The name of the officer who first conceived the plan for landing on Tinian's northern beaches (a scheme that later proved brilliant) has never been established definitely. Evidence in this connection is interesting, if inconclusive. General Harry Schmidt wrote:
Many high ranking officers have asked who originated the plan for attacking Tinian "through the back door." While the 4th Division was under my command and prior to the Marianas Campaign, my planning officer, Lieutenant Colonel E. F. Carlson, made such a plan and probably such a plan was turned in to the 5th Amphibious Corps.1
The 4th Marine Division intelligence officer, Lieutenant Colonel Gooderham L. McCormick, agrees with General Schmidt:
I feel certain Col. Carlson did originate the plan to land over the northern beaches of Tinian. . . . I worked with Col. Carlson, personally doing a series of photo interpretations for him to assist him in his original study to decide the possibilities of the subject landing, and read his original plan when formulated.2
Another 4th Division viewpoint is furnished by Lieutenant Victor Maghakian, a member of the division reconnaissance company and a personal friend of Carlson's:
This man who definitely planned that landing was . . . Evans F. Carlson. . . . He told me all about that Tinian plan before he was wounded [22 June] on Saipan.3
From this testimony it is apparent that Lieutenant Colonel Evans F. Carlson actually prepared a plan of landing on Tinian's northern beaches. But judging by the statements of several officers who participated prominently in the Tinian planning, the decision to land on the northern beaches was also reached by other officers, without reference to Carlson or his scheme. Major General Graves B. Erskine, who as a Brigadier General served as Chief of Staff of the V Amphibious Corps wrote:
Lieutenant Colonel Carlson was at one time attached to the Fifth Amphibious Corps. . . . I assigned Lieutenant Colonel Carlson various staff duties from time to time, but at no time [did he] actively participate in any operational planning.
All of the plans utilized by the Landing Force for the seizure of Tinian were the results of a combined effort by the Fifth Amphibious Corps Staff and General Holland Smith.4
Colonel Robert E. Hogaboom, NTLF operations officer for Saipan and Tinian, commented along the same lines:
I would say that no concept prepared by Colonel Carlson had any influence whatever on either the development of the plan or on the final acceptance of such a plan.
The advantages of landing on the northern beaches were so great that all of us who worked on the plan
immediately searched for a possible solution based on landing in that area. The Corps Artillery Commander was embarked with the NTLF staff and the advantages of placing artillery on the southern beaches of Saipan to support a landing on northern Tinian were obvious, and a powerful argument for such a concept.5
Admiral Harry W. Hill, who commanded the Northern Attack Force at Tinian, stated the naval point of view, as follows:
If there were plans, and I presume that there were some tentative ones, none of them were available to me or my staff. We started from the beginning on our plans and after our study of all possible landing places came to a completely independent conclusion that the two small northwest beaches were the best places to land from the naval point of view provided the approaches to them were not too bad.6
Thus, it appears that more than one officer, from more than one organization, arrived at the decision to land on Tinian's northern beaches. In this connection it is interesting to note that, long before staffs in the Pacific initiated Tinian planning, students at the Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia, solved tactical map problems with the Saipan-Tinian locale. More than one student submitted the northern-beaches solution to the then-theoretical Tinian situation. As a matter of fact, one of the few officers who studied Tinian thoroughly and did not recognize the advantages accruing to an attacker using the White Beaches was Colonel Kiyochi Ogata, Japanese commander at Tinian.
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1. Ltr from Gen H. Schmidt to CMC, 17Apr47.
2. Ltr from LtCol G. L. McCormick to CMC, 16Jan51.
3. Ltr from 1stLt V. Maghakian to CMC, 14Nov50.
4. Ltr from MajGen G. B. Erskine to CMC, 22Dec50. General Holland Smith, after reading General Erskine's statement, wrote: "I concur fully. . . " Ltr from Gen. H. Smith to CMC, 23Dec50.
5. Ltr from Col R. E. Hogaboom to CMC, 22Jan51.
6. Ltr from VAdm H. W. Hill to CMC, 16Jan51.