At Long Last "The Perfect One"
By middle January 1944, amphibious operations in the Pacific had come a long way. Each Service was learning well its job. To keep everybody in the groove, Admiral Nimitz issued this order:
UNITED STATES PACIFIC FLEET
AND PACIFIC OCEAN AREAS
Headquarters of the Commander in Chief
Serial 0011 15 January 1944 From: Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet To: All Flag, and Marine General Officers, U.S. Pacific Fleet Subject: Unity of Command References: (a) Joint Action of the Army and Navy, 1935.
(b) CominCh and CNO dispatch No. 3.
- The intricate nature of Joint operations, particularly amphibious ones, to be carried on makes it necessary that there exists a thorough understanding of the principles under which coordination of operations of the Army and Navy is to be effected. Both addressees and their appropriate subordinates will be held responsible for adherence to these fundamental precepts. Accordingly, it is desired that the following extracts from references (a) and (b) be brought immediately to the attention of all officers concerned in Joint operations:
From reference (a), Chapter II, paragraph 10:
- Subject to the provisions of subparagraph b below, unity of command in an operation vests in one commander the responsibility and authority to coordinate the operations of the participating forces of both Services by the organization of task forces, the assignment of missions, the designation of objectives, and the exercise of such coordinating control as he deems necessary to insure the success of the operation.
- Unity of command does not authorize the commander exercising it to control the administration and discipline of the forces of the
Service to which he does not belong, nor to issue any instructions to such forces beyond those necessary for effective coordination.
- Unity of command empowers the commander to coordinate the operations of the forces of both Services assigned to his command, by the organization of task forces, the assignment of missions, the designation of objectives, and the provision of logistic support; and to exercise such control during the progress of the operations as will insure the most effective effort toward the accomplishment of the common mission.
- Unity of command does not contemplate the issue by the commander of instructions as to dispositions for, or methods of, operation in the accomplishment of missions assigned solely to forces of the Service to which the commander does not belong, nor control of the administration, discipline, or technique of the operations of such forces.
- The appointment of a commander authorized to exercise unity of command carries with it the power further to delegate this authority, whenever in the opinion of such commander such action is necessary. When this is the case, such commander will determine which Service has paramount interest in subordinate Joint operations under his control and will appoint a subordinate commander, either Army or Navy, to exercise unity of command or limited unity of command over task forces organized for the purpose of conducting the subordinate Joint operations.
From reference (b):
Numerous instances have been brought to my notice where Naval commanders of Joint forces have prescribed the 'How' as well as the 'what' for detachments (large and small) of other Services. Where this has occurred, it has been done in violation of sound principles of command, Joint agreement and, I may add, at variance with the well known convictions of CominCh.
I require Naval commanders of all Joint forces to see to it that not only detachments (large and small) of other Services whether Army or Marine Corps, but Navy as well, are left free to accomplish assigned tasks by the use of their own technique as developed by precept and experience, that is, prescribe the 'what,' 'where,' and 'when' unhampered by the 'how.'
The Basic Premise
One of the most valuable traits of Richmond Kelly Turner as a war commander was his insistence not only on winning the war, but winning
Japan to the Gilberts.
it with the minimum loss of life. This was mentioned publicly by him prior to Tarawa only as a pronounced desire not to see Marines or soldiers swim, but it was well remembered thereafter by his seniors in connection with his conduct of subsequent amphibious operations of the Pacific War.1
Or as one much younger officer put it:
He bore the tremendous burden of being responsible for the lives of thousands. He took this responsibility personally.2
The Marshall Islands Operation started out with the general code name BANKRATE, but the first actual amphibious operation carried out in the Marshalls was called FLINTLOCK.
The Right People at the Right Time
This was the first amphibious operation in the Pacific where the strongly expressed beliefs of Richmond Kelly Turner were observed in regard to the people who were called upon to plan and to conduct such an operation.
As Rear Admiral Turner wrote to Admiral Nimitz, and as actually accomplished for FLINTLOCK:
It cannot be too strongly urged that responsible commanders, and their staffs be appointed as far in advance of operations as possible, in order that they may have time to familiarize themselves with the problem on hand, to get acquainted with their force and with each other, and to be prepared to offer advice to their superior commanders. In military operations the promotion of morale and mutual confidence is greatly dependent on personal contacts of this character.3
The FLINTLOCK Planning Phase
As early as 20 July 1943, Admiral King had set the target date for the Marshall Islands operation as 1 January 1944.4 All proposed plans for this
operation originating in Admiral Nimitz's Headquarters during the summer and fall of 1943 were of a tentative nature, because it was felt that photographic reconnaissance of the Marshalls was incomplete. However, in general, these early plans called for simultaneous initial seizure of the key islands in the Kwajalein, Wotje and Maloelap Atolls, followed by occupation of other islands in these atolls and a later movement to seize or control Wake, Eniwetok and Kusaie Atolls. Kusaie Atoll was roughly 330 miles southwest of Kwajalein and Eniwetok was 330 miles northwest of Kwajalein.5 Wake was 600 miles north of Kwajalein.
At this stage of planning, all plans for seizing the Marshall Islands were contingent upon success in the Gilberts and, as a practical matter, if not by orders from on high, depended on adequate availability of amphibious shipping in the Central Pacific.
On 4 November 1943, COMINCH informed CINCPAC that the Joint Chiefs desired Dog Dog [sic: "Dog Day"?] for FLINTLOCK to be as early in January 1944 as possible and no later than 31 January. This last day in January turned out to be the earliest that the operation actually could be carried out, although CINCPAC initially and hopefully picked 17 January 1944.6
On 17 November 1943, three days before the landings for GALVANIC had commenced, Rear Admiral Turner wrote:
FLINTLOCK date is January 17th, and it is going to be tough to meet.7
Not only was the date tough to meet - but also tough was the decision as to how the Marshalls should be taken.
As early as 12 October 1943, CINCPOA had issued his first broad plan (16-43), indicating "with what" and "when" but not the specific "where" in the Marshalls our efforts would be directed. The plan ran to a tidy 183 pages, and assigned 172 ships and 108 large landing craft to the chore. The task assigned to the Central Pacific Force, which included the amphibians, was to secure control of the Marshalls by capturing, occupying, defending and developing bases therein. CINCPOA indicated that the specific atoll objectives would be named in a later directive, but extensive "Base Development
Plans" were appended for Kwajalein Island and Roi Island in Kwajalein Atoll, Wotje Island in Wotje Atoll, and Taroa Island, the latter in Maloelap Atoll. Presumably the "where" in the Marshalls would be found among these four named islands. All during the latter stages of GALVANIC, the pros and cons of various combinations of the above four objectives were discussed by those who would do the fighting.
"The Where?" in the Marshalls
In the early days of December, 1943, as Rear Admiral Turner was wending his way back to Pearl Harbor in the old Fleet flagship Pennsylvania, the planners and operators were still kicking around the delicate details of how the specific objectives of CINCPAC's plans, when named, would be captured.
Every planner worth his salt, and this well included Richmond Kelly Turner, had a plan. Before the Pennsylvania arrived back at Pearl, Rear Admiral Turner had his paper, "Lessons learned at Tarawa," and his "BANKRATE Plan" for the Marshalls operation flown in for CINCPAC
The Marshall Islands.
and his planning staff to read and digest in advance of the important conferences to finally decide the "where, when and with what" for FLINTLOCK.
Before Rear Admiral Turner left the Gilberts, he had sent an early draft of his plan for taking the Marshall Islands to Vice Admiral Spruance. On 2 December 1943 Vice Admiral Spruance sent him a despatch saying that the plan was a fine, realistic one - and that he should "go to it" to whip up a more polished plan prior to his arrival back at Pearl.8
In 1948, Admiral Turner wrote to Vice Admiral Harry W. Hill his recollections of this phase of the planning for FLINTLOCK as follows:
On November 30 , in the Pennsylvania I left Makin and arrived Pearl about the 5th or 6th of December. . . . Enroute to Pearl, I prepared my report [on GALVANIC], and a rough outline for the Marshall's Operation, entirely on my own. . . . Admiral Nimitz had not then indicated the main features of his plan. Consequently, in the early part of December, it was necessary to coordinate the various ideas put forth. For this purpose, besides staff consultations, Admiral Nimitz held several conferences.
* * * * *
Smith's [Major General Holland M.] idea was, as I recall it, to capture Wotje and Maloelap, and then retire to Hawaii for refit. Mine (which nobody seemed to like) was to capture Wotje and Maloelap to refit there, and then go on to Kwajalein, much as we finally did to Eniwetok.
Time being so short, naturally you and Conolly and my Staff were required to study, in a preliminary way, everything in sight including Jaluit and Mille. From the first, Admiral Nimitz was firm for Kwajalein, and as it turned out, that was the best plan.
The fact that there were differences of ideas at the start is not remarkable. What was a good sign was the rapidity with which differences were ironed out and preparations made.9
When Vice Admiral Spruance arrived in Pearl from the Gilberts on 11 December 1943, six days after Rear Admiral Turner, the revised CINCPAC plan (dated 14 December 1943) for the Marshalls was just about to be issued. This plan called for the simultaneous capture of
an advanced Fleet anchorage and two enemy air bases; specific objectives to be designated by a separate directive.
Rear Admiral Turner argued against the general thesis of this second
draft of the CINCPOA plan, saying that there were not enough amphibious troops and immediate logistic support means available in the Pacific Fleet to conduct three simultaneous and full-blown amphibious assaults against tough Japanese defenses. Upon arrival in Pearl from GALVANIC, Vice Admiral Spruance supported this point of view, as did Major General Holland Smith. The decision not to try to conduct three simultaneous large-scale amphibious assaults was then made by Admiral Nimitz.
Once this decision was taken, then the question was, against which objectives should the two amphibious assaults in the Marshalls be directed. There was considerable sentiment for starting at the eastern edge of the Marshalls and working on into the center of the island group in separate operations. There were many who believed that any atolls we spent lives and efforts taking ought to provide us with (a) a good bomber strip and (b) a good anchorage area. One of the arguments advanced in favor of assaulting Wotje and Maloelap was that they each had a good bomber strip. Admiral Nimitz favored going to the heart of the Marshalls and making an assault on Kwajalein Atoll. He pointed out that the latest photographs taken of Kwajalein on 4 December 1943 by carrier aircraft from Task Force 50 showed that the Japanese were building an airstrip suitable for bombers on Kwajalein Island, at the southern end of the atoll, and that the atoll provided a wonderful harbor.
The main reason advanced for not initially going right to the heart of the Marshalls was the concern that once the mobile air power of the Pacific Fleet was removed from the Marshall Islands area, the Japanese would stage their land-based air power down the stepping stones of the Marianas and the Carolines to Eniwetok, Ponape, Mille, Wotje and Maloelap. This air power would make mincemeat of our logistic support shipping moving into Kwajalein during the period we were trying to rehabilitate the Japanese air bases on Kwajalein and get them into use. The Commander in Chief Pacific Ocean Area could not tarry in the Marshalls because he was under JCS orders to support the operations planned for the seizure of New Ireland and the Admiralty Islands in the Southwest Pacific in February 1944.10
Admiral Spruance recalled:
The schedule of operations set up by the JCS called for the Pacific Fleet, after the capture of Kwajalein, to leave the Marshalls and proceed to the South
Pacific, in order to support an operation under Admiral Halsey. Under these conditions, I argued as strongly as I could with Admiral Nimitz against Kwajalein, proposing instead Wotje and Maloelap. My argument was based, not on any anticipated difficulty in taking Kwajalein rather than Wotje and Maloelap, but on the insecurity of our line of communications into Kwajalein after the withdrawal of the Pacific Fleet. . . . In my arguments I was supported by Admiral Turner and General Holland Smith, but I was overruled by Admiral Nimitz.11
The Vital Conference
Admiral Spruance's biographer describes this dramatic event as follows:
The overruling took place at a conference of all of the available high command of the Pacific Fleet, called by Admiral Nimitz to discuss the specific next objective. After full discussion, the participants voted unanimously to take some other islands before assaulting Kwajalein. What proved to he one of the great decisions of the war was made when Admiral Nimitz, in his calm voice then said, 'Well gentlemen, our next objective will be Kwajalein.'12
Fleet Admiral Nimitz recalled this fateful decision-making conference as follows:
My only difference of opinion with Kelly Turner was in connection with the operation for seizing the Marshall Islands. By that time my War Plans Officer was Forrest Sherman.
I listened to the tentative ideas of various officers. Kelly's plan was to start at the fringes and work in. The other plan was to go right in and grab Kwajalein and then pay attention to other fringe islands.
When I made the decision we would take Kwajalein first, I was told by Kelly that it was dangerous and reckless. He argued and argued and became very determined. He even got Spruance to support this point of view.
I finally told Kelly: 'This is it. If you don't want to do it, the Department will find someone else to do it. Do you want to do it, or not?' He smiled and said: 'Sure I want to do it.' And he did it to a T. That was the only real difference of opinion between Kelly Turner and me.13
Just for the record of who recommended what at this conference, Fleet Admiral Nimitz wrote:
While I have no minutes of that conference, I am confident that Vice Admiral Harry Hill's recollections are quite accurate. Those present were
unanimously opposed to going into Kwajalein with the exception of myself, Admiral McMorris and Admiral Sherman.14
In this manner Kwajalein Atoll became the first objective of our advance into the Marshall Islands.
49 Days of Preparation
The bloodying of GALVANIC had largely ended with the blowing apart of the Liscome Bay on 24 November 1943, although the tidying up of the logistics kept Rear Admiral Turner in the Gilberts for almost another week.
The operation for the capture of the Marshalls was already on the checkoff list with a due date of 17 January. This was only about seven weeks away from the date the GALVANIC transports would arrive back in Pearl.
There was a billowing, surging effort at all levels of command to delineate quickly the real lessons learned in the Gilberts and to do something about them. All of the amphibious force was at school in the weeks between GALVANIC and FLINTLOCK. Rear Admiral Turner on the voyage back from Tarawa wrote his "Recommendations for changes and improvements in tactics, techniques, existing instructions and material," and his senior amphibious subordinate, Rear Admiral Hill, circulated his valuable "Lessons learned at Tarawa."
Before Vice Admiral Spruance and Admiral Nimitz had added their wise judgments to these recommendations and lessons learned, and Admiral Nimitz had issued his 95 paragraph study of the action reports of the GALVANIC Operation, things started cracking all through the Pacific as well as in the Navy Department and its supporting shore establishments.
According to Morison's History of U.S. Naval Operations in World War II, Captain James M. Steele, who was the Plans Officer on Admiral Nimitz's Staff, compiled a report entitled "A Hundred Mistakes Made at Tarawa." This bit of fiction first published in 1951 appears also in an official United States Army History published in 1962 where it is blandly stated: "One officer compiled a list of one hundred mistakes made during the operation."15
An even hundred is a lot of mistakes, even for a major action. However,
a tremendous number of lessons were learned at Tarawa and at Makin which stood the Navy and its amphibians in good stead as they moved northwestward from the Gilberts towards the heart of Japan. But, by and large, they were lessons learned because knowledge of how to seize a well defended atoll was increased, not because a chosen few had made ten times ten big raw mistakes at Tarawa or Makin and the mistakes were later corrected. This is not to say that there were not some definite failures in the battle action and in the execution of the art of amphibious warfare, as it was known on 20 November 1943.
Long and tedious personal efforts by the author to locate the document "A Hundred Mistakes Made at Tarawa" in the files of the Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Area, or the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet and of their immediate subordinate commands, or anything resembling it, have been completely unrewarding. Captain Steele says:
I definitely never prepared such a document or anything resembling it.16
Of the many present survivors of this period of the war who were questioned, no one had ever seen such a document nor heard such a document mentioned, except in Morison. This researcher not only doubts its existence; he denies it.
Rear Admiral Turner was not at Tarawa, but he made every effort to learn the details of what had happened there--and to extract therefrom the maximum in sound lessons. In no way was this a lonely effort. Most of the participants realized that there were needful lessons to be learned, and acted accordingly to promptly reduce these to paper and to circulate them widely. There was not much time to learn. The next operation was only weeks away, so everyone was pressing for a period of rapid schooling.
As has been well said:
One of the more notable features about all of the action reports on Tarawa, Marine and Navy, is the zeal with which the officers . . . picked out the flaws of their performance and sought far-reaching remedies.17
It may be said that between GALVANIC and FLINTLOCK, marked progress was made in six areas of amphibious operations. These were:
- Hydrography and underwater defenses of enemy-held beaches.
- Loading and unloading of shipping.
- Beach organization.
- Follow-up shipping.
- Availability of larger numbers and better LVT's.
- Gunfire support.
(1) Hydrography and Underwater Defenses of Enemy-Held Beaches
In the short six weeks between arriving back from the Gilbert Islands and sailing for the Marshalls, the Underwater Demolition Teams, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet were born and came of age.
As Admiral Turner wrote:
. . . It was after Tarawa in the Pacific, but before Normandy in Europe, that we recognized the imperative need for a better method . . . that would acquaint us with the true underwater geography between the Line of Departure and the beach, and that would ensure either the removal or the safe avoidance of static dangers.
The method adopted was the employment of swimming scouts--Underwater Demolition Teams. It became the duty of these teams to chart the beach approaches, and to find and destroy underwater obstructions that might prevent or even retard the troop landings.18
On 26 December 1943, Rear Admiral Turner recommended to the Chief of Naval Operations that Underwater Demolition Teams be formed on a permanent basis, with six teams assigned to the Central Pacific and three to the South Pacific. A few days later, he recommended that an "Experimental and Tactical Underwater Demolition Station" be established in the Hawaiian Islands. Both these recommendations met with early approval and prompt implementation.19
(2) Loading and Unloading of Shipping
From the logistical experience gained in GALVANIC and after a discussion during a two-day logistic conference at Pearl Harbor in which Rear Admiral Turner and his Chief of Staff, Captain Theiss, personally participated,
modified procedures were evolved for determining priorities of support material carried to the objective areas. This applied particularly to follow-up shipping. New organizational arrangements were agreed upon for loading ships in rear areas and unloading ships in the forward areas.20
(3) Beach Organization
The unloading of shipping in the Gilberts and elsewhere in the Pacific continued to be hampered by inadequate organization at the beachhead. As a Turner-trained amphibious officer (Wilkinson), who made his own mark in the Pacific described the problem:
Without adequate organization on the beach, with excess personnel to meet emergencies, the whole operation is imperiled. Needed supplies do not reach the front, are not removed from the beach, may not even be landed, because of congestion and disorder. Transports and cargo vessels are maintained for days in dangerous waters, exposed to enemy air and submarine attack. . . .21
Therefore, one of the improvements made after GALVANIC had to do with detailing Beachmasters of adequate rank and ability. As Captain Theiss said:
if we can get Beachmasters of sufficient rank and experience to handle the problem from the time the transports first arrive and begin to unload, we will be able to cure the unloading difficulties to a very considerable extent. The beach parties as now organized mostly consist of comparatively green personnel, young and inexperienced officers who do not have sufficient authority to be able to get away with anything on the beach--they are probably junior to everybody to whom they are trying to give instructions. A fully qualified Beachmaster arriving initially and taking charge of the entire unloading situation right from the start will be able to control and regulate it to a marked extent.22
Beachmasters of the rank of commander became commonplace. In addition, there was further beefing up of the naval contingent of the Shore Party.
Steps also were taken to improve the cargo pallets used in combat loading, although Rear Admiral Turner, as late as 3 January 1944, still believed that:
Pallets work well alongside a dock with ample unloading devices but do not work well when they must be dragged across a beach or reef chiefly by manpower.23
And the transports reported that if palletized loads were to be the norm, holds and troop magazines of transports needed modification. To illustrate, the Virgo was able to carry only 2,200 tons of cargo during the Marshall Island operation "although every cubic foot of space was filled to capacity." This was only 55 percent of her normal cargo capacity.24
(4) Follow-up shipping
Five civilian-manned transports and the same number of civilian- manned cargo ships had been employed in GALVANIC to transport assault and garrison elements to the newly captured positions, all arriving within eight days after the assault.
In preparing for FLINTLOCK, Commander Fifth Amphibious Force recommended that urgent steps be taken to remedy the marked deficiencies which this employment had revealed, particularly in such areas as:
- detailed charts of the island areas.
- visual signal equipment for inter-ship communication.
- additional signal and radio naval personnel to be placed on board together with fresh water and galley equipment therefor.
- cordage and tackle for proper and frequent handling of boats.
- radio equipment and its power supply.
- life jackets, additional boats, and additional berthing space to support the naval personnel placed on board the merchant ship to facilitate cruising in formation and responsiveness to unloading problems.25
Time permitted all this to be done.
(5) Availability of and Armoring of LVT's
There had been about 175 LVT's in GALVANIC of which 100 were of the newer LVT(2) type. Some 70 percent of the 125 LVT's at Tarawa were
left at that island, wrecked or sunk by either gunfire or underwater mines, or rendered useless by mechanical failures. If there were any LVT's lost at Makin, the fact does not appear in the reports of the LST's who transported them to Makin. Despite this, the overall GALVANIC loss rate of LVT's approached 50 percent. So that loss factor was used for planning for FLINTLOCK.
The reputation of the LVT's was riding high. This was particularly so, since Major General Holland Smith made the following statement at the LVT conference held with the representatives of the Navy Department in December 1943:
These operations are not possible without LVT's. They are all that made the last one successful. That and the Marines in them.
Since the number of LVT's was in short supply, and plans were being based on a 50 percent loss rate in the next operation, Major General Smith recommended using in FLINTLOCK:
All LVT's on hand and if nothing is left for the next operation, then at least the first operation will be a success.26
The two newest amtrac models, LVT-A1 and LVT-A2, were made available from the United States for use in FLINTLOCK. The LVT-A1 carried a 37-millimeter cannon, and three machine guns, and primarily was a gun support vehicle. The LVT-A2 carried the troops, but the troops and the driver were protected by 1/4-inch armor plate.
(6) Close-in Gunfire Support
One thing was quite obvious to those in the battleships and cruisers at Tarawa (kept out of the lagoon by shallow water and uncharted, scattered coral heads) and to those in the destroyers which had entered the lagoon only to run aground or to damage sound gear or propellers on these same coral heads. For lagoon landings, their types of ships were quite unsuitable for providing the close gunfire support that the lead assault landing waves needed during the last five minutes before they touched down.
It was also quite obvious in December 1943 that a suitable new type of close gunfire support craft could not be designed and built and delivered before FLINTLOCK. To bridge the gap while a new craft (capable of
better gunfire support from a gun platform that could move into shallow water along with the amtracs and landing craft) was being obtained from the ship builders, it was decided to try out an existing landing craft, infantry (LCI), after fitting her (piling on) some additional armament. On 14 December 1943 the LCI-345, hastily rearmed, was directed to conduct experimental fire support practices to develop proper techniques and procedures for close in fire support of landing troops. Before sailing for the Marshalls, 24 LCI(L)'s were transformed into 24 LCI(FS) with six rocket racks, each firing 72 rockets, three 40-millimeter and two 20-millimeter guns, as well as five 50- caliber machine guns. These "gunboats" packed a terrific wallop for such a small shallow draft craft.
As for gunfire support in general, it was Rear Admiral Turner' s opinion from close observation of the pre-landing firing at Makin, that:
With more care and training, the effectiveness of the bombardment ought to be increased 50 percent.27
The Marshall Islands--The Specific Where
The State of Pennsylvania has an area of about 45,000 square miles and the State of Texas about 267,000 square miles. The 33 atolls and 867 reefs in the Marshall Islands span an area about 600 miles by 650 miles, or nearly 400,000 square miles.28
The atolls vary greatly in size but the larger ones cover 200 to 600 square miles. They generally are described as lying in two parallel chains, the "sunrise" or eastern chain of Mille, Majuro, Maloelap, and Wotje, and the "sunset" or western chain of Jaluit, Kwajalein, and Eniwetok.
The islands on the southern and easterly sides of the atolls are generally the larger. Their elevations above sea level vary from four to 15 feet. Many of the islands, in 1944, were thickly wooded with coconut palms and breadfruit trees.
The principal Japanese military installations in the Marshalls were located on islands of atolls as listed below:
Air Base Seaplane Base Naval Base Eniwetok Atoll Engebi Jaluit Atoll Emidj Jaluit Kwajalein Atoll
(Lagoon--800 square miles)
(Lagoon--24 square miles)
Taroa Mille Atoll Mille Wotje Atoll
(Lagoon--190 square miles)
Otdia Wotje Wotje
Majuro Atoll, 100 miles south of Wotje, is missing from the above list because the Japanese had no important military installations there. This atoll, just 65 miles north from Mille Atoll at the south eastern end of the Marshalls, had a lagoon 21 miles long and up to six miles wide with 90 square miles of lagoon area highly suitable for a Fleet anchorage. Islands around the lagoon were adequate for long airstrips. In 1943, it was agreed generally that planes could be gotten in the air sooner from the battered remains of an airstrip seized from the enemy than from an airstrip built from scratch. Majuro had no airstrip, but it was so positioned under a prospective air umbrella from the Gilberts, that there seemed to be at least a fifty- fifty chance that the contrary might be true in this instance. Particularly, providing its seizure was not discovered by the Japanese at an early date so that the airstrip building might proceed free of enemy air bombing interference. Majuro was added as an objective in FLINTLOCK by Admiral Nimitz, after a recommendation to that effect was made by Vice Admiral Spruance, who credits his Chief of Staff, Captain Charles J. Moore, with the initial idea and the essential urge.29
Kwajalein lies roughly in the center of the Marshall Islands. The Atoll is 66 miles long in a northwesterly--southeasterly direction and has a greatest
Kwajalein Atoll (Roi-Namur and Kwajalein Island).
width of 18 miles. It is the largest of the atolls in the Marshalls with a generous 80 islands (many covered with a dense growth of coconut palms and smaller vegetation) around its rim, plus some 17 additional wave swept islets and reefs. Within its 800 square miles of lagoon, reached by six good passages through the reefs, there is a spacious Fleet anchorage with depths from 60 to 140 feet. Roi and Namur Islands at the atoll's northern extremity lie so close together that they were joined both by a narrow sand spit along the southern end and, in 1944, by a causeway and road 300 yards to the north. Roi Island, 1,300 yards long and 800 yards wide, had little but cement on its three-tenths of a square mile surface, for it had on it three paved runways varying from 3,600 to 4,300 feet long, a taxiway, revetments, hangars, repair facilities, and plane service areas. Namur had about 170 air base buildings used for aviation equipment and general stores as well as ammunition dumps and barracks, although in 1944, its eastern half was largely covered with palms and breadfruit trees. Forty four miles away at the southern end of the atoll, there was the principal Japanese military headquarters in the Marshalls on cucumber shaped Kwajalein Island. In January 1944, an airstrip was being built on this island which is about three miles long and three miles wide. Just north of Kwajalein Island there was a seaplane base on Ebeye Island.
The Climate and Weather
Against a background of generally steamy climate with frequent rain, there were good prospects for no more than choppy seas and soaking showers in the Marshalls in February 1944. According to CINCPAC's Intelligence Staff:
Thunderstorms are fairly common, except in January and February, but gales, often westerly in character, are seldom experienced . . . [in the Northern Marshalls] . . . The seasonal pattern is well more defined with maximum rainfall occurring in months of September, October, November, succeeded by a drier season.30
The actual weather on Dog Day, like California weather, was not quite so good as previously publicized, as these official reports indicate:
During morning light rain showers and squalls with some clearing about
1000 to 1030. Winds were ENE to NE averaging 18 knots with highest hourly velocity of 25 knots.
* * * * *
About 1300, CTF 52 cancelled all remaining bombing missions for Dog Day due to heavy rains.
* * * * *
On D-day we experienced strong northeast trade winds in the Transport Area, with frequent and heavy showers and varying degrees of visibility. During the remainder of the period, we had regular northeast trade winds without rain, the best days being Dog Plus 1 and Dog Plus 2.31
For 31 January 1944, it was calculated that low water would occur at Kwajalein Island at 0126 and high water at 0734. On the day of the major assault landings, 1 February 1944, these events were actually at 0218 and 0843, respectively. Normal range of tide was three to five feet with 4.3 feet on January 31st. On 30 January 1944, the new moon was due to rise in the morning at 0942 and set at 2206, well before the first landings were to take place early on 31 January.
The actual temperature range logged at Majuro for February 1944, was from 77° to 88°. This gives a good idea of the general high temperatures experienced during FLINTLOCK for ships in the area of the Marshall Islands.
Having decided the "where" among the atolls of the Marshalls, for the amphibious assault, the next urgent problem was the "when."
Rear Admiral Turner pointed out in a letter to Vice Admiral Spruance and Admiral Nimitz, that if the date of 17 January was postponed two weeks, the 7th Infantry Division could receive additional amphibious tractors from the States and have available 282 instead of only 90. Since everyone who had participated in GALVANIC was singing the praises of the amtracs, and emphasizing the need for amtracs in generous quantities to make assaults
over coral reefs, this was a powerful argument. To this was added the advantage of allowing each and every one of the gunfire support ships to receive an opportunity to fire the range at Kahoolawe Island in the Hawaiian Islands, using the techniques developed in the gunfire support art during GALVANIC.32 Therefore a target date of 1 February 1944 was recommended by Rear Admiral Turner and 31 January 1944 was set by the Powers That Be.
As early as August 1943, the 7th Infantry Division which had participated in the Kiska campaign in the Aleutian Islands had been designated by the Joint Chiefs for the Marshall Island campaign. By December 1943, the troops were in Hawaii.
In early September 1943, the Fourth Marine Division, training on the Pacific Coast, was also designated for the Marshalls and their amphibious training on the West Coast expedited. The 22nd Marine Regiment then in Samoa, and the 106th Infantry Regiment in Hawaii, were soon added.33
By and large, all the naval ship resources which had been assigned to GALVANIC were made available for FLINTLOCK, with however the important stipulation that much of the Fifth Fleet, less the amphibians, must be sent to the South and Southwest Pacific immediately after the landings to assist Commander Third Fleet and General MacArthur in carrying out JCS approved operations against Kavieng in New Ireland and Manus Island in the Admiralty Islands.
The task organization established for FLINTLOCK was similar to that which had been successful in the Gilberts. Vice Admiral Spruance, however, carried the title Commander Fifth Fleet rather than Commander Central Pacific Force. He commanded TF 50 and Rear Admiral Turner TF 51. Their organizations are shown on the next page.
The Southern Attack Force, which Rear Admiral Turner directly commanded and controlled was organized as shown on the next page.
SOUTHERN ATTACK FORCE--TASK FORCE 52
AGC-3 Rocky Mount (FF) Captain S.F. Patten (1921)
TG 52.1 SUPPORT AIRCRAFT Captain H.B. Sallada (1917)
TG 52.2 SOUTHERN LANDING FORCE Major General C.H. Corlett, USA
Seventh Infantry Division Major General C.H. Corlett, USA
Southern Garrison Force Brigadier General H.D. Gibson, USA
Southern Support Aircraft Colonel G.T. Collar, Army Air Force
TG 52.3 CHANNEL ISLAND TRANSPORT GROUP Lieutenant Commander D.K. O'Connor, USNR
APD-23 Overton (F) Lieutenant Commander D.K. O'Connor, USNR
APD-1 Manley Lieutenant R.T. Newell, USNR
TG 52.5 SOUTHERN TRANSPORT GROUP Captain H.B. Knowles (1917)
TU 52.5.2 TRANSPORT DIVISION SIX Captain T.B. Brittain (1920)
APA-2 Harris (F) Commander A.M. VanEaton (1921)
APA-10 Harry Lee Commander J.G. Pomeroy (1921)
APA-43 Fayette Commander J.C. Lester (1922)
APA-56 Leedstown Commander H. Bye (1921)
AKA-18 Centaurus Captain G.E. McCabe, USCG
LSD-6 Lindenwald Captain W.H. Weaver, USNR
TU 52.5.3 TRANSPORT DIVISION EIGHTEEN Captain H.B. Knowles (1917)
APA-31 (F) Monrovia Commander J.D. Kelsey (1923)
APA-11 Feland Commander G.M. Jones, USNR
APA-16 J. Franklin Bell Captain O.H. Ritchie, USNR
APA-50 Pierce Captain A.R. Ponto (1919
AKA-19 Thuban Commander J.C. Campbell, USNR
LSD-2 Belle Grove Lieutenant Commander M. Seavey, USNR
TU 52.5.4 TRACTOR UNIT NO. 2 Commander A.M. Hurst (1924)
LST-31 (GF) Lieutenant J.D. Schneidau, USNR
LST-29 Lieutenant A.M. Jenkins, USNR
LST-41 Lieutenant W.B. Dundon, USNR
LST-127 Lieutenant J.J. Reed, USNR
LST-218 Lieutenant H.O. Powell, USN
LST-240 Lieutenant B.D. Bedichek, USNR
LST-273 Lieutenant (jg) J.F. James, USNR
LST-481 Lieutenant George McGuire, USNR
LST-482 Lieutenant R.L. Eddy, USNR
TG 52.6 CONTROL GROUP Lieutenant J.W. Coleman, USNR
SC-1066 Lieutenant (jg) B.M. Hollander, USNR
SC-999 Lieutenant (jg) L.A. Schammel, USNR
SC-529 Lieutenant (jg) C.R. Howell, USNR
LCC-36 (Landing Craft Control)
LCC-38 (Landing Craft Control)
TU.5.1 ADVANCE TRANSPORT UNIT Captain J.B. McGovern (1921)
TU.52.5.11 TRANSPORT DIVISION FOUR Captain J.B. McGovern (1921)
APA-31 (F) Zeilin Commander T.B. Fitspatrick (1919)
APA-49 Ormsby Commander J.G. McClaughty (1927)
APA-55 Windsor Commander D.C. Woodward, USNR
AP-103 President Polk Commander C.J. Ballreich (1920)
AKA-20 Virgo Commander C.H. McLaughlin, USNR
LSD-1 Ashland Captain C.L.C. Atkeson (1922
TU 52.5.12 TRACTOR UNIT NO. 1 Commander R.C. Webb (1924)
LST-242 (F) Lieutenant J.W. Winney, USNR
LST-34 Lieutenant (jg) James J. Davis, USNR
LST-78 Lieutenant C.J. Smits, USNR
LST-224 Lieutenant (jg) C.M. Pugh
LST-226 (FF) Lieutenant N. Zelenko, USNR
LST-243 Lieutenant F.H. Blaske, USNR
LST-246 Lieutenant F. Brayton, USNR
LST-272 Lieutenant J.F. Dore, USNR
TG 52.7 TRANSPORT SCREEN Captain E.M. Thompson (1921)
TU 52.7.1 ADVANCE TRANSPORT SCREEN Captain E.M. Thompson (1921)
DD-574 (F) John Rodgers Commander H.O. Parish (1926)
DD-531 Hazelwood Commander V.P. Douw (1930
TU 52.7.2 SOUTHERN TRANSPORT SCREEN Commander Henry Crommelin (1925)
DD-555 (F) Haggard Commander D.A. Harris (1930)
DD-501 Schroeder Commander J.T. Bowers (1928)
DD-556 Hailey Commander P.H. Brady (1930)
DMS-14 Zane Lieutenant Commander W.T. Powell, Jr. (1935)
DMS-17 Perry Lieutenant I.G. Stubbart (1938)
SC-1033 Lieutenant (jg) D.R. Stevenson, USNR
TG 52.8 FIRE SUPPORT GROUP Rear Admiral R.C. Giffen (1907)
TU 52.8.1 FIRE SUPPORT UNIT ONE J.J. Greytak (1926)
DD-575 (F) McKee Commander J.J. Greytak (1926)
DD-479 Stevens Lieutenant Commander W.M. Rakow (1934
TU 52.8.2 FIRE SUPPORT UNIT TWO Rear Admiral R.C. Giffenn (1907)
OBB-38 Pennsylvania Captain W.A. Corn (1914)
OBB-42 Idaho Captain H.D. Clarke (1915)
CA-36 (F) Minneapolis Captain R.W. Bates (1915)
CA-32 New Orleans Captain S.R. Shumaker (1915)
DD-492 Bailey Commander M.T. Munger (1932)
DD-606 Frazier Commander E.M. Brown (1931)
DD-583 Hall Commander J.F. Delaney (1925)
DD-602 Meade Commander J. Munholland (1932)
TU 52.8.3 FIRE SUPPORT UNIT THREE Rear Admiral R.M. Griffin (1911)
OBB-40 (F) New Mexico Captain E.M. Zacharias (1912)
OBB-41 Mississippi Captain L.L. Hunter (1912)
CA-38 San Francisco Captain H.E. Oversech (1915)
DD-658 Colahan Commander D.T. Wilber (1931)
DD-576 Murray Commander P.R. Anderson (1928)
DD-573 Harrison Commander C.M. Dalton (1927)
TU 52.8.4 FIRE SUPPORT UNIT FOUR Commander Henry Crommelin (1925)
DD-500 (F) Ringgold Commander T.F. Conley (1926)
DD-502 Sigsbee Commander B.V.M. Russell (1926)
TU 52.8.8 (LCI(G)) UNIT Lieutenant Commander T. Blanchard, USNR
LCI(FS) DIVISION THIRTEEN--Lieutenant Commander J.L. Harlan
LCI(FS)-77 (F) Lieutenant (jg) C.W. Fogg, USNR
LCI(FS)-78 Lieutenant (jg) L.T. Kermon, USNR
LCI(FS)-79 Lieutenant (jg) F.G. Bartlett, USNR
LCI(FS)-80 Lieutenant (jg) A.H. Conners, USNR
LCI(FS)-366 Lieutenant (jg) J.C. Callen, USNR
LCI(FS)-437 Lieutenant (jg) A.C. Sullivan, USNR
LCI(FS) DIVISION FIFTEEN--Lieutenant Commander T. Blanchard, USNR
LCI(FS)-365 (GF) Lieutenant (jg) T.N. Fortson, USNR
LCI(FS)-438 Lieutenant C.C. Ferris, USNR
LCI(FS)-439 Lieutenant R.F. Schenck, USNR
LCI(FS)-440 Lieutenant C.J. Keyes, USNR
LCI(FS)-441 Lieutenant (jg) G.H. Callaghan, USNR
LCI(FS)-442 Lieutenant (jg) H.P. Rabenstein
TG 52.9 CARRIER SUPPORT GROUP Rear Admiral R.E. Davison (1916)
CVE-61 (GF) Manila Bay Captain B.L. Braun (1921)
CVE-57 Coral Sea Captain H.W. Taylor (1921)
CVE-58 Corregidor Captain R.L. Bowman (1921)
DD-598 (F) Bancroft Commander R.M. Pitts (1932)
DD-606 Coghlan Lieutenant Commander B.B. Cheatham (1933)
DD-605 Caldwell Lieutenant Commander C. Wendelburg (1933)
DD-585 Halligan Commander C.E. Cortner (1927)
Fifth Amphibious Force Staff, March 1944. (80-G-307474)
Notes: (a) At the time of the Kwajalein Operation the LCI above were temporarily designated LCI (FS). The FS was for Fire Support (b) Underwater Demolition Team One under the command of Commander E.D. Brewster (CEC), USNR, was attached to CTF 52; (c) Year date is date of first commission.
TG 52.10 MINESWEEPING AND HYDROGRAPHIC GROUP Commander F.F. Sima, USNR
TU 52.10.1 SWEEP UNIT ONE Commander F.F. Sima, USNR
AM-110 (F) Revenge Commander F.F. Sima, USNR
AM-108 Pursuit Lieutenant R.F. Good, USNR
AM-109 Requisite Lieutenant Commander H.R. Peirce, USNR
TU 52.10.2 SWEEP UNIT TWO Lieutenant J.H. Pace, USNR
YMS-90 (F) Lieutenant J.H. Pace, USNR
YMS-91 Lieutenant (jg) W.A. Hurst, USNR
YMS-383 Lieutenant (jg) W.M. Merritt, USNR
YMS-388 Lieutenant (jf) R.E. Crowley, USNR
LCC-37 (Landing Craft Control)
TG 52.11 SOUTHERN SALVAGE UNIT Lieutenant Commander L.H. Curtis
ATF-93 (F) Tekesta Lieutenant John O. Strickland
ATF-68 Arapaho Lieutenant C.B. Lee
ATF-92 Tawasa Lieutenant F.C. Clark
The Japanese Defensive Strategy--The Marshalls
In mid-September 1943, the Japanese high command, without letting Admiral Nimitz in on the secret, modified their "Z" Operation Plan and drew anew an outer boundary line around what they considered their "vital defensive area." The new line encompassed only the Kuriles, the Marianas, and the Carolines in the Central Pacific. The Gilbert Islands and the Marshall Islands, by this decision, were removed from the list of areas, where the Japanese Navy would commit their Combined Fleet, the heart of their seagoing Navy, to offensive battle.
Had Vice Admiral Spruance known of this major Japanese decision, it is probable that he would have been much more worry-free as he moved into the Gilberts and into the Marshalls in November 1943, and in January 1944.
This strategic withdrawal was a major defensive decision by the Japanese high command. But it was accompanied by a somewhat contrariwise Japanese decision to build up their garrisons and island defenses in the Marshalls and to feed into the Marshalls more of the scanty Japanese air resources. The purpose of this increased defensive effort was to gain adequate time to make the defenses of the Marianas and the Bonin Islands "impregnable."
In accordance with these decisions, Japanese garrisons in the Marshalls, made up of both Army and Navy personnel, had reached the following combatant strength in December 1943, according to Japanese records.
Jaluit 2,205 Mille 5,101 Maloelap 3,298 Wotje 3,097 34
The Japanese Naval personnel, trained along the lines of our Marines, were organized into "Special Naval Landing Forces" for duty on these island bases. The Japanese Army troops defending alongside these SNLFs were organized into Amphibious Brigades and "South Seas Detachments."
The Defending Japanese
The same Japanese Fourth Fleet, which had been responsible, with such limited seagoing resources, for defense of the Gilbert Islands, also was responsible for defending the Marshall Islands. The backbone of this very small Fleet was three light cruisers, the Isuzu, Naka, and Nagara, launched down the ways from 19 to 24 years prior to 1944. There was also a division of destroyers and some logistic support ships. The 24th Air Flotilla consisting of 40 bombers and 30 fighters, which replaced the 22nd Air Flotilla on 5 December 1943, provided a limited complement for the many air bases within the Marshall Island command.
Vice Admiral Masashi Kobayashi, IJN, was the Commander in Chief, Fourth Fleet, and long carried his heavy burden at a headquarters located on Truk in the Carolines. Rear Admiral Michiyuki Yamada, IJN, commanded the 24th Air Flotilla from his air headquarters on Namur Island.
A subordinate unit of the Fourth Fleet, the Japanese 6th Base Force, and its immediate subordinate unit, the 6th Defenses Force, carried out the "defend and die" mission for the Marshalls in January-February 1944. Rear Admiral Monzo Akiyama, IJN, was in command of the 6th Base Force with headquarters on Kwajalein Island.
On 19 November 1943, Vice Admiral Kobayashi, probably alerted by the air sighting of the LST's headed for the Gilberts, temporarily joined his subordinates at Kwajalein Atoll. However, he wisely returned to Truk before 31 January 1944.
This visit to Kwajalein did not necessarily mean that the Japanese expected us to assault there. In fact, quite the contrary seems true. One Japanese naval officer on the Staff of the Combined Fleet in 1943-1944 gave, in 1945, his remembrance of the December 1943-January 1944 period of the Pacific War:
There was divided opinion as to whether you would land at Jaluit or Mille. Some thought you would land on Wotje but there were few who thought you would go right to the heart of the Marshalls and take Kwajalein. There were so many possible points of invasion in the Marshalls, that we could not consider any one a strong point and consequently dispersed our strength.35
Mille, closest to the Gilberts, drew the largest troop strength.
Defensive Strength--Kwajalein Atoll
The Japanese defenses of the three main islands in Kwajalein Atoll, Kwajalein, Roi and Namur, were largely at the beaches. There was no defense in depth. A captured Japanese statement of doctrine of this period called for the "enemy to be destroyed at the beach," and should that fail, "then the enemy will be destroyed by counter-attack."
This was the same Japanese scheme of defense as used at Tarawa. Since, as far as is known, no Japanese defender at Tarawa escaped homeward to advise his superiors on the proper future defense of atolls, the lagoon beaches of Kwajalein, Roi, and Namur Islands continued to be less well defended than the beaches fronting on the ocean.
The JICPOA (Joint Intelligence Center, Pacific Ocean Area) post battle report of the defenses of Roi-Namur states:
In studying the defenses of Roi-Namur it must be borne in mind that they presented nothing comparable to Tarawa, either as to size and number of weapons or construction and concentration of positions.
There was nothing as large as the . . . 8" and the . . . 5.5" coast defense guns found on Tarawa.
There were no positions for the 8cm [3.2"] coast defense and 5cm [3.2"], the 75mm [3"] mobile antiaircraft, 75mm [3"] mountain gun, or the 70mm [2.8"] infantry howitzer as were found on Tarawa; nor were any guns of the anti-boat, anti-personnel group found except for two 37mm [1.5"] rapid fire guns.36
Following a count of the fixed guns positions made by JICPOA and by
the Engineer of the V Amphibious Corps, after the successful assault, their judgment was that, compared with Tarawa, the ocean beach defenses of Kwajalein Island were good but not strong. The defenses of Roi-Namur were judged very modest on the lagoon beaches, good but not strong on the ocean beach approaches, and superior to those of Kwajalein.37
As the Engineer, V Amphibious Corps; stated in his FLINTLOCK Report on 15 February 1944:
While Roi-Namur were better fortified than Kwajalein, the siting of weapons was premised on an attempted landing from the north and seaward side.
When FLINTLOCK was all over, the Joint Intelligence Center, Pacific Ocean Areas, gave as its opinion:
The effective aerial bombing, naval shelling and artillery concentration placed on the defended islands of Kwajalein Atoll, made an accurate study of the Japanese defenses impossible.38
But despite this assertion, JICPOA did make diagrams of the defenses, based on captured Japanese drawings of the defense installations, interrogation of prisoners, and on ground reconnaissance conducted 2 February 1944. These diagrams were used for the Army's history of the seizure of the Marshalls.
The diagrams of Japanese defenses shown in the Marine monograph of the Marshalls operation, published in 1954, very markedly increase the Japanese defenses on the lagoon areas (where the Marines landed) over those recorded by JICPOA or by the Engineer on Major General Holland Smith's Fifth Amphibious Corps Staff. To illustrate, on the lagoon beaches of Roi, the diagrams for the Marine monograph show four large concrete Japanese blockhouses similar to the blockhouses on the north and west shores of Roi designated "Brownie, " "Bobby," "Bernie," and "Bruce." They correspond exactly to a situation map prepared on 24 December 1943 by the Intelligence Section, Fifth Amphibious Force, from photo interpretations. A later Marine situation map, issued by the Fifth Amphibious Corps on 31 December 1943, after more photographic reconnaissance, and distributed three weeks before the Marines left Hawaii, shows but two of these blockhouses on the lagoon beaches of Roi. Before the assault, the Maryland
Blockhouse "BRUCE" on Roi Island after treatment by USS Maryland.
polished off "Bruce" as the accompanying photograph will show. Following the battle, JICPOA and the Engineer for the Marines Fifth Amphibious Corps, after tramping over Roi-Namur early in February 1944, reported fewer defensive positions than the 24 December situation map. In further substantiation, the text of the Marine monograph reads in regard to this particular point of large blockhouses in the lagoon shore of Roi:
In place of the two blockhouses reported by aerial photographic interpreters, the Marines found but one stove-in pillbox, surrounded by a profusion of fuel drums and jetsam from what had evidently been a dump area.39
This was "Bruce."
Post-war interrogation of Japanese officers indicated that on 23 December
1943, 1,500 troops reached Mille from Kwajalein In an intelligence estimate written about the time this movement was happening, Rear Admiral Turner' s guess as to Japanese strength on Kwajalein Atoll was:
It is estimated that . . . approximately 7500 [Japanese] troops are located on Kwajalein Atoll including 3000 base and construction Personnel. It is considered likely that the total number is fairly evenly distributed between the Northern and Southern Islands.40
This was a very good over all estimate of Japanese military Personnel and attached labor units but considerably overestimated the number of Japanese troops.
Post-war study of the scanty Japanese records available led to an estimate in 1954 by Army historians of total Japanese strength of about 7,500, of whom 5,000 were base or construction Personnel or Korean laborers. The same year, the Marine historians estimated a total of 8,000 Japanese military Personnel and attached labor units with 3,000 on Roi-Namur, 3,000 on Kwajalein, and 2,000 on other islands within the atoll. It seems well established that on all of Kwajalein Atoll, the total of Japanese Special Naval Landing Force Personnel, trained in the same manner as our Marines, and Japanese infantrymen did not exceed 2,500 the large majority of whom were on Kwajalein.
It has been established that there were about 1,820 effective Japanese Army and Navy infantry type troops on Kwajalein, plus about half as many staff and communication personnel, and some 1,800 other para-military, including 1,400 labor troops and a contingent of Koreans.41
Of these 1,820 effectives, 729 were Japanese Army troops who had the bad luck to be on Kwajalein Island awaiting transportation to Wotje when our forces assaulted Kwajalein Additionally, there were 550 regularly assigned Army troops, and 250 Japanese-type Marines from the Yokosuka 4th Special Naval Landing Force. Fourteen hundred labor troops unfit for ordinary military service were building the new airfield on Kwajalein.
As in Vietnam nowadays, the Marines on Roi-Namur and the other northern islands were exact in counting the bodies. They reported counting 3,563 enemy dead or captured in the northern half of Kwajalein Atoll. In
any case, the bulk of the regularly assigned Japanese (some 2,500) on the two causeway-connected islands, Roi and Namur, were technical aviation or aviation base personnel such as storekeepers and aviation machinists as there were only 345 Japanese troops assigned there from the defending 61st Guard Force. Japanese records and post-battle interrogation of prisoners indicate there were 357 laborers supporting the Japanese construction and base personnel on Roi-Namur.42
The How: The General Plan for FLINTLOCK
Vice Admiral Spruance, Commander Central Pacific Force, issued his Operation Plan for FLINTLOCK, CEN-1-44, on 6 January 1944. He designated Rear Admiral Turner as Commander Task Force 51 and Commander Joint Expeditionary Force. Rear Admiral Richard L. Conolly, who had distinguished himself in the Mediterranean during the Tunisian, Sicilian, and Italian amphibious campaigns, and who had been specifically requested by CINCPAC for amphibious assignment in the Pacific, was charged with the capture of the northern half of Kwajalein Atoll as Commander Task Force 53.
The Fourth Division of Marines, under Major General Harry Schmidt, USMC, was the Northern Landing Force.43
Rear Admiral Turner as CTF 52 and Commander Southern Attack Force, together with Major General C. H. Corlett, USA, as Commander Southern Landing Force and the Army's Seventh Infantry Division were charged with taking the southern half of Kwajalein Atoll.
Captain Donald W. Loomis, who had fought through Watchtower and GALVANIC, was assigned as Commander Attack Force Reserve Group (CTG 51.1). Carried aboard the ships of his command were about 9,000 troops from the 22nd Regiment of Marines and the 106th Infantry Regiment, under Brigadier General Thomas E. Watson, USMC, and designated as the Reserve Landing Force.
Rear Admiral Harry W. Hill, the third of the regularly assigned amphibious group commanders in the Fifth Amphibious Force, was CTG 51.2 and
charged with the occupation of Majuro Atoll. Lieutenant Colonel Frederick B. Sheldon, USA, commanded the Majuro Landing Force, which was the 2nd Battalion of the 106th Infantry Regiment.
The geographical names of the smaller islands in the Kwajalein Atoll, in general, were such difficult tongue twisters that, not only before the assault, but subsequent thereto, it was customary to use their code names in lieu of their regular ones. This practice is continued in this work.
Here are the principal islands and their code names:
ISLAND Northern Kwajalein Code Name Ennuebing JACOB Ennubirr ALLEN Ennugarret ABRAHAM Ennumennet ALBERT Mellu IVAN Namur CAMOUFLAGE Obella ANDREW Roi BURLESQUE Southern Kwajalein Bigej BENNETT Ebeye BURTON Ennylabegan CARLOS Enubuj CARLSON Gea CARTER Gehh CHAUNCEY Kwajalein PORCELAIN Ninni CECIL
The principal strategic features of the CINCPOA FLINTLOCK Plan called for:
Intensified bombing of the Marshalls commencing 15 January 1944 by shore-based air and by carrier-based air.
Left: Southern Kwajalein Atoll. Right: Gea and South Passes.
Intensified submarine attacks on all Japanese naval and merchant shipping in the Marshalls.
Heavy gun bombardment of selected Japanese naval and air bases in the Marshalls commencing on 29 January 1944 by new battleships temporarily detached from fast carrier task groups, and by a special bombardment group of heavy cruisers and destroyers.
The Schemes of Maneuver--Basic Plan
The basic overall FLINTLOCK plan envisioned that the neutralization of Wotje and Maloelap by bombing from land-based air, by carrier air attacks, and by surface gun bombardment would be accomplished by 30 January 1944. The Northern and Southern islands of Kwajalein Atoll were to be assaulted simultaneously by the amphibians on 31 January 1944. Majuro--which was believed to be either very lightly held or perhaps undefended--was to be "seized by one Marine defense battalion." Majuro was to be kept from being alerted to an impending assault by not being attacked in any way prior to Dog Day.
The general Schemes of Maneuver at Kwajalein Atoll and at Majuro Atoll contemplated three phases.
This phased and hence slower approach to the main objective was one which had been considered during the planning period for the Gilbert Islands Operation. It was rejected by Admiral Spruance because of anticipation of an immediate response to the assault by main Japanese Fleet and air forces, and hence the need for surprise and quick conquest. The three phases were:
Seizure of island positions from which to support main landings.
Dog Day Plus One
Assault and occupy Roi and Namur Islands in the north and Kwajalein Island in the south of Kwajalein Atoll, and Darrit Island in Majuro Atoll.
Dog Day Plus ???
Establish defenses on assault islands and reduce enemy opposition on remaining islands of Kwajalein Atoll and Majuro Atoll.
The Scheme of Maneuver for Kwajalein Island developed by Commander Landing Troops for the Southern Attack Force, and declared hydrographically practical by the Navy, called for troops to land before dawn on Dog Day from two APDs on two small islands guarding a good entrance channel (Gea Pass) to Kwajalein Lagoon some nine miles to the northwest of Kwajalein. These two islands were named Ninni and Gea and bore the code names of CECIL and CARTER.
At How Hour on Dog Day, initially set for 0830, 31 January 1944, other troops would land on Ennylabegan Island and Enubuj Islands (code names CARLOS and CARLSON). On CARLSON Island, which was only two and a half miles from Kwajalein, artillery would be emplaced for support of the main assault of the Southern Landing Force. These four landings were Phase I of the Scheme of Maneuver for the Southern Attack Force.
Depending upon the success of these operations on Dog Day, the main assault landings would take place on the western beaches of Kwajalein Island at William Hour, 0930, the following day. This main assault was Phase II of the Southern Attack Force operation.
From the seaman's point of view, the western beaches of Kwajalein Island were well chosen since they did provide some lee from the prevailing swell for amtracs carrying their important loads of assault troops. Landing seasick soldiers on a defended shore is one sure way to get an assault started under a handicap.
A landing effected on the western beaches of Kwajalein Island would be free from flanking fire, and the beachhead established there could be supported by both naval and shore based artillery. The latter aspect necessitated a landing on the small island, CARLSON, to the northwestward.
The alternate Scheme of Maneuver called for Phase II landings on lagoon beaches Green Two, Green Three and Green Four, along the northwestern shore of Kwajalein Island.
The Scheme of Maneuver at Roi-Namur followed the classic pattern of
seizing lightly defended islands within artillery range of the main objective, in order to provide artillery support, in addition to naval gunfire for the main assault landings. Since the assault landings were to be made from the lagoons it was equally necessary that these islands be under our control to prevent their use by the enemy to fire on and disrupt the assault craft as they approached the assault beaches.
In this case, IVAN (Mellu) and JACOB (Ennuebing) Islands, south and west of Roi Island, were to be captured by landings from seaward at How Hour on Dog Day--hopefully set at 0900, 31 January. Ninety minutes later ALLEN (Ennubirr) and ALBERT (Ennumennet) Islands eastward across the lagoon and southeast of Namur Island were to be seized by landings on their lagoon beaches.
These four landings, followed by the Marines on ALBERT (Ennumennet) moving north to ABRAHAM (Ennugarret) Island for a fifth landing, were Phase I. Successful accomplishment would permit a considerable amount of artillery to be landed on Dog Day for support of the main assaults on Dog Day plus one.
Scheduled for 1 February 1944, were simultaneous landings on the southern (lagoon) beaches of Roi Island and Namur Island at Red Two, Red Three and Green One, Green Two Beaches respectively. This was Phase II.
This Scheme of Maneuver at Roi-Namur was more complicated than it may seem since it involved five objectives to be taken on one day by a provisional Landing Group of Marines, with a limited number of amtracs (10th Amphibian Tractor Battalion). The timing, with the available supply of amtracs, was exact and depended for efficient execution upon reliable voice radio communications, both afloat and ashore.
The Scheme of Maneuver for Majuro was not greatly different in concept from the standard pattern. It called for seizure on Dog Day of two small islands, Eroj and Calalin, marking Calalin Channel, the main entrance to Majuro Lagoon, followed by a "shore-to-shore" amphibious movement to
Landing objectives, Northern Kwajalein
seize the larger islands on Dog Day and Dog plus one. The necessary troops were carried aboard one attack transport and one destroyer-type transport.
Since there was but one Japanese soldier on Majuro to "defend and die," this operation can be told in one paragraph.
The first report from the reconnaissance party landed to take a "look-see" and get the up-to-the-minute information on Japanese forces, and made about 2345 on 30 January 1944, was that 300 to 400 Japanese troops were on Darrit Island. Contrary information was soon at hand that there were only four Japanese, only one of whom was military, on the islands of Majuro Atoll. But before this second and correct report was at hand, Darrit Island was under gun bombardment from Rear Admiral Hill's task group. It took some minutes to grind the fire to a halt, and some hours to complete a physical reconnaissance of all the islands and capture the single Japanese naval warrant officer, who was the custodian and overseer of Japanese property in Majuro Atoll, and the sole military occupant.
It was not until 15 February 1944 that radio silence was broken at Majuro Atoll. By that time Majuro was an operating Fleet anchorage, and soon to be a primary staging base for operations against the Marianas.
Northern and Southern Attack Forces
The capture of the small islands guarding the main ship entrances into Kwajalein lagoon and the early sweeping of these channels and anchorage areas within the lagoon were essential features of the plans from a naval as well as a troop point of view. Both unloading of logistic support and close fire support would be facilitated by the calmer waters of the lagoon. Following these mine sweeping operations, fire support ships and transports would enter the lagoons.
Time Out For New Year Cheer
The New Year found All Hands in the Fifth Amphibious Force pressing for the rehearsals for FLINTLOCK soon to be held. Not too busy, however, for the LST-242 started her 1944 War Diary with this bad doggerel:
Majuro or ARROWSMITH Atoll
Ensign Spoenernan O.O.D.
In Drydock's 2 sheltered lee
Upon blocks as before
Making ready for Pacific War.
Of three other ships we're aware
in here also for repair
The other vessels are LST
Twenty-three and Two forty-three.
The Eighty-four is with us too
Pearl Harbor makes us all like new
Yard work continues on apace
In this busy naval base.
Pre-Dog Day, Army Air Force Air Strikes
Anyone who had questioned the necessity of taking the Gilberts before moving into the Marshalls, should have had his doubts removed--when the Army Air Force moved its Seventh Air Force bombers and fighters from Oahu, Funafuti, Nanomea, Baker, and Canton into the Gilberts, and put them to work under Rear Admiral J. H. Hoover, Commander Defense Forces and Land/Base Air, CTF 57. Altogether TF 57 had nearly 350 Army and Navy aircraft.
The B-24s based back in the Ellice Islands were flying 2,794, 3,027 or 3,100 miles to reach their Marshall Island targets and were able to mount a strike only about every other day. In the last ten days of November 1943, they mounted strikes against Jaluit, Mille, Maloelap, the former once and the latter two atolls twice. They mustered a total of 59 B-24s over the targets in these five strikes of late November 1943. In the last ten days of December 1943, when the Ellice Island aircraft could stage through Tarawa going or returning and the shorter range A-25s and B-25s could be based on Tarawa, the Seventh Air Force mustered 210 bombers over not only Jaluit, Mille and Maloelap, but over far away Wotje and Kwajalein. And the chores of the bombers were made considerably less risky by the fact that P-39's and, later, P-40 fighter aircraft were able to accompany them to the nearer targets and help fend off the Japanese fighter aircraft.44
By the last ten days of January 1944, the period just before the invasion of the Marshalls, with the newly built airfield on Apamama in the Gilbert
Islands now available for use, the number of bomber strikes by Task Force 57 again more than doubled rising to 444. Any fortified Japanese atoll in the Marshalls that was not struck every day was in good luck.
Additionally, the Marshall Atolls near the Gilberts were strafed daily by fighters or had United States fighter patrols maintained over them during daylight hours to prevent their use by Japanese aircraft.
Thus, the capture of the Gilberts paid tremendous dividends.
Pre-Dog Day Naval Air Strikes
Way back in October 1943, and well before the GALVANIC armada had sailed from Pearl Harbor in November for the Gilberts, Admiral Nimitz noted in his Command Summary:
The planning groups currently are preparing studies and outline plans for carrier raids on the Marshall Islands and Nauru immediately after completion of GALVANIC, and on TRUK sometime between GALVANIC and FLINTLOCK.45
A reorganized and considerably reduced in size Task Force 50 (Rear Admiral Pownall) with four large carriers, Enterprise, Essex, Lexington and Yorktown, two cruiser-hulled carriers, Belleau Wood (CVL-24), and Cowpens (CVL-25), with supporting combatant ships and 386 aircraft, was ordered to make raids on Kwajalein and Wotje on its way home to Pearl from GALVANIC. The Task Force approach was made from the northeast of Kwajalein with initial launch for the 4 December attack near Rongerik Atoll.
Numerous photographic missions were flown, and 246 aircraft participated in the operation. Japanese air reaction was heavy and sustained.
Bombing success was modest, although 85.5 tons of bombs were dropped on Kwajalein Atoll and 11.0 tons on Wotje Atoll. Taroa Island in Maloelap Atoll was not hit at all and a second planned strike on the other objectives was not carried through. The Lexington picked up a torpedo in her stern quarter during a night Japanese torpedo attack, pushed through while the task group was hightailing it for Pearl Harbor.
However, one of the photographic planes brought home a clear picture of a new bomber strip on Kwajalein Island, which was about 70 percent completed. This meant that the amphibians probably would have to assault simultaneously both Roi-Namur in the northern part of the atoll and
Kwajalein Island in the southern part. And it represented one more reason indicating the desirability of an early seizure of Kwajalein Atoll.
On the original of the CTF 50 report of this operation and opposite the recommendations for future air strikes at the Marshalls as made by Rear Admiral Pownall to Admiral Nimitz appears a pencil notation "all defensive" in recognizable handwriting. In any case when the attack carrier task forces went to sea as TF 58 for FLINTLOCK, Rear Admiral Marc A. Mitscher was the Task Force Commander and Vice Admiral J.H. Towers, the long-time naval aviator, was the Deputy to CINCPAC, Rear Admiral Pownall having relieved the latter as Commander Air Force, Pacific Fleet.46
Between 27 and 30 January 1944, the fast carrier task forces, Task Force 58, divided into four groups and carrying nearly 700 aircraft, not only worked over Roi and Kwajalein Islands, but finished off Japanese air strength on Wotje and Maloelap Atolls and started Eniwetok Atoll on the downhill path.
Composite Efforts Task Force 57 and Task Force 58
The composite and heavy pre-Dog Day air strikes of the naval carrier air and naval land based planes and the Army Air Force land based planes wiped out the Japanese defensive air resources in the eastern Marshalls during the month of January 1944. The few serviceable Japanese aircraft remaining as January drew to a close were evacuated from Jaluit, Mille, and Wotje before Dog Day, and all pilots from Maloelap on Dog Day plus one. The Japanese reported they lost 100 planes during this period. United States estimates were 50 percent higher. The end result was the same; zero Japanese aircraft remained.47
Japanese records do not disclose how many flyable planes were on Kwajalein Atoll on 29 January 1944, when the final fast carrier task force attacks began. One Japanese officer reported there were only 10 serviceable aircraft on Kwajalein Atoll by 25 January. On the other hand it has been guessed that there were as many as 35 flyable Japanese aircraft at the atoll on Dog Day minus one. In any case, no Japanese plane was aloft over Kwajalein Atoll after the morning carrier attack on 30 January.48
As an interested Army observer wrote to the Chief of Staff of the Army Air Force:
The consistent bombing of the Japanese airfields in the Marshalls prior to DOG DAY resulted in the fast carrier task forces approaching their objectives undetected. Not one hostile aircraft made an attack against any element of our naval forces in the Marshalls prior to, during or immediately after DOG DAY.49
A new naval element was brought into FLINTLOCK, the Neutralization Group of three heavy cruisers, four destroyers and two minecraft. The Neutralization Group was given the mission to:
Deny to the enemy the use of airfields at Wotje and Taroa [Maloelap] by maintaining an intermittent surface ship bombardment of the airfields, air facilities and housing areas.
Mine the lagoon entrances.50
They were to commence operations on Dog Day minus two, and their operations had to be based on the assumption that so few Japanese aircraft would still be flying in the Marshalls that these ships could cruise unharmed by air attack within gun range of the Japanese airfields.
This turned out to be a valid assumption as far as Japanese aircraft were concerned.
The Neutralization Group conducted daylight cruiser bombardments of Taroa and Wotje on 29, 30, and 31 January from beyond the range of the shore batteries and continued these gunnery drills 0111, 2, and 3 February 1944. The destroyers conducted six-hour night bombardments of Taroa and Wotje on the nights of 29 and 30 January and 1 February. Some 2,352 eight-inch high capacity shells and 2,240 five-inch common shells were fired to keep the air strips inoperative and to destroy supporting Japanese installations.
Fifty to sixty percent of the projectiles fired without point detonating fuses failed to explode.51
Despite this handicap and in combination with carrier air strikes on Taroa
on 29 and 30 January and on Wotje on 29, 30, and 31 January, Japanese air efforts in the eastern Marshalls became a flat zero.
Pre-Dog Day Gun Bombardment--Marshalls
To supplement the efforts of the Neutralization Group, a special detachment of the Northern Support Group (TG 53.5) consisting of one heavy cruiser, three light cruisers and six destroyers, also bombarded Otdia Island in Wotje Atoll on 30 January.
A brisk encounter between the still alert 5.5-inch coast defense guns and the 6-inch and 8-inch guns of the cruisers was ended when the ships opened the range after the destroyer Anderson had been hit. The ships continued with their primary mission, the bombardment of the runways and revetments. Some 6,620 shells were plowed into the airfield area.
The instructions of senior Fleet commanders for gunfire support to be fired at Kwajalein Atoll were a great deal more detailed than they had been in previous amphibious operations.
The Commander in Chief, Pacific laid down certain general principles, which the lower commands were required to follow. With slight modifications this became the pattern for the remaining amphibious campaigns in the area of Pacific Fleet operations. Specifically, he directed:
Naval Gunfire Support--Gunfire support plans for bombardment of enemy-held atoll islands should embody the following:
Five general phases of bombardment as follows:
Initial counter-battery fire against known strong points using HC [high capacity] and AP [armor piercing] projectiles, and commencing at ranges producing an angle of fall of 15 degrees.
General area bombardment using HC and AA common projectiles delivered at ranges between 10,000 and 5,000 yards.
Destruction of heavy defenses, pillboxes, and dugouts along the landing beaches by slow, accurate, and deliberate fire, using AP and common projectiles. This fire is to be delivered at close ranges using pointer fire, if practicable.
Heavy concentration fire at close range on landing beach areas during the boat approach.
Delivery of call fire by ships assigned after H-Hour.
Use of a rolling barrage system of fire rather than radical shifting of target areas during area bombardment.
Restriction of air burst firing to use only as a weapon of opportunity against exposed personnel.
Maximum use of 40mm batteries whenever range and other conditions permit and control of these batteries by 5-inch gun directors, if fire control installations permit.
Stationing of close fire support ships in a favorable position relative to the landing beaches, and at closest safe navigation range, so as to provide their continuous observation of the assault boat waves, permitting these ships to decide at what time their fire must cease for safety of landing personnel.52
USS Rocky Mount (AGC-3), Rear Admiral Turner's flagship for the Marshall Islands Operation (80-G-85693)
To Sea in a Headquarters Ship
On 8 January 1944, COMPHIBPAC, his staff and the Headquarters of Commander Support Aircraft embarked in the Rocky Mount (AGC-3). The initial reaction was that the ship was wonderful. But by the time the staff had shaken down, and the Commander, Fifth Amphibious Corps and his staff had come aboard, it was apparent that there were problems in the communication equipment--primarily interference between the many, many radio sets and radars needed and used simultaneously.53
These ships, which drew their "AGC" designation from a type classification of "Auxiliary General Communication Ship," were a beehouse of radio transmitters and receivers set among a forest of radars.
Only one other Headquarters Ship, the Appalachian (AGC-1), was available in the Central Pacific for the Marshall Island campaign. This fell to Rear Admiral Conolly.
Rear Admiral Hill had shifted his flag on 6 January 1944 from the Maryland to a transport fitted as a flagship, the Cambria (APA-36). It will be remembered that the Cambria had been a standby flagship for Rear Admiral Turner prior to the Gilbert Islands operation, and perhaps was the best of the transport flagships.
Rehearsal for the Southern Attack Force was held at Maalaea Bay, Maui and nearby Kahoolawe Island on 13-16 January 1944. Rehearsals by the Northern Attack Force were held at San Clemente Island, California, on 2-3 January 1944, almost a month before the actual assault. Rear Admiral Turner later wrote:
. . . In the final rehearsals of the Northern Attack Force, it was possible to assemble part, but not all, of the supporting combatant forces. . . . Only a small proportion of the supporting carrier aircraft were available. . . . For the rehearsal of the Southern Attack Force, it was possible to make but one troop landing, and one additional partial debarkation of troops into boats for a simulated landing. . . . Part of the aircraft operated from shore instead of carrier decks, thus creating artificial conditions.54
Again, it was the aircraft which were short-changed in the rehearsals.
Approach to the Marshalls
The main body of Task Force 51, the Joint Expeditionary Force, with nearly 300 ships and 54,000 assault troops embarked, departed from Pearl for FLINTLOCK operations on 22 January 1944. The Northern Attack Force had sailed from San Diego, California, on 13 January, stopping off at Lahaina Roads, Maui, for fueling on 21 January. The LST's of the Northern Attack Force, with their precious amtracs had sailed from San Diego on 6 January, while the amtrac-bearing LST's of the Southern Attack Force sailed from Pearl Harbor on 19 January 1944.
On 14 January 1944, the Joint Intelligence Center, Pacific Ocean Area had issued a chart showing Japanese air searches from the Marshalls, based on intercepted Japanese radio traffic. This chart showed the Japanese were searching to 700 miles to the south and south-southeast from the eastern Marshalls (where the air attacks against them were coming from) but only 350 miles to the east and northeast. This influenced the choice of the approach route for FLINTLOCK forces, which was made from the north-northeast.
According to Rear Admiral Turner's operational report:
The voyage from the Hawaiian Area to the objective was almost without incident. One sound contact was reported by the Screen on January 30th. . . . It is believed all units of the Expeditionary Force reached their objectives without being detected by the enemy.55
The most alarming event on the passage to the objective in the Southern Attack Force occurred when at 1925 on the evening before the initial assault, the battleship Pennsylvania suddenly opened anti-aircraft fire. Most fortunately, no Japanese plane was around to spoil the surprise party of the on-rushing Expeditionary Force. And when things were quieted down the amphibians' War Diary noted:
Pennsylvania reported firing done by excited man.56
The Northern Attack Force had its first moment of travail long before Dog minus one. On the passage from San Diego to Hawaii, the LST's encountered very rough weather the night of 11-12 January. Some of the amtracs got loose on the tank decks of the LST's, the LST's became scattered and the LST-122 did not rejoin the formation until arrival at Nawiliwili Bay on the southeast coast of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands on 17 January 1944.
The advance guard of the Northern Attack Force had another moment of travail on 28 January 1944. The Lavalette (DD-448), escort between Hawaii and Kwajalein Atoll for the Initial Tractor Group (TG 53.7), made a radar contact at 18 miles with an unidentified aircraft at 280910 and tracked the plane for some minutes. Haze and low clouds made sight contact impossible. On this date, the Japanese had only four search aircraft operating daily from the Marshalls in a quadrant between 060° to 110° from Taroa to a distance of 600 or 700 miles. These planes had no radar, but our forces did not know that.
According to a despatch to Commander Expeditionary Force from CINCPAC, a Japanese plane made a contact on the next day at 291250 with something located at 11° 17' N, 171° 23' E. This was about 100 miles northeast of Wotje Atoll. TG 53.7, the Northern Tractor Group (LST's), was at 11° 27' N, 17° 08' E, at 1250 on 29 January, reasonably close to this position.57
Surprisingly, the Japanese took no offensive action against the Northern Tractor Group. But it is worth noting that again it was the slow moving LST's which offered the Japanese the opportunity for first knowledge of the approach of the amphibians.
The battleships in the Southern Attack Force logged picking up Kwajalein Atoll by radar a few minutes after midnight on 30 January 1944 at ranges from 18 to 20 miles.
Southern Attack Force Landings--The First Move At Night
A great many ships logged a strong set to the south and southwest as they moved in close to Kwajalein Atoll.
Two APDs, the Overton and Manley, designated the Channel Island Transport Group, had the difficult chore of landing a reconnaissance party and follow up troops on a dark night on Gea Island and Ninni Island just
to the northwest of Kwajalein Island. The Overton was under orders to land her party on Ninni Island and the Manley, her party on Gea Island. Gea Island was about nine miles northwest of Kwajalein Island and Ninni Island was just a bit further northwest on the far side of Gea Pass Channel leading into the southern part of Kwajalein Lagoon. The destroyer transports were under orders to land their first wave of reconnaissance troops at "about 0330" on 31 January 1944 from rubber boats on the seaward beaches. Subsequent follow-up troops were to land from regular personnel landing craft a few minutes later.58
The two converted destroyers did not even come close to accomplishing their chore at the appointed hour. And following the sad example of the destroyer transports at New Georgia in TOENAILS seven months before, the Overton first landed her troops on the wrong island.
At 0130, the Manley picked up Kwajalein Island by radar. At the same time the Overton logged seeing the glow of fires due to the bombing of the island. It was evident that the Japanese had not been able or had not tried to darken ship (black out) in expectation of an assault.
The destroyer transports got behind schedule by inching up to their disembarkation positions about a mile from the beaches. They did not begin launching their landing craft for the reconnaissance parties and assault troops until about 0341. The current and off shore wind carried the destroyer transports seaward nearly a thousand yards while they off loaded their troops in the darkness and ocean swell. The new moon had long since set. At about 0423, the landing craft loaded with assault troops and rubber boats carrying the reconnaissance parties in the tow of ships' motor boats were shoved off for the beach. With morning twilight due to begin at 0559, and sunrise due at 0712, this was a late start for an important mission.
The craft from the Manley proceeded slowly toward the beach, delayed by wind and sea and the holding of several conferences enroute as to which of the dark island silhouettes ahead was Gea Island.
When about one-quarter mile off the beach, during one of these dark conferences, previous plans to shift the rubber boat party to an electric powered raft for an offshore reconnaissance and report back to the assault
party were abandoned, because of the fast approaching dawn. At 0547--just 12 minutes before dawn--the reconnaissance party from the Manley was logged as making an unopposed landing on Gea Island. The island was reported captured before noon.
The craft from the Overton wrestled with the same wind, sea, and identification problems as had those from the Manley. The tail end members of the Overton assault party were logged as having landed at a late 0603--four minutes after morning twilight had broken. By 0627, a red light had been displayed on the island and logged aboard ship, and then it was quickly noted that the light was on the wrong island. The Navy had landed the troops on Gehh Island, the next island northwest from Ninni Island. It was 0700 and broad daylight before the party on Gehh Island discovered they were on the wrong island. It was 0721 before the TBS logs show this fact reported to Rear Admiral Turner, and 0810 before the movement to the correct destination, Ninni Island, was begun and promptly executed.
After the event, the Overton reported she and her boat officers enroute beachward had had difficulty identifying Ninni Island, her landing target, initially because of the similarity on radar of the two islands and later due to the sameness of their dark silhouettes. The disturbing fact, however, is that on the radar screen and on the charts there are four islands in the general area of Gea Pass. Ninni and Gea are the two islands in the center close together with Gehh and Ennylabegan well separated to the left and right respectively, and Gea the smallest of all.
By 1235 Ninni Island had been reported secured, although the flagship, Overton, did not log this good word until 1400.
Things had gone much better on Gea. At 1130 Gea Island was reported secured.
Although the Overton does not mention the unsatisfactory landing beaches, the skipper of the Manley logged:
Commanding Officer of the Overton said three of his landing boats were wrecked on the beach and wanted to use two of the Manley's. Against my better judgment, I sent him two boats.59
There were no Japanese on Ninni Island where the Overton was supposed
to land her troops but there were 130 Japanese on Gehh Island where she did land them. So it was a double complication to land unintentionally on Gehh Island.
Before all the Japanese had been subdued on Gehh Island, it was necessary for the Overton to fire her 3-inch guns for about 10 minutes in close fire support on 1 February 1944.
Our losses in securing Gehh, Ninni, and Gea Islands were initially reported as two dead and two wounded, a remarkably small number for wiping out 150 Japanese and securing a vital entrance into Kwajalein lagoon.60 The chore was over and done on Gea and Ninni by midafternoon on 1 February.
Southern Attack Force Landings On Ennylabegan (CARLOS) and Enubuj (CARLSON)
The daylight Dog Day landings on CARLSON and CARLOS Islands were to ensure the provision of artillery support for the main assault landing on Kwajalein Island, scheduled for the next day. Additionally, the longer of these two 300-yard-wide islands, CARLOS, rising out of the reef some seven miles northwest of Kwajalein, was considered suitable for supply dumps and repair stations during the main assault.
The Advance Transport Unit, under Captain J. B. McGovern, was told off for this Dog Day task with the 17th Regimental Combat Team and sixty pieces of artillery from the Seventh Infantry Division. Making up the sixty weapons were forty eight 105-millimeter and twelve 155-millimeter (6.1), all of which were to be emplaced on CARLSON Island just two miles from Kwajalein.
At Makin and Tarawa, the troops on the transports had off-loaded into LCVP's which then sought the correct amtrac which only minutes before had been launched from an LST. The troops then boarded the amtracs to ride into their assault beaches.
At Kwajalein on Dog Day, a modified procedure was used. The transports transferred the assault troops to the designated LST by LCVP. The troops then climbed aboard the correct amtrac in the LST tank deck and then the LST's launched the fully manned amtracs through the bow doors. This change
was made on the basis that it would be much easier to locate a bulky LST in the dark than an individual low freeboard LVT.
However, in the dark of the night of 31 January 1944, the LST's of the Advance Transport Unit (Tractor Unit One) could not locate in the Troop Transfer Area the particular transport which they had been ordered to lie to nearby. The Troop Transfer Area was an unmarked strip of ocean five to en miles west of Gea Pass.
At 0544 the flagship of the transports was ready, willing and able to commence the transfer of troops, and the signal "Land the Landing Force" was promulgated by Commander Southern Attack Force (CTF 52), but it was not until well after 0605, dawn having started to break at 0559 (at which time CTF 52 had ordered all the transports to turn on their identification signal lights), that the LST's started drawing close aboard to their correct transports. The last LST to do this was the LST-272 logged as arriving at 0650, after having been delayed by a steering engine failure at the crucial minute.
Long before the 0712 sunrise, the Fire Support Group was thundering away at Kwajalein, the old battleships Pennsylvania and Mississippi having opened fire at 0618. At the same time the four destroyers of Fire Support Units One and Four were shelling both CARLOS and CARLSON with over two thousand 5-inch shells; the New Orleans was dropping 8-inch shells on CARLSON. Ten minutes before sunrise, about 0702, the first of the assault troop transfers to the LST-224 had been completed, and she headed for the Line of Departure ready to launch her 17 amtracs against Yellow Beach on CARLSON. The underlying, long ocean swell, with its top whipped into a healthy chop by the steady wind, coupled with the fact that some of the LST's had rigged only one rope net for the troops to climb aboard on, made the troop transfer a slow one. When this was combined with inadequate frapping lines to hold the landing craft close to the sides of the LST's while unloading, the short minutes of dawn slipped by all too fast.
The last LST was logged moving out of the Troop Transfer Area to her launching position at a late 0745. It had long been apparent that the Navy again was not going to meet its appointed How Hour, 0830, for putting the troops ashore. At 0725, Commander Advance Transport Unit (Captain McGovern) reported to CTF 52 (Rear Admiral Turner) that he was running 30 minutes late. Guided by the experience at Tarawa, CTF 52 at 0748, set How Hour back not 30 minutes but 40 minutes, to 0910. At 0810, Fire Support Units One and Four commenced their pre-assault landing bombardment
of CARLOS and CARLSON. The new battleship Washington had bombarded the islands the previous day.61
This time communication channels were open to the naval aviators from the escort carriers and they were alerted to the change in How Hour and carried out their scheduled air strike on CARLOS Island, commencing at 0858. According to the Joint Amphibious Force report:
Scheduled fires and air strikes in support of these landings were executed exactly on time. . . .
* * * * *
There was a constant curtain of heavy offensive fire laid down by naval ships of the fire support group and by aircraft.62
White Beach Two on CARLOS Island was in a cove near the northwestern end of the island and the Line of Departure was 3,000 yards west of Harvey Point, the northwestern end of CARLOS.
Yellow Beach Two on CARLSON Island stretched across most of the northwestern end of the island.
The first of the four assault waves of amtracs for each island left the Line of Departure at 0851, followed on schedule by the next three waves. The 12 LCI's converted to LCI(FS)'s provided close-in fire support, six at each island. The first wave landed on CARLOS at 0910, and on CARLSON at 0915. The latter landing was tardy but not disgracefully so. The delay was reportedly due to the breaking down of a drone boat planned for demolition of underwater obstacles, and the necessity of clearing it out of the way of the advancing amtracs.63
Particularly noted was the effective manner which the LST's with LVT(A-2)'s accomplished this landing operation. There was no difficulty in launching them or in their beaching over the harsh coral reefs surrounding the islands. The fire support by 40mm, rockets and .50 cal. observed coming from special LCI's who went close in to the beach with attack waves, seemed very effective and was impressively mentioned by personnel of the Army who went ashore.64
The actual landings on White Beach Two on CARLOS Island were unopposed at the landing beach. With due effort, 26 Japanese were flushed
out, killed or captured, and at 1615 the island was reported secured without loss of life.
The assault waves were also unopposed on CARLSON. The island was reported captured by 1210, likewise without loss of life, although as many as 125 Japanese and Koreans were reported killed or captured.65
Before dark, the Army artillery was all ashore and the first landed of the 105-millimeter (4.1") were logged at an early 1353 as shooting at Kwajalein Island. The first artillery had been smartly landed only an hour before, at 1253, and rapidly and proficiently emplaced.
A major logistic support effort was required at CARLSON by DUKWs outloaded from three beached LST's to keep these busy guns adequately supplied with ammunition. However, these willing guns fired harassing fire on Kwajalein throughout the night of 31 January-1 February and a total of 29,000 rounds in preparation for and during the assault landing on Kwajalein.66
While no Japanese minefields were known to have been layed in the southern half of Kwajalein Lagoon, it was still necessary to clearly establish this fact by minesweeping, or to know the boundaries of any located mine fields, before sending gunfire support ships through Gea Pass to provide close support for the troops landing on the west beaches of Kwajalein Island.
Since photographic reconnaissance had located no fixed guns on either Gea or Ninni Island, it was not considered necessary that these islands guarding Gea Pass be secured before thin skinned minesweepers were ordered through the pass.
At 0638 the minesweeping unit was directed to proceed into the lagoon to commence sweeping, and at 0734, the flagship Revenge passed Ninni Island abeam and headed into the lagoon.
No mines were located in the main anchorage in the southern lagoon or in Gea Pass but later a few horned-type anchored mines were swept up in other passes into the lagoon.
The Revenge claimed her place in naval history by entering in her War Diary that she was:
the first U.S. Naval surface vessel to enter into a Japanese harbor that had not been captured by them but which had been under their control prior to the beginning of the war.67
At 1508 Commander Minesweeping Group was logged coming aboard the Rocky Mount to report no mines in any of the anchorage area that we needed for immediate use.
By nightfall, Transport Division Four, Fire Support Unit One, Fire Support Unit Four, the LCI gunboats, the LST's and several large attack cargo ships were all safely inside the lagoon within the mineswept anchorage. The waters of the lagoon were not smooth, but they were smoother than those outside and more suitable for unloading cargo. And best of all, the ships were free of submarine worries.
About 1700 on Dog Day, Major General Corlett, Commander Southern Landing Force, shifted his forward echelon command post to CARLSON, preparatory for the big tomorrow.
A Big Plus for Dog Day
The biggest plus on Dog Day for the Southern Attack Force was the capture of a portfolio of about 75 Japanese secret charts covering the Marshalls and Caroline Islands, as well as selected secret charts of ports in the Marianas, Bonins, and of major naval ports in Japan. These were recovered from a Japanese tugboat stranded on the lagoon side of Gehh Island, the island where our troops had been landed in error by the Advance Transport Unit. If not for this mistaken landing in the early dawn perhaps the tugboat personnel might have destroyed their gold mine of hydrographic information.68
As a result of this find, orders for a complete hydrographic survey by our minesweepers of Kwajalein Lagoon were cancelled. The Japanese charts were translated, depth converted to fathoms from meters, redrafted and reproduced in time to be given to ships participating in the CATCHPOLE Operation against Eniwetok ten days later. Additionally, from the same tugboat a great number of code books and recognition signals were among the captured documents.69
Southern Attack Force--The Main Assault: Kwajalein
Once started, all operations had gone quite well on Dog Day, so at 1638 on 31 January, CTF 52 advised Task Force 52 that the main assault landings would be launched as planned at William Hour--0930--on 1 February 1944, against Beach Red One and Beach Red Two on Kwajalein Island.
During Dog Day at about 1000 (high tide) and again about 1600 (low tide), the men from the Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) in four LCVP's in the morning and in four amtracs in the afternoon had taken a close look at the approaches to the main landing beaches on the western end of Kwajalein Island, while the reef-hugging battleships maintained a continuous fire against the western beaches of Kwajalein. The Japanese seemed unaware of what was taking place. The UDTs carried out their reconnaissance largely as planned and found neither underwater obstacles nor antiboat mines off the assault beaches and, even more luckily, were not fired upon during the morning reconnaissance.70
Throughout the daylight of Dog Day, the Fire Support Group worked over the defenses of Kwajalein, each ship having a fair share of specified Japanese defense objectives. Before the day was out, the Mississippi and Pennsylvania had closed the beach to within 1,500 yards to knock down the concrete pillars fronting the landing beaches.
Some 7,000 projectiles were fired against Kwajalein on 31 January 1944, by the four gallant old battleships (Pennsylvania, Idaho, New Mexico, and Mississippi), the three heavy cruisers and 11 destroyers of the Fire Support Group of the Southern Attack Force. The battleships did most of their bombardment at moderate ranges of about 12,000 yards, although some of it "close-up." The effect was both impressive to the onlooker and more importantly, effective, as these extracts from official reports indicate:
The bombardment was practically continuous on 31 January from 0812 to 1730 and on 1 February from 0615 to 1400. In addition the New Mexico and the Murray fired night interdiction the night of 31 January from 2020 to 0500.71
* * * * *
As tracer ammunition streaked through the dark tropic night from CARLSON to Kwajalein and from the ships to BURTON [Ebeye] Island the scene
resembled a gigantic battle of small boys with Roman candles, with terrific explosions shattering the silence and many fires blazing up to reveal a scene of complete desolation.72
* * * * *
At Kwajalein, a battleship was shelling the beach in preparation for the landing. The Admiral was not satisfied with the effect and particularly so in that the battleship was hesitant in closing the range. In much anger, he signalled to the general effect: 'Why should you with your 12" guns be afraid of the enemy's 6" cannon? Close the range to 1500 yards'.73
Dog Day Air Bombardment
The naval air bombardment of Kwajalein Island had been curtailed on the afternoon of Dog Day due to foul flying weather, of which a low cloud ceiling and rain squalls were the main ingredients. However, Carrier Task Group 58.1, with Enterprise, Yorktown and Belleau Wood, and Carrier Support Group 52.9, with Manila Bay, Coral Sea, and Corregidor had flown 102 bombing sorties over Kwajalein Island before their operations were called off.
The result of air and gun bombardment was to fill the island with bomb craters and shell holes, wreck nearly all structures and scatter them around, uproot the palms and destroy all the foliage, and to make it difficult for men or vehicles to move very rapidly from here to there because of rubble and holes.
Landing the Assault Waves--Kwajalein
The assault troops were ferried from the large transports to the LST's during daylight on Dog Day, and so were all ready to climb aboard their amtracs and be launched through the bow doors of the eight LST's early on Dog Day plus one.
Morning was just breaking, when, according to the Minneapolis TBS Log, at 0601 on Dog Day plus one, 1 February 1944, Captain Knowles, Commander Transport Group and veteran of Guadalcanal and Tarawa, was ordered by the big boss, Rear Admiral Turner, "To take charge and 'Land the Landing Force.'"
Landing beaches on Kwajalein Island.
This signal to a subordinate to "take charge" was sent because Rear Admiral Turner had learned through experience in WATCHTOWER, TOENAILS and GALVANIC that the actual landing operations must be placed squarely upon the shoulders of the Transport Group Commander.74 However, the Transport Group Commander still lacked adequate rank, a flagship with proper communication facilities, and more importantly, an ample and trained staff.
Commander Southern Transport Group, who noted in his report that he had received 55 directives, orders, and memoranda relative to FLINTLOCK, began his chores in the midst of an avalanche of efforts by others. His superior's Action Report noted:
. . . smoke from fires on the beach, smoke from ships' gunfire, and dust and debris from explosions almost obscured the western end of the island. From this time on, until the first wave landed, air strikes by carrier planes and Army B-24 heavy bombers, and scheduled fires by surface ships were carried out exactly on schedule in a magnificent demonstration of accurate timing and coordination.75
The lack of any semblance of Japanese gunfire towards the Transport Area permitted the LST's to launch their amtracs about 7,500 yards from the beach and the amtracs to move up to the Line of Departure 5,000 yards from Red Beach One and Red Beach Two with a minimum of confusion, delay, and apprehension.
How Hour on Kwajalein was 0930 and for a change the Navy made it on time. The 84 new amtracs LVT-2s and LVT-A(1) (tanks) made the two and a half miles from the Line of Departure at a speed of five knots despite the considerable swell which was wetting down the troops, and making them anxious to be on dry land.
Regimental Combat Team 184 was on the left flank and Regimental Combat Team 32 was on the right flank, both from the Seventh Infantry Division. Wave One had 16 amtracs carrying troops and 16 amphibious tanks. The early waves were supported by the fire support LCI's and shepherded by LCC's (Landing Craft Control) on each flank. The wave Space was four minutes, and the four amtrac waves all arrived on or ahead of time and landed without casualties.
Born of the confidence engendered in GALVANIC, big ship and destroyer gunfire support this time continued until two minutes before touchdown of
the amtracs, when the gunfire lifted inland. The LCI(FS)'s opened with their rockets at 1,100 yards from the beach, and let go their second salvo when only 800 yards offshore. They continued firing their machine guns up to the last minute before the troops reached the beach. Added to this rain of small gunfire, the amphibious tanks which numbered 16 in the lead wave added their best firing efforts.
The pesky current tended to set the amtracs towards the south, but as far as is known, all landed on their designated beaches although bunched toward the southern half of both Red Beach One and Red Beach Two.
As was later reported:
The first wave landed on schedule, exactly 0930. Surf was light and no obstacles or mines were encountered on the reef or beach. . . . Our troops advanced to the eastward along the long axis of the island a distance of about 1300 yards. . . . About 11,000 troops, 42 medium tanks and 6 light tanks fitted with flame throwers, in addition to adequate supply of ammunition, food and water were landed on Kwajalein the first day of the main landing.76
* * * * *
The LST-LVT assault team worked smoothly again and these LVT's had no great difficulties in surmounting the coral reefs on Red Beach 1 and 2. Army personnel were impressed by the quality and quantity of Naval gunfire.77
At 0940 just before the fourth amtrac wave was landing, the Beachmasters at both Red Beach One and Red Beach Two reported that hydrographic conditions in the beach approaches were such that troops in the LCVP waves would have to be transferred to amtracs for expeditious landing, since the LCVP's would not be able to get close to the shore before grounding. A rendezvous 700-800 yards off the beaches was arranged. Many, many transfers were carried out. In general, LCM's stranded about a hundred yards from the beach line and the tanks made it from there in on their own, but an unfortunate few were drowned out.
Despite these handicaps, the landing of the assault troops, their tanks, equipment, and logistic support proceeded steadily. No land mines were encountered in the immediate beach area.
By noon on 2 February, logistic support was being landed generally over Blue Beach One or Green Beach Four, rather than over the Red beaches. Before dark that day, all logistic support was going ashore over lagoon beaches or by transshipment to LVT's.
The Kwajalein lagoon beaches were no bargain basement for large landing
craft, as the Commander of an LST Group reported:
Beaching conditions are bad. Coral heads are plentiful. Ships standing in to beach invariably ground on a coral head with 18 feet of water all around. As tide ebbs, the coral punctures the bottom. The pontoon causeways carried by the LST's proved invaluable. Without them, unloading would have been a serious problem.78
Many LCM's also had their bottoms punctured by coral heads. The short steep choppy seas inside the lagoon slowed boats down tremendously and gave their crews a drubbing. Everything inside these craft was wet, including crews, passengers, and cargo.
Despite these logistic support slowdowns, the landing operation went well. As Commander Southern Transport Group reported:
Dispositions listed in the Landing Attack Order No. 2-44 were closely followed. The plan was executed as written, with minor unimportant variations and worked well.
Slow But Steady Advance
The troops ashore moved ahead steadily. Their progress was slowed by the "resist to the death tactics" of the brave Japanese and by a sound desire to avoid heavy casualties.
The seagoing amphibians' task of air, gunfire, and logistic support continued at Kwajalein until midafternoon, 4 February, when the island was reported secure.
That afternoon, Rear Admiral Turner broadcast by TBS:
Commander Task Force Fifty-Two has the pleasure to announce that our troops of the 7th Army Division completed capture of Kwajalein Island at 1525 today.79
Naval Gunfire Support
The Army was pleased with the naval gunfire support received, and thereafter was the staunch advocate of seagoing artillery, as this section of the Seventh Infantry [Division]'s report indicates:
Reports from the various Infantry Battalion Commanders indicate that without exception, all call fire missions were handled properly and to the complete satisfaction of all supported units.80
It has been estimated by the Commanding General, Seventh Infantry Division Artillery, that eighty percent of the destruction done to heavily fortified positions was a direct result of Naval gunfire.
The Naval report was equally enthusiastic:
These islands showed nothing but devastation. All emplacements or shelters above ground had evidence of hits or were completely destroyed. The entire island looked as if it had been picked up to 20,000 feet then dropped. The devastation on the landing beach was so great that it was almost impossible for tanks to cross the beach. All beach defenses were completely destroyed. It was almost impossible to tell where the sea wall around a portion of the beach had stood.81
In all, 3,926 tons of naval shells were fired by the Southern Attack Force and 2,667 tons by the Northern Attack Force.
By 5 February 1944, the few Japanese left alive on Kwajalein Island were killed, had committed suicide, or were captured.
The Japanese had had a small craft repair base on North Gugewe, storehouses and ammunition dumps on Bigej, besides the seaplane base on Ebeye. These and all other islands in the southern half of Kwajalein Atoll were cleared out by nightfall of 5 February.
By this date, the future Secretary of the Navy, James W. Forrestal, had personally visited Kwajalein and had said he was more than pleased with what had been accomplished.
Departure of ships from Kwajalein Atoll for the South Pacific began on 4 February. By 6 February, one headquarters ship, 13 attack transports, four attack cargo ships, and three landing ships (dock) with 216 amtracs screened by seven destroyers had departed for early scheduled operations in the South Pacific.
On 25 February 1944, Rear Admiral Turner departed Kwajalein Atoll for Pearl, with one more victory notch in his belt.
As he headed for the barn, Rear Admiral Turner wrote:
Overemphasis of certain problems which experience at Tarawa had exaggerated in the minds of those concerned had caused general doubt regarding
the effectiveness of our weapons and tactics, and much time and effort was expended on dubious and fruitless schemes.
More importantly he wrote:
The practical cooperative spirit manifested toward each other by the officers and men of all Services and arms is above praise, and should inspire optimism and confidence in the future of our combined arms.82
A Marine officer who served first on the Staff of Major General Holland M. Smith, USMC, and then on the Staff of Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Turner wrote of the latter:
I truly saw him in action, night and day, afloat and ashore. Admiral Turner had an almost unbelievable capacity for work. He drove himself without mercy, and he expected and demanded the same of those around him. I never saw him relax or take his ease.83
Table of Contents * Previous Chapter (18) * Next Chapter (20)
1. (a) Driscoll, Pacific Victory, p. 55; (b) Nimitz, Spruance; (c) Smith, Coral and Brass, p. 145.
2. Interview with Rear Admiral Draper L. Kauffman, USN, Superintendent of the Naval Academy, 9 Dec. 1954, Hereafter Kauffman.
3. COMFIFTHPHIBFOR to CINCPAC, letter, ESA/A16-3/Ser 00165 of 4 Dec. 1943.
4. (a) COMINCH to CINCPAC, 202204 Jul. 1943; (b) JCS 386, memo by JSSC, "Strategy of the Pacific, 28 Jun. 1943, CCS 381 Pacific Ocean Area (6-10-43), sec. 1.
5. (a) CINCPAC to COMINCH, letter. Ser. 00151 of 20 Aug. 1943, subj: The Seizure of the Marshall Islands; (b) JCS to CINCPAC, 012115 sep. 19043; (c) C/S U.S. Army Memorandum, 6 Sep. 1943, subj: Pacific Operating and Availability of Shipping; (d) JPS Memo same subject, 23 Sep. 1943.
6. (a) CINCPAC to JCS, 260439 Sep. 1943; (b) COMINCH to CINCPOA, 042125 Nov. 1943; (c) CINCPAC to COMCENPACFOR, 090240 Nov. 1943; (d) CINCPOA to COMCENPACFOR, 210221 Dec. 1943.
7. RKT to HWH, letter, 17 Nov. 1943.
8. COMCENPACFOR to COMFIFTHPHIBFOR, 020440 Dec. 1943.
9. RKT to HWH, letter, 28 Nov. 1948. Pennsylvania arrived Pearl 5 December 1943. See also COMFIFTHPHIBFOR to COMGENFIFTHPHIBCORPS, Ser 00164 of 5 Dec. 1943, subj: Strategic Plan for FLINTLOCK Operation.
10. (a) COMSOPAC to CINCPAC, 120452 Oct. 1943; (b) CINCPAC to COMINCH, 260519 Oct; (c) COMINCH to CINCPOA, 242123 Dec. 1943; (d) CINCPAC to COMINCH, 262130 Dec. 1943; (e) COMCENPACFOR Memo for CINCPAC, 27 Dec. 1943, subj: Summary of Plans for FLINTLOCK.
11. Quoted in Forrestel, Spruance, pp. 99, 101.
12. Ibid. p. 101.
14. CWN to Professor Jeter A. Isely, letter, 18 Jan. 1949.
15. (a) Morison, Aleutians, Gilberts and Marshalls (Vol. VII), footnote on p. 184; (b) Louis Morton, Strategy and Command: The First Two Years, Vol. X of Subseries The War in the Pacific in Series UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II Washington: Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, 1962), p. 573.
16. Interview with Captain James M. Steele, 21 Feb. 1966. See also New York Times Military Editor (Hanson W. Baldwin) to Director of Naval History, letter, 11 Sep. 1963, and reply of 19 Sep 1963 and Vice Admiral Harry W. Hill to Chief of Military History, letter, 14 Feb. 1949.
17. Isely and Crowl, U.S. Marines and Amphibious Warfare, p. 234.
18. Francis D. Fane and Don Moore, The Naked Warriors (New York: Appleton-Century-Croft, 1956), pp. iv-v.
19. COMFIFTHPHIBFOR to CNO, Ser 00383 of 26 Dec. 1943 and Ser 00400 of 29 DSec. 1943.
20. (a) Stenographic Record of Gilbert Island Logistic Conference 11-12 Dec. 1943; (b) COMPHIBFORPAC Circular Letter 5AL-43 of 23 Dec. 1943; (c) Transport Doctrine Amphibious Forces U.S. Pacific Fleet, 6 Jan. 1944. [Link is to Sep. 1944 revision].
21. COMTHIRDPHIBFOR letter, ser 0013 of 28 Jan. 1944, subj: Shore Party Organization for Amphibious Operations.
22. Stenographic Record of Gilbert Island Logistic Conference 11-12 Dec. 1943.
23. COMFIFTHPHIBFOR to CINCPAC, letter, 0017 of 3 Jan. 1944, subj: Use of cargo pallets in combat loading and enclosures.
24. (a) Monrovia Action Report, 15 Feb. 1944, p. 8; (b) Virgo Action Report, 6 Feb. 1944, 1st Endorsement dated 17 Feb. 1944.
25. CTF 52 letter, Ser 0131 of 6 Dec. 1943, subj: Organization of Naval detachments and equipping thereof.
26. LVT Conference Minutes, 17-18 Dec. 1943.
27. COMFIFTHPHIBFOR to CINCPAC, letter, Ser 00-165 of 4 Dec. 1943.
28. The Marine Monograph states that the Marshalls span 800 square miles of ocean. Robert D. Heinl, Jr. and John D. Crown, The Marshalls: Increasing the Tempo (Washington: Historical Branch, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1954), p. 1.
30. JICPOA Bulletin No. 30-43 "Enemy Positions Marshall-Gilbert Area," Vol. I, 5 May 1943, p. 13.
31. (a) COMFIFTHPHIBFOR War Diary, 31 Jan. 1944; (b) COMFIFTHPHIBFOR FLINTLOCK Report, Encl. (A) para 9; (c) CTG 52.5, FLINTLOCK Report, 15 Feb. 1944, p. 2.
32. COMFIFTHPHIBFOR to COMCENPACFOR, letter, Ser 00353 of 17 Dec. 1943.
33. (a) COMINCH to CINCPAC, 21080 Aug. 1943; (b) COMINCH to CINCPAC, 012115 Sep. 1943; (c) CINCPAC to COMPHIBTRAPAC, 210253 Sep. 1943; (d) CINCPOA Joint Staff Study, FLINTLOCK II, Ser 00293 of 20 Dec. 1943.
34. (a) USSBS, Campaigns of the Pacific War, pp. 7, 191; (b) USSBS, American Campaign against Wotje, Maloelap, Mille and Jaluit, p. 21; (c) Japanese Studies in World War II, No. 72, History of the Army Section, Imperial General Headquarters, 1941-45, pp. 77, 88.
35. USSBS Interrogation No. 139 (Commander Chika Taka Nakajima), p. 144.
36. JICPOA Bulletin No. 48-44, "Japanese Defenses Kwajalein Atoll," 18 Apr. 1944, p. 27.
37. (a) Engineer, V Amphibious Corps, Study and Report of Japanese Defenses of Kwajalein Atoll, 15 Feb. 1944; (b) Heinl and Crown, The Marshalls (Marine Corps Monograph), p. 32; (c) Crowl and Love, Gilberts and Marshalls, p. 214; (d) JICPOA No. 53-43, "Kwajalein," 1 Dec. 1943 and No. 48-44, "Fortifications and Defense Installations," 10 Apr. 1944.
38. JICPOA Bulletin No. 48044.
39. Heinl and Crown, The Marshalls (Marine Corps Monograph), p. 72. See also JICPOA Bulletin No. 484-44, Map 4; Engineer FIFTHPHIBCORPS Study of 15 Feb. 1944; FIFTHPHIBCORPS FLINTLOCK Report, 6 Mar. 1944, Vol. 2, Encl. (B) and Vol. 3, Appendix G. Situation Map, 31 Dec. 1943.
40. CTF 51 GALVANIC Op Plan A6-43, para 1(d).
41. Crowl and Love, Marshalls (Army), page 217, gives 4,515 on Kwajalein. Marine Marshalls, page 34 give 4,850 on Kwajalein and the other southern islands. In USSBS Campaigns of the Pacific War, page 197, there is a Military Intelligence Service estimate of 8,000 with 3,000 on Kwajalein, 3,000 on Roi-Namur, and 2,000 on the other islands.
42. (a) COMGENFIFTHPHIBCORPS FLINTLOCK Report, encl. (D), p. 12; (b) Crowl and Love, page 218; (c) Marine Corps Monograph, Marshalls, pp. 31, 32; (d) 6th Base Force War Diary, translation by CINCPOA.
43. (a) CINCPAC Op Plan 16-43, 12 Oct. 1943; (b)COMFIFTHFLT (COMCENPAC) Op Plan CEN 1-44, 6 Jan. 1944.
44. Operational History of the Seventh Air Force, pp. 13-55, 90-124.
45. CINCPAC Command Summary, Book Four, 31 Oct. 1943, p. 1679.
46. CINCPAC to COMINCH, 240349 Dec. 1943 and 191925 Jan. 1944.
47. USSBS, The American Campaign Against Wotje, Maloelap, Mille and Jaluit, pp. 35-37.
48. (a) USSBS, The Campaigns of the Pacific War, pp. 201-202; (b) Crowl and Love, Gilberts and Marshalls, p. 211; (c) CTF 51 FLINTLOCK Report.
49. COMGENPAC to C/S Air Force, letter, 10 Feb. 1944.
50. COMFIFTHFLT (COMCENPAC) Op Plan 1-44, 6 Jan. 1944, para 3d.
51. CTG 50.15 FLINTLOCK Report, 15 Feb. 1944, para 7(j).
52. CINCPAC FLINTLOCK Planning Directive.
53. COMFIFTHPHIBFOR to CINCPAC, letter, Ser 079 of 20 Jan. 1944.
54. COMFIFTHPHIBFOR (Commander Joint Expeditionary Force) FLINTLOCK Report, 25 Feb. 1944, para. 40.
55. Ibid., Encl. (A), para. 3.
56. COMFIFTHPHIBFOR War Diary, 30 Jan. 1944.
57. (a) A garbled position is given in CTF 53 FLINTLOCK Report, Encl. (A), p. 9; (b) Japanese scout bombers flying from Taroa, Maloelap Atoll, had no radar. USSBS Interrogation No. 23, p. 132; (c) Lavalette War Diary, 28 Jan. 1944; (d) COMLSTFLOT 13 War Diary, 28 Jan. 1944.
58. COMFIFTHPHIBFOR (CTF 52) Attack Order A2-44, 14 Jan. 1944, para 3(d).
59. Manley's War Diary, 31 Jan. 1944.
60. Overton and Manley FLINTLOCK Reports, 8 Feb. 1944 and 16 Feb. 1944, respective. See also War Diaries, TBS Logs.
61. (a) COMTRANSDIV Four Action Report, 31 Jan.-4 Feb. 1944, Ser 0031, no date, para. 2a; (b) Leedstown (APA-56) F
LINTLOCK Report, 6 Feb. 1944,pp. 2-4; (c) LST-272 War Diary, 31 Jan. 1944.
62. (a) CTF 51 FLINTLOCK Report, Encl. (A), p. 3; (b) COMTRANSDIV Four, F
LINTLOCK Report, Ser 0031, no date.
63. COMTRANSDIV Four FLINTLOCK Report, p. 5.
64. LST-272 War Diary, 31 Jan. 1944.
65. Overton FLINTLOCK Report, 8 Feb. 1944.
66. Crowl and Love, Gilberts and Marshalls, p. 230.
67. Revenge War Diary, 31 Jan. 1943.
68. COMFIFTHPHIBFOR to CINCPAC, 020658 Feb. 1944.
69. (a) COMFIFTHPHIBCORPS FLINTLOCK Report, 6 Mar. 1944, Vol. 3, Encl. (D); (b) CINCPAC 101909 Feb. 1944.
70. COMFIFTHPHIBFOR letter, Ser 0034 of 14 Mar. 1944, sub: UDTs in FLINTLOCK.
71. CTU 52.8.3 (COMBATDIV Three) Action Report, 24 Feb. 1944, p. 1.
72. COMCRUDIV Six War Diary, 2 Feb. 1944.
73. Hogaboom Interview, 15 May 1967. general Hogaboom was former Military Operations Officer, Staff Commander Fifth Amphibious Force from 2 November 1943 to 14 April 1944.
75. COMFIFTHPHIBFOR FLINTLOCK Report, 25 Feb. 1944, Encl. (A), p. 5.
76. Ibid., Encl. (C), p. 4.
77. LST-272 War Diary, 1 Feb. 1944.
78. COMLSTGRP 37 War Diary, 4-8 Feb. 1944.
79. Minneapolis TBS Log.
80. Seventh Infantry Division, FLINTLOCK Report, 6 Mar, 1944, p. 16.
81. Naval Gunfire Officer, Headquarters V Amphibious Corps, Naval Gunfire Report on the FLINTLOCK Operation, Ser 00671 of 7 Mar. 1944, p. 7.
82. COMFIFTHPHIBFOR FLINTLOCK Report, Encl. (E), para 2a and p. 10.
83. Hogaboom, 15 May 1967.