THE FIRST six months of 1944 produced a pattern of rapid-fire events that identified for both opponents the eventual victor in the Pacific. The war's center of conflict had begun to gravitate toward the larger land masses--toward China, the Philippines, and the home islands of Japan itself. This gravitation had been paced by victories of U. S. Central Pacific forces in the Marshalls; successful carrier raids against Truk, the Marianas, and the Western Carolines; island seizures by South and Southwest Pacific forces of the Admiralties, Emirau and Hollandia; and finally, the long leap to Saipan and the ensuing decisive Battle of the Philippine Sea.1 United States forces had gathered an irresistible, crushing momentum. The Saipan operation (15 June-9 July), signalling the beginning of the end, had pierced like a knife into Japan's outer defense. Seizure of Guam and Tinian in the Marianas and Peleliu in the Palaus2 would twist that inserted blade, cutting vital arteries of the Japanese empire.
The necklace of islands stretching 1,350 miles southward from Tokyo had provided Japan at best a shield to intrusion, at least a screen to observation. Penetrations of U. S. forces by mid-1944 had revealed the islands neither a shield nor an effective screen, but rather a series of stepping stones by which U. S. carrier and amphibious power could move rapidly against the heart of the Empire.
Islands of the southern Marianas--Saipan, Tinian, Rota and Guam--had constituted vital parts of the Japanese outer ring of defense. Now, with Saipan neatly cut out, U. S. attention focused on the other three. Of these, only Tinian and Guam would be attacked. After capture of these two islands, Rota, lying between them, could conveniently be subjected to almost continuous air and sea attacks that would void the island's effectiveness. Admiral Nimitz therefore classified Rota as a "neutralized enemy base."3 Islands of the northern Marianas were not considered worthwhile military objectives because of their small size and mountainous terrain. (See Map 1.)
Tinian, like the other 14 islands of the Marianas, was discovered and claimed for Spain by Magellan in 1521. For over three and one-half centuries (1521-1899), the islands remained under Spanish domination, with only Tinian changing hands during the period. This shift occurred in the mid-1700's, when England was at war with Spain. Lord George Anson, one of England's foremost admirals, had been sent with a six-ship squadron to attack Spanish possessions in South America and in the Pacific. Following several successful raids along the South American coast, during which time bad weather had claimed three of his six ships and scurvy two-thirds of his personnel, Anson decided to move all survivors aboard his flagship and press into the Pacific with the single vessel.
Going for months without finding land where fresh meat and vegetables could be obtained, Anson saw his crewmen die at an alarming rate. Small wonder that Tinian looked like paradise itself when he sighted it on the morning of 27 August 1742. Desperate to the point of recklessness, Anson anchored his ship and headed an expedition ashore. On the beach he was met by the opposition: a single Spanish sergeant supervising several Chamorros in jerking beef. Fortune had brought Anson to the only cattle range in that part of the world. Tinian furnished beef to the Spanish colony on Guam.
According to the diary of the ship's chaplain:
The Spanish sergeant assured us that there was plenty of very good water; that there was an incredible number of cattle, hogs, and poultry running wild on the island, all of them excellent in their kind; that the woods afforded sweet and sour oranges, limes, lemons, and coconuts in great abundance, besides a fruit peculiar to these islands, which served instead of bread.5
Anson and his men were completely taken with the beautiful island they had found. The ship's chaplain took time from the feasting to describe Tinian's terrain; his description in most respects holds true to the present day:
The soil is everywhere dry and healthy, and being withal somewhat sandy, it is thereby the less disposed to a rank and overluxuriant vegetation; and hence the meadows and bottoms of the woods are much neater and smoother than is customary in hot climates . . . These vallies and the gradual swellings of the ground which their different combinations gave rise to were most beautifully diversified by the mutual encroachments of woods and lawns, which coasted each other and traversed the island in large tracts. . . . Hence arose a number of the most entertaining prospects.6
Anson's small force remained in control of Tinian for two months. By conquest, the island paradise was a British possession, but Anson had no means of enforcing his claim unless he also conquered Guam, the seat of the Spanish island government. To attempt such a seizure with his single, undermanned ship was out of the question. Regretfully he sailed away and left Tinian to the Spanish.
Spain controlled the Marianas until the Spanish-American War, when the U. S. Cruiser Charleston7 entered the harbor of Guam and seized that island for the United States. A year later, in 1899, Spain sold all her remaining holdings in the Marianas and the Carolines (including the Palaus) to Germany for about $4,500,000.
Germany's domination of the island lasted only until shortly after outbreak of World War I, when Japan seized most of Germany's Pacific territory. After that war, the League of Nations mandated the Carolines, Marshalls and Marianas (excepting only Guam) to Japan.
In defiance of the terms of the Mandate, Japan immediately set about developing some of the islands into fortresses. Her annual reports to the League of Nations at Geneva were
weighty with unessential detail, devoid of facts about her military preparations. In 1935, Japan withdrew from the League and discouraged visits from outsiders with even greater insistence than before. Her callers in mid-1944, however, did not wait for an invitation.
Table of Distances from Tinian
Tinian (145° East Longitude, 15° North Latitude), located 1,250-odd nautical miles south by east of Tokyo, was the minor portion of the Saipan-Tinian defense area. Together the two islands constituted the key point of the Marianas defense. Just as U. S. planners mentioned Saipan and Tinian in the same breath and with the same strategical thoughts, the Japanese considered them as a single tactical locality in their outer ring of defense. (See Map 2, facing page 3.)
In physical appearance, however, the two islands differ greatly. In place of Saipan's generally rugged, mountainous terrain, Tinian is open and park-like, with groves of trees occasionally breaking the monotony of the rectangular cane fields. Tinian has elevations only at its northern and southern thirds while the middle section is low. From several miles at sea, Tinian appears as two islands.
From its sharp Ushi Point in the north to its dull Lalo Point in the south the island is approximately 12¼ miles long. At its widest point (near the island's center), Tinian measures just under six miles. In total area it covers 50-odd square miles.
Except in the Tinian Town area, where the southwest coast line merges gently with inland terrain, Tinian is almost entirely encircled by cliffs rising directly from the sea. These cliffs vary in height from six to 100 feet. The ring of cliffs is broken near the northwestern end of the island by two small indentations, one about 60 yards long, the other about 160.9 A U. S. study prepared on 1 May 1944 suggested that these beaches, separated from one another by
SOUTHERN TINIAN'S 100-FOOT CLIFFS offered no suitable approaches for amphibious landings. As the Americans closed in from the north, thousands of Japanese, soldiers and civilians alike, holed up in this Marpo Point area.
nearly 1,000 yards of tortuous coral outcropping, were "possibly suitable for spot landings of men but not for vehicles or tractors." A shelving reef extends about 100 yards in front of these two beach areas. On the eastern coast, only two tiny beaches exist, both in an indenture between Asiga Point and Masalog Point. Here again the beaches are very short (about 125 yards) and, in addition, exposed to the prevailing winds. Only one of these had been located by U. S. intelligence agencies by 1 May 1944, and it was considered "suitable only for spot landings. . . ."
The island's main spine parallels the eastern shore, giving a steeper rise from the eastern approach than from the western. Mount Maga and Mount Lasso in the island's northern third rise to 390 and 540 feet, respectively, and the unnamed elevation in the southern third reaches a maximum height of 580 feet. Saipan, Rota and Guam have elevations that nearly treble the Tinian heights; tiny Anatahan and Agrihan in the northern Marianas rise five and six times, respectively, higher than Tinian.
The island's terrain, in most places flat and open, was admirably suited to the construction
of airfields. The major Japanese strip at Ushi Point was one in a series of fields used in staging planes to Truk and other points in the Central and South Pacific Areas. Ushi Point Airfield extended in a single hard-surfaced runway for 4,750 feet, over 1,000 feet longer than Aslito Airfield on Saipan.10
Three other airstrips, two of which were in use and the other near completion, indicated that the Japanese had not overlooked the potentialities of Tinian as an "anchored aircraft carrier."
Sunharon Harbor on Tinian's western coast provided limited anchorage for a few ships and an emergency seaplane stopping point. But the anchorage was so poor that, in bad weather, Japanese ships often moved to Garapan anchorage off Saipan, which itself offered only mediocre facilities.
In addition to the airfields, Tinian assumed military importance because of her proximity to Saipan. It was possible, from observation posts on Tinian, for Japanese to watch activities of U. S. ships and planes at Saipan and to communicate information to Tokyo.
Tinian's countryside, free of heavy vegetation except in the island's higher portions and in the stair-stepped cliff elevations, offered excellent agricultural possibilities that the Japanese exploited fully. They planted sugar cane on the 90 percent of the island considered arable. With 15,000-odd acres under sugar cultivation, Tinian produced approximately 50 percent more sugar than Saipan. (See Map 3.) Those parts of the island devoted to sugar cane were divided into numerous square or rectangular sections by a pattern of irrigation ditches and by trees or scrub laid out in perfect alignment, apparently to provide windbreaks. Seen from the air, the island had a checkerboard appearance.
The island had but two settlements of any consequence: Tinian Town and Ushi Point Airfield. The latter was merely the living area for personnel working at the airfield. Tinian Town
Areas under sugar cultivation on Tinian Island.
was the administrative center of the Tinian Branch Bureau of the South Seas Government, a title more imposing than the town itself. Most of the town lay along the waterfront between two piers that jutted into Sunharon Harbor. Buildings for the most part were light and thin, looking as if they had been thrown together in an afternoon. They stood elbow to elbow as if supporting one another: homes, stores, school, hairdressing parlor, theater, phonograph shop, fish-monger's stall, Shinto temple and Buddhist temple.
Contrasting markedly with the flimsy town were the majestic ruins nearby (which stand to the present day). A prehistoric race has left behind what appear to be the foundations of several substantial buildings. Twelve stone columns, 15 feet high and five feet in diameter, are topped with great stone hemispheres, flat on their upper sides as if to support the floor of an important building, possibly a temple. At the time of the Spanish conquest, the natives
WHITE 1 BEFORE naval gunfire, artillery, air and bulldozers altered its appearance. This 60-yard beach later became the port of entry for most of the V Corps' heavy equipment.
referred to the ruins as the "House of the Ancients," but they were no more certain of the real significance or history of the structures than we are today. The pillars were made of coral rubble solidified by a mortar made of burnt coral lime and sand. How the great half-balls weighing several tons each were raised to the tops of the pillars is a mystery.11
The road network at Tinian was simple and direct. Routes followed the straight edges of the cane fields for miles without a curve or change of direction. All primary roads, hard-surfaced with crushed coral rock, were approximately 18 feet wide. Numerous narrow-gauge (30-inch) railways connected the sugar plantations with Tinian Town, where there was a large multi-tracked terminal. The railroad had approximately 40 miles of track, on which the 14-ton engines pulled cargo to all parts of the island except the extreme southern portion, where a sharp rise defied easy grading.
Tinian's climate is generally healthful, with very little seasonal variation in either temperature or relative humidity. Mean temperature varies between 76° in January and February to 80° in June. Only occasionally in June does the thermometer climb as high as 95°. The humidity (78% in winter, 84% in summer), however, makes most days seem uncomfortably warm.
While the temperature and humidity vary but little between winter and summer, all other seasonal phenomena have marked differences. The dry winter monsoon (November through March) is characterized by fair weather, interrupted only occasionally by storms of short duration. The wet summer monsoon (April to November), on the other hand, brings more showers, greater frequency of typhoons and thunderstorms, and higher cloud cover. During the wettest months (July to October), Tinian is deluged with nearly a foot of rainfall per month. During other months the average varies from two and one-half to six inches.
WHITE 2 accommodated two battalions, each landing with a single company in the assault. The 25th Marines crossed this 160-yard beach on Jig-Day, followed by two light artillery battalions and the 23d Marines.
Since rainfall provided them all the water they required for drinking, washing and bathing, Japanese at Tinian exerted little effort to the development of other sources. Collected and stored in cisterns adjoining practically all of the island's buildings, water was never in short supply. Using the same means on a much larger scale, Marpo Wells, an interesting land feature north of Marpo Point, stored thousands of gallons of rain water. There, a circle of hills and rock walls funneled rain water into a natural depression that could easily be tapped. The whole, well-irrigated valley was covered with huge breadfruit trees, banana plants, and other lush vegetation. A number of ancient pillars there indicated that the area had long been a favorite one. The Japanese had dug 26 artesian wells in Tinian Town, but the potability of the water from these was questionable.
A Japanese census report for 1 January 1944 showed nearly 18,000 civilians on Tinian. Among all these, the native Tinian islanders, the Chamorros, numbered but 26, others having been moved to less desirable Marianas islands by the encroaching Japanese. Here, then, was worse treatment than that which the Chamorros received at Saipan, where the Japanese forced the natives to move from coastal areas to less desirable inland locations but did not make them leave the island. This and other similarly unsavory Japanese practices encouraged the Chamorros at Saipan and Tinian to espouse, when possible, the U. S. cause.
Japanese Organization and Defense12
Tinian's defense forces totalled slightly over 9,000, divided almost equally between Army and
BETWEEN THE WHITE BEACHES stretched nearly 1,000 yards of low, jagged coral ledges.
Navy.13 (For detailed order of battle see Appendix V.) The main organized ground fighting force and backbone of the island's defense was the Japanese Army's 50th Infantry Regiment, commanded by Colonel Kiyochi Ogata.14 This regiment had been stationed near Mukden, Manchuria, from 1941 until early 1944 when it was transferred to Tinian, arriving in March 1944. The 50th was the only major unit of the 29th Division not stationed on Guam, 100 miles to the south. Operationally, the Tinian defenders fell under the Northern Marianas Army Group with headquarters at Saipan. On 7 July 1944, when Japanese top-level commanders decided that Saipan was lost, area responsibility for Tinian's defense shifted to the Southern Marianas Army Group at Guam. This was a mere paper change, however; Colonel Ogata was in command at Tinian, and nothing material could get into, or out of, the island because of U. S. blockade.
The regiment was composed of three infantry battalions,15 one 75mm mountain artillery
FLIMSY TINIAN TOWN fronted Sunharon Harbor, along the only beach that would accommodate landing boats. The commander of the Japanese defense force considered it the logical landing point, until General Holland Smith demonstrated otherwise. This photograph was taken during TF 58's raids on 22-23 February 1944. Mt. Tapotchau on Saipan appears in the distance.
battalion (three four-gun batteries, distributed one to each infantry battalion), one engineer, one supply, one signal, and one medical company, one antitank platoon (six 37mm guns), and three attached units: a tank company (12 light tanks), a detachment from 29th Division Field Hospital, and one vehicle platoon. By chance rather than design, the 1st Battalion, 135th Infantry, also participated in Tinian's defense. Regularly stationed at Saipan, this unit had been engaged in an amphibious exercise at Tinian when interrupted by the U. S. move into the Marianas on 11 June. This circumstance afforded Colonel Ogata an additional 900-man fighting force.
Of the Japanese Navy units at Tinian the principal one was the 56th Keibitai (Naval Guard Force), commanded by Captain Goichi Oya. This organization included about 1,400 troops and 600 laborers. The 56th Keibitai manned the bulk of the "fixed artillery" (discussed later) and most of the antiaircraft weapons, including 24 25mm antiaircraft guns, six 7cm antiaircraft guns and three 12cm dual-purpose guns.16 On one of the 56th Keibitai's subordinate units, the Coastal Security Force, rested the tasks of laying beach mines and operating small patrol boats off Tinian's shores.
Naval defenders of Tinian also included several small air detachments. For reasons of rank and command the most significant of these was the Headquarters, 1st Air Fleet, the commandant of which was also the senior officer on the island. He was Vice Admiral Kakuji Kakuda, an unusual Japanese in appearance, habits and spirit. He stood over six feet tall
CANEFIELDS covered about 90 per cent of Tinian. A good network of coral-surfaced roads, generally following the cane fields' straight edges, facilitated vehicular movement.
and weighed in excess of 200 pounds; he willingly catered to his almost unquenchable thirst for liquor; he lacked the fortitude to face the odds arrayed against him at Tinian.17
Nine days before the U. S. invasion of Tinian the admiral and his headquarters group embarked in twelve rubber boats and paddled toward Aguijan Island in a futile attempt to keep a radio-arranged rendezvous with a Nipponese submarine. Kakuda's mission of supervising and administering the 1st Air Fleet could better be accomplished from some other locale. After his first failure on 15 July he made similar efforts on the next three nights--all to no avail. His failure almost reached the ultimate on 19 July, when U. S. Navy patrol units took the rubber boats under fire.
Following further unsuccessful rubber-boat ventures on the nights of 20 and 21 July, Kakuda resigned himself to a Tinian fate, fled with his party to a dugout on the east coast, and was not heard from again. The Japanese sailor who supplied the facts of the escape efforts presumed that Kakuda committed suicide sometime after the U. S. landings. Available evidence indicates that the admiral made no effort to influence decisions or the course of the battle. All Japanese later questioned about Kakuda's status testified that he was relegated to the background because he was an airman.18
As at Saipan and many other places, there was considerable friction between the Japanese Army and Navy on Tinian. Though Captain Oya, commanding the 56th Naval Guard Force, knew that he was under Colonel Ogata's command, he apparently did not pass on the
TINIAN CHESSBOARD, where Colonel Ogata, with 9,000 stubborn Japanese soldiers and sailors, hoped to stalemate the vastly superior U. S. forces.
information to his men. When asked who held overall command of forces at Tinian, Japanese sailors invariably responded, "Captain Oya." Colonel Ogata and Captain Oya each made independent preparations for Tinian's defense; and, under these circumstances, the execution of the plans naturally proceeded without relation of one to the other. A careful perusal of documents and operation orders of the two commanders reveals a scrupulous avoidance of even mentioning the other service. This "every-man-for-himself" attitude served U. S. purposes just as surely as did U. S. ships and planes.
A soldier of the artillery battalion, 50th Infantry Regiment, recorded one side of the ill-feeling in his diary:
9 March--The Navy stays in barracks buildings and has liberty every night with liquor to drink and makes a great row. We, on the other hand, bivouac in the rain and never get out on pass. What a difference in discipline!
12 June--Our AA guns spread black smoke where the enemy planes weren't. Not one hit out of a thousand shots. The Naval Air Group has taken to its heels.
15 June--The naval aviators are robbers. . . . When they ran off to the mountains, they stole Army provisions. . . .
18 June--Admiral Toyoda, CinC Combined Fleet, reported 'We have the enemy just where we want him.' Where is the fleet?
25 June--Sailors have stolen our provisions. . . .
6 July--Did Vice Admiral Kakuda (Commander in Chief 1st Air Fleet) when he heard that the enemy had entered our area [Marianas] go to sleep with joy?19
Whatever the failures of coordination between the Army and Navy, however, the fighting tenacity of the individual Japanese was as pronounced at Tinian as it had been everywhere before. Despite the fact that the island had been under almost continuous, ever-increasing bombardment since Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's Task Force 58 entered the Marianas on 11 June, and despite recognition by the defenders that Tinian would be attacked sooner or later, the fighting spirit never wavered or varied.
This stubborn spirit, transcending all other considerations, was reflected in the diary of a soldier of the 2d Battalion, 50th Infantry Regiment:
30 June--We have spent twenty days under unceasing enemy bombardment and air raids, but have suffered only minor losses. Everyone from the Commanding Officer to the lowest private is full of fighting spirit.
10 July--When I thought of the desperate fight of the . . . Saipan Garrison Force, who carried out the final charge on the anniversary of the China Incident, the desire to destroy the enemy once again filled my whole body.
19 July--How exalted are the gallant figures of the Force Commander, the Battalion Commander and their subordinates, who have endured the violent artillery and air bombardment.20
In addition to Army and Navy defenders, Tinian boasted three civilian loyalty groups: Civilian Militia, Home Guard Organization, and Youth Organization. These were almost entirely ineffective from a military point of view. Most of the civilian men thought first of their families and fled with them. Small wonder, since they received no weapons except for grenades with which to destroy themselves if necessary. Low-ranking Japanese soldiers interrogated about the civilian organizations were generally unaware that such groups even existed.
Colonel Ogata's plan for the defense was based upon the logical assumption that U. S. forces would land either on the beaches facing Tinian Town or on the east coast between Asiga and Masalog Points. The possibility of a major U. S. landing over the tiny beaches on the northwest coast (WHITE 1 and 2), while not
VICE ADMIRAL KAKUJI KAKUDA, Commandant 1st Air Fleet. Although senior Japanese officer present, he exercised no command during the battle for Tinian.
ignored completely, was never recognized as a plausible course of action. As late as 25 June Ogata issued an operation order, which said:
. . . the enemy on Saipan . . . can be expected to be planning a landing on Tinian. The area of that landing is estimated to be either Tinian Harbor or Asiga (northeast coast) Harbor.21
On 28 June Ogata showed that he was convincing himself, by sheer repetition, of the soundness of his earlier estimate. His "Defense Force Battle Plan" stated only two contingencies:
(A) In the event the enemy lands at Tinian Harbor.
(B) In the event the enemy lands at Asiga Bay.22
Ogata apparently considered a major landing on the northwest beaches not enough of a U. S. capability to warrant mention in his defense plans. The only concrete indication that the
Japanese Defense Sectors
Disposition of Major Units.
Japanese considered any WHITE Beach landing possible was the laying of about 100 mines there. The few Japanese troops committed to defend that area indicates that Ogata expected only small landing parties there.
Basing his dispositions entirely upon the Sunharon and Asiga landing points, Colonel Ogata divided the island into three defense sectors (see Map 4): the northern sector embraced Tinian's northern point, Ushi Point Airfield and the Asiga Bay area; the southern sector included all of the area roughly south of Mt. Lasso; the western sector embraced the northwestern section of the island, including the WHITE Beaches. To defend those sectors he assigned:
Northern sector 2d Battalion, 50th Infantry, plus one engineer platoon. Southern sector 3d Battalion, 50th Infantry, plus one engineer platoon. Western sector 3d Company of the 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry, plus one antitank gun squad.
Each of the battalions of the 50th Infantry was directly supported by a battery of four 75mm guns from the Mountain Artillery Battalion. Weapons of the latter organization, plus 70mm guns organic to the infantry battalions, constituted Tinian's "mobile artillery" and totalled 20 pieces of 70mm or greater.
Ogata designated reserves to counter either of the landings he anticipated:
Reserve 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry (less 3d Company and one antitank gun squad). This unit dug in near Mt. Lasso. Mobile Counterattack Force 1st Battalion, 135th Infantry. This unit was located in the south-central portion of the island.
Commanders of these two reserves each reported directly to Ogata. He would have to issue two orders to set both in motion.
Ogata assigned and positioned other Japanese Army units as follows:
Tanks Tank Company, 18th Infantry Regiment (12 tanks). This unit was held in reserve south of Mt. Lasso prepared to support a counterattack against a U. S. beachhead. Headquarters Unit Supply company, signal company (plus one radio squad), engineer company (less two platoons), and a medical detachment. These elements were stationed generally east and southeast of Mt. Lasso.
Japanese naval units, under Captain Oya, appeared to have been stationed with more relation to convenience than to design. The 56th Naval Guard Force, one construction battalion, antiaircraft defense groups, and elements from two air groups disposed themselves in defense of airfields and harbor installations, with particular attention to Tinian Town and Ushi Point Airfield. Naval personnel manned the bulk of the island's "fixed artillery," which included: three British 6-inch coast defense, ten 140mm coast defense, ten 120mm dual purpose and four 76.2mm dual purpose. (For positions of these and other "fixed" weapons see Map 5.)
Commanders of the three sectors received an impossible directive from Colonel Ogata : " . . . be prepared to destroy the enemy at the beach, but be prepared to shift two-thirds of the force elsewhere." Just how sector commanders would perform this complex mission was not indicated in Ogata's plan. He ordered his "Reserve" to "maintain fortified positions, counterattack points, maintain antiaircraft observation and fire in its area." He told his "Mobile Counterattack Force" to be prepared to "advance rapidly to the place of landings, depending on the situation, and attack." The artillery battalion and the tank company Ogata enjoined to prepare to support counterattacks against U. S.
Japanese Gun Positions.
landings. Generally speaking, Ogata emplaced his artillery pieces so that they cross-sited on beaches at Tinian Town and Asiga Bay, although other strategic points along the west coast were also covered. A total of 20 "mobile" artillery pieces, with no more than two at any one place, assumed positions from which to deliver either the Tinian Town or the Asiga Bay fires but not both. Characteristically, the Japanese commander did not mass his artillery fires at Tinian. Such employment would have been feasible from positions about a mile south of Mt. Lasso, an area within range of all possible landing localities.
In the event of sucessful or partial landings, the defenders would "counterattack to the water and . . . destroy the enemy on beaches with one blow especially where time prevents quick movement of forces within the island." Colonel Ogata considered the airfields and the harbor area the key points of Tinian's defense and ordered a strong, determined defense of them; "but in the eventuality we have been unable to expel the enemy . . . we will gradually fall back on our prepared positions in the southern part of the island and defend them to the last man."23 Ogata's subordinates had complete instructions--if they could understand them.
None of Ogata's orders or messages reveal his estimate as to the strength of the U. S. force ready to attack Tinian. But, since he had enjoyed good communications with his superiors on Saipan throughout most of the battle for that island, he should have been aware that as many as three U. S. divisions were available to strike him.
On high planning levels the Marianas were considered as a single strategic objective, so that, in all deliberations and meetings of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and the Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS),24 the invasion of Tinian was under consideration simultaneously with that of Saipan and Guam.25 Admiral Ernest J. King, a member of the JCS, spoke forcefully before the CCS in January 1943 of the desirability of seizing the Marianas, which he considered the "key" to the Central Pacific.26 King, however, achieved no significant acceptance of this opinion until the summer of 1943 when, at the Quebec conference, the CCS noted that the Marianas might constitute a "necessary or desirable" campaign. But even that acceptance was qualified; for, in formulating a time schedule for projected Pacific operations, staff planners omitted the Marianas.
By late fall of 1943 events had made the pattern of victory clear enough to bring Admiral King an ally in his arguments for taking the Marianas. General Henry H. Arnold, Army Air Force Chief of Staff, was by then anxious to find bases from which his huge new bombers, the B-29's, could bomb the home islands of Japan. Arnold knew that airfields in China, though within bombing range of the Empire, were vulnerable to Japanese ground operations. He anticipated that the opening B-29 raids, scheduled for 15 June 1944, would precipitate ground attacks against B-29 China bases. General Arnold naturally wished for bases not vulnerable to the enemy's strength and yet within range of the enemy's home islands. As he later stated, "The Marianas, specifically Guam, Saipan, and Tinian, came closer to filling the bill than any other."27
Thus supported in his views, Admiral King won his point during the JCS deliberations of mid-November 1943.28 Later in the month the U. S. chiefs met with their British counterparts at Cairo, Egypt. There a planning schedule for 1944 was approved; it included an operation for the "seizure of Guam and the Japanese Marianas" and the initiation of "very
long range bombing of vital targets . . . from bases in the Marianas."29
Only then was the Marianas campaign removed from the possibly-necessary-or-desirable category and listed among the definitely scheduled campaigns. Its acceptance had followed a slow, never-unanimous series of developments. Indeed, on command levels subordinate to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ineffectual opposition continued for several months after the die had been cast at Cairo.30
On 23 December 1943, following the Combined Chiefs' meetings, the two principal U. S. area commanders in the Pacific (Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Central Pacific; General Douglas MacArthur, Southwest Pacific) were apprised of the decisions reached.31 Although the directive presented sufficient detail to enable the two commanders to mold their own campaign plans into a more or less finished shape, there necessarily would be many alterations during 1944.
Admiral Nimitz' campaign plan, code-named GRANITE, was published only four days after receipt of the CCS directive. The 27 December GRANITE plan, in reality a preliminary draft, scheduled the "Capture of Tinian, Saipan and Guam" for 15 November 1944. On 13 January 1944, only 17 days after the first draft, a smoother GRANITE was issued. In the short period between the two, discussions and developments indicated the desirability of making certain changes. The most significant of these pertained to Truk, against which island a landing had been tentatively set for 15 August in the first GRANITE plan. The new plan stipulated that, if Task Force 58's mid-February carrier attacks should indicate invasion unnecessary, Truk would be by-passed and subsequent operations (including the Marianas) would be accelerated.32
By 12 March 1944 the Joint Chiefs had decided that a speed-up of the entire Pacific War would be possible. Developments leading to that conclusion were: The economical and speedy execution of the Marshalls operation (30 January-20 February); advancement of General MacArthur's target date for the Admiralties operation from 1 April to 29 February; MacArthur's plan of by-passing the Hansa Bay and Wewak areas and moving directly to Hollandia; Admiral Nimitz' recommendation that a major amphibious operation be launched against either Truk or the Marianas in mid-June, followed by an assault against the Palaus about 1 October; General Arnold's urgent request for early capture of the Marianas; and, most important, Task Force 58's 16-17 February strikes, which had revealed Truk as considerably weaker than generally supposed and which supported the growing belief that bypassing Truk would be feasible.33
The Joint Chiefs' new directive was specific: the Southern Marianas would be seized, target date 15 June 1944, and B-29 bases and secondary naval facilities developed there.34 The Marianas operation, so long a doubtful embryo, now had an expected date of birth.
The day after he received the JCS directive, Admiral Nimitz relayed instructions to his subordinate commands: stop Truk planning, concentrate all efforts on planning for the Marianas.35
Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith's V Amphibious Corps Staff immediately set to work polishing up previously conceived plans.
For the task of seizing the Southern Marianas, General Smith decided to form two landing forces: one, designated Northern Troops and Landing Force (NTLF), to seize Saipan and Tinian; the other, designated Southern Troops and Landing Force (STLF), to capture Guam. Over the two forces, which would be separated by 100 miles, an Expeditionary Troops Staff would exercise control. Holland Smith would command this over-all troop echelon and also the Northern Troops and Landing Force, a dual job made feasible because Guam would not be attacked until the Saipan operation was well underway.36 The Guam invaders would be commanded by Major General Roy S. Geiger.
Meanwhile, the Navy's top command structure for the Marianas had also been established. Here again, two forces were necessary. The Northern Attack Force, under Vice Admiral Richmond K. Turner, would support and land the Northern Troops at Saipan and Tinian, while the Southern Attack Force, commanded by Rear Admiral Richard L. Conolly, would perform similarly for the Southern Troops' assault against Guam. A Joint Expeditionary Force Staff, headed by Admiral Turner (like General Smith operating in a dual capacity), would coordinate and control the two widely spread attack forces.
Both Holland Smith's Expeditionary Troops and Turner's Expeditionary Force were parts of the Fifth Fleet, commanded by Admiral Raymond A. Spruance. This fleet, with control over more than 800 ships, was the largest ever assembled up to that time in the Pacific. It would transport, land, cover, and support the Marines and soldiers who would assault the Saipan-Tinian-Guam beaches.
A bold, inspired thrust, of proportions never before attempted in the Pacific War, was soon to be undertaken. The target area lay 1,200 miles from the nearest U. S. base and about 4,000 miles from the area where the bulk of the troops wold be embarked. The amphibious doctrine evolved by the U. S. Marines in the period between the two great wars would be tested again. Experiences in past campaigns gave every reason for confidence.
Landing force commanders at specific Marianas objectives (Saipan, Tinian, Guam) would command all troops ashore until such time as Admiral Spruance decided that the capture and occupation phase at a given island was completed, whereupon an island commander would take over. Tinian's island commander would be Major General James L. Underhill, whose responsibilities included base development, civil affairs, and all of the multifarious administrative matters attendant to governing a captured island.
Admiral Turner elaborated upon the island commander's duties as follows:
. . . these officers [island commanders] landed at each objective very early in the assault phase. They reported to the local Landing Force Commanders . . . [who assigned them] administrative duties in support of the assault troops similar in general to the duties they would perform after assuming command of the islands. . . . Then, when the Capture and Occupation Phase for each island was declared completed, the Island Commander assumed command and reported to the Commanding General Expeditionary Troops for the execution of the Defense and Development Phase. Thereafter, until the Commander Joint Expeditionary Force turned the islands and sea areas over to the Commander Forward Area, the Landing Force Commander and the Island Commander had coordinate status under Commanding General Expeditionary Troops. In turn, the latter was responsible to Commander Joint Expeditionary Force.37
To assist him in the exercise of his dual command, General Holland Smith split his V Amphibious Corps Headquarters into two parts. One group he called the "Red Staff," the other the "Blue Staff." The former eventually became the staff for NTLF, the latter for Expeditionary Troops. Since preliminary planning had been accomplished before the split (12 April 1944), there existed a high degree of coordination and like-thinking between the two echelons.38
Available to NTLF for the Saipan-Tinian landings were the 2d and 4th Marine Divisions,
commanded by Major Generals Thomas E. Watson and Harry Schmidt, respectively. The 3d Marine Division and the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade would comprise the Southern Troops and Landing Force.39 In Expeditionary Troops reserve, prepared to reinforce any of these landings, was the 27th Infantry Division (Major General Ralph C. Smith, USA). A strategic reserve, the 77th Infantry Division bivouacked in Hawaii, could be brought into the Marianas area after D-plus 20.
Operation plans poured out in a steady flow. The time required for planning, from the highest echelon down, with each subordinate coordinating his own plan with that of his immediate superior, was drastically compressed by the procedure (normal for amphibious operations) of concurrent planning. This made possible the preparation, by the four principal command echelons, of highly detailed, inter-related operation plans, issuance dates of which fell within a three-week period:
Pacific Fleet Operation Plan No. 3-44, 23 April 1944. Central Pacific Task Forces Operation Plan Com FIFTH Fleet No. Cen 10-44, 12 May 1944. Joint Expeditionary Forces Operation Plan No. A10-44, 6 May 1944. Expeditionary Troops Operation Plan No. 3-44, 26 April 194440
On 3 June 1944, nearly a month after publication of the last of the high-level operation plans for the Marianas, Admiral Nimitz issued a document, to replace his campaign plan GRANITE (13 January 1944), which had been rendered out-of-date by the Pacific War's accelerated pace. Designated GRANITE II, the new plan listed the Marianas campaign as the first of the period and set the tentative target date for 15 June 1944. Other operations scheduled in GRANITE II were: Palau--8 September 1944; Mindanao--15 November 1944;
MAJOR GENERAL HARRY SCHMIDT, who had led the 4th Marine Division at Saipan, commanded the troops (V Amphibious Corps) who captured Tinian.
Southern Formosa and Amoy or, as an alternative, Luzon--15 February 1945.41
On the basis of the mission assigned in Expeditionary Troops operation plan, ". . . seize . . . Saipan, then be prepared to seize Tinian on order," NTLF planning for Tinian's capture commenced at the same time as that for Saipan. It was apparent, however, that Tinian plans would not need to attain the same degree of finality before departing from Pearl Harbor as would those for Saipan. One high-ranking naval officer described the Tinian planning at this time as "playing by ear."43 This notwithstanding, several important Tinian planning
steps were taken: available maps, photos and charts were distributed to subordinate units, arrangements were made for loading resupply shipping, tentative plans were coordinated with the assigned Tinian Garrison Forces, and all available intelligence information regarding Tinian was disseminated.44
Enroute to Eniwetok, which served as a final staging area for the move to the Marianas, the NTLF Staff drew up a concept and a tentative operation plan for Tinian's capture. At Eniwetok (6-11 June) these were submitted to General Holland Smith, who decided to hold them pending further developments and completion of the Saipan operation. This first concept envisaged a shore-to-shore landing on northern Tinian in order that artillery might furnish support from positions on southern Saipan.45
During the Saipan operation the island of Tinian was scrutinized from almost every angle; frequent photographic missions were flown to detect changes of enemy positions and installations; information about the Tinian defenses as revealed by documents captured at Saipan was studied and evaluated. Intelligence held by NTLF before the Tinian operation exceeded in accuracy, completeness and timeliness that available for any operation up to that time in the Pacific War. U. S. commanders were almost as familiar with the Japanese strength and defensive preparations at Tinian as was Colonel Ogata.
Meanwhile a shift in command took place. Since early in the Marianas planning, General Holland Smith had operated as commander of Expeditionary Troops and of NTLF. Admiral Turner, likewise, had functioned as commander of the Expeditionary Force and of the Northern Attack Force. These dual roles had imposed no particular hardship until now because, of three chosen Marianas objectives, Saipan was the only island under attack. Soon, however, operations against Guam and Tinian would proceed concurrently, and an alteration in the command structure became desirable.
General Smith therefore assigned command of NTLF to Major General Harry Schmidt at 1000, 12 July. As part of the same shift, Major General Clifton B. Cates relieved Schmidt as 4th Division commander.46 Three days later Admiral Turner dissolved the original Northern Attack Force and formed a new one under Rear Admiral Harry W. Hill, who had served as second-in-command of both the Joint Expeditionary Force and the Northern Attack Force during the Saipan operation.47
Early in July, when it became evident that Saipan would soon fall, the NTLF Staff commenced reconsideration of the tentative plans for the Tinian attack in the light of additional information available; and Hill's Northern Attack Force staff also began solidifying plans that had remained fluid until now. Much midnight oil was burned by the two staffs in studying the problem of getting the Marines ashore and supporting them once there. Admiral Hill reported that "the more we looked at the Tinian Town beaches, the less we liked them. My staff was of one mind: land on the northern end of the island."48
Thus, the naval and Marine staffs, studying the situation from somewhat different points of view, arrived at a similar solution regarding the best place for landing. Through frequent conferences between the two staffs, information, opinions and advice were exchanged, and the planning progressed speedily. The presence of all interested commanders close at hand
greatly facilitated planning, since recommendations and decisions could be obtained expeditiously.
Although all other principal commanders derived the definite impression that Admiral Turner strongly opposed the scheme of landing on the northern beaches and preferred an assault at Tinian Town (an impression they still shared over five years later), the admiral declares that:
I merely insisted that full study and consideration be given, before decision, to all possible landing places--all of them difficult, for more than one reason. And, in accordance with an invariable custom, I refused to give a decision until such studies had been made, and also until the main features of the landing plan had been developed.49
But the admiral's desire for "full study and consideration" was not his alone; nor had other commanders arrived at their preference for the northern beaches without carefully weighing advantages and disadvantages and finding the scales tipped toward the advantages. All commanders, however, reserved whole-hearted acceptance of the WHITE Beach plan until they could be assured that a landing there could be supported. In the words of Colonel Robert E. Hogaboom, NTLF operations officer:
The whole success of such a landing depended upon determining to a high degree of accuracy the logistic feasibility of supporting a landing over the northern beaches.50
While admitting that the Tinian Town beaches had certain outstanding disadvantages (". . . Tinian's defenders would almost surely concentrate against a landing in Sunharon Harbor"), Admiral Turner pointed out two definite advantages:
1st, it did not have the extensive swamp and wide low-land back of it that had proved so troublesome at Saipan, but the land rise from the beach was short; and 2d, once a beachhead had been gained, there was quite a good small-craft harbor with a narrow entrance, and behind a very shallow protective reef, that would have permitted unloading in all but seriously heavy weather.51
As objections to the WHITE Beaches, Admiral Turner pointed out that: First, it was necessary
REAR ADMIRAL HARRY W. HILL commanded the transports, warships, and aircraft that landed and supported the troops who captured Tinian.
to conclude the operation promptly, and an advance down the length of the island from the north would be too time-consuming; second, the WHITE Beaches were too narrow to land a force of the size contemplated; third, logistic support over the tiny beaches would be difficult if not impossible; fourth, a change for the worse in the weather might jeopardize the entire operation; and fifth, if artillery could not be landed, "the troops would soon outrun their field artillery support given entirely from the southern end of Saipan."52
The flood of intelligence information pouring into U. S. hands appeared to confirm the practicality of the original landing force concept for the attack on Tinian. Every indication supported the belief that Colonel Ogata was less prepared to counter a landing on the northwestern beaches than any other. But these beach areas, designated WHITE 1 and 2, were extremely poor, being very narrow53 and
having three- to ten-foot cliffs on their flanks. Never had such a large force attempted a landing over such narrow and restricted beaches. Could it be done? In addition, could amphibian tractors (LVT's) negotiate the hemmed in beach terrain and get far enough inland to unload, turn around and return to sea? Disturbing questions--that had to be answered before Jig-Day.
To supply answers, the Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion, V Amphibious Corps (Captain James L. Jones), in conjunction with Underwater Demolition Teams 5 (Lieutenant Commander D. L. Kauffman) and 7 (Lieutenant Richard F. Burke), conducted physical reconnaissances of the WHITE Beaches and the YELLOW Beach on the east coast on the nights of 10-11 and 11-12 July.54 These well-trained personnel debarked from the transport-destroyers (APD's) Gilmer and Stringham and quietly paddled rubber boats55 to within 500 yards of the shore. There they slipped into the water and swam to the beach. While the Marines explored beach areas, the underwater demolition teams investigated shelving reefs in front of the beaches. Aside from the technical skill required, stout hearts were necessary equipment for men in these night reconnaissance undertakings.
Originally, reconnaissance of north-Tinian's beaches was scheduled for one night rather than two. Company A, Reconnaissance Battalion (Captain M. H. Silverthorn, Jr.), was to examine the YELLOW Beach and Company B (1st Lieutenant Leo B. Shinn) the WHITE Beaches. Company A's search proceeded without a hitch. The Marines reconnoitered YELLOW Beach and its flanks to the high water mark; then one officer, 2d Lieutenant Donald Neff, moved inland about 30 yards to locate beach exits for vehicles. Company A's explorations revealed several obstacles: floating mines in the approaches to the beach; a number of underwater boulders and pot-holes; almost insurmountable 20- to 25-foot cliffs on the beach flanks; double-apron barbed wire on the beach itself; and evidence of fortifications in the area behind the beach (". . . construction activity continued unabated during the time the patrols were ashore . . . ."). The YELLOW Beaches appeared a poor choice.56
Meanwhile, men of Company B experienced complications. Powerful ocean currents swept them and men of the naval underwater demolition team so far off course that those scheduled for the WHITE 2 reconnaissance landed instead on WHITE 1 and the group intended for WHITE 1 reached a point on the reef some 700 to 800 yards to the north. Only half the mission was completed on 10-11 July.
The task of investigating WHITE 2 the next night was assigned to Company A, the unit that had executed the YELLOW Beach mission. This time the current-drift problem was solved. The Stringham guided the detachment to WHITE 2 by noting on her radar the course of the rubber boats and sending course corrections over an SCR-300. So assisted, Company A executed its mission successfully. While the Marines checked the beach, underwater demolition personnel conducted a reconnaissance of the reef fronting the beach.
Regarding the missions executed on the nights of 10-11 and 11-12 July, Admiral Turner commented;
The first series of reconnaissances were made as secretly as possible; and, in order to avoid the disclosure of landing intention, positive orders were issued that any mines and obstacles found there were under no circumstances to be disturbed.57
Reports on the first night's WHITE 1 reconnaissance and the second night's WHITE 2 mission confirmed much that had been assumed and, in addition, revealed several new facts. Both beaches, flanked by rough, rocky cliffs, offered extremely restricted landing areas for vehicles. But on the brighter side, the reconnaissance indicated that LVT's and waterproofed tanks or wheeled vehicles could safely negotiate the reef and land, and that troops could clamber over the low cliffs that flanked the beaches. Further, Marines disembarking from boats at the reef could wade ashore without encountering dangerous depths. The reconnaissance located no mines or man-made obstacles. In short, the WHITE Beaches were neither better nor worse than planners had estimated.58
The report of Underwater Demolition Team 5 confirmed the Marines' findings and noted that:
No mines or man-made underwater obstructions were found. A sufficiently thorough search was made to insure that no lines of mines were present. Buried mines or an odd mine not in pattern would have been overlooked by this search. It is difficult to bury mines in coral but very possible in the gravel slopes at shore edge.59
Here, then, was a nod of approval for those who had favored the WHITE Beaches from the outset. And for those who had been skeptical of the feasibility of landing there, here was evidence more favorable than unfavorable to the WHITE Beaches.
The landing force operations officer, Colonel Hogaboom, summarized the work and results of the amphibious reconnaissance:
This was an extremely difficult operation that was almost perfectly executed and the perfection of the execution is due both to the high competence of the reconnaissance battalion and the underwater demolition team and to the detailed and careful manner in which the reconnaissance was rehearsed prior to its execution . . . in the absence of the detailed information which these reconnaissance units gave us on the extremely narrow and restricted beaches it would not have been sound to embark on this very risky operation.60
With the amphibious reconnaissance reports in, and the landing day less than two weeks away, the final decision regarding the place of landing still had not been made. With the purpose of clearing up this matter, Admiral Turner called a conference of all principal Marine and Navy commanders and their key staff officers. In anticipation of opposition from Admiral Turner, NTLF staff officers prepared themselves with ". . . a tremendous volume of evidence and information to support our plan . . ."61
The conference took place on 12 July aboard Turner's flagship, the Rocky Mount; top officers present were Admirals Spruance, Turner and Hill and Generals Smith and Schmidt. In Admiral Turner's words:
At the start of the conference, over which I presided, I made a preliminary statement, as I remember, outlining the general advantages of the various beaches from the naval viewpoint. I then called on Schmidt and staff, and Hill, to express their views. Both made excellent presentations.62
General Schmidt, who had that very day assumed command of the landing force, advanced the following in justification for his WHITE Beach scheme: First, landing against the prepared Japanese positions at Tinian Town would prove too costly; second, Saipan-emplaced artillery could lend effective support to a landing on Tinian's northern beaches; third, the Ushi Point Airfield could be captured expeditiously and used for supply and evacuation; fourth, tactical surprise would be more probable of attainment; fifth, the operation would be more distinctively a shore-to-shore move and thus easier to execute; and sixth, supplies, for the most part, could be preloaded at Saipan and moved on wheels and tracks directly to selected inland dumps on Tinian.63
Admiral Hill, whose Northern Attack Force Staff had worked in close cooperation with Schmidt's Staff, agreed whole-heartedly with Schmidt and emphasized again his preference for the WHITE Beaches. At the same time, Hill stressed--as he had on several occasions before and after this conference--the importance of the weather factor in the WHITE Beach landings. He had maintained from the outset that the Navy could land the Marines providing that there were three days of good weather.64 (Specific measures taken to prevent bad weather from seriously crippling the operation will be covered later in this chapter.) Following Hill's presentation, in Admiral Turner's words, "there was a rather short question and discussion period and then I announced my decision in favor of the WHITE Beaches. . . . Spruance expressed his approval of my decision."65
Colonel Hogaboom later wrote regarding this: ". . . we were all surprised at the unexpected rapidity and ease with which the plan was presented and accepted."66 It is apparent that Admiral Turner had already decided in favor of the WHITE Beaches before the Rocky Mount conference. Admiral Turner later commented: ". . . before the reconnaissances of July 10 and 11 were made, I had (without announcement) tentatively decided to accept the WHITE Beaches unless the reconnaissance reports were decidedly unfavorable."67
On 13 July, the day following the conference aboard the Rocky Mount, General Schmidt issued his NTLF Operation Plan 30-44.68 The plan. was notable in many respects; it incorporated, in varying degrees, the nine principles of war69 but particularly emphasized three of them: surprise, mass and economy of force. Attention to surprise influenced the choice of landing beaches, the scheme of maneuver, the employment of supporting arms, the formulation of various deception devices, and the functioning of logistical units. The corollary principles of economy of force and mass received recognition through the concentration of maximum strength and hitting power in the assault division and the centralization of most of the available artillery to fit the unusual circumstances of the situation. The NTLF solution to the Tinian problem was, in all respects, classic.
The plan, later adopted as an order, directed the assault division, the 4th (General Cates), to land at "How-hour, Jig-day" over the diminutive WHITE Beaches, push inland and capture Objective O-1 (including Mt. Maga as its principal feature). Then, making its main effort toward Mt. Lasso, the division would seize the Force Beachhead Line (FBHL),70 embracing Faibus San Hilo Point on the west, Mt. Lasso in the center, and Asiga Point on the east. (See Map 6, facing page 25.) This plan did not specify a definite date for the landing, noting that Jig-Day would "be announced." On 20 July, Admiral Spruance, Commander Fifth Fleet, confirmed the date that had previously been tentatively chosen for Jig-Day: 24 July. Admiral Hill then selected 0730 as How-Hour.
Consistent with General Schmidt's policy of placing maximum strength and resources in the assault division, the NTLF operation plan assigned 533 amphibian tractors--all those available--to the 4th Marine Division. To assure control and coordination, all these vehicles were organized into a Provisional LVT Group. Represented on the NTLF Staff by Major Henry G. Lawrence, Jr., the group was composed of two armored amphibian battalions and six amphibian tractor battalions; half of these units were Army, half Marine. (For detailed breakdown see Appendix VI, Task Organization.)
Because of the extreme narrowness of the selected beaches, only one company of armored amphibians would be used in the assault landing. This unit, Company D, 2d Armored Amphibian Battalion, would form the first wave,
one platoon preceding troop-carrying LVT's toward Beach WHITE 1, while the other two platoons led the attack against Beach WHITE 2. Fire from these vehicles would take up the slack from the time major-caliber supporting naval gunfire ceased until troops were nearly ashore. At a distance of 300 yards from shore, the armored amphibians would veer to either flank and fire into areas adjacent to the beaches. At that point the first wave of troop-carrying LVT's would open up with their forward-mounted .30-caliber machine guns and press on alone to the beaches.71
The artillery organization for battle as specified in the NTLF plan was unique (and will receive detailed treatment later). The 4th Division, though shorn of its organic 105mm howitzers, would have four battalions of 75mm pack howitzers (1st and 2d Battalions of the 10th and 14th Marines, respectively). So that the 48 howitzers, ammunition and other gear of the four battalions could be moved quickly from LVT's to firing positions ashore, the 4th Division was assigned two amphibian truck (DUKW) companies.
Bolstering the armored fist for the assault unit's punch, General Schmidt attached the 2d Division's tanks to the 4th. To insure that the initial effort would receive constant and sufficient logistical support, the NTLF plan attached an Army engineer battalion (the 1341st) to the 4th Division. This battalion would function as a Shore Party on one of the beaches, while the division's organic shore party (2d Battalion, 20th Marines) would serve on the other. Other attachments to the 4th Division were routine: a provisional rocket detachment 72 and a joint assault signal company (JASCO).
The NTLF Operation Order directed the 2d Marine Division (General Watson) to "land on order in rear of 4thMarDiv . . . and move to designated assembly positions. . . ." More significant--initially--than the mission assigned in the NTLF operation plan, however, was the division's important role in the Jig-Day demonstration. While the 4th Division slipped ashore over the WHITE Beaches, the 2d would execute, as part of a sizeable naval force, a feint off Tinian Town. Intelligence information pointed conclusively to the fact that the Japanese commander expected landings there, and a large deployment of ships off the town's beaches might appear a confirmation of his estimate. (See Map 6.)
General Schmidt's application of the principle of economy of force had built up the 4th Division and had greatly weakened the 2d. With its tank battalion and its entire artillery regiment (see below) detached, the 2d was at the lowest landing strength of any Marine division throughout the Pacific War. It had but two small reinforcing units: a joint assault signal company and a provisional rocket detachment. The NTLF organization for landing was keyed to one dominating idea: mass in the assault division sufficient combat power to facilitate its task of grasping and holding a beachhead under abnormal conditions.
In landing force reserve the 27th Infantry Division (Major General George W. Griner, USA), less its division artillery and one infantry regiment73 would "be prepared to embark in landing craft on four hours notice and land . . . on Tinian."
An important factor leading to selection of the WHITE Beaches had been the practicality of furnishing artillery support from positions on southern Saipan. For the execution of this task, General Schmidt centralized all available Army and Marine artillery larger than 75mm under the XXIV Corps Artillery (Brigadier General Arthur M. Harper, USA). This powerful, 13-battalion organization would "support the landing on beaches WHITE 1 and 2 on Tinian and subsequent operations from positions in the southern portion of Saipan. Mass of fires to be in support of assault units. Coordinate naval gunfire and air support with artillery fires."
To simplify control, General Harper split his large command into three parts: Groupments A, B, and C. Groupment A, commanded by Colonel Raphael Griffin, consisted of the 10th Marines (less 1st and 2d Battalions), the 3d and 4th Battalions, 14th Marines, and the 4th 105mm Howitzer Battalion, V Amphibious Corps. Groupment B, commanded by Brigadier General Redmond F. Kernan, USA, consisted of the 27th Division Artillery (less 106th Field Artillery Battalion). Groupments A and B were armed with 105mm howitzers. Groupment C, under General Harper's personal direction, included the 419th Field Artillery Group (145th and 225th Field Artillery Battalions), the 420th Field Artillery Group (531st and 532d Field Artillery Battalions), and the 106th Field Artillery Battalion. The 420th's two battalions manned the far-reaching 155mm guns, while the other three battalions of the groupment operated 155mm howitzers. (For firing positions of the three groupments see Map 6.)
Marine artillery units would displace to Tinian when ordered to do so by their respective division commanders. Army artillery units would receive displacement instructions from the NTLF commander.74
As already noted, the four 75mm pack howitzer battalions (two from each Marine division) would accompany the 4th Division in its assault landings on Tinian. The short range of these weapons made them poorly suited to firing from Saipan, and, in addition, planners were unanimous in the opinion that some artillery should be physically present at Tinian.
Immediately upon receipt of the NTLF plan (13 July), the divisions placed the finishing touches on their detailed plans for Tinian. On the basis of conferences and preliminary drafts, the divisions had been able to complete a large portion of their planning before actually having the finished NTLF document in their hands.
Major General Cates decided to land with two regiments abreast, the 24th Marines (battalions in column) on the left over Beach WHITE 1, the 25th Marines (two battalions abreast) on the right over Beach WHITE 2. The division reserve, 23d Marines, would land on order on designated beaches. It would then be prepared either to pass through the 25th Regiment and continue to Mt. Lasso or to move in on the 25th's right and assist that unit in Mt. Lasso's capture.75
In keeping with its fluid mission to "land on order," the 2d Marine Division issued only very general instructions to its regiments. The 2d Marines would land over WHITE 2, the 8th Marines over WHITE 1, and the 6th Marines would be prepared to land over either.76
Since the 27th Infantry Division was not committed to the Tinian fight, its detailed plans will not be discussed here. The division's artillery, operating as part of the XXIV Corps Artillery, however, participated extensively in fire support of the operation.
The Tinian Garrison Forces (Major General Underhill) would prepare antiaircraft defenses, make necessary repairs of captured airfields, and execute base development functions.77
Though essentially a shore-to-share movement, the Tinian operation also had many ship-to-shore characteristics. While some units and supplies moved directly in small craft from Saipan to Tinian, others embarked in ships, from which they came ashore in landing craft.
Personnel and Logistics
A considerable burden was imposed upon the NTLF G-1 Section in its preparations for the Tinian operation. Many officers and men, wounded during the Saipan battle, were returning from hospitals to rejoin their units. In some cases, these were not yet fit for active front line duty and, in almost all cases, they had lost or had been separated from their equipment. It therefore became the G-1 Section's job to arrange for processing, quartering, messing and re-equipping these personnel. Thus saddled with a detailed task for which it was neither organized nor prepared, the section found it difficult to give normal attention to
other major problems requiring its consideration or action. This situation caused the NTLF G-1, Lieutenant Colonel Albert F. Metze, to recommend establishment of a corps or force rehabilitation and transient center if a similar problem arose in the future.
The two Marine divisions had suffered about 10,500 casualties in the Saipan operation, and there was no prospect of either reaching full strength before Tinian's Jig-Day. One replacement draft (1,268 officers and enlisted) joined the landing force on 11 July but fell considerably short of filling the vacancies. A second draft was on the move toward Saipan, but it did not arrive before Tinian's Jig-Day. Shortage of personnel, however, did not have a hampering effect upon planning.78
The morale of troops committed to the Tinian operation was generally high. This fact takes on significance only when it is recalled that the Marines involved had just survived a bitter, 25-day struggle and that, with only a fortnight lapse (as distinguished from a fortnight rest), they were again to assault enemy-held shores. More than one man, in more than one organization, wondered how long his luck would last. And yet, the spirit that pervaded the Northern Troops and Landing Force as it contemplated its coming battle was revealed more in a philosophical shrug, accompanied with a "here-we-go-again" remark, than in a resentful complaint that it should be called upon again so soon.
Because the time between operations was short, there was little opportunity for training or rehearsals. Indeed, commanders felt that a short period of relaxation would do their weary troops more good than would anything else. The only unit that actually rehearsed for its role was the Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion, V Amphibious Corps. The specialized nature of its night reconnaissances of Tinian beaches had required a careful dress rehearsal.
One measure taken by the 4th Marine Division in the period between the Saipan and Tinian operations paid dividends: division staff officers, regimental and battalion commanders, and other selected officers, conducted careful reconnaissances of Tinian from observation aircraft. The opportunity for pre-battle inspection of the objective seldom presented itself in the Pacific War because of the distances involved. Lieutenant Colonel Gooderham L. McCormick, 4th Division intelligence officer, described the results of the reconnaissance:
We all obtained . . . a view of the entire island. . . . The problems . . . of terrain and beaches were clearly seen. Another noteworthy observation was that the roads were all North-South and East-West and that the sugar cane fields were layed out in square blocks, again N-S and E-W. It was observed likewise that tree plantings, grown as wind breaks for the sugar cane, fringed the fields in the same N-S-E-W plan. This regular pattern . . . permitted a remarkably simple series of boundaries for the control of uniform advances by our troops.79
The shore-to-shore characteristics of the Tinian assault permitted a more flexible supply system than did other amphibious operations in the Central Pacific. This was true because the base of supply, in the form of the 7th Field Depot, was so close at hand on Saipan and because resupply ships were present in the target area. Detailed combat loading was not the restrictive factor that it was in over-seas operations such as the Saipan assault.
At the same time, a unique logistical problem was presented: Supply would have to funnel through the extremely limited WHITE Beaches, where any congestion might seriously bottleneck the flow of supplies. To avoid any jam, the logistics plans provided that all supplies cross the beach on wheels and tracks and move direct to division dumps without rehandling. In effect, then, not a pound of supplies would be handled in the usual shore-party manner. The supply plan involved the shuttling back and forth of trucks and trailers between base supply dumps on Saipan and division dumps on Tinian and also the direct movement to inland dumps of all amphibian vehicles (LVT's and DUKW's) carrying supplies from ship to shore.
On the Saipan end of the shuttle plan, much would depend upon the Saipan Island Command, under Major General Sanderford Jarman, USA, whose troops would perform the loading. According to Admiral Hill, "close harmony" existed between Jarman's Island Command and Navy and Marine logistical personnel.
Initial supply would be handled as follows: 32 LST's (landing ships, tank) and two LSD's (landing ships, dock), pre-loaded at Saipan, would furnish balanced amounts of water, rations and ammunition, plus minimum requirements of organizational and individual equipment and miscellaneous supplies, for the entire landing force for a period of four and a half days.80
This amount would be made possible by eliminating fuel items from the ship-to-shore move and by greatly reducing the amount of artillery ammunition carried. The gas and oil situation would be handled by placing floating fuel barges off the reef opposite the landing beaches; these barges would then be accessible to amphibian vehicles, which could pull alongside them. The planned reduction in artillery ammunition was possible because all artillery heavier than 75mm would deliver fires from Saipan and not land at Tinian initially.
Throughout the logistical planning, Marine and Navy commanders exerted all possible attention to carrying and landing only essential supplies. Then, in Admiral Hill's words:
We gathered up every cargo net in the Saipan area and top loaded the bare minimum of troop supplies on the LST's and LSD's. These supplies were in cargo nets and ready for immediate hoisting and each LST provided with two cranes so as to expedite the handling.81
In addition to the 32 LST's and two LSD's, the landing force was allocated 20 LVT's (landing craft, tank)82 and 10 LCM's (landing craft, mechanized) for effecting the shuttle supply system. Eighty-eight cargo trucks and 25 trailers were loaded aboard these craft for the Saipan-Tinian shuttle. So that loaded vehicles could be discharged for the move inland, the logistical plan contemplated installation of two pontoon causeways, one for each beach. These prefabricated floating docks would be towed from Saipan and installed at an early hour after the H-Hour landings.83 (For a discussion of the effectiveness of this device see page 134.)
The extreme narrowness of WHITE 1 and 2 suggested to planners the desirability of extending those landing areas by providing some means of access over the three- to ten-foot coral cliffs on the beach flanks. But how could this be done? An ingenious answer, and an innovation in amphibious warfare, was the special portable LVT ramp, built at Saipan during preparations for the Tinian attack. The ramp, supported by two 25-foot steel beams, would support vehicles up to and including 35-ton medium tanks. The two beams were carried ashore on either side of an LVT, each beam uplifted to an angle of approximately 45 degrees from the angle of approach. Upon reaching the beach, the LVT would place the forward end of each beam against the top of the ledge, the aft end dropping and securing in the ground at the base. Two inclined girders from beach level to the island's terrain would thus be provided. Extending from the front of both beams and back over the top of the LVT ,were a series of 18 closely connected timbers which, as the LVT backed away, slid onto the steel beams and formed the ramp's deck.84 LVT's carrying the special ramps would move ashore from an LSD 6,000 yards from the
SPECIAL PORTABLE LVT RAMP was designed to provide access over the coral ledges flanking the landing beaches. After placing the ramp's forward end against the top of the ledge and securing the after end at the base, the LVT backed away, allowing the ramp timbers to fall into position on steel I-beams.
beach. Such movement would be executed on landing force order.85
A great imponderable hung like a cloud over all Tinian planning. Would the weather remain fair and friendly, or would it turn foul and hostile? Planners were well aware that the typhoon season had arrived and that even a storm several hundred miles distant might create a swell sufficient to stop unloading across the unprotected WHITE Beaches.
To provide for this contingency, planners took the only two steps possible: they secured advance weather information and prepared to operate on an emergency basis if bad weather developed after the landing. Admiral Hill, the Northern Attack Force commander, who had stated the necessity for "three days of good weather," spoke to Admiral Spruance on this subject early in the Tinian planning. The latter gave his assurance that he would order a series of long-range patrol plane searches to westward and southwestward to watch for swells or other indications of disturbance. Operating at a range from Tinian as great as 1,000 miles, aircraft could spot weather trouble brewing and provide Admiral Hill several days' warning. In addition, Commander in Chief Pacific's Weather Central and local aerologists kept a close check on this matter. Spruance gave Hill "full authority to alter Jig-Day as necessary, based upon these reports, to insure good weather."86
Plans were also evolved to cover the contingency of bad weather after landing. These included the preparation of approximately 30 tons of varied supplies for delivery by parachute drop and also for the employment of Saipan aircraft for delivery of about 100 tons daily as soon as Ushi Point Airfield had been captured and readied. In addition, a squadron of C-47's was alerted for possible movement from Eniwetok to Saipan.87
On 20 July, with plans for Tinian reaching completion, Admiral Turner and General Smith decided to move to Guam where the Southern Forces were poised to strike. Before departing Saipan, Admiral Turner said to General Schmidt, "I'll give you two weeks to take Tinian." Schmidt replied, "Admiral, we will take that place in ten days."88
The Preparatory Bombardment
Preparatory bombardment of Tinian started as early as 11 June 1944 (when Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's Task Force 58 initiated the Marianas campaign) and continued steadily for 43 days. Even at night destroyers and Saipan-based artillery annoyed the Japanese. Under these circumstances it is not surprising that Japanese combat efficiency diminished somewhat.
The U. S. bombardment plan followed a systematic pattern. Specific targets in the northern half of Tinian normally became the destruction responsibility of artillery, while air attacks were launched against enemy installations in the island's southern half; naval gunfire undertook destruction of targets unsuitable to air or artillery at any point on the island. As additional artillery units, planes and ships became available, the pace was gradually stepped up and the fire crescendo that would reach its climax on Jig-minus 1 began. Throughout this entire phase a target-condition record was carefully maintained; this chart showed a current evaluation of firing results and a detailed assignment of targets. By daily conferences between the supporting arms, a high degree of teamwork prevailed.
On Jig-minus 2 (22 July 1944) the final intensification of naval bombardment prior to
READY FOR BUSINESS the special portable LVT ramp supported vehicles up to and including 35-ton tanks.
execution of scheduled Jig-minus 1 fires was undertaken by the New Orleans. From 0900 until her retirement for the night the heavy cruiser delivered main and secondary battery fires on selected Tinian targets.
During the day several Marine observers went aboard two gunboats (LCI(G)'s) to determine whether these craft were suitable for delivering close-support fires. The demonstration failed to impress the observers; the tiny craft lacked the stability necessary for point firing. The NTLF naval gunfire officer concluded that "employment of LCI(G)'s [for close support] would be unsafe. It was therefore decided to employ them, as heretofore, for deep support missions only."89 These craft would be used at Tinian principally to deliver fires into cave entrances.
Other visitors aboard naval vessels on Jig-minus 2 were the naval gunfire officers and shore fire control parties of the landing force, who went aboard ships with which they would be working after the landings. By giving personnel concerned a chance to discuss mutual problems, these visits did much to smooth out call-fire procedures.
In the late afternoon Admiral Hill, commander Northern Attack Force, modified his previously distributed support plan. The change affected the firing times of some ships, a rescheduling made necessary by the planned employment of a new weapon, the napalm bomb (discussed later), against the beachhead area. At sunset ships retired with their assigned fire-support units in preparation for the scheduled bombardment that would commence at dawn the next day (23 July).
For the Jig-minus 1 and Jig-Day preparations, Admiral Hill divided Tinian into five fire-support sectors, assigned a fire-support unit to each, and designated Rear Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf commander of the fire-support group. (For sectors and ships see Map 7.) The Tinian naval gunfire bombardment plan revolved about two fixed ideas: deception and destruction. And when there were conflicts between them, deception took priority.
Of the four ships specifically assigned to Sector 1 (which included the WHITE Beaches), only the heavy cruiser Louisville participated in the Jig-minus 1 preparation, firing a mere 390 rounds into the 8,000-yard expanse between Ushi and Faibus San Hilo Points. The three destroyers of the task unit were instructed to "screen Louisville."90 This penurious firing was intended to convince the enemy that the WHITE Beach area was unimportant to U. S. plans. A great density of fire there might well have provided Colonel Ogata a clue to U. S. intentions. As will be seen, however, the battleship Colorado, though not a part of Unit 1, joined the Louisville (as scheduled) in pummeling the WHITE Beaches during the afernoon.
Against Sector 2, which ran from Faibus San Hilo Point to Gurguan Point, the density of fire was much greater. Lying between Tinian Town and the WHITE Beaches, this sector offered no landing beaches of any kind. Destruction fires there hinted nothing as to the real U. S. plans. All ships (one cruiser, three destroyers) of the task unit blasted their assigned area, firing a Jig-minus 1 total of 1,960 rounds.
Sector 3, which included the Tinian Town beaches as its principal target, deserved considerable attention. This it got. Here it was possible to achieve--at the same time--deception and destruction. U. S. planners hoped that heavy fires against the Tinian Town beaches would cause the Japanese to continue expecting the attack there. Of the five ships assigned to the sector, the battleship Colorado and the light cruiser Cleveland assumed the key roles. During the morning these two ships raked the Tinian Town beaches and the high ground that backed and flanked them. In the afternoon, while the Cleveland continued pounding the Tinian Town beaches, the Colorado made her scheduled move into Sector 1. There she levelled her powerful 16-inch guns against the WHITE Beaches and surrounding areas, greatly increasing the tonnage thrown by the Louisville in the same general area.
Probably the most significant contribution of the Colorado on Jig-minus 1 was destruction of
three Japanese 140mm coast defense guns on Faibus San Hilo Point. These three weapons, well-camouflaged and defiladed from Saipan-based artillery, were admirably sited to enfilade the WHITE Beaches. Shortly after noon, when they were first spotted, the positions became a priority target for the Colorado, fires being directed by an artillery spotter in an observation plane (OY). Since the latter had no direct communication with the battleship, a complicated procedure was required in this situation: the observer in the plane sent his spotting corrections via his assigned radio frequency to the artillery command post, which passed them by telephone to the naval gunfire officer at NTLF Headquarters, who relayed them via medium frequency radio to the Colorado. The time consumed for this procedure was reasonably short, and the method, in spite of the relays, was effective. The battleship expended 60 16-inch shells in one hour and 45 minutes of time on the positions; this patient, systematic effort paid dividends, destroying all three of the big guns. Although the attention devoted to this single locality reduced somewhat the time originally allotted for fires directly upon the WHITE Beaches, the landing force commander, General Schmidt, made it clear that he was willing to sacrifice some of the latter fires to insure destruction of the Faibus San Hilo Point positions.91
In addition to the Colorado and the Cleveland, the destroyer Monssen participated in the Sector 3 bombardment, firing 400 rounds during the day. Three other destroyers of the task unit were employed on screening missions, in the morning for Unit 3 and in the afternoon for the Colorado. Total rounds fired by Unit 3 (including those fired in Sector 1 by the Colorado) were 1,960.
Two battleships (the Tennessee and the California) assumed the Jig-minus 1 preparatory tasks in Sector 4, which stretched from Lalo Point to Masalog Point. Though ostensibly positioned for fires against the eastern coast, these two ships lent their efforts and shattering fire power to the bombardment of Tinian Town. Thus, while Unit 3 blasted the town and beaches from the front, Unit 4 struck from the rear. The Tennessee and the California, screened by three destroyers, fired 480 14-inch and 800 5-inch shells into Tinian Town during the day.
At 0952 Rear Admiral Howard F. Kingman, Commander Fire Support Unit 4, ordered his ships and those of Unit 3 to stop their scheduled bombardment and commence covering fires for Underwater Demolition Team 7 (UDT 7) as it reconnoitered the reef off Tinian Town. Since Tinian Town beaches would not be used for the initial landing, this particular UDT operation was intended primarily to deceive the enemy commander. Under a heavy blanket of fire, men of UDT 7 moved to the reef, performed their explorations, and returned to their ship (the transport-destroyer Stringham) shortly after 1100. No obstacles were located; no demolitions were performed; no casualties were suffered.
Sector 5, embracing the vast area from Masalog Point to Ushi Point, received light naval gunfire bombardment on Jig-minus 1. Although this sector included the Asiga Bay (YELLOW Beach) area--which Ogata considered one of two possible major landing points--U. S. commanders did not order heavy pounding there. They feared that Ogata might be misled into moving reserves from the south to help defend the Asiga Bay coastline in the north. If this happened, U. S. planners would have out-tricked themselves--the WHITE Beaches were also in the northern part of the island. The heavy cruiser New Orleans and the light cruiser Montpelier joined forces to send 980 rounds into Sector 5. The other three ships of the task unit (all destroyers), meanwhile, executed a screening mission.
Unfortunately, there was no yardstick by which naval gunfire's Jig-minus 1 achievements could be measured. In some instances--as with the Colorado's Faibus San Hilo Point mission--targets were definitely destroyed; but in the
Fire Support Sectors.
LARGE CAVE, its entrance stripped of camouflage by concentrated pounding of U. S. supporting weapons, was one of a variety of targets struck before Jig-Day. Unless a cave were completely demolished, however, Japanese could move in as soon as the fire ceased.
majority of cases thick clouds of smoke and dust arose from areas fired upon and made it impossible to judge results with any accuracy. Ships' reports noted that missions were fired as scheduled or assigned but made no claims regarding the effects of their efforts. Many Marines at the time were inclined to be skeptical that naval gunfire had accomplished very much. After all, they pointed out, statistics had been more impressive than results at Tarawa and Saipan.
While support ships executed their preliminary bombardment, Army, Navy and Marine aircraft delivered a series of strikes against Tinian targets. (See Chart 1 for organization of support aircraft at Tinian.) At three periods on Jig-minus 1 (0800-0840, 1200-1300, 1500-1600) all naval gunfire ceased against the southern portion of the island to allow aircraft full freedom in their attacks. In addition to these three periods, however, a number of other missions were flown at the direction of Commander Lloyd B. Osborne, USN, Commander Support Aircraft. A variety of targets were struck during the day: railroad junctions, antiaircraft guns, covered artillery positions, pillboxes, villages, cane fields, and the beaches at Tinian Town. The 358 planes participating in Jig-minus 1 strikes--231 fighters (VF), 73 bombers (VB), and 54 torpedo planes (VT)--dropped 500 bombs ranging in size from 100 to 2,000-pound and totalling in weight over 97 tons. In addition, 200 rockets, 42 incendiary clusters and 34 fire bombs (oil or napalm) were directed at the island.92
The fire bombs were an innovation. Only five days before their first use, Lieutenant Commander Louis W. Mang, USN, arrived at Saipan with a motion picture showing the effect produced by dropping jettisonable aircraft fuel tanks filled with napalm gel on land targets. Enthusiasm for this new weapon was instantaneous, and it was decided to utilize some of these preliminary to and during the Tinian attack. Since only a limited amount of napalm was available, Admiral Hill radioed a request to Admiral Nimitz for 8,500 pounds of this material. While waiting for it to arrive, substitute bombs, using a mixture of oil and gasoline, were employed.93
All "fire bombs" subsequently used at Tinian were dropped by Army Air Force P-47's based on Aslito Airfield, Saipan.94 Colonel Lewis M. Sanders, USAAF, commanding the 318th Group's 194th and 73d Squadrons, described
Commander Northern Attack Force--Rear Admiral Harry W. Hill Commander Northern Support Aircraft--Commander Lloyd B. Osborne
(a) Task Group 52.14--Rear Admiral Harold B. Sallada U. S. S. Midway (CVE 63) U. S. S. Nehenta Bay (CVE 74) U. S. S. Gambier Bay (CVE 73) U. S. S. Kitkun Bay (CVE 71) U. S. S. White Plains (CVE 66)
(b) Task Group 59.1--Colonel William L. McKittrick, USMC 19th Fighter Squadron, 7th AAF 73d Fighter Squadron, 7th AAF 33d Fighter Squadron, 7th AAF 48th Bomber Squadron, 7th AAF 28th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, 7th AAF VMF (N) 533, SUMC, Night Fighter Squadron 6th Night Fighter Squadron, 7th AAF
(c) Task Group 58.4--Rear Admiral Gerald F. Bogan U. S. S. Essex (CV 9) U. S. S. Langley (CVL 27) U. S. S. Princeton (CVL 23)
(d) Task Group 59.3--Captain Clarence O. Taff Patrol Squadron SIXTEEN (VP 16) Rescue Squadron One (VH 1)
early difficulties in obtaining a correct mixture for the fire bombs:
A Navy commander came to Saipan . . . with napalm powder, but with an incorrect formula. We tried using Jap aviation gasoline, but that gave too much fire effect. Then we tried Jap motor gas and oil, with the napalm powder, and it was quite successful.95
The new "fire bombs" got their first trial run on 22 July (Jig-minus 2) when 18 P-47's attacked Tinian targets, dropping 15 wing and belly tanks filled with a diesel oil-gasoline combination. Results of this first test were inconclusive. More extensive and more conclusive were the tests on the following day (Jig-minus 1) when 3096 were dropped in areas immediately adjacent to the WHITE Beaches. The bombs were well placed; flames seared the area. The effect on the Japanese was not definitely determined at the time, but the next day, when Marines of the 4th Division landed, several badly charred enemy bodies were found in open trenches behind the beaches.97
While air struck from above and naval gunfire from almost every direction, the third member of the bombardment triangle--artillery--maintained a steady, 24-hours-per-day volume of fire on Tinian from positions on southern Saipan. The 13 artillery battalions (two 155mm gun, three 155mm howitzer, eight 105mm howitzer), by a careful assignment of zones of observation and an elaborate communication set-up, achieved a complete coverage of Tinian's northern half. Here again the proper balance between deception and destruction was maintained. It was desirable that artillery knock out as many known enemy installations as possible without furnishing the enemy any inkling of U. S. landing plans. As a positive guarantee that artillery would not divulge the chosen beaches by firing too many rounds there, the landing force authorized each battalion to shoot only 10 rounds for registration on or near the WHITE Beaches but encouraged heavy shelling in other areas.98
Even though the 155mm guns could reach any point on the island (and some harassing fires were delivered by these weapons as far as
POPULAR TARGETS for U. S. ships and planes before Jig-Day were these concrete and steel shelters near Ushi Point Airfield. Whether Japanese had occupied these shelters is not known. No bodies were found in these positions when Marines moved through the area.
Tinian's extreme southern tip), the greater accuracy realized against closer targets made employment of artillery against northern Tinian more remunerative. The south-Tinian bombardment could be delivered more conveniently and efficiently by ships and aircraft.
During the period of preliminary bombardment, artillery units depended almost exclusively upon the vulnerable little observation planes for spotting fire missions and evaluating results. In addition, however, artillery observers embarked in an LCI directed several missions against targets of opportunity. After the landings another means would be added: observers with front-line units.
As already noted, the three supporting arms achieved a high degree of coordination at Tinian. In their integrated effort the artillery (and specifically the XXIV Corps Artillery) became the controlling arm, being allowed to select its targets first and to allocate remaining targets on the basis of their suitability to either air or naval gunfire. Never were these decisions made without consulting representatives of the other arms, however; target assignments represented the result of conferences and discussions and took into account the opinions of each participating arm.
The XXIV Corps Artillery alone fired 7,571 rounds against Tinian while the Saipan operation was still underway. During the period beginning when Saipan was declared secured (9 July) and lasting until Tinian's Jig-Day (24 July), the XXIV Corps Artillery, reinforced by battalions from the two Marine Divisions and the 27th Infantry Division, delivered a deluge of shells into northern Tinian.99 Each
NAPALM BOMB EXPLODES near the WHITE Beaches on 23 July (Jig-minus 1). Tinian saw the first extensive combat use of this bomb. All napalm bombs at Tinian were dropped by U. S. Army Air Force P-47's.
day's bombardment became more systematic and more thorough, until by Jig-minus 1 it reached a thundering climax. Artillery's contribution to the preliminary bombardment was significant indeed.100
By dark of 23 July Tinian looked much the worse for wear. Numerous fires at various points on the island sent up clouds of thick, black smoke. The increased tempo and intensity of the bombardment must have convinced Japanese commanders that the moment of U. S. landings was drawing very near. Under these circumstances a commander would make an effort to rally his forces, pass along last minute instructions, check his defenses, repair any minor damage, and perhaps issue a "pep talk." If these activities were performed on the night of 23-24 July, they were done under the handicap of almost constant harassing fires delivered by Fire Support Unit 2. Much of this badgering was directed against Tinian Town and surrounding areas. A marked U. S. favoritism for this target had been evidenced throughout the day. Everything seemed to point to a landing there.
Embarkation and Movement to the Objective
In the words of the NTLF Transport Quartermaster (Captain Thomas W. McNeely), "Physical loading was accomplished . . . with a minimum of difficulty, the beaches and harbor facilities at Saipan proving adequate to
handle . . . shipping easily and without delay."101 The pier at Tanapag Harbor on Saipan allowed LSD's to pull alongside for convenient and rapid loading. Using this means, six LSD's daily received complete top-deck loads of rations, ammunition and water. Further, high ground backing the Tanapag Harbor coastline prevented Tinian observers from watching activities at the pier. After seeing hundreds of U. S. ships churning the waters about them for over a month, any small increase in naval activity would have created no special stir anyway. And, there was little they could have done about it even if they had known what was going on.
Ships, craft and vehicles employed by the Northern Attack Force for the Saipan-to-Tinian lift were:
Landing Ships Dock (LSD's)--2
Landing Ships Tank (LST's)--37
Landing Craft Infantry (LCI's)--31
Landing Craft Tank (LCT's) -20
Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM's)--92
Landing Craft Vehicles and Personnel (LCVP's)--100
Pontoon Barges (loaded with drums of gasoline for LVT and DUKW supply)--14
Landing Vehicles Tracked (LVT's)--533
Amphibian Trucks (DUKW's)--130102
The assault division (4th) was initially assigned all 37 LST's103 so that most of its troops could be carried the short haul from Saipan to the assigned transport area off Tinian, whence they could move rapidly ashore aboard LVT's embarked in the same ships with them. This allocation simplified control and coordination during the island-to-island move and during the ship-to-shore move as well. The division embarked most of its personnel on 23 July (Jig-minus 1) from beaches near Charan Kanoa on Saipan, beaches within full view of Japanese on Tinian. But at that late date and in that situation, considerations of secrecy could be subordinated to those of convenience. Assault troops spent only one night aboard ship.
The bulk of the division's vehicles and heavy equipment (except tanks) were loaded in LCT's, LCM's, and LCVP's, which were then formed into groups and escorted to Tinian by Navy guide and control boats. Once there, they would remain in designated rendezvous positions until ordered ashore by unit commanders, orders to be transmitted through Beach Control Vessels and approved by Central Control.
The two LSD's104 embarked most of the tanks assigned to the 4th Division, carrying the organic 4th Tank Battalion on the first trip to Tinian and the attached 2d Tank Battalion on subsequent trips.105 Since the two LSD's did not have sufficient space to carry all of the tanks, the surplus was carried in LVT's and LCM's in a direct lift from Saipan to Tinian. Included in this group from the 4th Tank Battalion were Company D (light, flame-thrower tanks), one platoon from Company C, and several miscellaneous battalion vehicles. Only one platoon of light, flame-thrower tanks from the 2d Tank Battalion was carried to Tinian in LCT's and LCM's, the remainder of the battalion being transported in LSD's.106
The four 75mm howitzer battalions were loaded in one LST each. Since individual artillery pieces were loaded in DUKW's when taken aboard these ships, the move from ship to firing positions would be continuous.107
TINIAN TOWN. Because U. S. commanders knew that the enemy expected landings on the beaches fronting the town, they directed a large share of the pre-Jig-Day bombardment into the waterfront and surrounding area, thereby fostering the illusion.
Allocation of all available LST's to the 4th Division left only eight transports108 for the 2d Division's use. This number was sufficient to lift only two of its infantry regiments, the 2d and the 8th. The remaining regiment, the 6th, would wait at Saipan until 10 of the LST's carrying assault elements of the 4th Division returned. Then it too would proceed to Tinian.109
While the two divisions embarked for their short voyage, minesweepers of Task Force 52 covered the small area of mineable waters adjacent to Tinian's west coast. The sweeps, executed to within 500 yards of the shore, located no mines.110 Ships of Task Force 52 could plough to assigned positions without fear of encountering floating or moored explosives.111
The trip from Saipan to Tinian was so brief,
inconsequential and unspectacular that it received no mention in any of the major action reports. For Marines, however, the voyage had at least one satisfactory feature: the food. Tired of their monotonous diet of "C," "K," and occasionally "10-in-1" rations, they partook of ships' fare with gusto. In most cases Navy personnel realized and appreciated this situation and made special efforts to provide interesting menus.
1. See Maj C. W. Hoffman, Saipan: The Beginning of the End, MarCorps Historical Monograph (U. S. Government Printing Office, 1950).
2. See Maj F. O. Hough, The Assault on Peleliu, MarCorps Historical Monograph (U. S. Government Printing Offfice, 1950).
3. GRANITE II, 3Jun44, CINCPOA Campaign Plan for the Central Pacific. This placed Rota in the same category with Truk, Ponape, Woleai, Pagan and Yap.
4. Synthesized from the following sources: Tadao Yanaihara, Pacific Islands Under Japanese Mandate (New York: Oxford University Press, 1940), 8-28; R. W. Robson, The Pacific Islands Handbook (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1945), 150-151; Encyclopedia Brittanica (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1944), Volume 17, 4-5; Herbert W. Krieger, Smithsonian Institution War Background Studies Number 16, "Peoples of the Western Pacific, Micronesia and Melanesia" (Baltimore: Lord Baltimore Press, 1943), 7 and 33-36; Willard Price, Japan's Islands of Mystery (New York: John Day Company, 1944), 47-49.
5. Price, op. cit., 47.
6. Ibid., 48.
7. The USS prefix has been omitted from the names of all ships throughout this monograph.
8. Synthesized from the following sources: VAC G-2 Study of the Theater of Operations, Southern Marianas, 51-61 and Annex B; JICPOA Information Bulletin 7-44, 42-49; JICPOA Information Bulletin 29-44, Weather Survey for Carolines and Marianas, 2-3; Price, op cit., 50-51; A. Merriam-Webster, Webster's Biographical Dictionary (Springfield, Massachusetts: G. and C. Merriam Co., 1943), 51.
9. The original G-2 Study measured WHITE 1 as 80 yards wide, WHITE 2 as 300, but, on the basis of further studies, the figures were changed to 60 and 160 yards, respectively.
10. Crushed coral rock provided the surfacing of Ushi Point Airfield. A rectangular service apron fronted three hangars and a large shop building.
11. The possibility is that the pedestals were the work of the same unknown people who raised gigantic structures and images at Yap, Ponape and Easter during the centuries when the pyramids in Egypt were under construction. The construction at Tinian bears no inscriptions to tell its story.
12. Unless otherwise indicated, this section is derived from the following sources: NTLF G-2 Report, 7-9, 19-41, 50-51, App. C; TF 56 G-2 Report, 36-40, 57-58, 63, 66, 67.
13. At Saipan Japanese naval personnel had comprised slightly less and at Guam considerably less than one-third of the total forces.
14. Had the U. S. move into the Marianas been delayed a few months, the 50th Infantry Regiment might have been gone from Tinian. Lieutenant General Hideyoshi Obata, commanding general of the 31st Army and administrative commander for the Marianas-Bonins-Marshalls-Carolines, had ordered the 50th Regiment to move to, and defend, Rota beginning on 15 June. As part of the same shift, the 47th Independent Mixed Brigade was to move from Saipan to Tinian and assume the defense there. Task Force 58's move into the Marianas on 11 June disrupted these transfer plans.
15. Each infantry battalion had three companies (each with three rifle platoons and a heavy machine gun platoon), one battalion gun platoon armed with two 70mm guns, and a headquarters company.
16. An operation order of 7 July 1944 mentioned five more batteries of indeterminate size or caliber. One prisoner testified that the guard force had "50 to 100 machine guns."
17. Maj F. O. Hough, The Island War (Philadelphia and New York: J. B. Lippincott, 1947), 254-255. Ltr from LtCol G. L. McCormick to author, 8Jun50.
18. Kakuda was an airman in name only. Before early 1944, when he was appointed to head the 1st Air Fleet, he had served his entire career as a Navy line officer. United States Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas, Weekly Intelligence, 11Aug44, Vol. I, No. 5.
19. CINCPAC-CINCPOA Item #11,405.
20. CINCPAC-CINCPOA Item #11,962.
21. Operational Order A-58 of Tinian Garrison Force, 25Jun44. Representative Translations Made on Tinian by 4th Mar Div.
22. Defense Force Battle Plan 28Jun44. Representative Translations Made on Tinian by 4th Mar Div.
23. NTLF G-2 Report, 9.
24. The CCS was composed of the American and British Chiefs of Staff meeting together. The JCS, though having representatives from the U. S. Army, Army Air Force and Navy, included no Marine officer.
25. See Hoffman, op. cit., for a detailed discussion of high-level planning leading to the Marianas campaign.
26. CCS 56th Meeting, 14Jan43, at Casablanca.
27. Henry H. Arnold, Global Mission (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1949), 476-480, 536.
28. JCS 123d and 124th Meetings, 15 and 17Nov43.
29. "Specific Operations for the Defeat of Japan," CCS 397 revised.
30. See George C. Kenney, General Kenney Reports (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1949), 347-349.
31. CCS 417/2, 23Dec43.
32. GRANITE, 27Dec43 and GRANITE, 13Jan44.
33. W. F. Craven and J. L. Cate, The Army Air Forces in World War II, Volume IV, The Pacific, Guadalcanal to Saipan (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1950), 553-554, 570; Naval Analysis Division, Campaigns, U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey (Pacific) (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1946), 194; 204; MaJGen J. F. C. Fuller, Second World War (New York): Duell, Sloan and Pearce Publishing Company, 1949), 200, 205; Kenney, op. cit., 218-370; Capt W. Karig, LCdr R, Harris, LCdr F. A. Manson, Battle Report, The End of an Empire (New York: Rinehart & Company, Inc., 1948), 138-155.
34. JCS 714/4, 12Mar44. For other changes contained in the 12 March directive see Hoffman, op cit., 20.
35. TF 56, G-5 Report, 1.
36. Actually, the Saipan operation was completed 12 days before the Guam invasion.
37. Ltr from Adm R. K. Turner to CMC, 21Dec50, hereinafter cited as Turner. See Appendix II, Chronology, for dates upon which island commanders, and subsequently Commander Forward Area, took over at the various Marianas objectives.
38. NTLF Report, 2-3.
39. The STLF Staff was composed of personnel from III Amphibious Corps Headquarters. The 1st Provisional Brigade was composed of two infantry regiments, artillery, antiaircraft, engineer and LVT groups.
40. TF 56 G-5 Report, 5.
41. GRANITE II, 3Jun44, 9-13 and 25-26.
42. Unless otherwise indicated, this section is derived from the following sources: NTLF Report, 2-6; NTLF G-3 Report, 1-3; NTLF G-2 Report, App. A.
43. Interview with VAdm H. W. Hill, 20Sep50, hereinafter cited as Hill Interview.
44. For information regarding NTLF training and rehearsals for the Marianas campaign, see Hoffman, op. cit., 30-34.
45. For a more detailed discussion of the origins of this concept, see Appendix VIII.
46. TF 56 G-1 Report, 13.
47. Actually, Hill had been alerted to this assignment earlier in the month. On 5 July Turner sent the following message: "Rear Admiral Hill hereby designated to command the naval attack force for the capture of Tinian. . . . This force will be designated TF 52 with reorganization to be effected later. Request proceed with plans subject to approval by originator of tactical scheme and allocation of forces." Quoted from Ltr from VAdm H. W. Hill to CMC, 16Jan51, hereinafter cited as Hill Ltr. To this, Admiral Turner adds ". . . Hill was assigned to the exclusive duty of planning for the Tinian invasion on July 2, the day the Island Commander relieved him of the task of unloading all ships at Saipan." Turner.
48. Hill Interview.
50. Ltr from Col R. E. Hogaboom to CMC, 22Jan51, hereinafter cited as Hogaboom.
53. Intelligence sources reported that WHITE 1 had only about 60 yards usable for passage of amphibian vehicles and WHITE 2 about 160, of which only the 65-yard center section was free of coral boulders and ledges. 4th Mar Div Report, Sec III, 5-6.
54. This mission was rehearsed on the night of 9-10 July off beaches in Magicienne Bay, Saipan.
55. Another rubber boat landing on Tinian had been contemplated two years earlier. In mid-1942, while selection of a suitable objective for the 2d Raider Battalion was still under consideration, Admiral Nimitz had ordered Lieutenant Colonel Evans F. Carlson to investigate the possibilities of hit-and-run raids against Tinian, Wake, Hokkaido, Tulagi, and Attu. None of these plans were executed, however. In early July 1942, Makin, Gilbert Islands, was selected as the raid objective. Michael Blankfort, The Big Yankee (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1947), 37-38.
56. AmphReconBn, VAC Report, Report of reconnaissance of YELLOW Beach #1 Tinian, 11Jul44. NTLF Opn Order 27-44.
58. AmphReconBn, VAC Report, Report of reconnaissance of WHITE Beach #1, Tinian, and Report of reconnaissance of WHITE Beach #2, Tinian, both reports dated 12Jul44. NTLF Opn Order 27-44.
59. Ltr from CO, UDT 5 to CTG 52.2, Reconnaissance of approaches to Beaches WHITE 1 and 2, 13Jul44.
63. LtCol R. K. Schmidt, Military Historical Study, "The Tinian Operation, A Study in Planning for an Amphibious Operation," prepared at the Amphibious Warfare School, Senior Course, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia, 1948-1949, 10-11. Ltr from LtCol R. K. Schmidt to author, 30Jun50. Ltr from Gen H. Schmidt to BrigGen C. C. Jerome, 23Jul50.
64. Hill Ltr.
68. Operation plans are numbered consecutively for the period of a year; thus, this was the thirtieth issued by NTLF in 1944.
69. Cooperation, Objective, Offensive, Movement, Mass, Economy of Force, Security, Surprise and Simplicity.
70. The FBHL was a line, possession of which denied the enemy the benefit of ground-observed artillery fire on the beachhead.
71. NTLF LVT Report, 1-3. Ltr from Maj H. G. Lawrence, Jr., to author, 16Jun50. Ltr from Maj F. A. Durand to CMC, 28Nov50.
72. The Provisional Rocket Detachment was composed of 12 one-ton trucks, each mounting three 4.5-inch rocket launchers.
73. The "one infantry regiment" was the 105th, which would remain at Saipan and continue mopping up Japanese.
74. NTLF Opn Plan 30-44, Annex F.
75. 4th Mar Div Opn Order 34-44.
76. 2d Mar Div Opn Order 45.
77. NTLF Opn Order 30-44.
78. NTLF G-1 Report, 4 and 7.
79. Ltr from LtCol G. L. McCormick to CMC, 16Jan51, hereinafter cited as McCormick. Source credits Captain Charles D. Gray, S-2 of the 25th Marines, with originating the idea of air reconnaissance by unit commanders before Jig-Day.
80. Most of the credit for working out the careful, detailed time-table for movement, loading and unloading of LST's in the Tinian operation goes to Captain Armand J. Robertson, USN, commander of the Tractor Flotilla.
81. Hill Ltr.
82. This craft designation was changed to LSU (landing ship, utility) on 10 October 1949.
83. NTLF G-4 Report. 1-3. Hill Interview.
84. TF 52 Report, Encl B. This ingenious, jury-rigged device was designed by Captain Paul J. Hall, USN, Construction Officer, NTLF, assisted by Lieutenant W. B. Macrae, USNR. Actual construction was performed by the 2d Amphibian Tractor Battalion (Major Fenlon A. Durand) under supervision of Lieutenant Michael J. Sisul. Consultation was furnished by Colonel William W. Davies.
85. Ltr from Maj F. A. Durand to CMC, 28Nov50.
86. Hill Ltr.
87. TF 52 Report, 1-3. Hill Interview.
88. Ltr from Gen H. Schmidt to BrigGen C. C. Jerome, 23Jul50.
89. NTLF NGF Report, 3.
90. Screening missions were designed primarily to protect against Japanese submarine attacks.
91. Colorado's efforts against enemy positions on Faibus San Hilo Point brought forth a message of personal thanks and congratulations from the Commanding General, XXIV Corps Artillery (General Harper), and a "well done" from the Commander, Northern Attack Force (Admiral Hill). Colorado Action Report for Guam and Tinian, 16 July-2 August 1944, 47-48.
92. Planes for Jig-minus 1 came from the following sources: Essex--68 VF, 49 VB, 18 VT; Langley--38 VF, 8 VB, 17 VT; Gambier Bay--16 VF, 8 VT; Kitkun Bay--16 VF, 11 VT; 318th Air Group, Army Air Force--109 VF.
93. An experimental fire bomb, using a mixture of gasoline and crepe rubber, was conceived in 1943 by Captain James R. Miller of the 23d Marines. The idea was not accepted because higher headquarters considered the mixture too combustible for safe handling. Ltr from MajGen L. R. Jones to CMC, 20Dec50 and interview with Maj Gen L. R. Jones, 25Sep50, both hereinafter cited as L. R. Jones.
94. TF 52 Report, 85, 86, 93, 94, 101-104. Hill Interview.
95. Quoted in Vern Haugland, The AAF Against Japan (New York and London: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1948), 191.
96. Most of these used only gas and fuel oil, while others also had portions of the precious napalm powder.
97. TF 52 Report, 85, 86, 93, 94, 101-104; NTLF Opn Plan 30-44, Annex Dog.
98. Ltr from LtCol C. A. Youngdale to CMC, 6Nov50, hereinafter cited as Youngdale.
99. Although statistics are not available for other artillery units during this period, the XXIV Corps Artillery's organic battalions fired 24,536 rounds, an average of well over a round a minute for the entire 15 days.
100. XXIV Corps Artillery S-3 Report, 8-13 and Annex 1.
101. NTLF Transport Quartermaster Report, 1.
102. All totals except LVT's from TF 52 Report, 6. Latter report gave 537 LVT's as opposed to 533 in the NTLF LVT Report.
103. This LST assignment applied only to personnel; top-deck loading was divided approximately equally between the 2d and 4th Marine Divisions. Hill.
104. These were the Ashland (LSD 1) and the Belle Grove (LSD 2).
105. Tanks were already in LCM's when taken aboard ship so that they could be transported from ship to reef without further handling.
106. 4th Tank Bn Report, Enclosures A, B, C and D. 2d Tank Bn Report, 1.
107. 4th Mar Div Report, 6-12.
108. These vessels comprised a transport group under Captain Clifford G. Richardson. Ships were: Cavalier, J. F. Bell, Heywood, Winged Arrow, Knox, Calvert, Fuller, and John Land.
109. 2d Mar Div Report, 1.
110. In subsequent operations, encompassing all mineable waters adjacent to Tinian, 17 mines were swept from Asiga Bay off the YELLOW Beaches on the east coast.
111. TF 52 Report, 11.