1st Battalion, 8th Marines, LandsCol. Elmer E. Hall, commanding officer of the 8th Marines, with his headquarters group and the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, spent the night near the control vessel at the line of departure. As had been related, Hall did not receive the message from division sent during the afternoon of D-day instructing CT 8 and LT 1/8 to land on the eastern end of Betio. After waiting for several hours at the line of departure, Hall finally received a message from division at 0200 on the morning of 21 November requesting information as to the whereabouts of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, and the condition of the troops. Hall replied that the battalion landing team was resting easy in its boats near the Pursuit. Two and one-half hours later Hall received another message from division, this time ordering the same landing on the eastern end of the island planned the day before. The landing was to be made at 0900, and Hall was to make arrangements with the control vessel at the line of departure to mark a new line from which the boats would depart, well to the east of the present line. While Hall was making preparations to carry out this order, division received a message from the assistant division commander, Brigadier General Hermle, now on the Ringgold. With Hermle were Tompkins and Dutton; it will be recalled that these two officers had talked with Colonel Shoup at his command post ashore the night before. On the basis of what Shoup had told Tompkins, Hermle radioed division:
"Shoup desires 1/8 to land on Beach RED 2."
This message was sent at 0513. A few minutes later, Colonel Hall received new instructions from division. CT 8 and LT 1/8 were to land on RED 2 at once. When ashore, LT 1/8 was to attack to the west.
At 0615 the first wave of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, climbed out of its boats at the reef, about 500 yards out from the beach, and started to wade in to RED 2. The first four waves of the landing team came in in normal landing formation and came directly into the fire-swept zone north of the strongpoint on the boundary line of RED 1 and RED 2. Casualties were very heavy. From the reef in, each wave was hit by machine gun fire from both flanks and the troops that reached the beach were badly disorganized. As the first wave arrived on the beach, Colonel Shoup sent the men over to reinforce the units holding the right portion of the beachhead. By 0800, Maj. L.C. Hayes, Jr., the battalion commander, had over half of his team ashore and under cover; he then reported to Shoup for orders. Shoup instructed Hayes to feed his landing team into the line on the west part of RED 2, and when in the line and fully reorganized, to attack to the west to establish contact with the 3d Battalion, 2d Marines. The rest of the morning was spent getting the troops moved up into position for the forthcoming attack. All flamethrowers, demolitions, and other heavy equipment were lost en route to the beach.
With the coming of dawn on the second day of the fight for Betio, sharp bursts of small arms fire served notice that the bitter action of the day before was to continue with unabated vigor. Aware that his best chance for success lay in splitting the enemy forces and expanding the beachhead as quickly as possible, Colonel Shoup directed the 1st and 2d Battalions, 2d Marines, to attack to the south with the mission of seizing the south coast of the island.
There was little opportunity for any of the units on Betio to do any tactical maneuvering. There were
Advancing Around the End of a barbed-wire entanglement, these Marines are rushing to the next cover available.
no ground forms large enough to provide cover for forming up an attack. The only cover or concealment offered the Marines was that afforded by shell holes, destroyed enemy emplacements, fallen cocoanut trees, and the scattered piles of battle detritus littering the scant beachhead. Often the advance of a unit was occasioned by two or three men working their way forward by fire and movement to where they could throw grenades into an enemy bunker, or deliver a sudden burst of automatic fire into an enemy position. Engineer personnel, attached to the rifle companies, tied blocks ot TNT together and hurled them into blockhouses and pillboxes. The men handling the flamethrowers would work their way up near an enemy position and, while covered by riflemen, then suddenly jump up and run to the entrance, spray the area with flame, and drop back to the nearest position of safety while the riflemen mopped up. If these attempts were successful, i.e., if the Marines attacking the positions lived long enough to complete their task, then sometimes a whole platoon would be able to move forward a few more feet.
1st Battalion, 2d MarinesOn the morning of the second day on Betio, Maj. Wood B. Kyle, of the 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, had about 300 men of his landing team on the western part of the beachhead inland from RED 2. Two of Kyle's companies were over in the triangle formed by the airfield; another joined with them on their right and extending over to the beach, and his weapons company was in reserve. Early in the morning, the machine gun platoon was sent up to Comapny C, north of the west taxiway, and from advanced positions brought fire to bear on a number of Japanese
Japanese Command post with enemy tank in foreground. Shells and bombs had little effect on this reinforced concrete structure.
machine guns to the west which denied the open ground caused by the taxiway. The enemy had set up these guns during the night to sweep the taxi strip, and by so doing, isolated Companies A and B over in the triangle. With the enemy machine guns silenced, contact was reestablished with the two companies and then C Company was ordered to start a drive to the south. Mixed in with the troops of the 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, were men from units of the 8th Marines, from the 2d Battalion, 2d Marines, and other organizations. During the morning carrier-based planes came in to bomb and strafe the area south of the main air strip. Early in the afternoon, Companies A and B of the 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, and most of the 2d Battalion, 2d Marines, (i.e., what was left of the waves that had reached the shore on D-day), crossed the main runway and occupied the empty defensive positions along the south shore. Later, the remainder of the 1st Battalion moved over to join the troops south of the air strip.
2d Battalion, 2d MarinesAround noon on this day, Lt. Col. Walter I. Jordan, in command of the 2d Battalion, 2d Marines, reported to Colonel Shoup that he had sent out runners to contact his elements over in the triangle and that none of the runners had reported back. Jordan was not in contact with the above elements by radio. Colonel Shoup directed Jordan to move his command post over to the south side of the island and regain control. At 1600 Jordan arrived over south of the main strip and found the following units, of which he immediately assumed command:
Captain Williams (Company B), with about 60 men.
Captain Clanahan (Company C), with about 75 men.
Captain Tynes (Company E), with about 15 men.
A unit of Regimental Weapons, with about 10 men.
Prize on Betio was the airfield, crossed on the second day of the battle by the 1st and 2d Battalions, 2d Marines. Naval gunfire was purposely controlled to avoid hitting the airfield so as not to destroy it.
One platoon of machine guns from Company H.
About 10 men from Company F.
The troops named above arrived on the south coast with little ammunition, no water, and no rations. There were strong Japanese positions to the east and to the west of the defensive perimeter set up by the 1st and 2d Battalions, 2d Marines. Soon after reaching the south side of the island, the Japanese counterattacked from the east, causing heavy casualties. After Lieutenant Colonel Jordan joined the group, a phone wire was laid to connect the two landing teams with Colonel Shoup's command post. Before Jordan crossed the island, Colonel Shoup instructed him to try to advance on the left in order to join forces with Major "Jim" Crowe's battalion. Immediately upon reaching the troops on the south side, Jordan contacted Williams and Clanahan and discussed the planned attack with them. Due to the lack of ammunition and the heavy enemy resistance from the east, it was agreed that the attack was not feasible at this time. Jordan then called Shoup on his phone and told him of the situation, and Shoup granted permission to delay the attack until the following morning. Then Shoup sent amphibian tractors across the island with ammunition, food, and water; on their return trip the tractors evacuated about 30 wounded men. At 1800 Major Kyle joined Jordan at the latter's command post over on the south side and, since most of the troops in the area were from the 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, Jordan turned over command to Kyle after explaining the present situation and the proposed plan for next morning. At this time, contact with Shoup was broken. There was no radio in working order at Jordan's command post and the telephone wire had been severed. Jordan, after turning over the command to Kyle, left with two wiremen and worked over to Shoup's command post, laying a new wire. Upon arriving at the command post of Colonel Shoup, Jordan reported what had happened to Shoup and Col. Merritt A. Edson, the division chief of staff, who was now at Shoup's headquarters.
GREEN Beach Is SecuredOver on Beach RED 1, Major "Mike" Ryan prepared, on the morning of the second day, to drive to the south in order to secure GREEN Beach, the entire west end of the island. On the southwest corner of the island the Japanese had emplaced 12 antiboat guns and 2 naval turret guns of 5-inch caliber. Protecting these positions were numerous machine-gun positions and rifle pits. Enclosing the whole area was an antitank ditch which reached from GREEN Beach over to the south shore. The naval gunfire preliminary to the landing on Betio had neutralized or destroyed the 5-inch guns and most of the antiboat guns. However, Ryan felt that before attacking the Japanese remaining in the area, more naval gunfire should be placed on the positions. With Ryan was Second Lt. Thomas N. Greene, a naval gunfire spotter, and Greene had his radio with him. While Ryan explained his plan to attack to the south in order to secure the whole of GREEN Beach to the officers and many of the men from the different units now under his control, Greene made preparations to call fires in on the southwestern part of the island. Finally at 1110, Ryan and his men attacked, effectively supported by two medium tanks. Greene had contacted a destroyer and called her fires directly on the enemy positions. Shortly afterward another destroyer added her fires to those of the first. Greene observed and conducted the fire of the ships from a Japanese concrete emplacement that still remained standing on the northern part of GREEN Beach. When enough of a naval gunfire preparation had been placed to satisfy Ryan, Greene gave the order to cease fire, and Ryan and his troops moved out in attack. Little resistance was offered, and within an hour all of Beach GREEN Beach was secured. Over on the south shore, Ryan could look east along the beach and see the Japanese positions that were still occupied by the enemy. The elements of the 1st and 2d Battalions, 2d Marines, were not visible. Ryan now turned to building up a defensive line across the west end of the island about 200 yards inland from GREEN Beach.
Crowe's BattalionOn the east end of the beachhead, Major Crowe was unable to take much ground during the second day of the battle for Betio. Crowe's battalion, the 2d Battalion, 8th Marines, was deployed with Company F on the left, facing almost due east. This company had its left flank on the beach (RED 3) just short of the Burns-Philp pier and to its front were several partially destroyed buildings, a reinforced steel emplacement on past the pier, and a large bombproof shelter inland and to its front. over to the right (south) of F Company was a small group of shore party personnel and some stray Marines.
When the 2d Platoon of Company F attempted to move up and destroy the steel emplacement on D-day, the enemy laid down such a withering fire that the group was almost wiped out. E Company had been successful in penetrating the triangle and had moved over to the north side of the main air strip only to withdraw late in the day in order to tie in its lines with adjacent units for the night. On D-plus-1 day, Company F, again tried to advance but had little success. The company was exposed to enemy fires in its positions along the beach and Major Crowe finally ordered it to withdraw to better positions and placed a 37-mm. gun on the beach to provide protection against enemy tanks or personnel. No advance was made in the triangle on the second day and at dusk the units there still had no contact on their right with friendly troops. During the day the remainder of Company G reported and was divided to support Company K and Company F. At dusk a 12-man patrol was sent forward on the left flank to deny the enemy the opportunity of reoccupying the Burns-Philp pier. During the night this group killed 15 of the enemy at the expense of 2 casualties to itself. The best that the 2d Battalion, 8th Marines could do during the second day was to strengthen its positions and prepare for the next day's attack.
Supply SituationLt. Col. Evans F. Carlson, an observer for this operation, had acted as Colonel Shoup's liaison officer with division on D-Day. In the afternoon, as described before, Carlson left Shoup's command post on RED 2 and made his way out to the Maryland, where he talked with General Smith and the division staff about the situation ashore. Early in the morning of the second day, Carlson made the trip back to the beach to find Shoup again. Reaching the area off RED 2 at daylight, Carlson saw the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, go in on RED 2 with heavy casualties. Carlson joined Colonel Hall until he could get an
Preparing to Rush the Next Pillbox. Men of the 2d Battalion, 8th Marines, take cover while Betio smolders in the background.
LVT to take him the rest of the way in to the beach. When an LVT had been secured and Carlson was on his way, he noticed a large amount of supplies on the end of the long pier. Enemy fire from east of the 2d Battalion, 8th Marines, on RED 3, was hitting the pier and the area around it, pinning down a large group of men who, apparently, were trying to move the supplies ashore. Shoup was found at his command post, about 30 yards inland on RED 2. The command post was built against the side of a Japanese air-raid shelter which still contained about 25 of the enemy. Sentries posted at the entrances prevented these Japanese from escaping. Shoup told Carlson that all positions had been held through the night of D-day by each landing team providing its own security. Colonel Rixey now had five sections of his artillery battalion ashore and was already firing his pack howitzers. Shoup said that his greatest need at this time was for water and ammunition. The situation had changed little since Carlson had left the island the day before. Flamethrowers and bundles of TNT were being used successfully to destroy some of the enemy strong points.
Shoup asked Carlson to act agin in a liaison capacity in the afternoon and to report to General Smith out on the Maryland. Carlson reached the end of the pier about noon and found Lt. Col. C.J. Salazar, the shore party commander, waiting in a boat to get ashore.
A plan was then worked out to assemble all LVT's still in working condition and establish a shuttle service from the end of the pier to the beach.
After unloading supplies on the beach, the amphibian tractors would carry a load of wounded men out to the end of the pier where they could be transferred to LCVP's to be taken on out to the ships. Boats from the ships would operate as far as the end of the pier, which they could reach without grounding on the reef. In effect, what this plan proposed was to set up a false beach as a transfer area. To control the flow of supplies so that items of critical importance would be sent in first, priorities would be established by the man in command of the troops ashore, Col. David Shoup. Other supplies would be accumulated on the pier to await calls from the beach.
Maj. Ben Weatherwax, assistant to Lt. Col. Jesse Cook, D4, had made a trip to Beach RED 2 at 2200 on D-day to find out what he could about the supply situation and what supplies were needed most. This
Stopped at the Beach Barricade. This LVT was put out of action by enemy fire on Beach RED 1.
Supplies Stacked on Pier were manhandled to dumps on Beach RED 2 from which they were distributed to the battalions.
was done on the orders of Capt. H.B. Knowles, USN, transport group commander, to whom Weatherwax was attached.
Capt. J.B. McGovern, USN, commander of Transport Group 4, had been sent to the Pursuit to take charge of the ship-to-shore situation and obtain control where it was needed most. McGovern rounded up 18 amphibian tractors with which to begin the shuttle service, mentioned previously.
It was through the efforts of Salazar, McGovern, Carlson, Weatherwax, and Maj. George L.H. Cooper, that the supply situation gradually began to clear up as control was established.
On the Maryland, Carlson talked with Colonel Edson, chief of staff, and Edson told him that the situation on Betio was beginning to progress very favorably. Edson said that Ryan had secured GREEN Beach, that troops in the center of the island had crossed to the southern side and that the island west of RED 3 was now in the hands of the Marines. He also stated that the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, would land on GREEN Beach that evening and that another landing team from the 6th Marines would land on the adjacent island of Bairiki, to the east of Betio. Edson also said that the division command post would move ashore that evening and that he (Edson) would join Shoup at the command post of CT 2 for a conference.
At 1158 the following message was received on the Maryland from the assistant division commander, Brigadier General Hermle, on the USS Ringgold:
Supply summary about as follows: Captain McGovern has been on the Pursuit all morning making every effort to forward ammunition, water, rations to Beach RED 1 and 2. These supplies boated and are in the lagoon area. Division quartermaster sent in with working party to gather supplies from various boats in lagoon and deliver RED 1 and 2. Three (3) LVT's dispatched 1145 with 75-mm. gun ammunition for Beach RED 2. Division quartermaster and McGovern are working together to land all working parties and supplies now in lagoon area.
The Pack HowitzersTwo of Lt. Col. P.M. Rixey's pack howitzers had gone into action early in the morning of the second day. While the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, was moving in from the reef to Beach RED 2, the Japanese began to deliver devastating fire into the approaching troops from two blockhouses located on the beach at the dividing line between RED 1 and RED 2; this was the same strong point that had given the 3d Battalion, 2d Marines, so much trouble on the previous day. Two of the pack howitzers which had been
landed during the night were laid to place direct fire on the blockhouses where the Japanese were using machine guns on the wading troops of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines. These guns were silenced by the howitzers which used fuse delay in order to penetrate the coral and log structures. By 0800 the whole composite battery of the 75-mm. pack howitzers was in position facing to the east with the guns laid to support the troops in the triangle. Because of a mask to the left front of the battery, close support could not be given to the left flank elements of the 2d Battalion, 8th Marines, on RED 3. The total frontage of the battery was about 50 yards and the right flank gun was well out in enemy territory. The entire battery was exposed to enemy rifle fire. By using rubber boats and life rafts, and by manhandling some of the guns the length of the pier, all of the artillery battalion got ashore during the day. For its first night ashore, the 1st Battalion, 10th Marines, placed one section to cover the beach junction of RED 1 and 2. Two more sections were put into positions to cover a grounded Japanese vessel which lay off RED 2; it was believed that this ship was occupied by enemy snipers on the second day and several bombing and strafing attacks had been called on the vessel during the day. These two sections were also to cover disabled American craft in the event they were occupied by Japanese snipers. The rest of the guns were laid to provide fire on the eastern part of the island.
The 6th MarinesAlthough V Amphibious Corps had released the 6th Marines to the control of the 2d Marine Division, General Smith had not seen fit to commit any part of it until he had more definite information on the progress of the situation ashore on Betio. At no
Battle Jetsam on Beach RED 2. The tractor on the log wall was hit while attempting to carry its load of Marines up on the island.
time during the morning of the second day was there any reason for any optimism on the part of division or Colonel Shoup. In anticipation of several possible missions that might be assigned the 6th Marines, General Smith called for a conference on the Maryland at 0900, to be attended by the commanding officer of the 6th, Col. Maurice G. Holmes, and a part of his staff. At this conference, the several missions upon which the 6th Marines might be employed were discussed. Holmes left the conference with the understanding that he was to prepare to accomplish any of the missions discussed and await further orders from division. Holmes then returned to his ship and called his battalion commanders to join him so that he could brief them on the subjects discussed at the earlier conference. While Holmes was talking to his battalion commanders, he received a message from division directing Holmes to land one of his teams in rubber boats on GREEN Beach South immediately. It was suggested by division that the landing team land in a column of companies and, after reaching the shore, to pass through the troops of the 3d Battalion, 2d Marines, and attack to the east. In addition, Holmes was directed to boat another landing team which was to be prepared to land in close support of the first team. The 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, under Maj. W.K. Jones, was chosen by Holmes to make the rubber boat landing and LT 2/6, to be prepared to land behind Jones.
At 1303 a message reached division that a few Japanese were trying to cross the long, partially submerged, sand spit which ran from Betio to Bairiki, the next island to the east. This message came via TBS, and the originator is unknown. Thirty minutes later, division received a message from Colonel Shoup's command post saying that a report had been received that enemy troops were leaving the island via the eastern tip. Shoup requested naval gunfire on that end of the island to forestall the possibility of any considerable number of Japanese escaping from Betio to Bairiki, where they might resist a landing on that island. In the meantime, division had ordered Colonel Holmes to send his second landing team over to Bairiki where it was to land on Beach BLUE 1 or BLUE 2 to prevent the withdrawal of hostile forces from Betio.
Prior to noon, Colonel Holmes held a conference with his battalion commanders on board his ship, the Ormsby. At that time Lt. Col. Raymond L. Murray received orders to boat and land his battalion on GREEN Beach, following the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines. Murray's first wave of troops had hardly got into their boats when Murray received a message from division to "boat and land LT 2/6 on Beach BLUE immediately."
Calling his company commanders together, Murray issued the new orders to land on Bairiki. Maj. Leroy P. Hunt, Jr., was left aboard ship initially, and Murray directed him to query division as to whether it was intended for him to land his entire landing team, i.e., tanks, artillery battery, shore party, etc. It was later found that division wanted only the battalion to go ashore, less its attached units.
Now Colonel Holmes had one team preparing to land on Betio and one on Bairiki; the other team, the 3d Battalion, 6th Marines, commanded by Lt. Col. Kenneth F. McLeod, was boating up, prepared to land on either of the islands in support.
The Light TanksAt 1408 division directed that Company B, 2d Tank Battalion (Capt. Frank R. Stewart, Jr.), land with all its tanks to support LT 1/6. Because of mines and obstacles on GREEN South, Company B was instructed to land on Beach GREEN North. Unfortunately, B Company had all its platoons loaded in the bottom of the hold in three ships: The 1st Platoon was aboard the USS Ormsby; the 2d Platoon aboard the USS Bell; and the 3d Platoon was aboard the USS Harris. These three ships were a part of TRANSDIV 6. Immediately the order from division regarding the employment of Company B was received, the commander of TRANSDIV 6 ordered all the ships in his division to send their LCM's to the three ships carrying the tank company in order to facilitate their movement ashore. Before the tanks could be unloaded, however, the gear and supplies loaded above the tanks in the bottom holds had to be moved and several hours were lost before the tanks were actually lowered over the side into the waiting LCM's.
In the meantime, the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, was preparing to land in rubber boats on GREEN Beach. At first, it was believed that the landing team would start landing at about 1500. At 1420 Jones radioed the 6th Marines: "We are going into the boats now. Will call as soon as we clear the ship." At 1525, Colonel Shoup called division asking when the 6th Marines would land. Colonel Holmes answered this question in a message to division which said that the 1st Battalion would land at about 1700.
At the time that the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, was ordered to land in rubber boats, the battalion's transport--the USS Feland--was fairly close to the beach. The estimate of the probable hour of landing was based on that position of the Felund.
Just as Jones started to lower his rubber boats, the Feland was ordered to get away from the reef into deeper water. Later the ship was ordered back in and Jones then was able to debark his troops. Through no fault of Jones much valuable time had been lost.
Colonel Shoup sent a message to division at 1748 asking if Jones' battalion had landed on GREEN Beach. Shoup asked division to instruct Jones to merely hold a beachhead after getting ashore until daylight, when an attack could be started. This word was passed to Holmes, who passed it on to Jones, instructing him further to consult Major Ryan about where to deploy the landing team when it got ashore.
BairikiMeanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Murray landed the 2d Battalion, 6th Marines, on Bairiki at 1655. Division had received word from Murray on the way in to BLUE Beach on Bairiki that his assault waves were getting some machine-gun fire. There were about 15 Japanese on Bairiki and this group had built a pillbox which contained 12 machine guns. Before Murray's battalion started to land, division called for naval gunfire and aerial bombardment and strafing to cover the landing. When division received the message about the machine-gun fire, planes were requested to come in low and try to locate the machine-gun positions and take them out. For some strange reason, the Japanese in the pillbox had a can of gasoline with them, and one of the planes, in strafing the position, put a .50-caliber bullet through the gasoline can; the Japs were burned and the 2d Battalion, 6th Marines, landed against no resistance. After landing, the team scoured the little island but found no enemy.
1st Battalion, 6th Marines, LandsAt 1840, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, landed on Beach GREEN North and went into position behind the mixed troops of the 3d Battalion, 2d Marines. Maj. William K. Jones lost one of his two supply amphibian tractors when it hit a Japanese "teapot" mine. This vehicle was blown apart and turned over, killing all hands except one man. Jones found Ryan and made a reconnaissance of the lines prior to attacking. Jones planned at this time to attack at 2000 that night. The message being relayed from Shoup by division through Holmes to Jones did to reach Jones until 1920. Upon receipt of the message, Jones organized his companies for the night, prepared to effect a passage of lines next morning when he would attack to the east.
The 3d Platoon of Company B, 2d Tank Battalion, had considerable difficulty in negotiating the reef off GREEN Beach and did not get ashore until 1830. The platoon then reported to Major Jones and prepared to support the attack of his battalion next morning. In the meantime, the commander of B Company, having noted the poor hydrographic conditions off GREEN Beach, requested permission to land the remainder of his tanks on Beach R
ED 2. Division granted this request, instructing the tanks to follow the west side of the pier, where the best avenue of approach to the beach lay. It was not until early in the morning of the third day that the 2d Platoon and the 1st Platoon were able to reach R ED 2.
Situation Ashore, Second AfternoonLate in the afternoon of the second day of the battle for Betio, Colonel Shoup sent a message to division, reporting the situation ashore. This message received by Division at 1706, stated:
Situation at 1600; Our line runs generally from the Burns-Philp pier across the east end of the triangle formed by the airfield to the south coast and along the coast intermittently to a place opposite the west end of the triangle; then from the revetments north of the west end of the main air strip on to the north; another line from west of the center of RED 1 across the end of the island to the south coast west of the end of the main strip. Some troops in 227 (gunnery target-area designation) dishing out hell and catching hell. Pack howitzers in position and registered for shooting on tail (of Betio). Casualties many; percentage dead not known; combat efficiency: We are winning. Shoup.
Every battle has its turning point, that time when the balance of things seems to tip almost imperceptibly in one direction. It is not always possible for the mind, during heated combat action, to grasp this point for it is so difficult to perceive that it eludes
Map No. 3: Situation 1800 D+1
even the practiced eye of the professional. After the battle is over, it is easier to establish the time when the high point was reached: That time when momentum accelerates and planning tends to materialize into fact. On Betio there were few who were willing to go on record and say that the crisis was past until late in the afternoon of the second day. Lt. Col. P.M. Rixey, in command of the 1st Battalion, 10th Marines, observed at dusk that, "I thought up until 1 o'clock today that it was touch and go. Then I knew we would win."
Lt. Col. Evans F. Carlson, upon returning to Colonel Shoup's command post at midnight of the second day, found that the situation ashore had changed little during his absence through the afternoon except that the 1st and 2d Battalions, 2d Marines, had pushed across the island to the south coast, and the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, was now ashore on the west end of Betio. The areas separating the landing teams on the western half of Betio were far from being under control and many points of resistance had been bypassed. However, Carlson felt sure that the turning point of the battle had passed.
The messages exchanged between the command post of Colonel Shoup on Betio and that of Gen. Julian C. Smith on the USS Maryland tell a story in which the rise and fall of the tide of battle are readily apparent. At 1022 division sent a message to Shoup asking if he had sufficient troops on Betio to complete its occupation; this information was requested in order to plan for the employment of the 6th Marines elsewhere if the situation warranted it.
Shoup replied to this saying that the situation did not look good ashore; in addition, he asked if division had any instructions for him. At 1140 division radioed Shoup again, this time to request immediate clarification of the situation ashore. Thirty-four minutes later Shoup replied:
Situation ashore uncertain. Colonel Carlson en route to division with picture of situation.
At noon division learned that the 3d Battalion, 2d Marines, under Maj. "Mike" Ryan, had cleared GREEN Beach so that a landing could be made by a reserve landing team on that end of the island without enemy opposition. This prompted division to direct Colonel Holmes to send the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, ashore on GREEN Beach as quickly as possible. Then division learned that some of the enemy were trying to escape from Betio over to Bairiki. To counter this, division instructed Colonel Holmes to send one landing team over to Bairiki.
By 1345 Colonel Shoup had received word that the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, was to land on GREEN Beach and, at that time, Shoup sent a message to Jones:
Bring in flamethrowers if possible. We are on the southern part of RED 2 and RED 2 zone. Doing our best.
Early afternoon saw the 1st and 2d Battalions, 2d Marines, reach the south coast; the Japanese forces on Betio were now split into two groups. Supplies were getting ashore. Reinforcements were on the way. The picture had brightened perceptibly. Then at 1706, Shoup sent his message to division which ended with these words:
* * * Combat efficiency: We are winning.
The chief of staff of the 2d Marine Division, Col. Merritt A. Edson, left the USS Maryland at 1750 in the afternoon of the second day of the fight for Betio and went to the end of the pier, where he left his boat and made his way on in to Colonel Shoup's command post on RED Beach 2, arriving there at 2030. Shoup acquainted Edson with the situation ashore and then the two officers began to make their plans for the following day. The arrival of Colonel Edson meant some measure of relief for Colonel Shoup who had borne the responsibility of command of the troops on Betio thus far. Separated from division by distance as well as communication difficulties, Shoup had been faced with the problem of trying to coordinate the attacks of the landing teams during the first 2 days when control was almost impossible. With his landing teams badly disorganized and with their troops scattered and mixed with other units, Shoup had no opportunity to maneuver, tactically, component elements of his combat team whose fighting integrity was unimpaired. He had faced, and overcome, the difficulty of fusing the efforts of his badly scattered and demoralized units toward one common end; this was done in the face of intense and bitter enemy opposition from prepared defensive positions and in spite of the obstacles thrown in his path by numerous break-downs in communication and in supply. Edson, division chief of staff, immediately assumed the burden of command of all the forces involved in the action on Betio, leaving Shoup to concentrate on his own combat team, which now consisted of seven landing teams.
CASUALTIES BEING EVACUATED by rubber boat. Floated out to the reef, the wounded were then transferred to boats and removed to the transports.
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