Death at Its Best
When Vice Admiral Turner returned to Pearl Harbor from the Marshalls, he wrote:
The Importance of the Written Record
On return here we were swamped with a lot of battle plans for future operations, as well as the usual tremendous batch of mail. This business of everyone's writing long reports about every operation has almost gotten me down. In fact, I have stopped reading any of them.1
A few days later he wrote:
I wish there were a way to abolish such things as reports.2
Despite this reluctance Vice Admiral Turner sent in a 317 page report on FORAGER.3
Admiral Turner, when the Marine Corps in 1950 sent him a draft copy of its historical monograph on Tinian, made a number of comments including the following:
Responsibilities of Commander Joint Expeditionary Force
In an amphibious operation, the Commander Joint Expeditionary Force has a general, but a quite definite responsibility for the ultimate success of the Expedition. He also has a specific responsibility, not only for the success of the naval and much of the air effort, but also for successfully landing the troops, and for continuing to provide them with support and the material
means necessary to enable them to live and fight, until the completion of the amphibious phase.4
On the other hand, the Commanding General of troops has the exclusive duty of preparing and executing the major troop tactical plans for the operations on shore. The Commander Joint Expeditionary Force is concerned with the troop plan for shore operations only to the extent of such matters as offering technical advice concerning the provision of the naval and the initial air support, and of other important similar but contributory efforts.
The successful discharge of both the naval responsibility for landing and supplying the troops, and also of the troop responsibility for land operations, often depends to a considerable extent on the choice of the landing beaches. The choice of the beaches is the business of both sea and land commanders. This matter requires close cooperation and a careful consideration of all alternative beaches, having due regard to the proper functions and military responsibilities of both parties.
Late in September 1944, when the planned amphibious assault operations in the European Theater had all been accomplished, the amphibious groups in the Atlantic and Mediterranean were moved to the Pacific and a large scale regrouping took place. Sixteen amphibious groups were established.5 A subordinate command of the Pacific Ocean Area was set up in Guam on 1 December 1944. In November 1944, a proposal was made to initiate administrative headquarters for the amphibious forces in Manila after its capture. It was believed by Vice Admiral Turner that very large amphibious forces in the Western Pacific could be better controlled, and the invasion of Japan could be more realistically planned from Manila than from Pearl Harbor.6
Reorganization and Enlargement
On 5 September 1944, Vice Admiral Turner left Pearl Harbor on a month's leave. While he was on the mainland, the decision was made at
While the Cat's Away
the Joint Chiefs' level to advance the date of the landings on Leyte Island in the Philippines from 20 December to 20 October 1944. Also cancelled out were the scheduled landings on Mindanao Island and the lesser part of the Central Pacific STALEMATE Operation against the Palau Islands, Yap, and Ulithi.
To provide adequate forces for the Leyte operation, it was planned to place the Eastern Attack Force assigned to assault Yap and Ulithi in STALEMATE, and the Commander Third Amphibious Force, Vice Admiral T. S. Wilkinson, at the disposal of General MacArthur. The Western Attack Force in STALEMATE was called upon to provide from within its available resources a Regimental Combat Team to assault Ulithi.
Vice Admiral Turner continued to plug for his officers. His success was minimal, but at least his subordinates knew he was trying hard to obtain recognition for them.
Personnel Problems Continue
On the day he shoved off for the mainland on leave, he recommended that Transport Squadron Commanders be promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral, and that Transport Division Commanders be advanced to Commodore. He told the Department quite frankly:
Another important reason for assigning officers of the rank of rear admiral and commodore to the positions mentioned is the great need, for morale purposes, of providing, in the Amphibious Forces, opportunity for promotion to the upper ranks. The work is important, arduous, and involves frequent combat. Once an officer enters the Amphibious Forces, it is difficult for him to obtain a transfer to other forces where he may have better chances for promotion, because he cannot be spared from this highly specialized field. While there are many admirable and very competent officers in the Amphibious Forces,--there is an unfortunate tendency among officers who believe they have a good chance for promotion to Flag rank to seek sea employment in other combat types. This is not a healthy condition and it is earnestly hoped that it can be corrected.7
It is a matter of regret to record that only a very partial sale of this recommendation was made to the upper echelons of the Navy and that transport division commanders remained senior captains and that transport squadron commanders were promoted to commodore rather than to rear
admiral. As the Administrative History of the Amphibious Forces relates in regard to the amphibious forces:
Warranted or unwarranted, this inferiority complex did exist among many officers and enlisted men.8
Commodore Peyton, Admiral Turner's first Chief of Staff and an observer of the amphibians in early days of the Pacific Campaign, told me:
The Amphibious Force suffered from the lack of 1st class officers. Many were 'fitted' instead of 'best fitted.' This sometimes affected their approach to the war. The personnel of the Navy were largely unprepared mentally for fighting, for killing people, for instantaneous decisions to take offensive action.
Reifsnider and Kiland were the two best officers in the early days. Impossible to get Reifsnider promoted, as Admiral Turner repeatedly urged. After I left the Staff, Turner finally got him spotted to Commodore (April 1943) and then later he was selected to rear admiral.
Linscott was a well rounded staff officer who knew the details of amphibious operations. He was very capable and devoted to his tasks. He had an encyclopedic mind, and was loyal to the hilt to Turner.
Ghormley couldn't make up his mind and was full of 'qualifications.' Halsey always seemed to make up his mind quickly, except in the November 1942 period, when he backed into Indecision Corner. Browning, his Chief of Staff, was brilliant but erratic and given to flights from reality.
I thought Turner should have relieved Ghormley and Reifsnider should have relieved Turner, and that is no disrespect to Halsey whom I have known since 1908. Both myself and family are devoted to him.9
The Gilberts, the Marshalls, and the Marianas amphibious operations brought to full fruition the steadily developing capability of the combatant Navy in the Pacific Ocean to pick its objectives quite free from the short leash of land-based fighter aircraft, whose cover was inherently modestly ranged. During the Marianas operation, the Fast Carrier Task Forces of the Pacific Fleet had beaten off the carrier air attacks of the whole Japanese Mobile Fleet and in all of the Pacific campaigns the heaviest air attacks of landbased fighters and bombers, which the Japanese had been able to mount against them.
The attainment of this capability, along with a highly developed amphibious
expertise, restored full confidence to the professional personnel of the seagoing Navy in the Pacific. Their confidence had been greatly shaken, first by the successful Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, later by our short step by short step campaign up the Solomons and the even shorter steps of the campaign in the southwest Pacific, these steps being measured by the range of land-based fighter aircraft.
The urge to keep moving pervaded the whole Pacific Fleet. The pressure to do so from on high was unrelenting: The big questions were "Where do we go next?" and "How soon?"
At this stage of the war, July-August 1944, the planners were divided between (a) those who believed the Japanese war effort could be starved into innocuousness, thus forcing political submission without the necessity of waging large land battles on the Japanese home islands and (b) those who as loudly proclaimed that since all through the Central Pacific campaign the Japanese had fought on to the death under hopeless circumstances, a large-scale invasion of Japan would be essential to subdue the Japanese martial spirit.
It is from this background that, in mid-June 1944, the Joint Chiefs asked General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz to comment on the practicability of bypassing the then presently selected next major objective (Leyte in the Philippines on 15 November) and landing amphibious assault forces directly on either Formosa or on Japan proper.
General MacArthur thought the proposal to bypass the Philippines and land on Formosa direct to be "unsound" and the proposal to bypass the Philippines and land on Japan "utterly unsound."
Admiral Nimitz made no such dramatic reply, but he cast cold water on both proposals when he replied:
For the present, no change in approved strategic concepts is recommended.10
Admiral King, at this time, downgraded the necessity of having Luzon in the Philippines as a logistic base for the Fleet. He believed the Pacific Fleet could be maintained indefinitely in the Western Pacific by a combination use of Guam, Saipan, and Eniwetok, and that bases on Luzon in the Philippines were not an essential for rapid progress in the war.11
Actually, the combination of Fleet bases most used during the last part of 1944 turned out to be Guam, Saipan, and Ulithi Atoll, which was 400 miles southwest of Guam, while Eniwetok was 1,000 miles just a bit south of east of Guam. Ulithi Atoll, with a lagoon of about 150 square miles, was an exceptionally fine Fleet Anchorage and by early 1945 became a well developed Mobile Fleet Base.
On 26 July 1944, President Roosevelt went to Pearl Harbor, and in a conference with Admiral Nimitz and General MacArthur, without the Joint Chiefs of Staff being present, largely determined the objectives of the next major campaign in the Pacific. Admiral King, although he was in Pearl Harbor as late as the 22nd of July, back from a "look-see" visit to the Marianas, makes a strong point of the fact that, although readily available, he was not invited to the conference.12
By and large, in mid-July 1944, Vice Admiral Turner favored taking Luzon in order to obtain Fleet bases there before going to either China or Formosa. He so informed Admiral King, when the latter was in Pearl Harbor at this time and his beliefs became a matter of record.13 The seizure of Formosa, largely, was Admiral King's baby. This included not only the island, but the Pescadores in Formosa Straits and a bite of the adjacent China Coast--probably at Amoy. Admiral King believed that all sea and air lines of communication from Japan south could be effectively throttled by holding the Marianas, Formosa, and a strategic foothold on the China Coast. All Pacific Fleet planners agreed that Japan could not long live, much less aggressively fight a war, without overseas oil, raw materials and food from the Netherlands East Indies and Malaysia.
How to best accomplish this objective of cutting off Japan from her overseas resources, however, was the bone of contention causing the strongest arguments.
General MacArthur always reached the jumping up and down stage when anyone straightforwardly recommended future operations which did not include his returning to Luzon in the Philippines. For him, any such plans bordered on the "utterly unsound" classification, and he always worked into his despatches a reiteration of the political advantages to the United States of a "Luzon in the Philippines" campaign.14
Just for the record, it is worth noting that shortly after the Presidential
Pearl Harbor conference, General MacArthur had gone way out on the limb to fortify his arguments for "Luzon next" by predicting in a meeting with a planning staff representative from the War Department that his losses in a Luzon campaign would be "inconsequential" and by giving "his personal guarantee" that "a Luzon Campaign could be completed in thirty days to six weeks."15
Despite the compelling nature of General MacArthur's advocacy, the shoal which finally scuttled "full steam ahead for Formosa now" at the Washington JCS and departmental level, in early September 1944, was the shortage of troops currently in the Pacific Ocean Area or to become available by late December 1944. The Normandy landing in June 1944, had gone well, but in early September 1944, no one could reasonably predict when the tremendous troop resources then in Europe would become available to move to the Pacific.
Despite General MacArthur's urgings, the Joint Chiefs kept the Formosa operations stewing on the back burner when, on 9 September 1944, they issued a new directive for the Pacific campaigns. General MacArthur was ordered to occupy the Leyte-Surigao area in the Central Philippines with a target date of 20 December 1944, in order to support a further advance to Formosa by Admiral Nimitz's forces on 1 March 1945. However, and more to his liking, General MacArthur was also told to be prepared to seize Luzon on 20 February 1945, with Admiral Nimitz and the Central Pacific Forces in a supporting role.16
before the month of October 1944 was three days old, however, as will be related, General MacArthur had carried the day. His "strongest nonconcurrence with any other objective than Luzon in the Philippines was powerful medicine in any military planning circle's coffee break.
In connection with "where next" after the Leyte campaign, Admiral Hill recalled that:
I had had some interesting discussions with Turner on this subject. He had given serious consideration to the possibility of bypassing all of these (Formosa, Okinawa, and the Volcano Islands, which included Iwo Jima) and making a direct assault on the Tokyo Plain with nine divisions. Such a plan was feasible from the amphibious and troop deployment angles, but the great distance of Tokyo from our nearest base would require that we be entirely dependent upon Fleet carriers for all air support except for the long
range B-29's based in the Marianas. The nearest base would be Guam, which was just in the process of being developed. So that logistics and lack of repair facilities would also produce many difficulties. I was not too enthusiastic about his idea, although I often wondered if I was opposing a bold plan with too little consideration, just as he had done with my Tinian proposal.17
As matters actually transpired, the high level planners' struggles to allocate simultaneously a suitable proportion of naval forces, shipping and logistic support to both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of operation eased off about the time Guam was recaptured and the invasion of Southern France was made on 15 August 1944. But the planners' travail over the allocation of naval forces in the Pacific between the effort under Admiral Nimitz' s direction and that under General MacArthur's direction went on and on through late 1944 into 1945.
Who Gets What Naval Forces When?
The handwritten memo reproduced on page 977, in which the General' s name is twice misspelled, indicates the continuing problems. It specifically refers to General MacArthur's despatch of 8 July 1944.18
When FORAGER was over and done, Formosa was very much on CINCPOA' s officially approved timetable issued to him by the Joint Chiefs.
CAUSEWAY, Then DETACHMENT--At The Working Level
As Vice Admiral Forrestel relates in his book on Admiral Spruance:
On his return to Pearl Harbor from the Marianas, Admiral Spruance recommended to Admiral Nimitz that the next Fifth Fleet operations be for the capture of Iwo Jima and then Okinawa. Nimitz advised him that the time table of the Joint Chiefs of Staff provided that Formosa be the next Fifth Fleet objective, following the capture of the [Central] Philippines by General MacArthur.19
So, the FIFTHPHIBFOR Staff started planning and getting ready for CAUSEWAY, the operation designed to land the Tenth Army, under Lieutenant
General S.B. Buckner, AUS, on Formosa, the Pescadores Islands, and on the eastern coast of China in the vicinity of Amoy. This assault was first planned to occur on 15 February 1945, but on receipt of the actual JCS directive, the landing was set for 1 March 1945.20
CAUSEWAY, a kettle of worms from the planners' viewpoint, absorbed a lot of planning energy before the principal operational commanders got their dander up and recommended in late September 1944 that CAUSEWAY be cancelled. Formosa was such a large land mass that these officers believed it would absorb more troops than the strategic situation justified and, more to the point, that it was beyond the troop and logistical support resources currently available in the Central Pacific.21
This conclusion fitted neatly into the "Luzon Homecoming" plans being formulated by General MacArthur in far away New Guinea, as well as the speed-up in our initial landing in the Central Philippines, so recently recommended by Admiral Halsey.
On 13 September 1944, Admiral Halsey, commanding the Third Fleet during air raids on the Philippines, recommended to Admiral Nimitz, who passed the recommendation on to Admiral King and General MacArthur, that because of light enemy air opposition encountered in his air sweeps on 9-10 September 1944 against Mindanao, and on 12 September against the Visayas in the Central Philippines, that:
The Big, Big Change In Plans
- The planned amphibious assaults on Peleliu in the Western Caroline Islands, Yap in the northwestern Caroline Islands, Ulithi in the northwestern Caroline Islands, and Mindanao in the Southern Philippines be cancelled.
- The troops and amphibious resources assigned to these operations, and Task Force 38 (the Fast Carrier Task Forces of the Pacific Fleet) should be used for an amphibious assault at Leyte in the Philippines earlier than the 15 November, currently planned.
Admiral Nimitz concurred with two reservations. He believed that the
Peleliu attack should go forward (to protect the right flank of the assault forces on Leyte) and that the capture of Ulithi was essential to provide an Advanced Fleet Base as an alternate to Eniwetok. He suggested that if General MacArthur did not desire to move promptly into Leyte, it might be feasible to take Iwo Jima in October using the forces currently assigned to the Yap operation. General MacArthur was considerably more reluctant to change and advance his plans, but on 14 September he acceded to an unusual despatch recommendation from the Joint Chiefs that he go along with Admiral Halsey's proposal as modified by Admiral Nimitz. He then told the JCS that he would attack Leyte on 20 October 1944.22
Subject to the two modifications, one major and one minor, proposed by Admiral Nimitz, the Joint Chiefs then approved Admiral Halsey's proposal and the proposed date for the Leyte landing.
When these changes were made, the question of "where next" after Leyte had not been settled, but all the important voices, except Admiral King's, were opting for Luzon.
At a conference with Admiral Nimitz in San Francisco at the end of September 1944, Admiral King was convinced, reluctantly, that the Central Pacific Area resources could be employed more profitably and perhaps more successfully against the Bonins or the Volcano Islands, and against the Ryukyus, than against Formosa. He also was assured that the Fast Carrier Task Forces could so reduce Japanese air power on the Formosan airfields that the amphibious assault forces of the Central Pacific would not be "sticking their heads in the lion's mouth" when they worked northward toward Luzon steering for Lingayen Gulf and General MacArthur's homecoming assault landing on northern Luzon.23
Formosa Out, Iwo Jima In
As for choosing Iwo Jima rather than Okinawa as the first objective on the final direct approach to Japan, it was obvious that the Japanese could bring far less air power to bear to defend Iwo Jima than they could at
Okinawa. Okinawa was centrally located between Kyushu, the big southern island of Japan, and Formosa, and could also receive support from Japanese forces in Eastern China and, until Iwo Jima was in our hands, that latter island also. By capturing Iwo Jima first, we would knock out one of the four strong props holding an air umbrella over Okinawa and its approaches. Besides, the date when airbases in northern Luzon, helpful in an assault on Okinawa, would be available, was still problematical, despite General MacArthur's promise of a thirty-day to six-week campaign. Doing Iwo Jima first would make the availability of the northern Luzon bases for air support of the operation against Okinawa seem a bit more logical.
While Iwo Jima was not so close to the homeland as Okinawa, still Iwo Jima was of real importance to the Japanese. As a young Japanese infantry officer wrote in his diary in June 1944, long before the Iwo Jima assault was planned:
Iwo Jima is the doorkeeper to the Imperial capital.24
Since the JCS did not issue their new Pacific campaign directive embodying Admiral King's change in mind until 3 October, it was not until 7 October 1944 that CINCPOA issued his staff study for the operation which envisioned a landing on 20 January 1945 at Iwo Jima in the Volcano islands, 660 miles south of Tokyo.
The Iwo Jima campaign was given the code name of DETACHMENT. Many of the lower level in the Pacific Fleet thought the code name selected indicated that one of the pillars supporting the roof of air protection over Okinawa was to be detached. It was a pleasant thought for those who later were scheduled also to participate in the Okinawa operation.
Only nine days after 7 October, Vice Admiral Turner issued a guideline memorandum to his staff for preparing the operation plan for the amphibious phases of DETACHMENT.
Twenty-two years later, Admiral Spruance recalled in regard to this shift of objectives:
The only change that we had later in the Central Pacific Operations was the substitution of Iwo Jima and Okinawa for Amoy and Formosa. I think that change was engineered in Washington at top levels, because Admiral King was very strong for Formosa.25
By the time the Marianas Campaign was completed, the Special Planning Staff assigned to FIFTHPHIBFOR in November 1943 had been disbanded. This Staff had been formed in November, 1943, with high hopes. It was assigned the mission of doing, in Pearl, the advance planning for the next ahead amphibious operation, while the regular FIFTHPHIBFOR Staff at the scene of the assault landing was devoting all its time and energy to obtaining success in the current amphibious operation. The creation of this small special staff, it was hoped, would materially shorten the spacing between the completion of one amphibious campaign and the launching of another, by a reduction in "planning time."
Special Planning Staff FIFTHPHIBFOR
Regretfully, it was found that the Special Planning Staff was just one lap behind in applying to the detailed plans the fast improving techniques of amphibious operations. To illustrate, they were given the task of planning the Marianas amphibious assaults after the completion of the Gilberts campaign. While the regular staff was away from Pearl two months (8 January to 3 March) doing the Marshall operation, the Special Planning Staff unavoidably planned the Marianas on the basis of what had been learned about amphibious techniques up to and through the Gilberts operation. When the regular staff came back to Pearl, much of the work had to be redone on the basis of what had been learned in the Marshalls.26
The problem of close air support had bothered Vice Admiral Turner all through the Guadalcanal, New Georgia, Gilbert Islands, and Marshall Islands Campaigns.
Close Air Support
As has been related earlier, Commander, Fifth Amphibious Force had tried in January 1944, to establish "Support Aircraft" as an administrative unit, as well as a task group, within the Fifth Amphibious Force. This effort had failed and "Support Aircraft" remained under the administrative command of Commander Air Force, Pacific Fleet, Vice Admiral J. H. Towers. The administrative commander was responsible for its training. Twenty-seven officers and 60 enlisted men were involved in the administrative unit.
Five days before the assault landings on Saipan, Vice Admiral Turner
had reopened with the Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, the touchy question of the organization of the Support Aircraft Command.
Vice Admiral Turner recalled in the first paragraph of his letter that he had been directed on 18 April 1944 not to reopen the subject "unless actual experience under approved arrangements indicates further change is necessary."
In his letter, he stated that that time had now come, since the present system lacked efficiency and had not proven satisfactory.
He offered the thought that
the amount of training so far given by the Air Force Pacific Fleet to Support Command is nil. . . .
Apparently it still is not well understood that all of the units directly and locally involved in an amphibious operation must be so closely related to each other as to form a single team under a single control. . . . Furthermore, the planning functions must be so arranged that all individual plans are fully correlated by one command.
The point at issue is whether or not the Support Aircraft Command shall be a group of the Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet, with a special liaison to the Air Force, Pacific Fleet, or shall be a group of the Air Force, and assigned to the Amphibious Forces only during actual operations.27
It would have been diplomatic to have waited until after the experience of FORAGER had been gained to renew this close air support command proposal since COMINCH's and CINCPAC's directions were only two months old, but such was not the procedure followed by Vice Admiral Turner. His proposal had been strongly opposed by many of the senior aviators of the Navy who were reluctant to grant control of naval air operations to non-aviation commands regardless of circumstances. This opposition extended to the amphibious forces, even though its Commander, Vice Admiral Turner, was a former naval aviator.
Reconsideration and finally approval of the Support Aircraft Command proposal made by Vice Admiral Turner was granted by Admiral King on 1 October 1944. This was in time for the planning to go forward on the new basis for the Iwo Jima operation.
There were a few naval aviators whose thoughts in regard to close air support went much further than just placing the aircraft in the objective area
of an amphibious assault landing under one command, on a temporary basis. One such naval aviator expressed his belief that:
Close air support requires a very high degree of skill and prolonged efforts. The logic of the situation, as I saw it, was that one Service, the Navy, should take over close air support and do it all--since the primary responsibility for the island-hopping campaign was naval. The ambidextrous Navy would have been the ideal Service in the Pacific, since the same pilots and planes could best do the 'over the water tasks' associated with amphibious operations. It was not a practical or desirable solution in the Mediterranean or the English Channel, because of lack of adequate jeep carriers.28
That there was considerable reluctance to accept the change approved by COMINCH is evidenced by the fact that Commander Air Support, Control Unit, Fifth Amphibious Force, the senior air subordinate in the immediately reorganized Amphibious Force, did not break through the official muck and show up in the "Organization of the Pacific Fleet" which was published frequently by CINCPAC, until another twelve months had elapsed.29
On 1 August 1944, the Seventh Amphibious Force, with two Amphibious Groups assigned, was established under Commander Seventh Fleet in the Southwest Pacific Area. Rear Admiral Dan E. Barbey was designated the Commander, Seventh Amphibious Force, and in December 1944 advanced to Vice Admiral.
On 24 August 1944, COMPHIBPAC requested that a staff complement of 85 officers and a staff allowance of 194 enlisted personnel be authorized for his command.30 When approved, this was the final enlargement of the staff. In terms of officers it was five times as large as the staff Rear Admiral Turner had started with at Guadalcanal.
A further administrative change took place on 1 September 1944, when all LCT Divisions were decommissioned, and on the same day, all LCT Groups were commissioned. This permitted larger groupings of the very valuable LCTs under the very few officers who were experienced in the operational and logistical nightmares of the LCTs.31
As soon as the necessary office facilities and berthing facilities could be
made ready, a Subordinate Command of the Administrative Command, Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet, was established on Guam on 1 December 1944. Some 84 LCTs and 94 LCI's were based in the Marianas. A Landing Boat Replacement Pool and Repair Facility was established at Leyte, 31 December 1944, but was placed under the control of Commander Seventh Fleet.32
Late in 1944, efforts of Vice Admiral Turner to secure advance approval to establish a shore headquarters for the Amphibious Forces at Manila ran into a Chinese stone wall of empires. Manila was in General MacArthur' s empire, and Admiral Nimitz was reluctant to poach in that area. As the Administrative History of COMPHIBSPAC delicately states:
Favorable action on COMPHIBSPAC original proposal to set up ample shore facilities in Manila and its vicinity would have greatly facilitated planning and preparations for OLYMPIC [the Kyushu Operation] as experience in June and July, 1945, eloquently demonstrated. But jurisdictional differences doubtless made that decision impolitic in early 1945.33
During the pre-Iwo Jima period, Vice Admiral Turner politely turned away, without cordiality, departmental offers of Beach Jumper Units (sound decoy units) and Barrage Balloon Units, as not being worth the diversion of personnel or the time and effort to handle their impedimenta.34
On 18 November 1944, the date for the Iwo Jima assault, initially set to occur on 20 January 1945, was postponed to 3 February in order to provide six weeks between General MacArthur's and Admiral Nimitz's amphibious assaults which were using the same Pacific Fleet combatant ships. This postponement had not been in effect very long when General MacArthur reported that the construction of airfields on Leyte (desired to provide landbased air support to the assault in the Lingayen Area) had been delayed by heavy rainfall, and that instead of landing at Lingayen Gulf on 20 December 1944, the landing would be on 9 January 1945. This resulted in a further recommendation by Admiral Nimitz to postpone the assault on Iwo Jima
A Slight Delay
until 19 February 1945, in order to maintain the interval of six weeks. This delay was ordered on 6 December 1944.35
At Iwo Jima and for the first time in the Central Pacific Ocean amphibious operations, all immediately pre-D-Day amphibious operations at the objective were coordinated under the control of a newly designated Commander Amphibious Support Force. Rear Admiral W. H. P. Blandy, was named to command this Force. Its tasks included the close-in gun bombardment by landing craft, gunboats, mortar and rocket craft, the minesweeping, the work of the underwater demolition teams, air control in the objective area, the air support, and commencing on Dog Day minus three, the gunfire support.
Coordination at the Objective
CINCPAC, on 16 December 1944, gave Commander Fifth Fleet authority
USS Eldorado (AGC-11), Vice Admiral Turner's flagship at the Iwo Jima invasion.
to designate either Rear Admiral Harry W. Hill or Rear Admiral W.H.P. Blandy as Second-in-Command of the Amphibious Forces at Iwo Jima or at Okinawa. Rear Admiral Hill, the senior, was so designated.
On 27 December 1944, loading for DETACHMENT commenced. On 10 January 1945, Vice Admiral Turner shifted his flag to the Eldorado, a newer amphibious command ship than his former flagship.
Iwo Jima was only one of a considerable number of Japanese islands in the chain of islands stretching from the Empire to the northern Marianas. The Japanese called this chain of islands Nanpo Shoto. Located therein were three groups of which the two best known are the Bonin and the Volcano Islands.
Iwo Jima--The Physical Facts
When CINCPAC received his orders to occupy one or more positions in the Nanpo Shoto chain, there was some planners' discussion as to the best
CINCPAC, on 16 December 1944, gave Commander Fifth Fleet authority
Vice Admiral Turner dictating to his writer enroute to Iwo Jima, 1945.
objective within this chain--since the Japanese had fortified several of the islands and built airfields thereon.36
On 20 June 1944, an outline plan to assault and seize Chichi Jima, as the final phase of a 13-day operation involving air strikes against Luzon, Formosa and Mainland Japan, was formulated and submitted to Admiral King. The code name of the plan was FARRAGUT, a weighty name for any bold naval operation.
While Chichi Jima, 146 miles north of Iwo Jima, had a good harbor--plus an advanced naval base, which Iwo Jima did not have--Chichi Jima was very, very rugged, and its one airfield was judged unsuitable to accommodate B-29s.
Iwo Jima, also known as Sulphur Island, is the largest of the Volcano Islands. It lies about equidistant in the 1,262 nautical miles between Yokohama, which is the port of Tokyo, and Saipan. This volcanic and pear-shaped island, four and a half miles long and eight hundred yards to nearly two and a half miles wide, lies with its stem axis--southwest to northeast--right into the northeast trade winds. The amphibians were glad to learn that there was no barrier reef on the eastern side of the island, and that the one on the western side was not formidable.
Mount Suribachi, an extinct volcano 546 feet high, rises from the narrow neck of the pear at the southwesterly end of the island. Mount Motoyama, still jetting steam sulphur fumes in 1945, rises about 350 feet high in the bulge of the pear on the northern westerly part.
The northern half of the island was largely a rocky and highly irregular plateau rising to three hundred feet above sea level and centered on Mount Motoyama. In this part there were steep cliffs protecting the island from sea assault and a series of canyons and caves providing strong natural defensive positions. There also was a sulphur mine and its refinery, a small sugar mill and minuscule farms which had absorbed the peacetime working endeavors of the civilian population on Iwo Jima. One completed airfield and one airfield under construction absorbed most of the level ground on the northern plateau. These airfields were known as Airfields No. 2 and No. 3.
Between Mount Suribachi and the northern plateau there were two miles of volcanic sand beaches on either side of the head of the pear. Five to thirty feet from the water's edge, the cinder wasteland rose rapidly from these beaches in a series of terraces culminating in steep embankments surrounding
Nanpo Shoto Group (Southern Islands)
the built-up and graded positions of the airfield in the southern midsection of the island, known as Airfield No. 1.
All areas of Iwo Jima were within easy range of naval gunfire, but required air spot because of the elevation above sea level. The northern half of the island presented a difficult gunnery problem due to its irregularity.
In general, the Pacific Ocean around Iwo Jima does not match the flat calm seas experienced by sailormen in the Central Pacific. The wind blows stronger, and from November to March, generally from the northwest. During the cool season, from December through April, temperatures are comfortable, 63° to 70° F, with three and a half to five inches of rain each month, mostly in drizzles of long duration. February normally is the driest month of the year with 3.5 inches of rainfall. Tides at Iwo Jima are two to three feet and tidal currents are not strong, except close to the beach where there is a strong undertow.
The Prospective Weather
Since the landing was scheduled for 19 February, the easterly beaches of Iwo Jima seemingly would be the lea beaches and hence the preferred landing areas, the temperature would be comfortable and there would be some rain and drizzle. According to Vice Admiral Turner's plan:
The weather in the vicinity of Iwo Jima for January and February 1945 will probably be good. There will probably be no typhoons and no fog. . . .37
Perhaps best of all, from the Marines' viewpoint, Iwo had no mosquitoes.
Available information in late 1944 indicated that no streams or wells existed on Iwo Jima and that, in peacetime, the one thousand inhabitants collected their water in large cisterns made of volcanic rock. Driven wells reputedly brought in water too highly mineralized for ordinary drinking or cooking use. To feed the normal thirsts of the 70,000 men in the assault forces would require a large scale distillation of water and, before the distillation plants could be set up ashore, considerable tankerage. Three oil
tankers were converted into water carriers with 42,000,000 gallons of potable water capacity. Urgent efforts were made to get into commission and to Iwo Jima two distilling ships of 120,000 gallons daily distilling capacity, which were building.
Vice Admiral Turner was able to get, additionally, an LST modified into a small craft mother ship and given the fancy name of APB, the B standing for "Barracks." These APBs had enlarged diesel fuel oil and fresh water capacity, 235,000 gallons and 119,000 respectively; dry, frozen and fresh provisions for issue, totaling 450 tons; and considerable spare berthing and messing capacity. Berthing and messing were to be available on an around-the-clock basis for survivors from ships or craft sunk, or for personnel of small amphibious boats separated from their normal transport home.38
Contrary to the sweet songs of the weather prophets, the planners added this dirge in regard to the prospective tasks of the logisticians:
The northwest seas and winds, which prevail from November through March will interfere at times with unloading on northwest beaches. Likewise prevalence of south and easterly seas and swells from April to October will preclude uninterrupted use of the excellent beaches on the southeast coast, and may interfere with the considered construction of an artificial harbor in this sector. These difficulties, together with the fact that there is no well protected harbour or anchorage on any coast, will add greatly to the unloading problem. . . .
Vice Admiral Turner forecast:
Unloading ships will be difficult at all times, except when ships are close inshore.39
The forecast would have been more nearly correct had he placed a period after "times".
In October 1944, CINCPAC had estimated that there were 13,000 Japanese troops on Iwo. CINCPAC also estimated the three Japanese airfields on Iwo Jima would be captured by Dog Day plus ten. Both estimates were on the optimistic side, but the latter was reasonably close.
The Japanese Defenders
By this October date, the Japanese had been militarily in the Bonin Islands
Vice Admiral Turner, Commander Joint Expeditionary Force (TF 51), studies staff memorandum enroute to the assault on Iwo Jima.
for thirty years, starting at Chichi Jima with a naval radio and seaplane base. Twenty' years later, the main Japanese defensive effort was shifted to Iwo Jima because of that island's adaptability to land plane air operations. However, Chichi Jima was not neglected, as the Japanese had some 9,000 army troops and 5,000 naval personnel at Chichi Jima when the War in the Pacific was over, and these troops could be counted at surrender time. According to Japanese sources, way back on 31 May 1944, the Japanese had 7,000 Army and Navy personnel on Iwo Jima, but more importantly, they had 14 coast defense guns of 4-inch or larger and 32 anti-aircraft guns. These were just a sound foundation for their later defensive effort.40
Immediately after the invasion of Saipan in mid-June 1944, the Japanese inaugurated a major crash effort to build up Iwo Jima defensively, as well as other islands in the Nanpo Shoto chain.
By August 1944, the lower Marianas were lost to Japan along with all
the top command organization of the 31st Japanese Army to which the Bonin-Volcano Islands had been assigned. A new commander, Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, was ordered and the 109th Division was moved to the defense of the Volcano-Bonin Islands. The naval forces on Iwo Jima, consisting of the 27th Air Flotilla, the Naval Guard Force manning the coast defense and anti-aircraft batteries, and a Naval Construction Battalion, were commanded by Rear Admiral Toshinosuke Ichimaru, a naval aviator. More than three-quarters of the defending anti-aircraft guns were naval.
When Vice Admiral Turner issued his Intelligence Plan for DETACHMENT, he stated in paragraph 1:
The Island is garrisoned with a balanced organization of Army and Navy troops and construction personnel, the total numbering between 13,000 and 14,000. Approximately 1,050 civilians live on the island. Adequate supplies are believed to be on hand for the garrison.
This was in error because all the civilians had been evacuated. Total defenders, including Koreans and natives of Iwo in the construction battalion, reportedly numbered over 20,000.41 Exact numbers are not available from Japanese records, because of the loss of Japanese military personnel and their records enroute to the island, thanks to our submarines.
While the Japanese troops had been closely estimated, the number of Japanese naval personnel had been put at from 1,000 to 1,750. Documents captured during the battle indicated that the naval units including construction personnel and Korean laborers actually totaled 7,015.42
The final Japanese defense plan for Iwo Jima was based on holding relatively lightly the volcanic sand beaches but covering them heavily by all types of fire from strongly fortified defensive positions around Mount Suribachi and the Motoyama Plateau area. Despite this overall plan, the entire slope of the beaches was covered by fire trenches and pillboxes, as well as rifle and machine gun pits. Near the ends of the beaches, there were reinforced concrete block houses and pillboxes with walls up to four feet thick, built so as to deliver damaging flanking fire as our troops moved away
Japanese Defense Plan
from the beaches. Mutually supporting defensive positions were built on Mount Suribachi and on the Motoyama Plateau. Guns, rockets, and mortars of all types and sizes were placed therein. A few of the 24 tanks were so located on the Motoyama Plateau as to provide a spearhead for local counterattacks. A good many of their guns were found dug in at the entrances to caves. The Japanese backed up their defensive positions with an elaborate system of interconnecting tunnels.
Great effort was made, and considerable success obtained, by the Japanese in their desire to camouflage or conceal their defensive positions.
The Japanese fighting spirit on Iwo Jima had reached a high crescendo, urged on by such exhortations as that of a senior Japanese officer who wrote before the battle:
We must inculcate a spirit that will not stop short of victory, maintaining a faith in self-sacrifice for the common cause, and determining to work with burning eagerness and high morale for the strengthening of mind and body, the perfection of military skill and training, and the increase of military preparation.
The same enthusiastic thoughts were expressed in the diary of a second lieutenant serving on Iwo Jima.
. . . let us live on to the end and hit the enemy headlong. We must live on, right or wrong, and keep striking until we have delivered the coup de grace to the last stubborn enemy and wiped the Anglo-Saxons from the face of the earth.43
The Japanese had learned that they could not hold open beaches against naval gunfire, but they planned to make it very expensive in men and material to land on these beaches or to move off of them.
Of prime interest to the gunners of the Expeditionary Force, by the time the delays taking place in the operations in the Philippines had ended and the Iwo Jima operation could proceed, the Japanese had markedly increased their defensive guns and mortars on Iwo Jima.
The positions of not all of these were known to the gunners of the Expeditionary Force, but a piece of paper issued by Commander Fifth Amphibious Corps on 13 February, giving the results of air reconnaissance through 10 February 1945, listed the following:
Coast defense guns 6 Dual-purpose guns 42 Automatic anti-aircraft 203 Covered artillery 67 Open artillery 5 Anti-tank, anti-boat guns 3 Machine guns 292 Since the naval organization, the Fifth Fleet (Task Force 50), for accomplishing DETACHMENT, was charged with assault-landing a full corps of Marines, it bore much resemblance to that for the Marianas operation, insofar as the amphibians were concerned. On an overall basis, however, there was some difference. The long-range heavy bombers of the Strategic Air Force, Pacific Ocean Areas (Task Force 93), and the shore-based air, including anti-submarine coverage and air-sea rescue units, of Task Force 94 (Forward Area, Central Pacific), under Fleet Admiral Nimitz's coordination, directly supported the Fifth Fleet. The largest unit of the Fifth Fleet was the Joint Expeditionary Force under Vice Admiral Turner.44
Organization for DETACHMENT
Additional direct support of various types for the DETACHMENT Operation came from both within and without the Pacific Fleet. The Commanding General, 14th Air Force based in the China Theater and the Commander North Pacific Force based in the Alaskan area conducted extended air searches in their faraway sectors. Commander Submarine Force and Commander Service Force, with task units operating primarily from the
Pearl Harbor area provided, respectively, reconnaissance coupled with air-sea rescue and broad logistic support. The Commanding General, 20th Air Force provided general support by air bombing on Japan proper. The Commanding General, Southwest Pacific Force, provided long-range reconnaissance over the Western Pacific from Leyte and Mindoro in the Philippines as air bases there became available for this purpose.
The Fifth Fleet was organized as follows:
The Ball Carriers
The Special Groups were a new organization in our amphibious operation plans although their tasks were not new. Each group performed an essential, if minor, support task for the might Fifth Fleet, as the titles indicate.
50.1 Fleet Flagship--Indianapolis--Captain C.B. McVay (1920) 50.2 Relief Fleet
Flagship--Missouri--Captain W.M. Callaghan (1919)
50.5 Search and Reconnaissance Group--Commodore D. Ketcham (1920) 50.7 Anti-Submarine Warfare Group--Captain G.C. Montgomery (1924) 50.8 Logistic Support Group--Rear Admiral D.B. Beary (1910) 50.9 Service Squadron Ten--Commodore W.R. Carter (1908)
The Search and Reconnaissance Group consisted of about 150 long-range
naval reconnaissance aircraft, either seaplanes or amphibian planes, together with their supporting tenders.
The Logistic Support Group of about fifty ships which included six jeep carriers, along with oilers, ammunition, store and refrigeration ships, and a protective anti-submarine screen was ordered to provide replacement aircraft and aircraft crews as well as essential supply items.
Service Squadron Ten contained over 260 ships and craft and included repair ships, destroyer tenders, fresh water carriers, and miscellaneous service ships to handle emergency repairs as well as battle damage and seaborne hospitalization.
For DETACHMENT, 495 ships were attached to TF 51 and employed by Commander, Expeditionary Force, in the initial assault and the First Garrison Echelon. There were 75,144 Army, Navy, and Marine personnel in the Landing Force, with 70,647 being Marines. Without naming or listing all the ships and craft in this massive Expeditionary Force, it seems worth summarizing that there were 43 attack transports, 16 attack cargo ships, 63 LSTs, and 58 LCIs besides 18 of the LCI gunboats, now designated LCS.
The new organizational features of the Expeditionary Force were two. The most important was the gathering into one task group of all the ships which were to furnish, in the immediate period before Dog Day: (a) pinpoint air, gun and mortar bombardment: (b) minesweeping, netting and buoying; and (c) beach reconnaissance and its attendant underwater demolition. This group was designated Task Force 52, the Amphibious Support Force. Rear Admiral W.H.P. Blandy was given this command. The Amphibious Support Force included an Air Support Group with eight jeep carriers, an Air Support Control Unit, and Underwater Demolition Group and a Gunboat Mortar Support Group with rocket LCIs and gun LCI units. To permit him to accomplish his heavy gun bombardment task, CTF 52 was authorized to draw on an offensive Gunfire and Covering Force (Task Force 54) of six battleships, five cruisers and their anti-submarine screens. Rear Admiral Bertram J. Rodgers commanded Task Force 54.
As will be noted from the diagram on page 997, Vice Admiral Turner turned over the command of the actual amphibious assault, lock, stock and barrel, to his designated Second-in-Command, Rear Admiral Harry W. Hill. This was consonant with the increased magnitude of the overall amphibious task to be accomplished, as well as with the increased amphibious assault experience of the Second-in-Command.
The more detailed organization of the naval part of Expeditionary Force was contained in CTF 51's 435-page Operation Plan A25-44, to which in due time were added 50 pages of changes and errata.
The Landing Force (TG 56.1) was from the Fifth Amphibious Corps. It was made up of the Fourth Marine Division and the Fifth Marine Division with the Third Marine Division in reserve. It was commanded by Major General Harry Schmidt, USMC. This was the first time in the Central Pacific campaign that a three division tactical corps, made up only of Marines, and commanded by a Marine officer was to take the field.
Major General Clifton b. Cates, USMC, commanded the Fourth Division and Major General Keller E. Rockey, USMC, the Fifth Division. Major General Graves B. Erskine, USMC, commanded the Third Marine Division and the Expeditionary Troops Reserve.
Consonant with the prior procedure of listing the Commanding Officers in the Assault Force of the expeditionary Force, and because the smaller amphibious ships and craft in DETACHMENT are not listed individually in Morison or other books on the Iwo Jima campaign, this will be done again, but only for the amphibious types.
The Attack Force, TF 53, under Rear Admiral Hill and in the new command ship Auburn (AGC-10), Captain R.O. Myers (1921), was organized as follows:
(A) T.G. 53.1 TRANSPORT GROUP ABLE (TRANSPORT SQUADRON 16)--Commodore John B. McGovern (1921)
T.U. 53.1.1 TRANSPORT DIVISION 46--Commodore McGovern
APA-96 Cecil (GF) Captain G.D. Lyon (1921)T.U. 53.1.2 TRANSPORT DIVISION 47 Captain A.S. Wotherspoon (1915)
APA-160 Deuel (F) Captain D.G. McMillan (1926)
APA-121 Hocking Commander C.D. Schutz, USNR
APA-159 Darke Captain McF. W. Wood (1923)
AP-77 Thurston Captain R.B. Vanasse (1921A)
AKA-64 Tolland Captain E.J. Kingsland, USNR
AKA-90 Whiteside Commander C.P. Woodson (1921)
APA-192 Rutland (F) Commander F.K. O'Brien (1914)T.U. 53.1.3 TRANSPORT DIVISION 48 Captain C.L. Andrews (1919)
APA-70 Cartaret Lieutenant Commander J.L. Hunter, USN
APA-106 Hansford Commander W.A. Lynch (1921)
APA-119 Highlands Commander M. Toal, USNR
APA-194 Sandoval Commander R.C. Scherrer (1922)
AKA-91 Whitley Commander A.C. Thompson, USNR
AKA-93 Yancey Lieutenant Commander E.R. Rice, USNR
APA-208 Talladega (F) Captain E.H. McMenemy (1920)T.U. 56.2.1 ABLE LANDING GROUP Major General Rockey
APA-161 Dickens Captain R.M. Ingram, USNR
APA-195 Lenawee Captain A.J. Detzer (1921)
APA-197 Lubbock Commander T.J. Butler, USNR
APA-211 Missoula Commander A.C. Kopper, USNR
AKA-68 Stokes Lieutenant Commander G.W. Graber, USNR
AKA-22 Athene Commander E.R. Nelson (1933)
LSD-5 Gunston Hall Lieutenant W.F. Bentley, USNR (temporary)
Fifth Marine Division, plus attached units
(B) T.G. 53.2 TRANSPORT GROUP BAKER (TRANSPORT SQUADRON 15) Commodore H.C. Flanagan (1921)
T.U. 53.2.1. TRANSPORT DIVISION 43 Commodore H.C. Flanagan (1921)
APA-33 Bayfield (GF) Captain W.R. Richards, USCG
APA-62 Berrien Lieutenant Commander J.M. Gallagher, USNR
APA-118 Hendry Captain R.C. Welles (1921)T.U. 53.2.2. TRANSPORT DIVISION 44 Captain J.H. Seyfried (1921)
APA-156 Mellette Commander F.H. Spring, USNR
APA-206 Sibley Commander E.I. McQuiston (1921)
AKA-21 Artemis Lieutenant COmmander E.A. Rattray, USNR
AKA-65 Shoshone Lieutenant Commander S.E. Melville, USNR
LSV-2 Ozark Captain F.P. Williams (1925)
APA-120 Hinsdale (F) Commander E.F. Beyer, USNRT.U. 56.2.2 BAKER LANDING GROUP Major General C.B. Cates, USMC
APA-63 Bladen Lieutenant Commander W.P. Hartung, USNR
APA-157 Napa Commander G.F. Forster, USNR
APA-190 Pickens Commander J.V. McElduff (1920)
APA-193 Sanborn Commander S. Huguenin, USNR
AKA-63 Southampton Lieutenant Commander L.V. Cooke, USNR
AKA-67 Starr Commander F.O. Goldsmith (1921)
LSD-2 Belle Grove Commander M. Seavey, USNR
Fourth Marine Division plus attached units
(C) T.G. 53.3 TRACTOR FLOTILLA Captain W.H. Brereton (1924)
DD-802 Gregory Commander B. McCandless (1932)T.U. 53.3.1 TRACTOR GROUP ABLE Commander P. Niekum, USN (Ret.) (1926)
LCI(L)-994 Lieutenant N.H. Vereeke, USNR
DD-803 Little Commander M. Hall (1931)T.U. 53.3.2 LST UNIT ONE Commander W.M. Gullett (1927)
LCI(L)-995 Lieutenant (jg) J.E. Favell, USNR
LST-756 (GF) Lieutenant F.L. Daum, USNR
LST-241 Lieutenant A.N. Firestone, USNR
LST-354 Lieutenant C.A. Johnson, USNR
LST-588 Lieutenant S.B. Fulweiler, USNR
LST-643 Lieutenant E. Windward, USNRT.U. 53.3.3 LST UNIT TWO Commander C.R. Lea, USNR
LST-715 Lieutenant R.I. Trapp, USN
LST-929 (H) Lieutenant C.S. Strickler, USNR
LST-449 (F) Lieutenant (jg) J.E. Britain, USNRT.U. 53.3.4 TRACTOR GROUP BAKER Captain W.H. brereton (1924)
LST-70 Lieutenant B.P. Devins, USCGR
LST-390 Lieutenant J.B. Maury, USNR
LST-481 Lieutenant W.L. Boyer, USNR
LST-634 Lieutenant Tomboy Little, USN
LST-758 Lieutenant F.J. Molenda, USCG
LST-1033 (H) Lieutenant J.W. Robinson, USNR
T.U. 53.3.5 LST UNIT THREE Commander R.M. MacKinnon (1924)
LST-587 (GF) Lieutenant H.H. Hough, USNRT.U. 53.3.6 LST UNIT FOUR Commander S.A. Lief, USNR (1931)
LST-642 Lieutenant R.J. Schaefer, USNR
LST-716 Lieutenant P.H. Shea, USNR
LST-723 Lieutenant B.H. Wallace, USN
LST-761 Lieutenant C.N. Huff, USCGR
LST-812 Lieutenant F.J. Sullivan, USNR
LST-930 (H) Lieutenant F.W. Grabowski, USN
LST-713 (F) Lieutenant C.N. Moore, USNRT.U. 53.3.7 TRACTOR GROUP CHARLIE Captain C.H. Peterson, USCG
LST-684 Lieutenant P.B. Welch, Jr., USNR
LST-731 Lieutenant K.S. McCann, Jr., USN
LST-787 Lieutenant W.S. Lawrence, USCGR
LST-789 Lieutenant H.M. Mulvey, USCG
LST-928 Lieutenant C.R. Stearns, USNR
LST-931 (H) Lieutenant E.L. Berenbach, USNR
DD-804 Rooks Commander J.A. McGoldrick (1932)T.U. 53.3.8 LST UNIT FIVE Commander S.R. Sands, USCG
LCI(L)-998 Lieutenant W.J. Huff, USNR
LST-760 (GF) Lieutenant R.T.A. McKenzie, USCG
LST-648 Lieutenant Commander C.F. Rabell, USNR
LST-726 Lieutenant J.M. Alper, USNR
LST-763 Lieutenant A.W. Meekins, USCG
LST-764 Lieutenant R.F. Nichols, USCG
LST-779 Lieutenant J.A. Hopkins, USNR
LST-784 Lieutenant D.H. Miner, USCG
LST-792 Lieutenant C.M. Garrett, USCGR
LST-1032 Lieutenant J.M. Medina, USNR
T.U. 53.3.9 LST UNIT SIX Commander W.B. Millington, USCG
LST-782 (F) Lieutenant H.C. Slack, USCGRT.G. 53.4 LSM FLOTILLA Commander W.H. Carpenter
LST-42 Lieutenant J.W. Forbis, USNR
LST-121 Lieutenant E.D. Godrefy, USNR
LST-224 Lieutenant J.M. Beall, USNR
LST-399 Lieutenant (jg) F.J. Dever, USNR
LST-785 Lieutenant M.E. Nichol, USCG
LST-795 Lieutenant M.H. Jackson, USCGR
LST-807 Lieutenant G.D. Straight, USN
LST-940 Lieutenant G.F. Leedy, USN
FLOTILLA FLAGSHIPLCI(L)-628 Lieutenant C.F. Higgins, USNR
(D) T.G. 53.4 LSM FLOTILLA Commander W.H. Carpenter (1926) USNR
LSM-264 (GF) Lieutenant F.M. Parrish, USNRT.U. 53.4.2 LSM UNIT BAKER Lieutenant Commander A.E. Lind, USNR
LSM-43 Lieutenant C.R. Hooff, Jr., USNR
LSM-44 Lieutenant B.A. Rubin, USNR
LSM-46 Lieutenant F.R. Edwards, USNR
LSM-47 Lieutenant F.J. Chokel, USNR
LSM-49 Lieutenant R. Greenwood, USN
LSM-92 Lieutenant J. Grandin, USNR
LSM-140 Lieutenant R.F. Duff, USNR
LSM-141 Lieutenant E.A. Quinlan, USNR
LSM-242 Lieutenant (jg) C.O. Gardner, USNR
LSM-261 Lieutenant A.J. Smith, Jr., USNR
LSM-266 Lieutenant W.H. Rutledge, USNR
LSM-60 (GF) Lieutenant W.W. Doar, USNR
LSM-48 Lieutenant M.T. Graugnard, USNR
LSM-59 Lieutenant D.C. Hawley, USNR
LSM-70 Lieutenant R.C. Whalin, USN
LSM-74 Lieutenant S.M. Prewitt, USNR
LSM-126 Lieutenant G.E. Stricker, USNR
LSM-145 Lieutenant R.P. Palmer, USNR
LSM-201 Lieutenant A.J. Buchinsky, USNR
LSM-202 Lieutenant D. Thurlow, USNR
LSM-206 Lieutenant G.C. MacKenzie, USNR
LSM-207 Lieutenant R. Allman, USNR
LSM-211 Lieutenant H.R. Geyelin, USNR
LSM-216 Lieutenant C.P. Haber, USNR
LSM-238 Lieutenant D.M. McIntosh, USNR
LSM-239 Lieutenant E.W. Jokisch, USNR
LSM-241 Lieutenant W.T. Brooks, USNR
LSM-260 Lieutenant R.J. Grier, II, USNR
LSM-323 Lieutenant J.C. Watt, USNR
(E) T.G. 53.5 CONTROL GROUP Captain Bruce B. Adell (1922)
T.U. 53.5.1 CENTRAL CONTROL GROUP Captain Bruce B. Adell
PCE-877 Lieutenant J.R. Shea, USNRT.U. 53.5.2 CONTROL UNIT ABLE Lieutenant Commander L.D. Dawes
PC(S)-1403 Lieutenant J.M. Cherry, Jr., USNR
PC(S)-1421 Lieutenant (jg) E.T. Freeman, USNR
PC(S)-1460 Lieutenant F.W. Lamb, USNRT.U. 53.5.3 CONTROL UNIT GREEN Lieutenant J.F. Sexton
PC(S)-1461 Lieutenant W.S. Harrison, USNR
SC-1049 Lieutenant D.C. Adams, USNR
SC-1298 Lieutenant (jg) H.J. Hebner, USNR
SC-1314 Lieutenant (jg) J.F. Schweidler, USNR
PC-463 Lieutenant J.E. Palmer, USNRT.U. 53.5.4 CONTROL UNIT RED Lieutenant Bell
SC-1315 Lieutenant (jg) R.V> Weddle, USNR
PC-469 Lieutenant (jg) S.B. Kurta, USNRT.U. 53.5.5 CONTROL UNIT BAKER Lieutenant Commander B. Wheeler
SC-1316 Lieutenant (jg) C.F. Allen, Jr., USNR
PC(S)-1452 Ensign J.S. Simms, USNRT.U. 53.5.6 CONTROL UNIT YELLOW Lieutenant Commander B. Henderson
PC(S)-1455 Lieutenant C.F. Cort, USNR
SC-1066 Lieutenant (jg) A.A. Bull, USNR
SC-1272 Lieutenant L.M. Walker, USNR
SC-1360 Lieutenant (jg) H.S. Howes, USNR
PC-578 Lieutenant (jg) C.D. Chalfant, USNRT.U. 53.5.7 CONTROL UNIT BLUE Lieutenant C.H. Wheatley
SC-1326 Lieutenant E. Hamilton, USNR
PC-1081 Lieutenant (jg) Paul E. Lavietes, USNR
SC-1374 Ensign R.L. McKenna, USNR
(F) T.G. 53.6 BEACH PARTY GROUP Captain Carl E. Anderson, USNR
SC-724 (GF) Lieutenant (jg) R.H. Bogarte, USNR
T.U. 53.6.1 BEACH PARTY UNIT ABLE Commander W.S. Trapnell, USNR
Assigned Beach PartyT.U. 53.6.2 BEACH PARTY UNIT BAKER Lieutenant Commander W.J. Lippincott, USNR
Assigned Beach Party
(G) T.G. 53.7 PONTOON BARGE, CAUSEWAY AND LCT GROUP Lieutenant Commander Thomas F. Ryan, USNR
LCI(L)-425 (GF) Lieutenant (jg) C.H. Bergesson, USNR
T.U. 53.7.1 PONTOON BARGE UNIT ABLE Lieutenant F.J. Elmiger, USNR
Sixteen 3' x 12' barges when launched fromT.U. 53.7.2 PONTOON BARGE UNIT BAKER Lieutenant (jg) J.J. Knoll
LST-760 Lieutenant R.T.A. McKenzie, USCG
LST-779 Lieutenant J.A. Hopkins, USNR
LST-930 Lieutenant F.W. Grabowski, USN
LST-931 Lieutenant E.L. Berenbach, USNR
Twelve 3 x 12 barges when launched fromT.U. 53.7.3 CAUSEWAY UNIT ABLE Lieutenant Lewis
LST-784 Lieutenant D.H. Miner, USCG
LST-929 Lieutenant C.S. Strickler, USNR
LST-1033 Lieutenant J.W.S. Robinson, USNR
Three Causeway sets (each 2-2'x30' causeways) when launched fromT.U. 53.7.4 CAUSEWAY UNIT BAKER Lieutenant (jg) I.P. Judy
LST-588 Lieutenant S.B. Fulweiler, USNR
LST-758 Lieutenant F.J. Molenda, USCGR
- LST-761 Lieutenant C.N. Huff, USCG
Three Causeway sets (each 2'x30' causeways) when launched fromT.U. 53.7.5 LCT UNITS Lieutenant R.T. Capeless, USNR
LST-763 Lieutenant A.W. Meekins, USCG
LST-764 Lieutenant R.F> Nichols, USCG
LST-787 Lieutenant W.S. Lawrence, USCGR
LCI(L)-423 (GF) Lieutenant Joe D. Norvell, USNRT.U. 53.7.6 LCT UNIT ABLE Lieutenant R.T. Capeless, USNR
LCT-630 loaded on LST-715 Lieutenant R.I. Trapp, USNT.U. 53.7.7 LCT UNIT BAKER Ensign Kenneth L. Dorton
LCT-631 loaded on LST-731 Lieutenant K.S. McCann, Jr., USN
LCT-632 loaded on LST-756 Lieutenant F.L. Daum, USNR
LCT-866 loaded on LST-713 Lieutenant C.N. Moore, USNR
LCT-1028 loaded on LST-684 Lieutenant P.B. Welch, Jr., USNR
LCT-1029 loaded on Gunston Hall Commander D.E. Collins, USNR (Lieutenant W.P. Bentley, temporary)
LCT-1030 loaded on LST-782 Lieutenant H.C. Slack, USCGR
LCT-1031 loaded on LST-1032 Lieutenant J.M. Medina, USNR
LCT-1055 loaded on LST-634 Lieutenant T. Little, USN
LCT-1154 loaded on LST-716 Lieutenant P.H. Shea, USNR
LCT-1269 loaded on LST-812 Lieutenant F.J. Sullivan, USNR
LCT-1404 loaded on LST-648 Lieutenant Commander C.F. Rabell, USNR
T.U. 53.8 SMALL CRAFT GROUP Lieutenant Commander Nelson(I) T.G. 53.9
LCI(L)-1029 Lieutenant (jg) J.H. Lusk, USNRT.U. 53.8.1 SMALL BOAT UNIT
LCI(G)-438 Lieutenant (jg) T.S. Youmans, USNR
LCI(G)-441 Lieutenant (jg) F.W. Bell, USNR
LST(M)-676 Lieutenant P.N. Monroe, USNR
LST(M)-678 Lieutenant C.E. Beatty, USNR
Small boats as assigned
Mentioned, but no data indicating constituency, and no reports therefrom located.45
Thirty-one LSTs carried LCTs but only the LCTs listed above were to be launched at the objective, as ordered by Command Attack Force.
Old Task Force 62 which sailed so proudly forth to assault Guadalcanal on 7 August 1942, numbered 51 ships. Task Force 51 numbered 495 ships--ten times as large.
A New Amphibious Navy
The call on the amphibious resources of the Pacific Fleet had just barely been met by using for assault operations every new amphibious ship as it rolled down the production line, slid into the water, and steamed towards the mid-Pacific.
Amphibious ships and their landing craft could be built faster than the officers and seamen to man them and their landing craft could be trained to do their difficult tasks. There was no lack of desire to do the correct thing at the correct time in the correct manner. There was only a lack of acquired skill.
To illustrate, Commander Transport Division 45 reported that of the five APAs, two AKAs, and one LSD in his division, only the LSD had been in commission more than six months on the date of the assault landing, 19 February 1945. None, except the LSD, had participated in a prior assault.46
The problem of untried personnel was mentioned by many.
Since this was the initial task of this ship and few aboard had previously participated in amphibious operations, briefing was done more from doctrine and plans, than experience. . . .47
In a personal letter dated 3 February 1945 to Rear Admiral L. E. Denfeld, who was the number two in the Bureau of Naval Personnel, this statement of Vice Admiral Turner occurs:
In the operation we have just embarked on, all but one of the transports are brand new, with only a few captains who have ever (in junior positions) been on such an operation. The four Transdiv Commanders are on their first operation; and the only experienced officers in the transports are the two Transron Commanders, McGovern and Flanagan.48
The Scheme of Maneuver called for landing two divisions abreast on the southeastern beaches of Iwo Jima, the Fourth Marine Division on the right, and the Fifth Marine Division on the left. The Fifth Marine Division was to drive across the island and then swing to the northeast. At this same time, a Regimental Combat Team of this division was to swing left and take Mount Suribachi. The right flank of the Fourth Division was to wheel to the right and head for the Quarry and East Boat Basin while the rest of the Fourth Division was to push in towards the center of the island, overrun the main airfield [Airfield No. 1], and then to wheel to the northeast and head for Motoyama Plateau and Airfield No. 2, located thereon.
The Scheme of Maneuver
The Third Marine Division, when and as released by the Expeditionary Troop Commander, would land over the same southeastern beaches either to assist in the attack or to occupy defensive positions.
Except for the Third Division, the Expeditionary Troop Reserve, the Marines slated for the DETACHMENT Operation were in the Hawaiian
"Every Man a Lookout."
islands. The preliminary rehearsals, including actual landings on designated days and then simulated landings with actual gunfire and air support on other days, were held in Lahaina Roads from 11 to 18 January 1945. Due to the operational requirements of the Luzon landings of the Philippine campaign commencing 9 January 1945, most of the designated naval gunfire ships and air support units could not participate in the Lahaina Roads rehearsal.
Task Force 52, the Amphibious Support Force for DETACHMENT, assembled for preliminary training at Ulithi as the ships and units became available in the Western Pacific. Then all of Task Force 51, except the Expeditionary Troop Reserve, TG 51.1, and the Underwater Demolition Group, TG 52.4, held a partial rehearsal in the Saipan-Tinian Area on 11-13 February 1945. This followed the transfer of the Marines for the assault waves from the transports to the LSTs of the Tractor Groups. The Marianas rehearsal consisted of assault waves proceeding to within three hundred yards of the beach and simulated gunfire and air support.49
Major General Schmidt, USMC, Fifth Amphibious Corps Commander,
thought the rehearsals in the Hawaiian Area: "were well executed," and that the absence of the naval gunfire ships and air support units "was overcome to some extent by a short rehearsal in the forward area."
At a much lower level, the rehearsal was appreciated greatly.
The rehearsal was invaluable to the personnel of this ship in showing the part we would play and our general position in the Scheme of Things.50
That the Hawaiian rehearsal was reasonably realistic and much needed by the naval part of the amphibious team is attested by recording that eleven ships and craft collided or stranded during the rehearsal. Luckily only one, the LST-1031, which was beached, badly damaged, required replacement prior to movement to the Far Pacific.
During the Marianas rehearsal, the ocean was more than just a bit rough. One destroyer, the Halford (DD-480), was damaged and had to be returned to Pearl Harbor for repairs. Six amtracs were swamped and lost, and twelve LSTs suffered minor hull damage. Not all scheduled operations were carried out, particularly on 12 February 1945.
Vice Admiral Turner missed the rehearsals in Lahaina Roads due to a virus and the designated Second-in-Command, Rear Admiral Harry W. Hill, conducted them. The latter in his Action Report, labeled it "a very useful rehearsal."
The Boss Man on the Sick List
In regard to the health of the Commander Expeditionary Force at this time, Admiral Hill wrote:
He [Turner] had a bad back which required him to wear a heavy brace, but primarily, he had been driving himself so hard for the past two years that he had lost weight and looked badly. But he insisted that he was fine and certainly his ability to get things done never showed any diminution of power.51
When the Expeditionary Force sailed from the Marianas:
#1 Sick Again
Turner had developed a new virus, or a recurrence of the old one, and in
my last talk with him, the day before our departure for Iwo, he was in bed with extremely high fever with a threat of pneumonia. I had never seen him so ill, and was deeply concerned. I begged him to take it easy and carry out the doctor's orders. . . .
The Navy just couldn't afford to lose him. He assured me he would be careful, but also was very positive that he would be all right in plenty of time. And he was. That indomitable will power prevailed over virus and fever and before D-Day, he was back on his feet, carrying on as usual.52
The Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, had arrived aboard the flagship Eldorado to ride to Iwo Jima with Vice Admiral Turner, and this perhaps increased the speed of his recovery.
The designated beaches on the southeast shore of Iwo Jima covered 3,500 yards, and the two divisions abreast were to be landed on 3,000 yards of these beaches. There were seven beaches, each about five hundred yards wide from north to south along the southeast coast of Iwo Jima. They were designated from north to south Blue 2, Blue 1, Yellow 2, Yellow 1, Red 2, Red 1, and Green 1. It was planned to use all the designated beaches in the initial assault, except Blue 2, the right hand beach, which was too close to the Japanese quarry for comfort.
Ship to Shore Movement
The eight battalion landing teams, including one in immediate back-up position for Green Beach One and the other in back-up on Blue Beach One, were embarked in 28 LSTs. They were to be landed in amtracs, preceded by the LVT(A)'s, the amphibious tanks. The reserve battalions for the Blue, Yellow, and Red beaches were to be embarked in LCVP's and LCMs in Rendezvous Area near the Transport Area, ready to be called up and landed when needed.
LSMs carrying tanks and half-tracks, and the LSTs carrying the divisional artillery, were to be stationed between the Transport Area and the Line of Departure, ready to send their weapons ashore as needed and called for by the Marines.
A battleship and four destroyers were to be stationed between the Line of Departure and the beaches to provide close-in fire support of considerable volume and power, as the lead assault waves moved towards the beaches. Twenty-four gunboats (LCI's converted) carrying rockets, mortars or increased
40-millimeter and 20-millimeter armament were to precede the assault waves by 600 yards as they moved toward the beaches.
About ten minutes before touchdown of the lead wave, the rocket gunboats were to fire an initial salvo of rockets, and between that moment and six minutes before the lead wave arrived at the beach, a second salvo. Twenty-millimeter and forty-millimeter guns were to be used freely to suppress any Japanese return fire. A 30-minute run from the Line of Departure to the beach was anticipated at the predicated amtrac speed of four knots.
Twice during the immediate pre-assault period, gunfire was to lift, and air strikes on the beach area were to take place. The lifting of the gunfire and the laying down of the air strikes was to be closely coordinated to prevent the long hiatus which had occurred at Tarawa.
By the time the actual landing was made, the firing ships available in the assault areas had their target areas redesignated, and the firing on the beach areas was considerably beefed up. This resulted in the heaviest pre-How Hour bombardment of the Pacific campaign. Four battleships, four cruisers, and eight destroyers fired on the east coast beaches and provided a modified rolling barrage, well controlled ahead of the Marines. In addition, one battleship and one heavy cruiser gave their exclusive attention to Mount Suribachi.
Sixty-eight LVT(A)'s were in the lead wave, and 83 LVTs in Wave 2 with varying lesser number of craft in Waves 3 through Wave 5. Wave 6 on Green and Red beaches contained LCMs and LCVP's. Wave 6A consisted of LCT' s and LSMs carrying tanks. Altogether 482 amtracs were to participate in the assault.
(A) MinesIn order to make any seaborne movement of Japanese troops from the Bonins to the Volcano islands difficult and costly, 227 aircraft mines were laid in the harbor and anchorages of the Bonin islands by the Strategic Air Force, Pacific Ocean Areas (TF 93) in a four-phase operation, between 6 November and 18 December 1944. The Strategic Air Force judged that about 80 percent of the mines were laid in effective locations. Most of the mines were laid at Chichi Jima and Haha Jima. There were many difficulties in carrying through this task, including the following, on 29 November:
On the mine run at about 400 feet altitude on course 340 degrees T, these two planes collided, the wing of one ramming the bombardier compartment of the other. The right plane pulled up and away sharply and its third mine carrying to the left, struck the side of the left plane between the waist and tail, penetrated the skin, slid along the control cables and came to rest on the camera hatch with its parachute dragging through the hole in the fuselage. . . . This mine was pried out through the hole it had made and fell without parachute. . . .53
A possible unwanted dividend from the mine-laying occurred later when one of our destroyers, the David W. Taylor (DD-551), struck a mine on 5 January 1945, about 7,000 yards off the harbor of Chichi Jima and well outside of the area our planes had presumably mined.
(B) Early Surface Gun BombardmentsMany of the preinvasion bombardments of Iwo Jima were coordinated surface ship and air bombardments. Planes of the Strategic Air Force undertook to spot for the ships during some of the bombardments because there was no fighter cover for the cruiser spotting planes. Accuracy of spotting by these aircraft from the Strategic Air Force was varied since this was a new mission for the B-24s. Communications were difficult or impossible to establish, and the aircraft were tardy to very tardy in making their rendezvous.
The first large-scale gun bombardment of Iwo Jima took place on 11-12 November 1944, and subsequent surface ship gun bombardments occurred on 8, 24, and 27 December 1944, as well as 5 January and 24 January 1945. Most of these bombardments were conducted by Commander Cruiser Division Five (CTG 94.9), Rear Admiral Allen E. Smith, Commander.
The first surface ship bombardment on the night of 11-12 November 1944, was carried out by three heavy cruisers of Cruiser Division Five and five escorting destroyers of Destroyer Squadron Four. The mean range of the cruisers to targets was 16,000 yards; of the destroyers to targets, 12,000 yards. A clear, dark night favored the operation, but the only result claimed was several large explosions and subsequent fires.54
The 8 December action coordinated an attack of 218 planes with the
Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal confers with assault commanders in USS Rocky Mount off Iwo Jima, 22 February 1945. Left to right: Vice Admiral Turner, Secretary Forrestal, Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith, and Rear Admiral Harry Hill.
NR & L (M) 32992
same heavy cruiser division and destroyer squadron and resulted in 950 tons of bombs and 300 tons of shells being expended on Iwo Jima.55
Cruiser Division Five and Destroyer Squadron Four returned to their target again on 24 and 27 December 1944, and again their operations were coordinated with an air strafing and air bombardment attack. Spotting reportedly was greatly improved since the same plane crews and spotters were available as used in the 8 December operation. However, the Japanese coastal defense batteries were positioned on elevated land, 150 feet to 250 feet above sea level and thoroughly revetted. This made the gunnery bombardment problem difficult, when not impossible.
No exaggerated claims were made for any of the surface gun bombardments by the surface ship elements. Commander Cruiser Division Five in answering the question "Did it Pay?" said: "The answer is a qualified 'yes.'"
The Commanding Officer of the heavy cruiser Pensacola, a unit of Cruiser Division Four, opined:
. . . It is considered that the extent to which defense installations on Iwo Jima may be destroyed by ship bombardment of this nature is somewhat limited.56
When the new battleship Indiana, as well as Cruiser Division Five and eight destroyer-type bombarded Iwo Jima on 24 January 1945, as part of another coordinated air-surface attack, the Area Commander stated:
Although spotting was excellent and bombardment was generally in areas assigned, there is no appreciable evidence of damage to shore installations.
The raid . . . did not pay off as well as expected.
Five surface bombardments have not prevented the enemy use of Iwo Jima [airfields].
About sixty percent of the surface bombardment progress was completed under ideal conditions. . . . However, at 1532 King, the heavy weather arrived completely shutting out the island both from the surface and from overhead and firing was suspended and finally cancelled.57
The purpose of this rather lengthy discussion of the pre-landing period surface bombardments and their coordination with B-24 air bombardments is to show that a real area bombardment effort was made to prepare Iwo Jima for the planned pinpoint air and gun bombardment by TF 52 and TF 54 of the Expeditionary Force. Despite this effort, there was a general lack of enthusiasm for the pre-landing surface bombardment results achieved from November 1944 through January 1945. This general lack of enthusiasm for the results achieved turned out to be really bad news for the assaulting Marines.
(C) Air BombardmentThe air bombardment of Iwo Jima began way back in June 1944, when planes from the fast carriers dumped 88 tons of bombs on that small island. By 1 February 1945, carrier aircraft had dropped 339 tons and Army and Navy land based aircraft had put 5,793 tons on the island. And this does not by any means tell all of the air effort. For commencing 8 December
1944, there were one or more air attacks on the Bonin-Volcano Islands each day until 19 February, a period of 74 consecutive days.58
Despite this large scale air bombardment effort:
Photographic coverage of Iwo Jima to 24 January 1945, indicate that damage to installations resulting from bombing strikes between 3 December, 1944, and 24 January, 1945, was, on the whole, negligible. . . .59
An ever increasing number of Japanese defensive gun positions continued to be disclosed by the almost continuous photographic missions that were being flown. And many, many more well camouflaged gun positions and fortified caves and tunnels were not known to exist until the enemy's hand was forced just prior to, or subsequent to, the actual landing.
Some nine hundred ships and craft were assigned to DETACHMENT. Because of operational requirements, part of which were due to supporting General MacArthur's Philippine operations, some of these had to be initially assembled at Eniwetok, Ulithi or the Marianas. Their coordinated movement to and closely timed arrival at the very cramped Iwo Jima beach area was a major task, calling for navigation, seamanship and seagoing judgment of a very high order.
Movement to the Objective
The movement of the Expeditionary Force towards Iwo Jima commenced when the Tractor Group of LSTs departed Pearl Harbor on 22 January, almost a month before the assault landing.
The Transport Groups departed on 28 January. Movement of the ships and aircraft from the Hawaiian Islands was via Eniwetok for logistics support for the smaller craft, and then via Saipan-Tinian for the final rehearsal. No Japanese contacts were logged by the main body until in the vicinity of Iwo Jima, when, on 15, 16, and 17 February, possible submarine contacts were made.
Japanese sources available since World War Ii have revealed that Japanese submarines observed the movements of the large number of our ships in and out of Ulithi, and in and out of the Marianas in early to mid-February 1945. Japanese naval patrol planes reported on 13 February, 170 ships moving north from Saipan. The question in the minds of the Japanese high command
seems to have been whether our objective was Iwo Jima or Okinawa. In his diary a Japanese soldier on Iwo Jima pinpointed the attacks on Iwo Jima as four days after leaving Saipan and identified the attackers as the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Marine Divisions. Japanese reconnaissance aircraft confirmed the objective as Iwo Jima when they sighted the amphibians of the Gunfire and Covering Group on the 16th, 17th, and 18th.60
There was no surprise, either tactical or strategical, at Iwo Jima.
The senior Japanese prisoner captured on Iwo reported that all troops had been moved into their defensive position on 14 February upon detection of Task Force 58 initiating its raids on Tokyo.
Strategically, the Japanese knew that we needed an island close enough to Japan to provide fighter protection for the B-29s, and that that island had to have adequate level terrain for two or three long airstrips. If that island had suitable beaches to accommodate a large amphibious assault, it was a likely objective. Iwo Jima filled this prescription closely. No other island in the southern part of the Nampo Shoto chain of islands quite did.
Tactically, the Japanese submarines and air patrols provided the direction of our thrust, north along the Marianas chain.
So the enemy knew it had to be Iwo Jima.
A very generous amount of air bombardment by planes of both Services took place throughout the months prior to the landing and in the immediate pre-landing period. The great majority of the weight of bombs dropped prior to 16 February 1945, was high-level area bombardment by B-24s and B-29s flying out of the Marianas.
At The Objective--Pre-landing Air Bombardment
Once the Japanese had started moving their gun and mortar installations into concrete-lined caves, narrow ravines, tortured gullies and cement-covered emplacements, the actual damage to guns and mortars was very limited.
Extracts from the report on support aircraft operations commencing with
Dog Day minus three indicates the problems for Army high-level bombers and naval dive bombers and fighter aircraft:
Sorties for the day totalled 158, but due to weather only 6 support missions were executed. . . .
The afternoon Army Air Force heavy bomber strike arrived on station slightly ahead of schedule. The ceiling was too low for bombing, but as the weather was expected to improve, the Army bombers were kept on station for one hour, the maximum their fuel would allow. The weather did not improve and the strike was returned to base.
Light antiaircraft was intense throughout the day. Heavy antiaircraft was intense only during the strike on the southern part of the island by 42 Army Liberators. . . . The majority of bombs dropped from 5000 feet hit in the target area. . . . Photographs showed no known installations hit by these bombs, but the fragments may have caused some damage and casualties.
Dog-1 DayWeather was only partially good for flying. . . . Most strikes were made through breaks in cloud formations. By 1330 when the Army land-based bombing group arrived, a layer of low clouds with ceiling at 2000 feet held up the strike. The strike eventually was cancelled and the formation was returned to base. * * * * *Results for the day are difficult to assess. It is, however, believed that support aircraft functioned better than on the two preceding days . . . . Concentration attacks on targets, relatively few in number, but studded with numerous installations, conceivably weakened the areas commanding the landing beaches.61
The effect of heavy bombardment aircraft over a lengthy period of time does not appear to have caused appreciable destruction of specific installations. It did not disrupt communications nor reduce morale of the enemy.
The scheduled pre-landing gun bombardment started off on the wrong foot--due to rain squalls and poor visibility at the objective on Dog minus three. Since our ships were under orders to fire only when the air observers could see their objective and spot the gunfire, and to remain outside the 100
At the Objective--Dog Minus Three
Mount Suribachi with landing beach in background.
fathom line until the minesweepers had completed their sweeping, ranges were from 8,000 to 10,000 yards. When the spotting planes were clear of clouds, Japanese anti-aircraft fire kept them sensibly wary of flying low enough to easily identify targets for the ships' guns. Despite this handicap, and as a Japanese soldier on Iwo Jima wrote in his diary on Dog minus three:
Even though by dispensation of heaven, the characteristic mist of this Island caused the sky to be overcast, aerial bombing and naval gunfire destroyed our airfield and grounded our planes.62
The view points of the first day's results by the gunfire (CTF 54) and support (CTF 52) commanders were somber:
- Targets were well concealed and extremely difficult to locate. In spite of heavy bombardment of the objective, little damage was apparent.
- Only about half the bombardment contemplated on this day was accomplished.
The weather cleared on Dog minus two and was suitable for air operations throughout the day. The minesweepers had located only one shaggy mine in eight feet of water and destroyed it.
Dog Minus Two
For the second day, the gunfire bombardment ships were ordered to carry out their pinpoint destruction of targets while in the 3,000 to 6, 000 yard gun range and to provide close support for the underwater demolition teams which were to begin their efforts at 1100.
As the heavy ships worked their way inshore during the morning, the Japanese were gradually enticed to open up from a few well-concealed batteries and heavy mortars. The cruiser Pensacola (CA-24) was hit hard and the Tennessee (BB-43) lightly so. The Executive Officer of the Pensacola was killed and her CIC wrecked.
When at 1100 the LCI gunboats moved in to provide close support for the personnel of the Underwater Demolition Teams, three previously unlocated guns in a four-gun Japanese battery overlooking the beach from Mount Suribachi, as well as a considerable number of untouched mortars on the high ground on the north flank of the beaches, came to life just after the gunboats let go their rockets. In the furious engagement that ensued eleven of the twelve of the LCI's were hit and one was sunk. The LCI's gallantly carried out their mission despite 170 casualties, and a relief craft took over the task of the LCI sunk. The close, close-in battleship Nevada (OBB-36) opened up with all her batteries on the multiplicity of targets. The Japanese batteries and mortars eventually checked or ceased their fire or were destroyed.
Rear Admiral Blandy signaled the gunboats:
Greatly admire magnificent courage your valiant personnel. . . .64
The gunboat commander reported back:
Smoke rising from aerial and naval bombardment of Mount Suribachi.
LCI-474 sunk: LCI's 441 and 473 require towing: LCI's 438, 449, 457, 466 and 471 require extensive repairs to hull and armament; 450 and 469 can be operated after above water damage is repaired; 346, 348 and 627 operative.65
The LCI-348 was the only LCI of the initial twelve used for gunfire support which was not hit.
The gun bombardment continued with renewed vigor throughout the afternoon, so that:
The ammunition expenditures for this day, however, approximated those originally scheduled.66
During these first two days prior to the assault landing, the water off Iwo Jima had been swept for mines, the beaches had been examined for underwater defenses by the Underwater Demolition Teams, and the island defenses had been peered at through hundreds of gun sights, spyglasses, binoculars and photographic lenses.
The First Two Days of Preliminaries
Two pieces of early news were good. The Japanese had laid no mine fields around Iwo Jima and there were no underwater obstacles in the beach approaches. Surf and beach conditions were judged suitable for the assault landing.
But, and it was a big but, the volume of enemy fire which the LCI gunboats had received while providing protection to the personnel of the Underwater Demolition Teams indicated that Japanese gun defenses of the beach area were still strong and effective.
The official but read:
At the end of the D-2 bombardment it was apparent from reports of firing and from photographs that relatively little destruction had been accomplished.67
Accordingly, the next day Dog minus one, there was a massive concentration of our short-range heavy gun bombardment on Japanese gun positions, pillboxes, and blockhouses near the beaches, while the amount of destructive work on the Japanese positions on the Motoyama Plateau was lightened. This fire from the old battleships on the beach area was at ranges of 1,800 to 3,000 yards. By nightfall, it was believed that the old battleships had finally done the necessary in the beach area. Rear Admiral Blandy reported:
Dog Minus One
Ammunition allowances were authorized to the extent of all bombardment ammunition on board, less the quantity scheduled for D-Day fires and, in reserve, prescribed for one battleship.68
At 1330 CTF 52 asked CTF 54 whether, in his opinion, targets on the island had been destroyed sufficiently to permit the landing to proceed on schedule. Rear Admiral Rodgers (CTF 54) replied that . . . the landing could be made without excessive losses . . . and recommended that the landing take place as planned.69
Upon receipt of this report, Rear Admiral Blandy sent his message to Vice Admiral Turner which read as follows:
Though weather has not permitted complete expenditure of entire ammunition allowance and more installations can be found and destroyed, I believe landing can be accomplished tomorrow as scheduled, if necessary.
I recommend, however, special attention before and during landing to flanks and East Coast of island with neutralizing fire and white phosphorus projectiles immediately available, if required. Amplifying report follows immediately.70
Vice Admiral Turner, churning north in the Eldorado through a relatively calm sea and being advised that the weather on 20 February would not be so good as that on 19 February, made the final decision to land as scheduled on the nineteenth.
Before describing the landing, it should be recorded that the gunfire support ships fired 30 percent more ammunition at Iwo Jima than at Saipan. The actual tonnage was 14,250 at Iwo Jima versus 10,965 at Saipan. Since Iwo Jima covered only seven and a half square miles while Saipan occupied 70 square miles, the greatly increased weight of naval gunfire used against Iwo Jima is readily apparent.71
In his Action Report on Iwo Jima, Vice Admiral Turner stated frankly:
An attempt was made to destroy all enemy guns that would impede the landing, but the large number of enemy installations and the enemy's skill in concealing his guns prevented this being accomplished.72
The beginning of morning twilight on 19 February 1945, was at 0549 with sunrise at 0707, and the sun set at 1831 with dark arriving at 1948.
The Assault Landing--Dog Day
Landing ships and craft at East Beach near Mount Suribachi.
A modification of naval responsibility for putting the Marines on the beach when and where they wished to be landed was introduced for the assault phase of the Iwo Jima assault landings. The instructions read:
Naval Control responsibility extends seaward from the high water line except during landing of assault waves, when it ends at the point at which
wave guide boats leave their respective waves, which will be at a point approximately 300 yards from the beach.73
The Transport Area was about 15,000 yards off the southeastern beaches. The Line of Departure was 4,000 yards from the beach line. The LSM and LST areas were between the Line of Departure and the Transport Area at about 5,500 yards and 8,000 yards, respectively. The weather on 19 February was clear, with a ten-knot trade wind. How Hour was at 0900.
The Landing Plan called for putting 9,000 men ashore in the first 45 minutes. The flag signal to "Land the Landing Force" was executed at 0615. At 0805 naval gunfire was lifted and 120 aircraft shot rockets and machine guns and dropped bombs on the beach area and its flanks. Napalm was used generously.
At 0825 the early landing waves were in position, and at 0830 the first wave was directed to proceed to the beach. The Pre-Landing Gunfire Support Plan called for putting 8,000 shells on the beach while the troops were moving in from the Line of Departure. Fire was directed at the beach until 0857, when it shifted to the flanks and immediate rear.
The first assault wave hit the beach along the 3,000-yard front at almost exactly H-Hour, 0900, and moved ahead rapidly for the first 350 yards under the very real assistance of a rolling barrage of naval gunfire. The second wave was the initial troop wave.
As the Marine Commander reported:
No anti-boat gunfire was reported by the initial waves.74
The Japanese gun, mortar, and small arms fire against the later waves of amtracs, and against the troops which landed from them was definitely light on the southern beaches until about H plus 30 minutes, by which time many lead vehicles were well off the beach.
Japanese gunfire picked up more quickly against the later waves headed for the northern beaches and by 0920 reports of heavy Japanese mortar fire against the right flank beaches were received.
Progress straight across the southern belt of the island was rapid and by 1030 Marines had reached the cliffs overlooking the western beaches of Iwo Jima and by 1130 these cliffs were in the possession of the Fifth Marine Division. Progress on the right flank was slower, much slower, as the Marines
met gradually intensifying fire from the quarry and plateau area, from undestroyed pillboxes, and encountered land mines.
The tanks were called for, and by noon some reserve units were called in. Since these were embarked in LCVP's and LCMs real problems at the beach line soon developed.
The amtracs had had their difficulties with the steep beach and the steep slopes of volcanic sand, but by and large they made it. When it came to the landing craft, the LCVP and the LCM, the amphibians ran into trouble because of the combination of steep beach gradients and the onshore swells. The craft grounded fair and square but the swells broached, then swamped many, before they could be completely unloaded.
By nightfall, all assault elements of both divisions had been landed, plus other supporting elements to bring to 30,000 the total of troops landed in one day.
As the Regimental Commander of Combat Team 28 reported:
Preparation fires against beach defense were as good as could be expected. Naval gunfire in conjunction with air support neutralized the beach and area inland sufficiently to allow the assault waves to clear the beach and advance rapidly inland.75
Or as the Commanding General, Fifth Marine Division stated in regard to Dog Day:
Weather and surf conditions were good and the immediate effect of air and naval gunfire preparations were excellent.
* * * * *First troops ashore reported occasional enemy small arms fire from the base of Mount Suribachi, mortar fire from a defiladed area in that same vicinity and from the north . . . nearly every pillbox on the beach and ground in rear of the beach had been destroyed.76 As related above, the swell, coupled with an inshore current parallel to the beach, turned into a major hazard. The following reports bear this out:
Due to steepness of the beach, waves broke close to shore, exerting their full force on and swamping the stern and broaching LCVP's and even LCMs.
* * * * *With each wave, boats would be picked up bodily and thrown broadside onto the beach, where succeeding waves swamped and wrecked them and dug them deeply into the sand, beyond hope of salvage in most cases. Losses had to be accepted until the beachhead was secured, and LSTs, LSMs, and LCT' s could be employed. The resultant accumulation of wreckage piled higher and higher, and extended seaward to form underwater obstacles which damaged propellers, and even bilged a few of the landing ships. * * * * *Amphibious trailers pulled by LVTs bogged down and could not be dragged up even when assisted by caterpillars.77
The swell, the inshore current, and undertow were the initial hazards for the naval amphibians in the assault phase. But the beaches themselves, and the poor holding ground off the beaches were added problems during the landing of the logistic support.
The depth of the beach at the water's edge varied along its length from five to ninety feet. The beach area was backed by a soft cinder terrace varying from eight to fourteen feet in height sloping at an angle of about 45°.78
The Volcanic Sand
Admiral Nimitz's staff described the situation:
The coarse volcanic sand . . . had no cohesive consistency. Its steep gradients permitted landing craft to beach with practically a 'dry ramp,' but this advantage was more than nullified by the sand itself. Troops debouching from the landing craft struggled up the slopes ankle deep in it. Wheeled vehicles bogged to their frames. A few tanks stalled in the surf and were swamped. . . . The first terrace had a 40% slope which proved insurmountable for some amphibious tractors. As vehicles left the ramps they immediately sank down, and their spinning treads then banked the sand back under the ramps causing the latter to lift gradually, thus making it harder for each succeeding vehicle. . . .79
Early in the landing it was decided that Green One was the best beach from both the hydrographic and topographic point of view.
Congestion of supplies on beaches due to lack of exits.
LST-764 unloads at Iwo Jima. Note disabled vehicles.
In regard to the volcanic band on Iwo Jima, it was very fortunate that extensive measures had been taken by the amphibians to overcome this hazard prior to the landing. Admiral Hill remembers that:
My staff was concerned from the start of planning over the soft volcanic sand rising in terraces behind the shallow beaches.80
A sand sled able to carry and lay quickly 150 feet of marston matting was developed, and enough small tractors, sleds and matting were obtained to lay eight miles of temporary outlet roads on the Iwo Jima beaches. These were the life savers.
On Dog plus one, a much stronger wind (14 to 20 knots) blew from the west during the morning, relieving the east coast beaches of Iwo. But by late afternoon the wind had shifted to easterly again and immediately built up the swell making the beaches unsuitable for landing craft smaller than LCMs. One transport squadron commander reported:
The Weather Deteriorates
Bad weather, with rain, northeast winds, steep seas and heavy surf made LCVP and LCM traffic untenable on the beaches.81
By Dog plus three, George Washington's Birthday, the weather was definitely subnormal, with a northerly to easterly wind of 10-25 knots and occasional stronger gusts. Rain pelted down and unloading enough hot cargo to keep the Marines happy became a real problem, as this comment indicates:
The surf had a lateral action which was strong enough to cause lateral motion along the beach of not only barges but loaded LCTs and LCMs. I saw LCMs travel laterally as much as 75 feet in 10 minutes, despite bow lines to two tractors on the beach, and their own engines full ahead.82
The problem of the beach, crowded with wrecked and broached small craft, with their gear washing around in the beach surf is described as follows:
One of this ship's LCMs, which after a run to the beach, was hoisted aboard, with a rubber life raft packed into one screw and another which had all three blades of one screw broken off and the shaft broken, had the remains
of a hammock, a life preserver, and two fathoms of 3-inch line in the remaining screw.83
Several ships called attention to the fact that the island, green on D-Day, became a bare and blackened mass of sand and rock due to the gun bombardment. And a repair ship movingly remarked:
At times we had three damaged craft alongside simultaneously. Because of tremendous swells, which often reached heights of fifteen feet, the Agenor (ARL-3) and vessels under repair suffered considerable damage from one another as the seas caused the ships to crash together.84
After several days of frustration, including a good try at using pontoon causeways, the beaches were closed to all LCMs and LCVP's. LCTs, LSMs, and LSTs were given the exclusive chore of unloading. Even these larger craft, due to the strong winds and heavy swells, were not always successful in preventing broaching. Their primary difficulty was that their stern anchors would not hold in the volcanic ash off the beaches.
Barges also proved weak reeds to lean on. The combination of two area air alerts occurring soon after the LSTs were ordered to launch their barges, and the consequent towing alongside in rough water of the recently launched pontoon barges, resulted in drowning out their motors and radio equipment. Nine of the 22 barges suffered casualties to propulsion units in launching.
As the commander of the unit reported:
This day [Dog Day plus three] proceeded and ended as it had begun, with barges reported as missing, barges reported on the beach, barges reported holed, and sinking barges in the tow of salvage tugs.85
The Beachmasters had a rough time the first day, when the surf was mild, since:
Enemy opposition as strong with small arms, mortars and artillery fire inflicting a high percentage of casualties to personnel and equipment.86
The next four days and nights the surf was bad as was the intermittent artillery and mortar fire. This Japanese fire took a fairly heavy toll of the very limited trained beach party personnel and gave their untrained replacements plenty to worry about.
Transport Squadron 16, which landed the Fifth Marine Division, reported
losing 121 landing craft out of 506 carried, despite the limited beaching use of these craft.
Many DUKWs were overloaded for the rough condition of the waters around Iwo Jima and sank. Because of this, 61 were lost by just one Truck Battalion.87
Very few of the smaller amphibious craft had time or took time to write a report about their problems at Iwo Jima. They were lucky to find time to eat.
An exception was the new LST-807, which reached Pearl Harbor in time for the rehearsal. She did the Iwo Jima operation under the command of Lieutenant George D. Straight, U.S. Navy, and as part of T.U. 53.3.9, LST Unit Six.
Road construction at Iwo.
The LST-807 entered in her Action Report, the combat and logistic support she carried to Iwo Jima:
Ship combat loaded with two 2 x 30 causeways, side carried, and 492 tons of 105 and 155 mm artillery ammunition stowed beneath 21 DUKWs on the tank deck. Main deck cargo consisted of 5 amphibious trailers, 1 gasoline tank truck, 1 two and half ton repair truck, 2 Jeeps, barbed wire, water cans, 400 white phosphorus shells, boxes of hand grenades and miscellaneous DUKW maintenance gear. Passenger troops . . . totalled 14 officers and 358 men.
The LST-807 had beaching problems, as did nearly all other landing craft at Iwo Jima.
A Modern Miracle
. . . Spotted FUTATSU Rocks by light of star shells which made landing somewhat easier. 2248: Let go stern anchor, hit beach at 2/3 speed and piled up on top of wrecked vehicles, of which the beach was covered. After hitting the beach, we could just make out a pin point of light which was the beach marker. It is partially hidden by vehicles and is not visible 100 yards in the rain. . . . We beached about 50 feet to left of marker. There was no one visible on beach and it appeared deserted. About 150 yards on our right, LSM-120 was beached. Beachmaster came aboard and informed us we would have to move over towards the LSM-120 or he couldn't unload us. We were told there was a clear spot there. . . . At about this time, a member of our boat crew which was laying to alongside jumped into the water and rescued two men from a foundering DUKW. Another DUKW attempting to leave the beach through the surf and carrying three stretcher cases capsized. . . . They were rescued by the Beachmaster himself and some of his party. When the Beachmaster came aboard again, I told him I did not think it was possible to place the ship in a 50-foot space with this wind, tide and visibility. At this time, 2300, LST-390 beached 100 yards on our right between this ship and the LSM-120, piling up on more wrecked vehicles as we had done. After seeing nothing could be gained by remaining where we were, I decided to retrack and try another beaching in the 50-foot clear space which was now between the LST-390 and the LSM-120.
22 February 1945
0010: Retracted from beach. After a difficult time maneuvering against wind and tide, we beached again at 0051 about 125 yards from our first beach and in between LST-390 and LSM-120. We hit the 50-foot clear space about 10 feet off center, piling up our port bow door and corner of the ramp on top of more wrecked vehicles. The Beachmaster came aboard and told us he could find no men or material to remove the wrecked vehicles from in
front of our ramp, and that we would have to retract and beach again 10 feet to our right and close up against LSM-120. If this could have been accomplished, it would be considered by this command a modern miracle. Beachmaster was told that we would send a message to anyone he suggested explaining the situation. He then agreed to try moving the wrecked vehicles. While the work was progressing, the LSM-120 on our right retracked from the beach at 0210. We then decided to move over to the spot vacated by her. . . .
Tit For Tat
0213. Retracted and while doing so, the wind blew us up against the LSTs starboard quarter, our bow door cutting a slit in her side about 5 feet long just below the deck level. 0231. Beached again in spot vacated by the LSM-120. . . . The Beachmaster was now satisfied and after he had moved two more wrecked vehicles. . . . unloading commenced at 0304. . . . 0525. LST-390 retracked and beached again close to our starboard side. It beached very lightly and could not hold on, so it blew up against our side and we both started to broach. As she retracked, she unavoidably raked our starboard side putting an 18-inch gash through compartment C-205. . . .88
Bulldozers reduce the terraces to give access to the lateral roads.
The absence of that expertise, the seaman's eye, so much depreciated by the landsmen who have the final authority in the Washington defense establishment, caused damage to far more ships in TF 51 than did the Japanese.
The Seaman's Eye
The dense concentration of the assault shipping in the comparatively limited sea room off the 3,500 yards of landing beaches required seaman' s skill of the highest order during this bad weather period. This skill was not always available, as Vice Admiral Turner noted:
Collisions occurred between landing craft and landing ships, between landing ships and gunboats, between fire support ships and transports, and between ships of the same types. . . .89
Some ships, such as LST-928, were involved in many more than just one collision. The hapless LST-928 established something of a record for a single operation. At Iwo, she traded collisions with the LST-713 (twice), LCT-1269, Fayette (APA-43), Starr (AKA-67), Whiteside (AKA-90), China Victory (XAK), and the LST-764.
The LST-928 even mistakenly reported a collision with Barnstable (APA-93), though that ship luckily was anchored in far away Leyte Gulf:
While maneuvering into position we drifted into APA-93 and scraped our portside on her starboard bow.
Actually, the Yancey (AKA-93) was the victim:
At 0130 LST-928, while maneuvering in the area, rammed this ship head on at frame 41, starboard side, bending in hull plating and carrying away one life raft and life raft support.90
The rough waters in the Transport Area caused plenty of problems. According to Agenor's (ARL-3) report:
A high percentage of damage to ships, other than due to enemy fire, was caused by an extreme excess of litter on the beaches and in the water which fouled and damaged screws, rudders, skegs and anchors. Debris, consisting of empty shell cases, lines, fenders, cable, cargo nets, barbed wire, tents, and wrecked and partially submerged tanks, DUKWs, Amtracs, LSMs, LCVP hulls, etc., caused underwater damage to hulls and fouled screws, rudders and anchors of ships making landings.91
* * * * *
The ship took its worst being in the first few days of operation, until it learned to refuse to go alongside a transport which did not have her lines ready and did not have fenders out. If this ship held back long enough, the transports always managed eventually to provide line and fenders, which at first they said they did not have.92
Before leaving Pearl Harbor, Vice Admiral Turner, in a memorandum to Rear Admiral Hill, wrote:
I am very concerned over the recent increase in the number of collisions, near collisions, and bad navigation. This reveals not only a lack of training, but a lack of initiative on the part of the unit commanders and captains.93
Thirty-six ships or large landing craft in the Iwo Jima area were involved in collisions or received major damage while alongside another ship during the period 16 February 1945 to 6 March 1945. Another 11 suffered sea damage due to heavy weather.
By February 1945, Japanese suicide air attacks in amphibious assault areas were not by any means new. Fortunately at Iwo Jima kamikaze planes were thrown against the Central Pacific amphibians in only one large coordinated attack.
Japanese Suicide Air Attack--Iwo Jima
This surprise attack of perhaps fifty aircraft, including a fitting share of suicide planes, occurred from 1640 to dusk on 21 February 1945, at a time when the sky was overcast and the ceiling low.
in the ships regularly attached to the Joint Expeditionary Force two jeep carriers, the Lunga Point (CVE-94) and the Bismarck Sea (CVE-95), as well as the net tender Keokuk (AKN-4) and the LST-477, were hit by suicide planes. Of these, the Bismarck Sea was sunk by two suicide planes. Loss of life was heavy. The LST-477 fortunately was not carrying a deck load of gasoline, as were most of the LSTs in the formation, so she escaped with the loss of nine men killed and five wounded.
The big Saratoga (CV-3) temporarily assigned from Task Group 58.5 to work with the jeep carriers to furnish night fighter patrols in the assault areas, was hit by four or five suicide planes, severely damaged, and forced to retire to the Navy yard.
Other than this foretaste of what was to come at Okinawa, Japanese air
Preassembled Marston matting is laid.
Unloading at Red Beach.
efforts against the amphibians at Iwo Jima were generally light and of considerable nuisance value only. The Blessman (DE-69) and Gamble (DM-15) were hit by night bombers on 18 February, and the Bennett (DD-473) the evening of 1 March 1945. High-level bombing attacks were made which caused delays due to ship's company going to general quarters and milling about, but made no hits.94
All the amphibians, whether on land or sea, and everyone else within sight of Mount Suribachi, received a tremendous lift when the spirited Marines of the 28th Regiment of the Fifth Marine Division raised the American flag on the summit of Mount Suribachi about 1035 on 23 February 1945.
A Sign of Later Victory to Come
Despite this favorable turn (which facilitated the full force of the Fifth Corps being used against the defensive positions to the north), the Japanese "fight unto death" tactics were aided by the rugged volcanic crags, steep defiles, and severe escarpments. The Marine advance was slow, but inexorable.
It was on this day that the Japanese Domei News despatch stated that Admirals Turner and Spruance
have led their men to a point where they are indeed close to our mainland, but they find themselves in a dilemma as they are unable to either advance or recede. This man Turner shall not return home alive. He must not and he won't. This is one of the many things we can do to rest at ease the many souls of those who have paid the supreme sacrifice.95
On 9 March 1945, Vice Admiral Turner turned over TF 51 to his Second-in-Command, Rear Admiral Hill, and departed for Guam.
This departure, before final victory, was necessary in order to permit concentration on last-minute preparations for the Okinawa operation, for which rehearsals were being held and for which ships would start departing from bases in a few days. Preliminary bombardment at Okinawa was to commence on 20 March 1945, and Kerama Retto, an off-lying island group from Okinawa providing a good anchorage, was to be occupied on 25 March 1945.
At 1800 on 16 March, Iwo Jima was declared secure. By that date 36
View from the top of Mount Suribachi.
B-29s had utilized Iwo Jima for emergency landings on their way back to the Marianas from bombing the Empire. However, the last Japanese "Banzai" charge against the occupying troops did not occur until 26 March 1945, after the mopping up operations started, and by 11 June 1945, 867 additional Japanese were captured and 1,602 killed by garrison forces on Iwo Jima.96
Captain James G. Sampson, Commander Defense Group, had this to say in his Action Report:
The Navy Receives a Few Bouquets from Its Own
The Iwo Jima unloading phase--was performed by these LSMs, LCTs, and LSTs under trying and dangerous conditions. The anchorage area was unprotected from the set, the beaches and their approaches were treacherous due to wreckage, yet these craft worked continuously day and night for about thirty-five days until the assignment was completed. The officers and men on the majority of these ships were taking part in their first operation. . . .97
One senior lieutenant, a veteran of two landing operations in the Mediterranean, and Commanding Officer, USS LST-760 at Iwo Jima, gave as his opinion:
Generally I would say that the amphibious part of the operation was a good test of the planning, tactic, personnel and equipment, and that the operation was carried off in accordance with the best standards of American courage, resourcefulness, mechanical ability and enterprise. It was a privilege to be there.98
Rear Admiral Harry W. Hill, when this bitter struggle was over, wrote:
It is with great pride that I pay tribute, not only to the Fifth Amphibious Corps for its heroic assault and capture of Iwo Jima, but the other officers and men of this Task Force who, although many of them were engaged in their first operation, accomplished their tasks with determination, resourcefulness and disregard of personnel danger that was an inspiration to behold.99
In the October 1944 CINCPAC Staff Study of the Iwo Jima operation, it
The Marines Came Through
was estimated that 2,500 Marines would be killed in the action and another 9,500 wounded to the extent that they would need hospitalization.100
The bad, bad news was that about 4,600 Marines and 800 Navy were killed during the fighting and nearly 20,000 more were wounded, of whom 1,400 died of their wounds.
Every one of the lives lost was important to family, to the Navy and the Marine Corps, and to those in command, who landed them, led them in battle, or provided them with their daily bread, butter and bullets.
The logistic support at Iwo Jima was a difficult task.
The Marines had an insatiable need for supplies and the unusually poor weather during the first week raised doubts in the minds of the seagoing amphibians whether they could meet the actual needs.101
By February 1945 when Iwo Jima was being assaulted, the unloading of cargo was complicated and in the hands of the paper work artists. The reaction of the Commanding Officer of the Fayette was typical:
The requirement that each net load of cargo be accompanied by a signed mimeographed form filled out in triplicate showing exactly what was in the net, was a source of constant delay and irritation. The plan was to retain one copy on board, deliver one copy to the control officer and one to the Beachmaster. The system finally broke down under its own weight.102
The hazards of pallet loading, the panacea of the mechanizers, were also reported on:
The pallets that were loaded into LCMs were handled on the beach quickly and efficiently. However, only a small part of the bulk cargo was unloaded into LCMs. Most of it was loaded into an LST, an LSM, or an LCT. All the pallets loaded into these craft had to be broken and handled by cargo nets, resulting in delays and increased labor.103
The skipper of the cargo ship Fremont commented in his Action Report:
The unloading of the ship was not in accordance with priority and was therefore very disorganized. Unforeseen weather and beach conditions contributed to the difficulties of unloading. . . .104
The Commander Force Reserve in his Action Report stated:
Larger landing craft were dispatched to the beach with very small loads which slowed the unloading considerably.105
The Commander of the Assault Force remembers:
The untrained and inexperienced Beach Parties from the newly commissioned transports were a great handicap.106
On the other hand, Commander Logistic Support Force stated:
The successes in transferring ammunition have exceeded the most optimistic views.107
While the figures may differ a bit, depending on whose figures are being read, the logistic support delivered to the Fifth Fleet during the DETACHMENT campaign totaled approximately:
12,600,000 gallons fuel oil--34 fleet oilers employed. 7,000,000 gallons aviation gas. 4,410,000 gallons diesel oil. 250 new aircraft. 65 replacement pilots.
This was a mammoth job to do to the satisfaction of the Fifth Fleet.
With hundreds of ships in the area and 30,000 Marines on the beaches, voice radio communications tended to be a bit frustrating. One LST skipper in bewailing this problem reported:
We were taking orders from at least seven commands including the Marine Officer who said he had 'higher authority' than his actual rank. Often these orders were contradictory. In this regard, I can't help but relate just a bit of dialogue heard via voice radio coming from the Marine tanks in battle on shore.
The voice calls here used are fictitious.
Casper, this is Soapbox One--'Move over the left flank'
Casper, this is Soapbox Seven--'Close in to the right'
Casper, this is Soapbox--'Stay where you are'
Casper was heard to remark--'Yes, by God, that's what I'm going to do, until I find out whom I'm supposed to take orders from.'
I was in complete sympathy with Casper.
Our pre-assault intelligence in regard to Iwo Jima largely came from the documents captured in the Marianas, from aerial and submarine reconnaissance, and from the charts captured at Kwajalein, and:
It was by far and away the finest coverage of any of my Pacific Operations.108
But as was stated in Vice Admiral Turner's Operation Plan:
It must be emphasized that advance intelligence cannot be expected to disclose more than a fraction of existing defenses.109
One other factor which was not disclosed until the actual landings occurred was that:
Interrogations of prisoners of war indicate that the Japs went underground early in December, 1944, abandoning all surface installations, except gun positions.110
* * * * *The effectiveness of the cave system as a means of passive defense is evidenced by the extremely light casualties sustained by the Japanese during 70 days of pre-invasion bombings and naval gun fire, and also by the fact that it was finally necessary to clear and close each individual cave during the operation and the mopping up operations which followed.111 Iwo Jima was an epic in the battles of World War II.
A Look Back at Iwo
The difficulty of the task, the efficiency with which the campaign was conducted, and the ardor, the courage, and the skill of the men who "pushed through to the successful conclusion" has drawn high praise from many.
But starting with a West Coast newspaper's critical comment regarding the high cost in lives for the success achieved, there has been recurring adverse comment in regard to the pre-landing gun bombardment. So, some of the facts and opinions on this subject will be related.
On the way back to Pearl Harbor from Tarawa, there had been established an early standard for the pre-landing bombardment for amphibious assaults. Written into Rear Admiral Turner's report on that operation was the following:
Bombardment--Pre-Assault--Iwo Jima Evidence
The assault should be preceded by several days (not hours) deliberate bombardment, and day and night air attacks. Defenders should be given no rest, day or night, for at least a week prior to the landing.112
By the time Iwo Jima was put on the assault schedule, a higher standard was called for, since the CINCPAC-CINCPOA Staff Study for DETACHMENT opined:
Because of the highly organized ground defense . . . a prolonged period of preparatory naval gunfire and aerial bombardment should be conducted in order that enemy defensive installations and communications will be thoroughly disrupted prior to the landing attack.113
Vice Admiral Turner's Operation Plan (final draft) issued four days earlier than Admiral Spruance's Operation Order had contained this requirement in regards to pre-landing bombardment of Iwo Jima.
The density of defensive installations throughout the island make it mandatory that defenses be destroyed to the maximum extent prior to the landing.114
The final draft of Admiral Spruance's Operation Plan issued on that last day of December 1944, was singularly silent in respect to any special caution or instructions in regard to the magnitude of the defensive installations on Iwo Jima, or the special measures that would be needed to reduce them prior to the assault landings.115
Both of these final drafts of the Operation Plans were promulgated after there had been much prior correspondence in regards to naval gunfire requirements.
The Commanding General, Fifth Amphibious Corps, Major General Harry Schmidt, USMC, in accordance with FTP 167, stated his requirements for naval gunfire on 24 October 1944, and the Commanding General Fleet Marine Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet had added his comment and approval on 26 October 1944.
The basic request was for ten days of gunfire by a cruiser division and one battleship division, joined on Dog Day minus three by the Amphibious Support Force, which included, commencing that day, the Gunfire and Covering Force.116
Vice Admiral Turner in his reply to Major General Schmidt stated:
Limitation on the availability of ships, difficulties of replenishment of ammunition and loss of surprise interpose serious obstacles to meeting your requirements.
* * * * *The increased number of bombardment ships [two battleship divisions versus one] [three destroyer divisions versus two] will enable more ammunition to be delivered at the target in three days than the estimated requirements listed in reference (a) for ten days. * * * * *It is believed that the excess of 5", 14" and 16" capabilities over your estimate of requirements will more than offset the apparent shortage in 6" and 8" capabilities.117
On 24 November 1944, Major General Schmidt replied to this letter:
- The arrangements set forth in the basic letter for naval gunfire support are concurred in with the exception of the time allotted for preliminary bombardment. . . . The amount of ammunition allotted appears to be adequate.
- . . .
- Allow four days for the preliminary bombardment. This would allow for more deliberate firing. . . . It theoretically would involve no increase in the expenditure of ammunition but rather a slower rate of fire.
- It is recommended that, if consistent with other considerations, the plan outlined in para 2(b) above be adopted and that the preliminary bombardment begin on D-4 Day.118
Upon receipt of this further reply from the Commander V Amphibious Corps, Vice Admiral Turner sent the whole correspondence on to Admiral
Spruance for a final division, since it was not within his realm of authority to change Admiral Spruance's requirements that:
A Fast Carrier Task Force with a heavy concentration of battleship strength will attack the Empire as a preliminary covering operation, the first strike coinciding with the commencement of the surface ship bombardment of Iwo Jima. . . .
Surface ship bombardment by the full Fire Support Group will be commenced on D minus 3 and will be continued until no longer required by the assault forces. . . .119
Vice Admiral Turner's letter and Admiral Spruance's reply are reproduced herewith.
Vice Admiral Turner's request for naval and air bombardment.
Admiral Spruance's reply to Turner two days later.
All during October and November, while the gunfire bombardment was being worked up in detail, the requirements of General MacArthur's campaign in the Philippines were having considerable impact upon the gunfire support ships desired at Iwo Jima.
As Commander Amphibious Support Force (CTF 52) related in his Action Report:
While CTF 52 was enroute Ulithi, it became apparent that delay in releasing certain ships then engaged in operations against Luzon, as well as damage sustained by these ships, would not only prevent their assembly at Ulithi, but would prevent their participation at Iwo Jima, and that extensive changes to existing plans, particularly the ship's gunfire support plans, would be necessary.120
When it became apparent that the 16-inch gunned old battleships Colorado and West Virginia would not be available, the new 16-inch gunned battleships North Carolina and Washington from the Fast Carrier Task Forces were substituted initially. They then were withdrawn by Admiral Spruance before the Fast Carrier Task Forces sailed from Pearl and directed to remain with the Fast Carrier Task Forces until Dog Day.
In the process of meeting the stated requirements, a new light cruiser, the Vicksburg, was slated to be attached to Cruiser Division Five to provide a five-ship division in lieu of the normal four-ship division. The initially designated heavy ships together with those finally scraped together when it was found that the ones helping General MacArthur would not be available for the three-day pre-Dog Day bombardment, were as follows:
Initially Designated Finally Available OBB-35 Texas OBB-33 Arkansas OBB-36 Nevada OBB-34 New York OBB-40 New Mexico OBB-35 Texas OBB-41 Mississippi OBB-36 Nevada OBB-44 California OBB-42 Idaho OBB-45 Colorado OBB-43 Tennessee OBB-48 West Virginia CA-24 Pensacola CA-24 Pensacola CA-25 Salt Lake City CA-25 Salt Lake City CA-27 Chester CA-27 Chester CA-37 Tuscaloosa CA-37 Tuscaloosa CL-86 Vicksburg
A glance at the hull numbers of the old battleships will show that the
four oldest battleships in commission, including one with 12-inch guns, and all built prior to World War I were the ones substituted for the larger gunned old battleships built during and subsequent to World War I. The West Virginia, Colorado, California, Mississippi, and New Mexico were in the Heavy Covering Unit supporting the Lingayen landing.
On Dog Day, the new battleships North Carolina (BB-55) and Washington (BB-56), plus the Indianapolis (CA-35) and two light cruisers, the Santa Fe (CL-60) and Biloxi (CL-80), joined the ships listed above as "Finally Available" in the gun bombardment of Iwo Jima.
Additionally, that valiant old warrior and fine shooting ship, the West Virginia, was finally sprung from General MacArthur and Lingayen Gulf. After a fast trip from Leyte Gulf to Ulithi and a priority round-the-clock replenishment, she made the 900-mile run to Iwo at 18 knots, earned a "Well Done" from CINCPAC, and by noon had joined the Dog Day bombardment forces. The New Mexico, Mississippi and California all had had bouts with kamikazes at Lingayen and needed Navy yard attention, as did the Colorado, so they could not join in the fray.
Whether a more complete destruction of Japanese defensive installations might have been accomplished before the landing, has minor relevance in comparison with the fact that pre-landing naval air bombardment and gunfire was adequate: (a) to establish the Marines ashore on Iwo Jima; and (b) in supporting the Marines once ashore so that they could do their intended task, the conquest of Iwo Jima.
The point worth discussing is what led the naval commander to deny a cup-running-over of pre-landing gunfire support at Iwo Jima.
I had not reached the Iwo Jima Campaign in my discussions with Admiral Turner prior to his sudden death. When the issue of pre-landing gun bombardment was raised with Admiral Spruance in 1961, a question which had been raised with him many times by others, his softly spoken and somewhat tired answer was:
It was judged to be impractical for a variety of good strategical and logistical reasons, which you will find in some detail in the answer to Turner's letter in which he recommended four days of pre-landing gun bombardment.121
In Admiral Spruance's biography, it is stated in regard to this issue:
When the bombardment [of Iwo Jima] started, the tactical surprise at Iwo would be lost, and the longer the pre-landing bombardment continued, the greater the likelihood that the landing would be opposed by aircraft from Japan. . . . Against strong argument by the Marines, Spruance held to his decision to bombard for only three days, but he did authorize Admiral Blandy, the Bombardment Group Commander, to extend this for one day, if, in his judgment at the time, it would be profitable. Admiral Blandy did not use the additional day.122
Despite what has been said elsewhere, a review of the written orders and the letters regarding the pre-landing naval gunfire requirements at Iwo Jima indicate that, from the record, there was unanimity in the hierarchy of the Expeditionary Force as to what should be accomplished in connection with preparing Iwo Jima for the assault landing. There was strong disagreement as to whether the task could or should be accomplished in three or four days. Vice Admiral Turner agreed to change his orders accordingly and undertake the four-day task, if Admiral Spruance would concur.
At the next higher and determining level of Fleet Command, Admiral Spruance had the broader chore to balance this pre-landing gunfire requirement of the Landing Force of the Expeditionary Force with the requirement that the whole of the Expeditionary Force did not get clobbered by aircraft flown down from Japan before the Landing Force was established ashore. The one real post-landing offensive flight which the Japanese did fly down, after the Fast Carrier Task Force had swept the great majority of aircraft off the airfields in Central Japan, sank one jeep carrier, sent a large Fleet carrier back to Pearl Harbor for major repairs and damaged another jeep carrier, a large net carrier and an LST.
Also, Admiral Spruance had to accomplish the Iwo Jima task without taking his eyes off the Okinawa operations, which already twice postponed was now scheduled to start only six weeks later on 1 April 1945.
April 1st was considered a bed rock date. From the seaman's point of view, the lengthy Okinawa operation had to be completed before the typhoon season dropped in on Okinawa shortly after May 1st. Therefore, opening the assault could not be further postponed beyond April 1st.
By conducting in mid-February successful air attacks on Japanese aircraft factories in the Empire, and at the same time sweeping off the Empire airfields their reduced ration of operating aircraft, the Japanese would obviously be hampered in their defensive tasks at Okinawa, as well as in the air attacks on the Expeditionary Force at Iwo Jima.
The winter rains of 1944-45 stalled the airbase construction on Leyte and on Mindoro in the Central Philippines. To partially fill the gap left by the absence of anticipated land-based air support, a number of jeep carriers of the Pacific Fleet had to be kept available to General MacArthur in Philippine waters.
Since many of the same transports and many of the same gunfire support ships, and even, in some cases, the same LSTs and LCI's served the amphibious operations occurring in the Central Pacific Area and in the Southwest Pacific Area, any delay in releasing the ships after an operation in one theater reacted immediately on the operations scheduled in the other. This was happening for Iwo Jima.
As COMINCH put it:
The Philippine operations necessitated last minute changes and reduced the total number of ships which had been previously allocated to the Iwo Jima operation. This applied primarily to battleships, cruisers and destroyers for the Joint Expeditionary Force, although other forces were affected to a lesser extent. . . .123
The delays in General MacArthur's undertaking his Luzon campaign had prevented an early switch of the combatant ships of the Pacific Fleet from that operation to DETACHMENT. It was 27 January 1945, before most of the ships of the Gunfire and Covering Force and the Gunboat Support Force were available at Ulithi to be rearmed and replenished and rest a bit before sailing on 10 February for the Iwo Jima assault rehearsal at Saipan-Tinian. Two of the gun bombardment battleships did not join until arrival at Saipan. As has been noted above, the West Virginia did not join up until Dog Day at Iwo.
At the higher levels of naval command it was appreciated, in January 1945, that the Japanese, militarily, had been pushed off balance by a series of United States military victories in the Pacific.
It was militarily sound to try to keep the Japanese off balance and moving backwards.
The schedule of the Joint Chiefs for the seizure of key points along the way to Japan was a tight one and called for continued use of the air and gun resources of much of the Pacific Fleet.
Actually, way back on 1 April 1945, when writing his report on Iwo Jima, Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith provided the only answer there ever can be when tactical limitations must be imposed because of strategical considerations:
An analysis of tactical operations which fails to establish the limitations imposed by strategical considerations, results in an incomplete and distorted evaluation.124
This was the answer about the pre-landing gunfire bombardment in 1945. It is the answer in 1971. And no one knew it better than that gallant Marine, Holland M. Smith.
In an interview printed in the New York Times of 16 March 1945, Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith stated the case for Admiral Spruance' s decision in regard to the pre-landing gun bombardment at Iwo Jima about as succinctly as it can be done, although at the time he may not have been thinking of this particular factor:
Capture of Iwo Jima was considered essential by those in whose hands the destiny of our nation lies. The cost of winning this objective was no doubt weighed carefully against the importance of having this island as an operating base in speeding the ultimate defeat of Japan. When the capture of an enemy position is necessary in winning a war, it is not within our province to evaluate the cost in money, time, equipment, or, most of all, human lives. We are told what our objective is to be and we prepare to do the job, knowing that all evaluations have been considered by those who give us our orders.
When General Holland Smith turned to writing his memoirs, however, he reverted to a very limited viewpoint and wrote in regard to the allotted pre-landing gunfire bombardment:
Thus were we defeated--a group of trained and experienced land fighters, our full realization of the necessity for naval gunfire based on many previous island operations, again overridden by the naval mind. Finding ourselves in this dilemma we had tried our best to enlighten the high command, feeling that our judgment would be respected, but naval expediency won again.125
This post-war opinion flies directly in the face of that of many others who also were there at Iwo Jima and who believed as Robert Sherrod, famous Marine historian and journalist of World War II, who in a despatch from Iwo Jima to Time Magazine in early March 1945, wrote:
On Iwo, the Japs dug themselves in so deeply that all the explosives in the world could hardly have reached them.126
As has been stated previously there is a limit to what the naval gun could effectively accomplish. In the opinion of Commander Support Force (Blandy), and of Commander Gunfire and Covering Force (Rodgers), and of the Second-in-Command (Hill), this largely had been accomplished.
Admiral Hill, who was Second-in-Command to Vice Admiral Turner at Iwo Jima, and who, in due time, relieved him there wrote in 1968:
Based on my knowledge of the called gunfire on Admiral Turner's circuits which were being constantly monitored by my staff (for information, both for me and for General Schmidt), it was my opinion, at the time, that most of the targets suitable for destruction by naval gunfire had been eliminated. Some of the few remaining targets were promptly knocked out by call fire after they had disclosed their positions. Their number was insignificant.127
That General Kuribayashi, the Japanese Commander at Iwo Jima, did not agree with the Commander Expeditionary Troops in his post-war opinion is evidenced by a Japanese source, which quotes a despatch Lieutenant General Kuribayashi radioed the Chief of General Staff in Tokyo upon the completion of the pre-landing bombardment:
We need to consider the power of bombardment from ships. The beach positions we made on this island by using many materials, days, and great efforts were destroyed within three days so that they were nearly unable to be used again.128
Major General Harry Schmidt, the Corps Commander of all the Marines, in his Iwo Jima Action Report stated:
The naval gunfire on D-Day and thereafter was highly effective. The preliminary bombardment did not meet expectations, because of the shortage of naval gunfire support ships and because of lost time in the preliminary bombardment due to bad weather and the interference of mine sweeping activities and UDT operations which forced longer range fire or a diversion of available naval gunfire in support of these special operations.129
The modern adage, even in the military, is that one must please the customer. Only on this basis, can it be said, in the same sorrowful tone as the Marine "Iwo Jima" states:
Suffice it to say, that the Navy had not allowed itself sufficient time to perform its mission adequately.130
But this misses the real point, quite completely, which was that while more Marine lives might possibly be lost at Iwo Jima, many more lives of those serving the United States in the far Pacific would be saved by giving the Japanese the one-two punch while they were already off balance. This was done by making low-level attacks on aircraft factories in Japan to reduce the aircraft available at upcoming Okinawa and by sweeping up the Japanese aircraft from the airfields of Japan, so that the Marines could continue to have the active gun and air and logistic support from ship' just offshore at Iwo and Okinawa.
A far sounder judgment of the Marine historians was given by Major General Donald M. Weller, USMC, who as a lieutenant colonel at Iwo Jima was Naval Gunfire Officer on the staff of both Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith, and that of Major General Harry Schmidt.
He wrote at the conclusion of his September 1954 article in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings:
But this fact remains. By the night of D-Day, the strongest defended objective in amphibious history had been forced. The fact that the D-Day casualties were lighter that those sustained for the next seven days bears witness to the effectiveness of the pre-D-Day and D-Day gunfire.131
Table of Contents * Previous Chapter (22) * Next Chapter (24)
1. RKT to TSW, letter, 13 Mar. 1944.
2. RKT to Rear Admiral R.O. Davis, Commander Amphibious Training Command, letter, 15 Mar. 1944.
3. CTF 51 FORAGER Report, 25 Aug. 1944.
4. RKT to Commandant of the Marine Corps, letter, 21 Dec. 1950.
5. COMPHIBSPAC, COnfidential Circular Letter AL-2--Rev 2, 25 Oct. 1944, subj: Organization of Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet.
6. COMPHIBSPAC letters, Ser 000207 of 13 Nov. 1944, and Ser 00016 of 24 Jan. 1945.
7. COMPHIBSPAC to CINCPAC, letter, Ser 000157 of 5 Sep 1944, subj: Reorganization of Transports.
8. Administrative History of Amphibious Forces Pacific Fleet, Vol. 1, p. 130.
10. (a) JCS 287/1, Strategic Plan for the Defeat of Japan, 8 May, 1943; (b) CCS 447, Overall Plan for the Defeat of Japan, 2 Dec. 1943; (c) JCS to CINCSWPA, CM-IN-5137, 12 Mar. 1944 (CINCSWPA's Communication Log); (d) JCS to CINCPOA and CINCSWPA, CM-OUT-50007 of 13 Jun. 1944; (e) CINSOWESPAC 180936 Jun. 1944; (f) CINCPOA 040400 Jul. 1944.
11. King's Record, p. 561.
12. Ibid., p. 567.
13. Pacific COnferences, CINCPOA Headquarters, minutes, 13-22 Jul. 1944.
14. (a) MacArthur to Marshall, CM-IN-15058 18 Jun. 1944, and CM-IN-2479, 3 Aug. 1944; (b) JPS 404/5, Future Operations in the Pacific, 23 Jun. 1944.
15. Notes on Conference at Gen. Hq., SWPA, 7 Aug. 1944. Col. William L. Ritchie, AUS, was Deputy Chief of the Strategy and Policy Group, Operations Division, WDGS.
16. (a) JCS 172nd Meeting, minutes, 5 Sep. 1944; (b) JCS-CM-OUT 27648, 9 Sep. 1944.
17. Hill memo of 17 Nov. 1966.
18. MacArthur, CM-IN-6202, 8 Jul. 1944, Archives Branch of the Federal Records Center, Suitland, Md.
19. Forrestel, Spruance, p. 163.
20. (a) JWPC, Future Operations in the Pacific, 29 July, 1944; (b) JPS 160th Meeting, minutes, 2 Aug. 1944; (c) King to Marshall, memorandum, Ser 002356 of 18 Aug. 1944, subj: Future Operations in the Pacific; (d) JCS Despatch 2405/77500 of 8 Sep. 1944. CM-OUT-27648.
21. Headquarters Tenth Army to CINCPOA, letter, 26 Sep. 1944, subj: Feasibility of CAUSEWAY Operation.
22. (a) COMTHIRDFLT to CINCPOA, 130300 Sep. 1944; (b) CINCPOA 130813, 130747, 132100, 140101, 141000, Sep. 1944; (c) MacArthur to JCS, CM-IN-12636, 14 Sep. and to CINCPOA 140316, 142359 Sep. 1944; (d) JCS to MacArthur in COMINCH, 141325, Sep. 1944.
23. (a) Nimitz; (b) JCS CM-OUT-40782, 3 Oct. 1944; (c) King's Record, p. 575; (d) JCS 032255, Oct. 1944.
24. CINCPAC-CINCPOA Bulletin No. 170-45, Translations. Interrogations No. 35, Item No. B-4726-G.
25. Admiral Spruance to Director of Naval History, letter, 26 Apr. 1966.
26. Administrative History of Amphibious Forces Pacific Fleet, Vol. 1, p. 71.
27. COMPHIBFORPAC to CINCPAC, letter, CAF/A3-1/Ser 00609 of 10 Jun. 1944, subj: Organization of Support Aircraft Command, with endorsements thereon and reply thereto. See also previous letters, Ser 494 of 11 Dec. 1943, and 00139 of 22 Jan. 1944. COMAIRPAC (Vice Admiral J.H. Towers) 8unfaborable endorsement was dated 19 February 1944. COMINCH letter, Ser 001014 of 29 Mar. 1944. COMPHIBSPAC, Circular Letter AL-11-Rev 2, 13 Jul. 1945.
28. Interview with Vice Admiral R.F. Whitehead, 4 Oct. 1961.
29. Pacific Fleet, Administrative Organization Lists, Nov. 1944, Feb.-Oct. 1945.
30. COMPHIBSPAC letter, Ser 1515 of 24 Aug. 1944.
31. CINCPAC 120110 Aug. 1944.
32. COMPHIBSPAC, letters, Ser 00863 of 13 Sep. 1944 and Ser 001032 of 10 Nov. 1944.
33. Administrative History of PHIBSPAC, Vol. 1, p. 134.
34. (a) COMPHIBSPAC, letters, Ser 000213 of 15 Nov. 1944 and Ser 001101 of 9 Dec. 1944; (b) COMINCH Headquarters Memo, no date.
35. CINCPOA to COMINCH< 030215 Dec. 1944 and reply thereto.
36. (a) JCS to MacArthur--Nimitz info Arnold, Stillwell, 032255 Oct. 1944; (b) Outline Plan FARRAGUT 20 Jun. 1944.
37. COMPHIBSPAC Op Plan A25-44, 27 Dec. 1944, Annex B, para. 13.
38. USS Presque Island (APB-44), Action Report, 1 May 1945.
39. (a) CINCPAC Joint Staff Study DETACHMENT, 16 Nov. 1944, p. 38; (b) COMPHIBSPAC Op Plan A25-44, Annex B, para. 14.
40. (a) CINCPAC Joint Staff Study DETACHMENT, p. 7; (b) CINCPAC-CINCPOA Bulleting No. 170-45 7 Jul. 1945, Translations, Interrogations No. 35; (c) CINCPAC-CINCPOA Bulletin No. 2-46, Field Survey of Japanese Defenses of Chichi Jima, 15 Feb. 1946.
41. Whitman S. Bartley, Iwo Jima, Amphibious Epic, U.S. Marine Corps Monograph (Washington: Historical Division, Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps, 1950), Appendix VI.
42. CTF 56 Iwo Jima Action Report, Encl. (C), G-2 Report, Dog Plus Two.
43. (a) CINCPAC-CINCPOA Translation Bulletin No. 170-45, Captured document, Colonel Kaido, Commanding Officer Artillery Group 2nd Mixed Brigade, Inspection Remarks--Iwo Jima, 11 Dec. 1944; (b) Second Lieutenant Kubota, Diary Captured on Iwo Jima.
44. (a) Admiral Nimitz was promoted to Fleet Admiral on 19 December 1944; (b) CINCPOA Op Plan 11-44, 25 Nov. 1944; (c) Commander Fifth Fleet Op Plan 13-44, 31 Dec. 1944.
- Year dates appearing after names are Naval Academy Class year or year of first commission in the regular Navy. Where no year date and no USNR or USCG, or USCGR, then a temporary officer.
- Names as given in January 1, 1945 Organization of PACIFIC FLEET, or if not given therein, the 1 May 1945 PACFLEET Confidential NOTICE 3CN-45.
- LST(H) were those LSTs designated as the first stop off the beaches for emergency handling of the wounded. They were provided with doctors, and essential equipment.
- Names of Officers in Charge of LCTs could not be located in the Naval Historical Division or the Bureau of Naval Personnel.
- LCI(L)-425 operated as Flagships for both CTG 53.7 and CTU 53.7.5 in lieu of LCI(L)-722 and LCI(L)-423 previously designated.
- Where initials of officers do not appear, these were not listed in the written orders, and no report from the ship, craft, or unit could be located, the officer could not be further identified, although considerable effort was spent on this.
46. COMTRANSDIV 45, Action Report, 12 Mar. 1945, para.5.
47. USS Darke (APA-159), Iwo Jima Action Report, 4 Mar. 1945, p. 1.
48. RKT to LED, letter, 3 Feb. 1945.
49. (a) COMPHIBSPAC Training Orders A29-44, 21 Dec. 1944; A30-44, 29 Dec. 1944; (b) VAC DETACHMENT Operation Report, 20 May 1945.
50. LSM-47 Action Report, 9 Mar. 1945, para. 2.
51. Hill Memo of 17 Nov. 1966.
52. Hill Memo of 16 Nov. 1966.
53. COMGEN, Strategic Air Force, POA Report, 9 Dec. 1944, p. 3. See also reports of 10 Dec. and 23 Dec. 1944, and endorsements thereon.
54. CTG 30.2 Action Report for 11-12 November, 19 Nov. 1944.
55. (a) CTG 94.9 Action Report of 8 December, 17 Dec. 1944; (b) Pensacola Action Report for 8 December, 10 Dec. 1944.
56. CTG 94/9 Action Report of Bombardment of Iwo Jima for 24 and 27 December, 9 Jan. 1945, Encl. (C), para. 7.
57. (a) COMFWDAREA CENPAC, Preliminary Report, Ser 00305 of 3 Feb. 1945, p. 1; (b) COMDESRON Four Action Report for 5 January, 9 Jan. 1944, p. 11; (c) CTG 94/9 Action Report for 24 January, 26 Jan. 1945, p. 1.
58. CINCPAC-CINCPOA Monthly Operations Report, Feb. 1945, p. 59.
59. CTG 56 Iwo Jima Report, 1 Apr. 1945, Encl. (C), G-2 Report, p. 4.
60. (a) CINCPAC-CINCPOA Bulletin No. 2-46, 15 Feb. 1946, Item 5: (b) CTF 56, Iwo Jima Report, Encl. (C), p. 9; (c) COMPHIBSPAC (CTF 51) Iwo Jima Report, 19 May 1945, Part V, Section (C).
61. CTF 52 Iwo Jima Report, 22 Feb. 1945, Encl. (D), pp. D-2, -3, -4.
62. CTF 56 Iwo Jima Report, Encl. (C), G-2 Report.
63. (a) CTF 54, Iwo Jima Report, p. 9; (b) CTF 52, Iwo Jima Report, Encl. (C), para 2.
64. CTF 52 to CTU 52.5.1, 171710 Feb. 1945.
65. CTU 52.5.1 to CTF 52, 181352 Feb. 1945.
66. CTF 52 Iwo Jima Report, 22 Feb. 1945, Encl. (C), p. 2.
67. Ibid., Encl. (C), p. 3.
69. CTF 54 Iwo Jima Report, 10 Mar. 1945, p. 12.
70. CTF 52 to CTF 51, 18 Feb. 1945. NCR 60303.
71. CINCPAC-CINCPOA letter, A16/3/FF12, Ser 003975 of 27 Aug. 1945, paras. 96 and 97.
72. COMPHIBSPAC Iwo Jima Report, 19 May 1945, Part II, Section (C), General Account, para. 5, pp. 10-11.
73. COMPHIBSPAC Op Plan A25-44, 27 Dec. 1944, Annex G, Encl. (A), General Instructions for Ship to Shore Movement, para. 4.
74. CTF 56 Iwo Jima Report, Encl. (B), G-3 Report, p. 3.
75. COMGENFIFTHMARDIV Iwo Jima Report, Vol. V, 25 Apr. 1945, Annex George, (RCT 28 Action Report), para. 3a.
76. (a) COMGENFIFTHMARDIV Iwo Jima Report, Vol. 1, 28 Apr. 1945, p. 17; (b) Ibid., Annex How (Naval Gunfire Support), p. 4.
77. (a) CTG 53.2 (COMTRANSRON 15) Action Report, 13 Apr. 1945, Encl. (C), Beachmaster Report, p. 2; (b) CINCPAC-CINCPOA Monthly Operations Report, February 1945, Annex A, pp. 47-48; (c) COMPHIBSPAC Iwo Jima Report, Part II.
78. COMTRANSRON 16, Iwo Jima Report, 15 Apr. 1945, p. 17.
79. CINCPAC-CINCPOA Monthly Operations Report, February 1945, p. 48.
80. Hill Memo of 17 Nov. 1966.
81. CTG 53.2 (TRANSRON 15’ Action Report, 13 Apr. 1945.
82. CTG 53.7 Action Report for 19-26 Feb. 1945, no date, p. 11.
83. USS President Jackson (APA-18), Action Report, 17 Mar. 1945, p. 7.
84. USS Agenor Action Report, 1 Apr. 1945, p. 1.
85. CTG 53.7 Action Report, p. 6.
86. CTG 53.2 Action Report, Encl. (C), p. 1.
87. (a) CTG 53.2 Action Report, p. 13; (b) Headquarters 43rd Amphibian Truck Battalion, Action Report, paras. 4 and 5.
88. LST-807 Action Report, 11 Mar. 1945, pp. 1, 3-4.
89. COMPHIBSPAC Iwo Jima Report, Part II, para. 16, p. 13.
90. (a) LST-928 Action Report, 23 Mar. 1945, p. 4; (b)
War Diary, 28 Feb. 1945.
91. USS Agenor Action Report, 1 Apr. 1945, p. 2.
92. LSM-47 Action Report, 9 Mar. 1945, Encl. (F), p. 42.
93. RKT to HWH, memorandum, 16 Jan. 1945.
94. (a) LST Flotilla 13 Action Report, 22 Mar. 1945, para. III (7); (b) Saratoga Action Report, 9 Mar. 1945.
95. Domei New Despatch of 23 February 1945, as quoted in Iwo Jima's Press, Vol. III, No. L.
96. HQ 147th Infantry Regiment, Action Report, 11 Jun. 1945, para. 6e.
97. CTU 51.5.1 Iwo Jima Report, 13 Apr. 1945, p. 9.
98. CO LST-760, Iwo Jima Report, 14 Mar. 1945, p. 5.
99. CT 51.5.1 Iwo Jima Report, p. 9.
100. CINCPAC-CINCPOA, Joint Staff Study DETACHMENT, 7 Oct. 1944, Appendix E, p. 31.
101. COMSERVRON Six, Logistic Analysis for DETACHMENT Operation, 8 Mar. 1945.
102. USS Fayette (APA-43) Action Report, 7 Mar. 1945, p. 14.
103. Ibid., p. 13.
104. USS Fremont (AKA-44) Action Report, 17 Mar. 1945, p. 9.
105. CTG 51.1 Iwo Jima Report, 25 Mar. 1945, p. 8.
106. Hill memo of 17 Nov. 1966.
107. Commander Logistic Support Force, Logistic Analysis, p. 12.
108. Hill memo of 17 Nov. 1966.
109. COMPHIBSPAC Op Plan A25-44, Annex H, para. 1(h).
110. COMGENFIFTHPHIBCORPS, Action Report, 20 May 1945, G-2 Report.
111. HQ 147th Infantry Regiment, Report of Operations Against the Enemy, 11 Jun. 1945, Encl. 5, Report of Cave Installations.
112. COMFIFTHPHIBFOR GALVANIC Report, Encl. (J), p. 12.
113. CINCPAC-CINCPOA Staff Study DETACHMENT, 7 Oct. 1945, pp. 8-9.
114. COMPHIBSPAC Op Plan A25-44, Annex H, para 1(m).
115. COMFIFTHFLEET Op Plan 13-44, paras. 3(b), 3(c)(4), and Annex B, paras. 2 and 3(a).
116. Headquarters VAC, letter, 24 Oct. 1944; and Headquarters FMF Ser 00080 of 26 Oct. 1944, subj: Naval Gunfire Requirements.
117. (a) COMPHIBFORPAC to COMGENFIFTHPHIBCORPS, letters, Ser 000209 of 15 Nov. 1944; (b) Ser 000199 of 7 Nov. 1944; (c) Ser 02/118/0012A of 24 Nov. 1944.
118. FIFTHPHIBCORPS, letter, Ser 02/118/0012A of 24 Nov. 1944.
119. COMFIFTHFLEET Op Plan, 13-14, Annex B, paras 2(e), e(a).
120. CTF 52 Iwo Jima Report, 22 Feb. 1945, p. 3.
122. Forrestel, Spruance, p. 168.
123. COMINCH P-0012, "Amphibious Operations, Capture of Iwo Jima," p. 1.
124. CTF 56, Iwo Jima Report, p. 2.
125. Smith, Coral and Brass, pp. 246-47.
126. Time Magazine, 12 Mar. 1945.
127. HWH to GCD, memorandum, 18 Jan. 1968.
128. Hon. Mayor Y. Horie, "Explanation of Japanese Defense Plan and Battle of Iwo Jima," 25 Jan. 1946, Appendix, p. i.
129. COMGENFIFTHPHIBCORPS Iwo Jima Report, 20 May 1945, Encl. (A), p. 104.
130. Whitman S. Bartley, Iwo Jima: Amphibious Epic, U.S. Marine Corps Monograph (Washington: Historical Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1954), p. 202.
131. Donald M. Weller, "Salvo--Splash!," U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. 80 (September 1954), p. 1021.