launched, the 1st Battalion's at about 1500.
Having noticed that the progress of his regiment was being delayed by fire from the enemy to his left in the 106th Infantry's zone of action, Colonel Kelley ordered the 1st and 2d Battalions, 165th Infantry, to maneuver to the right, by-passing local points of resistance. Soon after the move began, Colonel Kelley assigned the mission of mopping-up within the regiment's zone of action to the 1st Battalion. After carefully coordinating the move, he ordered his 3d Battalion to detour to the right through the area already cleared by the 23d Marines and close up on the latter's flank. By darkness of 24 June the move and subsequent establishment of contact had been accomplished. Whereas the gains within the 165th Infantry's zone of action had been relatively small, the over-all result improved the situation as it affected future action.61
All forward movements in the 106th Infantry's area, meanwhile, were stopped by Japanese occupying positions in the cliff face on the left flank. Advances of about 100 yards were made by the 3d Battalion, but these hard-won yards were relinquished when the positions became untenable, and the battalion returned to the line of departure. The 2d Battalion, peering constantly at the cliff line in search of enemy positions, made virtually no progress during the day. In the words of the 106th Infantry's action report:
These cliff positions were practically invulnerable to our Artillery and mortar fire. Each position had to be definitely located and brought under direct fire of self-propelled mounts or tanks before neutralization could be effected. In addition, it was necessary to occupy these positions with Infantry before their extermination was assured.
There was some indication that the 27th Division's commanding general was not pleased with the 106th Infantry's progress. This displeasure was voiced in two dispatches which arrived at the 106th Infantry during the morning of 24 June:
Advance of 50 yards in 1½ hours is most unsatisfactory. Start moving at once.
Your failure to maintain contact with unit on your left is most embarrassing. Advance on your left at once.
At 1150, Colonel Ayres, the 106th's commander, ordered Lieutenant Colonel Cornett's 1st Battalion, which had been in regimental reserve, to relieve the 3d Battalion. The relief was effected by 1515, the 3d Battalion moving to an assembly area as the new reserve.62
While losing two of its machines to enemy mines, the 762d Tank Battalion, supporting the 27th Division, knocked out four Japanese tanks on 24 June.
As the 27th Division dug in for the night, one company (F, 106th Infantry) was securely tied to the right of the 2d Marine Division. But, between that single company and the remainder of the Army division existed a vertical gap of several hundred yards.
After two days of fighting, Ralph Smith decided to contain the Japanese forces in the troublesome cliff with one battalion and to move the remainder of the division around the pocket: 165th leading, followed by the 106th until objective O-5 was reached. This move was slated for 25 June.63
On Nafutan Point, meanwhile, the 2d Battalion, 105th Infantry, had again failed to make substantial headway. At 1000 a staff officer of the NTLF G-3 section visited the battalion command post, located approximately 1,500 yards from the battalion's lines. The battalion commander reported that he did not know what the situation was as he had not heard from his company commanders.64
For the attack of 25 June Colonel Geoffrey M. O'Connell, USA, chief of staff of the Saipan Garrison Force, was placed in command of the Nafutan Point effort, relieving Lieutenant Colonel Leslie Jensen. To support further attempts, Colonel O'Connell brought in antiaircraft artillery: two batteries of 90mm guns (A and B, 751st AAA Gun Battalion) would fire from their regularly assigned positions, while four 40mm guns would move forward where direct fire could be delivered against caves and located enemy strong points. Control of the 2d Battalion, 105th Infantry, passed to the commanding officer, Saipan Garrison Forces at 1800, 24 June, but the battalion's mission was unchanged.65
To Chacha and Laulau
While the 2d Marine Division and the 27th Infantry Division attacked to the north, the 4th Marine Division would swing eastward on Kagman Peninsula. The attack was launched at 0800, but a pocket of resistance on the right of the 27th Division zone of action held up the 23d Marines' movement from Hill 600. The 24th Marines on the right, however, met little resistance and progressed rapidly.
About noon the 23d Marines detoured the pocket and resumed the advance. The 3d Battalion had moved up on the right of the 2d Battalion, and the two units attacked abreast. Against "moderate" resistance from enemy mortars and small groups of infantry and with its left flank exposed, the regiment swung around the arc toward Kagman Peninsula, pivoting on the 24th Marines. As its outer perimeter swing accelerated, the gap on the division left widened. By late afternoon, when the 23d reached objective O-5A (which included Chacha Village), the gap measured 800 to 1,000 yards.
Colonel Hart's 24th Marines met only scattered rifle fire from small isolated Japanese groups in its push along the coast to Kagman Peninsula. Contact difficulties, however, demanded commitment of all three battalions of the regiment before nightfall. Lieutenant
Colonel Rothwell's 2d Battalion, moving along the coast, found an undefended Japanese road block on the road leading north from Laulau Village. The obstacle was so located that tanks and half-tracks were denied passage through the area, and support of the 24th Marines by these weapons was delayed for nearly four hours. Engineers from Company B, 20th Marines, eventually cleared the road block and traffic was restored.
Beyond the block, however, a turn in the road, so sharp that it almost constituted an obstacle in itself, further slowed movement of vehicles through the area. While Company E, 24th Marines, was advancing near the village of Laulau, a blockhouse exploded, causing 20 casualties. This was an all-too-familiar experience for Company E, which, with the rest of the 2d Battalion, 24th Marines, had been shattered by a similar but more serious explosion at Roi-Namur. Near the area of the blockhouse explosion, a flame-thrower tank66 from Company D, 4th Tank Battalion, ran over a land mine and was disabled. When the 24th Marines dug in for the night, a gigantic stride had been taken, amounting to about 1,200 yards. Good contact existed with the 23d Marines on the left, and the right flank was anchored on the beach just east of Laulau village.
The 4th Marine Division reserve (1st Battalion, 23d Marines) moved to the crest of Hill 600 to afford protection to the exposed left flank.67
General Ralph Smith Relieved
Because he felt that the 27th Division's rate of progress reflected poor leadership, General Holland Smith decided that a change of command was indicated. In his own words:
I took my map and went aboard the Rocky Mount to discuss the situation with Kelly Turner. We both went on board the Indianapolis to see Spruance, who was in overall command of the operation. I told him the facts and said that the situation demanded a change in command. He asked me what should be done.
"Ralph Smith has shown that he lacks aggressive spirit," I replied, "and his division is slowing our advance. He should be relieved." I suggested that Jarman take over the Twenty-seventh Division as a supplementary duty until another commanding officer was appointed. Turner supported me and Spruance agreed.
On June 24, the following message was dispatched from Spruance as Commander, Fifth Fleet, to me as Commander, Northern Troops and Landing Force, and circulated to others concerned for information.
"You are authorized and directed to relieve Major General Ralph Smith from command of the Twenty-seventh Division, United States Army, and place Major General Jarman in command of this division. This action is taken in order that the offensive on Saipan may proceed in accordance with the plans and orders of the Commander, Northern Troops and Landing Force."68
At the same Indianapolis conference, General Holland Smith and the two admirals reached another vital decision: the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade (Reinforced) would be kept at sea in the Marianas area as additional reserve for possible use at Saipan. As noted previously, the 3d Marine Division returned to Eniwetok on 25 June while the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade remained in the area until 30 June.
About 1530, 24 June, Major General Ralph Smith received a message from Lieutenant General Holland Smith directing him to turn over command of the 27th Division to Major General Sanderford Jarman and report for transportation to Pearl Harbor. Later in the afternoon, General Jarman appeared at the 27th Division command post where the retiring commander informed him on the situation as it existed. General Jarman then summoned the regimental commanders to discuss future plans.
With the advice of General Ralph Smith and the recommendation of Colonel Ayres of the 106th Infantry, General Jarman approved the scheme of leaving one battalion to contain and mop up the cliff strong point while the remainder of the 106th Infantry detoured east 500 to 800 yards and then advanced north by a defiladed route. In this manner it was hoped that the regiment could get past the stumbling
block, reestablish contact with the 2d Marine Division, and resume the advance to the north. Orders were issued to put the plan into effect.69
The relief of Major General Ralph Smith was later the subject of a number of bitter articles and heated arguments and caused much bad feeling.70 Headquarters, U. S. Army Forces Central Pacific Area was even moved to conduct an investigation, headed by Lieutenant General Simon B. Buckner, USA, into the circumstances surrounding the relief. This inquiry concluded that "Lt. Gen. Holland M. Smith, USMC, had full authority to relieve Maj. Gen. Ralph C. Smith, USA. . . . . . but, "in the light of information available to the board, the relief . . . was not justified by the facts."71 These findings, as General Holland Smith later pointed out, were based on incomplete information, the board having confined itself to examination of Army sources.
Night of 24-25 June
From 1925 to 2208 the transport area and the Charan Kanoa Beaches were under intermittent air attack. The first three Japanese planes approached Saipan undetected and dropped their bombs along the beaches causing minor damage. Immediately, the smoke plan was executed, screening the transports to the attacking planes. Total Japanese planes committed to the attacks was about 10, but no hits were scored on U. S. shipping anchored off Saipan. Ships' gunfire and "Black Widow" P-61 night fighters were equally ineffective, being unable to down any of the Japanese attackers.72
Principal activity in the 2d Division sector during the night of 24-25 June occurred in the 2d Marines area. In addition to the efforts of Japanese infiltrators to move through the lines into Marine rear areas, there were others who had been by-passed during the day's advance trying to get through the lines and back to their own units. This two-way traffic was not designed to soothe the nerves of the 2d Marines and resulted in an all night, 100 per cent alert. The Marines came off well ahead, however, suffering 10 casualties while killing 82 Japanese.73
The only other night activity occurred in the zone of the 3d Battalion, 6th Marines. Here enemy riflemen heckled the front line Marines, while Japanese mortar and artillery fire showered on the battalion command post, in a small ravine on the south slopes of Tipo Pale. First, the rounds crept up the draw, then back down. By the time the enemy fire had walked four times through the area, communications were destroyed and the installation was generally upset. Major Rentsch, commanding the 3d Battalion, felt that the Japanese observer who was directing this accurate enemy fire must be situated nearby, possibly behind the position. Further, he believed that the fire might have been directed by means of flashlight signals. To escape the bull's-eye, the 3d Battalion moved its command post about 50 yards to the south, after which no more fire was received. The shelling, however, put the command post out of operation until daylight when normal communications were reestablished.74
The 27th Division, facing Death Valley, and the 4th Division on Kagman Peninsula, spent a reasonably quiet night, with only the 2d Battalion, 24th Marines, dug in near Laulau on the north coast of Magicienne Bay, reporting activity. There, single Japanese attempted--unsuccessfully--to infiltrate the Marine lines.75
On Tinian, the Japanese spent most of their time in shelters to protect themselves from U. S. aircraft, artillery and ships' guns which maintained almost constant harassing fires on
them. Since 20 June, the 155mm guns of Battery B, 531st Field Artillery Battalion (XXIV Corps Artillery), had been emplaced for firing on Tinian. On 24 June, the other two batteries of the battalion also turned around to triple the volume of artillery fire against the island.76 An unidentified Japanese NCO indicates in his diary entry of 24 June that the morale was lowering as a result of this persistent bombing and shelling:
I heard the Japanese radio news with stories of great victories. We haven't heard of any victories lately. What will we do until the day of our annihilation? I wish my mother could know about the life we are leading.77
The situation was somewhat obscure on 24 June when Major General Iketa, chief of staff, 31st Army wrote:
Regarding the situation of the Homare [43d Division] Units, as we are not in wire communications with them, we do not know, but it is believed that they have undergone no great change. They are in the midst of disposing so as to hold Tapotchau firmly.
As wire communications have been cut off since yesterday by hostile bombardment, analysis of the situation has become extremely difficult.
Later, when the miasma of incomplete reports had cleared somewhat, he amplified and corrected his earlier message:
In the sector of the Homare Units, the enemy has infiltrated and broken through our positions, and one part of the enemy--about 300-400 troops78 along with four or five tanks--have broken through Chacha in the area of the eastern foot of Tapotchau. The raging battle is pressing in the area of the CP. The fighting strength of the Homare Unit has fallen to less than two infantry battalions.
Though our forces have called on all kinds of methods to hinder the enemy advance, we are regrettably reduced to the condition where we cannot carry out this plan with our present fighting strength.
It is recommended that plan [for reinforcements] be executed with all haste.
In another message, Iketa directed the commanding officer of the 50th Infantry Regiment (on Tinian) to "prepare to send one company of Infantry (with two machine guns and two rapid firing guns attached) by landing boats to Saipan. Lading point will be on coast area east of Chacha if possible." The message also requested that Iketa be notified when the Oku Unit coming from Guam arrived at Tinian.79
From the messages originating with General Iketa at this time, it is apparent that the Japanese had no hope of defeating the Americans with the forces and resources at hand. Reinforcements were needed. But the reliance placed upon small boats as a means of transportation represented either wishful thinking or sublime confidence in their ability to achieve the utterly impossible. Saipan was virtually ringed with U. S. naval vessels whose alert personnel constantly scanned the waters for a sign of Japanese movement. Unprotected small boats or barges, crammed with Japanese troops, were hardly the craft to penetrate the U. S. blockade. The Japanese plan, therefore, must be viewed as a pipe dream born of desperation.
It was also on 24 June that General Saito evacuated his third command post above Chacha Village and set up a fourth in the sheer white cliffs northeast of Tapotchau's peak. After the battle, investigation clearly showed that this command post, an elaborate cave dug into the hard rock, was the best prepared of all his C.P.'s. The only weakness of the installation and the reason for Saito's subsequent evacuation of it (after three days), was its vulnerability to naval guns firing from off Saipan's eastern coast.80
D-plus 10--25 June
Two important objectives faced NTLF on 25 June: Mt. Tapotchau and Kagman Peninsula. Seizure of the heights would at last deny the enemy his excellent observation posts; capture of Kagman Peninsula would not only greatly reduce the NTLF frontage but would provide a vast, plain area suitable for construction of another airfield. Both objectives were
now within reach and, if all went well, would be in U. S. possession by evening of 25 June.
The 4th Marine Division, scheduled to attack at 0730, jumped off 45 minutes late. This delay was caused by the difficulty of moving the supporting tanks from their assembly areas to the front lines. Routes forward were over extremely rough terrain with few roads or trails, most of which were in very poor condition for mechanized traffic. The 4th Marine Division, still composed of but two regiments (the 25th Regiment was in NTLF reserve), made its main effort in the center, with each regiment directed to push the attack along the boundary between them. The purpose of this single-pronged effort was to split the peninsula into two parts which could then be dealt with separately. The objective was Mount Kagman and the high ground in the vicinity of Rorogattan on the easternmost tip of Kagman Peninsula.
Attacking with all three battalions abreast, 2d along the coast, 1st in the center and 3d on the left, the 24th Marines advanced rapidly against virtually no resistance. At approximately 1015, Colonel Hart reported that his regiment was in possession of Kagman Hill on the east coast of the peninsula (Objective O-6). The balance of the day was spent in patrolling and in investigating numerous caves along the coast line.81
Colonel Jones' 23d Marines moved almost as rapidly as the 24th, being hampered in progress across the flat, low ground by a single Japanese field piece or antitank gun located on the ridge to the rear. This ridge (called "Purple Heart" ridge by men of the 27th Infantry Division) lay within the Army division's zone, and, since the latter's advance had not overrun the area, the Japanese gunner fired freely on the backs of the Marines--a typical, if unavoidable, consequence of the situation in the center. With the concurrence of the 27th Division, the 14th Marines massed the fires of several battalions on this area, temporarily silencing the gun. Later, however, this "dead" weapon came to life and caused more trouble. In addition, the 23d Regiment was subjected to a small amount of rifle fire from by-passed Japanese in the vicinity of Chacha Village.
To support the regiment's advance, one battery of the 1st Battalion, 14th Marines, moved four 75mm pack howitzers to the northeastern slopes of Hill 600, a position admirably suited to the delivery of close, direct fire missions for either of the assault battalions.
About noon the 1st Battalion, 23d Marines, which had been operating in 4th Division reserve, returned to parent command. Colonel Jones then ordered it to the vicinity of Chacha Village to protect the left flank and rear of the regiment.
Objective O-6 fell to the 23d Marines at 1533. The 2d Battalion found the Brown Beaches (northwestern portion of Kagman Peninsula) well fortified against an amphibious landing, but extremely vulnerable to an attack from the landward side.82
With the assigned objectives seized, General Schmidt ordered the 23d and 24th Marines to continue mopping up the peninsula and to maintain coastal observation within their sectors. The alacrity with which this phase of the operation was carried out had a healthy effect on the morale of the 4th Marine Division.
COMBINATION CAVE AND BLOCKHOUSE, housing a 20mm gun, overlooked Beach Brown 2 on the east coast. The 2d Battalion, 23d Marines, over-ran this position from the rear on 25 June. Like burrowing prairie dogs, the Japanese usually had under-ground routes of escape from such positions.
After days of slogging slowly and painfully ahead, it was encouraging to move in rapid strides. Kagman Peninsula could have been much more difficult had the Japanese chosen to make it so; but, as with a man putting off a dental appointment, the show-down would come later.83
The morning and evening summaries of the Japanese 31st Army chief of staff for 25 June recognized the successes of the 4th Marine Division:
The enemy in the Chacha area is completing the seizure of that sector. . . . An enemy of unknown strength (estimated to be 10 tanks, about 300 infantry) is advancing towards Donnay. The sound of rifle fire is deafening. Around Laulau and Donnay some 10 tanks and about 700-800 infantry are to be seen advancing from Laulau.84
Failure of a Plan
In the 27th Division sector (now under the command of Major General Sanderford Jarman), the plan of by-passing the cliffside strong point was placed in operation. One battalion (2d Battalion, 106th Infantry) would remain behind, contain the enemy in the area, and institute mopping-up activities. The remainder of the 106th would detour east, follow a covered route behind the 165th Infantry until the cliff strong point was passed, then swing back into its regularly assigned zone.
That part of the scheme which pertained to the 165th Infantry worked generally as planned, though its move was strongly contested on the left. The regimient's left assault unit, the 2d Battalion, encountered heavy flanking fire from the northwest which effectively stopped its efforts to move forward. One sudden blast of machine-gun and rifle fire wounded the battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel McDonough, who fell in in area exposed to enemy fire. The problem of reaching and evacuating the colonel was solved when the 4.2-inch mortars of Company C, 88th Chemical Mortar Battalion, threw a thick smoke screen over the area. Major Gregory Brousseau became the new battalion commander. Recognizing the futility of further frontal pushes across the exposed ground, the regimental commander ordered the 2d Battalion to assume the mopping-up mission (formerly assigned to the 1st Battalion).
The 165th Infantry's right assault unit (3d Battalion, made better progress and reached objective O-5 by the day's end. The 1st Battalion, relieved of its mopping-up task, followed through the zone cleared by the 3d Battalion and moved in on the latter's left flank for the night.85
For the 106th Infantry, meanwhile, plans had gone awry. Instead of following behind the 165th as ordered, the 106th swung too wide, moving far into the 4th Marine Division zone. The result was much lost time, some confusion, and a general contribution to the failure of the plan. By 1130 one battalion (1st) of the 106th found itself north of Chacha Village. This unit took many casualties from a Japanese strong point on a hill to the west, part of Purple Heart Ridge (probably the same positions that harassed the 4th Marine Division's rear).86
When the division commander realized that the unit was hopelessly astray, he ordered Colonel Ayres to bring the regiment back into position and carry out the original mission. During the afternoon the 106th moved to the approximate area that it should have occupied in the morning.
Late in the afternoon General Jarman ordered the 2d Battalion, 106th Infantry, supported by tanks, to attack down Death Valley past the cliffs. Two artillery batteries occupied positions from which to support the effort by direct fire. Moving out at 1630, the soldiers encountered little opposition and quickly seized their objective.87
Considerable firing by the battalion along the route, however, resulted in its stopping for the night virtually out of ammunition with no resupply immediately available. Major O'Hara, commanding the 2d Battalion, stated that he arrived at the objective so late that he was
unable to set up a circular defense and added that battalions must have at least two hours of daylight to establish positions.88 The ammunition shortage and the incomplete nature of the battalion's defense would have serious consequences.
When General Jarman observed the satisfactory progress of the 2d Battalion, 106th Infantry, he ordered Colonel Ayres to execute--on 26 June--the original plan of detouring to the right. To General Jarman's questions of why he had got his regiment lost, Colonel Ayres could give no answer but stated that he would carry out the mission the next day. General Jarman warned Ayres that this was indeed, his last chance: that, if he again failed to handle his regiment properly, he would be relieved.89
As noted before, O'Hara's 2d Battalion, 106th Infantry, had successfully passed the troublesome cliff area and was dug in on its assigned objective. The Japanese, operating as if they were well aware of the unit's ammunition shortage, counterattacked during the night, forcing O'Hara's men to withdraw down the valley to a line about 200 yards north of where the day's advance had begun.90
That the 27th Division's pressure was having its effect on the Japanese is indicated by General Iketa's summary of the activities of 25 June:
The enemy in the Tapotchau area have moved in about 1,500 meters on the east of that high point. . . . The Division Field Command Post . . . is surrounded by fire from artillery and tanks which executed an enveloping attack.91
Seizure of Mt. Tapotchau
The most significant advance in the 2d Marine Division zone of action was that of the 8th Marines; for it was upon this date (25 June) that Mt. Tapotchau was captured. The zone of the regiment included the dominant height of the mountain, with the 1st and 3d Battalions on the western slopes, the 2d just east of the
FIGHTING UP-HILL was the normal condition during the first 10 days at Saipan. Here Marines struggle up Mt. Tapotchau's rugged slopes. Supplying troops in such terrain required a disproportionate percentage of the attacker's total effort.
peaks, and the 1st Battalion, 29th Marines, over the peak itself. The actual seizure of the crest was a joint undertaking, with the 1st Battalion, 29th Marines, attacking frontally up a valley which led to the top and the 2d Battalion, 8th Marines, striking along a ridge line on the right flank. Two routes--and, until the attack was launched, no one could be sure which would prove the better.
By 0930 there was no longer any doubt on this point. In the two hours since the attack had begun, Tompkins' unit had made little progress through the wooded valley because of rough terrain and well situated enemy riflemen, while Chamberlin's 2d Battalion, 8th Marines, had driven several hundred yards along the ridge line against practically no resistance. This advance placed the 2d Battalion's lines at the base of a sheer 50-foot cliff just beyond
Tapotchau's soaring peak. Marines of the 2d Battalion felt more than the discomfort of having someone reading over their shoulders as they glanced apprehensively toward the mountain top. Exposed as it was, with a precipitous drop on the two sides (north and east) and the crest of the mountains on a third, the battalion could enjoy little security.
To find out if the feeling of being watched was caused by imagination or reality, Major Chamberlin ordered one platoon (1st Platoon, Company E) to scale the cliff and investigate. The platoon, led by Lieutenant Walter E. Rimmer, moved to the top of the cliff and found no enemy there. Thus encouraged, Rimmer dispatched a smaller patrol which climbed nearly to the crest of the mountain and returned to report that the small tableland on the summit was also unoccupied. (See Map 15.)
Difficulties of moving up the wooded valley, meanwhile, had convinced Tompkins that this was a poor route. Why not exploit the gains of the Marines already half way up the right shoulder? The only reserve available to him at this time was a 22-man platoon from the Division Reconnaissance Company, since all three of his rifle companies were in the lines, engaged with the enemy. Leading this small body, Tompkins moved up to the 1st Platoon, Company E, in its position on Tapotchau's right shoulder, paused for a quick check with Rimmer, and continued on to the top.
The tiny plateau at the mountain's peak contained an abandoned square, 12-man dugout, which the Marines immediately put to their own use. Leaving the Reconnaissance Platoon leader, Lieutenant Marion M. Drake, in command, Colonel Tompkins went back down the right shoulder to lead up more substantial forces.
By the time he returned to his battalion, it was early afternoon. The difficult task then remained of disengaging units in close contact with the enemy, withdrawing them a short distance and swinging them single file to the right through the 2d Battalion, 8th Marines' zone and finally up the right shoulder to Tapotchau's crest. Tompkins determined that one of his companies (B) should remain in the lines and maintain contact with the 3d Battalion, 8th Marines, on the left. The other two companies (A and C) would move up and reinforce the Reconnaissance Platoon.
On Tapotchau's west slopes, meanwhile, Marines of Major Larsen's 3d Battalion, 8th Marines, fought a determined enemy that begrudged every foot of terrain. The constant pressure exerted by this unit aided Tompkins in the difficult task of disengaging two-thirds of his rifle strength. Had there been a less persistent surge on the western slopes, the Japanese might have foiled Tompkin's plans.
There was little time for Marines of the Reconnaissance Platoon to enjoy the scenery from Tapotchau's lofty heights. Japanese in the area at last realized that their prized observation post was now inhabited by the Americans and immediately launched a series of small counterattacks to regain it. During the course of the afternoon three Marines and 40 Japanese fell from these heated exchanges. The Marines held.
As the afternoon wore on, Japanese mortars became more active, particularly against Company E, 8th Marines. The 1st Platoon, still perched half way up the right shoulder, became the special target for much of this fire. To get off the bull's-eye, the platoon pulled down to the shelf and joined the rest of its company.
The task of disengaging the two companies of the 1st Battalion, 29th Marines, had consumed the afternoon, so that it was not until just before sundown that Tompkins began the final ascent to the peak.
The 81mm mortars of the 1st Battalion, 29th Marines, laid screening smoke on the mountain's northern slopes, while all available mortars of the 2d Battalion, 8th Marines, plus the 105mm howitzers of the 3d Battalion, 10th Marines, joined in support of the climb. As dusk fell, the Marines moved single file up the steep route to the top. During the climb and in the subsequent establishment of defensive positions, not a single man was lost.
Digging into the rocky terrain at the summit was a real challenge. Only occasionally was there a patch of dirt. Most of the foxholes
The Seizure of Mt. Tapotchau
AT TAPOTCHAU'S CREST men of the 1st Battalion, 29th Marines, prepare positions. In such rocky formations, Marines built foxholes from the ground up rather than digging in.
were built up from the ground rather than dug into it. These small fortresses proved adequate when, at a few minutes before midnight, a force of Japanese struck Company A from the west side of the mountain. Most of the enemy threw grenades, some were armed with rifles, others had "idiot sticks" (wooden practice rifles with bayonets or knives tied to the end). The size of the Japanese force could not accurately be determined, but 18 Japanese bodies were lying in the area the following morning.
Saipan's key terrain feature had been captured at last. From this point forward, the Marines would look down on the Japanese, who heretofore had enjoyed the advantages of superior ground observation. And in addition, the Marines could now fight downhill for awhile. The change would be appreciated.92
Company F, 106th Infantry, remained with the 2d Battalion, 8th Marines, but with this one exception units of the 27th Infantry Division still were some distance to the rear and contact had not as yet been attained.
The 1st and 3d Battalions, 8th Marines, made little progress during the day. Fighting along the tortuous terrain on Tapotchau's western slopes, the 3d Battalion ran into a jumble of crevasses and narrow ravines which often provided positions for Japanese riflemen and
JAP'S EYE VIEW of Red and Green Beaches and surrounding area. Here a bedraggled Marine, munching a "C" ration biscuit, appears to be wondering how United States forces ever got ashore under such ideal enemy observation.
machine gunners. Movement through this terrain was necessarily slow and tedious. Farther down Tapotchau's western slopes, the 1st Battalion could not push forward without breaking contact with the units on its flanks: the 3d Battalion of its own regiment on the right and on the left, the 3d Battalion, 6th Marines, still punching unsuccessfully at the Tipo Pale strong point.
Since 23 June men of the latter unit--and Company K in particular had been butting their heads against the pocket on Tipo Pale's northern slopes. This nuisance had retarded the advance of the entire regiment, if not the entire division; and Colonel Riseley, the 6th Marines' commander, determined upon a new scheme to get past the area. The 2d Battalion would pass through the 3d, leaving one company to contain and mop up the pocket while the remainder by-passed it and moved into the attack again.
In compliance with Colonel Riseley's order, Company E began the difficult task of clearing the pocket. To avoid moving down the sheer cliff from Tipo Pale's summit, Company E passed around the right (east) of the hill and attacked to the west up the ravine's longer axis. Support was rendered extremely difficult because of the proximity of friendly troops; and, without the necessary support, the company's progress was negligible. While standing on Mt. Tipo Pale directing the operations in this area, Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth F. McLeod, the 6th Marines' executive officer, was killed by a Japanese rifleman. Colonel McLeod was replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Russell Lloyd, who had previously commanded the 2d Division Shore Party.
Darkness found the 6th Marines' lines only slightly advanced and another failure recorded in the "battle of the pocket." As the 2d Battalion had not succeeded in passing through the 3d, the day's operations only had the effect of engaging more troops. In addition to the three rifle companies of the 3d Battalion, Companies E and F of the 2d Battalion had been
committed. Company F, 2d Marines, attached to the 6th Marines since landing on D-Day, also remained in the lines.
On the left of the 6th Marines' front, the 1st Battalion could not move forward without breaking contact with the other units. Thus, the troublesome strong point on the right flank still crippled the advance. As previously indicated, however, plans to by-pass the area had been undone by the enemy's refusal to be bypassed. While a wider swing around the position might have been more successful, the hour was too late to permit further efforts, and the regiment dug in for the night.93
On and near the western shore the 2d Marines viewed Garapan from commanding positions at the town's southern edge. Further advance could only carry to less favorable terrain. General Watson, therefore, ordered the regiment to hold its positions along Radio Road until units to the right had seized the high ground on that flank. Meanwhile, security patrols moved out to the front. One 10-man patrol from the Scout-Sniper Platoon departed on a reconnaisance mission into Garapan at 2100, returning two hours and a half later. It received fire from a machine gun located in the rubble, but otherwise observed no enemy activity. No casualties were suffered on this mission.94
Of the 2d Marines' operations during 25 June, the Japanese chief of staff of the 31st Army wrote:
The enemy has broken into our line . . . at the southernmost edge of Garapan and are reinforcing continually their troops (20 odd tanks; 20 odd artillery pieces; about 700 infantry troops have been observed).95
The Division Shore Party, no longer engaged in unloading supplies or equipment, furnished 200 replacements to the 6th and 8th Marines: 110 to the former, 90 to the latter.96
The 25th Marines, assigned as NTLF reserve on 23 June, remained in its assigned assembly
PRIVATE FIRST CLASS HAROLD G. EPPERSON, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for intentionally smothering a grenade's explosion with his own body and thereby protecting several comrades nearby (25 June 1944).
area in the vicinity of Hill 500. At 1855 the regiment's 2d Battalion was attached to the 2d Marine Division and further to the 8th Regiment, which could well use any available troops to assist in watching over the exposed right. With this attachment, Colonel Wallace commanded five battalions: three from the 8th Marines, the 1st Battalion, 29th Marines, and the 2d Battalion, 25th Marines.97
Stalemate at Nafutan Point
On Nafutan Point the virtual stalemate continued. The narrative account of the 2d Battalion, 105th Infantry, says that:
Enemy resistance on the ridges was stubborn. The terrain consisted of steep ridges, deep gulches with cliffs, ground broken with coral pinnacles and thick jungles type underbrush which impeded progress and made observation impossible.98
SAIPAN CH00 CH00 was an important supply means, particularly in the Aslito Airfield-Charan Kanoa-Garapan area. Whistle stop at rear is Charan Kanoa.
The only artillery (excepting naval gunfire) directly available to the Garrison Force (which now had the mission of securing Nafutan Point) was the antiaircraft artillery. In view of the nature of the terrain, it was considered that air bursts in the tree tops, approximately 12 feet above ground level, would be particularly effective. Accordingly, registration fire was conducted during the afternoon of 25 June in order to have antiaircraft batteries registered for preparation fires on 26 June.99
On 25 June, Island Command, an organization which would administer Saipan after its capture, assumed responsibility for the southern part of the island. The only infantry unit available to it at this time was the 2d Battalion, 105th Infantry, still engaged in the Nafutan Point mop-up. Improvement and development of facilities at, and around, Aslito Airfield would hereafter be conducted under Island Command supervision. The little narrow-gauge railroad that ran from Charan Kanoa up to Aslito Airfield was put to good use, gasoline and bombs being carried on its tiny cars, pulled by a hastily repaired steam locomotive.
Night of 25-26 June
From Sunharon harbor on the west coast of Tinian, 11 personnel barges moved out during darkness of 25-26 June apparently bent upon reinforcing Saipan. Spotted by the destroyer Bancroft and the destroyer escort Elden, the barges were fired upon and dispersed. One was reported sunk, while the remainder scurried back to Tinian Town. Later, at about 0225, LCI(G)'s 438 and 456 observed several barges moving out of Tanapag Harbor on Saipan's west coast. Immediately opening fire, the LCI(G)'s accounted for one sunk and a second damaged; the remainder returned to Tanapag.
Both LCI(G)'s received some damage during this repulse, however. The 438 received 12 holes in her hull from one of the barges' 37mm guns, damaging the fire main, starting batteries and radar. The 456 suffered less, with only slight damage to her winch and refrigerator. The 438 suffered one man killed and two wounded and the 456 two wounded. A report from one of the LCI's that the Japanese barges had unleashed torpedoes during this action was later substantiated by a prisoner of war who stated that there were at least three torpedoes fired at U. S. ships at this time.100
With the exception of barge activity, the withdrawal of the 2d Battalion, 106th Infantry, down Death Valley, and the abortive Japanese effort to push the 1st Battalion, 29th Marines, off Tapotchau's summit, the night of 25-26 June was quiet.
"There Is No Hope for Victory . . ."
In two dispatches sent to the commanding general on Yap, General Iketa estimated that Japanese front line strength had been cut to less than 20 percent, leaving major Army units at the following levels:
118th Infantry Regiment--about 300
135th Infantry Regiment--about 350
136th Infantry Regiment--about 300
47th Independent Mixed Brigade--about 100
7th Independent Engineers--about 70
3d Independent Mountain Artillery Regiment--no weapons
9th Tank Regiment--3 tanks
There is every indication that Iketa underestimated the actual figures. But, on the other hand, it is believable that commanders of the various units listed had no more men available than shown in Iketa's message, as many Japanese, separated from their parent commands, were fighting alone or in small groups. As the Japanese were pushed back and compressed into the northern end of the island, these totals probably were raised. Moreover, no figures for Japanese Navy units were included in the message.
In the same message, Iketa conveyed information that the 47th Brigade was now under command of a 1st Lieutenant and the 7th Engineers under a sergeant. Japanese reserve units (companies and platoons), hospital units, equipment, maintenance and supply units were either "completely wiped out or reduced to the point where no fighting strength [could] be expected of them."101
Elderly General Saito had spent 11 discouraging days. He had found that the Americans continued to move forward despite the best efforts of his troops. Such counterattacks as he had been able to mount had been repulsed with heavy losses. The bulk of his artillery had been knocked out or overrun by the American onslaught. He had suffered critical losses in his principal subordinate commanders, and many of those that remained were not satisfactory from his point of view. Functioning of his command post had been seriously retarded by the insistent probing fires of American naval vessels. And, perhaps most serious, communications were so unsatisfactory that it was virtually impossible for him to make his decisions known. The avalanche of disappointing details had drained Saito of all optimism by 25 June, causing him to send the following message to the Chief of Staff in Tokyo:
Having lost the influence of the Emperor due to the weakness of our representatives, we are not able to work at at our best here. Please apologize deeply to the Emperor that we cannot do better than we are doing.
However, the right hand men of the Emperor are rejoicing because they are not in places of death during the fight. The Governor General of the South Seas--a non-combatant, will retreat to the north end of Saipan island and the army will defend its positions to the very end, though that be death, to guard the Treasure. However, because of the units sunk at sea, the various forces have no fighting strength, though they do have large numbers; it is regrettable that there has been considerable disturbance in time of battle from the points of view of control and of code books and other secret documents.
There is no hope for victory in places where we do not have control of the air and we are still hoping here for aerial reinforcements.
Biggest obstacle to our forces, according to one unit commander, is lack of care in the selection of battalion commanders and above.
Praying for the good health of the Emperor, we all cry, 'Banzai'!102
Thus the handwriting on the wall had been transposed to paper.
D-plus 11--26 June
Mop-Up on Kagman Peninsula
Tinian, only three nautical miles south of Saipan, had never had reason to feel left out of the battle. Task Force 58's pre-D-Day strikes against targets in the Marianas had included Tinian, and since the Saipan landings naval guns and aircraft had pounded Tinian with daily regularity. Neither had General Harper's Corps Artillery forgotten Tinian; one battery of 155mm guns had turned toward that island on 20 June, and an entire 155mm battalion assumed the mission on 24 June. After 26 June, Tinian's defenders would have even less reason to feel neglected by the Americans.
This date marked the beginning of heavier and more systematic blows. The new plan, carefully coordinated between artillery, ships, and air, divided the island into a north and a south half. Air and naval gunfire alternated daily, working first in one half and then in the other, while artillery fired on any targets escaping other attention. A target map was maintained, information exchanged and new targets posted. Cruisers Birmingham, Montpelier and Indianapolis, using both air and direct (ship-board) spot, were assigned to execute the naval gunfire portion of the plan, while planes would be provided by Carrier Support Groups One and Two.103
Along the front of the three divisions there was little forward movement on 26 June. Having completed its mission of seizing Kagman Peninsula, the 4th Division, pinched from the Corps' front, was designated as NTLF reserve. Mopping-up was still essential, however, and the 23d and 24th Marines set about patrolling assigned sectors and outposting the coast line. In their roles as NTLF reserve, the 23d and 24th Marines reconnoitered routes to the 27th and 2d Divisions' zones respectively.
Throughout the day Japanese field pieces emplaced on the high ground (Purple Heart Ridge) in the Army division's zone continued to fire at the Marines on Kagman Peninsula. While relatively few casualties resulted from this fire, its harrassing effects were considerable. Efforts of the 4th Division to get permission from the 27th Division to fire on these targets were hampered by discouraging delays. Though permission was eventually gained, the loss of time allowed the Japanese to move their weapons to new locations and the lengthy cycle was repeated. These delays, not indicative of uncooperativeness, stemmed from the necessity for all units checking twice before permitting other units to fire into their area. Precautions were necessary.
The 4th Division's assignment as NTLF reserve was short-lived. Before the division could be completely assembled, a warning order directed it to move back into the lines the following morning and take over the right of the Corps' front. The 25th Marines would remain at Hill 500 in NTLF reserve.104
With Kagman Peninsula secured, movement of equipment began for construction of an airfield there. Work on Aslito Airfield, commenced almost at the moment the field was captured, had succeeded by 26 June in lengthening the strip to 4,500 feet and widening it to 300 feet.105
Colonel Stebbins Takes Over 106th Infantry
Progress of the 27th Division was slow. General Jarman's disappointment with Colonel Ayres had been magnified by the 2d Battalion's withdrawal during the night; and, when the 106th Infantry failed to launch its attack by 1000 on the morning of 26 June, he took drastic action. In his words:
I immediately sent forward General Kernan, the Artillery Commander, and Lieutenant Colonel Sheldon, G-3 of the Division, to look over the situation and see how the artillery could help them move forward. They both came back and stated that the battalions were standing still and there was no reason why they should not move forward and any artillery fire needed at any point would be brought to bear. They indicated that the regiment was somewhat demoralized and they didn't know whether it would ever move. I immediately relieved the Chief of Staff, Colonel Stebbins (26 June) and sent him forward to relieve Coloned Ayres, and brought Colonel Ayres back to my headquarters and returned him to Pearl Harbor.106
Brigadier General Ross, the assistant division commander, was then assigned additional duty as chief of staff.107
At 1409, 26 June, General Jarman sent a message of encouragement to all 27th Division units:
This division is advancing against a determined enemy that must be destroyed. Upon capturing a position, never give it up: hold and send reinforcements. I know I can depend on every member of the 27th to get into this fight with everything he has. Good hunting to every man.108
After assuming command of the 106th Infantry, Colonel Stebbins spent the remainder of the day organizing the unit and moving the battalions into position for the attack of 27 June. Such action as was attempted on 26 June was unsuccessful "due to fatigue on the part of the men."109
Major O'Hara, commanding the 2d Battalion, advised General Jarman as to where he encountered his greatest resistance on the preceding night. Fires of the 27th Division artillery were placed on the designated points. In addition, the Cannon Company, 106th
TROUBLESOME CLIFF on the 106th Infantry's left flank was pounded by all available weapons. Here, on 26 June, tank destroyers deploy to fire into the cliff. Ultimately, 27th Division soldiers reduced the enemy positions by working from the top of cliffs downward.
Infantry, continued to fire 105mm howitzer shells point-blank into the troublesome cliff face.
On the right of the 27th Division zone the 165th Infantry, with the 1st Battalion, 105th Infantry, attached, succeeded in by-passing the valley strong point, and attaining positions from which to move northward in conjunction with the 4th Marine Division. On the evening of 26 June Colonel Kelley, commanding the 165th, was informed that his regiment was detached from the 27th Division and attached to the 4th Marine Division.
At about 2100, after reporting to the 4th Division command post, Colonel Kelley received orders for the next day's attack. The 4th Division would advance with the 165th Infantry on the left and the 23d Marines on the right and seize Objective O-6. Colonel Kelley thereupon conferred with Colonel Jones of the 23d Marines and Colonel Hart of the 24th Marines to coordinate plans for the next day's attack.110
By-Passing the Pocket
Important to the future action of the 2d Marine Division was the successful by-passing of the north Tipo Pale pocket. The tactics were basically the same as those used the previous day except that the detour was wider and the execution successful. Company E, 6th Marines (which had spent the previous day battering at the pocket), passed around to the right while Company F swung left of the irksome draw. By inserting a platoon of Company G between Companies E and F on the pocket's north side, contact was regained and the 2d Battalion's proper frontage assumed. Company K, by now familiar with the difficulties of cleaning the draw, remained behind to contain and, eventually, obliterate this stumbling block.
By 1400, the 6th Marines had gained contact with the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, on the right, and the move to the north was resumed. With improvement of the situation on the right of the 6th Marines' lines, it was possible for
Lieutenant Colonel Jones' 1st Battalion to move forward. No advance, save for patrolling of its zone of action, had been feasible for the 1st Battalion since 24 June. Advances on 26 June carried it to positions from which to deliver fires in support of the other two battalions of the regiment.
To the north, the 2d Battalion faced an open flat field, covered only with the scraggly stubble of what had once been sugar cane. Since the objective, a dominating ridge line, lay some 500 to 600 yards away on the far side of the open expanse, it fell to the 2d Battalion to cross the flat and seize the high ground. The Marines had advanced only a short distance when Japanese automatic weapons, emplaced at the base of the ridge line on the north side of the field, opened with grazing fire. Company E, on the right, was particularly hard hit and stopped. Supporting fires, adjusted upon the suspected enemy firing positions, were effective and some progress was made, but darkness found the objective well out of reach.
As the 2d Battalion dug in for the night, several gaps were discovered in the lines. To fill these, rifle platoons of Company G were inserted at various points along the front. Used thus as piecemeal reinforcements, Company G lost its unit identity and was not reformed as a company until the next day.111
In the 8th Marines zone the day's advances were small. On the left the 1st Battalion regulated its progress on that of the 6th Marines. On the right the 2d Battalion's advance was restrained because of the lack of contact with 27th Division elements (except Company F, 106th Infantry). In the 8th Marines' center, the 3d Battalion and the 1st Battalion, 29th Marines, made only small gains. The attached 2d Battalion, 25th Marines, remained with the regiment during the greater portion of the day, Company E being used in the lines, while the remainder of the battalion was employed in mopping-up operations. At 1500, the 2d Battalion, 25th Marines, reverted to NTLF reserve. This reversion was only temporary, however, as the unit was reattached the next day.
As already noted, the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, could move only as fast as the 6th Marines to its left if it were to retain contact. The deeply-gashed ground, more than enemy opposition, governed the rate of advance. One unusual enemy tactic employed against the battalion at this time is worthy of note: bundles of picric acid blocks were catapulted upon the Marines by Japanese soldiers located in the craggy rocks along the route. This device showed originality but little else; no casualties were inflicted upon the Marines.
Higher on Tapotchau's western slopes, the 3d Battalion also fought through difficult terrain. A statement from the 8th Marines' action report gives an indication of the problems in that zone: "To go from the left flank of 3/8 to the right flank of 3/8 required a two hour and 40 minute march over rough terrain."
At some points the Japanese threw or rolled grenades and demolition charges down upon the Marines as they struggled through the hilly thickets. And as if that were not enough, Japanese positioned above directed plunging machine-gun fire upon the advancing men. The 3d Battalion's left flank kept pace with the 1st Battalion, but the right flank lagged behind. By nightfall the 3d Battalion's lines stretched almost north and south along the base of a steep slope.
On 25 June the 1st Battalion, 29th Marines, less one company, had secured a foothold on the summit of Mt. Tapotchau. It remained on 26 June, then, for Company B to move up the mountain's western slope and join the battalion. While waiting for this unit, Lieutenant Colonel Tompkins sent a 25-man combat patrol from Company A to seize the northernmost rise of Tapotchau's crest. This patrol was repulsed after some hard fighting, and it became apparent that this area would have to be thoroughly battered before a successful effort could be made. In the meantime Company B reached the mountain top, combing the area on the way.
From the 2d Battalion position (on the extreme right), the Marines observed men of the 2d Battalion, 106th Infantry, attempting to move up on the division flank. By the close of
NAFUTAN POINT: Pre-D-Day view of Saipan's southernmost tip. Japanese defenders slipped through lines of the 2d Battalion, 105 Infantry, on the night of 26-27 and struck Aslito Airfield and Hill 500.
the day, however, a gap of 600 yards still existed. To protect the exposed flank, the 2d Battalion bent its lines to the shape of a horseshoe with one company facing north, one east, and one south.
To sum up, the most important developments in the 8th Marines' sector during the day were the straightening of several small bulges in the lines and consolidation of the dominating heights won on 25 June.112
On the left of the division, Colonel Stuart's 2d Marines confined its activities to sending patrols 400 yards to the front. Those from the 1st Battalion came back with a report of no enemy contacts, but a 3d Battalion patrol encountered and destroyed a Japanese 37mm gun and its entire crew. Otherwise, 26 June was uneventful in the 2d Marines area.113
"Seven Lives for One's Country"
In preparation for the day's attack on Nafutan Point, the 81mm mortars of the 2d Battalion, 105th Infantry, commenced softening-up fires at 0645. The 90mm guns of Batteries A and B, 751st AAA Gun Battalion joined in the preparation from 0750 to 0800, then stood by for all call fires. Further fire support was provided by three destroyers (Patterson, McNair, Selfridge) whose fires were used against possible targets along the west side of the peninsula's cliff line. Two 40mm guns and an SPM (self-propelled mount) were brought up to fire into cave entrances along the cliff line.
In regard to the employment of antiaircraft guns for support of the attack on Nafutan Point, Colonel O'Connell, commanding operations in that area, reported that:
the high muzzle velocity of these weapons, their rapid rate of fire and the flexibility obtainable by raising and lowering height of burst made them particularly effective. . . . There was scarcely a tree that had not been scarred and more than half of the enemy dead observed were badly mangled.114
The infantry attacked at 0800, spearheaded by the light tanks of Company D, 762d Tank Battalion. Although progress was slow and the day's advance slight, an enemy strong point, containing a 75mm field gun and seven machine guns, was reduced. Also, it was felt that the objective area had been considerably
softened as a result of the supporting fires.115
The attack on the strong point had demanded the concentration of all three rifle companies of the 2d Battalion in one area of Nafutan Point. Since the day's activities had not ended until late in the afternoon, it was considered that insufficient time existed to redeploy the battalion over its broad front. In addition, it was felt that too much time would be wasted on the following morning reassembling the battalion for the continuation of the attack. This situation all added up to the fact that vast expanses of the front were left uncovered or only under observation by small outposts. It had been hoped that these outposts could give warning of any enemy movement in time for the battalion to shift its strength.116 (See Map 16.)
Life had not been pleasant for the Japanese Nafutan Point defenders. From seaward, destroyers pounded the rocks and caves unmercifillly; from land, a monotonously heavy volume of fire was maintained by 40mm and 90mm antiaircraft guns, and 81mm and 60mm mortars, as well as fires of the light tank platoon, the self-propelled mount, and small arms of the 2d Battalion, 105th Infantry. Movement on the point was rendered very difficult, and the shortage of food and water became acute. Captain Sasaki, commanding the 317th Independent Infantry Battalion of the 47th Independent Mixed Brigade, determined to move his battalion from the Nafutan Point trap and join other Japanese forces which he believed to be in the vicinity of Hill 500. On 26 June Sasaki issued the following battalion order:
The enemy situation is the same as you have been informed.
The Battalion will carry out an attack at midnight tonight. After causing confusion at the airfield, we will advance to Brigade Headquarters in the Field.
C. 0. of the Ikeda Company will command the first attack unit. Under his command will be: #3 Company, the Hira Company, and the Murone Platoon. C. 0. of the Koshiro Company will be C. 0. of the second attack unit and will have under his command the Inoue unit, the Engineers, the remaining Naval units. Units will assemble at 1930 in areas to be designated separately. You must carry out the attack from the designated places.
Casualties will remain in their present positions and defend Nafutan Mount. Those who cannot participate in combat must commit suicide.
We will carry the maximum of weapons and supplies.
The password for tonight will be "Shichi Sei Hokoku" (Seven lives for one's country).
I will follow after the second attack unit.
Bn C. 0.
Moving undiscovered through the thinly-spread outposts of the 2d Battalion, 105th Infantry, Sasaki's force headed for Aslito Airfield. The only indication that men of the 2d Battalion had that the enemy was on the move came at about 0200 when "an extremely large group" stumbled into the command post, about 1,500 yards in rear of the front lines. After a lively skirmish, in which the soldiers suffered 24 casualties, the intruders disappeared. The next morning the bodies of 27 Japanese were found in the immediate command post area.118
At about 0230 Sasaki's force struck Aslito Airfield. All U. S. personnel in that area were alerted after the enemy succeeded in setting fire to one P-47 and damaging three others.
Seabees and engineers quickly rallied to their unexpected mission, cleared the field of Japanese and set up a hasty defense. At 0430 the Commander, Air Defense Command, reported that enemy .50-caliber machine guns and 20mm guns were firing on Aslito Airfield.
After causing confusion at the airfield, the force advanced toward Hill 500, where they expected to find Colonel Oka's 47th Independent Mixed Brigade Headquarters (which had left the hill many days before). At about 0520 there were two surprises: the first was to Sasaki's men, who received an unexpected reception from the 25th Marines (still in NTLF reserve) on Hill 500, and the second surprise was for the 25th Marines, who were not expecting visitors and, in some cases, found the Japanese in their midst before they realized that anything was afoot. Both participants quickly
Positions of 2d Battalion, 105th Infantry
recovered from the shock, however, and a lively small arms and hand grenade battle ensued.
At about the same time, the 14th Marines, in artillery firing positions between Hill 500 and Aslito Airfield, was attacked by another portion of Sasaki's force. The brunt of this assault was borne by the 2d Battalion (Lieutenant Colonel Wilson), which held its fire until a precariously late moment, mistaking the advancing Japanese column for a large U. S. Army patrol scheduled to pass through the area at about this time. A savagely-fought, close-in battle ensued, virtually annihilating the attacking force. Total 14th Marines' casualties in the skirmish were 33 killed and wounded, while 143 Japanese bodies lay sprawled in the regiment's immediate area.
With the coming of daylight, the 25th Marines were assigned the mission of mopping up the stragglers from the abortive enemy effort of the previous night. Total Japanese losses in the fight around Aslito Airfield, at Hill 500, and in the 14th Marines' area, plus the 27 June mop-up by the 25th Marines, amounted to approximately 500 dead. The participants, some of whom wore United States uniforms and carried M-1 rifles, appeared greatly in need of water and rations.119
This attack, though better planned than the average Japanese effort, achieved very little, and Sasaki's password "seven lives for one's country" remained only a slogan.
Elsewhere on Saipan there was little activity. The 2d Marine Division, however, reported Japanese mortar fire (estimated as 90mm) which traversed the entire front of the division and denied the men their much-needed rest.120
Although unsubstantiated by any of the three U. S. divisions, a report by First Lieutenant Otsu, commanding the 6th Company of the Japanese 135th Infantry Regiment, proudly detailed the news that on the night of 26-27 June he and 15 men broke through "several lines . . . . destroying at least 150 men," and wiping out a command post and about one company on a hill southwest of Mt. Tapotchau. For this imaginary feat of valor Otsu later received mention in a report from Major General Iketa.121 The lieutenant deserved much more.
In his summary of 26 June Major General Iketa felt--correctly--that there had been "no great change in the battle lines." Again, however, mention was made of the fact that communications were difficult because of heavy concentrations of mortar fire.
Because the battle conditions are as they are [wrote Iketa to the 20th Division on Yap] we would like the following articles shipped by fast air. They are listed in their order of importance and we have listed the minimum number in brackets ( ).
Type 93 mechanical fuzes--10,000 (3,000)
Type 1 (Mk 1 ) ignition fuse percussion primers--2,000 ea (600)
Fuse Wire--500 meters
B18 dry cells--1,000 (200)
Mark 4 levels--500 (200)
Type 88 instantaneous fuses--5,000 (3,000)
By 26 June the volume of enemy artillery fire had slackened to a mere sprinkle when compared to the deluge of the first days of the operation. This dimunition had been credited to the fact that most of the enemy's artillery had been destroyed. While this, for the most part, was true, it appears from the foregoing dispatch that at least some of the enemy's artillery was curtailed owing to a shortage of fuzes and other accessories.
Since 22 June the 31st Army staff had attempted to comply with a request, presumably from Tokyo, to supply "information on actual condition of the enemy and our sea and air supremacy in the surrounding sectors of the Marianas. . . ." With the U. S. strangle hold tightening about its neck, the 31st Army staff had difficulty furnishing the information. On 26 June, however, an estimate was made which concluded:
In short, the enemy at present time has complete control of the sea and air in the Marianas area. Nevertheless we regard it as a great weak point on the part of the enemy that in the Saipan area the local air superiority consists of two CVE's.122
In connection with the latter message, the old military axiom applied: never underestimate your enemy. Because only two CVE's could be seen was no reason to assume that there were no others available to intercept a Japanese move into the Marianas area.
Japanese requests for reinforcements were uniformly frantic. On the evening of 26 June the commanding officer of the 50th Infantry Regiment on Tinian received another communication treating the subject:
This is a preparatory order. As rapidly as possible you are to carry out an amphibious operation to Saipan with two large landing craft. Landing point will be coast east of Hanichiru. Reply.123
Although the reply to this communication is not contained in documents consulted, the move, for some reason, was delayed until the 2d of July, when it met with disastrous results.
During the night of 26-27 June enemy aircraft again became active against shipping off Saipan. At 2040 shipboard radar picked up about 10 Japanese planes heading for the island. Flash Red was immediately ordered and the smoke plan executed. In an attempt to peer through the screen, the Japanese dropped parachute flares over the anchorage. At 2130 an enemy light bomber crashed into the jumbo boom on the cargo ship (AK) Mercury, unleashing a torpedo as the plane disintegrated. The torpedo penetrated a living compartment where the air flask exploded causing superficial damage. The torpedo's war head, fortunately, did not arm.
Aslito Airfield was bombed during the same raid, causing 11 personnel casualties. Otherwise, the attack was uneventful, except for a collision between one U. S. P-61 night fighter taking off and another landing. Both were lost.
In a later attack, at about 2300, "several" Japanese planes failed to achieve a single hit and in the process lost one bomber to ships' gunfire.124
Progress in Unloading
Since D-Day (15 June), supplies and equipment had poured across Saipan's western beaches in a steady flow. By D-plus 10 (25 June) the assault shipping with the exception of Transport Division 34125 was completely unloaded; approximately 60,000 troops and 75,000 tons of supplies (with a daily average of 6,563 tons) had been landed. This rate of unloading was very satisfactory, especially when considered in relation to the following hinderances: (1) artillery and mortar fire on the beaches until D-plus 4; (2) retirement of transports during the first two nights and then continuous retirement of the bulk of the transports for the next four days because of the Battle of the Philippine Sea; (3) shoals and reefs at low tide which made it necessary to use "ducks" and LVT's exclusively during these periods over Red, Green and Yellow Beaches; and (4) the narrow and shallow channel off Blue Beaches which at low tide would only accommodate LCM's and LCVP's.
A great problem, in addition to moving supplies to the beach, was the handling of these supplies once there. Many types of landing craft became bottlenecked at the beachline (offering the enemy choice targets) and only the ducks and LVT's could move inland to dump their loads. Fairly extensive use was made of pallets (large, flat sleds upon which cargo was lashed) towed behind a duck. Without pausing for manhandling, the ducks could pull a pallet from a ship several thousands yards off shore to a supply dump well inland. So, besides relieving the beach snarl, pallets and ducks also reduced the amount of labor required.
The two Marine divisions made only limited use, while the 27th Infantry Division made extensive use, of palletization. The latter division, which had conducted a number of experiments and devoted considerable training in the handling the palletized cargo, even requested permission to palletize beyond the directed amounts. The Marine divisions were reluctant to embrace this system whole-heartedly because: (1) pallets were costly in labor, time, and material, and consumed considerable ships' space; and (2) pallets were difficult to handle by inexperienced personnel.
23 - 24 - 25 and 26 June 1944
NAVY HOSPITAL CORPSMAN administers blood plasma to a wounded Marine near the front lines before evacuating him to rear areas. Other wounded men wait their turn for attention.
General Holland Smith, while acknowledging that there was much discussion pro and con in regard to palletization, concluded that "the reasons for palletization overbalance the negative effects," and, "in the future, consideration should be given to palletizing larger amounts of assault cargo."126
It appeared on 26 June that the evacuation situation was rapidly approaching a major crisis. On 21 June Group A transports had retired from Saipan carrying 1,474 casualties, followed the next day by Group B transports127 with 1,400 casualties on board. Hospital ships Relief and Samaritan had departed with 1,355 casualties on 23 June. Transports of the reserve group left Saipan on 25 June with 675 casualties. With this exodus, only the Cambria, Rocky Mount, two hospital ships (Solace and Bountiful) and assorted merchant cargo ships remained. The latter ships' capacities were limited due to their lack of medical personnel, and since the Cambria and Rocky Mount were to remain in the area, they could not be used for evacuation purposes. Fortunately, the casualty rate decreased, and no epidemics occurred during the critical period.
Considerable assistance to the over-burdened medical facilities was provided by the beginning of air evacuation from Aslito Airfield on 25 June. By the end of the operation, 860 casualties had been evacuated to the Marshalls by this means. Valuable as this method was, Admiral Turner noted that:
During the early stage of air evacuation, planes were not supplied with medical attendants, nor was a flight surgeon available for giving advice as to whether or not patients could sustain an air flight. Several serious casualties died enroute or shortly after arrival at destination. A flight surgeon with adequate medical attendants should be provided for air fields at the objective to supervise air evacuation.128
"Routine" was the word for the activities of the various medical installations on Saipan: routine in a heroic way. Their routine duties often extended well into the marginal combat functions of the Marines and soldiers for whom they cared. Daily activities of medical personnel placed them in the most dangerous of locations; where a man would fall, he would most often need attention. This help and care, almost invariably, would be at the hands of medical personnel who would move into the very bull's-eye and provide the necessary comfort and assistance. No immunity was accorded them by Japanese, who would fire on a man with a red cross on his sleeve as on one without it. And yet, fully aware that they were moving into an exposed position which had already claimed one or more casualties, the "docs" (and they were all called that, whether doctor or corpsmen) unhesitatingly went on their missions of mercy. A profound sense of duty transcended whatever fears they may have felt. In the pursuance of their important functions, these courageous men won the esteem and respect of all hands.
Related Raids by U. S. Navy
In a move designed principally to keep the Japanese off balance and never firmly set for counterpunches, Pagan Island was raided on 23 June by Carrier Task Group One. Nor were sister islands in the Marianas neglected; almost daily photo reconnaissance missions were flown over Guam and Tinian so that any changes in the situation or dispositions could be taken into account before the landings. On 25 June Carrier Task Group Three executed powerful bombing raids against Guam and Rota to cripple further the airfields and installations on those islands.129
The first of the post-battle naval raids to involve more than routine operations was an attempted strike against the Volcano-Bonin group which the Japanese turned into an air battle of impressive proportions. At 0600 on 24 June Vice Admiral Joseph J. Clark's Task Group 58.1 (Hornet, Yorktown and Bataan) launched a long-range fighter sweep (48 Hellcats) against Iwo Jima which was intercepted by a large number of enemy fighters. In the resulting action, four U. S. Hellcats were downed while Japanese losses were estimated at 68 fighters and bombers. This defeat, however, did not discourage the enemy from attempting an attack against Clark's task group with the remnants of his local air strength. This attempt proved equally disastrous: U. S. interceptors shot down 46 more aircraft to raise the day's total to 114. Its mission completed without bombing the airfields, Task Group 58.1 retired to Eniwetok without incident.130
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (3) * Next Chapter (5)
1. NTLF Operation Order 9-44. NTLF G-3 Periodic Report No. 8.
2. 4th Mar Div Report, 22-23.
3. 24th Mar Report, 20.
4. During the withdrawal an unusual incident occurred: dragging its wounded, Company L pulled back, only to discover that a wounded radio operator had been left behind. This casualty, lying in a flat, open, fire-swept area which defied rescue by stretcher bearers, was in a pitiable plight. But, at this juncture, Lieutenant Robert E. Stevenson, from Company A, 4th Tank Battalion, ran a medium tank into the area, straddled the wounded radio operator, and pulled him safely into the tank through the escape hatch in the tank's deck.
5. 25th Mar Report. 6. 3d Bn, 25th Mar Report 8-9. The 4th Division planning officer, Lieutenant Colonel Evans F. Carlson, was wounded while observing action of the 3d Battalion, 25th Marines, during the day.
6. 23d Mar Report, 40. 3d Bn, 23 Mar Report, 3.
7. 4th Mar Div Report, 23. 3d Bn. 25th Mar Report, 9. 3d Bn, 24th Mar Report, 4.
8. 2d Mar Div Report, Section VI, 9. 8th Mar Report, 4. 1st Bn, 29th Mar Report, 4-5. Ltr from Col J. P. Juhan to CMC, 12Jan50.
9. 2d Mar Div Report, Section VI, 9-10. 6th Mar Report, 7. Fisher. M. P. Ryan.
10. 2d Mar Div Report, 10. 2d Mar Report, 4.
11. 2d Mar Div Report, 10. 106th Inf Report, 4. At 0600, 23 June, the 106th Infantry, which had operated under NTLF control since comng ashore on 20 June, returned to the 27th Division.
12. General Ralph Smith was disappointed by this change of decision, as he felt that one battalion was insufficient for the job. On 23 June he wrote Holland Smith on the subject, recommending that personnel in the vicinity of Aslito Airfield be warned of the possibility of Japanese on Nafutan Point infiltrating the lines of the 2d Battalion, 105th Infantry, and attacking the field. Ralph Smith asked that Seabees and air force personnel take steps to provide security against any such occurrence. The 27th Infantry Division in World War II, 194.
13. NTLF Operation Order 10-44.
14. 27th Inf Div F. O. #46. NTLF Operation Order # 10-44.
15. NTLF G-3 Journal, 23June44.
16. Lemp, 14-15. 106 Inf Report, 4.
17. 3d Bn. 25th Mar Report, 9.
18. 14th Mar Report, 7. 106th Inf Report, 4.
19. TF 51 Report, Annex 1 to Encl A.
20. Hill 285 (unnamed and unnumbered on U. S. maps) was located about one mile southwest of Tapotchau's crest and less than one-half mile southeast of Tipo Pale. The "enemy" here referred to was elements of the 2d Battalion, 2d Marines (right unit of the 6th Regiment), and the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines (left unit of the 8th Regiment).
21. Hill 163 was designated Hill 500 on U. S. maps. It had been seized on 20 June by the 3d Battalion, 25th Marines.
22. Hills 230 and 343 were unnamed and unnumbered on U. S. maps. The former was the first high ground west of Tipo Pale and the latter about 1,200 yards south of Tapotchau's crest.
23. CINCPAC-CINCPOA Item #9983-85, 15-16. All foregoing Japanese quotes from this source.
25. TF 51 Report, Encl A, 8. The AAF Against Japan, 189--191. One Damned Island After Another, C. Howard and J. Whitley, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1946, 223-224. These were U. S. Army Air Force night fighters. The first U. S. Marine night fighter squadron (VMF(N)-532) did not arrive at Saipan until 12 July 1944.
26. TF 51 Report, Encl A, 8; Annex 1 to Encl A; Encl L.
27. The 106th Infantry Report blames this situation on an error by guides furnished from the 4th Marine Division.
28. Colonel Kelley felt that it was ". . . of interest to note here that the Marines we relieved expressed their happiness at being relieved from this zone of action, as they considered it the strongest position they had run up against."
29. 165 Inf Report, 5. Kelley. Lemp.
30. 106 Inf Report, 4.
31. The 27th's Battle For Saipan, 12.
32. 165th Inf Report, 5.
33. 106th Inf Report, 5.
34. Memo for Record, MajGen S. Jarman, 23Jun44.
35. Dillon. 23d Mar Report, 40-42. 2d Bn, 23d Mar Report, 3-4.
36. 24th Mar Report, 20. 1st, 2d and 3d Bn, 24th Mar Reports, 5 of all reports.
37. 25th Mar Report, 6.
38. 2d Mar Div Report, Section VI, 10-11. 8th Mar Report, 4-5. 1st Bn, 8th Mar Report, 6. Interview with Maj W. C. Chamberlin, 14Apr49, hereinafter cited as Chamberlin.
39. 2d Mar Div Report. Section VI, 11. 6th Mar Report, 7-8.
40. CINCPAC-CINCPOA Item #9983-85, 17.
41. 2d Mar Div Report, Section VI, 11-12.
42. It will be remembered that the 27th Division had also issued an order to this unit for 23 June, an order that was similar to the one from NTLF except that it omitted the time that the move was to begin.
43. Narrative of Events, 2d Battalion, 105th Infantry, June 22-July 3.
44. 165th Inf Report, 5. 106th Inf Report, 5.
45. 23d Mar Report, 41. L. R. Jones.
46. Church had assumed the R-3 duties on D-plus 1 after Lieutenant Colonel Howard V. Hiett was wounded.
47. 2d Mar Div Report, Section VI, 12. 10th Mar Report, 3. Ltr from Maj R. W. Sullivan to CMC, 3Jan 50.
48. Interview with Capt R. C. White, 8Dec49.
49. The "enemy" here referred to was the 3d Battallion, 6th Marines, and the 2d Battalion, 2d Marines.
50. The "enemy" here referred to was the 27th Division, and more specifically, the 106th Infantry.
51. The "200 infantry troops" here referred to were from the 24th Marines.
52. CINCPAC-CINCPOA Item #0983-85, 17-18.
53. This was the escort carrier Midway. On 10 October 1944 its name was changed to Saint Lo. A large carrier was later given the name Midway.
54. This ship, a battle-damage repair vessel, was formerly LST 15.
55. TF 51 Report, Annex 1 to Encl A and Encl L.
56. NTLF Operation Order 11-44.
57. 2d Mar Report, 4. Kyle. Interview with Maj H. K. Throneson, 20Jul49, hereinafter cited as Throneson. Interview with Capt L. V. Brooks, 8Aug49, hereinafter cited as Brooks.
58. 6th Mar Report, 8.
59. 8th Mar Report, 5-6. Chamberlin.
60. NTLF Operational Dispatches, Dispatch from CTG 56.1 to CG 27th Inf Div, 24Jun44.
61. Kelley, 7. 165th Inf Report, 5.
62. After the campaign, when appearing before a board of Army officers inquiring into the circumstances surrounding the relief of Major General Ralph Smith, Colonel Ayres was asked: "In your opinion, if your regiment had rapidly pressed its attack and advanced speedily across the open ground in your front, what would have been the result?" "My candid opinion," answered Ayres, "is that the regiment would have disappeared."
63. Lemp, 16-17. 106th Inf Report, 6. 27th Division G-3 Journal, 24 June 1944.
64. Ltr from CG NTLF, Ser 0063-3, 27Jun44, Subject: Conduct of Operations by 2d Bn. 105th Inf in the Nafutan Point Area. This letter omitted designation of addressee who is assumed to have been Admiral Nimitz. Admirals Spruance and Turner received copies.
65. The 27th's Battle For Saipan, 11. Memorandum For General Richardson from Col G. M. O'Connell, 12Jul44. NTLF General Order 2-44, 24Jun44, file 1990-5-10, 02/247.
66. These were M3A1 light tanks which had had their turret-mounted 37mm guns and ammunition racks removed and Ronson (Canadian) flame-throwers installed in lieu thereof. These improvised flame-throwers were unsatisfactory, particularly from a mechanical standpoint.
67. 23d Mar Report, 42. 24th Mar Report, 20-21. 4th Mar Div Report, Section VI, 24-25. L. R. Jones.
68. Coral and Brass, 172.
69. Memo For Record, 30Jun44, MajGen S. Jarman, hereinafter cited as Jarman.
70. Though five Army generals were relieved in the Pacific Theater during the war, only in this one instance, in which a Marine officer was the initiating agent, were there any nonoperational consequences. Infantry Journal, Nov48, "Smith vs Smith," 3.
71. Proceedings of a Board of Officers convened pursuant to Letter Orders, AG 333/3, Headquarters U. S. Army Forces Central Pacific Area, 4Jul44.
72. TF 51 Report, Encl A, 9; Annex 1 to Encl A.
73. 2d Mar Report, 4.
74. Rentsch. 6th Mar Report, 8.
75. 2d Bn, 24th Mar Report, 6.
76. Corps Arty S-3 Report, 7.
77. CINCPAC-CINCPOA Item #11,405.
78. The "300-400 troops" here referred to were elements of the 23d Marines.
79. CINCPAC-CINCPOA Item #9983-85, 18-19. The Oku Unit was scheduled as a reinforcement for Saipan. The exact strength of this unit is not indicated in documents consulted.
80. NTLF G-2 Report, 29.
81. 24th Mar Report, 21.
82. 23d Mar Report, 42-43. 2d Bn, 23d Mar Report, 4.
83. 4th Mar Div Report, Section VI, 26.
84. CINCPAC-CINCPOA Item #9983-85, 20.
85. Kelley, 7. Lemp, 17. 165th Inf Report, 6.
86. The 27th's Battle For Saipan, 13. Lemp, 17.
88. Lemp, 17.
90. Jarman. Lemp, 47.
91. CINCPAC-CINCP0A Item #9983-85, 20.
92. The foregoing is a synthesis of the following: 8th Mar Report, Unit Report 25Jun44; 1st Bn, 29th Mar Report, 6-7; Follow Me, Richard W. Johnston, 203-204; Marine Corps Gazette, Jul 46; "The Taking of Mt. Tapotchau," Capt J. R. Stockman; Chamberlin; Tompkins.
93. 6th Mar Report, 8-9.
94. 2d Mar Report, 4.
95. CINCPAC-CINCPOA Item #9983-85, 20.
96. 2d Mar Div Report, 14.
97. NTLF G-3 Journal, 25-26 Jun44. 2d Mar Div Report, 14-15. 25th Mar Report, 6.
98. Narrative of Events, 2d Battalion, 105th Infantry, June 22-July 3.
99. Ltr from Col G. M. O'Connell to CG, USAFICPA, 2Jul44, Subject: Operations in Nafutan Point Area, Saipan, 1, hereinafter cited as O'Connell Letter.
100. TF 51 Report, Encl A, 9; Encl L, 3.
101. CINCPAC-CINCPOA Item #9983-85, 22.
102. CINCPAC-CINCPOA Item #9983-85, 19.
103. TF 51 Report, Encl F, 22.
104. 4th Mar Div Report, Section VI, 27; 23d Mar Report, 43; 24th Mar Report, 21; 25th Mar Report, 6.
105. TF 51 Report, Encl A, 9.
106. Jarman. Colonel Ayres was ordered to report to USAFICPA (United States Army Forces In Central Pacific Area). TF 56, G-1 Journal, 1800, 25 June to 1800, 26 June 1944.
108. 27th Division G-3 Journal, 26Jun44.
109. Narrative Account of Operations of 27th Infantry Division During the Period 16 June-26 June, Colonel Albert K. Stebbins, 14Jul44, hereinafter cited as Stebbins.
110. Jarman. Lemp, 18. Kelley, 7-8. 165th Inf Report, 6.
111. 6th Mar Report, 9. Fisher Interview.
112. 2d Mar Div Report, Section VI, 15. 8th Mar Report, 15. 1st Bn, 29th Mar Report, 7.
113. 2d Mar Report, 4-5.
114. O'Connell, 3.
115. Ibid., 2.
116. The 27th Infantry Division in World War II, Capt E. G. Love, 219-222, hereinafter cited as Love.
117. NTLF G-2 Report, 34.
118. Love, 221.
119. NTLF G-2 Report, 34. TF 51 Report, Encl A, 10. 25th Mar Report, 6-7. 4th Mar Div Report, Section VI, 27. 14th Mar Report, 10. Ltr from Maj A. E. Buck to CMC, 26Dec49. Ltr from Maj W. McReynolds to CMC, 14Jan50. Ltr from LtCol G. B. Wilson to LtCol G. D. Gayle, 8Feb50.
120. 2d Mar Div Report, Section VI, 15.
121. CINCPAC-CINCP0A Item #9983-85, 27.
122. Ibid., 22-23.
123. Ibid., 23.
124. TF 51 Report, Annex 1 to Encl A; Encl L, 3.
125. Transport Division 34 was composed of four AP's and one AK from the Joint Expeditionary Force reserve.
126. COMINCH P-007, 5-7, 5-11. TF 51 Report, Encl A. 9.
127. Group A transports had lifted the 2d Marine Division while Group B had carried the 4th Division.
128. COMINCH P-007, 5-19 and 5-20.
129. TF 51 Report, Encl A, 8.
130. The Navy's Air War, 214.