The intent of the five-volume History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II--of which this is the final volume in the series--is the comprehensive presentation of Marine Corps participation in the Pacific War. Because of the emphasis on operations, the administrative aspect of the wartime growth and development of the FMF has received less than full treatment heretofore. It would be difficult and inappropriate to attempt in this one chapter either to depict the many changes in the nature, composition, and mission of Marine Corps units in the war, to describe fully unit activations, deactivations, and consolidations, or to evaluate the causes and effects of changes in amphibious doctrine mentioned briefly in the previous chapter.
A Final Accounting1
These five volumes would be less than complete, however, without some accounting of the role of the Commandant and Headquarters Marine Corps (HQMC) in the war effort. Under the provisions of General Order 241--the charter for the Fleet Marine Force--the Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) was to maintain the Marine expeditionary force in readiness for operations with the fleet, as the force was to be part of the fleet for "tactical employment." The Commandant also was to designate the units comprising the FMF and which were to be under his command except when embarked with the fleet or when engaged in fleet exercises. At the onset of World War II, therefore, the Commandant did control the FMF, or parts of it. The outbreak of the war changed this command relationship for all practical purposes, primarily because most of the FMF was operating essentially under the tactical direction of fleet commanders. Thereafter, the CMC was responsible only for Marine Corps administration and planning, and had no operational control over FMF units. But the manner in which he provided the FMF with fully trained and equipped Marines and the most modern tools available cannot be overemphasized.
It is possible that many Marines in the islands thought that HQMC operated in a vacuum because Washington was so far away from the combat zone. This view was sometimes believed justified because it seemed to take so long for HQMC to respond to a request or inquiry from the field. The truth is, however, that both Generals Holcomb and Vandegrift kept fully abreast of all developments that concerned their Marines and, depending upon what was required by field units, they responded to those requirements with appropriate
and decisive action. CMC decisions could and did involve such varied yet allied matters as personnel, training, and logistics.
Assisting the Commandant was a Headquarters staff, which, like the rest of the Corps, expanded throughout the war. Headquarters Marine Corps had been located in the "New Navy Building," on Constitution Avenue, Washington, D.C., until November 1941, when it moved to the Navy Department Annex in Arlington, Virginia. Built before World War II as an archives storage building and later taken over by the Navy, the Navy Annex overlooks Arlington National Cemetery and commands a fine panoramic view of the skyline of the nation's capital.
At the beginning of the war, the Commandant had a planning staff in the Division of Plans and Policies (irreverently known as "Pots and Pans") and its subordinate sections, and an administrative, technical, supply, and operating staff in the following HQMC staff agencies: Adjutant and Inspector's Department, Quartermaster Department, Paymaster Department, Division of Reserve, Division of Public Relations, Division of Personnel, and Division of Aviation.
Following the outbreak of World War II, the overall growth of Headquarters Marine Corps, together with the initiation of the Women's Reserve program and general wartime requirements, made it necessary to revamp the headquarters structure and bring the Marine personnel under some sort of centralized administrative control. To this end, a Headquarters Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, was formed on 1 April 1943. In July, it was redesignated as the 1st Headquarters Battalion, and a 2d Headquarters Battalion was activated. These two units functioned to administer the great number of additional military personnel who had been assigned to HQMC staffs.
Perhaps the most important staff section at HQMC throughout the war was the Division of Plans and Policies, which came into being as a result of the redesignation of the Division of Operations and Training on 21 April 1939. This move was made in preparation for a possible war in view of the deterioration of international relations at this time. To dwell on the importance of this division is not to derogate the equally important role played by other headquarters staff agencies. A brief narration will show how its functions vitally affected almost every facet of other HQMC staff activities and responsibilities.
The Division of Plans and Policies formulated Marine Corps policy and developed plans for personnel, intelligence, operations, supply, equipment, and training, and maintained liaison regarding these and other Marine Corps matters with various government agencies. To facilitate the operations of the division, it had four staff sections of its own: M-1, personnel; M-2, intelligence; M-3, operations; and M-4, Supply.2 A fifth section, M-5, was established on 27 March 1944 to provide more active supervision and coordination of all phases of basic and advanced Marine
Corps training, except that conducted by aviation organizations--which came under the Division of Aviation--and that conducted by combat organizations --which remained the exclusive purview of the M-3 Section. Until its disbandment on 6 May 1945, the M-5 Section continued to supervise all Marine Corps training activity within the United States.
Understandably the most important section in "Pots and Pans" was the M-3 Section, which had cognizance over the following matters: war plans, tactical doctrine, FMF organization, aviation planning (with the Division of Aviation), equipment (with M-4 and M-5), FMF personnel allowances and priorities, troop movements, maneuvers (with M-5), chemical warfare doctrine, statistical reporting on location and strength of units, security and passive defense, signal security, assignment of radio frequencies and call signs, codes and ciphers, training of combat organizations, and maintenance of liaison with major agencies of Headquarters Marine Corps and the other Services.
As the war progressed, the ranks of this and other HQMC staffs expanded in pace with the expansion in the number and diversity of FMF units in the field. Many if not most of the staff billets were filled with combat veterans who provided the Commandant and his assistants with valuable knowledge based on their actual experiences in the Pacific. Following each amphibious assault landing in which Marine Corps units participated, a raft of special action reports flowed in to Headquarters Marine Corps to be reviewed, analyzed, and their most important and salient points published and sent to field units for their information and use. In these and other ways, Headquarters Marine Corps played a most vital role in supporting the FMF.
PERSONNEL AND TRAININGEven before it appeared that a war was imminent, the Marine Corps was fulfilling its mission in national defense. The 1930s saw the development of the doctrine of amphibious warfare and of the tools and techniques to be employed in amphibious assaults. The outbreak of war created an undeniable demand for troops in ever-increasing numbers, an expansion of existing organizations and facilities and the activation of a variety of new ones, and the development of modern weaponry to be employed by Marines in combat. The Marine Corps was as sensitive and responsive as the other Services to these demands, and it was incumbent upon the Commandant to meet them as far as the Corps was concerned.
With the publication of the Presidential declaration of a limited national emergency on 8 September 1939, and of an unlimited national emergency nearly two years later on 27 May 1941, Marine Corps strength was expanded dramatically. The July 1941 strength of the Corps was 53,886; a year later, after the Pearl Harbor attack impelled a flock of volunteers to rush to recruiting stations to enlist, Marine Corps strength had increased to 143,388.
In the months prior to the Pearl Harbor attack, the Marine Corps processed approximately 2,000 recruits a month; following that date, 20,000 men
were joined each month. By 1 March 1942, recruit depot housing as well as facilities at other major Marine bases were filled to overflowing. At this time, the Marine Corps was forced to reduce its manpower input to approximately 8,000 men monthly until additional land could be acquired and housing built.3
To meet training requirements and house the burgeoning ranks of the Marine Corps, the Commandant took steps to purchase additional land on both the east and west coasts of the United States. A divisional training site of 113,000 acres, later to be called Camp Pendleton, was purchased at Oceanside, California. The Marine Corps bought 150,000 acres in the same state at Niland for an artillery firing range, and land for a parachute training site at Santee, near San Diego.
In addition, in mid-1940, Camp Elliott--near San Diego--was activated, ". . . and in operation for a considerable time prior to the acquisition of Camp Pendleton."4 The following year, this new base housed west coast FMF elements and also serviced as an advanced training base. Until that time, the recruit depot at San Diego had provided room for all of these services besides fulfilling its basic mission of training Marine recruits. Because of the accelerated Marine Corps expansion, San Diego became too crowded and the opening of Elliott fortunately relieved the pressure. Initially, this camp was able to handle the vastly increased advanced training load on the west coast; later, as this load was increased further, the camp was expanded and developed to many times its original size to meet ballooning needs. From the time the 2d Marine Division was activated to the date of its departure to the Pacific, it called Elliott's 29,000 acres home. It also became the base for the first Marine Corps tank training center and the infantry training center for numerous Pacific-bound replacement drafts.
On the east coast, Quantico had assumed an important position in the development of Marine amphibious doctrine and techniques, and in the training of Marine officers and technicians during the period between wars. The advent of the national emergency soon made it apparent that Quantico could not expand physically to continue these activities, all of which were rapidly growing and intensifying in scope, and at the same time serve as home base for east coast FMF activities. This was especially true in view of the fact that operational forces were to reach division size. Parris Island was hard put to maintain its own recruit training program and could do little to relieve the pressure. The only answer to this problem was to construct an entirely new and extensive base for FMF activities on the eastern seaboard. Congressional approval on 15 February 1941 led to the selection of a site in the New River-Neuse River area of North Carolina.
Shortly after its maneuvers in the Caribbean in the summer of 1941, the understrength 1st Marine Division moved into Tent Camp #1, Marine Barracks, New River, N.C. From this base, which was redesignated Camp
Lejeune on 20 December 1942,5 the division participated in a series of amphibious exercises, one with the Army 1st Infantry Division, the first of four Army divisions to receive such training jointly with Marine units or under the direction of Marine officers.
Like the division, the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing soon outgrew its quarters at Quantico, even before it gained full strength. At the same time that the base at New River was being developed, the Marine Corps obtained authorization to construct a new air base nearby. Cunningham Field, Cherry Point, North Carolina, was designated a Marine Corps Air Station for development purposes on 1 December 1941. When it was commissioned on 20 May 1942, it had become a vast new base that was capable of handling the greatest part of a completely built-up Marine aircraft wing.
Similarly on the west coast burgeoning Marine Corps aviation strength required the facilities to handle the new squadrons and training organizations. Accordingly, the following Marine Corps Air Stations--all in California--were commissioned: Santa Barbara, 4 December 1942; Mojave, 1 January 1943; El Toro, 17 March 1943; and El Centro, 23 July 1943. In addition, a number of satellite air facilities were built on both coasts to handle the overflow as well as to conduct specialized training of squadrons permanently or temporarily based on the larger stations.
Paralleling the acquisition of new training sites and the construction of facilities thereon was the attempt to meet the demand for trained commissioned and enlisted personnel for both general and specialist duties. With the expansion of Marine Corps strength, there was a comparable development in the training program.
By the time that the United States had entered the war, the main patterns of Marine Corps recruit training to be employed for the duration had evolved. The basic principles underlying recruit training in 1939 changed little in the war years, except for the amount of time allotted to the training cycle. Before the national emergency was declared in September 1939, boot camp lasted eight weeks. Following that time, and until the authorized strength figure of 25,000 enlisted Marines had been reached at the end of January 1940, the training period was accelerated and new Marines entering service from September 1939-January 1940 received only four weeks of recruit training.
Beginning in February 1940, with the attainment of the manning level, it was possible to lengthen the training cycle first to six and then to seven weeks. In 1944, the Marine Corps reverted to an eight-week schedule. The program promulgated by Headquarters Marine Corps provided that each recruit spend his first three weeks in the Corps training at the main station of either Parris Island or San Diego, the fourth to sixth weeks on the rifle range, and the last two weeks of boot camp back at the main station. This schedule represented 421 hours of training, broken down as follows: 195 devoted to weapons instruction, 39 to physical training, 89 to garrison subjects, and 98 to field subjects.
In July 1944, the final wartime change was made in training recruits; 36 additional hours of weapons training were included in the eight-week cycle without lengthening it.
From Pearl Harbor to V-J Day, the Marine Corps Recruit Depots at Parris Island and San Diego trained approximately 450,000 new Marines. This is only an approximation because, while there is no actual recruit depot output figure available, all recruits had to go through boot camp before they could be sent to the FMF or other Marine Corps activities, and this number is close to the enlisted strength of the Corps near the end of the war. At the recruit depots, training in the nomenclature, functioning, and handling of weapons, physical conditioning, and instruction in combat field subjects were emphasized. The primary effort of the recruit depots was to transform raw civilians into basically trained Marines, and pass them on to the FMF or to replacement training centers for intensive combat training, or send them to schools for specialized training.
TRAINING REPLACEMENTSMarine Corps policy in World War II was to replace combat losses on an individual basis. That is, rather than allow committed units to become reduced in size and combat effectiveness because of casualties, it was determined to send replacement battalions of trained Marines to the combat area. Once there, these battalions would be disbanded and individual Marines fed into the units that had been hit hard in the fighting. It was believed that this system would obviate the necessity of withdrawing from combat a unit that had suffered heavy losses. Replacement battalions were also the source of men to fill gaps in deployed units caused by rotation of veterans to the States.
On 22 May 1942, after the 1st and 2d Marine Divisions had been trained and prepared for movement overseas, the Commandant directed that training centers be activated at New River and San Diego. Infantry training of replacements began first on the west coast at Camp Elliott, where the 2d Replacement Battalion was formed on 1 September 1942. This battalion's training was limited to two weeks of physical conditioning only. It should be noted that, from the very beginning of the replacement battalion program to the end of the war, replacement battalions were purely administrative organizations formed to train and expedite the movement of replacements overseas.
Basically, the function of the training centers was to prepare both specialist and infantry replacements to take their places in combat organizations. Accordingly, the training programs at these centers stressed conditioning marches and field exercises, and such subjects as techniques of individual combat, cover and concealment, field fortification, sniper and infiltration tactics and countermeasures, individual and crew-served infantry weapons, jungle warfare, small unit tactics, and amphibious training. In short, the training centers taught FMF-bound Marines all that they should know to enable them to take their places in tactical units in the field.
Although the syllabi of the infantry training centers were designed to reflect the needs of the FMF, and while the programs should have provided the FMF with well-trained infantry replacements, this often was not the case. As late in the war as the Iwo Jima operation, reports from the field indicated that in too many instances, replacements failed to measure up to expected standards in combat. Commenting on the inadequacies of replacements during the battle for Iwo Jima, the commander of the 27th Marines pointed out that "replacements were certainly unsatisfactory. . . . Having had little or no previous combat training, they were more or less bewildered and in many cases were slow in leaving their foxholes."6
Replacements failed to meet combat requirements for several reasons. In one instance, the replacement training program was not originally designed to train a man so thoroughly that he could join a strange FMF unit while it was in combat. It had been anticipated that replacements would join combat units in rest and rehabilitation areas during the interval between operations. Then they could be integrated under optimum conditions, a prerequisite for reasons of training, morale building, and to imbue them with unit spirit. It was important that replacements and combat veterans alike became acquainted and learned what to expect of each other.
Anticipated heavy losses during the Marianas operations raised the need to replace casualties while units were still fighting. Specifically, after the plans for the invasion of Saipan had been completed and the invasion was underway, the G-1 annex was reconsidered and provisions for the immediate acquisition of replacements inserted.7
The heavy losses sustained by the 1st Marines during the first week of the assault on Peleliu served to confirm the necessity for planning for the replacement of casualty losses during a combat situation. Beginning with the Iwo Jima operation, each division was provided initially with two replacement drafts, the personnel of which were to be used first to augment the shore party and then to be released as individual combat replacements when needed. These same provisions were made for the Marine divisions assigned to the invasion of Okinawa.
Had replacements in the States completed the full cycle of the revised training program set forth in a July 1944 directive, it is possible that they might have performed more satisfactorily in combat. So great was the demand from the field for replacements that, by mid-1944, only a few drafts had been able to complete the 12-week cycle.
Other factors diminished the impact of whatever training the replacements did receive. During the early years, the long periods between the departure of replacements from training centers and their assignment to combat units often caused them to forget much of what they had learned in training. Intensive schooling in numerous unfamiliar subjects compressed into a short time was
quickly forgotten during the long voyage on transports and longer periods during which these Marines were performing non-tactical duties in various camps overseas. No adequate training program was provided to keep up their knowledge during this period.8
Through no fault of either the personnel or the programs of the training centers, the infantry replacement program overall was less than satisfactory. Replacement training was probably as good as it could have been considering the time limitations. Pressing personnel requirements in the combat zone caused trainees to be shipped out before completion of the training cycle. The training centers were responsible neither for this nor for the training and integration programs established by the receiving organizations. The inherent shortcomings of the replacement system could be cured only by adopting a different method for replacing combat losses, and none had appeared, even by the end of the war.
SPECIALIST TRAININGBecause amphibious warfare became so exactingly complex, to make a successful assault on a heavily defended shore and to support the operations of the attack force demanded a high order of technical skill in a variety of specialties. By 1945, Marine Corps personnel classification employed no fewer than 21 different occupational fields, each field containing a number of individual specialties.
Formal schooling was required for some of the specialties, while on-the-job training sufficed for others. Courses in certain basic occupational fields, such as administration, band, and tank and LVT had been underway before December 1941. By the following April, formal Marine Corps schooling had been expanded to include courses in the following fields: barrage balloon, parachute, chemical warfare, landing boats, and the Japanese language. Some Marines were assigned to courses conducted by the Marine Corps; others attended schools established by the other Services; and still others were trained by civilian facilities, either industrial or academic.
Specialist training at all times reflected the current needs of the Marine Corps. New courses were adopted, others changed, and still others dropped whenever it was required that such action be taken. Parachute and barrage balloon training, for example, was dropped when those units were deactivated.
INTELLIGENCE MATTERSIn an authoritative summary of American participation in the Pacific War, the United States Strategic Bombing Survey stated:
At the start . . . our strategic intelligence was highly inadequate, and our overall war plans, insofar as they were based on faulty information and faulty interpretation of accurate information, were unrealistic. . . .
In the field of operational intelligence considerable forward strides were made during the Pacific War. . . .9
This is true when comparing the status of American intelligence operations at the beginning of the war with those at the end. But judging by the numerous gaps in our knowledge of the enemy existing as late as the time of the planning periods for ICEBERG and OLYMPIC, a great deal had yet to be accomplished in the intelligence program before it could be considered to be operating at an optimum level.
Much has been written in the earlier volumes of this series about poor aerial photographic coverage and subsequent mapping of targets from Guadalcanal on. During the discussion in this work of the planning for Okinawa, it was observed that the same problems existed. Also, American knowledge of Japanese strength and defenses on Okinawa ". . . was minimal, and . . . as late as L minus 1," the G-3 of the 6th Marine Division "was told that the Hagushi beaches were held in great strength."10 This was, of course, proved incorrect by the uncontested landing on 1 April 1945.
Intelligence problems existed on the division level and below, or perhaps this should be reversed since intelligence production by the G-2 depended upon the timeliness and wealth or paucity of information provided by lower echelons. Throughout the 1930s and well into World War II, American commanders of all Services generally did not understand or appreciate how important it was to staff their intelligence sections properly. Because of this attitude, the people most experienced or knowledgeable in intelligence matters were not very often assigned to work in the G-2 or S-2 sections, and those who were, produced intelligence which commanders usually disregarded.11 An additional liability accruing from all of this was that intelligence training and an awareness of its importance suffered throughout most commands. In this respect, the Marine Corps was as guilty as the other Services.
At Guadalcanal, the division intelligence section was the weakest component of the 1st Division staff throughout the planning period and into the first weeks of combat. Compounding this weakness, regimental and battalion intelligence teams were not well integrated with either one another or with division. As the campaign progressed, signs appeared that both commanders and subordinates were becoming conscious of the importance of complete, up-to-date information of the enemy and how to acquire it. It was a slow and tedious process, however, to indoctrinate all hands with the importance of saving and
turning in every scrap of material pertaining to the enemy.
On 8 September, the 1st Raider Battalion landed east of Tasimboko on Guadalcanal, the site of a suspected enemy base. Following this raid, Lieutenant Colonel Edmond J. Buckley, division intelligence officer who had replaced Lieutenant Colonel Frank B. Goettge after the latter's death, remarked:
It did not occur to any of the intelligence personnel present to collect any of the large amount of documentary material that was lying among the rest of the [enemy] supplies . . . a newspaper correspondent on his own initiative, collected a poncho full of maps, diaries, and orders and brought them to me personally.12
The intelligence gap existing at the 1st Division level was not solely a result of its own deficiencies, but occurred also because higher headquarters did not supply General Vandegrift with important information made available to other commanders. Until mid-October, the division was not on the distribution list for the daily intelligence report published by Commander, South Pacific, headquarters in Noumea. Vandegrift's G-2 learned of the existence of this report only after the 164th Infantry had landed on Guadalcanal and the regimental intelligence officer informed him of this particular publication.13
For the invasion of Cape Gloucester, 1st Division intelligence officers worked hard to assemble information on the objective and the enemy in order to brief assault troops. In addition, they devoted as much attention to the very real problem of acquiring information after the landing. Part of the preinvasion training deliberately and repeatedly stressed the importance of immediately passing along to intelligence agencies any enemy papers or material that were found. Members of the 1st Marine Division were shown through repeated demonstrations and a review of combat experience that a seemingly insignificant enemy document or item of equipment might provide the key that would shorten the battle and save lives. In order to overcome the indifference that most Marines showed toward the taking of prisoners, intelligence staff personnel reminded the New Britain-bound Marines that the ordinary Japanese soldier was willing to cooperate with his captors and provide military information once he had surrendered.
Following these two operations, the attitude of Marines respecting battlefield intelligence and how to acquire it generally improved. This was apparent not only in the 1st Marine Division but also in the Marine divisions which subsequently arrived in the Pacific. Intelligence training paid off at Bougainvillea, for instance, when a patrol from the 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, turned in a sketch
of enemy positions found in the map case of a dead Japanese officer. Based on this intelligence, the battalion was able to attack the next day to keep the enemy off balance. This incident of intelligence awareness was not an isolated one, for similar instances appeared in succeeding operations.
Because of Stateside training based on lessons learned in combat, most Marines sent to the Pacific after the campaign for Guadalcanal received a fairly thorough indoctrination in the importance of battlefield intelligence. Other aspects of intelligence besides basic combat intelligence interested the Marine Corps. These ancillary fields encompassed Chinese and Japanese language study and the training of aerial photography interpreters.
By the end of 1944, the Marine Corps had 242 trained Japanese language personnel and 63 enrolled in a study program. At the same time, some 38 Chinese interpreters were available to the Corps.14 To provide the FMF with officers trained in Order of Battle techniques, commissioned personnel were sent to a course in that subject conducted by the War Department at the Pentagon.15 Other Marines received specialized training at the Combat Intelligence School, Camp Lejeune, and the Army Military Intelligence Training Center, Camp Ritchie, Maryland. This training, in addition to that conducted in the field, pointed up the increased importance given to intelligence matters in the Marine Corps.
UNIT FORMATIONS: CHANGES AND DEVELOPMENTSWith the creation of the FMF, the Marine Corps acquired the tactical structure necessary to carry out its primary wartime mission; namely, to serve the fleet by seizing advance bases for naval operations, and, once captured, to occupy and defend these bases. Accordingly, a tactical organization had to be developed to perform these functions. Although authorization had been granted to form a brigade for the FMF, other Marine Corps commitments prevented the Commandant from assigning the personnel and equipment initially required to bring the FMF up to strength.
In pace with the ever-changing development of amphibious warfare doctrine and techniques were changes in the tactical formations of the units slated to employ these techniques. Additional men and material were needed to beef up the FMF, but the isolationist attitude of the American people was well reflected in congressional reluctance to appropriate any money to any of the Services for any purpose which seemed offensive in character. To obtain the approval of Congress for an increase in Marine Corps strength, following a discussion with Admiral Leahy, the CNO, General Holcomb hit upon the stratagem of making it appear that an increase in Marine Corps manpower would actually constitute an increase in the defensive potential
of the United States.16 In keeping with the defensive aspects of the advance base force, Headquarters Marine Corps planners developed a new unit admirably suited and entitled for this purpose--the defense battalion. Credit for the creation and development of the defense battalion has been attributed to Colonel Charles D. Barrett, the head of the War Plans Section, Division of Plans and Policy, and his artillery assistant, Lieutenant Colonel Robert H. Pepper.
As it transpired, the defense battalion program, commencing with the activation of the 3d Defense Battalion on 10 October 1939, was one of the major activities of the Marine Corps in the first two years of the war. In that time, the Corps activated a total of 18 defense battalions--numbered in sequence--and two composite defense battalions, the 51st and 52d. These last two units were comprised almost entirely of Negro Marines.
Concerning defense battalions, in his annual report for 1940 to the Secretary of the Navy, General Holcomb said:
(1) During the fiscal year ending 30 June 1940, the Marine Corps organized and trained four defense battalions for the purpose of providing efficient and readily available organizations for the defense of bases. These battalions are heavily armed and are relatively immobile. The overhead, administration, supply, etc., has been reduced to the minimum. A battle station has been assigned to every man. The defensive fire power of these battalions is very large.
(2) The organization of two additional defense battalions has recently been authorized. The use of all six of these defense battalions can be foreseen in existing plans. In addition, inquiries, preliminary to requesting the service of defense battalions in areas not contemplated in present plans, have recently been made.
(3) These defense battalions and those to be organized will be under the command of the Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, and therefore at the disposal of the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Fleet.17
The complete development of the defense battalion provided the Marine Corps with a balanced force designed to accomplish the seizure and securing of bases for the Fleet. The advent of the defense battalion liberated infantry and artillery units of the FMF from any inherent responsibility for the protection of bases. As originally conceived and organized, defense battalions consisted of seacoast and antiaircraft artillery batteries, searchlight and sound locator units, and antiaircraft and beach defense machine gun units.
On 2 October 1941, the Commandant approved Defense Battalion Tables of Organization D-155a through D-155d, each T/O representing a defense battalion that was organized differently from the other three. Common to each defense battalion under this T/O were a Headquarters and Service Battery and
a 90mm or 3-inch AA Group. The addition of two of the following other components would then complete the organization of the battalion: 155mm Artillery Group; Special Weapons Group; 5-inch Artillery Group; Machine Gun Group; or a 7-inch Artillery Group. At this time it was stated that "The particular table which will govern the organization of a defense battalion will depend upon the type of equipment furnished and will be prescribed by the Commandant from time to time."18
Approximately seven months later, the defense battalions were reorganized, this time with an increase of strength and the addition of a fifth type of battalion formation, but all still using the components mentioned above. Under this T/O, dated 25 May 1942, the D-155a formation, for instance, consisted of a Headquarters and Service Battery, a 155mm Artillery Group, a 90mm or 3-inch Antiaircraft Group, and a Special Weapons Group. The total strength of this groupment was 1,146 Marines; the D-155d unit was even larger--1,196 Marines. The naval medical component of 25 doctors, dentists, and corpsmen was the same for each groupment. As a matter of comparison, it is interesting to note that the strength of the D-Series T/O infantry battalion was 933, and never during World War II did the strength of the various T/O infantry battalions exceed 996 men.
On 13 May 1942, the CMC approved a recommendation to organize, equip, and train a "colored composite Defense Battalion, the 51st, at Montford Point," in North Carolina.19 The strength of this unit was 1,085 Marines, and it consisted of a Headquarters and Service Battery (Reinforced), a Machine Gun Group, a 90mm or 3-inch Antiaircraft Group, a 155-mm Artillery Battery, a 75mm Pack Howitzer Battery, and a reinforced Rifle Company.
Officers assigned to defense battalions usually were graduates of the Base Defense Weapons Course, a component of the Marine Corps Schools at Quantico. This course was designed to train company grade officers in the techniques and employment of light field artillery and weapons utilized in the defense of advanced bases. Prior to the outbreak of World War II, the 10-month course was fairly evenly balanced between instruction in field artillery and base defense.20 Mobilization of Marine reservists and general expansion of the Corps necessitated in turn an expansion of the training program and general reduction in the length of most courses. In 1940 the Base Defense Weapons Course was reduced to a period of 16 weeks.
Under the pressures of the short-of-war period, the Base Defense Weapons Class, as it had been retitled, was split into Field Artillery and Base Defense Sections (antiaircraft and coast artillery). Further reductions in the length of the course ensued under the pressure of wartime needs. In January 1943, the Base Defense Section was transferred to Camp Lejeune and redesignated the Officers Base Defense School, which became a part of the Base Artillery Battalion,
which, in turn, was an element of the Training Center, Camp Lejeune. Beginning in March 1944, two separate courses were set up--one designated the Antiaircraft Course dealing with 90mm guns, and the other, which actually began in May, titled the Special Weapons Course to instruct in the employment of 20mm and 40mm guns and .50 caliber machine guns. Beginning in June that year, the emphasis in training began to shift towards instruction in field artillery at the Camp Lejeune school. This change reflected the progress of the Pacific War, for as the offensives in the South and Central Pacific went into high gear, the need for base defense artillery began to pale and the attacks on the strongly fortified Japanese-held islands in the Gilberts, Marshalls, Marianas, and Palaus demonstrated the requirement for more and heavier field artillery.
It was intended that defense battalions would land on an objective after the assault troops had landed, and then assist in the defense of that objective either while the fighting was still going on or after the target had been secured. In practice it did not work out that way, for in many instances, defense battalions landed immediately after the initial assault and began operations soon after. In the case of the defense battalions--or detachments thereof--on Wake, Midway, and certain other Pacific islands, the enemy came to them. At any rate, once the Central Pacific campaign began, the defense battalions in the South Pacific area found themselves in the backwash of the war and, like the aviation activities based in these islands, became beset by doldrums with only the appearance of intermittent enemy air raids to relieve their boredom.
This was the case in late summer 1943, when General Vandegrift--who had recently been appointed as the commander of I Marine Amphibious Corps when General Barrett died suddenly--made an inspection trip in the Solomons in company with his chief of staff, Colonel Gerald C. Thomas. "What interested Vandegrift most were these defense battalions . . . in the Guadalcanal area. . . . The war had gone on beyond them."21 It was found that each battalion had an excess of five or six majors, "and here these kids were pleading just to get into the war."22 IMAC then made arrangements with Headquarters Marine Corps to send approximately 35 of these officers back to the States assigned to the Command and Staff Course at Quantico, and then back to the Pacific, "because our crying need at the division and corps level [was] for junior staff officers."23
The problem concerning the future of the defense battalions, however, was not solved until 1944, when all of them, with the exception of the 6th Defense Battalion and the two composite units, were first redesignated antiaircraft battalions, and shortly thereafter designated antiaircraft artillery battalions. On 1 November 1944, for the Okinawa operation, four of these AAA battalions--the 2d, 5th, 8th, and 16th--were formed into the 1st Provisional Antiaircraft Artillery Group, which was later placed under the operational control of
the Army 53d AAA Brigade of the Tenth Army.
Although the defense battalions loomed large in the Marine Corps overall, it appears that "almost until the disaster at Pearl Harbor, there existed in the G-3 [Division of Plans and Policies at HQMC] a divided opinion as to the relative value of 'Defense Battalions' and 'Divisions.'"24
According to General del Valle, in 1939 Executive Officer of the Division of Plans and Policies:
A study of the problem we might encounter in the Pacific, especially the Ellis estimate, inspired me to work with the then Lt. Col. H.D. Harris, our G-2, to make available rough T.Os of various types of divisions. This was done on our own. . . .25
Both del Valle and Harris:
. . . made a study of all the divisions in the civilized world, the composition of the divisions we went into war with, the first World War. . . . And we decided that some time that the Marines may get a division. . . . So, I did it all with Harris. He did the research and I did the pictures, and we made up a division, in fact we made up three type divisions for the Marine Corps. One of them had a battalion of tanks.26
One of the protagonists for the defense battalions then told del Valle: "That's all the Marine Corps is going to need, defense battalions."27 Soon after this, the Head of the Division of Plans and Policies came to the then Colonel del Valle and asked to see the prototype divisions that Harris and del Valle had drawn up; ". . . we produced our crude products, one of which was selected as the basis for the division which we took to Guadalcanal."28
THE MARINE DIVISIONDuring the course of World War II, the organization of the Marine division underwent numerous changes to reflect revisions and new developments in the conduct of amphibious assaults. Although the unit designation was the same, there was considerable difference in the strength and organization of the 1st Marine Division which landed on Guadalcanal in 1942 and the 1st Division which landed on Okinawa three years later. All other Marine divisions activated during the war years were similarly affected by various organizational changes.
General Vandegrift's Guadalcanal division was organized in accordance with Marine Corps T/O D-100, which had been approved on 1 July 1942. The total strength of the D-Series Marine division was 19,514, which was broken down into 865 commissioned and 16,987 enlisted Marines, and 115 commissioned and 1,547 enlisted Navy personnel, who were members of the Medical, Dental, Chaplain, and Civil Engineer Corps.
The organization of this division was as follows:
Special Troops 3,031 Headquarters Battalion Headquarters Company
Signal Company Special Weapons Battalion Headquarters and Service Battery 40mm Antiaircraft Battery 90mm Antiaircraft Battery 3 Antitank Batteries Parachute Battalion Headquarters Company 3 Parachute Companies Tank Battalion (Light) Headquarters and Service Company Scout Company 3 Tank Companies Service Troops 1,946 Service Battalion Headquarters Company Service and Supply Company29 Ordnance Company Division Transport Company 3 Regimental Transport Companies Medical Battalion Headquarters and Service Company 5 Medical Companies Amphibian Tractor Battalion Headquarters and Service Company 3 Amphibian Tractor Companies Engineer Regiment 2,452 Headquarters and Service Company Engineer Battalion Headquarters and Service Company 3 Engineer Companies30 Pioneer Battalion Headquarters Company 3 Pioneer Companies31 Naval Construction Battalion Headquarters Company 3 Construction Companies32 Artillery Regiment 2,581 Headquarters and Service Battery 105mm Howitzer Battalion Headquarters and Service Battery 3 105mm Howitzer Batteries 3 75mm Pack Howitzer Battalions Headquarters and Service Battery 3 75mm Pack Howitzer Batteries 3 Infantry Regiments 9,504 Headquarters and Service Company Weapons Company33 3 Infantry Battalions Headquarters Company Weapons Company34 3 Rifle Companies35
Throughout the series of wartime T/Os, the Marine division was organized on a triangular basis. This triangular formation was reflected primarily
in the organization of the three infantry regiments in each division. Within the infantry regiment, groups of three formed the whole: three squads (under the F- and G-Series T/Os, the lowest component was the fire team) comprised a rifle platoon, three platoons a rifle company, three companies an infantry battalion, and three battalions an infantry regiment. Some of the support units organic to the division were likewise triangularly organized in order to give maximum assistance to the infantry elements.
Slightly less than a year after the D-Series T/O for a Marine division had been approved and published, on 15 April 1943 the E-Series T/O appeared.36 There were certain marked changes in the composition and strength of the new T/O division. Some units were taken away from the division, some were added, and others completely or slightly revamped. The aim of the reorganization was to make the Marine division a more effective and flexible fighting machine.
The E-Series Marine division was stronger than the D-Series by 451 sailors and Marines. Although under the new T/O, the strength of special troops was decreased by 714 men, primarily because of the transfer of the parachute battalion to corps troops, and a reduction in the size of the special weapons, light tank, and service battalions, these losses were overbalanced by the strengthening of certain other division organizations. Among these were: service troops, which was enlarged slightly when the division transport company and the three regimental transport companies were taken from the service battalion and formed into a division motor transport battalion; the engineer and infantry regiments, which were given nearly 100 more men; and the artillery regiment, which was expanded with the addition of a second 105mm howitzer battalion. Along with the formation of the motor transport battalion, which gave the division an increase of 84 personnel in this field, 130 more vehicles were assigned to the division.37
The F-Series tables for a Marine division, approved on 5 May 1944, had 2,500 less men than its predecessor. In the 1944 organization, special troops--in essence a command headquarters groupment--was abolished and in its stead a division headquarters battalion, which became a separate battalion within the division, took control of the units formerly under special troops cognizance. The headquarters battalion troop listing was changed somewhat at this time, for the special weapons battalion was disbanded, and the light tank battalion became an independent battalion. It was given a numerical designation which reflected the number of the division to which it belonged, e.g., the 1st Tank Battalion was organic to the 1st Marine Division, etc. Division service troops was reduced in strength at this time with the transfer of the amphibian tractor battalion to corps troops.
Along with its redesignation, the composition of the tank battalion was also changed. The reduction in battalion strength to 594 men was primarily caused by the loss of the scout company, which was redesignated as the division reconnaissance company (1st Reconnaissance Company, 1st Marine Division, etc.) and placed in the division headquarters battalion. Here, the company became the instrument of the division commander. The duties of this company more nearly reflected the amphibious mission of the division, for reconnaissance personnel more often travelled by jeep or on foot on land and in rubber boats over water whenever they were on a reconnaissance mission. The ancestry of the reconnaissance company can be traced to the concept and the needs underlying the formation of Colonel William J. Whaling's scout-sniper group on Guadalcanal.38 Quite a few Marines who were assigned to the new unit came from the parachute and raider battalions, which were disbanded in 1944.
The engineer regiment, as such, was disbanded when the F-Series T/O was published, and like the headquarters and tank battalions, the engineer and pioneer battalions became separate entities in the division. They, too, were given the numerical designation of their division. The engineer battalion was enlarged somewhat while the pioneer battalion remained relatively unchanged in size. The naval construction battalions (Seabees) were detached at this time because they were continuously needed elsewhere in the Pacific for airfield construction and it would have been uneconomic to have them remain inactive with their Marine divisions between operations. Despite this T/O change, the Seabees were attached to Marine divisions as a component of the landing force in assault landings.
The only specific change in the artillery regiment in the F-Series tables was that the number of 75mm pack howitzer battalions was reduced from three to two. The Marine artillery regiment now had two 75mm pack howitzer battalions and two 105mm howitzer battalions. In deference to the amphibious character of the Marine division, it contained lighter organic artillery than its Army counterpart, which had three 105mm howitzer battalions and a battalion of 155mm howitzers. During combat operations, however, Marine divisional artillery was usually supported by the 105mm and 155mm howitzers and 155mm guns of corps artillery.
Although the G-Series T/O was not published until 4 September 1945, after the Pacific War had ended, the tables of some division units had been published earlier. For example, the T/O for an infantry regiment is dated 1 May 1945, but this is misleading because many of the changes inherent in the G-Series had been made before this time. A case in point is the fact that the Marine infantry regiments which landed on Okinawa just a month before the T/O publication date were organized in accordance with these tables. Each division of IIIAC was up to or close to T/O strength, 19,176 men--a considerable increase over the previous T/O--plus
an overage which reflected the normal reinforcement given a combat-bound division.
In the 1945 version of the tables of organization, the division had been given an assault signal company, a rocket platoon, and a war dog platoon. Other division units that had been augmented were the service troops, whose motor transport battalion was enlarged from 539 to 906 men (overall transportation in the division was increased from a previous total of 1,548 pieces of rolling stock to 1,918), and a slight expansion of the artillery and infantry regiments. Further indicating that the 1st and 6th Marine Divisions were organized on Okinawa in accordance with the G-Series tables is the fact that the 75mm self-propelled gun platoon had been replaced by the 105mm self-propelled howitzer platoon in the infantry regimental weapons company prior to the landing.
THE MARINE INFANTRY REGIMENTAt first glance, it would appear as though the various wartime T/O regiments differed only slightly in size from one another, and that there had been but few changes in their compositions.39 Appearances are deceiving, however, for the Marine infantry regiment and its components experienced perhaps the most dramatic revolution of all of the types of Marine Corps units each time new tables of organizations were published. Not only was the composition of the infantry regiment affected by these T/O changes, the types and numbers of the different weapons with which it fought similarly underwent change. Conversely, the development and assignment of new weapons and the augmentation of existing tables of equipment strongly influenced each succeeding infantry regiment T/O change.
The most outstanding changes in the infantry regiment took place on battalion and company levels. Within the regimental headquarters complex, the only element significantly modified during the war was the regimental weapons company, which lost its three antiaircraft/ antitank platoons in the E-Series T/O and instead picked up three 37mm gun platoons. These were reduced by one in the G-Series tables. At the same time, the 75mm gun platoon was replaced by a platoon of 105mm self-propelled howitzers. This larger-caliber weapon proved to be of inestimable value in the cave warfare of Okinawa.
With the inception of the F-Series T/O, the battalion weapons company was abolished. Its 81mm mortar platoon was placed in the battalion headquarters company, where it became the infantry battalion commander's artillery, and its three machine gun platoons were parcelled out on the basis of one to each rifle company. The weapons platoon of the rifle company was also disbanded at this time. The 60mm mortar platoon was incorporated with the company headquarters and the light machine gun section became part of the newly established company machine gun platoon.
The size of the rifle company grew with the appearance of each succeeding table of organization. In the D-Series
tables of 1942 company strength was 183; 196 in the E-Series; 235 in the F-Series; and 242 in the G-Series. This growth rate was caused in part by the fact that the machine gun platoon (44 men in 1944, 56 in 1945) was added to the rifle company and offset the loss of the weapons platoon, which was only a paper loss. Actually, when the 60mm mortar section was transferred to the company headquarters, it gained four men, and despite the fact that the light machine gun section was abolished, the loss of its 19 Marines was more than made up for by the addition to the rifle company of the 44-man machine gun platoon.
Another element of the rifle company increased during the war was the rifle platoon, or more importantly, the squads of that platoon. The D-Series rifle platoon had 42 Marines in a platoon headquarters of 7 men, an 8-man automatic rifle (BAR) squad, and three 9-man rifle squads. The BAR squad consisted of a squad leader armed with a submachine gun, two BAR-men, and five riflemen. Although assistant BARmen were designated as such in subsequent T/Os, they did not appear in the D-Series tables. The rifle squad in this T/O consisted of a squad leader, a BARman, six riflemen, and a rifle grenadier, who was armed with the trusty Springfield M1903 .30 caliber rifle and a grenade launcher.
At this juncture, it must be pointed out that, although the D-Series table of equipment for a Marine division40 listed 5,285 carbines, 7,406 M-1s, and only 456 '03s,41 this was not, in fact, the case for the 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal was not so armed. The M-1 rifle was issued to the 1st Division in April 1943, after it had left Guadalcanal, and was in Australia training for the impending New Britain operation. "Nostalgia for the reliable '03 was widespread, but the increased firepower of the M-1 would not be denied."42 This is not to say that no Marines had M-1s on the 'canal, for some acquired them through a "moonlight requisition" after Army units arrived on the island. Others obtained the new rifle by picking up the dropped weapons of soldiers who had been wounded and evacuated. This last occurred in October 1942, during the time that the 164th Infantry fought alongside of the 7th Marines in stemming Japanese attacks on the perimeter.43
Returning to the D-Series rifle squad, it was not particularly suited for operating other than as a whole and, unlike the rifle squads of later T/Os, it was the lowest component of the triangular organization and could not be broken down into a smaller tactical unit. At this point in the development of Marine assault tactics, the chain of command extended down only as far as the squad
level. This was the lowest echelon on which control was maintained and fire supervised. The problem of control in combat has always plagued commanders; and the more difficult the terrain over which a battle was being fought, the more difficult it was to maintain control.
Marine Corps units committed to the jungle war and anti-bandit activities in Central America during the early 1900s found it necessary to devise methods for achieving better infantry control and accuracy under fire. In face of the hit-and-run tactics and ambuscades of such bandit leaders as Augusto Sandino in Nicaragua, and in areas where mobility was curtailed by the jungle, firepower became the key to success. Additional firepower came from reliance on the assignment of an additional number of automatic weapons to each squad.
The practical experience gained from using automatic weapons in Nicaragua influenced greatly the development of the fire team. The ratio of automatic weapons in the squad was increased by most leaders from one for every eight men to one for every three or four. Most important was the growth of the automatic rifle as a base of fire and as the nucleus of a small fire group.44
A further development leading to a more responsive infantry unit occurred in China in 1938, with the development of a rifle company specially organized to quell street riots. At the heart of this organization were three platoons composed of six fighting teams of four men each.
Each team was led by a senior private or junior NCO, and could be employed flexibly in independent action as well as in performing its primary mission as an integral part of the riot company as a whole.
The equipment of each man in the 1st and 3d Platoons was a rifle, bayonet, cartridge belt with 100 rounds of ammunition, gas mask, and steel helmet. Two men of the 1st and 6th Teams in the 2d Platoon carried BARs; the other two men in each of these teams were armed with Thompson sub-machine guns.
Marines in the 2d and 5th Teams carried rifles with bayonets fixed, and they too had 100 rounds of ammunition in their cartridge belts. Rifle grenadiers comprised the strength of the 3d and 4th Teams, and they each wore a grenade carrier holding eight tear gas grenades.45
The four-man fighting team was the solid foundation on which the riot company was based, for although:
. . . the company commander and the platoon leaders would retain control for as long as the situation warranted, the fighting team could have been quickly detached on independent assignments such as search missions or the establishment of a strong point at a street intersection. In any case, the team could be detached without destroying the basic riot formation or the unit integrity of the company. The success of the riot company would result from its simple line formations and signals, and more importantly, from the emphasis on the decentralized control of the four-man fighting team.
. . . The decentralization of command and independent coordinated action by small units were as necessary in the
crowded streets of the International Settlement [of Shanghai] as they were in the jungles of Nicaragua and the Pacific islands. . . .46
An answer to some of the problems of rifle squad control appeared in the E-Series T/O. The BAR squad was dropped and replaced by a third rifle squad. The rifle squad was increased in size to 12 men: a squad leader, an assistant squad leader, six riflemen, and two assistant BAR-men, all armed with M-Is, and two BAR-men. Now the squad could be broken down into two six-man units, each containing a total of one automatic and five semiautomatic rifles. While meeting some of the requirements for better control and heavier firepower in jungle fighting, this formation provided only a partial solution. Prior to the adoption of the E-Series T/O, some Marine units, especially the 1st Parachute Battalion--then in training at Camp Lejeune--experimented on their own. Based on the recommendations of the battalion operations officer and because some extra BARs were available to the battalion at the time (1941), the parachutists trained with their rifle squads organized into three three-man teams in which one man was armed with the BAR. Soon other Marine Corps organizations were adopting this formation, if the extra weapons were at hand.
Liaison between the Parachute and Raider units was very close and ideas on tactics, technique, organization, and equipment were freely exchanged. Both Raider and Parachute units operated with the 3d Marine Division during the Bougainvillea campaign and the advantages of the fire team organization over the squad were soon noted.47
The mission of the Marine raider battalion and the organization of a squad of raiders was described by the commander of the 2d Raider Battalion, Major Evans F. Carlson, in a letter to President Roosevelt, who was told that:
I designed the organization and equipment with a view to providing a battalion capable of high mobility and possessing the maximum fire power compatible with such mobility . . . The emphasis is on speed of movement on foot, endurance, self-sufficiency and great fire power . . . The squad, consisting of a corporal and nine others, is armed with five Thompson submachine guns, four Garand rifles and one Browning automatic rifle. These nine men operate in three fire groups of three men each. Each group, led by a scout armed with a Garand, is supported by two automatic riflemen . . . The three fire groups, of course, are mutually supporting. A group so armed and so trained can cover a front of from 100 to 300 yards, as against the 50 yard front covered by the orthodox infantry squad of eight men, armed with the 1903 rifle and one BAR.48
At Camp Pendleton in July 1943, Company L, 24th Marines, conducted experiments in the problems of controlling infantry units in combat. The basis for this training were the lessons learned by veteran FMF units in the Pacific. The company was organized according to the E-Series tables with
12-man rifle squads. Heralding the future, an additional man and an extra BAR were added to each squad, which then conducted training with this formation. The results of field tests proved the practicality and ease of control of such an organization, and the officers observing the tests recommended "that the rifle companies of the 24th Marines be organized on the group basis for exhaustive tests of this method with a view to its possible adoption by the Marine Corps." 'g Major General Harry Schmidt, commander of the 4th Marine Division, forwarded this report to the Commandant by way of Major General Clayton B. Vogel, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, San Diego Area, who further recommended that "experiments be carried out with a company and a battalion organized along these lines, possibly in the school organization at Quantico. . . ."50
On 14 October 1943, the Commandant, Marine Corps Schools, was asked to conduct experiments along the lines indicated in the reports which General Holcomb had received from California. A board was convened on 15 December at Quantico; the senior member was Lieutenant Colonel Samuel B. Griffith, II, a former Marine Raider, and Majors Thomas J. Meyers and Lyman D. Spurlock.51
The troop,s provided the board for these experiments consisted of a rifle platoon furnished by the Training Battalion, Marine Corps Schools. Each squad was organized into four groups of three men each. The platoon was oriented on the purpose of the experiments at a two-hour lecture and blackboard talk conducted by Colonel Griffith's board, and on the following day a number of formations and "plays" were described to the members of the platoon, who then practiced them in the field under the board's observation.
Although the board generally concurred in the findings following the experiment conducted by the 24th Marines, it believed that instead of the four three-man teams recommended by that regiment's board for the rifle squad, the new formation should consist of three groups of four men each. Griffith's board reasoned that in a three-group squad, battle casualties could be absorbed more easily, control would be easier, and the principle of the Marine infantry triangular formation would be preserved. One further point that the board made was that "From the psychological point of view the use of the word 'team' infers a unit of effort and a spiritual cohesiveness that the term 'group' does not."52 Reinforcing the recommendations of the board, Colonel Griffith included as an enclosure extracts of a letter he had written in September 1943, as 1st Raider Battalion commander, relating the organization of the raider companies to the experiences
of his battalion in the New Georgia operation.
In preparation for this campaign, in March 1943, the 10-man rifle squads of the 1st Raider Battalion were reorganized into "three groups of three men each, with a corporal squad leader. Each group was designated as a 'fire team' and the senior man was appointed leader of the fire team. Each fire team was equipped with one BAR, one carbine, and one M1."53 Colonel Griffith continued, "As a result of this combat training experience, the officers and enlisted men of this battalion were of the opinion that the fire team organization was superior to normal organization," and "Our experience in the New Georgia operation confirmed" this opinion.54
The findings of the Griffith Board were then sent to Headquarters Marine Corps, where the Division of Plans and Policies noted that a similar plan for the reorganization of the rifle squad had been submitted to FMF field units for comment.55 Upon receipt of the Griffith Board report at Headquarters, it was routed through the various sections of "Pots and Pans" for comment. Based on his experiences as the commanding officer of the 2d Parachute Battalion, which had conducted the diversionary raid on Choiseul nearly three months earlier, Lieutenant Colonel Victor H. Krulak--now head of the G-4 Section--noted:
The squad organization recommended by the Marine Corps Schools is believed to be fundamentally sound. All squads in the Battalion which I commanded were organized on a three group system--each group being built around an automatic weapon (in this case the Johnson light machine gun). The organization stood up well in combat.56
The reports from the FMF field units indicated that the new formation was satisfactory, and it was adopted and appeared in the new rifle squad T/O published in March 1944.
The F-Series rifle squad was a great improvement over its predecessors and its organization seemed to give the commander the requisite control and additional firepower found to be so necessary in both jungle and island fighting. The 1944 squad was improved in several ways--it had 13 instead of 12 men, it was armed with a third BAR, and was susceptible to greater control over its Marines. Whereas in previous T/Os, the responsibility and authority of command was vested in only one man--the squad leader--four men were given command authority in the F-Series squad. These were the squad leader and his subordinates, three fire team leaders. The new squad consisted of a squad leader armed with a carbine, three fire team leaders and three riflemen armed with M-Is and M-7 grenade launchers, three assistant BAR-men armed with carbines and M-8 grenade launchers, and three BAR-men.57 The
composition, concept of employment, and combat principles underlying the organization of the fire team were a culmination of Marine Corps tactical experience to that time. By the delegation of command authority to the squad and fire team leaders, it was believed that the principle of military leadership would be more widely disseminated and that the rifle squad would become more aggressive and efficient.
Under the fire team concept, the squad leader was responsible for the training, control, and general conduct of his squad. He was to coordinate the employment of his fire teams in a manner that would accomplish the mission assigned by his platoon commander. He was also responsible for the fire control, fire discipline, and maneuver of his fire teams as units. The fire team leaders were similarly responsible for their fire teams.
As it evolved, the fire team was organized primarily around the base of fire provided by the automatic rifle. Reflecting the uniform organization and balanced equipment of the team, it was capable of operating independently as a reconnaissance, observation, security, or outpost group. Maintenance of the principle of triangular organization in the Marine division beginning at the rifle squad level was apparent with the advent of the fire team. In addition, the establishment of this unit meant that control and coordination of effort under battle conditions in general and in amphibious operations in particular could be sustained. Other benefits accruing from the employment of the fire team were: maintenance of mutual support in the defense; decentralization of fire control; decentralization of command; mobility; flexibility; rapid absorption of replacements during reorganization under combat conditions; and adaptability to special training and the accomplishment of missions involving the employment of special equipment.58
Regarding this last factor, the F-Series T/E gave the Marine division a sufficient number of flamethrowers and demolition kits to permit the distribution of one of each per squad when the employment of this equipment was required. The flamethrowers and demolitions were kept in the infantry battalion supply section, and were available when the battalion commander called for them.
In 1st Marine Division preparations for the Peleliu operation, however, there was a shortage of flamethrowers and replacements were late in arriving. Nineteen of these, together with three bazookas and some demolitions, were placed directly under battalion control. To employ these special assault weapons, a battalion weapons platoon composed of 60 men drawn from the rifle companies was, in some cases, organized. These Marines were evidently drawn from the company headquarters, for the
rifle platoons generally were maintained at full strength.59
To forestall the necessity of denuding the rifle companies of men in order to form special assault units, the G-Series T/O provided the infantry battalion with a 55-man assault platoon. This organization was composed of a platoon headquarters and three assault sections of two seven-man squads each. Comprising the squad was a squad leader, a flamethrower operator and his assistant, a bazooka operator and his assistant, and two demolitions men. In 1942, the Marine division had 24 not-too-satisfactory flamethrowers, which were carried and employed by the combat engineers. Each infantry battalion supply section in the F-Series T/O had 27 flamethrowers to be put into action on the battalion commander's order. In the G-Series tables, there were only 12 flamethrowers per battalion, but the one advantage in this case was that a trained unit had been established to make optimum use of the weapon.
From 1942 on, many changes were made in the composition of the division--some transitory, some long-lasting, and all reflecting combat lessons learned as well as immediate or future refinements. Many T/O changes resulted from the experimentation of individual units; a new tactical formation or an improved combat tactic often proved successful and was adopted throughout the Marine Corps after official approval had been given. In retrospect, each successive T/O change served to make the World War II Marine division the most effective and deadliest amphibious assault unit in history to that time.
WEAPONS AND EQUIPMENTSome note has been made in preceding paragraphs of the weapons and equipment organic to the Marine division. The point has been emphasized that a division did not always possess the types and amount of equipment specified in a particular T/E. The comments regarding the number of M-1 rifles in the hands of Guadalcanal Marines bear this out. Although the D-Series T/O called for the antiaircraft and antitank platoon of the regimental weapons company to be armed with 20mm guns, they were not in fact so equipped. Organized at Parris Island, the Weapons Company, 7th Marines trained at New River with the old wooden-wheeled, 88-pound, 37mm gun before the division left for the Pacific. The company later received a wholly different 37mm gun, which proved most effective in combat.60
Another notable difference between what the D-Series T/E indicated the Marine division should have and what it actually possessed relates to the 75mm self-propelled gun platoon of the regimental weapons company. Officially, each platoon was equipped with two half-track 75s, but in reality, until near the end of the Guadalcanal campaign, the platoon fired 75mm guns which had a modified recoil system on a wholly new carriage with a new sighting, elevating, and training system. The special weapons battalion also had some half-tracks, which were employed in defense of the
1st Division perimeter on the beaches of Guadalcanal.61
Marine equipment was continuously repaired (until no longer serviceable), replaced, and replenished throughout the war. Some gear could be refurbished by service units in the division, but more often, combat organizations would have to send damaged items to maintenance and repair facilities in rear areas. Normally, the replacement and replenishment system functioned as well as could be expected under conditions of war, with combat units receiving the supplies they had requisitioned or those which were automatically replenished. As soon as modified or new weapons and vehicles were received, they were sent to the units which would use them.
In May 1943, for instance, the light tanks (M3A1, mounting 37mm guns) of Company A, 1st Tank Battalion, were replaced by 33-ton General Sherman medium tanks (M4A1, mounting 75mm guns). This event is noteworthy because the first 24 mediums to arrive in the SWPA were received by the Army and turned over to the Marine company.62 When subsequent models of the Sherman (M4A2, M4A3), which were heavier and more fully armored, were shipped to the Pacific, other Marine division tank battalions began using them also. The two later versions of the medium tank were employed on Iwo Jima and Okinawa.63
Soon after improved tank models began appearing in the Pacific, armored flamethrowers became available. Much of the successful introduction and employment of this infantry weapon in combat depended upon the rapid development of the portable flamethrower earlier. At the beginning of the war, American troops had only the M1 flamethrower, which had a range of a mere 10-15 yards and frequently misfired. Despite the knowledge that the enemy had no better weapon, it "did not overcome the dislike and distrust the American troops felt for the M1."64
Although this model was gradually improved, the basic problem remained, the too-rapid burning of the flamethrower fuel, which in the beginning was gasoline alone. The development of napalm (a three to eight percent mixture of aluminum soap with gasoline) came later after much experimentation. When the correct formula for napalm was achieved, its use as a fuel almost
doubled the range of the flamethrower and gave greater adhesion of the liquid on the target, it burned for a longer period than earlier fuels, and was much safer for the flamethrower operator to handle. The M1 was modified for use with napalm, and when fully loaded, it weighed 68 pounds--a heavy burden for an infantryman to carry, especially in combat when he was being shot at.65
The M2-2 flamethrower was introduced into combat in late 1943 (the E-Series division had 24, the F-Series had 243, and the G-Series had 108), and although it had an improved ignition system and could be maintained better in combat, it had the same 4-gallon capacity and 40-yard range of the earlier model.
By the end of the war, the portable flamethrower had become an important addition to the arsenal of Marine infantry weapons. But in face of the Japanese defenses encountered in the Central Pacific operations, it was found that it could not provide flame in sufficient quantity and that flamethrower operators could not advance through coordinated enemy fires to apply it without tremendous loss of American lives. The two solutions most likely to succeed were to drop some sort of fire bomb on a target and to develop an armored vehicle capable of delivering large amounts of flame for greater periods than heretofore.
The napalm bomb was first employed in support of a combat operation at Tinian, where Army pilots used it on an experimental basis. Various gasoline/napalm mixtures, types of fuses and fuse settings, and methods of delivery were attempted to ascertain what the potentials and limitations of the napalm bomb were. On the basis of reports received from his Navy and Marine Corps observers, the commander of Amphibious Group 2, Rear Admiral Harry W. Hill, concluded that "the bomb gave great promise of success as an amphibious weapon in future assaults against densely covered islands."66 This conclusion was verified in later operations as air delivery of napalm was perfected as an offensive weapon.
Fitting LVTs and tanks with flamethrowers gave the infantry a better weapon for the destruction of enemy-held caves, cliffs, and canefields. Appearing in the Pacific in early 1944 was the "Ronson," a Canadian Army-developed, heavy-duty, long-range flamethrower which had a 150-gallon tank. It was initially mounted on an LVT and experimented with in the Hawaiian Islands and later used at Peleliu. In the spring of 1944, the Marines in the Pacific created "Satan," an M3 light tank which had been converted to carry the Ronson and 170 gallons of fuel, and had a range of 60-80 yards. VAC took 24 Satans into the Marianas campaign, where they
were employed with spectacular results.67 The Satan was improved upon with the appearance of the Army HI Flamethrowing Tank, which mounted a newer model Ronson on the M4 Sherman. It carried 290 gallons of fuel, had the same range as the Satan, and a firing time of 21/2 minutes. This was the weapon employed by Tenth Army troops on Okinawa.
A new type of tracked vehicle making its Marine Corps appearance in combat on Iwo Jima was the "Weasel," a light cargo carrier (M29C) that was capable of hauling a half-ton load. VAC, which received these vehicles in November 1944, distributed them to the 3d, 4th, and 5th Marine Divisions the same month. While not seaworthy, the Weasel proved of inestimable value on land, where it was fast, maneuverable, and could pull trailers and light artillery pieces over terrain untrafficable for wheeled vehicles.68
A recital of the numerous items of new and modified equipment--aviation, ordnance, communications, transportation, armor, etc.--assigned to Marine Corps organizations would require more space than is available here. An accounting of their employment is found in the five volumes of this series,
SPECIAL UNITSWhenever there is a discussion of what special units the Marine Corps had in World War II, the two organizations most readily thought of are the parachute and the raider battalions. There were, however, other specialist-type groups of brief life and briefer memory, and still others which were developed and activated late in the war. Although some of the units to be mentioned in this section were short-lived, the lessons learned from their training and combat experience in many cases proved valuable to other FMF organizations.
Marine parachutists, or Paramarines as they were often called, appeared on the scene in the fall of 1940, when the Commandant solicited requests from Marine volunteers to undergo parachute training. The first group began training at the Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, New Jersey, on 26 October of that year. As this and succeeding classes became qualified parachutists, they formed the nucleus of the first parachute battalion organized. Company A, 1st Parachute Battalion, was activated at Quantico on 28 May 1941, and the battalion itself some two months later on 15 August. At the same time that this battalion was organizing on the east coast, the 2d Parachute Battalion was being formed at Camp Elliott on the west coast. On 3 September, the 2d Battalion was at full strength.
From Quantico, the 1st Battalion moved to New River for further training. Many World War II Marines will recall seeing the parachute towers at Hadnot Point when they reported to Camp Lejeune for duty. In order to apply Marine Corps concepts of parachute training, parachute training schools were established at Camp Gillespie, San Diego, on 6 May, and at New River on 15 June 1942. In July 1943, the New River complex was closed, and Camp
Gillespie became the center of Marine Corps parachute training activities. The 1st Parachute Battalion departed the United States for New Zealand in June 1942. It landed on Gavutu, British Solomon Islands, on the same day that other elements of the 1st Marine Division landed on Guadalcanal and Tulagi. Following its commitment in the heavy fighting on Tulagi and later on Guadalcanal, the battalion was withdrawn from action and sent to Noumea, New Caledonia, where it was joined by the 2d and 3d Parachute Battalions in 1943. On 1 April 1943, the 1st Parachute Regiment was formed of these three battalions. A fourth battalion was activated the next day at San Diego, but never was sent overseas and was disbanded the following January.
Meanwhile, after a lengthy training period, the regiment left Noumea to return to Guadalcanal, arriving there in September 1943. At the end of the month, the entire regiment was transferred to Vella Lavella, New Georgia Group, where it participated in operations against the Japanese. The 2d Parachute Battalion, Reinforced, landed on Choiseul on 27 October in a raid intended to divert Japanese forces from the area of the 1 November target of the 3d Marine Division, Bougainvillea. The diversionary group withdrew on the 3d.
Before the Bougainville operation was over, most of the 1st Regiment had been committed to action. In December 1943, however, a decision was reached in Washington to disband Marine parachute units. The 1st Regiment, less its air delivery section, was ordered to San Diego, where the Paramarines were used to cadre the newly forming 5th Marine Division. The air delivery section was divided equally, and its elements were redesignated as corps air delivery sections for I Marine Amphibious Corps and V Amphibious Corps. The 1st Parachute Regiment was formally disbanded on 29 February 1944.
In retrospect, the Marine parachute program proved of little value to the Corps in the sense that no Marine combat paradrops were made during the war, although some had been considered. Militating against such action were several cogent factors. First, the Marine Corps did not have an adequate lift capability. At no one time could existing Marine aviation organizations muster more than six transport squadrons for a single operation, which meant that only one reinforced battalion could be lifted to an objective. Moreover, there were no shore-based staging areas within a reasonable distance of proposed targets. Further, the long distances between objectives were prohibitive. Finally, the objectives assigned to the FMF were generally small, densely defended areas, and therefore unsuitable for mass parachute landings. For these reasons, the Marine parachute program passed into history.
Although the Paramarines never made a combat jump, they did fight as ground troops in several actions and fought exceptionally well before the parachute battalions were disbanded. Marine parachute troops had outstanding spirit and, because of the emphasis on physical conditioning and small-unit tactics in their training program, they excelled in these areas. Their combat know-how and aggressiveness were fully
demonstrated at Iwo Jima where a large proportion of 5th Division personnel who were awarded Medals of Honor and Navy Crosses had been Paramarines.60
Another group of Marines whose members, like the Paramarines, considered theirs an elite organization, were the Raiders. One reason for the formation of several Marine raider battalions was the apparent need for specially trained hit-and-run troops who could harass the enemy based on the long chain of Japanese-captured islands in the Pacific. Presumably, Marine raider battalions were formed because of the notable success of British commando-type organizations at a time when everything else was going badly for the Allies. Although unsubstantiated and undocumented, it has been rumored that not all Marine Corps officers were particularly enthusiastic about the raider concept70 In writing to President Roosevelt about his 2d Raider Battalion, Major Carlson said:
The whole thing is unorthodox, in the military sense, but it will do the job . . . Of course, we are meeting with opposition from the orthodox brass hats. However, General Vogel, the Force commander, and [Major] Generals [Charles F.B.] Price and [Joseph C.] Fegan are sold on the idea and are giving their full support.71
One recent critic of special units, who believes that any good organization can be trained for special operations, has written that "Most of the pressure for this organization came from the Navy."72 This might be rebutted by a comment Admiral Nimitz made in 1957 concerning the assignment of Carlson's 2d Raider Battalion to CinCPac in 1942: "Here I was presented with a unit which I had not requested and which I had not prepared for."73 A partial explanation for the high level of interest evinced in the Marine raider battalions can possibly be inferred from the following excerpt of President Roosevelt's reply to Carlson's letter:
I am delighted to have your letter and to know that all goes so well with you. What you tell me about the new outfit is most interesting and surely there will be a chance to use it.74
Regardless of the quarter from which the impetus to organize Marine raider battalions came and despite Marine Corps attitudes pro and con regarding their formation, a program of special raider training began on 6 January
1942. The 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, was redesignated the 1st Separate Battalion and transferred from the 1st Marine Division to Amphibious Forces, Atlantic Fleet. Shortly thereafter, Lieutenant Colonel Merritt A. Edson and Major Evans F. Carlson were directed to organize, train, and command the first two Marine raider battalions activated. Both officers had the requisite experience necessary to guide the formation and training for this type of specialized organization. Edson had been a company commander with experience in fighting bandits in Nicaragua, and Carlson had been a military observer with General Chu Teh's Eighth Route Army in North China during the Sine-Japanese War. Carlson's raider concept was based, at least in part, on his analysis and admiration of Mao Tse-tung's guerrilla tactics and operations, about which he wrote in two books published in 1940.75
A reason for President Roosevelt's interest in the raiders and Carlson may stem from the fact that before the Marine officer had begun a tour as observer in China (1937-1938), he was the commander of the guard at the "Little White House," Warm Springs, Georgia. Also, while still a company grade officer, Carlson had a number of personal appointments with the President, and "during his tour . . . , he sent the President, at his request, a number of reports dealing with politics, political, diplomatic and military figures, American business policy, and the role of the British and French in China."76
Edson's 1st Separate Battalion was redesignated the 1st Raider Battalion on 16 February 1942. The battalion executive officer, Major Samuel B. Griffith, II, joined it after observing commando training in England. On 29 March, the 1st Raiders and 3/7 were sent to the west coast for transfer overseas to Samoa. Arriving at Tutuila on 28 April, Edson's outfit moved once again, this time in July, to Noumea, New Caledonia, where it prepared for the Guadalcanal operation.
The 1st Battalion landed on Tulagi on 7 August together with the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines as part of the 1st Marine Division invasion force, whose other elements landed on Guadalcanal, Gavutu, Tanambogo, and Florida Islands. Although the initial operations on Tulagi were unopposed by the enemy, during the night 7-8 August the raiders repulsed four separately launched Japanese attacks. Organized enemy resistance was eliminated by nightfall of the 8th, and the battalion remained on Tulagi until the end of August.77
At this stage in the Guadalcanal campaign, a growing need for more troops led to the move of the battalion across to the bigger island on 31 August to strengthen the 1st Division perimeter. Two raider companies patrolled Savo Island, on 2 September, but found no enemy. Following this, the 1st Raider and 1st Parachute Battalions were consolidated into a provisional battalion and
moved into defensive positions on the southern rim of the division perimeter, inland from the airfield.
Here, Edson and his staff planned for an amphibious raid around to the east in the Tasimboko area, where an enemy buildup was reported. The raid was launched on 8 September with a landing just before dawn. Although light at first, enemy resistance became heavier. Upon the arrival of the Paramarines, Edson pushed the attack into the village, where he found that the Japanese had withdrawn, leaving some guns, ammunition, and food.
Despite the disappearance of the enemy forces, intelligence sources indicated that the Japanese were massing for another attack on the Marine defenders. To forestall enemy incursions and to protect the airstrip, General Vandegrift ordered the raiders and parachutists to prepare positions on a long, low ridge extending south of Henderson Field and paralleling the Lunga River. Following sporadic probing attempts on the night 12-13 September, the Japanese launched a full-scale attack the following night and lasting until early the next day. The defenders of Bloody Ridge, or Edson's Ridge as it also became known, turned back a serious threat to their precarious foothold on Guadalcanal in a violent and bloody fight that was crucial to the defense of the perimeter. Edson took over the command of the 5th Marines on 21 September, at which time Griffith, now a lieutenant colonel, relieved him as commander of the raider battalion.
The next action in which the 1st Raider Battalion took part occurred on 26 September, when it was to establish a permanent patrol base on the coast of Guadalcanal at Kokumbona. Meanwhile, at the mouth of the Matanikau River, 1/7 and 2/5 had become involved in a heavy fire fight with a strongly entrenched enemy force and had become pinned down. Griffith's raiders were ordered to join the two battalions and to prepare for a renewal of the attack the next day. It began early on the 27th and the raiders were stopped short when they ran into a Japanese force which had crossed the river during the night to set up strong positions on high ground some 1,500 yards south of the beach. The raiders as well as the other two Marine battalions were hit hard and finally were forced to evacuate from Point Cruz.
The final action on Guadalcanal in which the understrength 1st Raider Battalion participated was the Matanikau offensive on 7-9 October. Because of losses suffered in this fighting, the battalion was no longer an effective unit, and it was withdrawn soon after from Guadalcanal. It was detached from the 1st Marine Division and attached to Corps Troops, I Marine Amphibious Corps. The battalion embarked for Noumea, arriving there on 17 October.
At San Diego, on 19 February the 2d Separate Battalion (formed on the 5th) under the command of Major Carlson was redesignated the 2d Raider Battalion. Carlson's executive officer was Major James Roosevelt. The 2d Battalion (less Companies D and E, which were sent to reinforce the Marine detachment on Midway) departed the west coast for the Hawaiian Islands for training in landing from submarines and rubber boat handling. On the day
after the Guadalcanal landings, Carlson and the remainder of his battalion boarded submarines and sailed from Pearl Harbor for a raid on Makin in the Gilbert Islands, landing there on 17 August.
The purposes of this raid were to destroy enemy installations, gather intelligence data, test raiding tactics, boost morale in America, and perhaps divert some Japanese attention from Guadalcanal. Although the greatest asset of this operation was in relation to its effect on home-front morale, it also gained a modicum of success in its other objectives. The raiders lost 30 of their force in the course of which the battalion destroyed the 85-man Japanese garrison, and the accompanying radio stations, fuel and supply dumps, and other installations before reboarding the submarines for the return to Pearl.78
Carlson's battalion next moved to Espiritu Santo, arriving there on 20 September. On 4 November, the 2d Raider Battalion landed at Aola Bay, about 40 miles east of the Lunga River. From this point, Carlson marched his command through the jungle west to Lunga Point to clear the region of the enemy. For 30 days, until 4 December, the 2d Raider Battalion conducted a 150-mile combat and reconnaissance patrol through some of the most difficult terrain on Guadalcanal. In the course of this patrol, the raiders fought more than a dozen actions and killed nearly 500 of the enemy at a loss to themselves of 16 killed and 18 wounded. The battalion left Guadalcanal for Espiritu Santo on 17 December 1942, and moved from there to Wellington, New Zealand the following 4 February for a brief rest period, and then back to Espiritu Santo, where it remained awaiting orders for commitment to further action.
A third raider battalion was formed in the Samoan area on 20 September 1942 of volunteers from various 3d Marine Brigade infantry and defense battalion units. The commanding officer was Lieutenant Colonel Harry B. Liversedge. The 3d Raider Battalion departed Samoa on 15 January 1943 and joined the 2d Battalion at Espiritu Santo. Liversedge's battalion spearheaded the unopposed Army landing in the Russell Islands on 20-21 February 1943, and remained there until it was committed to combat later in the year.
Major James Roosevelt organized the 4th Raider Battalion on the west coast on 23 October 1942. It left the United States in February 1943 and went into camp at Espiritu Santo. On 15 March, the 1st Marine Raider Regiment was activated here and consisted of the four raider battalions organized to date. Liversedge, promoted to colonel earlier, was the first regimental commander. At this time, the raiders were scattered throughout the South Pacific with the regimental headquarters and the 2d and 4th Battalions at Espiritu Santo, the 1st at Noumea, and the 3d in the Russells.
Upon its assignment to the New Georgia operation, the regiment, less the 2d and 3d Battalions, moved to Guadalcanal, arriving there the first
week in June, when it became part of the New Georgia Occupation Force. The first element of the regiment committed in this operation was the 4th Raider Battalion (-), now commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Michael S. Currin, which landed at Segi Point on New Georgia Island, on 21 June 1943. Before the New Georgia campaign ended four months later, the regimental headquarters, the 1st Battalion, and the remainder of the 4th Battalion, together with Army units, took part in the hard-fought operations leading to the conquest of the New Georgia group. On 29 August, the regiment left Enogai for Guadalcanal, and on 4 September left the Solomons for Noumea.
Here, on 12 September, the 2d Raider Regiment (Provisional), was activated. Consisting of a regimental headquarters and service company, and the 2d and 3d Raider Battalions, Lieutenant Colonel Alan Shapley's new organization was slated as a reinforcing element of the 3d Marine Division for the Bougainvillea operation. Prior to the assault landing, the division attached the regimental headquarters and the 2d Battalion to the 3d Marines and. the 3d Battalion to the 9th Marines for the campaign.
Both the 1st Raider Regiment on New Georgia and the 2d Regiment on Bougainvillea fought well during their relatively short spans of life. The same may be said about their battalions which fought as independent units before the regiments were formed. But, by the summer of 1943, the siphoning off of trained men both individually and in battalion-sized organizations, as raider and paramarine battalions were activated, proved to be a severe drain on the Marine Corps as a whole and a luxury which it could not afford. Four Marine divisions (three overseas and one Stateside) were then in existence and the activation of a fifth one was in the offing. The American war effort was in full gear at this time and additional manpower was needed for regular Marine Corps ground formations. The center of the argument here is that the weapons and tactics with which they fought were no different from those employed by regular Marine ground troops. As a matter of fact, a certain cycle is apparent when applied to the history of the formation and disbandment of the raider and parachute battalions: special unit, to groups of special units, and a return to regular infantry formations.
The raiders were too small in organization, too lightly armed (initially, their heaviest weapon was the 60mm mortar), and too specialized in T/O and T/E. Unlike the Paramarines, the Raiders did conduct at least one operation of a type for which they had been trained--the raid on Makin. But there was insufficient justification by 1944 for the Marine Corps to maintain special units organized solely to conduct hit-and-run raids. On 26 January, the 2d Raider Regiment (Provisional) was disbanded at Guadalcanal, and the 2d and 3d Raider Battalions were assigned to the 1st Raider Regiment. This unit, in turn, was disbanded on 1 February, when the Headquarters and Service Company and the lst, 3d, and 4th Battalions were designated the regimental headquarters company and the lst, 2d, and 3d Battalions of the 4th Marines. The 2d Raider Battalion became the regimental weapons
company. The new regiment was organized to bear the name and honors of the "old 4th," which fought so gallantly in the Philippines in 1942, and was employed first in the Emirau landing and subsequently as a component of the 1st Marine Brigade in the invasion of Guam. Later, at Okinawa, as an element of the 6th Marine Division, the regiment was in the foremost of the fighting.
Two other World War II Marine Corps organizations of passing interest which were abandoned because of general unsuitability were the barrage balloon and glider squadrons. Late in 1941, the Navy had undertaken a barrage balloon program, which was turned over to the Marine Corps for development because those naval bases not defended by the Army came under the cognizance of the FMF. One of the final steps leading to implementation of the Marine program was the recall to active duty of Major Bernard L. Smith as officer-in-charge of barrage balloon development. Major Smith, a reservist, was a pioneer Marine aviator who had served in World War L On 18 October 1918, he had made the first successful long-distance dirigible flight in the United States, from Akron, Ohio, to Rockaway, New York.
A barrage balloon school was organized at Quantico in April 1941, and later transferred to Parris Island. The long-range goal envisioned a total of 20 balloon squadrons, but in fact by 1943, only five had been organized and sent into the field. The 1st, 3d, 5th, and 6th Barrage Balloon Squadrons were employed at Noumea under the operational control of the Army; the 2d Squadron was at Samoa.
Unfortunately for the time, expense, and effort put into the program, barrage balloons proved to be of little value and hindered rather than supported friendly air operations. In addition, 90mm antiaircraft artillery fire was far more effective in the defense of American installations. On 15 June 1943, in a memorandum to General Marshall, Admiral King stated that a separate Marine Corps barrage balloon program was "an uneconomical use of men and matériel,"79 and recommended that the Army take over the program in order that existing Marine Corps squadrons could be disbanded. General Marshall concurred with the CominCh recommendation, whereupon Admiral King advised the Commandant on 1 July of the decision and directed that all balloon materiel and equipment was to be turned over to the Army.80
By the end of 1943, all of the Marine squadrons had been disbanded, their materiel transferred to the Army, and their personnel absorbed by Marine defense battalions. An interesting sidelight to the story of the barrage balloon program is the fact that one of the three original officers in the program at Quantico was Captain Aquilla J. Dyess, who was later posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism while
leading his infantry battalion at Roi-Namur.
Close upon the heels of the beginning of the balloon program came the inception of the naval aviation troop-carrying glider program, which similarly was to be executed by the Marine Corps. ln 1941, President Roosevelt initiated a revision of existing war plans and goals, which, in essence, increased the size of Marine Corps aviation, among other things, and envisioned four glider groups with a lift capacity of 10,000 Marines.81
The responsibility for developing the glider program was given to the Division of Aviation, Headquarters Marine Corps, and called for extensive planning in the development of gliders, personnel, and training. On 9 July 1942, CominCh approved a CMC letter which recommended that certain Marine battalions, designated as air infantry, be transported by gliders. The establishment of three glider bases was authorized: Eagle Mountain Lake, Texas; Edenton, North Carolina; and Shawnee, Oklahoma. Personnel to man these bases came from Marine Glider Group 71, consisting of Headquarters Squadron 71, Service Squadron 71, and Marine Glider Squadron 711, which was stationed at Parris Island until 15 November 1942. At that time, the group moved to its permanent station, MCAS, Eagle Mountain Lake; the other two bases were never utilized for glider operations. Glider program training ended in March 1943 and the group was disbanded the following June.82
Shortly after the program had begun, the impracticality of Marine Corps employment of gliders was realized. Quite simply, transport-type aircraft were required to haul gliders and the glider-transport combination could not fly in bad weather over long distances, both of which were common in the Pacific. Additionally, as in the case of the Paramarine program, the Marine Corps did not have enough transport planes to support the glider program. These reasons, combined with the island-hopping mission of the Marine Corps in the vast expanses of the Pacific, caused the termination of the glider program after it had reached a strength of 282 Marines and 21 gliders.83
Another Marine Corps program, begun in response to a real wartime need, was the training of dogs for use in combat. On 26 November 1942, the Commandant directed the establishment of "a training program for dogs for military employment when personnel and materiel become available."84 At that time, 20 Marines were being trained by the Army at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, and 4 other Marines were training at Fort Washington, Maryland.
Soon after the War Dog Training Company was organized at New River, the Marine Corps determined that there was little use in tying up the manpower and effort necessary to support the program
unless the use of the dogs contributed directly to killing the enemy and keeping down casualties in units for which the dogs were helping to supply security. Therefore, although at the beginning of the program a certain number of the dogs were trained for guard or sentry duty, as soon as the program was in full operation, the Marine Corps trained only scout and messenger dogs. A 14-week training period was established at Camp Lejeune for both dogs and handlers. Following the completion of each training period, a platoon of 1 officer, 64 Marines, and 36 dogs (18 scout and 18 messenger) was formed. One man was assigned to handle each of the 18 scout dogs, and two handlers were assigned to each of the messenger dogs. Although it was anticipated that a war dog platoon was to be attached to each infantry regiment, in the G-Series T/O the platoon was organic to the division headquarters battalion, from which the dogs and their handlers were to be assigned to frontline units.
The first of its kind to see action in the Marine Corps was the 1st war Dog Platoon, which departed San Diego on 23 June 1943, and landed with the 2d Marine Raider Regiment (Provisional) on Bougainvillea. War dogs participated in the Guam, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa assaults, and they were employed in mopping up operations on Saipan and in the occupation of Japan. Until 11 August 1945, the Marine Corps procured dogs or accepted offers of donations of dogs for combat training. Approximately six days later, the program ended.
The last special unit which deserves a brief mention here is a rocket platoon, which became organic to the Marine division in the G-Series T/O and was placed in headquarters battalion. Early in the war, purely because the United States was late in beginning the development of the weapon, employment of rocket organizations was strictly on a hit-and-miss basis. An IMAC experimental rocket detachment participated in the Bougainvillea operation, but its projectiles were highly inaccurate against small area targets and when fired, the rocket launchers revealed Marine positions.
Four provisional rocket platoons were organized by FMFPac during the war. Each detachment had 12 one-ton trucks mounting M7 rocket launchers which fired the Navy 4.5-inch finned barrage rocket. Lighter installations sometimes supplemented this basic armament. The detachments' capabilities were admirably suited for situations where conventional supporting arms could not do the job, and Marine rocket personnel, dubbed "Buck Rogers Men,"85 were often called upon. The sudden and intense concentration of fire from this weapon was ideal for last-minute preparation of an objective, also, and was often used as a signal for the attack to jump off.86 Ground-fire barrage rockets were effectively employed in this fashion from the invasion of Guam on. Their fires wrought havoc among the enemy both as a destructive and a morale-breaking agent. The appearance
of rocket launchers at the frontlines generally evoked a hail of Japanese fire, but Marines quickly learned to dig in when the rockets were called up, and by the end of the war, the employment of this weapon in difficult situations was commonplace.
In connection with this discussion of rocketry, their use by Marine aircraft is of interest here. A Marine squadron, VMTB-134, flying TBFs claimed the distinction of having fired the first Navy aircraft rocket at the Japanese:
That this squadron carried off the pioneering honors was due to their own enterprise and the ingenuity of a service squadron in locating and installing launchers and securing rockets. The rockets reached the squadron on 8 February 1944. On 15 February, with only 3 days training, the squadron took part in a strike on Rabaul. Despite their lack of experience, they used their rockets with considerable success.87
One of the rockets developed for air delivery and used extensively by Marine aviation was the 5-inch HVAR (High Velocity Aircraft Rocket), which was 6 feet long, weighed 140 pounds, and had a velocity of 1,375 feet per second. This missile first went into use in July 1944.88 Marine pilots also employed the "Tiny Tim," the 11.75-inch rocket that was 12 feet long, weighed approximately 1,200 pounds, and carried a punch that equalled the projectile of a 12-inch naval rifle. These were employed with some success by planes from the carrier Intrepid at Okinawa, but the results could not be completely assessed because "so many things were being thrown at the Japs on Okinawa that it was impossible to distinguish the wreckage caused by 'Tiny Tim' from the general destruction."89
MARINE CORPS AVIATIONPerhaps no other arm of the Services was so profoundly affected by technological advances during the war as aviation, and the air organization of the Marine Corps was no exception. Merely viewing a procession of the types of planes employed by Marine pilots from 7 December to V-E Day supports this statement. The staff agency at Headquarters Marine Corps responsible for supervising the expansion of and supporting the Marine air program throughout world War II was the Division of Aviation.
Previous volumes in this series, especially Volumes II and IV have dealt extensively with Marine Corps air operations in the Pacific fighting. The sections of combat narrative in each of the other three volumes describe in detail the tremendous strides Marine Corps aviation made during the war,
and the valuable support it provided in most of the operations in the Pacific.
Although the 1st and 2d Marine Aircraft Wings had been established nearly six months before the outbreak of the war, only one group in each wing--MAG-11 at Quantico and MAG-21 at Ewa--were operational. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor destroyed all but one of the planes at Ewa. Just prior to 7 December, half of the combat strength of MAG-21 had been sent westward. Eighteen dive bombers of VMSB-231 being ferried on the carrier Lexington to garrison Midway were rerouted to Pearl Harbor, arriving there on 10 December after having been launched from the flattop on the same day. A week later, 17 of the planes made a long over-water flight to their original destination. On Christmas Day, the aircraft complement on Midway was augmented when VMF-221 pilots flew in 14 fighter planes. Throughout the following months, and until the 1st Marine Division landed on Guadalcanal on 7 August 1942, a greater number of Marine pilots and planes entered the Pacific. But at first, the numbers were all too few.
The importance of the relation of aviation to Marine ground tactics was graphically demonstrated at Guadalcanal, where, despite a severe shortage of planes, fuel, and spare parts, the Cactus Air Force--as the first squadrons to be based on Henderson Field were collectively called--devastated the myth of Japanese superiority in the air. Guadalcanal-based pilots flew cover for Allied shipping coming into and anchored off the island, and they also went up to intercept Japanese raids coming from the north. A post-Guadalcanal analysis of its operations states, "The Cactus Air Force performed beyond all proportion to its facilities and equipment. . . ."90
By 8 February 1943, when Guadalcanal was secured, Marine aviation strength on the island had been built up dramatically. No longer were Allied planes content to play a strictly defensive role; they were carrying the battle to enemy air bases elsewhere in the Solomons, and indeed to the heart of Japanese air operations at Rabaul on New Britain. The plane which was to become the basic weapon of Marine fighter pilots in the war appeared over Guadalcanal on 12 February, when VMF-124 flew its gull-winged F4U-1 Vought-Sikorsky "Corsairs" up from Espiritu Santo. This plane not only could fly faster than any aircraft the Japanese possessed, but it could also climb nearly 3,000 feet a minute and had twice the range of the Grumman Wildcats, the Marine fighter planes flown heretofore. With these and other modern aircraft, Marine squadrons claimed a total of more than 2,344 Japanese planes downed in air combat.
There were 120 Marine aces in the war--that is, pilots who had shot down five or more enemy aircraft. Lieutenant Colonel Gregory Boyington, a Medal of Honor winner, was the leading Marine ace with 28 planes to his credit; six of these were downed while he was with the Flying Tigers in China before the United States entered the war. Not available for the record is the amount
of damage accomplished by Flying Leathernecks during their support of ground operations.
It was in this area, Marine air support of Marine ground troops, that close coordination between the Marine air and ground components worked so well and laid the basis for the postwar development of the balanced air-ground task force. Close air support techniques were pioneered during World War II as a result of the close working relationship and cooperation between Marine aviation and ground commanders, and a knowledge of what the requirements of each were. Beginning in the Bougainvillea campaign, and improved upon constantly in each succeeding operation, close air support of ground forces came to be as important as artillery and naval gunfire support, and in many cases was more effective.
The strength and numbers of Marine air organizations, like the ground forces, grew apace with the expanding American war effort. With the capture and occupation of Pacific islands formerly held by the Japanese, Marine squadrons were based on newly built or previously established fields on these islands and became available for a vast number of missions against the enemy. By the war's end, the Marine Corps had activated four aircraft wings in the Pacific, one in the States, a number of training commands, 128 tactical squadrons, and had an aviation strength of 116,628 Marines--of whom 10,049 were pilots. Because of the nature of Marine Corps aviation activities in the course of the war, it is not possible to trace the development of wing and group T/Os in the same manner that the organization of the Marine division and regiment was traced earlier in this. chapter. For one reason, throughout the Pacific War period there was constant development in and manufacture of different types of tactical aircraft, which formed the basis of new tactical squadrons. Therefore, the character and makeup of the wings and groups changed constantly from 1941-1945. The wartime wings were in reality task organizations whose composition depended primarily upon the mission which they had been assigned.
In early 1942, the D-Series T/O for a Marine aircraft wing consisted of a headquarters squadron, an air regulating squadron, an observation-utility group (headquarters squadron, observation squadron, and two utility squadrons), two scout bombing groups (headquarters squadron, service squadron, and four scout bombing squadrons), and two fighter groups (headquarters squadron, service squadron, and four fighter squadrons). A year later, the 1st MAW--with squadrons based on Espiritu Santo, New Caledonia, Guadalcanal, and Efate--consisted of a headquarters squadron, an air depot squadron, an air repair and salvage squadron, an air base squadron, an observation squadron, and four composite aircraft groups in which were fighter, scout bombing, and transport squadrons, as well as the usual headquarters and service squadrons for each of the groups. The makeup of each group was different. And so, throughout the war, the composition and, in fact, the strength of the wings changed in keeping primarily with assigned tactical missions.
Marine air operations in the Pacific War can be divided roughly into several
phases. Encompassed in the first are the operations following Pearl Harbor and leading to Guadalcanal. Included in the second phase is the advance up the Solomons chain and the complete reduction of enemy air power centered in Rabaul, the story of which is found in Volume II, Part V, "Marine Air Against Rabaul." In a third phase, the role played by Marine pilots during the Central Pacific drive and in the Philippines campaign forms Parts IV and V, "Marines in the Philippines" and "Marine Aviation in the Central Pacific," of Volume IV. Finally, "Marine Carrier Air," leads off Part III of this volume. In these many pages are found the outstanding record of achievement of Marine Corps aviation in World War II.
TACTICAL INNOVATIONSParalleling the changes in the composition of the Marine rifle squad was the development of Marine infantry tactics. Some of the senior officers and noncoms landing in the Solomons with the 1st Marine Division had been schooled in jungle fighting during tours of duty in the Caribbean in the 1920s and early 1930s. Most of the rest of the division had participated in one or more of the numerous fleet landing exercises of the prewar era. Prewar concepts and tactics had to be changed, however, when subjected to test in combat.
The combined training and experience of division personnel was sound and proved successful in the initial phases of the Guadalcanal campaign, but more was required of Marines than to defend the division perimeter or to beat off enemy attacks. It would not be enough to patrol the island aggressively in search-and-kill missions. In the final analysis, these were the tactics employed to seize and hold Guadalcanal, but there were other islands to be taken, other Japanese positions to be overcome, and other tactics to be developed.
Japanese bunker defenses encountered on Munda during the New Georgia campaign gave impetus to the development of a new set of ground tactics which emphasized close tank-infantry coordination. In this operation, the Marines provided the tanks, the Army supplied the infantry. At the conclusion of the fighting, Marine and Army commanders submitted a number of recommendations which were aimed at improving tactics, communications, and fire coordination. The experience of New Georgia pointed up the need for the infantry to be supported by heavier tanks and tank-mounted flamethrowers. The light tanks used at that time were not capable of destroying the well-constructed Japanese bunkers.
Training in small-unit tactics against a fortified position paid dividends to the 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, on D-Day at Bougainvillea. The assault wave of the battalion was hit hard by effective fire from an undamaged Japanese 75mm artillery piece, and Marine elements which landed were thoroughly dispersed. Only one infantry company landed on its assigned beach. Rifle groups soon began forming under ranking men, however, and as the fight to extend the beachhead ensued, the Marines became oriented to their location and tactical integrity was restored. The pace of the assault then intensified
While in New Zealand preparing for Bougainvillea, 3d Division training had consisted first of small-unit tactics, and then progressed to battalion and regimental combat team rehearsals. On the lower level, all Marines had been thoroughly briefed on the mission of each assaulting element, and each squad, platoon., and company was made familiar with the mission of adjacent organizations. Additionally, each Marine was given a sketch map of the Cape Torokina shoreline. Because of this sound preinvasion indoctrination, and despite the confused situation on the beach on D-Day, control was regained and "bunker after bunker began to fall to the coordinated and well-executed attacks" of the reformed infantry groups.91
As the Bougainvillea campaign progressed and after three major engagements with the enemy, 3d Division Marines became as adept at jungle fighting as the veterans of Guadalcanal. The Marines on the Northern Solomons island learned to take cover quickly and quietly when attacked and learned to employ their supporting arms effectively.
The 3d Division developed a formation it called "contact imminent," which was employed for an approach march through the jungle to enemy positions. This formation, ensuring a steady and controlled advance, had several variations. Basically, it consisted of a march column of units which had flank guards deployed to cover the widest possible front under existing conditions of visual or physical contact. The formation was spearheaded by a security patrol and avoided all trails. Control was maintained by means of telephone wire which was unrolled at the head of the column and reeled in again at the tail. Upon stopping or at the time of contact with the enemy, unit and supporting arms commanders clipped their hand-carried sound-powered telephones into the lines and were in instant communication with the formation commander. The officer at the head of the main body controlled the speed and direction of the column.
Experience at Bougainvillea demonstrated that a command employing the "contact imminent" formation could expect to move at a rate of 500 yards per hour through swamps--and Bougainvillea had swamps aplenty inland of the beachhead. It was also discovered that a unit in this formation could fend off small enemy attacks without a delay in forward movement. At the same time, the formation was flexible enough to permit the commander to deploy his troops for immediate combat on the flanks, in the front, or at the rear.
By the end of the Bougainvillea campaign, 3d Division Marines had amassed a bookful of lessons learned in combat which, together with the experiences gained by others in previous operations, would profit Marines assigned to the Pacific area when they entered combat. Bougainvillea proved, as did Guadalcanal and New Georgia earlier, that with few exceptions, jungle tactics were based simply on common sense applied to standard tactical principles and methods generally employed in tropical terrain and vegetation. Although it was difficult
to maintain troop control in the jungle, the "contact imminent" formation proved eminently sound. Another lesson of Bougainvillea was that, like in the "Banana Wars" of Central America, rapid-fire weapons were' most suitable for jungle fighting; the light machine gun was particularly favored because of its rapid rate of fire, mobility, and low silhouette.
Less than two months after the Bougainvillea D-Day, Major General William H. Rupertus' 1st Marine Division landed on New Britain at Cape Gloucester, which was the last major Marine ground operation in the Southwest Pacific area. The terrain on New Britain for the most part was very similar to that found on Bougainvillea. Jungle, swamps, and unknown and unforeseen heights abounded. The tactics the Marines employed here, therefore, were the "book" tactics for jungle warfare, with basic techniques refined by these now combat-wise veterans. General Rupertus' men maintained excellent night fire discipline and patrolled aggressively throughout the campaign. In essence, they successfully employed tactics which had once been the exclusive province of the enemy in the Pacific; the tables had been turned. Marines captured enemy weapons and used them expertly against their former owners. Again, as before, small-unit leaders were capable of independent action in "brush-choked terrain, where the bitterest fighting was often done at close range with an unseen enemy."92
While fighting on Bougainvillea was underway and before it had started in New Britain, Marines opened the Central Pacific campaign with the invasion of Tarawa, where Marines met a determined enemy well ensconced in heavily fortified defenses. An overall evaluation of the Tarawa operation called this "a battle where perseverance dominated over adversity, where individual courage and collective know-how defeated a strong Japanese garrison on its own ground and in its own positions."93
A post-operation analysis determined what factors militated for success on Tarawa. In this context, both 2d Division engineers and tankmen praised the preinvasion training they had received in coordinating their employment of demolitions, flamethrowers, and firepower in knocking out the coconut palm log, coral, and concrete bunkers and pillboxes.
Tarawa served as a bloody testing ground where valuable lessons were learned for storming a heavily defended beach. It was found that in their training for future combat commitment% the Marine divisions had to emphasize more thorough coordination of tanks, artillery, flamethrowers, demolitions, and riflemen in isolating and overrunning strong Japanese defenses. A further conclusion based on the Tarawa experience was that all Marines, regardless of their specialties, had to be taught something about the use of demolitions. Up to that point, explosives had been employed almost exclusively by combat engineers.
The lessons of Tarawa were absorbed at Camp Pendleton by the 4th Marine Division, which was forming and training for its impending assault of the islands of Kwajalein Atoll. Great stress in the training phase was placed on the destruction of pillboxes. To achieve this, the infantry regiments organized two types of assault demolition teams--each numbering about 20 men--for use against these and other fortified positions. Both teams contained demolitions, bazookas and BAR groups, but the nucleus of the first was a flamethrower, and the second was built around a light machine gun. The 4th Division selected infantrymen from all of the assault units for special demolitions training and to act as demolition men in the above-mentioned teams. They were, in fact, to take the place of combat engineers in this formation and elsewhere, whenever necessary.
The success of this training was emphasized at Roi-Namur and the other islets of Kwajalein. At the end of this operation, the VAC commander, General Holland Smith, made the following comments, which could have applied equally to subsequent campaigns:
The technique of the infantry-tank teams pushing rapidly forward, closely followed by demolition and flame thrower teams is concurred in by this Headquarters as sound. However, emphasis is placed on the fact that it must be a continuous movement in which light enemy resistance is neutralized and bypassed by the forward elements of the infantry-tank teams, then the supporting elements of the infantry equipped with demolitions and flame throwers reduced these isolated enemy positions before they can recover and fire on the rear of our troops moving forward.
This technique is particularly effective in searching out the real strongpoints and thereby avoiding holding up the attack by weak and scattered resistance. When a strongpoint is encountered, the infantry- tank team and demolition-flame thrower team become integrated and operate together until the strong point is reduced.
In reducing a strong point, emphasis must be also placed upon the value of supporting fires from air, naval gunfire and artillery. Field artillery continues to be the most reliable and effective weapon for neutralization purposes in close support of infantry. Proper use of supporting fires in reducing strong points calls for the artillery-infantry-tank team to be closely coordinated. The greatest neutralization value is gained by the infantry and tanks moving quickly into the neutralized area as artillery fires lift. The closer the advance behind our own neutralization fires the more the benefit derived from the neutralization. Team work, involving firing, must be practiced in training periods to develop thoroughly the use of combined arms.94
In a personal letter to the Commandant, General Smith more vividly described the Kwajalein battle:
The fighting on Namur was fierce. Heavy underbrush filled with Japs throughout the entire back area. The [enemy] had concrete tunnels connecting their pill boxes, and in addition trenches dug at the base of trees running zigzag across the entire island. The 24th [Marines] had to dig them out with hand grenades, flame throwers, and bayonets.95
The refinement of existing tactics rather than the development of new ones marked the Saipan operation,
where the technique of tank-infantry coordination was improved. Although artillery served admirably as a supporting arm, the fighting in the Pacific demonstrated the "need for a weapon which could operate closer to the infantry, a weapon which the infantry could direct and control, and from this came the tank-infantry team."96
Standard infantry arm and hand signals and radio communication were employed whenever infantry and armor worked together. Neither was a satisfactory link, however, and at Arawe, 1st Tank Battalion personnel installed field telephones at the rear of their light tanks through which the riflemen could contact the tank commanders. "The improvement in tank-infantry cooperation was immediate, and the innovation proved to be sound enough to have a permanent part in armored support tactics."97
Tank-infantry cooperation was based on a mutuality of needs. The tanks had the crushing ability and firepower which, under optimum conditions, provided excellent support to the infantry. On the other hand, in the midst of battle, the tank, a large lumbering vehicle, was a target which the enemy could hardly expect to miss, and, in fact, often hit. Under most combat conditions, the tanks were tightly buttoned up and vulnerable because the vision of the tankers inside was restricted to a very great degree. The infantry, therefore, was responsible for protecting the tank from suicide-inclined Japanese who threatened to blow up both tanks and themselves. As the eyes and ears of the tank, the infantry was also responsible for designating suitable targets for the guns of the armored vehicle and directing its fire.
The tank-infantry concept reached full maturity at Saipan. Not only because of earlier experiments but because the terrain here was more suited for armored operations. Infantry-tank coordination was excellent at Tinian. "Indeed, much of the operation took on the properties of a tank-infantry sweep."98 There were few tank losses here primarily because enemy antitank fire was ineffective, and also because the most dangerous antitank weapon, the magnetic mine, was offset by a Marine technique used first at Roi-Namur, later employed in the Marianas, and nearly perfected at Iwo and Okinawa. This simple field expedient merely consisted of covering the flat areas of the most vulnerable surfaces of the tank with oak planking.99
Each infantry regiment on Tinian was assigned one reinforced company of 18 medium tanks plus a platoon of four flamethrower tanks and two light tanks. Throughout this operation, these tank companies supported the same infantry units to which they had originally been assigned. This led to constantly improving tank-infantry tactics.
As at Tarawa, the only infantry tactics feasible at Peleliu were those
employed by determined flamethrower, demolition, and infantry assault teams. The Japanese had fully utilized the terrain on the island to their advantage. It has been said of enemy defenses on Peleliu that "never before in the Pacific War had the Japanese displayed greater resourcefulness or exploited their capabilities more successfully."100
To overcome these nearly impregnable defenses, 1st Marine Division troops employed their bazookas, portable flamethrowers, and demolitions with savage expertise. When afforded profitable targets, artillery supported the infantry. Tank-infantry tactics proved satisfactory, but only on level ground where the tanks could maneuver.
General Rupertus, the commander of the 1st Marine Division, noted after Peleliu that portable flamethrowers were not at first employed satisfactorily because the infantry did not receive them until immediately before embarking for the target area. The 1st Division commander commented favorably on the results achieved by the Ronson flamethrower, but added that he believed it should not be mounted on the LVT. Instead Rupertus thought that the General Grant tank would prove a more suitable platform. The Grant mounted a 75mm gun on its right side and in a power turret on top, a 37mm gun and a .30 caliber machine gun. General Rupertus recommended that:
The 37mm gun . . . could be removed and the Navy flame-thrower installed therein; you would still have the 75mm gun available. . . . If in addition to such installation a bulldozer blade were made part of the tank you would have one of the finest weapons possible for this mopping up of caves, pillboxes and blockhouses that you could devise.101
For the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, the Marine divisions had dozer and flamethrower tanks.
But these tools of war were not available to Captain George P. Hunt's Company K, 3/1, at Peleliu on D-Day, when it landed on White Beach, the extreme left of the 1st Marine Division beachhead. Hunt's Marines encountered here a classic Japanese defense, set in:
. . . solid, jagged coral, a rocky mass of sharp pinnacles, deep crevasses, tremendous boulders, Pillboxes, reinforced with steel and concrete, had been dug or blasted in the base of the perpendicular drop to the beach. Others, with coral and concrete piled six feet on top were constructed above, and spider holes were blasted around them for protecting infantry. It surpassed by far anything we had conceived of when we studied the aerial photographs.102
It was such a narrow thing that at one stage during the first nigh~ Hunt was holding the point with 18 men and depending heavily on a captured Japanese machine gun to stave off annihilation. Later it proved possible to send in reinforcements and needed supplies by LVTS, and Hunt was able to attack and overcome the enemy position.
After the Peleliu operation, Hunt was returned to Quantico to instruct a course in the rifle company in the attack. With the cooperation of Colonel Lewis
W. Alt, "in charge of the attack division" at the Marine Corps Schools, a problem was designed and entitled "Assault of a Fortified Position," based on the experiences of Company K on White Beach, for use in the course of instruction at the Schools. The exact layout and construction of Japanese defenses were reconstituted for this problem. "Later Colonel Walt added the lake and amphibious craft," which gave additional realism to students and visitors alike whenever this particular problem was demonstrated.103 For a number of years thereafter, "Assault of a Fortified Position" was a highlight and necessary ingredient in the education of young lieutenants at the Basic School.
Iwo Jima confronted invading Marines with defenses and an enemy opposition which were in many ways very much like those encountered in the Gilberts, Marshalls, and Palau Islands. The objective was relatively small in comparison with those in the Marianas. At Iwo, defensive weapons and installations were mutually supporting and thoroughly fortified. Their destruction depended upon closely coordinated teamwork by Marine infantry and supporting arms.
The hard-working infantry, as usual, was called on to perform this mission in the face of murderous enemy fire. Marine tactics generally employed upon meeting a strongpoint were these: a "pin up" team consisting of a bazooka, two BARs, and an M-1 rifle would direct a heavy volume of fire on the target. When the Japanese were subjected to this base of fire, the demolition teams would move in for the kill. One such team might be armed with several sections of bangalore torpedoes, and such other explosives as pole, satchel, and shaped charges.104 The other team would have two flamethrowers and their operators, which in turn were protected by two riflemen. In the end, the application of these tactics, which were graphically but aptly described at Okinawa as the "corkscrew and blowtorch" method by General Buckner, was enough to destroy
even the most steadfastly held Japanese defensive position.
It was tactics such as these which moved Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal, who was present and an observer at Iwo Jima, to express great admiration "for the guy who walks up beaches and take enemy positions with a rifle and grenades or his bare hands."105 Mr. Forrestal gave an exaggerated description, of course, of how Marine infantry overcame General Kuribayashi's island fortress, but the Secretary of the Navy was not far off the mark.
Okinawa was the ultimate amphibious assault landing in the Pacific War, and the ultimate weapon here was the infantryman and his supporting arms. The most complete employment of tank-infantry tactics perhaps best characterizes the nature of the fighting on Okinawa. In the rapid drive north which led to the decisive and successful battle for Motobu Peninsula, 6th Division Marines rode the tanks which later provided fire support in the heavy fighting to rid northern Okinawa of the Japanese. But it was in the southern portion of the island, both on level ground and in cave-studded draws that the development of the tank-infantry team reached a climax.
In both the 1st and 6th Marine Division% tanks functioned as a major direct-fire, close-support weapon. At all times, IIIAC tanks operated within the limit of observation and control of the infantry. Generally depending upon the tactical situation, tank-infantry teams were employed in one of two ways on Okinawa. In the first instance, following the neutralization of an objective by supporting fires, the ground troops--preceded by Shermans--advanced to secure the area. This type of attack proved successful only against ground lightly defended by the enemy. In cases where there were heavy and well dug-in Japanese positions, the pre-attack preparation had a temporary effect only, and when American forces were on or near the objective, the enemy would level furious fire on the attackers, pinning them down and prohibiting their movement forwards or backwards.
A second method was widely employed in southern Okinawa. Prior to a general tank-infantry advance, the Shermans--protected by fire teams--delivered close-range direct fire on caves, bunkers, and tomb emplacements in the path of the assault. Tanks and armored flamethrowers ranged out ahead of the front lines to distances up to 800 yards, systematically destroying enemy positions on forward and reverse slopes by putting point-blank 75mm fire and flame right into cave mouths and embrasures. In the fighting for Sugar Loaf, tanks were emplaced in hull defilade firing positions at the front to deliver flat trajectory fire into enemy lines opposite. Of proven worth in the tank-infantry attacks were the M-75 with their 105mm guns. These vehicles served admirably as siege guns and were the most powerful organic weapon in the infantry regiment. Like the tanks, the M-75 could and did roll right up to the face of Japanese emplacements to deliver their fire.
Peculiar to the terrain of Okinawa is a series of sharp, rocky coral ridges
which the enemy defended with skill and ferocity against all attackers. These ridges form the precipitous walls of valleys, upon the floors of which were emplaced mutually supported weapons, concealed in caves, and sited for murderous crossfire. The entrances to the valleys were very often mined to discourage tank operations. Usually, the cave positions enfiladed any advance in the open space leading to the valleys. In most cases, the caves were so high on the cliff faces that the infantry was unable to close to assault them.
As demonstrated by the fighting for the Awacha Pocket and later at both Dakeshi and Wana Ridges, the maneuver of Marine forces was restricted by the funneling influence of the ever-narrowing cliffs. This, in effect, forced the infantry to mount what generally became a frontal attack, "a slugging match with but temporary and limited opportunity to maneuver."106
Born of the necessity for reducing Japanese emplacements in the areas just named, the Marines devised a suitable tactic employing all arms organic and available to the infantry. According to this solution, it was important for attack elements first to take the high ground, from where they could support a methodical cleaning out of the draws and valleys below by tank-infantry-flamethrower-demolitions teams. Once a ridge position had been secured, combat engineers cleared mines from the entrances of the valleys. From the ridgetops, all supporting arms were called upon to place as much fire as possible on the valley walls. Closely following this fire, the tank-infantry teams started into the pocket, working both sides of the valley simultaneously to prevent the numerous enemy positions from supporting each other. "Each cave position is attacked by fire until neutralized, then burned out with flamethrowers, and eventually sealed by demolitions."107
It may be clearly seen from this brief exposition on the evolution of Marine infantry tactics in the war that the way of the Marine infantryman in no way became safer, although his path was made easier as new methods and deadlier weapons became his. This in no way mitigates the fact that under any condition infantry combat simply is a dirty and hard business, where training, discipline, and courage earn dividends.
SPIRITUAL AND MEDICAL SERVICESThe most important thing that can be said about chaplains, doctors, and corpsmen in any war is that they were "there," and that they were there with the troops when they were needed. The services performed by these naval personnel in Marine Corps uniforms have been praised by generals and privates alike. The members of the Navy Corps of Chaplains and Medical and Dental Corps ministered to the spiritual and physical needs of all ranks and religions under all conditions. Although unarmed, they were sub jetted to the same rigors and discomforts in combat as Marine assault troops.
Early in World War II, the Navy Chaplains Division established the policy of assigning a Protestant and a Catholic chaplain to each Marine regiment, and six other chaplains to serve the other units in the division. This complement of chaplains in each division came to a total of 16 with the addition of a Division Chaplain and his assistant, a Jewish chaplain who ministered to the Marines of his faith throughout the division.108
Like the Marines to whom they had been assigned, Navy chaplains often landed with the assault waves. In the midst of the fighting, they would go from man to man, giving aid and comfort as best they could, and assisting the doctors and corpsmen in treating the wounded. It made no difference what faith a chaplain represented, for he had learned a cardinal rule when first entering the Chaplain's School: "Cooperation with Compromise."109 Therefore, it was not unusual for a Protestant chaplain to counsel or comfort a serviceman of another religion, or for a fellow chaplain of another persuasion to do the same for a Protestant, a Catholic, or a Jew. As soon as the combat situation permitted, chaplains held divine services, very often within the range of enemy guns. Several times during the war, a major religious holiday occurred after a combat operation had begun. Such was the case at Peleliu, where the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashonah, fell when the fighting was heaviest. But by' Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is the holiest of all Jewish religious observances, conditions were fairly secure at the beach area. Of this holiday on Peleliu, Rabbi Edgar E. Siskin, the Jewish chaplain of the 1st Marine Division, wrote afterwards:
We held services in the morning in the Division CP area. Word had got around somehow and the boys drifted in from all parts of the island. Some had come from lines where fighting was still going on. They straggled in--bearded, dirty, carrying their weapons. The altar rigged by Chaplain Murphy, Division Chaplain, was improvised out of ammunition boxes, and was covered over by a length of captured Japanese silk. Over this we draped our Ten Commandments Banner. The symbolism of this act was not lost to our small congregation.
And there we were--72 men--praying, chanting the old Yom Kippur mode, summoned by a call heard above the tumult of battle. There we were not 200 yards from a ridge still held by the Japs, within range of sniper and mortar fire. And throughout the service the artillery kept up a shattering fire overhead. . . . This Yom Kippur no service anywhere, I dare say, surpassed in the significance ours, for all its makeshift appointments and bedraggled worshippers.110
It was commonplace in the experience of all chaplains who served with Marines to have held religious services in a combat area while the guns were still firing. Innumerable Catholic masses and Protestant observances were held on the hood of a jeep, which served as an altar, and many confessions could not be heard over the sound of firing,
although they were being whispered directly into the ears of confessors.
Naval Medical Corps personnel played no less an important role in their support of Marine Corps assault units than the chaplains. Unless one has been in combat and has heard the anguished cry of "Corpsman ! Corpsman !" above the din of battle, much of what Navy doctors and hospital corpsmen do in combat is diminished greatly in telling. And unless one has himself been wounded in combat, treated where he has fallen, and evacuated under fire, it is even more difficult to convey the feeling of blessed relief experienced by a casualty who knows the tender care and expert treatment he is soon to receive. It was important for combat troops to know that, if they were unfortunate enough to become wounded in action, they would not have to wait long before they received medical assistance.
With but few variations, the operations of medical units in amphibious assault landings generally remained the same throughout the war. At the time that a division operation plan was prepared, the medical annex to the administrative plan was written and published. In this document were the basic instructions for the employment of medical units in the impending assault. In the ship-to-shore movement, medical personnel landed in approximately the same wave as the headquarters of the unit to which they were attached. Company corpsmen sometimes were assigned to individual rifle platoons. Medical officers were never assigned below the battalion level and remained at their respective aid stations during combat. Shore party medical personnel and the collecting station group landed as soon as possible after the shore party command group. Whenever the tactical situation permitted, the hospital section, medical battalion, and malaria control unit were sent ashore. The normal chain of evacuation of a casualty was through the battalion aid station via the regimental aid station to the beach, and from here to an attack transport, a hospital ship, or the division or corps hospital. "The first link in the elaborate chain of care established by the Medical Department" was formed by the infantry company aid men who landed with and closely followed the assault wave.111 The respectful disposition of the remains of both friendly and enemy dead was an important element in this chain of care.
Battalion aid stations were set up behind the units they supported at a distance in relation to the size of the beachhead and the depth to which it had been extended. Here, they could give more complete treatment than that available in the midst of the fighting. These aid stations moved forward progressively in pace with the rate of the advance.
The advance element of the medical company, the collecting party, landed soon after the aid station was set up and in operation. With its ambulance jeeps, the collecting parties went forward to the company aid areas to evacuate the wounded to either the battalion aid stations or the beach, where landing craft carried the casualties to transports and
hospital ships offshore. As soon as the airfield on an objective had been seized and put into operation, transport planes flew in to evacuate casualties to hospitals in the rear areas or to the United States. On Okinawa, the artillery spotting planes were pressed into service to fly Marine casualties to field hospitals north of the fighting.
The use of LSTs for casualty handling and evacuation was developed early in the South Pacific campaigns. Designated LST(H)s and staffed with surgical teams from rear echelons for each operation, these vessels became an important link in the chain of evacuation. In the Central Pacific fighting and until the Iwo Jima and Okinawa operations, there was a shortage of LSTs for this purpose, but their availability at these later landings proved ideal for giving early care when further evacuation was impossible.
The heroism of medical personnel under fire in combat has been well chronicled in almost every action report submitted during the Pacific fighting. During the early phases of the Saipan assault, for instance, the beach was shelled continuously and had become a scene best described as one of extreme confusion. Into this inferno landed the medical section of the beach parties. "Working for as long as 48 hours at a time without rest . . ., they gave emergency medical treatment and set up casualty evacuation stations in the sand. . . . From these stations, the company aid men went out to administer first aid exposing themselves to enemy fire in order to reach the wounded."112
These gallant efforts resulted in a high casualty rate amongst hospital corpsmen. Iwo Jima, like other Marine assault operations, was no less costly in the loss of medical personnel. In the 4th Division alone, the casualty rate among corpsmen was 38 percent.113
On all combat operations, the work of dental officers and technicians was invaluable. In addition to carrying out their regular duties, dental officers also assisted in the sick bays and operating rooms. They often relieved the medical officers of routine functions, gave anesthesia, and aided in identifying the dead. Dental surgeons were also trained "to work as a team with otorhinolaryngologists in treating gunshot wounds of the jaws and face."114
Proof of the devotion to duty and professionalism of Navy Medical Corps personnel is exhibited by the numerous lives they saved, the high proportion of casualties they sustained, and the number of decorations they were awarded. All seven Medals of Honor given to members of the Medical Corps went to company aid men serving with the FMF. In addition, 69 Navy Crosses and 486 Silver Stars, plus numerous lesser combat decorations, were awarded the doctors, dentists, hospital corpsmen, and dental technicians.115
TAPSIn the final analysis, battles are not won by machines, but by men filled with the zest of life and imbued with a sense of discipline and a willingness to sacrifice
self for others. The Marine Corps campaigns of the Pacific War came to symbolize the courage and offensive spirit that brought victory to this nation in World War II. In these battles, 80 Marines won the Medal of Honor "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" at the risk of their lives "above and beyond the call of duty"; 48 of these men were given posthumous awards. A total of 957 Navy Crosses were presented other Marines for heroism in the same actions. That these decorations and American victory were not won easily is evident by the following World War II Marine casualty statistics:
Killed in action 15,161 Died of wounds 3,259 Captured and died 268 Missing, presumed dead 795 Prisoner of war, presumed dead 250 Non-battle casualties in a combat zone 4,778 Wounded in action 67,207 Total 11691,718
The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetery exemplifies the sacrifice of every American who gave his life in battle for his country. Perhaps no words that have been said here in eulogy to our fallen heroes are as meaningful to the living as those lines written many years ago by the English author John Donne in "For Whom the Bell Tolls":
Any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved
in mankind . . .
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (VI-1) * Next Appendix (A)
1. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this chapter is derived from: CMC Rpts, 1940-1945; USMC Admin Hist; Condit, Diamond, and Turnbladh, Marine Corps Training; Hough, Ludwig, and Shaw, Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal; Isely and Growl, Marines and Amphibious War; Shaw and Kane, Isolation of Rabaul.
[See also: Administration of the Navy Department in World War II, Chapter 14, "The United States Marine Corps".]
2. On 24 February 1945, the designations M-1, M-2, etc., were changed to the more common G-1, G-2, etc
3. CMC Rpts, 1941, 1942.
4. Gen O.P. Smith ltr to Hd, HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, dtd 3May66.
5. G-3 OpD, Dec42, p. 36.
6. 5th MarDiv SAR, Iwo Jima Operation, 19Feb-26Mar45, dtd 28Apr45, Anx R (27th Mar).
7. CTF 56 Rpt on FORAGER, dtd 2Oct44, encl F (G-1).
8. MajGen Oscar R. Cauldwell ltr to CMC, dtd 27Feb56.
9. USSBS, Summary Report (Pacific War) (GPO, 1946), p. 31.
10. LtGen Victor H. Krulak ltr to ACofS, G-3, HQMC, dtd 4Dec65.
11. General Omar Bradley spoke of this in A Soldier's Story (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1951), p. 33, when he related the intelligence gap to his experiences as an Army officer and said "The American army's long neglect of intelligence training was soon reflected by the ineptness of our initial undertakings . . . Misfits frequently found themselves assigned to intelligence duties. And in some stations G-2 became a dumping ground for officers ill suited to line command . . . Had it not been for the uniquely qualified reservists who so capably filled so many of our intelligence jobs throughout the war, the army would have found itself badly pressed for competent intelligence personnel." In this context, it should be noted that Lieutenant Colonel Edmond J. Buckley, mentioned on page 686, was a Marine Corps reserve officer.
12. Col Edmond J. Buckley interview by HistDiv, HQMC, dtd 3Ju147. (Guadalcanal Comment File).
13. Ibid. According to Lieutenant General Louis E. Woods, Cactus Air Force commander after 7 November 1942, Marine aviation on Guadalcanal also suffered an intelligence gap, for "I received very little pertinent intelligence information from the 1st Division Headquarters. However, I did receive the information about the big Japanese invasion force directly from General Vandegrift in time to have some fighter planes flown in prior to the [enemy] November 13-15th landing." LtGen Louis E. Woods ltr to Hd, HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, dtd 18May66, hereafter Woods ltr 1966.
14. G-2 Sec, Div P&P, OpD, 7Dec41-31Dec44, p. 3.
15. Ibid., p. 4.
16. Concerning this particular matter, General Thomas recalled that in 1941 General Holcomb told his: "If you said, 'I want an offensive outfit,' the politicians would say ,'No sir, you want to fight a war.' But if you said, 'I want a defensive outfit and I want to defend this country,' you could get men and we got men for defense battalions and we got them just that way because they were going to a defensive outfit and we were going to defend this area." Gen Gerald C. Thomas interview by HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, dtd 26Sep66 (Oral History Collection, HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC).
17. CMC Rpt, 1940.
18. G-3 OpD, Dec41.
19. G-3 OpD, May42.
20. Condit, Diamond, and Turnbladh, Marine Corps Training, p. 88.
21. Gen Gerald C. Thomas interview by HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, dtd 26Sep66 (Oral History Collection, HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC).
24. LtGen Pedro A. del Valle ltr to Hd, HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, dtd 13Apr66, hereafter Del Valle ltr 1966.
26. LtGen Pedro A. del Valle interview by HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, dtd 17Nov66 (Oral History Collection, HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC).
28. del Valle ltr 1966.
29. The Service and Supply Company consisted of a company headquarters and a service platoon. The latter was comprised of a platoon headquarters and service and supply, bakery, commissary, post exchange, chemical services, salvage, and bath sections.
30. Each company consisted of a company headquarters and an assault and an engineer platoon.
31. There were a company headquarters and three pioneer platoons in each company
32. The versatility of the Seabees is reflected by the composition of each construction company, which had: a maintenance and operations platoon, two construction platoons, a road blasting and excavation platoon, a waterfront platoon, and a tanks, steel, and pipe platoon.
33. The regimental weapons company consisted of a company headquarters, a 75mm gun platoon, and an antiaircraft and antitank platoon.
34. The battalion weapons company consisted of a company headquarters, a 20mm antiaircraft and antitank platoon, an 81mm mortar platoon, and three machine gun platoons. The D-Series Tables of Equipment (T/E) specified that when the 20mm dual-purpose gun was not available, the 37mm gun was to be substituted, which was fortunate, for the Marines employed this weapon with good effect throughout the war.
35. Each rifle company had a company headquarters, a weapons platoon (consisting of a 60mm mortar section and a light machine gun section), and three rifle platoons. The rifle platoon was broken down into a platoon headquarters, a BAR squad, and three rifle squads.
36. See App I, "Comparison of Organization, Marine Division," for a tabular representation of the composition of the four World War II T/Os for a Marine infantry division
37. See App J, "Comparison of Equipment, Marine Division."
38. See Hough, Ludwig, and Shaw, Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal, p. 319n(5).
39. See App K, pt 1, "World War II Development of the Marine Infantry Regiment."
40. See App J.
41. Apparently only the rifle grenadiers were to be armed with the '03 since the division was equipped with an equal number of grenade launchers in this T/E.
42. Shaw and Kane, Isolation of Rabaul, p. 307.
43. Mr. George C. MacGillivray comments to HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, dtd 7Feb66, hereafter MacGillivray Comments. Mr. MacGillivray was a crewman of a 37mm gun team with Weapons Company, 7th Marines, in the operations on Guadalcanal and Cape Gloucester.
44. 2dLt Lee M. Holmes, "The Birth of the Fire Team," Marine Corps Gazette, v. 36, no. 11 (Nov52), p. 21, hereafter Holmes, "The Fire Team."
45. Gen Wallace M. Greene, Jr., "Shanghai 1937," Marine Corps Gazette, v. 49, no. 11 (Nov65) , p. 63.
47. Col Robert T. Vance ltr to 2dLt Lee M. Holmes, n.d., cited in Holmes, "The Fire Team," p. 22, It should be noted that the term "fire team" did not officially appear until the F-Series T/O was published in 1944.
48. Maj Evans F. Carlson ltr to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, dtd 2Mar42 (NARS, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y.), hereafter Carlson ltr.
49. LtCols John J. Cosgrove, Aquilla J. Dyess, and Homer L. Litzenberg, Jr., ltr to CO, 24th Mar, dtd 2Aug43.
50. CG, 4th MarDiv ltr to CMC, dtd 23Sep43, and CG, FMF, San Diego Area, 1st End to same, dtd 30Sep43.
51. CMC ltr to CMCS, dtd 140ct43, Subj: Employment of the Rifle Squad; CMCS Ltr to LtCol Samuel B. Griffith, II, dtd 15Dec43, Subj: Board of Officers.
52. LtCol Samuel B. Griffith, II, ltr to CMCS, dtd 7Jan44, Subj: Report of Board of officers relative to experiments conducted with a rifle squad organized into groups.
53. Extracts of CO, 1st Raider Bn ltr to CO, 1st Mar, dtd 17Sep43, Subj: Organization of Marine Raider Companies, encl (A) to Ibid.
55. CMCS ltr to CMC, dtd 10Jan44, Subj: Employment of the Rifle Squad; CMC Ltr to CMCS, dtd 17Jan44, Subj: Employment of the Rifle Squad.
56. LtCol Victor H. Krulak memo AO-644-gg for M-3, dtd 13Jan44.
57. MCTrngBul No. 101, dtd 29Mar44, Subj: Rifle Squad, T/O F-1, approved 27Mar44.
58. Ibid. Apparently the matter of control of troops in a combat situation was uppermost in the minds of Marine planners when they adopted the fire team concept. Regarding this, General Gerald C. Thomas, Director of Plans and Policies at that time, has written: "The fire team leader should not take his place in the firing line, but stay in [the] rear to control his fire team. We went to this squad because a leader could not control seven men in combat, so, we certainly would not expect him to control twelve," Gen Gerald C. Thomas memo to Hd, HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, dtd 26Apr66.
59. Garand and Strobridge, "Western Pacific Operations," MS, pt III, chap 8, p. 61. [p. 271 in published volume.]
60. MacGillivray comments.
61. LtCol George Janiszewski comments to HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, dtd 8Feb66. LtCol Janiszewski served as an enlisted Marine in the 75mm Gun Platoon, Weapons Company, 7th Marines, on Guadalcanal.
62. LtCol Frank O. Hough and Maj John A. Crown, The Campaign on New Britain (Washington: HistBr, HQMC, 1952), p. 22.
63. The 1st Marine Division's tank battalion on Okinawa, however, retained its M4A2 tanks, which had welded hulls and were equipped with diesel motors. "LtCol [Arthur J.] 'Jeb' Stuart's fight to keep these instead of accepting the gasoline driven ones was carried by me all the way back to Pearl Harbor before the Okinawa landing. In my opinion, considering all factors, this feature helped keep casualties [among tank battalion personnel] to a minimum. The [tanks] were not so easily set on fire and blown up under enemy fire. We salvaged many using a 4.2 mortar smoke barrage and a tow tank under fire." del Valle ltr 1966.
64. 1stLt Lewis Meyers, "Tactical Use of Flame," Marine Corps Gazette, v. 29, no. 11 (Nov45), p. 20, hereafter Meyers, "Tactical Use of Flame."
65. Casualties among flamethrower operators were especially high in proportion to their numbers because of the nature of the tactics in which they and their weapons were employed in the assault of fortified positions. Also, the weight of the loaded flamethrower, and its high silhouette combined to make the operator particularly vulnerable to enemy fire.
66. VAdm Harry W. Hill Ltr to Dr. Jeter A. Isely, dtd 15Jun49, cited in Isely and Crowl, Marines and Amphibious War, p. 364. Commenting on this matter, General Woods has written: "Marine aviation did much experimenting with napalm, mixes, etc., in the Marshall Islands prior to Tinian, and much of it was dropped on Japs in bypassed islands." Woods ltr 1966.
67. Meyers, "Tactical Use of Flame," p. 21.
68. VAC G-4 SAR, Iwo Jima, dtd 30Apr45, p. 45.
69. Col Frank C. Caldwell comments to HistBr, dtd 15Feb66. Colonel Caldwell, a former Paramarine, was the commander of Company F, 26th Marines, on Iwo Jima.
70. "Any such organization, as was the British Commandos, is suitable only for minimal counter-offensive [action] pending the time when the offensive is resumed. Their operational use was limited by their organization and equipment." del Valle ltr 1966.
71. Carlson ltr.
72. LtCol Don P. Wyckoff, "Super Soldiers," Marine Corps Gazette, v, 47, no, 11 (Nov63), p. 24.
73. FAdm Chester W. Nimitz ltr to ACofS, G-3, dtd 10Mar57. On 28 May 1942, however, Admiral Nimitz proposed to General MacArthur that the 1st Raider Battalion, then at Tutuila, be employed to raid Tulagi, which the Japanese had captured on 3 May.
74. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ltr to Maj Evans F. Carlson, dtd 12Mar42 (NARS, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y.).
75. Evans F. Carlson, The Chinese Army: Its Organization and Military Efficiency (New York: Institute of Pacific Relations, 1940); same author, Twin Stars of China (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1940).
76. Dr. Elizabeth B. Drewry, Dir, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N. Y., ltr to Hd, HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, dtd 8Mar66.
77. 2/5 moved to Guadalcanal on 21 August.
78. Nine of the Marine casualties were raiders who had been tragically left behind and later captured when the rest of the Carlson force withdrew under most difficult circumstances. See Appendix A, "Marine POWs," infra., for an account of the fate of these men.
79. CominCh memo for CofS, USA, dtd 15Jun43, FF/lA16-3, Ser: 001187, Subj: Assignment of Barrage Balloon Defense Activities in the Pacific Areas to War Department and Liquidation of the Marine Corps Barrage Balloon Program (OAB, NHD).
80. Gen George C. Marshall memo for Adm King, dtd 26Jun43, encl A to CominCh ltr to CMC, dtd 1Ju143, FF1/A16-3, Ser: 001318, Subj: Barrage Balloons (OAB, NHD).
81. DivAvn OpD, Supplement dtd 1Jun45, p. 4.
82. Ibid., p. 5.
83. Maj. John H. Johnstone, United States Marine Corps Parachute Units--Marine Corps Historical Reference Series No. 32 (Washington: HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, 1962), p. 8.
84. CMC ltr to CG, TC, FMF, MarBks, New River, N.C., dtd 26Nov42, cited in "War Dogs in the U.S. Marine Corps," n.d., p. 2 (War Dog Subject File, HistBr, HQMC).
85. Sgt George Doying, "The Buck Rogers Men," Leatherneck, v. 23, no, 4 (Apr45), p. 27.
86. Bartley, Iwo Jima, p. 141n(42).
87. Joint Board on Scientific Information Policy, U.S. Rocket Ordnance, Development and Use in World War II (Washington: GPO, 1946), p. 29. The VMTB-134 Hist, dtd Feb44 (OAB, NHD), states that the date of the attack was 17 February 1944. The fact that claims of "firsts" are tenuous is proved by USS Manila Bay (CVE-61) AR, ser 014, dtd 18 Feb44 (OAB, NHD), which indicates that TBFs of VC-7 employed "air-to-ground rockets in attacking Japanese shore and ship targets in the Kwajalein Atoll area on 31 January and 1 February 1944." Dir, NHD, ltr to Hd, HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, dtd 3Jun66.
88. Joint Board on Scientific Information Policy, op. cit.
89. Ibid., p. 28
90. Hough, Ludwig, and Shaw, Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal, p. 294. CACTUS was the code name for Guadalcanal.
91. Shaw and Kane, Isolation of Rabaul, p. 213.
92. Ibid., p. 438.
93. Capt James R. Stockman, The Battle For Tarawa (Washington: HistSec, DivPubInfo, HQMC, 1947), p. 65.
94. CG, VAC, comments, n.d., in CominCh, Amphibious Operations, The Marshall Islands, Jan-Feb44, dtd 20May44.
95. MajGen Holland M. Smith ltr to CMC, dtd 4Feb44 (Vandegrift Personal Correspondence File HistBr, HQMC).
96. Capt Leonard G. Lawton, "Tank-Infantry Team," Marine Corps Gazette, v. 29, no. 11 (Nov45), p. 30.
97. Shaw and Kane, Isolation of Rabaul, p. 394.
98. Maj Carl W. Hoffman, The Seizure of Tinian (Washington: HistDiv, HQMC, 1951), p. 131.
99. LtCol Richard K. Schmidt ltr to CMC, dtd 5Dec49, cited in Ibid.
100. Isely and Crowl, Marines and Amphibious War, p. 412.
101. MajGen William H. Rupertus ltr to CMC, dtd 180ct44 (Vandegrift Personal Correspondence File).
102. George P. Hunt, Coral Comes High (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1946), p. 58.
103. Mr. George P. Hunt ltr to author dtd 17Jun66.
104. A bangalore torpedo is a long iron pipe filled with an explosive, and fitted with a detonating cap and a long fuse. Several bangalore sections could be fitted together, and after a rounded cap was fastened to the head end, these sections could be pushed forward over most types of terrain and exploded to destroy barbed wire entanglements or to detonate buried mines. The pole charge was simply about 15 pounds of block TNT tied together, capped, fuzed, and mounted at the end of a long pole, ready to be fired. The beauty of the pole charge was that it could be placed in position out of hand-reach. Satchel charges also consisted of about 15 pounds of explosives either taped to a board fitted with a rope or wire loop for carrying, or placed in a haversack for the same purpose. Once the fuze was lit, the satchel could be flung at an enemy fortification or position. A shaped charge was as the name suggests, a charge composed of cast TNT shaped like a cone so that the explosive energy was focused and concentrated to move in one direction. Fastened to a pole and emplaced against a concrete blockhouse, when exploded the shaped charge would blow a small hole on the outside of the position, but once having penetrated the wall, the concentrated energy fanned out with tremendous force, carrying with it concrete and steel fragments and a concussive blast, which in itself was capable of killing all the defenders within the fortification.
105. Quoted in New York Times, 26Feb45, p. 1, column 6.
106. MajGen Pedro A. del Valle, "Cave Warfare," Marine Corps Gazette, v. 29, no. 7 (Jul45), p. 58.
107. Ibid., p. 59.
108. Capt Clifford M. Drury (ChC), USN, The History of the Chaplain Corps, United States Navy, 1939-1949, v. 2 (Washington: BuPers, ND, 1950), p. 110.
109. Ibid., p. 214.
110. Lt Edgar E. Siskin (ChC), USN, "Yom Kippur on Peleliu," Hebrew Union College Bulletin, Apr45, pp. 7-8.
111. Capts Bennett F. Avery, Louis H. Roddis, and Joseph I. Schwartz (MC), USN, eds., The History of the Medical Department of the United States Navy in World War II, v. 1 (Washington: BuMed, ND, 1953), p. 67.
112. Ibid., p. 83.
113. Ibid., p. 95.
114. Ibid., p. 161.
115. Ibid., V. 2, pp. 88-111.
116. These figures were collated by the Reports and Statistical Unit, Personnel Services Br, Data Systems Div (APB/5), HQMC, n.d.