The Japanese faced an unenviable situation on the last day of July 1944. Compressed in the southern end of Tinian, they could withdraw no farther. Anticipating the usual bitter-end resistance from these cornered troops, General Schmidt issued the most detailed operation order since the Jig-Day landings and disseminated a special naval gunfire annex for this single day's move. The annex provided that, in addition to those fire support ships working directly with shore fire control parties,1 the battleships Tennessee and California, the heavy cruiser Louisville, and the light cruisers Montpelier and Birmingham would combine their efforts and fire power against the wooded cliff line facing the two Marine divisions.
During the period 0600-0715 and 0755-0830, these warships threw approximately 615 tons of shells into their targets. During this entire period, front-line Marines were directed to remain in their foxholes as protection against errant rounds. There were none, however; the cliff was easy for the ships to spot and hit.2
The naval gunfire by no means rounded out the preliminary bombardment picture for 31 July; aircraft of the Northern Attack Force (including a majority of U. S. Army Air Force planes flying from Aslito Airfield on Saipan) struck the cliff line during a 40-minute break--0715-0755--in the ships' shelling. Every available bomb-carrying plane in the area, a total of 126,3 took part in dropping a total of 69 tons of explosives. All bombs landed in or very near to the target area.4 Even horizontal bombers were used, 16 B-25's hitting the cliff from an altitude of about 800 to 1,000 feet.
Artillery also threw its weight into the preparatory effort; but, unlike air and naval gunfire, it was not ordered by NTLF to fire at any specified time. The artillery regiments of the
Progress Lines for
31 July and 1 August 1944
two divisions as well as the XXIV Corps Artillery fired throughout the night on the cliff, and as dawn broke, they picked up the tempo. Records are incomplete as to the numbers of rounds fired by the various units during the preparations,5 but front-line Marines recall that the whine of "outgoing mail" was almost continuous from midnight until jump-off time.
Following this noisy prelude, the Marines attacked at 0830. The 4th Division moved with the 23d and 24th Regiments abreast, the latter on the right along the west coast. (See Map 11, facing page 103.)
The 24th Marines' zone included a vast coastal plain, thickly covered with clutching undergrowth that greatly hampered tank operations. Here again, the trusty armored amphibians (LVT(A)'s) rendered valuable fire support by moving along in the water abreast of the right flank. Most of the difficulty was encountered along the coast in the 1st Battalion's zone, where the terrain afforded numerous hideouts for the enemy. Resistance became more stubborn at 0945 as the 1st Battalion closed upon an isolated enemy position near the beach. At 1000 the desperate Japanese defenders--about a platoon--lashed out in a vicious counterattack. Lead flew wildly for a time, but in the end the Japanese were annihilated. When the Marines resumed their advance after the flurry, one company remained behind to mop up stragglers. The attached platoon of flame-thrower tanks from Company D, 4th Tank Battalion, proved valuable in burning selected stretches of undergrowth where Japanese riflemen were hidden.
As already noted, the bulk of the 24th Marines' difficulties occurred on the extreme right in the 1st Battalion's zone. The regiment's left assault battalion, the 3d, moved against only sporadic rifle and machine-gun fire until about 1600 when, from the cliff to its left front, the unit received a hail of small-arms fire that nearly stopped forward movement. Tanks from Company B, 4th Tank Battalion, and half-tracks from the 24th Marines' Regimental Weapons Company immediately moved against the trouble spot but soon found themselves amidst an enemy mine field that, because of its location along a restricted section of road, could not be by-passed. Engineers from Company B, 20th Marines, subsequently cleared 45 mines from this area.
The lateness of the afternoon forced the regiment to halt its advance for the night. The Marines then prepared defenses (in the words of the division's action report) "on the least unfavorable ground" in the area. (See Map 11.)
The 23d Marines, attacking on the left of the 24th, experienced similar difficulties. Soon after the regiment moved out, a gap developed between it and the 2d Division, a gap that would assume greater importance as the day wore on.6 From the cliff to the left front and from a tiny village at its base came galling small-arms fire that slowed the regiment's movements. Nor was this the only trouble; from the front came direct fires of a larger caliber weapon--first believed to be a 5-inch naval gun--that threatened to impose severe casualties if the frontal approach were continued.
What about an envelopment? Impractical--there was no room for maneuver, since flanking units were generally abreast. What about supporting arms? Practical--but the enemy weapon could not be located. Without a definite target, artillery, air and naval gunfire were usually ineffective. Tanks attempted to do some good by blasting suspicious fissures in the cliff, but approaches to better firing positions were blocked by an enemy mine field.
What happened in the next few minutes was difficult to describe, not only here but wherever it occurred. Nothing changed, no new stratagem was employed, no new order issued, no fresh troops committed; the Marines simply started stealing forward. This move was not marked by the bravado of a single individual or
ESCARPMENT near the island's southern end was scene of principal action on 31 July. Offering caves for cover and undergrowth for concealment, the cliff line provided excellent natural defensive positions. Because they expected the enemy to exploit fully the cliff's defensive possibilities, U. S. commanders ordered a preparatory bombardment more intense than any Tarawa and Saipan veteran had ever witnessed.
even the urging of a leader. Rather it represented that extraordinary discipline and spirit that caused men to close with the enemy. Attempt it the easy way, try to knock out the resistance with supporting arms; but if that failed (as it often did), move out anyway. First, one Marine dashed forward about 10 yards, flopped quickly to the ground before the enemy gunner could train his piece, and opened fire himself. Now a second and a third lurched forward in a running zig-zag motion and dived behind a small fold in the terrain. In a matter of moments a squad had gained 10 yards, and the leap-frog advance resumed--another 10 yards, and another. This type of aggressiveness, multiplied over a battalion or regimental front, paid dividends.
Meanwhile, medium tanks of Company C, 4th Tank Battalion, kept their cannon barking against any point in the cliff that appeared to be occupied by the enemy. The "large-caliber" weapon that had uttered so many challenges had still not been located. Suddenly, the left flank tank received six hits in rapid succession. The vehicle, though penetrated, remained operative and backed away from the swathe of fire. Here was evidence that the enemy weapon was close at hand; the improvement in marksmanship indicated that. The commander of the wounded tank thought he spotted the position and immediately fired two smoke rounds to mark the target. Rockets, naval gunfire and tanks plastered the designated area; and, when the dust and smoke cleared, all was quiet.
The advance was resumed, this time with another tank on the left flank. When it reached the point where the first tank had been hit, the same Japanese gun opened again, delivering six
more shells, three of which penetrated the armor. Again, however, the machine remained operative, and this time there was no mistaking where the fire had come from. Both tanks that had suffered blows saw the enemy weapon at the same moment--only 30 yards away. Without a pause to coordinate their scheme of attack, the two tanks achieved quick revenge. One threw a smoke shell in front of the enemy position, while the other maneuvered around behind it, destroyed the gun, and machine-gunned the 20 Japanese who streamed out. During the move the attacking tank received a seventh hit from the enemy gun, but the shell bounced off without doing any damage.
Later examination of the emplacement revealed that it was enclosed with concrete on three sides and roof. A tiny aperture allowed the emplaced 47mm antitank gun to cover only about a 10-yard-wide fire lane into which both tanks had moved. This type of defense was characteristic of the Japanese, who, consistently out-gunned, chose concealment in preference to field of fire.
This tank activity had occurred entirely within the zone of the 1st Battalion, 23d Marines. Tanks operating with the right (2d) battalion also spent an eventful day. After they encountered a mine field on the lower approaches of a road leading up the escarpment, and just as engineers of Company C, 20th Marines, began clearance activities, Japanese riflemen and machine gunners suddenly opened up from an open trench only about 20 yards away. Immediately the tanks roared back an answer, and one machine started proceeding cautiously through the mines to a position from which it could fire down the trench's longer axis. When only five yards from the end of the trench, the tank struck a mine, which shattered the suspension system and wounded the driver, assistant driver and tank commander.
Thus encouraged, the Japanese became increasingly active, darted about more, and presented U. S. tanks even better targets. While most of the mediums poured shells into the trench, one machine moved up behind the disabled one, picked up the beseiged crew and pulled back. The Japanese then put the disabled tank to a use that the U. S. tank manufacturer never intended: they set up machine guns in its protection and sprayed fire against the Marines. This situation demanded prompt action: the enemy-occupied machine was blown apart by other U. S. tanks.7
The coming of darkness forced the abandonment of further attempts to reduce the enemy position, and the 2d Battalion, 23d Marines, dug in to contain the strongpoint for the night. One company, which had passed to the left of the trouble spot, scaled the cliff and remained on top for the night.
By 1745 the left battalion (the 1st) of the 23d Marines had gained the high ground, while the 2d Battalion had reached positions at the base. One company of the latter unit moved through the 1st Battalion's zone and attained positions on top of the cliff. The 3d Battalion, which had followed the advance in regimental reserve during the day, also followed the 1st Battalion to the top of the cliff and there tied in defenses. The two battalions on the high ground established a perimeter defense with both flanks anchored on the cliff line. Mines on the only road to the top prevented supporting tanks from joining these units until the next day.8 In the late afternoon, the 3d Battalion, 25th Marines, was attached to the 23d Regiment and ordered to assume positions at the base of the cliff for the night. There it would protect the 23d's left flank, exposed because of the gap between divisions. (See Map 11.)
In addition to the tank casualties in the 23d Marines' zone, Japanese fire from the cliff caused the temporary loss of two 37mm guns and a one-ton truck.9 The commander of the
TO THE HEIGHTS move Marines of the 4th Division on 31 July as they penetrate the enemy's last desirable defense locality. Underbrush, though battered by U. S. supporting arms, furnished good concealment for Japanese defenders.
regiment's 75mm half-track platoon, Captain Russell M. Paquette, described the incident, in part, as follows:
Ordinarily the 37's would travel slightly in rear of the front lines, coming up during the day for specific targets . . . and taking their place on the front lines at night to cover possible tank approaches. However, because of the mobility of the attack [on 31 July], the 37's were moving with the assault companies, since we were engaging the enemy only sporadically. Actually, I do not believe that the [37's were] forward of the front line, although it would be entirely possible in view of the situation. I was travelling in my radio jeep in the near vicinity of the cliff line when the enemy opened fire from our left flank. The 37's were between my jeep and the cliff, probably 200 yards from the cliff itself. I was never sure, but thought the weapon used by the Japs was a machine gun or automatic weapon of some type.
After withdrawing from the area [because of the enemy fire], I was advised by Sgt. John Benkovich. [commander of the 1st 37mm Platoon] that the 37's were left with a one-ton truck. I dispatched one half-track under command of my Platoon Sergeant, Louis Miller, accompanied by Sgt. Benkovich. I maintained radio communication with them until their return with one 37mm. They did not receive heavy fire from the cliff and Sgt. Benkovich was slightly wounded. . . . They had removed the breech block from the remaining 37 and brought back the 50 cal. machine gun mounted on the truck.10
During the night the Japanese booby trapped the abandoned truck and gun, but Marines spotted and disarmed the devices the following morning before they could cause trouble.
The 25th Marines continued its assignment received the previous day: 3d Battalion (until its late afternoon attachment to the 23d Marines) in division reserve, the remainder of the regiment in NTLF reserve.
The 4th Marine Division had made an important gain on 31 July. The last desirable defense locality on the island had been penetrated. Troops were now upon the southern plateau, which continued generally flat and open to the coastal cliffs at the island's southern end. The positions for the night defense were poor, with some Marines up on the high ground and others at the base. More serious than this split, however, was the large gap between the 4th Division's left and the 2d Division's right. Patrols sent by the 23d Marines ranged over this expanse but failed to achieve contact.11
The Struggle for a Toe Hold
General Watson, foreseeing the difficulties of moving his 2d Marine Division all the way to Objective O-8 without pausing for reorganization, prescribed an intermediate objective, O-8A (see Map 11). This objective's left half followed along the base of the cliff, while its right half included the cliff face and about 500 yards of the plateau above. The reason for this difference was the escarpment itself, which, on the left, virtually forbade scaling but, on the right, presented somewhat easier slopes for climbing. Consistent with this objective assignment, the left regiment, the 2d, would attack to the base of the cliff, where it would halt its move and prevent Japanese escape along the east coast. The 6th Marines, the center regiment, would also meet the cliff at a practically insurmountable point, but this unit would then swing to the west and follow the 8th Marines to the top. The latter regiment, being favored with the only road (a double hairpin design) to the top within the division's zone, would clamber up and grasp a foothold so that other units could follow.
The 2d Regiment, less its 2d Battalion in NTLF reserve, moved toward the assigned objective impeded only by occasional enemy riflemen and numerous Japanese civilians who advanced waving white cloths signifying their desire to surrender. The latter had to be carefully watched lest one of their number turn into an enemy soldier bent upon destroying as many Americans as possible before meeting death himself. By early afternoon the unit reached its objective at the base of the escarpment. The right battalion, the 3d, stretched its lines to the right in order to assume the frontage of the 3d Battalion, 6th Marines, which unit moved into an assembly area preparatory to following the 8th Marines to the top of the cliff.
The 6th Marines advanced against much the same type of resistance encountered by the 2d Marines: "slight rifle and machine gun fire from the face of the cliffs . . . and light mortar fire from the top. . . ." After reaching Objective O-8A and sending patrols to the base of the escarpment, the regiment pulled back about 400 yards where better defense positions were afforded. A great deal of shifting about and change of status occurred within the regiment during the day. The 2d Battalion began the day in division reserve, but at 1410 it reverted to parent control, and the 1st Battalion, which had been pinched from the lines, became division reserve. At 1700 the 3d Battalion, following relief by elements of the 2d Marines, became division reserve, and the 1st Battalion returned to 6th Marines' control. Thus, all three battalions at one time or another during the day served as 2d Division reserve.12
The right regiment of the 2d Division, the 8th, was carrying the ball on 31 July. The entire division scheme of maneuver hinged upon this unit's ability to reach the heights. Once at the top, it could expand its holdings and wait for the 6th Marines to follow and join for the drive to the final objective.
The 8th Marines attacked with the 1st and 3d Battalions abreast, 1st on the right. Aside
THE CLIFF was a formidible obstacle to movement on 31 July. Cutting practically all the way across the island, it provided problems for both divisions. Here Marines of the 2d Division climb the rocky slopes toward the flat plateau on top. The 1st and 2d Battalions, 8th Marines, spent their busiest night (31 July-1 August) of the operation holding a road that curled up this slope.
from scattered machine-gun fire from small patches of woods and from behind a railroad embankment, the two battalions moved steadily toward the escarpment. The closer they approached, the more intense became the enemy fire. But the Marines pushed on.
At 1210 the 3d Battalion reached the cliff within its zone. To support the ascent, the battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Gavin C. Humphrey, requested permission to send the tanks (from Company A, 2d Tank Battalion, working with his unit) along the road in the 1st Battalion's zone. This request had to be denied, because the 1st Battalion had not secured that road as yet. Humphrey then volunteered an estimate to the regimental commander that it would take his battalion about 45 minutes to scale the cliff, but, when the unit started climbing, his over-optimism became evident. The cliff face was gashed with numerous erosion channels, fissures, crannies, and deep caves. All of these were blanketed with scrub undergrowth that concealed their location. From these ideal hideouts, Japanese riflemen and machine gunners directed galling fire toward the Marines below, effectively stopping ascent efforts. Later in the day, when it was clear that his men were stalled at the bottom, Humphrey requested permission to withdraw his unit about 400 yards so that artillery fire could be safely called into the area. Colonel Wallace denied permission, because such a move would have jeopardized the 1st Battalion's left flank.
The 3d Battalion remained at the base of the cliff for the rest of the day and the following night. Medium tanks, which at last located a suitable route into positions, fired hundreds of exploratory rounds into the cliff face in an attempt to find the enemy hideouts, but for the most part these efforts appeared ineffective. Attempts to burn away the vegetation with flame-thrower tanks achieved only fair results.
The 1st Battalion had slightly farther to go to reach the cliff base than did the 3d Battalion (see Map 11), but about 1500, Marines of that unit reached the approaches and began casting anxious eyes up the steep slopes. A mere glance at this natural barrier was enough to convince everyone that a few strategically placed weapons could make the climb very costly. Only up the double-hairpin road could the ascent be made with any degree of facility, and it was soon learned that the Japanese understood this too. All initial attempts to use that route met a blistering hail of enemy small-arms fire. By 1630 it appeared that the trip to the top would await another day.
But clawing its way through the underbrush, one platoon of Company A reached the top at 1650. Five minutes later a platoon from Company C joined the trail-blazers. Nothing for it then but to reinforce the shallow foothold.
It was soon apparent that, to man the salient on the cliff properly, all three rifle companies of the 1st Battalion would have to be committed to the lines. Colonel Wallace was well aware that, if he failed to capitalize on this breakthrough, the entire battle for the cliff might begin anew on the following day. Wallace therefore requested and received General Watson's permission to commit the reserve 2d Battalion, so that it could be rushed up to exploit the success of the 1st, so that the shallow "beachhead" could be expanded. The 2d Battalion was on the move by 1705, about an hour and a half before sunset. Its orders were to join the 1st Battalion, extend the lines to the left and thence down the cliff to attain physical contact with the 3d Battalion at the base.13
The Night on the Cliff
By the time the leading company (E) of the 2d Battalion, 8th Marines, arrived at the base of the cliff, all three rifle companies of the 1st Battalion were committed into the lines at the top. Tracer rounds skittered through the gathering dusk as the Japanese realized that the Americans had a toe hold on their plateau. About the time Company E completed the climb, the Japanese launched a vicious local counterattack against it and the 1st Battalion's left. The situation was touch and go for a short time, one section of the Marines' front even being forced back a few yards, but the attackers were too few for the task they had assumed, and the Marines checked and chased them. (Fold-out Map 12, facing page 112.)
The savage hail of grazing rifle and machine-gun fire that swept the broad, level plateau made it immediately apparent that assumption of positions on the flat would be suicidal during daylight. Major William C. Chamberlin, 2d Battalion executive officer, who was reconnoitering the battalion's assigned defense area, therefore ordered Company E to remain just under the lip of the cliff until later.
By 1900 it was sufficiently dark for Company E to move into position in the open. Patrols were immediately dispatched to provide security during the digging-in period. The earlier enemy counterattack had given an indication that others were to come, and, if the enemy operated true to form, he would likely strike again at the same point. Into this precise area Major Chamberlin moved two 37mm guns from the 8th Marines' Regimental Weapons Company. From these positions they could fire canister across the open ground Chamberlin considered the most probable avenue of enemy approach. Machine guns were emplaced and sited so that their final protective fires would cross in front of the 37's. All the while the enemy remained active; knee-mortar shells fell sporadically, and short bursts of automatic-weapons fire zipped menacingly through the area every few moments.
Company G, the second company in the 2d Battalion's long, reinforcing column, arrived at the cliff base at about 1845; just as the sun set. Since it would be dark before Company G could reach the top of the cliff, Chamberlin directed that it should wait until guides from Company E had arrived to lead the way. When, about 10 minutes later, the officer commanding Company G saw two hazy forms approaching from the cliffside shadows, he assumed them to be the guides from Company E. Through his SCR300 radio he conveyed the news to the Company E commander: "The two guides that you sent are approaching me." But the Company E commander responded: "They couldn't be approaching you. They're both standing right here beside me." With scarcely a "Roger, Out" the Company G commander dropped the transmitter, flopped upon his stomach, and shouted a challenge to the approaching duo. When the latter broke for cover, the truth was revealed: two prowling Japanese soldiers accidentally arrived when two Marines were expected. Since the pair was between Companies G and E, Marines could not safely fire, and the intruders escaped. Soon after this episode the two guides did, in fact, arrive, and Company G began the trudge up the slope.
At the top, Company G tied its right to Company E, then stretched its lines down the cliff itself. Adjacent foxholes varied in altitude by 10 to 12 feet in most cases. At the bottom, Company G's left flank tied in with headquarters
personnel of the 2d Battalion which had established a command post at the cliff base. A separation of about 350 yards still existed between the 2d and 3d Battalions, but the regimental commander ordered that the 2d Battalion use its reserve (Company F) to provide depth atop the cliff rather than using it to fill this gap. Colonel Wallace made this decision in the belief that the enemy would attempt to push the two battalions off the cliff and that a local reserve at the decisive spot would be more valuable than a tenuous link between the 2d and 3d Battalions.
The 350-yard gap on the left was not the only one to worry about. In forcing the cliff line, the 1st Battalion had shifted to the east in its zone of action, while 4th Division elements had moved slightly west. Now a 600-yard gap existed there.14 Although the 23d Marines and the 8th Marines both sent patrols to rove the hiatus, contact was not regained. At 2200 even these efforts were abandoned. So, the two battalions of the 8th Marines were in all respects alone on the cliff. This situation, plus the fact that all three rifle companies of the 1st Battalion had already been committed to the lines, made it imperative that the 2d Battalion retain as large a reserve as possible. Therefore, in addition to the 2d Battalion reserve (Company F), Companies E and G each held one of their platoons in support. (See Map 12.)
The 350-yard gap on the left was not especially serious: the terrain there was reasonably flat and a section of machine guns emplaced at the cliff base was sited to cover the area. The double-hairpin road up the cliff was busy with activity; jeeps carrying up ammunition and barbed wire and taking down casualties maintained a steady, creeping stream of traffic. Operating without headlights, the vehicles proceeded very cautiously up and down the sharp grade. The white coral surfacing provided some guide in maintaining direction; but, after 0140 when the moon set, even this could hardly be seen.
Added fire power became available on the cliff shortly after dark when two half-tracks from the regimental weapons company struggled up the road to the top. These weapons were retained slightly to the rear with plans to employ them in case of tank attack. Against the Japanese automatic-weapons position to the left front, which was complicating the 2d Battalion's efforts to prepare defenses, the half-tracks were of little use. Every time they appeared upon the open plateau, a rain of Japanese knee-mortar shells chased them to cover. The open top of these vehicles ill-suited them to weather mortar fire.
At about 1900, in an attempt to knock out the source of the Japanese automatic-weapons fire, Major Chamberlin ordered the attached medium tank platoon from Company A to move up the road to the plateau. Once up, the tanks would be employed against the enemy position.
Soon after the tank platoon got underway, its leader sent Chamberlin a message stating that the road was mined and that one of his tanks had already been disabled. He suggested that the heavier weight of his tanks had set off mines while the lighter vehicles did not. Because of darkness and the tense situation, Chamberlin had to accept this report at its face value. But it was entirely erroneous. The disabled tank had run over the mine while moving off the road near the cliff base. There were no mines on the road itself. Owing to this inaccurate report, the 2d Battalion was deprived of weapons so desperately needed.
The two battalions, meanwhile, had not relaxed for a moment since arriving on top the cliff. Marines could feel a counterattack in the very air. They needed no encouragement to prepare good defense positions. One problem defied solution: Company E's wire-stringing efforts had all failed because of vicious grazing fire that swept the flat. To stand up and commence work was to invite death. Three Marine combat patrols moved out to relieve pressure; but, though they killed enemy groups within 20 yards of the front-line foxholes, wire-stringing details continued to suffer casualties. Sometime after midnight, Marines found a satisfactory solution: they passed concertina wire from foxhole to foxhole until it stretched completely across the desired frontage; then they merely pushed and rolled the long, barbed
cylinder about 10 yards in front of their positions.
At 2300, while Company E was in the midst of its wire difficulties, the enemy employed a familiar tactic: a banzai charge. Accompanied with wild screaming, the Japanese struck near the boundary between the two battalions--in the same spot as the earlier effort. The thrust faltered, then withered, under the Marines' machine-gun and rifle fire. No one could be sure just how many Japanese were committed to this attack, but one thing was sure: they would need considerably more if they hoped to push the Marines off the cliff. The enemy commander, Colonel Ogata, was no doubt impressed with the defense at that point in the lines, inasmuch as he attempted no further attacks there.
Periods of silence were very infrequent during the night; probing patrols jabbed systematically at Company G--feeling for an opening or a weak spot in the cliff-side defense. They found none.
The double-hairpin road had been extensively used by ambulance and cargo jeeps during the early part of the night. At 0100, however, a force of approximately 150 Japanese suddenly appeared on the road, set up a road block, and burned two ambulance jeeps that happened along. Whether this enemy force had moved around the open right flank or whether it was a by-passed group was not clear. The fact that the enemy was so strong and well-organized seemed to point to the first possibility. If this were true and the Japanese commander continued to pour troops through this chute, the Marine positions on the cliff were indeed in peril.
At 0200 about a platoon of Japanese moved up the road, captured several Marine vehicles parked near the top, and continued into the 2d Battalion's rear. The intruders were very close to Company Fs foxholes before they announced themselves. A vicious, bloody, hand-to-hand struggle began.
The situation was critical. The defense area was now in danger of being broken by assaults from the right rear, but, at the same time, attention could not be shifted from the front where sizeable enemy groups still lurked. Nature took this opportunity to make the scene even more sinister--the moon set, the night became pitch black.
Major Chamberlin, who had remained atop the cliff to coordinate the battalion's defense, spotted the threat to the right rear and quickly organized a counterattack force--two platoons of Company F and elements of Company A of the 1st Battalion. There was no time to evolve details of formation and control. Success depended upon speed and vigor of execution. Chamberlin issued an oral operation order (en toto version: "Let's go") and struck. The Marines, employing a combination of aggressive movement and blistering fire power, drove back the enemy group; the vehicles were retaken. To prevent a recurrence of enemy action from this direction, Chamberlin established a road block about half-way down the cliff, employing two platoons of Company F on the left of the road and the support platoon of Company G on the right of it.
The counterattack and subsequent establishment of the road block isolated a number of Japanese between the front lines and the road block. Company E's support platoon immediately swept through the area in an effort to mop them up. This effort was generally unfruitful, however; darkness made detection of the enemy very difficult. Early the next morning the 20 trapped Japanese obligingly located themselves by placing grenades against their abdomens and pulling the pins.
Company F had suffered numerous casualties during the close-in assault from the rear. Most of these were hit either by grenade or knee-mortar fragments, others were cut by bayonets. But the bulk were walking wounded who moved under their own power down the precipitous cliff to the battalion aid station.
Communications had remained good throughout the night, and Colonel Wallace was informed at all times of the situation confronting the two battalions. In respect for the enemy capability of moving large forces through the gap between divisions, Wallace requested additional troops from division. General Watson immediately attached the division reserve, the 3d Battalion, 6th Marines, to the 8th Regiment and started it moving toward the cliff. This
31 July-1 August
(Panoramic Sketch Looking Southeast)
was at 0330. At about the same time, the division staff alerted the 2d and 6th Regiments to the possibility that the Japanese might move in strength through the gap and strike almost anywhere.
By 0400 the situation to the right rear had clarified somewhat, and anxiety about a strong attack from that direction was reduced. But there was no time for relaxation. Now the left flank platoon of Company E reported mounting pressure and activity to its front. Tension grew as the enemy launched a series of minor probing attacks. Violent action was impending, and not a Marine on the cliff felt that there was any doubt about it.
Twice when it appeared that the enemy had worked up enough steam to explode into a banzai attack, the two 75mm half-tracks moved forward onto the plateau. Both times they were greeted with such a rain of enemy mortar fire that Chamberlin ordered them to retire. Marine mortars (60mm and 81mm) retaliated with a booming barrage just in front of the lines in an effort to keep the enemy disorganized. Artillery also entered the picture at this point. From approximately 0330 to 0430, the 10th Marines delivered massed concentrations every 15 minutes; from 0430 to 0500 every five minutes, and after 0500 every two minutes. The artillery fire had as its principal purpose the prevention of enemy reserves moving into attack position.
The support platoon of Company G, no longer required at the rear road block, moved up behind Company E. This economy of force made available an additional platoon for counterattacks should the enemy penetrate the lines.
At 0515 came the final, all-out banzai attack. It struck against the left of Company E in a violent, frontal surge. Immediately the entire area was bathed in a bright light as mortars and ships fired illuminating shells over the area. The Marines' battle cry--"flares"--equalled in volume the screams--"banzai"--of the Japanese. As long as they could see their foes, Marines felt certain that they could stop them.
The most effective Marine weapons during the onslaught were the two canister-coughing 37mm guns. The crews of these weapons performed magnificently; gunners became casualties and were quickly replaced; replacement gunners were hit and others took over. The turnover was tragic and monotonous. The gunshields' thin upper portions were easily pierced by point-blank small-arms fire, and no gunner remained at his post for over four or five minutes before getting hit. Still the guns were constantly and efficiently manned--never a moment's hestitation, never a lost opportunity. By daybreak only two of ten original crew members were left.
Machine guns and rifles performed well too, cutting down attackers that weathered the 37mm guns' shotgun-like canister sprays.
The attack maintained its frenzied peak for about 30 minutes, during which time the enemy failed to penetrate U. S. lines at any point. The fighting had been close, sometimes intimate. Many Japanese bodies lay within five yards of the Marines' foxholes. The slaughter in this limited area was considerable: over 100 enemy bodies in an area 70 yards square.
At dawn the enemy began to quit the area. He knew that with the coming of daylight U. S. weapons would become more accurate. Friendly planes appeared at daylight, speeding his retreat. Tanks moved up the cliff road onto the plateau to join the pursuit.
Interrogation of enemy prisoners established the number of troops committed to the major enemy efforts of the night: the force that struck from the right rear numbered between 100 and 200, while the attackers who hit the left front totalled between 500 and 600.15
Both Colonel Wallace and the enemy commander (probably still Colonel Ogata) had realized the tactical implications of the cliff-line penetration. Both knew that it provided a route over which thousands of Marines could move into the Japanese rear. The two commanders' reactions were classic. As soon as one of his battalions grasped a toe hold, Wallace exploited the success by committing his reserve there. The enemy commander, as soon as he received word of the penetration, ordered a counterattack to throw the Marines off the cliff and restore the position. Each selected a tactically sound course of action. Only one could be successful.
Jig-Plus 8--1 August 1944
Objective O-8 remained to be seized. This objective, the final one on the island (coinciding with the southern coastline), had been assigned the two divisions in the NTLF operation for 31 July. Since neither had moved that far on the 31st, General Schmidt directed that on 1 August they should "continue operations to complete mission assigned. . . ."16
The 4th Marine Division, with no change in formation (23d and 24th Marines abreast), commenced its attack at 0800.17 Preceding the jump-off, the 14th Marines fired a five-minute preparation 600 yards forward of the front lines. Following this at 0805 and 0813, the artillery regiment delivered a two- and a three-minute concentration, the first 900 yards and the second 1,200 yards forward of the line of departure.
The attack followed the model of the previous day. Tanks led the move, and the principal deterrent to rapid movement was rocky terrain and dense undergrowth. Few good artillery targets were presented, the bulk of the fire support being performed by tanks, half-tracks and 37mm guns. Resistance was limited to isolated enemy groups fighting stubbornly from caves, crevasses, and any other cover in the choppy ground.
The palisade formation of the terrain in the 24th Marines' zone demanded by mid-afternoon an alteration of the regiment's formation. Three distinct levels existed--three heavily-carpeted stairsteps down to the sea. To negotiate this, the regimental commander, Colonel Hart, ordered all three of his battalions into the assault, each to assume one of the three levels. From left to right and from high to low, the battalions moved 3, 2, 1. The Japanese, hidden in caves along the route, tossed an occasional grenade or fired a few rounds at the Marines, but these measures were generally ineffective. The regiment reached O-8 at about 1800. (See Map 11, facing page 103.)
The 23d Regiment required adjustment of its frontage before commencing the day's attack, scheduled to begin at 0800. The previous evening had found the 1st and 3rd Battalions atop the escarpment, but darkness prevented them from completely expanding over their assigned zones. The 1st Battalion, therefore, would spread out and shift to the left, while the 3d Battalion would stretch its lines to the right.
The 2d Battalion, meanwhile, remained at the cliff base where it hammered at the pocket of resistance developed late on the preceding day. By 1045 the unit reduced the strong-point, and engineers cleared all mines from the road leading up to the high ground. Now tanks and other vehicles could make the ascent. One rifle company of the 2d Battalion remained along a
CORAL ERUPTIONS in rugged portions of Tinian's southern end slowed progress. Although organized resistance had virtually ceased, this ground lent itself admirably to defense and delay by small determined groups.
THE END IN SIGHT, Marines of the 24th Regiment and medium tanks of the 4th Tank Battalion comb across the coastal plateau at the island's extreme southern end. The 23d Marines, whose zone ended at the top of the steep cliff shown in picture, had to retrace steps in order to reach the lowlands. Aguijan Island (five nautical miles southwest of Tinian) may be seen dimly in the background.
restricted part of the road to prevent enemy groups from setting up an ambush there.
While the 2d Battalion worked at its task, the other two battalions of the 23d Marines encountered unexpected difficulties. Enemy machine-gun and rifle fire contested all efforts to deploy for the attack. One tightly packed group of about 50 Japanese established a firing line close to the 1st Battalion and opened up with a deluge of fire. Accepting the challenge to a duel, Marine machine guns converged upon the enemy from two directions and achieved good effect. The battalion operations officer described the incident as one in which "small-arms fire, at close quarters, and with a target lucrative enough for 'book' employment of machine guns, was able to dispose of the entire group."18
Finally, after being delayed for over two hours in their frontage adjustments, the 1st and 3d Battalions moved out in the attack to the south. By 1715 they had reached the point of farthest possible coordinated advance, a cliff line cutting perpendicularly across the regiment's zone of action and dipping sharply to a coastal plateau (see Map 11). To reach the latter area, it would be necessary to retrace steps and follow through the 24th Marines' zone along the west coast. Patrols from the regiment immediately began scouting the cliff to determine how much mopping up would be necessary. They all came back with the same answer: the
COASTAL CLIFFS near southeastern end of Tinian provided hideouts for Japanese soldiers and civilians who were reluctant to believe that the Americans would treat them well if they surrendered.
cliff was a honeycomb of occupied caves and deep recesses. It was obvious that clearing all of these would not be accomplished in a day or week. Or, as it developed, even in a month.
To the Cliffs of Marpo Point
The 2d Marine Division had only two battalions up the cliff on the morning of 1 August. The task remained of moving the remainder up the few routes that existed, adjusting the frontages, and continuing on to Marpo Point. This climbing and shifting about would take time, so General Watson ordered an hour's delay in the attack--new time: 0800. The push as far as Objective O-8A would be controlled by the 8th Marines; but at that point the division zone would be split into two parts, 6th Marines taking the left half, 8th Marines the right half. Then, on division order, the attack to the final objective (O-8) would commence.19
The 1st and 2d Battalions, 8th Marines, had spent a frantic night atop the cliff. Both were in need of reorganization and rest. But since the 2d Battalion had borne the brunt of the night's most powerful enemy effort, the regimental commander, Colonel Wallace, decided to relieve it with the attached 3d Battalion, 6th Marines, which would then continue the attack to the coast. The 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, as soon as daylight and the cessation of enemy pressure permitted, began shifting its
frontage to the southwest in order to contact the 4th Marine Division. The 3d Battalion, 8th Marines, meanwhile, began the difficult ascent of the steep cliff within its assigned zone of action. After a suitable route was located, the Marines filed to the top and joined on the left of the 3d Battalion, 6th Marines.
At about 0800 the 8th Regiment began its move, and a half hour later the three assault battalions (left to right: 3/8, 3/6, 1/8) reported themselves on or near intermediate Objective O-8A. It was necessary to push the front lines about 200 yards beyond this objective, however, in order to reach a point on the plateau sufficiently broad for the deployment of all three battalions. These frontage adjustments took more time than had been anticipated and delayed the scheduled assumption of the left half of the division zone by the 6th Marines.
Finally, at 1125, operational control of the two left battalions (3/8 and 3/6) shifted to Colonel Riseley, commanding the 6th Marines. The latter regiment had begun the day with only one battalion (2d), since its 3d Battalion had been attached to the 8th Marines and its 1st Battalion designated division reserve. When it took over its new zone, the 6th Marines' strength was trebled. At the same moment, the 8th Marines' strength was halved.
At 1150 the final push began. The 8th Marines manned its front with the 1st Battalion and retained the 2d Battalion in reserve. Encountering no organized resistance, the 8th Regiment reached the cliffs overlooking the water at 1455. Patrols immediately began searching the precipitous, rocky slopes in an attempt to locate the Japanese known to be there. Little hunting was necessary; from the deep shadows of the natural caves that abounded in the area enemy soldiers announced themselves with telling bursts of fire. It was apparent that a lengthy mop-up task lay ahead. Though the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, did not realize it at the time, it would shoulder the lion's share of the job.
The 6th Marines met practically no enemy opposition, but, as the unit neared the coast, civilians began emerging from hideouts waving white cloths. By 1510 the stream of civilians reached flood proportions and the 6th Marines received orders to hold up for the night (see Map 11). At this time, though the regiment had not reached the cliffs above Marpo Point, its view to the rim of the cliff was unobstructed, and no enemy troops were in evidence. To tighten the lines for the night, Colonel Riseley committed his 2d Battalion on the right of the regiment's lines. So that the 6th Marines would not be caught at a critical moment without a reserve with which to deliver a needed punch, Riseley ordered each of his three battalions to retain at least one rifle company in reserve.
At 1730 the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, which as division reserve had spent the day mopping up the cliff line near Objective O-7, reverted to parent control. One company (A) of the battalion was ordered to remain at the cliffs so that it would be handy to quell any uprising there; a second company (B) was attached to the 3d Battalion, 6th Marines; and the remainder was held in regimental reserve.20
While the 6th and 8th Marines struggled to the heights, juggled frontages, and pushed the last mile, the 2d Regiment held to its assigned task of preventing enemy escape along the east coast. To improve its positions and its zone of observation, the regiment was ordered to "seize high ground about 300 yards to its front."21 This move was accomplished without difficulty, and the regiment dug in to protect its new holdings. The 2d Battalion, 2d Marines, remained in NTLF reserve, an assignment received on 30 July.22
All organized resistance on Tinian having crumpled, General Harry Schmidt, commanding the Northern Troops and Landing Force, declared the island secured at 1855, 1 August 1944.23
As so many Marines, in so many operations, have pointed out, the Japanese never got the word about the island being "secured." They invariably fought on just as if they were unaware that the decision had gone against them--that they had lost. The Japanese were poor losers and good fighters.
Some date had to be selected as the final day of the Tinian operation. The first day of August was chosen because then, for the first time, U. S. forces could roam over all of the island that was worth roaming. This did not include the coastal caves, where hundreds of Japanese still held forth. Merely delaying the "secure" date until 2 August, or 5 August, would have left unchanged the fact that many Marines would be killed and wounded after it was officially all over. As usual, the announcement was ironical to the men still fighting, and the irony escaped no one.
Although the landing force G-2 listed only two enemy capabilities at this time ("To make small infiltrations. . . ." and "To defend from caves. . . ."),24 everyone was aware that the Japanese could creep from their lairs at night, organize into raiding bands, and strike at any point. The Marines were well familiar with the Japanese fixation for killing as many Americans as possible before falling themselves.
Organized resistance had ceased. But on the early morning of 2 August, an enemy force--estimated variously from 100 to 250--struck headlong into the command post of the 3d Battalion, 6th Marines.25 Headquarters personnel,
PRIVATE FIRST CLASS ROBERT L.WILSON, 2d Battalion, 6th Marines, posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for purposely absorbing with his own body the blast of an enemy grenade on 3 August 1944 so that others around him might live and fulfill their mission.
armed for the most part with carbines and pistols (although two automatic rifles were also used), considered the enemy group very well "organized."
Initially, personnel of the aid station bore the brunt, but soon everyone in the headquarters group--clerks, communicators, corpsmen, assault engineers, mortarmen, and staff personnel--rallied behind their commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Easley, to defend themselves. The Japanese, carrying rifles, grenades, and machine guns, hurled themselves at the Marines with characteristic violence. As soon as one fell, another took his place. In search of substantial assistance, Captain John R. Steinstra, Headquarters Company commander, dashed to the nearby Company F of the 2d Battalion, 6th Marines, acquired a medium tank and a rifle platoon, and led them back to the fight. Here was welcome reinforcement to the 3d Battalion Headquarters Group, which had fought
LOUD SPEAKER SYSTEM mounted on jeep is used to promise good treatment for Japanese who emerge peacefully from their cave hideouts. Similar invitations were broadcast from ships and craft lying off the coastal cliffs. These efforts, though worthwhile, failed to encourage any mass exodus to U. S. lines.
the enemy at close quarters for over two hours. The machine barged into the battle with guns blazing, and the tide turned. The battalion executive officer later stated that he considered the tank's appearance "vitally important" to the outcome. Those enemy soldiers who remained on their feet hastily departed the area.26
Daylight made results of the enemy effort visible: 119 Japanese bodies lay almost side by side in and around the 3d Battalion command post. But the Marines had also taken casualties, one of the dead being Colonel Easley.
Nor was this the only enemy activity in the 6th Regiment's area during the night of 1-2 August. Shortly before Easley's group found itself in the vortex of the Japanese assault, the 2d Battalion command post came under attack, probably by the same enemy force. As described by the battalion commander:
Some one hour before dawn . . . the CP was attacked in the rear by a large Japanese force. This force illuminated the area with flares and swept the ground with rifle and machine gun fire. Several attempts were made to penetrate the perimeter of the CP, one being partially successful; however, a machine gun [Japanese] was successfully brought to bear on . . . the CP.
This attack continued until first light, at which time three [Marine] tanks that had bivouacked during the night at the CP opened fire on the Japanese, causing their withdrawal toward the 3d Bn 6th CP. It is believed . . . that the entire force . . . which later attacked the 3d Bn 6th CP initially attacked the 2d Bn 6th CP. Particularly noteworthy was the splendid heroic defense of the Mortar Platoon Hq Co, 2d Bn 6th which carried the brunt of the attack.27
Of incidental interest in this particular skirmish was the use, by the Japanese, of explosive-filled sake bottles as improvised hand grenades.
One witness stated that "they made a big noise but did little damage."28 Whether the Japanese got their inspiration for this use of sake bottles before or after drinking the contents is not known.
Another smaller effort that preceded the thrust into Easley's command post came against the 3d Battalion, 8th Marines. There a small Japanese force punched with full vigor, suffered 14 casualties, rebounded like a rubber ball from the stone wall of resistance.29
Again the next night (2-3 August), the 6th Marines received a local counterattack by a mixed Army-Navy group numbering about 150. The enemy effort was poorly planned and coordinated, having as its only redeeming feature the vigor of its execution. Personal bravery was an important adjunct to, but never a substitute for, intelligent employment of available forces. Marines of 3/8 (still attached to the 6th Regiment) and 3/6 repelled the hostile thrust without special difficulty. Forward of the lines lay 124 more Japanese30 who no doubt shared with their fallen comrades of other battles the conviction that death was preferable to surrender.
The 6th Marines had a monopoly on the post-operation banzai attacks, having experienced two on as many nights following "securing" of the island. These dying-gasp efforts represented the last times that reasonably strong attacks were mounted against the Marines. On many another night, individuals, pairs, or small groups would make the final decision to expend themselves against the Americans. Then would follow the inevitable screaming, a grenade or two, the blistering hail of U. S. lead, finally, silence. Killing the enemy in this manner was an altogether easier proposition than rooting him out of his hideouts. Far too many of the Japanese realized this and waited in the deep shadows of caves for a Marine to silhouette himself at the entrance. In this manner each Japanese could be almost certain of claiming at least one American before falling himself.
In an attempt to save as many lives as possible, amplifying equipment, installed ashore and afloat, was used to announce to persons still hiding in caves that they could expect good treatment if they would emerge during daylight hours carrying white cloths. When prominent citizens of Tinian lent their voices to this enterprise, the results were good. Thousands of civilians, many clad in colorful Japanese silk, responded to the promises--though it was plain from the expressions on their faces that they expected the worst.
Others did not get the word and blundered into the lines at night. The Marines had no alternative; they opened fire. Situations in which civilians lost their lives naturally saddened the Marines, but under the circumstances no one would have suggested that fire be held until a positive identification could be made.
As the Marines set about their mopping-up activities, they witnessed a number of incidents made all too familiar at Saipan: mass hysteria leading to a veritable orgy of self-destruction. Of activities on 3 August the 23d Marines' action report noted:
Several freak incidents occurred during the day (1) Jap children thrown [by their parents] over cliff into ocean; (2) Military grouped civilians in numbers of 15 to 20 and attached explosive charges to them, blowing them to bits; (3) Both military and civilians lined up on the cliff line and hurled themselves into the ocean; (4) Many civilians pushed over cliff by [Japanese] soldiers.31
In an effort to save as many lives and as much time as possible, the Marines issued an ultimatum on the afternoon of 3 August "Come out by 0830, 4 August, or caves will be blown up." This message, conveyed by amplifying equipment to the cave hide-outs, stimulated large numbers of civilians and a few
MAIL CALL, most popular of all calls. Attitudes, as usual, ranged from studied nonchalance to dreamy expectancy.
soldiers into emerging. But many more remained where they were.32 The Marines' threat, in most instances, was an empty one. The huge grottos virtually defied demolition, and were so numerous that only a minute portion could be destroyed with the resources available.
On 6 August the 8th Marines assumed responsibility for the entire 2d Division sector and continued mopping-up activities. The next day the regiment also took over the 4th Division area, relieving the 23d Marines, which had patrolled that sector since 4 August.33
With the relief, General Cates commenced embarkation of his 4th Division for transportation to Maui, Territory of Hawaii, where the 4th Division would rehabilitate in preparation for other tests.34 General Watson, likewise, began the shuttle of 2d Marine Division elements back to Saipan, where the unit would establish its camp.
Thus, the whole mop-up burden suddenly lay on the 8th Marines, and a weighty one it would be for a long time to come.
At noon, 10 August, the 8th Marines became part of the Tinian Island Command (Major
General James L. Underhill), under which the mop-up progressed.
It is not the purpose of this narrative to recount the numerous patrols, ambushes and ruses employed by Marines of the 8th Regiment in carrying out their mission. Neither is it pertinent to dwell upon the feeling of being forgotten that settled about men of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, when they learned on 25 October that other elements of their regiment were returning to Saipan, that the mop-up task was now theirs alone.35 This unit continued at its unglamorous, costly business until 1 January 1945, when it too moved to Saipan.
Japanese killed after the Island Command took over totalled 542. With their 542 lives the Japanese tied up portions of one Marine regiment for five months and inflicted 163 casualties (38 killed, 125 wounded). The Tinian situation during this period bore a capsule resemblance of the entire Pacific situation in the last half of 1944: Japan was striving for a delayed decision in the hope that the United States would tire of the effort. The final outcome--defeat for Japan--was predictable; but the longer it took the United States to realize this end, the better Japan's chance for surrendering conditionally. Or so reasoned the Japanese.
1. For 31 July ships (all destroyers) were assigned for direct support as follows: Saufley and Cony--1st and 2d Battalions, 2d Marines; Pringle and Twining--1st and 2d Battalions, 6th Marines; Monssen--2d Battalion, 8th Marines; Halsey Powell, Yarnall, Mugford and Bryant--1st Battalion, 23d Marines; Waller and McGowan--2d Battalion, 23d Marines; Sigourney--2d Battalion, 25th Marines.
2. NTLF Opn Order 37-44, Annex B. TF 52 Report, 79-80.
3. These planes were divided as follows: 86 P-47's (from the Army Air Force's 318th Air Group), 16 B-25's (from the Army Air Force's 48th Bomber Squadron), and 24 torpedo bombers (from the escort carrier Kitkun Bay).
4. TF 52 Report, 132.
5. The 10th Marines operations officer later estimated that the regiment had fired about 5,000 rounds during the night. Ltr from LtCol W. H. Hitt to CMC, 22Dec50. Between midnight 30 July and 0830 31 July, the 14th Marines fired 2,419 rounds in preparation for the attack. 14th Mar Report, 8.
6. The NTLF Operation Order for 31 July had prescribed that contact would be maintained from right to left.
7. Destroyed at the same time as the tank were a periscope-mounted camera and considerable footage of combat film photographed at Tinian by Corporal John C. Shutt, who conceived the idea of using a camera in this manner. Because the division did not have a suitable camera for this purpose, Schutt used his own personal one, for the loss of which the Marine Corps later reimbursed him. Ltr from LtCol R. K. Schmidt to CMC, 16Nov50. Ltr from LtCol R. K. Schmidt to author, 7Dec50. Ltr from Cpl J. C. Schutt to CMC 28Dec45.
8. L. R. Jones.
9. The 23d Marines' report said that the weapons and truck were "knocked out."
10. Ltr from Capt R. M. Paquette to author, 16Nov50. Silver Star Medal citation of Platoon Sergeant John G. Benkovich, 18Aug45.
11. 4th Mar Div Report, 30-31. 23d Mar Report, 23-24. 24th Mar Report, 12-13. 25th Mar Report, 4. 4th Tank Bn Report, Company B Report, 3; Company C Report, 5-6. L. R. Jones. Dillon. Dick.
12. 2d Mar Report, 4. 6th Mar Report, 4.
13. 8th Mar Report, 5-6.
14. This was one of those rare situations in which a gap existed between two units and yet neither blamed the other for over half of the difficulty.
15. 8th Mar Report, 5-8.
16. NTLF Opn Order 38-44.
17. This account of the 4th Division's 1 August attack is derived from the following sources, unless otherwise indicated: 4th Mar Div Report, 31-32; 23d Mar Report, 24-25; 24th Mar Report, 13-14; L. R. Jones.
18. Dick. During the mop-up that followed, one Marine from the 1st Battalion prodded a prostrate Japanese body to ascertain whether it was dead or alive. The body's reaction was startling: grabbing the Marine's carbine with a quick twisting motion, a very-much-alive Japanese leaped to his feet and levelled the weapon at a dumfounded Marine. Fortunately, the safety was on, and the Japanese could not pull the trigger. Seeing that the piece would not fire, the Japanese took off on a dead run through the stubble of a cane field. The Marine, recovering from his shock, gave chase, caught his man in a diving football tackle, wrested away the carbine, released the safety, shot the Japanese. It is assumed that one individual maintained a tighter grip on his carbine thereafter.
19. 2d Mar Div Opn Order 53.
20. 8th Mar Report, 8-9. 6th Mar Report, 4-5. 2d Mar Div Report, 4.
21. 2d Mar Div Opn Order 53.
22. 2d Mar Report, 4.
23. NTLF Report, 15.
24. NTLF G-2 Periodic Report, 1800, 31 July, to 1800, 1 August. The 4th Division G-2 Periodic Report for the same period expressed an enemy capability that events of the next few nights revealed to be the enemy's chosen course of action: "To sally forth from the caves in group banzai charges."
25. A hint that this installation would be the scene of violent action came at 0330 when a saber-wielding Japanese sneaked through the command post's perimeter defense and blundered upon a corpsman sleeping in the Aid Station. Another corpsman spotted the intruder and dropped him with a well-aimed bullet before he could land a fatal blow. Immediately, the Aid Station doubled its security watch. The main Japanese assault came 45 minutes later. Annual Sanitary Report, 2d Mar Div Fleet Marine Force, 1944, from Div Surgeon to Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, 88.
26. Ltr from LtCol J. E. Rentsch to author, 27Dec50. Ltr from Maj T. H. Fisher to CMC, 27Dec50.
27. Ltr from Col E. B. Games to CMC, 30Nov50. According to the 6th Marines Report, 30 Japanese were killed in attacks on the 2d Battalion command post. The 3d Battalion executive officer (who took over the unit after Easley's death) agrees that the enemy force that struck the 3d Battalion command post had already hit the 2d Battalion and had prodded at the 1st Battalion. Interview with LtCol J. E. Rentsch, 4Dec50.
28. Interview with Maj T. H. Fisher, 8Feb51.
29. 6th Mar Report, 5.
30. One of these dead, according to the testimony of five Japanese prisoners, was Colonel Ogata, Tinian Island Commander. Marines did not identify his body, but one Japanese lance corporal stated that he saw the colonel's body draped dead on the barbed wire, a victim of machine-gun fire. 2d Mar Div Periodic Report 84, 1800, 3 August, to 1800 4 August. 4th Mar Div Representative Translations Made on Tinian, IX, Reconstruction of Enemy Movements from Interrogations of POW's.
31. 23d Mar Report, 25. L. R. Jones.
33. Actually, the "23d Marines" designation is somewhat misleading here. The mop-up organization, commanded by Colonel L. R. Jones, was composed of two composite battalions--one under Major Robert N. Fricke from the 24th Marines, the other under Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Haas from the 23d Marines. Ltr from LtCol R. N. Fricke to CMC, 2Jan51.
34. The embarkation provided inspiration for the worst pun of the operation, written as the final entry in the 4th Division Surgeon's Log: "Here today and gone to Maui."
35. One Marine was moved to comment with some accuracy: "Those Japs down there have us outnumbered if they only knew it."